It’s that time again, to make a list of everything that had an impact on you this year – musically and otherwise. Unfortunately for most that means reliving the most horrifying moments in recent memory, from the ugliness of modern politics to the depraved misogyny of men in power. It was no surprise for me that the records that got me through this year fell into two categories: abrasive and loud or comforting and warm. Take a listen to these (they’re not in any order), take a deep breath, and let’s keep pushing next year.
The agency of this album demonstrates the raw power of one of R&B’s greatest modern singers, dissecting the full spectrum of life, love, and the balance between.
Drab Majesty, The Demonstration
The lush, minimalist beauty of Drab Majesty is a revelation. Introspective lyrics glimmer over synths and drum machines to create an intriguing goth mysticism and arcane power.
Jay Som, Everybody Works
From one of the Bay Area’s biggest breakout acts of the year, this sophomore album by Melina Duterte shines with a patient, bold spirit in the face of trying times.
Uniform, Wake in Fright
Snarling noise-thrash from NYC, this duo channeled the ache of despair into a fiery record. Those lucky enough to see them perform live at Noise Pop 2017 last February know their acrimonious energy firsthand.
(Sandy) Alex G, Rocket
Playfully experimenting with the different textures and voices of pop, this album is a big, deep breath through folky narratives and hip-hop ballads.
King Woman, Created in the Image of Suffering
Melancholy masters of involved, dark metal compositions, this Bay Area four-piece signed with Relapse Records to release a reflective and cathartic work.
Pardoner, Uncontrollable Salvation
These SF rockers crafted a romping album of warped pop songs that bounce between angst and delight, tackling disillusionment and dissatisfaction with swirling guitars.
Mount Eerie, A Crow Looked At Me
A work of brutal honesty that deals intimately and elegantly with singer Phil Elverum’s wife’s untimely death. It’s not something to listen to every day, but it serves as sharp reminder to appreciate what’s here, now.
Kendrick Lamar, DAMN.
One of hip-hop’s biggest stars stacked this year’s release with heavy songs about loss, compromise, and conflicted choices.
Pissed Jeans, Why Love Now
Strong-armed riffs from this vitriolic noise-rock band illustrate that old angry sounds don’t die out so easily.