INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Planning great gifts, spending time with family and eating enough food that would make Joey Chestnut proud are all fantastic traditions, but the real treat during this time of the year is ranking music.
2017 was a solid year for music, both streaming and vinyl sales are at all-time highs…which seems like a conundrum.
Out of the thousands of new songs from new and old artists alike, I went through to highlight the 30 best. Let’s go!
30. Phoenix – Role Model
Phoenix finally returned after a four-year layoff and decided to make a dance record.
Most critics weren’t too fond of their return, finding the self-described Sicilian 80’s nightclub vibe a little too gimmicky. “Role Model” is an exception that you need to seriously consider almost blowing out your speakers for…it’s worth the risk.
29. MGMT – Little Dark Age
If you were a fan of their trippy debut ten years ago, it would be almost impossible to predict the band would attempt a Cure-esque gothy album a decade later.
Yet, here we are and their first single off it, “Little Dark Age,” is as addicting as Kit-Kat bars.
28. Offset – Ric Flair Drip
Migos had quite the year, but member Offset stole the show with “Ric Flair Drip.”
I almost had to knock him off the list for blatantly stealing his album artwork from Strokes’ guitarist Albert Hammond Jr. My old media law professor’s jaw would drop at how obvious it is.
27. Arcade Fire – Electric Blue
To be frank, Arcade Fire’s new album this summer was horrendous when you compare to their incredible catalog.
The end of the song is the reason it made a splash here, every AF song Regine Chassagne is the featured singer on is a stand out track. “Electric Blue” is no exception and her most dancey effort to date.
26. St. Vincent – New York
On her fourth album, Annie Clark, aka St. Vincent knocked a homer clear onto the interstate with MASSEDUCATION. Clark encapsulates the feeling of needing that one special person in a city full of millions.
Watch the brilliant video below.
25. Wolf Parade – You’re Dreaming
Time for some guitars, bass and drums. The best comeback that you probably haven’t heard about, critically acclaimed Canadian band Wolf Parade returned with a new album for the first time in seven years. “Cry, Cry, Cry” is amazing and might actually be their best album to date.
It also features one of the strangest music videos I’ve ever seen in my life.
24. LCD Soundsystem – american dream
Mostly known for their dance tracks, this rare ballad was released as the second-single to promote their resurrection after retiring in 2011.
My main takeaway is how Murphy illustrates waking up in your mid-thirties on a Thursday morning with a hangover, and not from 3 kids jumping on his bed.
A YouTube comment summarized this song perfectly, “Wish I could have played this at my ten year reunion and watch all the people I graduated with slow dance around their own regrets.”
23. Bleached – Can You Deal?
Full of confidence, power chords and grit, mostly-female LA band Bleached released an EP earlier this year called “Can You Deal?” to critical acclaim.
Fun fact, the beach combers have an Indiana connection. They are signed to Bloomington-based label Dead Oceans.
22. Rich Jones – OeO
The second best rapper in Chicago, a title that he gladly accepts behind Chance The Rapper, Rich Jones’ Lightwork EP came out the other day, but is one of the freshest projects of the year.
“OeO” has a chorus that hits home and lines integrated in it that keeps you hitting repeat. Expect Jones to become a household name in hip-hop in the next year or two.
21. Real Estate – Darling
The New Jersey boys keep rising up the ranks of the rock ladder, gaining even more recognition for fourth LP, In Mind.
Hopefully you had the chance to see them headline the first night of Fountain Square Music Festival back in October.
20. Hoops – Rules
Off their Fat Possum debut, Hoops brings amazing tone to the plate, not the kind you get after crossfit, but the kind that will make the Hoosiers very famous.
Yes, they are from Indy and they are fantastic.
19. Slowdive – Sugar for the Pill
Massive amounts of respect for Slowdive for producing their first album since 1994 and having it sound like they haven’t missed a beat.
It is less shoegazey than classics like “Alison” but you can tell it’s still them. Slowdive aged well like a nice fifth of scotch.
18. Mac Demarco – On the Level
If you’re not familiar, now is the time to get familiar. Every single song this guy has put out is pure gold and most importantly…extremely unique.
While 99.9 percent of artists slap their album cover over official audio YouTube videos, of course Mac would have a weird grim reaper. Dive in below.
17. Richard Edwards – Disappeared Planets
Our hometown guy, Richard Edwards, released one of the most complete albums of the year with Lemon Cotton Candy Sunset.
He tweeted the other day, “how am I going to relearn 20 Margot songs before NYE?” The concert hasn’t been announced yet, but let’s hope it’s a hometown show.
Edwards necessarily didn’t move back to the sound of older Margot, this album just has the same kind of complexities the older stuff is made up of.
16. A$AP Mob – RAF
Quick reminder that it’s 2017 and A$AP Rocky and company are still at the top of the game.
You can’t say you went to college in the early part of this decade if you didn’t party to “Live.Love.A$AP.” Belongs in the Smithsonian.
The real gem on RAF is a rare Frank Ocean rap session. He goes completely off…more on Ocean next week.
Quick note: You’re not going to find country music here, sorry folks. Check back next week for 15-1.