Top 20 Albums of 2017 (20-11)

20. Sheer Mag: Need to Feel Your Love

Need to Feel Your Love is Sheer Mag’s debut album, but the Philly fivesome fronted by the singular Tina Halladay have been at it since 2014. Their down and dirty DIY blend of 70’s rock, metal, and even a little funk make for a notable record. There’s something for everyone on this record from the classic guitar riffs on “Meet Me in the Street” and “Just Can’t Get Enough” to the T-Rex flared glam stylings on “Need to Feel Your Love” and “Pure Desire”. There’s no question we’ll be hearing more great things from these rockers from the city of brotherly love and sisterly affection. – Greg Scranton

19. Kendrick Lamar: DAMN.

The genius of Kendrick Lamar is his honesty and his ability to remain humble as his talent soars above the rest. DAMN. is an intricately woven tapestry; a symbol of his dedication to his craft. Lamar is a magic man, hardly pausing for a second look or a revision. His mind is set and he knows exactly where he wants to go. DAMN. proves his distinction above the rest, the character he’s created reaching full form throughout each track. Lamar is a man on a mission, riding on beats that rattle the chest and rhymes that breathe life into the dead. DAMN. is a firmly set jewel in Lamar’s crown. – Julie Sullivan

18. Deerhoof: Mountain Moves

Perennial pop experimentalists Deerhoof take on politics, the environment, and in a sense, the world, with Mountain Moves, their 14th full-length release. As with any Deerhoof release, you’re never quite sure what you’re going to get, other than sonic singularity. With Mountain Moves Matsuzaki, Dieterich, Rodríguez and the enigmatic Greg Saunier collectively assert a more overtly politically or at least socially aware message via melodic pop songs. These tracks are often a result of wonderfully unexpected collaborations featuring Stereolab’s Laetitia Sadier, loop guru and multi-instrumentalist Juana Molina, Wye Oak vocalist Jenn Wasner and others. Mountain Moves is a great entry point for anyone looking to get into Deerhoof as much as it is further proof to the hardcore hoofer that they are unquestionably one of the most consistently creative and inventive bands making music today. – Greg Scranton

17. Sneaks: It’s a Myth

SneaksIt’s a Myth is so short you can literally listen to it from beginning to end four times in the time it takes to listen to Father John Misty’s Pure Comedy once. Don’t let Sneaks’ sophomore full-length’s brevity lead you to believe It’s a Myth isn’t worth your time, however. On her latest album, Sneaks (Eva Moolchan) lays down ten excellent, concise post-punk-inspired tracks using only an electric bass, drum machine, and minimal synth and vocal effects. “Plastic dinosaurs and hot dog buns, strawberries strategically placed,” Moolchan sings in her trademark delivery at the end of “Devo”. It’s a Myth is a catchy, cool, and wonderfully weird record. – Andy Mascola

16. Wolf Alice: Visions of a Life

Unapologetic and brash, Wolf Alice follows up their dreamy debut album, My Love Is Cool, with a more rough around the edges shot to the moon. Visions of a Life is a rock album that tries to hide behind synths and angelic vocals, but it bears its teeth when provoked. There’s rebellion in lead singer Ellie Rowsell’s darker and softer moments, and a true Riot Grrrl in songs like “Yuk Foo” and “Formidable Cool”. Wolf Alice is a band searching for the rough and raw feelings of life. They’re not afraid to switch up sound mid-album and explore different realms of their own genre. Visions of a Life is unwilling to cater to the mainstream, which makes Wolf Alice hard to pin down in their beautiful rock n’ roll black hole. – Julie Sullivan

15. The Stevens: Good

One of my favorite SMS replies of 2017 (and definitely a handmade t-shirt candidate) had to have been “Who the hell are The Stevens?” The author of said reply will go unnamed but his name does rhyme with Madam Organ. I bring this up not to embarass but to sympathize, with him and more so with The Stevens themselves, since in my humble opinion they should be at the forefront of any discussion of good indie pop music in 2017. As with most bands from down under, the music of these Melbourne mates have not yet found the audience they deserve stateside. Good follows a similar sound to their 2013 debut A History of Hygiene often drawing comparisons to local boys like Guided By Voices and Pavement as well as New Zealand neighbors The Clean and other bands often associated with the Flying Nun label. If indie pop is your thing you need to make The Stevens part of your listening habits. – Greg Scranton

14. Cigarettes After Sex: Cigarettes After Sex

Cigarettes After Sex’s self-titled full-length debut album was without a doubt the sexiest dream pop record of 2017. Marked by reverb-heavy downtempo songs with lyrics that detail obsessive carnal desires and romantic overtures, Cigarettes After Sex’s first LP was an aural feast for moody lotharios and seductresses alike. “Come out and haunt me, I know you want me,” Greg Gonzalez repeats alluringly during “Apocalypse” as if beckoning to an unseen presence. Gonzalez’s sexually ambiguous near-whispered vocals, the band’s patient instrumental delivery, and the Joy Division-inspired artwork combined to help this Brooklyn-by-way-of-Texas act find an audience who lovingly embraced the entire package. – Andy Mascola

13. Beaches: Second of Spring

Much like my notes on The Stevens, this female fivesome also hailing from Melbourne, Australia have yet to find an attentive audience here in North America. Meanwhile, U.K.’s Pitchfork equivalent The Wire rated Second of Spring an outstanding 80. There’s no question of quality, particularly given the number of Australian acts gaining traction here in the states. Indie rocking Twerps, Dick Diver, and Salad Boys have found themselves on labels such as Merge and Trouble In Mind, while acts like Tame Impala and Courtney Barnett have found star quality status. Second Spring is sure to find warm affection from lovers of My Bloody Valentine, Lush, and Spiritualized. – Greg Scranton

12. Chris Stapleton: From a Room: Volume 1

Chris Stapleton is a standalone talent in the current country climate. Instead of drifting towards a more pop-country side of the spectrum, Stapleton sticks to his guns, drawing on the singer songwriters of country past. From a Room: Volume 1 is a clear and polished product, showcasing the simpler side of country that has all but disappeared from the airwaves. This album is straight up country from head to cowboy boots. Stapleton is a soulful and sweet, dripping with talent and a respect for country music so rarely shown in the genre nowadays. – Julie Sullivan

11. Slowdive: Slowdive

Not only a return to form, but a return to the studio and the road, 2017 found shoegaze legends Slowdive not missing a single beat in their 22 year hiatus. Slowdive is just the bands fourth proper full-length album but reflects the decades of experience among the players. Neil Halstead’s folk interests as heard on his solo records are entwined throughout the album, while Goswell’s more mature and varied vocal range soars well beyond the breathy delivery often associated with shoegaze vocals. Credit should also be given to Nick Chaplin and Christian Savill for their roles backing the more visible Halstead and Goswell, while Simon Scott’s drumming is nothing short of iconic on this record. Slowdive turned in a cohesive group effort in making Slowdive one of 2017’s best albums. – Greg Scranton

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