The Best Music of 2017 as Decided by Delaney Motter
There is no hierarchy to this list. I hope you find something new to enjoy.
Uncontrollable Salvation — Pardoner
I won’t lie, I grossly underestimated this album upon first listen. At first it sounded messy, chaotic, and hard to follow. It wasn’t until I listened again that I realized that while it may be all of those things — that’s what makes it so good. I think what impresses me most about this band is their ability to do something so disorganized in a way that comes off so effortless and somehow makes sense. Every jarring sudden time signature change seems to fit and it’s the most satisfying sound in the world. There is something so inexplicably catchy and inherently danceable about it all, yet it has an experimental flair that keeps it from sounding quite like anything else. This is definitely one of the most standout albums to me this year, cracking into my own personal “Best of all Time” list.
Plastic Cough — Great Grandpa
There is simply so much I could say about this album, too much I could say about this album. To keep it short and sweet, this album was everything I didn’t know I needed and more this year. Released this summer, the very day I drove myself 9 hours away from my home to embark on a summer internship, Great Grandpa’s debut full length album was on heavy rotation in 1994 Honda Civic. More importantly, this summer I would bond with a dear friend of mine over the album, and even later this summer, he would pass away. While there is an immense amount of deeply personal sentiment to the album for me, the album is also subjectively phenomenal. Catchy poppy hooks collide with the grungy feel of 90s rock and pair seamlessly with the band’s emotional lyricism. It’s been a very long time since an album has resonated with me in such a profound way, and I am grateful for all that it is.
Collection — Soccer Mommy
I’ve found that the term “bedroom pop” tends to lead to an underestimation, as it seems to encapsulate a sort of unsuspecting quality; a misconception which Soccer Mommy’s Sophie Allison shatters with Collection. The album brings a filled out, full band sound to a selection of Allison’s previously recorded solo songs like “Inside Out” and “3 AM at a Party” while displaying her ability to also execute a more upbeat and poised songwriting style in songs like “Try” and “Benadryl Dreams”. The chilled out, effortless musical aesthetic provides a refreshing authenticity that ultimately contributes to the album’s overall relatability.
World Record Runner— World Record Runner
I’m a sucker for music that has that intimate, crackly lofi, bedroom recorded sound. There is a sincerity and simplicity to this album that makes it feel close and comforting. Though most everything was written and recorded by solo artist Emit Martin, there is dynamic fullness to the instrumentals that prevent it from ever sounding too bare bones or lackluster in any way. It creates and maintains a 20 minute, 10 track long, mood — perfect for cozy grey days.
Flake — Milk Flud
I’ll be the first to tell you that I simply don’t pay enough attention to non indie/punk/emo/bedroom pop music. That being said, I do try to expand my horizons and every so often an album outside of my genre comfort zone comes along and pops the bubble. A prime example would be Milk Flud’s Flake. There is so much genius contained in this giant mishmash of an album, comprised mostly of samples and original beats. An audio collage of sounds, it’s almost impossible to imagine a way in which such an album could ever be so effortless. Yet some way, somehow, Milk Flud creates a unique fluidity with each track bleeding into the next, constructing a cohesive album made to be listened to top to bottom. Rather than the traditional rigid start and end from song to song, the album takes you along through its phases, expressing every sort of emotion one could even imagine. Despite how hectic all of this sounds, this nontraditional approach actually makes the album a perfect anxiety alleviator.
I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone — Chastity Belt
There’s something so inherently loveable about chilled out “stoner” pop albums to me. Maybe it’s the bedroom pop feel, the clever songwriting, or the general nonchalant air is has to it, but Chastity Belt’s I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone was just that chilled out pop album I was looking for this year. Though the band has bottled and branded the “chill cool kid” indie pop sound, they bring a candid and clever lyricism that sets them just enough apart from the pack to catch your interest.
After Laughter — Paramore
This album was long awaited to say the least. I’ve been a Paramore fan from the time I was 7 years old and All We Know Is Falling was released. While it surely is their popiest work yet, at the heart of it all, After Laughter still stands for everything Paramore has always been. There’s a distinct power, a commanding of attention, a strength, behind everything the band has ever done; and this album was no exception. What made it the star of an album that it is though, is their genuinely fun, danceable approach to a special brand of edgy nu-wave pop. A branching out for the band that just made sense, as I’ve watched them grow alongside myself.
Songs4u — Cuco
2017 was the year we saw droney, atmospheric sounds reinvent pop music. Cuco is undoubtedly one of the leading artists ushering the genre to a larger audience. His simple, sticky sweet lyrics make for catchy, earworm worthy, lavish love songs. With just enough indie tinge to keep it from sounding commercial or made-for-radio, Songs4u, is the “guilty pleasure” you don’t have to feel guilty about.
Yunahon Mixtape — Oso Oso
Ah yes, the not-quite-indie, not-quite-emo, not-quite-pop, album that stole all of our hearts this year. Rogue released with nothing but a vague allusion to its release the night before, the album was the talking point of the year. Never seeming to phase out of fashion, the year long “buzz” surrounding this album was well justified. Jade Lilitri, the project’s songwriter and sole constant member; has an impeccable ability to construct entire stories in his songwriting, so clear you can practically visualize them. There’s something simply so inexplicably special and timeless about this album that will continue to make it a standout record as it ages.
Cost of Living — Downtown Boys
As hellish as 2017 was, this album is the soundtrack to every bit of resistance that was put forth this year. Loud and crashing, it demands the attention it deserves, and doesn’t waste a second once it has it. A quite simply better (if you ask me) modern spin on a very classic punk sound. This album is the better-for-you alternative to that pesky, hyper masculine, old man punk we all know and kinda love.
Daymoon — Strange Ranger
I’ll be honest, after growing so deeply attached to their 2016 release, Rot Forever, I just didn’t think Strange Ranger could come up with a follow up album that would adequately satisfy me. I now know I was grossly underestimating the talent of power duo Isaac Eiger and Fred Nixon, who now have expanded the band to include drummer Nathan Tucker and Keyboardist Fiona Woodman. Daymoon is a beautifully strung together collection of songs which showcase the band’s vast range of ability. From the soft, intimate moments of songs like “Warm” and “Sophie” to the rumbling almost tastefully clamorous moments of songs like “Everything All at Once” and “The Future”. The band puts a thoughtful and composed twist on mumbly, relaxed, indie rock & roll.
Swear I’m Good At This — Diet Cig
Diet Cig is the definition of dynamic duo. Frank lyricism meet sticky sweet hooks that will be stuck in your head for days. This compact 2 piece indie rock outfit have put a new shiny pop edge on good ‘ol indie rock & roll. The pairing makes for a bridge building album, accessible to so much more than the traditional white-cinema-studies-cis-boy-indie fan, and introduces even the seemingly most distant of audiences to each other.
Philistines — Pro Teens
This record is the musical embodiment of smooth talking. Vocalist Andrew Phipps’ at times borderline blaze delivery was made for this music. Groovy and carefree with an air of elegance, the album’s subtly smug demeanor gives it just the right amount of intriguing edge. Philistines is as cool, calm, and collected as I wish I could be.
Everybody Works — Jay Som
As much as it seems like a cliche at this point, 2017 was a genre-shifting year for indie music. Moving away from a rather boing era of folk-indie, what I like to call atmospheric indie, was sheparded in. Leading the crusade was Jay Som’s Everybody Works. Project mastermind, Melina Duterte combines the fuzzed out and droney distortion of shoegaze with the powerful, catchy songwriting of indie pop, all while putting her unique synthy spin on it all. Ultimately, the album was a testament to Dutere’s ability to write a radio ready indie pop hit, while still maintaining her distinct experimental edge.
XXL — Snow Roller
This is, in my opinion, the most underrated album of the year. A hidden gem that I wish y’all would get around to listening to sooner rather than later. The frank nature of the project’s songwriting pairs rather well with it’s rough around the edges yet catchy as all get out sound. Perhaps most endearing of all about the album is it’s candid demeanor. Everything about XXL is forthright- laying it all on the table, displaying a sort of matter of fact vulnerability, and constructing a unique sort of relatability.
Mirror Touch — Wild Ones
I don’t know how they do it, but Wild Ones have seamlessly brought atmospheric club-esq beats to indie pop songwriting, and I am here for it. The band creates a sort of effortless, classic, ambiance out of a synthy nu-wave sound in their 2017 full length follow up to 2015’s Heatwave EP. It’s fun without being conceited, and mellow without being lazy.
Pleasure Suck — Spirit of the Beehive
This year’s dark horse. The kinda weird, kinda experimental, kinda just sick album that swept in unexpectedly. Their full, orchestral-esq sound allows each aspect of their band to shine in their own distinct moments. From grand, larger than life synth in “ricky (caught me tryin’)” to the soft, to the hectic fuzzy screeches of “big brain”, to the gently sweeping moments of standout ballad, “Cops Come Looking”. Every second of this album is thoughtful and intentional yet natural and not contrived.
Routines — Hoops
Sometimes you just need a simple, straightforward, feel good album — this is that album. This was my favorite go to record to put on over the restraunt wide speakers while working infamous weekend brunch rushes this summer. While it may not be anything revolutionary, Routines does what it does well, and with an effortless sophistication to it. Just the right amount of refined, with a dash of that endearing home recorded aesthetic, Hoops rides the wave of what’s popular while making it their own.
Fractures — Soft Fangs
Everything about this album is soft and close and snug. Yet at the same time, there are extravagant, sweeping, moments that creep up and wash over the album. The most powerful whisper you’ve ever heard, the project’s sole architect — John Lutkevich, has a voice that will haunt you. His intricate lyricism only further lends itself to the haunting impression the album will burn into your brain. This album is a testimony to the beauty of the delicate things.
Rodia — Swordfish
Almost as if conducting a giant balancing act, this album walks the thinnest line between “fun” and “shake you to your core emotional” — and with poise, might I add. Songs like “Social Drinker” and “Dentistry” offer the kind of loud, rambling catharsis we all love to sing along to; while songs like “I’m Okay (x3)” and “Owen” kind of just leave you in an emotional wreck. It is truly the beauty of duality that makes this album the unsuspecting, larger-than-life, monument that it is.
Best Non-Full Length Releases:
Hobby Limit — Boy Scouts
Alone Together — Thurman
Bend — Slug
Strictly Speaking — Retirement Party
To Flick a Bug — Sustains
Strings — Two Moons
Karaoke — Jodi
“Flaming Hot Cheetos”/”Pretty Girl” — Clairo
EP 1 — Surfer Rosie
Nobody Knows If — Strange Ranger
Remember Sports/Pllush Split EP — Remember Sports/Pllush
Motorcycle.jpg — Slaughter Beach Dog
Snooze — Snooze
Hell Ya — Club Night
Protect Your Brand — Mush
Taste Buds — Hypoluxo
Furnsss — Furnsss
Joy Again — Joy Again
Down on Sunset Strip — Lunch Ladies
Now That’s What I Call Music 420 — Mom Jeans/Prince Daddy and the Hyena/Pictures of Vernon