Albums of the First Half of 2017, Ranked

(links embedded in the album covers)

15. Abysmal Thoughts – The Drums

You probably haven’t checked in with this band since the summer of 2011 when I had “Saddest Summer” and “Let’s Go Surfing” on repeat. Their latest album still has the same fun summertime energy, and I enjoyed the listen despite not being hooked on a standout single like I once was way back when in the summer of 2011.

14. Witness – Benjamin Booker

When I first heard Benjamin Booker, I thought he was 63 years old and smoked a pack a day. Turns out he’s like twenty something and this is only his second album and I don’t know if he smokes cigarettes or not. Regardless, the music he makes has soul, and that’s worth listening to.

13. In Mind – Real Estate

Pretty classic Real Estate. Slow, mellow, easy listening for your rainy morning with your dog. Nothing that bad to say about it, but for my taste, nothing that good either. Put it on if you don’t want to pay attention to the music and just wanna feel kinda sad and quiet.

12. Tuxedo II – Tuxedo

Another funk album from Tuxedo. It serves its purpose. It’s funky, dancy, fun. But just falls a little flat as a repeat of the first album. I can’t help but disagree that the second time around is the better time around. Love Mayer Hawthorne, for so many reasons, he is a personal hero and role model for me, but I’ll keep listening to Man About Town, Do It, Allie Jones, Back Seat Lover, and the other classic hits. Scooter’s Groove is on my my funk playlist though, fa sho.

11. Woodstock – Portugal. The Man

Up and down like a roller coaster. Some good, some weird, some not that good. Fat Lip is featured on one track. Kinda scattered and a little disappointing for such an anticipated album. I’ll keep listening and trying to find what stands out about it, but after two run throughs, I haven’t pulled anything out as particularly fun or interesting. Except for this ridiculous music video of “Rich Friends” featuring the one the only, Dennis Reynolds.

10. Ti Amo – Phoenix

Weird. Just poppy, and more synth than before. I guess I get it. They’re on what, their sixth album? They’ve done about everything. Time to pop it up, dance it up, play the big fests and arenas and make some cash. I mean they’ve always been an indie pop band, but this one just feels more commercial, and less soulful than before. Nothing wrong with taking that angle after a successful 10+ years in the game. It just doesn’t make for a real memorable album. Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix will always hold a special place in my heart.

9. LA DIVINE – Cold War Kids

You know these guys and you know what they bring. This album came in at just okay for me. They’re never bad, but sometimes you need to be in a CWK kind of mood to really get into it. It’s beginning to grow on me more and more as CWK have a tendency to do. The album art is pretty cool though.

8. I – Niia

Smooth, sexy ballads that remind me of the high R&B times of the late 90s, except it still sounds new age. The very talented, very beautiful Niia brings the good stuff in her second full length album in three years.  My description doesn’t do it justice.  If you’re a soul and R&B fan, you’ll feel it.

7. Sugar at the Gate – TOPS

Groovy gals in this band. Smooth, low key vibes with a sprinkle of pop on top. I kinda wish they brought more pop, but I’ll take what I can get. “Petals” is an instant hit. Can’t wait to see them at Larimer Lounge this fall.

6. Sleep Is the Cousin of Death – Awon

Awon, along with Dephlow and producer Phoniks, continue to represent for real hip hop. One of the very few still producing original, conscious hip hop in 2017. Never disappoints. Somehow always relatable, despite my glaring white privilege. After listening to Awon and Dephlow over a Phoniks beat, ain’t nobody fuckin’ with me.

5. Born Too Late – Casey James Prestwood

CJP and the Burning Angels have been in the game for a long while, and I know I’m late to the party. But coming up out of Denver, they’re slowly gaining a well deserved following, driven primarily by lead groupie, Luke Sinclair. This classic country western gang struck a chord inside of me I didn’t know I had. Makes me feel like a real Colorado cowboy.

4. Hot Thoughts – Spoon

Resurgent. This is probably the surprise album of the first half of 2017. Not that They Want My Soul was bad… I just didn’t get all that into it outside of Inside Out (2014), which is good. At that point, I thought, dang Spoon nice song, good job, glad you guys didn’t quit music yet. And then put them outta my mind. This album confirmed my suspicions about myself being dumb and unable to predict the future. Listen to it, it’s good and doesn’t suck.

3. The Far Field – Future Islands

Future Islands is another band that has continued to grow on me. I was introduced to them through the single Balance, which rocked, hard, but I never thought there was a whole more to them, which was dumb. The Far Field gives me that hot 80s one two combined with some emotional lyrics and in a modern hip way that really gets me going.

2. Freedom Is Free – Chicano Batman

Coming up in 2017 in a hot hot way are these guys. From LA, the four to seven piece group dress exactly how they play: sharp, and fun. I’ve never seen a more hyped Monday night crowd in my life, than I did at the Bluebird Theater this spring.  Tiny Desk Concert embedded in the pic.

1. Yours Conditionally – Tennis

Brilliant, married duo Patrick Riley and Alaina Moore do it again with a lovely ebb-and-flow to this album. After allowing Ritual in Repeat to grow on me and turn into my favorite album of theirs, I was more than willing to give this one a chance. If their rhythms don’t infect you at first, give a second or third listen, and then see how you feel. Also, they’re divine in concert. I might be in love.

 

Honorable Mentions:

Life & Livin’ It – Sinkane
Humanz – Gorillaz
Waiting on a Song – Dan Auerbach
Drunk – Thundercat
Crack-Up – Fleet Foxes
Somersault – Beach Fossils

Pure Comedy – Father John Misty

Still to come in 2017 (SOME BIG ONES GET READY):

(7/7) Vol. 2 – STRFKR
(7/7) Something to Tell You – Haim
(7/14) EGO – RAC
(7/21) Sacred Hearts Club – Foster the People
(7/28) Everything Now – Arcade Fire
(8/4) Manual Override – Saskwatch
(8/25) A Deeper Understanding
(9/1) American Dream – LCD Soundsystem
TBD – Generationals

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