2017, what a year! While it may have been tough in some aspect of life, 2017 was an incredible year for new music! Below we share our thoughts on our favorite albums that were released this year. Don’t worry; they’re all family friendly!
Beck :: Colors
The newest release from Beck features a unique, exuberant indie-pop sound infused with pop-rock elements. Beck’s intent was to create an album that “was uplifting, had a lot of energy, and made you want to sing along.” We love the upbeat, beach vibes of “Seventh Heaven” and the catchy “I’m So Free.” The album never fails to put us in a good mood.
Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile :: Lotta Sea Lice
Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile are two kindred spirits who make for a dynamic americana duo. The album is very cheerful and serves as a mellow, yet lively, pick me up. Some of our favorite tracks include the bluesy “Over Everything” and the lovely, feel-good “Continental Breakfast.”
Jackie Greene :: The Modern Lives Vol. 1
This six-song album features Jackie doing what he does best. His smooth, melodic vocals and steady guitar from tracks like “Back of My Mind” compliment the upbeat, twangy tunes such as “Tupelo.” We love the high energy and punchy lyrics of “Modern Lives,” which manages to keep a modern sound with heavy country influences from a harmonica that evokes the feel of Bob Dylan.
Jeff Tweedy :: Together At Last
Jeff Tweedy’s Together At Last is a mellow mix of relaxing renditions of classic Wilco songs that will make you want to relax and curl up by the fire. Tweedy, armed with only an acoustic guitar, transforms classic Wilco songs in a striking and innovative way. We love the acoustic take on “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart” and the rendition of Loose Fur’s “Laminated Cat.”
(FYI-The “F Word” is used in the classic Wilco track, “Ashes of American Flags”)
John Mayer :: The Search for Everything
John Mayer returns to his original singer-songwriter roots in The Search For Everything. The album title could perhaps be a nod to the musical journey he has undertaken from singer-songwriter, to rock/americana, and ending up deep within the Grateful Dead universe. Reminiscent of Continuum, Mayer has said, “It’s like, you remove a flavor that you’re used to, so that when you reintroduce it, you can enjoy it more.” We love the upbeat “Helpless” and the beautiful “Emoji of a Wave” that showcase his distinct vocals. As he sings in “Changing,” “I may be old and I may be young, but I am not done changing.”
LCD Soundsystem :: American Dream
The first full studio album from LCD Soundsystem in 7 years is a psychedelic 80’s wonder that stays true to their sound. The airy sounds of “Oh Baby” starts the album off on a high note. The powerful beat of “Other Voices” conjures the essence of the Talking Heads, while “How Do You Sleep” brings us on a dark, spacey, psychedelic journey reminiscent of the style of Pink Floyd.
Midnight North :: Under The Lights
Midnight North’s Under the Lights is a fun, upbeat rock album featuring heavy country influences. Elliott Peck’s beautiful, passionate vocals stand out on tracks like “The Highway Song,” and Grahame Lesh’s excellent guitar prowess and strong vocals shine on tracks such as the soulful “Back to California.”
Preservation Hall Jazz Band :: So It Is
So It Is is a powerhouse of robust instrumental jazz with the quality we’ve come to expect from this world-renowned band. The album has a mesmerizing start with the smooth, mellow track “So It Is” and picks up the tempo with a fantastic horn section in the dancey “Santiago.” “La Malanga” features strong Latin influences that’ll make you want to do the tango.
Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings :: Soul of a Woman
Soul of a Woman, the final studio album from Sharon Jones, was released a year after her untimely passing. The hopeful “Matter of Time” assures us that better times will await us in the future, and that unity and peace for all people will occur only in a matter of time. “Sail On” is a powerful tale of forgiveness and treating others the way you’d like to be treated. The Dap-Kings follow up Sharon’s powerful vocals with jazzy, fiery horn section that will give you goose bumps.
Valerie June :: The Order of Time
Valerie June wows us with this new collection of beautiful songs all written by June herself. The album highlights her amazing singing capabilities, a congregation of different vocal styles and influences that are uniquely her own. Her twangy drawl shines on “If And.” We love the groovy “Shake Down” and “Got Soul” that will be sure to get you dancing!
Vulfpeck :: Mr. Finish Line
Vulfpeck brings the heat with their smooth, funky jams. This album featured a lot of soulful tracks, including “Birds of a Feather” with smooth, mellow vocals from regular Vulf contributor Antwaun Stanley. We love the groovy, catchy “Mr. Finish Line” followed by the standout “Tee Time,” which features a bouncy instrumental electric piano composition from Woody Goss with support from a kick, snare, and sock cymbal from Jack Stratton and Theo Katzman. “Business Casual” features great vocals that make you want to sing along, and “Vulf Pack” is a strong instrumental number that oozes funk.
Van Morrison :: Versatile
Van Morrison wows us with his 38th studio album, released only three months after his 37th! The album features swingy, velvety jazz influences that take us on a journey back in time. Highlights include the suave, jazzy “Broken Record” and smooth “Makin’ Whoopee.”