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.

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CFCF “Rain Dance”

Apparently CFCF is bursting at the seams with new material. In addition to a new album, Radiance & Submission, he’s dropping a full-length cassette album on 1080p Collection called The Colours Of Life. Here’s a preview piece.

After getting excited about the upcoming traditional album (new single streaming right here), this is a complete surprise. You don’t exactly anticipate an artist returning after two years of near silence with a pair of full length records, but here they are!

This release will be 40 minutes of unbroken, blissed-out sound, full of bright timbres and worldly percussion. Timbre-wise, it’s more in line with his light, modern minimalist work, while the fluid sound collage structure nods toward his monumental Night Bus mixtapes. To a fan like me, this sounds like heaven.

The fact that he’s been nodding toward Ryuichi Sakamoto and Laraaji (a pair of gods, as far as I’m concerned) only heightens my excitement. The label page itself features a lengthy bit of backstory from the artist himself, mentioning The River EP, a new age-tinted instrumental journey into wide-eyed pan-global textures – and the record where I fell in love with CFCF’s music.

cfcf

1080p Collection has been dropping some seriously intriguing music over the past year, and his inclusion on their roster only heightens the appeal. You can pick the album up on August 14th, on either cassette or digital download:  The Colours Of Life order page on 1080p.