#10 Dissolve – Tusks
FFO Minimalist Electro, James Blake, Swelling Tracks Perfect to Study To
Like a few albums on this list, it took awhile for us to truly appreciate the album as a whole. We deal with so many singles in this new musical landscape we find ourselves in, that in order to listen to an album fully, as it is intended, is an act of sheer intention. The first track from the talented Emily Underhill’s project, “Toronto”, showed us how captivating her sound could be. The London based crooner crafts some soulfully subtle rising tracks. The wall of sound she creates is similar to acts like James Blake, but her sound is definitely her own. “False” is our favorite track on the album and showcases her ability to layer sounds to an explosive end. Vocally, it will both grant you courage while wrecking your heart. The title track, “Dissolve” starts with a intro that shows a more rock sound before launching into distant and echoing vocals that again, will melt you. This is a strong debut and one of our favorites of this year or any.
#9 Pure Comedy – Father John Misty
FFO Sardonic Rock Ballads, Elton John, Humor Mixed With Existential Pondering
So we are not sure we can add to the volumes of writings about the alter ego of Josh Tillman, but we’ll try. We get that his persona can be seen as either ridiculous or hilarious, depending on your tolerance for bullshit. Yet, with this aside, his songwriting is some of the most engaging, brutal, and thought provoking of this generation. In one line he is able to lift spirits to believe in some kind of hope for humanity, before wrecking said hopes and brutalizing the established order. Perhaps it is his deep spiritual tones we connect with, or the fact that he is completely unhindered by who he implicates in his songwriting (i.e. Taylor Swift in “Total Entertainment Forever”), but we fell in love with this album and it’s Elton John style ballads. If you get offended easy, this might not be the album for you, but if you wish to find an artist that somehow is able to put your innermost thoughts and desires to melody, than do not overlook this album just because of the artist.
#8 Warbly Jets – Warbly Jets
FFO Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Rock and Roll, Dandy Warhols
For those of you asking for the whereabouts of rock and roll in 2017, look no farther than LA’s Warbly Jets. “Alive”, the opening track from their debut, is a confident declaration of their stubborn existence while being a Dandy Warhols style rock tune – fun, catchy, and rocking. “The Lowdown” was the first track we heard from the guys and it is a perfect example of all they do so well. Distorted guitars, thriving bass, and classic rock drums all build to a swelling piece of rock goodness. Being total fans of the grit rock of acts like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, made this album a no brainer for us to fall in love with. The four-piece outfit has a sound that transcends the dingy clubs they played in ’17 and will continue to grow tighter as audiences continue to fall in love with them. The sense of epic is not lost on them either. Closer “Getting Closer (Than I Ever Have)” is the perfect way to end with a gospel choir and hopeful rock anthems.
# 7 Evolutionary War – Ruby Force
FFO Nikki Lane, Dolly Parton, Classic Country
2017 was the year for alt-country rock goodness. Acts like Nikki Lane and Ruby Force, led the charge with tremendous releases. Ruby Force is the persona of multi-talented Erin McLaughlin and is perhaps her most personal release. Rolling Stone dubbed her one of the 10 New Artists You Need to Know earlier this year, but we were lucky enough to hear her fantastic album, Evolutionary War, before many others. The new alt country project of songstress Erin MCLaughlin is refreshing, confident, and incredibly engaging. “Damn Your Love” plays like the greats who came before, mainly Dolly and Tammy, while still sounding refreshingly new. “Ode to Vic Chesnutt” is an equally as personal exploration of heroes and love. Her songwriting is able to connect with many – both the country blooded fans as well as those who simply love great songwriting.
# 6 Here Comes Trouble (EP) – The New Respects
FFO Robert Randolph, Dirty Soul, Gospel Infused Rock
Garnering praise from NPR and Rolling Stone, we were lucky enough to be on the ground floor for one of our favorite rising acts this year. Their debut EP, Here Comes Trouble, combined everything we love about music. Soul? Yep, there is plenty. Rock guitar? You better believe these kids can play. Talented and catchy as all get out, the family affair of a band has an increasingly tight and fun sound that was only affirmed when we caught up with them (read interview here) before opening for the great Robert Randolph, who handpicked the act. Tracks like “Money” showcase the band’s swagger and soul, while “Trouble” reveals their gospel roots before exploding into one of the best rock tracks of the year. To say we love this band is a gross understatement. The act ended the year releasing more singles that make us excited for a future full-length.