50 Best Albums of 2017

2017 was easily the most definitive year of my entire life. This year, I became a father. I got married. Everything changed, including the way I appreciated music.

It wasn’t my tastes; I didn’t suddenly drop my love for techno and weird jazz to become a dad rock connoisseur, despite in fact making a dad rock mixtape. No, it was a subtle shift in weight, a slight refocusing on what aspects most affect what I love about music. I’m still largely into the same genres and artists as before, but I now feel drawn to facets of sound and meaning that I shied away from before. I’m more interested in peeling back the meaning behind what I’m loving, searching for a thread to pull, an arc to follow. Slowly but surely, I recognized the colors emerging from the stories that built these pieces of art.

It’s not that I wasn’t interested in the behind-the-scenes or the history before becoming a dad; it’s simply that I now find myself automatically working recursively when I’m emotionally struck by something, running down the fibers of time that brought it to my attention, trying to work out a map for my own journey forward in this new life role. I’m living for more than myself finally, and although it feels vulnerable to have my heart living outside my body, it’s incredibly rewarding. I’ve felt more energized, more creative than I have in years. I made five new mixtapes between winters. I began running for the first time. I started writing fiction again. Oh and, along with my wife, I’ve been raising a child pretty successfully for half a year so far. Even more than ever before, I can’t wait to experience what happens next.

Speaking of my wife, that’s her in the header picture above. I thought the image of her, pregnant, hiking in the late winter sunset, encapsulated the way I felt about 2017. All that nervous possibility and raw beauty surrounding the long shadow down the path ahead, feeling real warmth after too many frozen months.

This year, like every year, was bursting full of new, exciting, brilliant music. It only takes some effort and desire to find it all. In another first, I barely read any music journalism, kept up with no major release schedules, and missed out on most of the hype 2017 had to offer. I have only the faintest ideas about what other people hold up as the best music of the year. To me, these 50 albums mattered more than anything else I heard all year, give or take a few. For a more comprehensive picture of the year, be sure to check out 50 more must-hear albums of 2017.

Let’s begin the countdown. These are the 50 best albums of 2017.

Continue reading

Garrett – Private Life

Private Life is an ambient funk masterpiece from a mysterious new artist named Garrett. This auspicious debut LP expands the dreamy palette of Music From Memory, adding a dose of earthbound swagger to the usually anti-gravity label. Who could produce such cloudlike beat sculptures?

The answer was obvious the moment I pressed play. This is actually a new project for funk legend  Dam-Funk. With a deep focus on the most dreamlike aspects of his distinctive sound, it just might be his best work yet.

Continue reading

Ghost Drive [mixtape]

GHOST DRIVE2

It’s the summer of 2016 and I’ve felt more energized than I have in years. In addition to writing more frequently than ever, I’ve rediscovered my passion for mixing and recontextualizing music.

I make mixtapes that I’d want to listen to, sharing music the way I hear it. This one is a night drive for future ghosts.

Continue reading

Nite-Funk – EP

Nite-Funk album cover

Nite Funk arrives after years of hot anticipation, fully living up to the cloistered hype that a handful of us have fostered ever since a seemingly one-off single was dropped in 2010. It was a beguiling, dusky pop tune from one of the most unlikely duos in modern music, this perfect forgotten gem, a single song that held the spark of so much untapped potential. This little EP proves that they knew it too.

Continue reading

What I’m Into This Week (6/26 – 7/2)

Gigi Masin live

In the lead-up to the big 4th of July holiday weekend, I’ve spent almost every night working on a new mixtape. I’ve finally got my passion for mixing back and it feels incredible. Instead of months or years between tapes, I hope to make them a regular feature here.

However, this latest mix isn’t quite ready yet. It needs a little more polish before I publish next week. In the meantime, I want to share the best new music I’ve been into all week. At least one of these three things will make your hair stand on end.

Continue reading

Dam-Funk – DJ-Kicks

dam-funk - dj-kicks

Studio !K7’s long-running DJ-Kicks series has always been a great opportunity for artists to show off their tastes, often far broader than their own music implied. It was a chance for your favorite indie rock band to say hey, we listen to hip-hop and early drone music too! But the most interesting sets always did something more powerful.

For his entry, Dam-Funk offers a free fall down the rabbit hole of his own work by exploring artists that sharply reflect the edges of his own productions. It feels like an archeological dig into the distant past and unknown present, unearthing insight into a man whose work seemed to have sprung out fully formed so many years ago.

Continue reading

What I’m Into This Week (6/5 – 6/11)

Witcher 3 Ciri and Geralt

This week has been as busy as ever so I didn’t have a ton of time for new music, but I made up for that with deep enthusiasm for what I did discover.

Thanks to Dam-Funk’s excellent new entry in the DJ-Kicks series, I’ve been looping a certain new-to-me album half a dozen times over the past day alone. I’ve also spent time in one of the most sublime virtual worlds ever created, in The Witcher 3.

Continue reading