2017 IN REVIEW: MUSIC

As I like to do every year, I take time to reflect on the outgoing year. For me, this process usually starts with highlights from the past year. Given music is such a big part of my life, I like to highlight my favorite albums (a post on my year in cycling usually follows in the new year). Usually this list is informed by how often it was played, but music is emotional for me, so the albums that made my list in the past tended to be determined on how much an album "spoke" to me. This year, I decided to just look at the data, namely the number of plays an album had to determine my "top 9." In order to not penalize an album that came out late in the year, I normalized the plays to remove release date as a variable. It's interesting to look at it this way - there were a couple surprises in terms of the actual order, but no surprises in my top 9.

 
  Julien Baker - Turn Out the Lights.  Two years ago, Jamie XX and Julien Baker were my top albums of the year and here we are again with the XX and Julien Baker among my most played albums in 2017. There's something about her music that pierces my soul and makes me feel vulnerable. It's a bit uncomfortable, but I love it at the same time. She makes me feel.  Turn out the lights  is a stunner of an album.

Julien Baker - Turn Out the Lights. Two years ago, Jamie XX and Julien Baker were my top albums of the year and here we are again with the XX and Julien Baker among my most played albums in 2017. There's something about her music that pierces my soul and makes me feel vulnerable. It's a bit uncomfortable, but I love it at the same time. She makes me feel. Turn out the lights is a stunner of an album.

  Slow Meadow - Costero.  On Slow Meadow's second album, it's easier to see Slow Meadow as Slow Meadow and not as Hammock's first signing. This second album showcases a stronger identity and sound and makes me excited for records to come.

Slow Meadow - Costero. On Slow Meadow's second album, it's easier to see Slow Meadow as Slow Meadow and not as Hammock's first signing. This second album showcases a stronger identity and sound and makes me excited for records to come.

   The War on Drugs - A Deeper Understanding.  I remember hearing the first couple of songs from this album and being really excited. When the album dropped, I think I listened to it straight through, twice. This album is a rich, sonic experience. I've read that frontman, Adam Granduciel is a bit of a perfectionist and well, it shows in the best way possible. 

 The War on Drugs - A Deeper Understanding. I remember hearing the first couple of songs from this album and being really excited. When the album dropped, I think I listened to it straight through, twice. This album is a rich, sonic experience. I've read that frontman, Adam Granduciel is a bit of a perfectionist and well, it shows in the best way possible. 

  The XX - I See You.  In 2015, Jamie XX's album,  In Colour,  was on repeat all through the year. The XX's  I See You  sees Jamie XX's influence all over this record, and while the album has a different sound than past albums, I for one dig it.

The XX - I See You. In 2015, Jamie XX's album, In Colour, was on repeat all through the year. The XX's I See You sees Jamie XX's influence all over this record, and while the album has a different sound than past albums, I for one dig it.

  The National - Sleep Well Beast.  The National just keeps getting better and better. The depth they explore seems to go deeper with every album and while for some bands this may mean leaving fans behind, The National always seem to bring fans along on the journey. In a way, it's like we're getting to know The National better with every album, and what's not to like about that?

The National - Sleep Well Beast. The National just keeps getting better and better. The depth they explore seems to go deeper with every album and while for some bands this may mean leaving fans behind, The National always seem to bring fans along on the journey. In a way, it's like we're getting to know The National better with every album, and what's not to like about that?

  Iron & Wine - Beast Epic.  It's been a while since Iron & Wine released an album and it was worth the wait. Beast Epic marries what initially drew me to Iron & Wine - soft, intimate vocals - with a maturation of his sound. It's as if Beast Epic is a record of elements that have worked well on his prior albums. It works.

Iron & Wine - Beast Epic. It's been a while since Iron & Wine released an album and it was worth the wait. Beast Epic marries what initially drew me to Iron & Wine - soft, intimate vocals - with a maturation of his sound. It's as if Beast Epic is a record of elements that have worked well on his prior albums. It works.

  Sufjan Stevens - Carrie & Lowell Live.  Carrie & Lowell came out in 2015, and was on repeat quite a bit in '15. This live album is so well done and so intimate. I couldn't stop playing it. You know how some live albums are better than the studio recording? I think this is one of those examples. There's also a video album you can watch. I just wish Sufjan Stevens released it on vinyl instead of digital only.

Sufjan Stevens - Carrie & Lowell Live. Carrie & Lowell came out in 2015, and was on repeat quite a bit in '15. This live album is so well done and so intimate. I couldn't stop playing it. You know how some live albums are better than the studio recording? I think this is one of those examples. There's also a video album you can watch. I just wish Sufjan Stevens released it on vinyl instead of digital only.

  Hammock - Mysterium.  How to describe  Mysterium? It's  a beautiful, minimalist album that is not light on evoking emotion. I found  Mysterium  to be a calming influence this past year, a year where I needed it more than ever. 

Hammock - Mysterium. How to describe Mysterium? It's a beautiful, minimalist album that is not light on evoking emotion. I found Mysterium to be a calming influence this past year, a year where I needed it more than ever. 

  James Vincent McMorrow - True Care.  I was surprised when JVM dropped  True Care  earlier this year. It had been less than a year since his last release,  We Move , which was a brilliant album. I'd argue  True Care  is not on the same level as  We Move  but it's still quite good in a different way. From this album, I get a sense that JVM has a lot on his mind and music is an outlet where he can share what's on his mind. 

James Vincent McMorrow - True Care. I was surprised when JVM dropped True Care earlier this year. It had been less than a year since his last release, We Move, which was a brilliant album. I'd argue True Care is not on the same level as We Move but it's still quite good in a different way. From this album, I get a sense that JVM has a lot on his mind and music is an outlet where he can share what's on his mind. 

lifeb | fmusic, best of, 2017