1. Sarah Shook & the Disarmers, Years
🎵 It could only be you 🎵
Everyone who knows me knows I can’t shut up about Sarah Shook & the Disarmers, and how I am three 5000ths of the way to my goal of seeing a Disarmers show in every city in the world.
Years is the excellent followup to the band’s excellent debut LP, with some of the best dang “alt country” sounds in the game. Sarah’s voice, perspective, wit, and bite is crystal clear in the songwriting, and the Disarmers gang of seasoned ruffians backs it up with rip-roaring musical content throughout. Plus Sarah is such a kind person and maybe an internet friend now.
Do not miss this band live if you ever get the chance – but you’ll have to fight me to stand front-row center.
2. The Beths, Future Me Hates Me
Has a day gone by since I first heard this album that I didn’t listen to it? Probably. Have two days? I don’t think so. The precision of the lyrics to these songs is impressive, as is the arrangement. It's fun to listen to these songs, and it's fun to learn the words to them.
The best moment of my 2018 concert-going career happened at their SF show. (The crowd was there for the Beths even though they were opening that night.) At the moment of the big build in “Little Death”, the energy just grows and grows, and there’s no pause in the dense lyrics until just before “I die, I die a little death.” As lead singer Liz Stokes took a breath, the crowd belted out the line -- it was an electric moment and clearly took her breath away for a moment. That’s the magic of live music, folks.
3. Parquet Courts, Wide Awake
On first listen, I mistook this album for being very same-y with Human Performance. But on further listening and understanding, it turns out it is better than Human Performance, both in the words and in how much it makes you want to dance.
4. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Hope Downs
What a great album to listen to. The boys are in full force, babyyyy.
5. U.S. Girls, In A Poem Unlimited
This one took me by surprise. I have to credit my brother’s mixtapes for bringing it to my attention. I feel like it’s not a sort of music I listen to that much, but the magnetism of “Rage of Plastics” drew me in. After seeing them play at the Fillmore, I think I started to really get this band, and though it might seem put-on, I like the strength of the vision of the art.
5. Remember Sports, Slow Buzz
Just good old good fun when you listen to this, ya dig? I tweeted earlier this year that every time I listen to Remember Sports I think of a different “Band X” for the description “this sounds like Band X if Band X was willing to have more fun.” I stand by that assessment, and this album was in steady rotation all year. The flow of the songs is too good to not like it.
5. La Luz, Floating Features
I like the sounds La Luz uses, and the harmonies are cool. Floating Features is more disciplined than previous albums, and the vocals are more in-synch than ever. I, too, moved from Seattle to California. And what a damn rhythm section in this outfit!
8. Middle Kids, Lost Friends
I don’t have a ton to say about this record, but I kept coming back to it more than I expected to so now here it is included here.
(The best albums of 2017 were: 1-Sidelong [Rerelease] by Sarah Shook & The Disarmers; 2-A Place I'll Always Go by Palehound; 3-everything else)
(The best album of 2016 was Human Performance)