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Under the Radar’s Top 100 Albums of 2017

Another Dark Year Was Brightened By a Plethora of Fantastic Albums

Dec 30, 2017 Yumi Zouma Bookmark and Share

2016 was regarded as a fairly rough year by many, but 2017 was no walk in the park either. 2016 was mired by the deaths of several beloved musical icons (David Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen, George Michael, and Sharon Jones among them) and the disappointing and divisive Presidential election, but in 2017 we had to deal with the ramifications of said election (we’d say that roughly 95% of the musicians we interview likely don’t support many, if any, of President Trump’s policies). And while 2016 was the year your favorite artist died, 2017 might have been the year your favorite artist became dead to you, thanks to the various sexual assault allegations lobbied at high profile men in the music industry, film industry, journalism, politics, and elsewhere. But it was a damn fine year for music, which helped get us all through the anxiety of the daily news cycle. Here we present our favorite 100 albums from the tens of thousands full-lengths released in the last 12 months.

Many celebrated bands returned in 2017 after long hiatuses with new albums that nearly matched or even topped their creative peaks (we’re looking at you Grizzly Bear, Fleet Foxes, Broken Social Scene, LCD Soundsystem, and Slowdive). And in this “Me Too” era it’s encouraging that nearly half the artists in our Top 100 Albums of 2017 list are either female solo artists or bands fronted (or co-fronted) by women (which is of course how it should be). We’re looking at you Julien Baker, St. Vincent, Wolf Alice, Japanese Breakfast, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Alvvays, Big Thief, Rose Elinor Dougall, Jay Som, Kelly Lee Owens, and many others. There were fruitful collaborations (Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile produced an intercontinental album that played to both their strengths, meanwhile Sufjan Stevens, Nico Muhly, Bryce Dessner, and James McAlister all teamed up for a concept album about the planets). And some of 2017’s best albums were promising debuts (Moses Sumney, Girl Ray, Midnight Sister, Bedouine, Alex Lahey, and more). The year’s saddest album, Mount Eerie’s A Crow Looked At Me, was also one of its most compelling. And Father John Misty once again held up a slightly skewed mirror to the craziness of the modern world with Pure Comedy.

Now to the behind-the-scenes mechanics of how we put our Top 100 list together. Each of our writers was asked to submit a list of their 45 favorite albums of the year. Then their lists were all combined to make up our final master list, with their #1 album getting 45 points and so on down to their #45 album getting one point. In all 25 of our writers and editors voted, including my co-publisher/wife Wendy and myself. There were enough strong albums released this year that we certainly struggled to narrow it down to just 100, as our Honorable Mentions list featuring an additional 42 albums illustrates (check it out here). It also wasn’t easy this year to determine our #1 album of the year. Really any of the Top 5 could have been our #1, so we had a second vote to determine which of the Top 5 should be our #1. When that proved inconclusive we narrowed it down to The War on Drugs’ A Deeper Understanding and Julien Baker’s Turn Out the Lights. A further tiebreaker vote ended in a… tie. Since it was higher on the personal lists of both Wendy and myself, and also because it charted slightly better in the initial vote, we went with A Deeper Understanding. But you could almost say we have a joint #1 this year (or even a five-way tie between The War on Drugs, Julien Baker, St. Vincent, Slowdive, and Wolf Alice). We also had a separate vote to work out our #99 and 100 albums, from the list of honorable mentions.

2017 is going to be a tough act to follow, musically speaking. With so many notable artists releasing new albums this year, who’s left to wow us in 2018? Luckily we’ve already heard some impressive albums from the first quarter of 2018 and no doubt come next December we’ll once again be left fretting over how we could possibly narrow down the list of great LPs to only 100. Let’s just hope that 2018 is a brighter year. That President Tweet settles down and no more of our favorite musicians and actors are revealed to be scumbags who can’t keep it in their pants. But until the next year comes into full view, here are 100 albums worth discovering, digesting, and revisiting.

Check out the full Top 100 Albums of 2017 list over in our list section here.

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December 31st 2017

Pile!  How was that album missed?

January 2nd 2018

One of the wonderful job you have to done by providing here top 100 albums of 2017 which was brightened by a Plethora of Fantastic Albums. Keep blogging.
Best Regards,

January 16th 2018

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