Jay Som - Photo by Ebru Yildiz

This episode originally ran on KQED.org.

Download: Mixtape: Highlights from Bay Area Music in 2017 (Podcast #419)

With each passing day, 2017 appears increasingly determined to solidify its place as the worst year in recent memory. Despite all of the hardships being experienced locally, nationally, and around the globe, the year has offered a wealth of impressive albums from Bay Area musicians.

For some of the notable artists featured in this mixtape, their 2017 successes built on the previous year’s achievements. Jay Som followed up 2016’s buzzed-about Turn Into compilation with her first proper LP Everybody Works. It’s a terrific album of layered indie rock that has deservedly landed high on many critics’ year-end lists. Berkeley’s Rexx Life Raj returned in November with Father Figure 2: Flourish, a sequel that surpassed its remarkable 2016 predecessor.

Longtime local musicians also reached new heights in 2017. Lil B may no longer be as prolific as he once was, but his 27-track album Black Ken made a major statement about the artist’s talent as both a rapper and, perhaps more surprisingly, a producer. With the LP, which was entirely self-produced, the Berkeley artist established that he isn’t just an influence on newer rappers, but a peer at the top of his game. The She’s also showcased their artistic growth this year, as 2017’s All Female Rock and Roll Quartet paired the band’s skill at crafting killer melodies with impressive sonic depth.

As much as 2017 continues to sink spirits during its final days, this mixtape also offers hope for new music to look forward to in 2018. Club Night impressed the hell out of us with the band’s unpredictable debut EP, and the group is reportedly releasing an LP next year. There’s also an album forthcoming from Ah Mer Ah Su, following her stellar 2017 Rebecca EP, and Nef The Pharaoh‘s long-awaited Big Chang Theory.

Listen to the mixtape to learn more about eleven artists included in this mix.

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Track Listing

Jay Som – “1 Billion Dogs”

Madeline Kenney – “Big One”

Rexx Life Raj – “Lowkey Lovesong (feat. Iman Europe)”

Once & Future Band – “Tell Me Those Are Tears of Joy”

Rays – “Theatre of Lunacy”

Lil B – “Free Life”

The She’s – “Ashes”

Ah Mer Ah Su – “Klonopin”

Club Night – “Well”

Nef The Pharaoh – “Spice (feat. Yhung T.O.)”

Pardoner – “Pivot Fakie”