It's that time when I try to eek out the best that my ears have heard over the past year. I know I should hold out for a few more weeks, but for now, here's what's been spinning all 2017.
1. GIRLPOOL — POWERPLANT
I'm a big fan of Girlpool and their last, Before the World Was Big, had something going for me, but Powerplant really put everything together. The sound is more defined, the lyrics well-crafted, witty, and blue, and the vocals really came through. Cheerful sounds, and dreary lyrics, it's the ironic girl band style that I crave. Songs like Soup had such a good clap and build up, despite being just a two woman band. 123, and Powerplant are well crafted and addicting sounds with the glints of pop and awe covered in rock and apathy. It's such a solid album from cover to cover and will defintiely be a favorite for many years.
2. (Sandy) Alex G — Rocket
I'm new to this whole (Sandy) Alex G gig, and after listening more I realize that Rocket is a relatively new direction from their previous work, but simultaneously, this album seems to take you in all different directions. If you HAD to put a pin in the genre, I guess you could claim folk, however with the auto-tuned Sportstar, (that Porches covered ! ) and the grit and angst of Brick, and a heartfelt Alina, you can't really claim anything for this album. Songs like Bobby and Powerful Man take the twang of the banjo and harmonize beautifully while the lyrics take you into an interesting headspace. The more I listen to this record, the more I enjoy it. It's definitely complicated, but I can really appreciate the value in that. I'll keep listeing and enjoying. Thanks G!
3. Slothrust — Show me how you want it to be
Does this count? This is a cove album by one of my favorites, Slothrust. Sex and Candy, Hit me Baby One More Time, and a handful more of the classic love and drama songs that we hold onto dearly. It seems like treacherous waters to delve into such established sounds and works, but the 90's grit and sound by Leah Wellbaum works so well for each. I can appreciate their added guitar heavier sounds that round-out the pop and create an entirely new piece of work. Hoping for more!
4. SZA — ctrl
Oh SZA! Thank god for you. This album finally went platinum and I am just so stoked for her. I think for so many people this was the album that we needed to hear. It was as real as it can get, t but in a way that wasn't self-defeating or diminishing. SZA is just brushing off the dirt, but she's got so much more coming. Seeing her live was also an incredible experience as it's so clear her passion and talent for what she does. This ballad-like pop/R&B album was the honesty we needed this 2017, and I can't wait to hear more. Everything she touches is beautiful!
5. Big Thief — Capacity
I know this was on my list earlier, but I just can't shake this album either. #1 of the year for me, Big Thief stole my ears. There's not a real way to describe this album except for, "beautiful." Lyrics that dig deep into stories and hit you in a way that's very personal, even if the characters are only known to Adrianne Lenker. The mellowed out acoustic guitar and haunting voice gets me every time. This album for some requires patience. It's slower and seems to be exhaling rather than inhaling as ideas and lyrics exhaust and try you. Don't let it discourage you as the more you excavate, the more powerful the album becomes. Overall, Capacity feels masterful in all regards; production, lyrics, and sound. It's stunning and I will continue to listen for as long as I'm allowed.