50. RECORDED SONGS by FRIGHTENED RABBIT (EP)
Just a little taste of Frightened Rabbit.
49. BRICK BODY KIDS STILL DAYDREAM by OPEN MIKE EAGLE
48. CONCRETE AND GOLD by FOO FIGHTERS
47. JEN CLOHER by JEN CLOHER
46. RAP ALBUM TWO by JONWAYNE
Funny rap doesn’t always work, but this does.
45. THE COST OF LIVING by THE DOWNTOWN BOYS
44. FUNERAL BALLOONS by BLOCKHEAD
43. PORT CITIES (self titled)
I’m not sure why this band has made their debut album so hard to find—there’s no full streams, and the only songs available on Soundcloud are far from the best ones on the album. So you’ll have to take my word for it when I tell you it’s some of the best AM radio rock since the 1970s.
42. LOTTA SEA LICE by COURTNEY BARNETT AND KURT VILE
41. MENTAL ILLNESS by AIMEE MANN
40. SIMPLE DREAMS by LINDA RONSTADT (classic reissue)
*BEST REISSUE/ARCHIVE ALBUM*
Two Warren Zevon covers, Buddy Holly some beautiful original ballads, and a cover of Tumbling Dice that articulates every word—making it even more shocking than the original. This was the legendary singer’s greatest album, and the reissue is a reminder why.
Obviously, this is better than a lot of the albums on this list. It’s timeless. I’m including it because it’s so worth getting as a reissue.
OTHER GREAT REISSUES OF THE YEAR: HITCHHIKER by NEIL YOUNG (classic rock)
AMERICAN HUNGER: REBIRTH by MF GRIMM
39. WESTSIDEDOOM by WESTSIDE GUNN and MF DOOM
Two songs of a DOOM production is better than none. And he even shows up to throw in a few bars that sound as good as his older stuff.
38. BIG WALNUTS YONDER
BEST INDIE SUPERGROUP OF THE YEAR
Mike Watt from Minutemen. Nels Cline from Wilco. Greg Saunier from Deerhoof. Nick Reinhart from Tera Melos.
IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY A COUPLE OTHER INDIE COLLABS: SING THE NIGHT IN SORROW by SWEET APPLE
Featuring members of Dinosaur Jr., Witch, and Cobra Verde, and VOLUME I by BNQT, featuring easy listening singles by members of Band of Horses, Midlake, Granddaddy, Travis and Franz Ferdinand.
37. EVERYBODY by LOGIC
BEST WHITE RAPPER OF THE YEAR
Em never dropped in 2017, making room for this bubbling-under rapper to make an entire album of burning-hot cuts.
RUNNER UP: WHITE RAPPERS (A GOOD GUEST) by YOUR OLD DROOG (hip hop)
It’s good to have a sense of humor about yourself. Droog’s entire “Packs” album is worth your time, but this song in particular speaks to his personal reputation as a guy who can elevate any song just by appearing to add a few bars. See also “Whatever Happened to Fire” by Droog and Wiki. Droog’s a great, bubbling under rapper.
36. CLASSICS (DIE YOUNG) by ROADKILL GHOST CHOIR
Smooth Americana you’ve never heard of—but should.
IF YOU LIKED THIS TRY THE EVEN QUIETER, BUT NO LESS AMAZING GHOST STORIES by HAUNTED LIKE HUMAN.
35. 4:44 by JAY-Z
I wanted to like this more than I did, but it’s still a very, very good album. I think it’s a grower not a shower, and if I return to this list next year it might rate higher.
IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY: REPUTATION by TAYLOR SMITH. Another solid major label effort that suffered in the face of extremely high expectations based on past brilliance.
34. DIFFERENT WATERS by COELY
BEST SONG TO CELEBRATE TO
Celebrate is an amazing, amazing song. Party and be inspired!
33. SONGS FROM THE ROAD by THE MOMS (EP)
Keep punk alive!
32. LIFE AND LIVIN’ IT by SINKANE
Pure, accessible, unadulterated joy in the form of music.
31. SUDAN ARCHIVES (self-titled)
The whole thing isn’t available to stream, but buy this from Soundcloud. It’s amazing.
IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY: PRINCE OF TEARS by BAXTER DURY
Where Sudan Archives blends ambient, hip hop, trip hop, and World folk, Dury takes his punk roots into the future, going beyond where Big Audio Dynamite first broke ground.