Best Albums and Songs of 2017 So Far

Everything is pretty much awful in 2017 so far—except for the music; that’s been very good. Here’s what stood out in the first six months. (Has it really only been six months?)
By Pretty Much Amazing ,

Best Albums of 2017 so far

17 Arca by Arca

Stream: Spotify | Apple Music

What we said: “Give the best pieces here — i.e. the first six tracks — some fair time on good headphones and it’s disturbing in the best and strangest ways: a pitch-black digital blanket for fierce but dying contempt and sorrow.” Full Review ⤴️

16 Everybody Works by Jay Som

Stream: Spotify | Apple Music

What we said: “She probably tricked a few people into thinking this was a full band experience even though, excepting some vocals, she composed, performed and produced the entire thing by herself. She certainly tricked me.” Full Review ⤴️

15 Kelly Lee Owens by Kelly Lee Owens

Stream: Spotify | Apple Music

What we wish we said: “A work of great craft, multifaceted charm, and, yes, an alluring marriage of the visceral to the gentle, this album feels like the opening chapter of a thrilling career.” Full Review ⤴️

14 50 Song Memoir by The Magnetic Fields

Stream: Spotify | Apple Music

What we said: “I could fruitlessly compare it to its spiritual predecessor [69 Love Songs] all day, but I’ll say this instead: if you compiled every other album The Magnetic Fields has released since 1999 into one 55-track album, 50 Song Memoir would absolutely blow it out of the water.” Full Review ⤴️

13 Hot Thoughts by Spoon

Stream: Spotify | Apple Music

What we said: “Put every Spoon moment, every song, every riff, every Britt Daniels howl and whisper into a blender and you have Hot Thoughts ...  another top tier indie rock record from the most consistent band in the game.” Full Review ⤴️

12 Near to the Wild Heart of Life by Japandroids

Stream: Spotify | Apple Music

What we said: “The luminous Near to the Wild Heart of Life arrives as an imperfect, if sorely needed, import from the Great White North. Japandroids return, proud Canadians, to provide the right medicine at a dark time.” Full Review ⤴️

11 A Crow Looked at Me by Mount Eerie

Stream: Spotify | Apple Music

What we said: “For anyone who was ever remotely interested in Mount Eerie or the Microphones, A Crow Looked at Me is a must-listen. But it feels made for a very specific time and place, and the subject matter is tough to stomach and tougher to shake. It’s bleak, but without any of the life-affirming notes you might expect from an album like this.” Full Review ⤴️

10 Nothing Feels Natural by Priests

Stream: Spotify | Apple Music

What we said: “Nothing Feels Natural, the first studio album from D.C.-based punk group Priests, is loaded with anger and anxiety, apt for the post-truth era. It’s a roaring album that spans the genre from the experimental to the classic.” Full Review ⤴️

09 Slowdive by Slowdive

Stream: Spotify | Apple Music

What we said: “Whatever band you most hope reunites, you can only hope they do it like Slowdive. Not rushed, not cash-grabbing, but focused on relationships and on furthering the legacy of the band.” Full Review ⤴️

08 I See You by The xx

Stream: Spotify | Apple Music

What we said: “The band retains its core strengths (pillowtalk vocals, echoing, urbane guitar lines) while expanding its sonic reach and stretching for the bleacher seats.” Full Review ⤴️

07 Process by Sampha

Stream: Spotify | Apple Music

What we said: “Somber, but not necessarily sad, Process maps Sissay’s emotional journey by confronting his feelings head-on; like the seven stages of grief, each emotion is unpacked and experienced through stirring cries, clever meshing of classical and electronic instruments, and a personified piano.” Full Review ⤴️

06 No Shape by Perfume Genius

Stream: Spotify | Apple Music

What we said: “No Shape feels more celebratory than any Perfume Genius record to date; that celebration often runs deliciously wild.” Full Review ⤴️

05 Crack-Up by Fleet Foxes

Stream: Spotify | Apple Music

What we said: “Their third record is their best, a meandering, wild, untamable masterpiece from a front man who refuses to stop studying and refuses to be predictable.” Full Review ⤴️

04 Pure Comedy by Father John Misty

Stream: Spotify | Apple Music

What we said: “A handful of superb records have already been released in 2017. Pure Comedy’s scope, ambition, and beauty herald something bigger: the year’s first great album.” Full Review ⤴️

03 Big Fish Theory by Vince Staples

Stream: Spotify | Apple Music

What we said: “This is Big Fish Theory in its basest form: A truly progressive, existential, emotionally saturated hip-hop album that establishes the value of dance-centric collaboration by reminding us that it’s exactly that.” Full Review ⤴️

02 Melodrama by Lorde

Stream: Spotify | Apple Music

What we said: “Self-care has allowed Lorde to make something extraordinary and authentic, something that takes you by the hand and assures you that you can survive and thrive in the same sea of emotion.” Full Review ⤴️

01 DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar

Stream: Spotify | Apple Music

What we said: “It’s the first album in Kendrick Lamar’s discography where tracks can more readily be taken individually. And yet, given the talent of the artist in question, and the producers he’s pulled in, this one is no less ambitious and rewarding than some of his previous entries. ... DAMN. sounds more like a follow-up to Good Kid than To Pimp a Butterfly. So the real question: where does he go from here?” Full Review ⤴️

Best Songs of 2017 so far

17 “Love” by Lana Del Rey

from Lust for Life

Stream: YouTube.

16 “Sweep Me Off My Feet” by Pond

from The Weather

Stream: YouTube

15 “Forever Young” by Lil Yachty

from Teenage Emotions

Stream: YouTube

14 “Love” by Kendrick Lamar (feat. Zacari)

from DAMN.

Stream: Spotify

13 “Green Light” by Lorde

from Melodrama

Stream: YouTube

12 “Passionfruit” by Drake

from More Life

Stream: Spotify

11 “Call the Police” by LCD Soundsystem

from American Dream

Stream: YouTube

10 “Want You Back” by Haim

from Something to Tell You

Stream: YouTube

09 “Thinking of a Place” by The War on Drugs

from A Deeper Understanding

War on Drugs

Stream: YouTube

08 “DNA.” by Kendrick Lamar

from DAMN.

Stream: YouTube

07 “Big Fish” by Vince Staples

from Big Fish Theory

Stream: YouTube

06 “Mask Off (Remix)” by Future (feat. Kendrick Lamar)

Stream: YouTube

05 “Bad Liar” by Selena Gomez

04 “Cut to the Feeling” by Carly Rae Jepsen

03 “XO Tour Llif3” by Lil Uzi Vert

from Luv is Rage 1.5

02 “Slip Away” by Perfume Genius

from No Shape

01 “Chanel” by Frank Ocean

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