Weirdo Music Forever's Top 9 Albums of 2017
We've compiled a list of our favorite albums of 2017, and it's been a joy to look back at what has truly been an exceptional year of music. We're convinced that in the future, we'll look back at 2017 as a particularly important and productive year for several of our favorite artists, and we're happy to share some of what we see as the highlights with you.
Truth be told, we're not crazy about lists of this sort, however, we are passionate about finding, sharing, enjoying, and discussing great music. We welcome moments like this as an opportunity to collect and consider recently-released music that has made a significant impact in our world and is deserving of continued attention. So while these releases do indeed sit atop our list of favorite music this year, we'll stop short of claiming this is a comprehensive list of the "best" music of the year. Rather, these are the releases that most profoundly became a part of our lives in 2017, and it's a pleasure and privilege to share our thoughts about the music with you.
1. Ariel Pink - Dedicated to Bobby Jameson
Ariel Pink's Dedicated to Bobby Jameson has all the hallmarks we love and look for in an album: quality songwriting, evocative soundscapes, unexpected twists and turns, stellar musicianship, engaging lyrics, and great cover art to complement the listening experience. Indeed, this album contains everything we hoped it would and more. After dozens of listens, it still feels fresh and inviting, and is certainly a work that is going to command a strong presence in our consciousness for years to come. Picking favorite tracks is a nigh impossible task, but if cornered, gems like "Feels Like Heaven", "Time to Live" , "Death Patrol", and "I Wanna Be Young" certainly spring to mind.
2. John Maus - Screen Memories
Screen Memories is proof postive that good things - or in this case, great things - truly do come to those who wait. John Maus occupied himself for some time completing his doctoral dissertation and building synthesizers among other pursuits, so it's been six years since his last album. And what an album it is - every track of Screen Memories invites and rewards repeated listens. Somehow immediately accessible and deceptively complex at the same time, this offering by John Maus is an instant classic, and it's not surprising that Maus's audience seems to have expanded exponentially in recent months. Starting points for the uninitiated included "Touchdown", "Pets", and "The Combine".
3. R. Stevie Moore and Jason Falkner - Make it Be
We eagerly listen to anything released by the illustrious R. Stevie Moore, and the endeavor is consistently rewarding. This year's Make It Be album is especially remarkable since the Godfather of Home Recording teamed up with Jason Falkner, known the world over for his work with Jellyfish, The Grays, Air, Beck, Daniel Johnston, TV Eyes, and countless others. The duo had previously crossed paths on the 2013 R. Stevie Moore/Ariel Pink Ku Klux Glam album, and the match-up has proven itself to be an enduring an inspired pairing. Moore and Falkner's reworking of "I Hate people" (retitled "I H8 Ppl" here) is worth the price of admission, while "Another Day Slips Away", and "Sincere Amore" (as well as more experimental inclusions like "Passed Away Today") justify not only the album's rightful placement in the RSM/Falkner canon, but also acclaim and recognition by a broader audience appreciative of experimental pop music of the highest caliber.
4. Holy Shit - Solid Rain
Solid Rain is consistent with the track record of Matt Fishbeck's Holy Shit in that it doesn't demand your attention, but deftly succeeds in getting it anyway. Understated, thoughtful, and captivating, this album quickly became one of our favorites of the year. Like much of Matt Fishbeck's music and art, there's an element of mystery here that has encouraged us to revisit the LP time and time again, think about it even when the turntable is nowhere in sight, and discuss its virtues and appeal with friends and colleagues. "Who Am I", "One Fine Day", and "Marriage Monologue" are all strong introductions to this exceptional album.
5. Gary Wilson - Let's Go to Outer Space
The day after Gary Wilson's Let's Go to Outer Space was released, Dâm-Funk wrote "1 of my favorite albums of 2017 so far....this is what I've been needing. Goosebumps, tears, & smiles throughout, all wrapped up in one straight forward release." We couldn't agree more. Highlights on this space-themed album include "Gary Kissed a Mannequin" and "She's the Girl from Mars", proving that (thankfully) Mr. Wilson shows no sign of slowing as he continues his lifelong pursuit of a unique, strange, and beautiful muse.
6. Dent May - Across the Multiverse
Dent May last released an album in 2013 (Warm Blanket). Similar to John Maus, the recording hiatus seems to have been time well-spent, though, since his return was accompanied by quite possibly his strongest and most rewarding album to date. Across the Multiverse delivers remarkably consistent and impressive songwriting and performances from start to finish, and hasn't strayed far from our turntable since we got it. Highlights - if we're pressed to get specific - include "Hello Cruel World", "Picture on a Screen", and "Across the Multiverse".
7. Geneva Jacuzzi - Secret Demos Vol. 2
We've long been fans of Geneva Jacuzzi's live shows, but her recordings are equally worthy of attention. Whether the tracks on this self-released CD are - as the title suggests - actually demos or not, we've thoroughly enjoyed this release and approached it as a full-fledged CD. We'll be loyal to both the CD's title and Geneva's own preference by keeping its content offline, but suffice to say that we recommend obtaining one of the physical copies (each with a unique, handmade cover) of Secret Demos Vol. 2
8. Nite Jewel - Real High
Nite Jewel stands out in a year of excellent music with her latest release, Real High. The album showcases Nite Jewel's ability to aptly assimilate musical influences while remaining true to her singular artistic vision. A sense of clarity and confidence permeates this album, securing a place not only on our humble list here, but doubtless also on that of many fans and critics alike. Some of our favorite tracks include "Had To Let Me Go" and "2 Good 2 Be True".
9. Ash Ra Tempel Experience - Live in Melbourne
Manuel Göttsching - known the world over for his Ash Ra Tempel and solo work - assembled an all-star group for this live recording of classic Ash Ra Tempel material. In addition to Manuel himself, the Live in Melbourne album features an all-star band: Ariel Pink, Shags Chamberlain, and Oren Ambarchi seamlessly create music together here that is simultaneously loyal to the classic material and engaging in its own right. This LP is a must for fans of Ash Ra Tempel, krautrock, experimental music, and space rock.
And why nine entries instead of a round ten? Well, the nine above are the releases that particularly played an important part in our musical lives this year, but as always,we welcome tips and suggestions for something that might have escaped our ears. We hope you've enjoyed the music of 2017 as much as we have, and we're looking forward to seeing and hearing what 2018 has in store!