There’s so much amazing music being made all the time. I always like to spend December looking back at my favorite albums of the year and also re-discovering the music that slipped through the cracks for me. I’m sharing some of my favorite records of the year in this post. Instead of ranking them, I’ve just organized them into a few categories. I’m not a music critic, so I may not have many words for these albums, but all of them are worth a listen. Click the album art for a link to the album on Apple Music.
These three Memphis artists made some of my favorite music of the year.
IMAKEMADBEATS – Better Left Unsaid
Favorite Track: “To Whom it May Concern”
Released last January, this was the first great record I heard in 2017. I also had a chance to make a video for the song “Neon Lift Off” which will be released soon.
Don Lifted – Alero
Favorite Track: “Harbor Hall”
I grabbed a “local only” CD when these were released in February. Now available everywhere.
Cameron Bethany – YOUMAKEMENERVOUS
Favorite Track: “Lillian from the Valley”
Cameron is incredibly talented. I’ve had the chance to collaborate with him a couple of times. I played drums for his EP release, and I made a video which will be released soon for a song on this album.
(records I listened to a lot this year)
Jamilah Woods – HEAVN
Favorite Track: “Holy”
I listened to this record more than anything else in 2017. Technically it was released in 2016, but when she signed to a new label in 2017, they pulled the album for a few months and re-released it. “Holy” became the centerpiece of a playlist I made for my daughter, filled with empowering songs by female songwriters.
Dirty Projectors – Dirty Projectors
Favorite Track: “Cool Your Heart”
Dirty Projectors have been one of my favorite bands since 2012’s Swing Lo Magellan. Since then, the 2 main collaborators ended a romantic relationship and the band regrouped as something more like a solo project for David Longstreth. Former member, Amber Coffman also released a great album you’ll see on my list.
Benjamin Clementine – I Tell a Fly
Favorite Track: “By the Ports of Europe”
Hard to describe, and unlike anything else on my list. This is a beautiful and complex concept album.
Thundercat – Drunk
Favorite Track: “Show You the Way”
Bedouine – Bedouine
Favorite Track: “One of These Days”
Toro y Moi – Boo Boo
Favorite Track: “Mirage”
Haim – Something to Tell You
Favorite Track: “Little of Your Love”
Kendrick Lamar – DAMN.
Favorite Track: “DNA”
These are all records I really loved, but for one reason or another didn’t end up listening to a whole lot. I hope to find more time for all of them soon.
Favorite Track: “Real Death”
I think I only listened to this once, but it made such a deep impact. Phil Elverum wrote and recorded this record after losing his wife, musician Geneviève Castrée, to cancer. It is a heartbreaking album, which is why I could only listen once, but it is beautiful.
Favorite Track: “Don’t Bother Calling”
Sufjan Stevens, Nico Muhly, Bryce Dessner, James McAlister – Planetarium
Favorite Track: “Jupiter”
Always a pleasure to hear new work involving Sufjan Stevens.
Amber Coffman – City of No Reply
Favorite Track: “All To Myself”
Cody ChesnuTT – My Love Divine Degree
Favorite Track: “Africa the Future”
Oddissee – The Iceberg
Favorite Track: “Like Really”
Benjamin Booker – Witness
Favorite Track: “Witness”
Girlpool – Powerplant
Favorite Track: “123“
TOPS – Sugar at the Gate
Favorite Track: “Petals“
Jon Brion – Lady Bird (Soundtrack)
Favorite Track: “LB Steals Math Grade Book“
I haven’t had a chance to actually see the movie yet, but I’ve been enjoying this soundtrack. It’s probably my favorite score Jon Brion has done since Punch Drunk Love.
These are albums I overlooked and just discovered on year-end lists. I’ve already been listening to a few of these quite a bit, and they are sure to get a lot of play this winter.