March 12
4:49 PM
The 65 Best Albums of 2017 (5 - 1)

The final installment of our 65 best albums of 2017. These albums are essential listening from last year.

5. Sorority Noise - You’re Not as _____ as You Think 

“So if there's a race to heaven, I will surely come in last.”

Sorority Noise You’re Not as _____ as You Think

A record that takes on challenges most bands won’t explore, and others do and come up empty. Sorority Noise manages to find a voice on You’re Not as _____ as You Think and it’s a damn good one. Unlike film critics who mostly get it right, music critics can't always be trusted. While a majority get things right praising this album, one negative review on this record basically stated the band hadn’t earned the right to make an album this good. Wait. What? Anyway, this is one of the most powerful records about depression and anxiety you’ll ever hear. The depictions of mental illness in the incredible music video for No Halo take the song to another level. But don’t stop there, this album is a must for those seeking therapy through music and fans of stellar songwriting. It’s difficult to write music about subjects like suicide and doubting religion that people actually want to listen to and come back to, but this record does it.

If you only listen to one song: 



If you liked that listen to this: Leave the Fan On



4. Free Throw - Bear Your Mind

“Spent my afternoon drinking. Drunkenly confessing to the clouds as if they were all alive. The sky doesn't offer advice to a man that doesn't have his own. And I don't have my own.”

Free Throw Bear Your Mind

The biggest release to date for Free Throw is one Hell of a record. On Bear Your Mind the band digs deeper with their lyrical content while increasing the power of each song with a bigger production value than previous efforts. It can be easy for bands to shy away from the challenge of writing bigger, deeper songs. Often when bands take on the task they come up with mediocre results. Free Throw finds themselves going above and beyond what many bands in the emo-punk scene have achieved in years past. This is a record that makes you feel OK to show your emotions, face the past, and work through your pain. They’re letting us know it’s more than OK to bang your head with a tear in your eye. This is one of the most exceptional records from 2017 and one of the best to ever come out of the genre.

If you only listen to one song: 



If you liked that listen to this: Randy, I Am the Liquor


3. Emperor X - Oversleepers International

“I owe 30,000 Euros to the German corporation that just cured me of a terminal cancer. Now I’ve got 87 notices reminding me they couldn’t care at all, if my ending came too soon.” 

Emperor X Oversleepers International

Chad Matheney, the musician also known as Emperor X, has been through a lot. He was born with a disease that caused him low vision in both eyes. When he was 15 he was in a car accident that rendered one of his eyes basically useless. This didn’t stop him from writing and releasing music for years while doubling as a high school teacher. He later began pursuing music full time. But as if being legally blind wasn’t enough, in 2014 he was diagnosed with an advanced case of testicular cancer. During his months of recovery from an invasive surgery and chemotherapy he began writing Oversleepers International. The album is a gift to listeners from someone who was given a second chance at life. It covers everything from politics, economics, and the healthcare system to love and what it means to live. He talks from his personal perspective of all of these topics and you find yourself rooting for this guy to accomplish whatever it is he wants out of life. The record gives listeners a clear vision of the world as it is from someone who’s literal vision if faulty. In an interview with NPR he was quoted as saying, "We are much more than the sum of the diseases and disabilities that we carry with us," Matheny says. "I like to think that this record reflects that very universal human fact." We’ll leave it there. 

If you only listen to one song: 



If you liked that listen to this: Low Orbit Ion Cannon



 

2. Lina Tullgren - Won

“I don’t have anything good to offer, anything to bring to the class.”

Lina Tullgren Won

When thinking about any “best-of” list you always want to be sure you’re focusing on work that has meaning and digs deeper into the soul of both the creator and listener. Lina Tullgren’s Won is an album that delivers the inner thoughts and stories of her past and present in an honest, intimate, and confident manner. In Perfect she sings, “I don’t have anything good to offer, anything to bring to the class.” This is probably my favorite line from any song in 2017. Comparing a feeling of inadequacy in adulthood to that of being in a classroom full of kids who are excited to ‘show and tell’ something they have, while you don’t have anything of note to offer up. She bares her soul with songs that sit with you days after you hear them. The music she’s created to carry these songs perfectly compliment each lyric she has written. The record can feel dark at times, but it never quite makes you feel like you’re sinking. She’s always there to let you know you have a companion as you relate to her words. Won is quite an achievement.

If you only listen to one song: 



If you liked that listen to this: Fate



1. Phoebe Bridgers - Stranger in the Alps

“I want to live at the Holiday Inn where somebody else makes the bed. We'll watch TV while the lights on the street put all the stars to death. It's been on my mind since Bowie died, just checking out to hide from life.”

Phoebe Bridgers Stranger in the Alps

The best record of 2017. There’s so much to say about Stranger in the Alps yet it’s hard to put it into the words because the words never seem to do it justice. Phoebe Bridgers, only in her early twenties proved she’s going to be a name we hear in music for a very long time. The album opens with one of the most haunting songs you’ll ever hear, and it leaves a ghost that stays in your ear long after it’s over. The musicianship on the record is remarkable as she crafts songs that will have listeners feeling as if each is the best song on the record. The way the songs work together even as she seems to blend genres makes you feel as though she’s a veteran songwriter we’ve known for years. Her voice ranges from soft and delicate to strong and commanding when necessary. While you get the feeling she could do some showing off with her vocals and guitar work, she sets that aside to let her lyrics shine. Her words are raw in a very good way, and emotional without a single line coming off as insincere. This is the realest form of songwriting an artist can achieve. You can hear influences from artists like Elliot Smith here and there, which is a wonderful touch, but this is a Phoebe Bridgers record and you get the idea she’ll be name-checked as an influence for the next generation of great artists after her. From the opening track she takes control of whatever you’re doing and for the next 44 minutes you’re in her world. And even when things get dark, or even slightly disturbing, you aren’t quite sure if you ever want to leave. Stranger in the Alps is a masterpiece.

If you only listen to one song: 



If you liked that listen to this: 



If you need one more: Scott Street

Seriously, just listen to this record from start to finish.

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