Ep. 59: Favorite Music of 2017 – Top Ten Albums

I’m back from taking a little bit of a break from the podcast. These last few months, I was in the thick of building our new house. We were doing a lot of the work ourselves and trying to get everything done so I was just too busy to record any episodes. But it’s now finished! We’re all moved in and I have my home studio setup again, which is where I’m recording this. I still need to do some acoustic treatment on the walls but here’s where it’s at so far:

jake haws studio

Here’s my favorite music that came out this year. There were a lot of albums I really liked but I’ve narrowed it down to top ten.

10. Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit – The Nashville Sound

Jason IsbellJason is known being a member of The Drive-By Truckers but he’s released several solo albums over the years. This is his sixth and this time, he’s recorded with his backing band, The 400 Unit. He’s got a very pleasant sound that falls somewhere between alt-country and maybe more traditional americana (somewhere along the lines of Ryan Adams). The songwriting is top-notch. It’s a great album. Essential Songs: Last Of My Kind, Tupelo, Molotov

Stream: Spotify

9. Spoon – Hot Thoughts

spoon hot thoughtsThis is their ninth album and they still manage to keep it interesting. This is one of the more experimental releases they’ve done. There are a lot of interesting sounds like distorted drums, vibraphones and synthesizers. It’s even a bit messy but I think works for what they are going for. There are song great, catchy tunes on here. Essential Songs: Do I Have To Talk You Into It, Hot Thoughts, Pink Up

Stream: Spotify

8. Morning Teleportation – Salivating for Symbiosis

R-10654833-1501776806-2976.jpegThis is a pysdeclic rock band from Kentucky, which are signed to Glacial Pace Recordings, a label owned and operated by Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse. This is their second album and they have come up with an adventurous batch of tunes. The arrangements are pretty complex; there’s a lot of guitar noodling recalling minus the bear and also brass hits and other interesting sounds. Despite the complexities, the melodies on several of the songs are great and stand on their own. Essential Songs: The Code, Rise and Fall, Calm Is Intention Devouring It’s Fraility

Stream: Spotify

7. Iron & Wine – Beast Epic

Iron_&_Wine_-_Beast_EpicSam Beam (AKA Iron & Wine) is back. This is his sixth Iron & Wine album (although he’s recorded several EPs and collaborative recordings with other artist). Over the years, his music went from being very sparse and whispery to increasingly complex, incorporating more and more instruments. For this record, he’s stripped it back down to a sound similar to his second album, Our Endless Numbered Days and maybe with more of an Americana twist. The songwriting is strong and it’s a great, relaxing album to listen to. Essential Songs: Call It Dreaming, Claim Your Ghost, Summer Clouds

Stream: Spotify

6. LCD Soundsystem – American Dream

LCD_Soundsystem_-_American_DreamAfter calling it quits in 2011, James Murphy and company are back and sound as fresh as ever. He continues to do what he does best, which is finding inspiration from retro synth and rock sounds and putting his own modern spin on it. His songwriting is top notch and holds up with the best of any of his other records. Essential Songs: Oh Baby, I Used To, Call The Police

Stream: Spotify

5. Mac DeMarco – This Old Dog

This_Old_Dog_Mac_Demarco_coverOn his third album, Mac continues with the chilled out vibe he’s created on previous recordings but he’s gotten tighter with his songwriting and approach. He’s also added a few new elements like an occasional drum machine and some minimal synthesizer. It’s a great, consistent batch of songs. Essential Songs: For The First Time, My Old Man, This Old Dog

Stream: Spotify

4. Ásgeir – Afterglow

afterglow-webOne of my friends showed this artist to me. He’s from Iceland and this is his second album. He’s got a great voice and I love the atmospheric production. He reminds me a little bit of Bon Iver and James Blake, especially on this album. Essential Songs: Afterglow, Unbound, Stardust

Stream: Spotify

3. Jeff Tweedy – Together At Last

togetheratlast_jefftweedyThis album comes from the lead singer of Wilco. Now, he’s put out a solo album and done other side projects before but this one is a little different. This release is very stripped down, solo acoustic recordings of songs spanning his entire career so there’s not actually any new songs here. It’s the first of a series called the “Loft Acoustic Sessions” and recalls the same sort of sound and feeling from his solo live shows. It’s a nice, pleasant relaxing listen and proves that his songwriting really stands on it’s own without the full band productions. Essential Songs: Laminated Cat, I’m Always in Love, Muzzle of Bees

Stream: Spotify

2. Dan Auerback – Waiting on a Song

220px-Dan_Auerbach_Waiting_on_a_SongThis is the second solo album from the lead singer of the Black Keys. He trades in their trademark lofi, gritty blues rock sound for a mix of sounds inspired from 70s soul and breezy folk rock. He’s at the top of his songwriting game here, especially compared to the slow, psychedelic haze of the last Black Keys records. The songs are upbeat, catchy and joyful. He even produces the recording himself, which is all the more impressive. Essential Songs: Waiting on a Song, Shine on Me, Never in My Wildest Dreams

Stream: Spotify

1. Dr. Dog – Abandoned Mansion

220px-Dr.DogAbandonedMansionI got into Dr. Dog back when their classic album Fate came out in 2008. They’ve recorded several albums since then but this is the first one where I feel like the songwriting is back at the top of their game from stated to finish. On this album, they downplay their 60s psychedelic and classic rock influences and go for a more stripped down, straightforward folk rock approach will still retaining their warmth and humor. I keep returning to this album over and over because the songs are so relaxing and comforting to listen to. Essential Songs: Ladada, Jim Song, Could’ve Happened To Me

Stream: Spotify

Spotify Playlist of 25 Favorite Albums of 2016

Favorite Songs of 2017

Spotify Playlist of Favorite Songs of 2017

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