Best Of 2017: Michael's List

These may not be the “best” records of the year, but they are records that ended up meaning a lot to me, for one reason or another. Most were by women, perhaps because women have made the most interesting new music in the genres I follow most closely. This is in no particular order although the ones toward the top are records I spent more time with.


   Exile in the Outer Ring  - EMA   A concept record about life in the struggling outer suburbs, a placeless American white trash dystopia of strip malls, opioids, online surveillance, DUI arrests, and political paranoia.

Exile in the Outer Ring - EMA

A concept record about life in the struggling outer suburbs, a placeless American white trash dystopia of strip malls, opioids, online surveillance, DUI arrests, and political paranoia.

   Party  - Aldous Harding   New Zealand’s Aldous Harding toured Washington twice this year, and both shows showcased her impeccable songwriting along with a harrowingly singular vision of gothic folk.

Party - Aldous Harding

New Zealand’s Aldous Harding toured Washington twice this year, and both shows showcased her impeccable songwriting along with a harrowingly singular vision of gothic folk.

   Supercalifragile  - Game Theory   A bittersweet, posthumous collaboration of the late Scott Miller with some of the bandmates he worked with throughout his life, plus a constellation of admirers and simpatico songwriters including luminaries like Aimee Mann, Will Sheff of Okkervil River, the Posies, Ted Leo, and many more.

Supercalifragile - Game Theory

A bittersweet, posthumous collaboration of the late Scott Miller with some of the bandmates he worked with throughout his life, plus a constellation of admirers and simpatico songwriters including luminaries like Aimee Mann, Will Sheff of Okkervil River, the Posies, Ted Leo, and many more.

   What Now  - Sylvan Esso   Along with Jenn Wasner’s Flock of Dimes, Sylvan Esso is doing the best job out there at reinvigorating spartan early-80s synth-pop for a new generation of listeners.

What Now - Sylvan Esso

Along with Jenn Wasner’s Flock of Dimes, Sylvan Esso is doing the best job out there at reinvigorating spartan early-80s synth-pop for a new generation of listeners.

   Three Futures  - Torres   Startlingly different from her 2012 debut or 2015’s Sprinter, McKenzie Scott’s third record as Torres is electronic, complex in rhythm and emotional content and rich with synthesizer textures while remaining resolutely Southern at heart.  

Three Futures - Torres

Startlingly different from her 2012 debut or 2015’s Sprinter, McKenzie Scott’s third record as Torres is electronic, complex in rhythm and emotional content and rich with synthesizer textures while remaining resolutely Southern at heart.  

   Thank     You     Friends: Big Star’s Third Live    A warm-hearted and surprisingly uplifting tribute to a record, and band, once regarded as a brilliantly hopeless downer. Established figures like Ken Stringfellow (Posies) and Mike Mills (R.E.M.) join talented newcomers like Skylar Gudasz in recreating the legendary “lost” Big Star record, plus a lot more, with A-list accompaniment by master musicians including the Kronos Quartet.

Thank You Friends: Big Star’s Third Live

A warm-hearted and surprisingly uplifting tribute to a record, and band, once regarded as a brilliantly hopeless downer. Established figures like Ken Stringfellow (Posies) and Mike Mills (R.E.M.) join talented newcomers like Skylar Gudasz in recreating the legendary “lost” Big Star record, plus a lot more, with A-list accompaniment by master musicians including the Kronos Quartet.

   In Search of Lost Time  - Partner   A howlingly funny guitar rock record of Canadian young-adult queer melodrama. Nothing on the album is necessarily deep or profound, but it is both catchy and hooky with snark and heart to spare.

In Search of Lost Time - Partner

A howlingly funny guitar rock record of Canadian young-adult queer melodrama. Nothing on the album is necessarily deep or profound, but it is both catchy and hooky with snark and heart to spare.

   Music for the Age of Miracles  -The Clientele   Not necessarily a major leap forward for Alisdair MacLean’s ensemble, but filled with their usual tuneful melancholy after a long hiatus.

Music for the Age of Miracles -The Clientele

Not necessarily a major leap forward for Alisdair MacLean’s ensemble, but filled with their usual tuneful melancholy after a long hiatus.

   Plunge  -Fever Ray   A jittery and sensual electronica record by Karin Dreijer, the former voice of Sweden’s The Knife. In candor I found this more engaging than Björk’s record this year, with its airy flutes and mystifying interludes.

Plunge -Fever Ray

A jittery and sensual electronica record by Karin Dreijer, the former voice of Sweden’s The Knife. In candor I found this more engaging than Björk’s record this year, with its airy flutes and mystifying interludes.

   Melodrama  - Lorde   Lorde exists in a strange musical world, one that is somehow central to mainstream pop while remaining open to a wide array of off-kilter influences (like her countrymate Aldous Harding). Songs like “Green Light” and “The Louvre” exude smarts and compositional craft.

Melodrama - Lorde

Lorde exists in a strange musical world, one that is somehow central to mainstream pop while remaining open to a wide array of off-kilter influences (like her countrymate Aldous Harding). Songs like “Green Light” and “The Louvre” exude smarts and compositional craft.