In a year overshadowed by political chaos in the United States, it’s nice to reflect back on the good things that came out of 2017. For a lot of us, that “good” was the massive influx of albums that were released this year. With only so many spots on our Best Albums of 2017 list (coming soon), we thought we’d compile some of our favourite albums that flew under the radar or we felt didn’t get the recognition they deserved. Here are the most overlooked albums of 2017.
Indie88’s Best of 2017 is presented with the Samsung Galaxy Note8
Jon McKiel – Memorial Ten Count
Jon McKiel’s Memorial Ten Count sees the veteran East Coast indie rocker turn out his most realized vision yet. It’s 34 minutes of garage rock-inspired folk songs, showcasing his poetic lyricism and wayward arrangements.
Waxahatchee – Out in the Storm
Katie Crutchfield’s fourth album was co-produced by John Angello (Dinosaur Jr, Sonic Youth), who influenced her to record most of the record with her touring band and the result is her most complete-sounding effort yet. Out in the Storm is Waxahatchee detailing a relationship that fell apart, and the songs weave together seamlessly for what could easily be considered one of the year’s best records.
Surfer Blood – Afro Snowdonia
When people say indie rock is dead it’s clear they’ve missed the boat on bands like Florida-based outfit Surfer Blood. Snowdonia is a pile of fun that draws inspiration from indie icons like Built to Spill, The Shins, and Vampire Weekend, to name a few.
Big Thief – Capacity
Adrianne Lenker of Big Thief dug in even deeper on Big Thief’s sophomore album Capacity, than their previous release Masterpiece. Lenker writes about a early childhood memories and reflections about her family, and drawing inspiration of a traumatic event she experienced as a young girl.
Sam Coffey & The Iron Lungs – Sam Coffey & The Iron Lungs
Toronto-based rock outfit Sam Coffey & The Iron Lungs have earned themselves a reputation as one of the best live bands in the city. While they’ve admittedly struggled to capture that sound on a record in the past, their Dine Alone Records debut saw them finally pull it altogether. They actually recorded it twice before bringing in producer Alexandre Bonenfant to help get them where they wanted to be. The result was a more polished record, steeped in 70s glam and power pop, that allowed Sam’s songs to really come to life.
Sorority Noise – You’re Not As______As You Think
If the emo resurgence is truly upon us, Hartford, Connecticut’s Sorority Noise have to be considered one of the bands at the centre of it. Their 2017 record You’re Not As______As You Think is one of the most emotionally-charged efforts of recent memory.
Chad VanGaalen – Light Information
The sixth album from Chad VanGaalen finds the experimental folk artist demonstrating his knack for writing unorthodox pop-infused alternative music.
Matt Mays – Once Upon Of A Time
Matt Mays returned this fall with Once Upon a Hell of a Time, the long-awaited follow-up to his 2012 Juno Award-winning album Coyote. The Halifax singer-songwriter recorded most of the album with co-producer Loel Campbell of Wintersleep.
“This is a snapshot of four or five years of my life that were pretty wild, and pretty lost, and pretty free — in certain ways — and I felt like I was coming to the end of a bit of a chapter,” Mays told Indie88. “It was a f~~king wild ride of emotions and late nights and all the feels. Kind of the record I’ve always wanted to make.”
Daddy Issues – Deep Dreams
Nashville, Tennessee-based three-piece Daddy Issues released a series of cassettes and digital downloads via Infinity Cat over the past couple years, but it’s their 2017 effort Deep Dream that’s effectively helped them find a larger audience, and it’s well-deserved. The Nashville punk scene has churned out some of the best young bands going, and it’s only looking up for Daddy Issues.
Power Trip – Nightmare Logic
Texas-based pizza metal outfit Power Trip are something of a throwback, crafting 90s thrash-inspired tunes and all the imagery that should be associated with such sounds. They’re clearly self-aware, not taking themselves too seriously but never lifting a foot off the gas as they blaze through eight songs with reckless abandon.
The Barr Brothers – Queens of the Breakers
The Barr Brothers released one of the most beautiful and intriguing records of 2017. Queens of the Breakers expands upon the curious wonder the band conjured on their 2014 LP Sleeping Operator, which earned them a Juno nomination for Adult Alternative Album of the Year. Where the band’s previous album played withs sounds and textures in an ambient sense, Brad Barr said they went for a more “grounded” approach on Queens of the Breakers.
Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile – Lotta Sea Lice
Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile’s partnership works so well not just because their names are reminiscent of a certain grunge power couple from the 90s, but because of how well their songwriting and performance reflects each other so well. Kurt and Courtney’s Lotta Sea Lice feels less of an album written for fans of their music, and more of a conversation between the two pen pals comfortable enough with each other that they finish each other sentences.
Mount Eerie – A Crow Looked At Me
It would be hard to call Mount Eerie’s ninth effort A Crow Looked At Me simply an album, when in actuality it is the physical form in which Phil Elverum’s grief took following the passing of his wife and the mother to his daughter. “Real death” sets the tone of the overarching concept of the album. Elverum’s dive into grief and sorrow is real; harrowing thoughts and feeling unexpectedly dropping in and out of nowhere. A Crow Looked isn’t by any means an accessible album, but one that is worthy of recognition and a thorough listen — if you can spare the tears.
Everything Everything – A Fever Dream
Now four albums in, UK’s Everything Everything came pretty close to perfecting their craft with their 2017 release A Fever Dream. Jonathan Higgs and company have a knack like few others at crafting frantic and eclectic glitch pop, a genre that’s shared by a few mainstream outliers. Despite critical acclaim, the album has yet to take off outside of UK charts, and for that reason made this list as overlooked.
San Fermin – Belong
Brooklyn chamber-pop ensemble San Fermin makes the list for their fantastic 2017 album Belong. Primary songwriter Ellis Ludwig-Leone took a slight different approach to their third album than previous releases. The eight piece group expanded on their rich, orchestral sound utilizing an expansive list of instruments including violin, synth, for a surprisingly pop-conscious sound. It’s a gorgeous mix of indie, pop, folk and classical that was somehow swept under the rug.
Mac DeMarco – This Old Dog
This Old Dog will surely make the year-end lists for any jizz-jazz warriors (fans of his unique blend of jazz, folk and pop), but Mac DeMarco’s fifth studio effort in many ways was largely overlooked. In this record, DeMarco confronts his fears about growing up, tackling with it his relationship with his estranged father. Sonically This Old Dog is different from the Mac we’ve come to know and love. Mac ditches the party-boy attitude and grew up a little, sorry!
Stay tuned to Indie88.com over the coming weeks for our entire Best of 2017 series.
Up next: Toronto’s Best New Public Spaces (Monday, December 11th)