Traditionally, I’m very pro top 10. I’m very anti anything over than 10. I consider it cheating. I mean, how hard is it to choose 40 albums? (Shout out to all my friends with top 40 lists). But the truth is we are living in a world where an individual listens to hundreds of albums per year. Larger lists make sense. So I concede.

I’ll give myself five more albums—a top 15 list. There, you happy now?

I’m also including a category of favorite singles. For variety’s sake, these singles do not appear on any of my favorite albums, which in a sense is also cheating. Finally, I’ve included an unsigned artists category to promote some of the amazing local music that came my way in 2017. I’m looking forward to finding more awesome, mind-blowing unsigned artists in 2018.

Kevin’s Top 15 Albums

For me, 2017 music was all about introspection. Manchester Orchestra, Ryan Adams, the War on Drugs, Kenneth Whalum, Real Estate. These albums built cohesive atmospheres that transported me to other worlds, allowing me to reflect and breathe. They cut out the noise. The same could be said for Teen Daze’s incredible instrumental record. Truth be told, that primarily gets a spot because it helps my son fall asleep.

Less introspective, more punch-you-in-the-face music is always welcome. The Menzingers were never really on my radar before After the Party, but that album hooked into me with the urgency of Jimmy Eat World’s Bleed American. After Laughter, Paramore’s long-awaited return record, initially passed me by without much interest. A couple months later, however, the album found its way back to me and I didn’t stop listening for weeks.

I could go on and on, but I won’t. Here’s the full list.

15. How to Be Human – The Classic Crime (Read our interview with frontman Matt MacDonald)
14. Themes for a New Earth – Teen Daze
13. Life Without Sound – Cloud Nothings
12. Pretty Little Bird – The Holy Dark
11. Heartworms – The Shins (Read our review of their recent tour)
10. In Mind – Real Estate
9. Broken Land – Kenneth Whalum (Read our interview with Kenneth Whalum)
8. The Search for Everything – John Mayer
7. Lo Tom – Lo Tom
6. After Laughter – Paramore
5. The Echo of Pleasure – The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
4. After the Party – The Menzingers
3. A Black Mile to the Surface – Manchester Orchestra
2. Prisoner – Ryan Adams
1. A Deeper Understanding – The War on Drugs

Top Singles/Deep Tracks of the Year

“Supernatural” – Turnover
“Bleed Into the Water” – R.LUM.R (Read our In Spotlight profile on R.LUM.R)
“Dear Life” – Beck
“Seashore” – The Regrettes
“Mind of a Man” – BNQT
“Intentions” – Macklemore
“My Poor Heart” – The Glorious Sons (Read our interview with frontman Brett Emmons)
“Motion Sickness” – Phoebe Bridgers
“Sunday Light” – Choir Boy (Read our review of Choir Boy’s performance at Volume Festival)
“Love You to Death” – Two Cheers

Unsigned Artists Poised for a Breakout 2018

Heidi Burson (Nashville, TN) – Read our profile story and hear her latest album, The Story.
Myke Bogan (Portland, OR) – Check out his new album, Pool Party.
Dario Re (Spokane, WA) – Read our profile story and hear his new album, Aspen Artichoke.
Dynamo (Nashville, TN) – Read our profile story and hear their new album, Celina.
Waterfall Wash (Nashville, TN) – Hear their latest EP, Become What You See.

Stay tuned for more to come from Behind the Setlist. We’re ramping up for a busy 2018. See you in the new year!


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