It’s been an incredible year in new music! Here are our favourite albums of the year, in no particular order:
Indie88’s Best of 2017 is presented with the Samsung Galaxy Note8
Feist – Pleasure
Leslie Feist returned to our delight with her fifth studio album this year, Pleasure. Rather than go for a big-budget, over produced sound, Feist moves away from the delicacies of polished indie rock, and showed her grit with a well thought out low-fi sound.
Weaves – Wide Open
One of Toronto’s breakthrough artists of the year, Weaves put out their deeply energetic new album Wide Open this year to much acclaim. The album meets at the converge of experimental indie and Bruce Springsteen-like anthemic stadium rock.
Father John Misty – Pure Comedy
This year, Father John Misty dug even deeper into his witty, self-referential and highly critical social commentary on his third album. Pure Comedy puts capitalism, consumerism and politics under the microscope through the LSD-infused lens of king doomsayer Josh Tillman.
Sampha – Process
After lending his vocals to the likes of Drake, Frank Ocean, Kanye West, and Solange, Sampha Sisay delivered his own debut record Process in 2017. It’s an incredibly personal effort, exploring loss and personal trauma, while showcasing the London, England-born artist’s songwriting and multi-instrumentalist abilities.
The War on Drugs – A Deeper Understanding
It’s so easy to get lost within the world that is The War on Drugs. If TWOD’s previous release was any indication, Adam Granduciel has an uncanny ability to create dreamy, lush landscapes of stadium rock. Their fourth record digs even deeper, with a bigger budget and fancier recording studio Granduciel refined his ability to write jam rock with pop coursing through it’s veins. A Deeper Understanding sweeps listeners off their feet, taking them on a musical journey from start to finish.
Grizzly Bear – Painted Ruins
Grizzly Bear skimmed the surface of contemporary pop to make their way to their fifth studio album, Painted Ruins. The indie mainstays returned after a five year break, refreshed and unafraid to explore sounds, mixing in elements of pop to their experimental, unique psychedelia.
St. Vincent – Masseduction
This album marks St. Vincent’s sixth studio album and Annie Clark’s transcendence into the indie-pop realm. Co-written with Jack Antonoff, MASSEDUCTION is her boldest effort yet.
Fleet Foxes – Crack-Up
After a six year hiatus, Fleet Foxes emerged with their best work yet. Crack-Up is the band’s third studio album, following Helplessness Blues in 2011. After taking a break to go back to school, the band’s primary songwriter Robin Pecknold came back to the project with a new, more sophisticated approach. The result is a mixture of refined folk rock and orchestral textures, built through meticulous attention to detail and unconventional methods.
Bjork – Utopia
Renowned Icelandic art-pop artist Bjork released her ninth studio album this year to critical acclaim. Entertainment Weekly best described Utopia as “almost completely a sensory experience”, a kaleidoscopic mix of lush vocals and ethereal textures.
Gord Downie – Introduce Yerself
We said goodbye to iconic Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie in 2017, but not before he delivered an incredible 23-song double album. Produced by Kevin Drew, Introduce Yerself was recorded over two four-day sessions last winter. It’s a haunting, fitting farewell to one of this country’s greatest talents.
Lorde – Melodrama
New Zealand’s hottest export enlisted the help of indie-rocker turned pop-writer Jack Antonoff for their sophomore effort Melodrama. Critics have described it loosely as a concept album about themes like solitude, but in a way that’s brimming with confidence and self-assuredness.
LCD Soundsystem – American Dream
James Murphy and co. delighted fans when he brought back LCD Soundsystem from the brim of nothingness to release their first record in five years. American Dream is everything we’ve come to know and love about the disco-pop rock group and then some.
Partner – In Search of Lost Time
After going viral in 2015 with their hit “The ‘Ellen’ Page”, Partner released their much-anticipated debut album, In Search of Lost Time, in September.
Thundercat – Drunk
The third studio album from Thundercat finds him blending elements of jazz-fusion with 80s powerpop. It’s a humourous, sometimes melancholic journey featuring appearances from artists such as Kenny Loggins, Michael McDonald, Kendrick Lamar, Wiz Khalifa, and Pharrell.
Perfume Genius – No Shape
The fourth record from Mike Hadreas, aka Perfume Genius, is an exercise is tossing pop conventions out the door and redefining the genre. There are no boundaries here, truly “no shape,” as Hadreas employs an expansive pallet of sound that challenges the listener while keeping things accessible at the same time.
The National – Sleep Well Beast
16 years after releasing their debut album, The National finally landed their first No. 1 song on the Billboard chart this year with “The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness.” Sleep Well Beast sees The National explore themes around growing older, navigating married life, loss, and moving on. While it lacks the anthems, the band’s seventh record keeps the songwriting quality high.
Kendrick Lamar – DAMN.
Kendrick Lamar earned his third No. 1 Billboard album with DAMN. It’s a deeply personal record, in which Lamar expounds his own life through the present state of society. It’s ahead of its time, while standing as perhaps the record most symbolic of our times.
Ryan Adams – Prisoner
Ryan Adam’s sixteenth (yes that’s correct) effort Prisoner may be the most under-looked album on this list. In Prisoner, Adams finds catharsis examining the collapse of his marriage to Mandy Moore, detailing his devastation during and after.
Alvvays – Antisocialites
Toronto-based indie pop outfit Alvvays followed up one of the most impressive debut records in recent memory with an effort that somehow exceeds expectations while coming across so effortlessly cool. There’s an immediately recognizable easiness in Molly Rankin’s songwriting, but crafting pop perfection is no simple task. Alvvays have established themselves as one of the most reliable bands going, and they’re only just beginning.
Spoon – Hot Thoughts
Spoon released their ninth studio album, Hot Thoughts, this year. The Austin, Texas-born have delivered another collection of perfectly crafted rock songs. Britt Daniel and Co. have come to showcase a consistent approach, while maintaining a sense of experimentation, for over 20 years now.
Broken Social Scene – Hug of Thunder
We were all in need of a hug in 2017 and Broken Social Scene delivered in a big way with their first record in seven years, Hug of Thunder. Boasting contributions from every member, it’s a rollicking reminder that Toronto’s house band can still bring it. It has everything you could want in a new record from Broken Social Scene: big sweeping sounds, horns, vocals from Emily Haines, Feist, Amy Milan, and newest member Ariel Engle, and Kevin Drew and company’s ability to empty the listener’s emotional piggy bank.
Check out our entire Best of 2017 series here.