“Any Party” by Feist

The new Feist album, called Pleasure, is an exceptional listen all the way through — though I keep finding my way back to one track in particular. “Any Party” is a tender moment on a very raw record, with our heroine offering sweet reassurances to her lover over heavy, dirty guitar strums.

“123” by girlpool

The gorgeous vocal blend of girlpool’s two members — Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad — is mesmerizing, particularly in the song “123.” It’s from the Los Angeles “folk punk” band’s 2017 album Powerplant, which marks a major evolution in their sound — adding percussion to the laid-back guitar/bass dynamic of girlpool’s 2015 debut Before the World Was Big, while keeping their lush harmonies front and center.

“1234” by Kevin Morby

Missouri-born singer-songwriter Kevin Morby shows off his punk side in this not-so-subtle homage to the Ramones, which is from the artist’s 2017 album City Music.

“Shark Smile” by Big Thief

I said I was done promoting my list of favorite 1H2017 albums, yet here we are, about to listen to “Shark Smile” from Big Thief’s Capacity. It’s a harrowing, delicate little folk song. Singer and songwriter Adrianne Lenker explained: “it’s about a car accident where one dies and one lives. She recalls her lover leading up to the moment of the wreck, wishing she’d been taken into the next realm, too.”

“Conduit” by Jon McKiel

“A peace sign to America, a system of love.” Those are the opening lyrics to “Conduit,” which is from the album Memorial Ten Count by Canadian singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Jon McKiel. But don’t expect Summer of Love-era sunshine — the song is intense yet haunting, with a hypnotic, siren-like guitar riff hovering over this thrashing rock sound. Shoutout to NPR’s excellent All Songs Considered podcast, which turned me on to it.

“Hard” by Los Angeles Police Department

Another day, another song from my list of favorite 1H2017 albums (shameless plug, but this should be the last). Some of today’s best, most intimate music is coming from the “bedroom pop/rock” genre. If you’re unfamiliar, Los Angeles Police Department’s “Hard” is a great primer — with its lo-fi sound, dreamy aesthetic and the prevailing vulnerability in Ryan Pollie’s lyrics.

“Vs” by Rips

Brooklyn-based Rips are blowing up right now, with their buzzing guitar sound drawing favorable comparisons to punk pioneers (and fellow New York City band) Television. “Vs” is a stand-out track from Rips’ self-titled debut LP, which was produced by Parquet Courts’ Austin Brown.

“Proud” by (Sandy) Alex G

“Proud” is a cut from one of my favorite albums so far in 2017, Rocket by Philadelphia-based (Sandy) Alex G — who you may have heard contributing guitar on Frank Ocean’s two latest records, Endless and Blonde. “Proud” is a rollicking, folksy guitar ballad punctuated by jangly piano. Check it out below.

Favorite albums: 1H2017

I’m an “album guy,” one of those relics that prefers to listen to music as the artist intended — front-to-back, warts and all, and over and over and over again. I’m also someone who buys the records I really like, which makes it easy to tell when it’s a particularly good year for music: I simply have less money to spend on bills.

By that criteria, 2017 is a pretty damn good year so far. I’ve purchased 19 albums, putting me on pace to crush last year’s total of 27. I’ll make ends meet somehow.

Two quick notes before getting to the list:

  • There are a ton of noteworthy albums on the horizon, so I’m almost certain my end-of-2017 list will look nothing like the one below. Coming soon are records by artists previously featured on SOMETHINGGOOD (St. Vincent, Courtney Barnett, Rostam and Declan McKenna); as well as some musical heavy-hitters like LCD Soundsystem, Arcade Fire, The National, Vampire Weekend and Randy fucking Newman.
  • Embedded at the bottom of this post is a playlist with nine of my 10 album selections. The new Passion Pit isn’t yet on Spotify, but you can get the album with a single tweet supporting scientific research.

 


Favorite albums: 1H2017

BigThief-Capacity

Capacity

Artist: Big Thief
Label: Saddle Creek
Genre: Indie rock
Quintessential track: “Shark Smile”


DAMN

DAMN.

Artist: Kendrick Lamar
Label: Top Dog/Aftermath/Interscope
Genre: Hip hop
Quintessential track: “XXX. (FEAT. U2.)”


dirty-projectors

Dirty Projectors

Artist: Dirty Projectors
Label: Domino
Genre: Indie rock
Quintessential track: “Cool Your Heart”


EVERYBODYWORKS

Everybody Works

Artist: Jay Som
Label: Polyvinyl/Double Denim
Genre: Bedroom pop
Quintessential track: “Baybee”


hot-thoughts

Hot Thoughts

Artist: Spoon
Label: Matador
Genre: Indie rock
Quintessential track: “Do I Have to Talk You Into It”


LAPD

Los Angeles Police Department

Artist: Los Angeles Police Department
Label: ANTI-
Genre: Bedroom pop
Quintessential track: “The Plane”


Melodrama

Melodrama

Artist: Lorde
Label: Lava/Republic
Genre: Pop
Quintessential track: “Perfect Places”


rocket

Rocket

Artist: (Sandy) Alex G
Label: Domino
Genre: Indie rock
Quintessential track: “Proud”


run-the-jewels3

Run the Jewels 3

Artist: Run the Jewels
Label: Run the Jewels, Inc./RED
Genre: Hip hop
Quintessential track: “Panther Like a Panther (Miracle Mix)”


Passion-Pit_TSOL

Tremendous Sea of Love

Artist: Passion Pit
Label: Self-released
Genre(s): Indie pop, Electronic
Quintessential track: “Hey K 2.19.17”

 

 

“In Undertow” by Alvvays

Alvvays (pronounced “Always”) is a Toronto four-piece that topped U.S. college music charts with their 2014 self-titled debut album. The band is back with “In Undertow,” the first track shared from their forthcoming sophomore effort, titled Antisocialites.

“Frank Infatuation” by Real Numbers

Nothing says July 4 like some good old-fashioned guitar rock from America’s heartland. With their late-2016 LP Wordless Wonder, Minneapolis-based Real Numbers deliver a much fuller sound than their preceding EPs did, while keeping the glorious DIY garage aesthetic in tact. “Frank Infatuation” is Wordless Wonder‘s opening track.