This year seems to be filled with my love and affinity for Power Pop and Singer/Songwriters… and is wonderfully filled with strong albums from female artists. Clearly the motto of my daughter’s school is right on… The Force Is Female!
I have not had time to sit with the new U2 album, so not sure where on my list it would be… But I will sit and listen to it again, soon. I also have not had a chance to listen to the new Lorde album, which many have on their year-end lists, so my bad. Please forgive me!
And yes… I am putting in ties so I don’t have to limit myself to 10!!! I guess I am just a dirty cheater… but my list, my rules!!!
Have a Happy and Healthy 2018 and here’s to much more great music!
#10 – TIE
Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile – Lotta Sea Lice
Love these two as solo artists… love them together. Great album!
Shout Out Louds – Ease My Mind
Thanks to Tuti and Alan for mentioning this amazing band that is so in my musical wheelhouse. Their fifth album is an easy, lush and gorgeous listen.
#9 – TIE
Old 97s – Graveyard Whistling
This Dallas, Texas band has been at it since 1993 and are still putting out amazing and vital records!
Real Estate – In Mind
So, I do not love this band just because they started in the Jersey town next to me. They make great and really enjoyable records, and while they had some major personnel changes, they are still making wonderful music.
#8 – TIE
Foxygen – Hang
I love this total throwback of a record, just hate that it is only eight songs long!
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit – The Nashville Sound
Jason just keeps making amazing music, and I love the Springsteen influence on “Cumberland Gap.”
#7 – TIE
Ted Leo – Hanged Man
I had never heard of Ted Leo or his band The Pharmacists until this year, and this record was one of my most pleasant discoveries. “With funds raised through crowd-sourcing, Leo built a studio in his house and started working on a new, more personal and musically diverse batch of songs. Although a few friends like Mann and Jonathan Coulton dropped by, Leo was the sole guiding force and he acquits himself well as a producer.”
Phoebe Bridgers – Stranger In The Alps
So many friends recommended Phoebe and this album is absolutely gorgeous and vital. “You Missed My Heart” is easily up there for my song of the year.
#6 – TIE
Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings – Soul Of A Woman
Obviously a bittersweet release, and this is NOT here just because of the passing of Sharon Jones. She and this band made some amazing music and she will be greatly missed.
Waxahatchee – Out In The Storm
Another strong female at the reins of a great band! Thanks to Julie Slater for the intro. to Katie Crutchfield and this great band. Did not realize her twin sister Alison had an album out, too called Tourist In This Town. Need to check that out!
#5 – TIE
The Afghan Whigs – In Spades
This band started in 1986! They faded out around 2001 and are now fully back. And we are the better for it, as they keep making some incredible music. 2014’s Do The Beast was also in my Top 10. At only 37 minutes this album flies by, but it also stays with you.
St. Vincent – Masseduction
From the cover to the album, this is one great, sexy pop record, filled with so many emotions. “New York” may just be my song of the year, too.
#4 – TIE
Kendrick Lamar – DAMN.
Can’t same that I am a huge Rap and Hip Hop guy, but I get it and this album is rock solid… or Rap Solid… and gives me something else I can listen to with my daughter… Okay, maybe not!
Slowdive – Slowdive
This band formed in 1989 and have just released their eponymous record… and it is soooo darn good!!!
# 3 – TIE
This Is The Kit – Moonshine Freeze
This is what Joni Mitchell might sound like if she was starting to make music today. Not sure how I discovered this one, but it stuck. Kate Stables “sings, plays guitar, banjo, trumpet and percussion, while a cast of carefully hand-plucked friends deliver guitar strums, banjo plucks, hushed horns and electronic textures that sit beneath Stables’ easy, earnest lilt.”
Julien Baker – Turn Out The Lights
Young women seem to be making some amazing music this year. Clearly there is an old soul at work here, same with Melina from Jay Som. On just her second album Julien makes some beautiful, smart and sophisticated music.
# 2 – TIE
Jay Som – Everybody Works
The fact that she is just 22 makes this album even more impressive. Melina Duterte from Oakland, CA is making what they call 90’s style fuzz pop, and this album is fantastic!
The National – Sleep Well Beast
Rolling Stone says “The band’s trademark Joy Division gloom gets cut with sexiness and dark humor…” I say they are one of my favorite bands, and if I miss them live in concert one more time… AAGGHH!
#1 – The War on Drugs – A Deeper Understanding
Oh how I love this band… let me count the ways… L-O-V-E!!! And yet another one I have never seen live. Sigh. For some reason, the dates for them and The National never seem to work out… Wilco, too for that matter…
So my vow for 2018, assuming and hoping they are all on the road, is to finally see Wilco, The National and The War On Drugs!!!
Ryan Adams – Prisoner
Love Ryan. His music is raw and honest and cuts to the bone and soul… always.
Gregg Allman – Southern Blood
No… but yes, okay… I NEVER saw The Allman Brothers live… and yes, this is a great record and hopefully a lasting memorial to a remarkable talent.
BNQT – Volume 1
The “Indie Supergroup” featuring Ben Bridwell of Band of Horses, Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand, Jason Lytle of Grandaddy, Fran Healy of Travis, and Eric Pulido of Midlake make a great first record.
The Clientele – Music For The Age Of Miracles
Pure, sophisticated, lush and stunning Power Pop. I adore this band!
The Dustbowl Revival – The Dustbowl Revival
A huge step forward as they not only expand their sound and style, but continue to capture their amazing live energy on record.
Hazel English – Just Give In / Never Going Home
Another female singer/songwriter on my year end list! This album kept coming out as singles and EPs, but I am happy to finally have it as a whole.
Father John Misty – Pure Comedy
Singer/Songwriter heaven… I begged my daughter to go see him at Coachella… She didn’t, but now I hear him playing in her Spotify, so… good on me… though she claims another friend was the source. Sheesh!
Neil Finn – Out Of Silence
Strong songwriting is the building block for a great and long career. Case in point… and still going!
Fleet Foxes – Crack-Up
Indie folk may be supplanting Alternative as my new favorite genre! This band is going on 10 plus years and the music is still going strong!
Liam Gallagher – As You Were
Oasis cut in half. Tuti said I missed a killer live show. Sigh…
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Who Built The Moon?
Oasis cut in half. Leaning towards Noel, because he has a bigger solo output and I love what he is doing… but apparently need to see both live! Another missed concert this year. Argh.
Grandaddy – Last Place
I love when bands deep in their careers can keep putting out such great and interesting music.
Grizzly Bear – Painted Ruins
Hooky, synth-pop. Yes, please!
LCD Soundsytem – American Dream
I love how Rolling Stone writes: “In the masterfully pissed-off American Dream, he can’t decide whether he’s making a party album for the end of the world or an apocalypse album for the end of the party.” Hell yeah!
Jeff Lynne’s ELO – Wembley Or Bust
Seeing them live at the Hollywood Bowl was one of the best live concert experiences I have ever had, so this souvenir, even though it was not our show, is an easy pick for my year-end list.
Manchester Orchestra – A Black Mile To The SurfaceThis band is betting better and better!!! This one was close to a Top 10!
Mondo Cozmo – Plastic Soul
KCRW and KCSN played the heck out of “Plastic Soul, ”Hold On To Me,” and “Shine,” but I am not over this record yet and it seems more accessible/radio friendly than his previous band, Eastern Conference Champions.
The Pains Of Being Young At Heart – The Echo Of Pleasure
A recent discovery that has been in constant rotation.
Portugal. The Man – Woodstock
Love the story behind this album… finding his Dad’s ticket to Woodstock!
Ride – Weather Diaries
20 years in, and a new release. Kudos to them and this truly amazing record! “Home Is A Feeling” is also like a warm, cozy blanket.
Shakey Graves And The Horse He Rode In On – Nobody’s Fool and The Donor Blues EP
Love these guys on many levels. And a phenomenal band live!
Chris Stapleton – From A Room: Volume 1
I am so not a country fan, at least “new” country, but Chris’ music goes beyond a simple genre classification and he keeps putting out killer records.
Harry Styles – Harry Styles
Yeah, yeah, yeah… But… Quite a few songs I really like… and he is clearly channeling his inner Ed Sheeran, but always good to have something the kid and I can enjoy together… though I have finally won her over to the joys of classic rock!!!
Special Honorable Mention:
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard
This insanely prolific group released four albums in 2017! Yes, you heard me (or read me) right… FOUR!!! This includes Polygondwanaland, which the band gave away for free… and I believe it is still available! Murder of the Universe, Flying Microtonal Banana, and Sketches of Brunswick East “for which they they hooked up with Alex Brettin of the soft rock weirdos Mild High Club to concoct the smoothed-out psychedelic jazz album…”
AllMusic also says: “Trying to make sense of, and/or keep up with, King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard can be a daunting prospect. They are nothing if not prolific, and nothing if not willing to throw curve ball after curve ball.”