This week we released some Top 5 album lists from Indy writers and few other notable audiophiles. We also asked other people to send in their music lists of 2017 and we got a variety of answers. Some offer Top Albums, others gave us Top Songs or Notable Shows. We even got a “List of Songs that Made Me Cry.” Check it out:
1. Kendrick Lamar, Damn
2. Izaak Opatz, Mariachi Static
3. Big Thief, Capacity
4. SZA, CTRL
5. Thundercat, Drunk
Favorite show of 2017 (possibly ever): Solange in Salt Lake City. Seeing Solange Knowles and her magnificent, delicately choreographed show was an experience in diving into one strong woman’s emotional landscape, and seeing a reflection of a whole country in desperate need of healing. The stage was simple but bold and the synchronicity of Solange and her fellow musicians and dancers was less like a leader with followers and more like one beautifully symbiotic organism. Seriously, this felt like catching the Stop Making Sense tour.
—Marshall Granger, filmmaker
1. Protest Kids, We Have the Technology III: The song “Can’t Go Home” is in heavy rotation at our house.
2. Kreator, Gods of Violence: Thraaaash!
3. The Mountain Goats, Goths: Just a goddamn great record.
4. Pallbearer, Heartless: Doooom!
5. Gnarwolves, Outsiders: Puuuuunk!
6. 68, Two Parts Viper: Fans of Every Time I Die, Whore, and Lords will appreciate this.
7. Pissed Jeans, Why Love Now: This record sounds like how I feel about current events.
—Randy Palmer, artist and editor of Darlene
1. Juanes, Mis Planes Son Amarte
2. Jason Isbell, The Nashville Sound
3. LP, Lost On You
4. Mike & Lal Waterson, Bright Phoebus (re-release)
5. Juana Molina, Halo
Favorite show of 2017: Against Me! at the Wonder Ballroom in Portland. It was a great show. There were a whole bunch of very early Against Me! fans and the crowd energy was spectacular the duration of the show, very inclusive.
—Natasha Andries, artist
1. Wand, Plum
2. The Cowboys, 3rd
3. The Replacements, For Sale: Live at Maxwell’s 1986
4. Dude York, Sincerely
5. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, The French Press
6. Chastity Belt, I Used to Spend so Much Time Alone
7. Bash & Pop, Anything Could Happen
8. Ancient Forest, Richard’s Selections
9. Hiss Golden Messenger, Hallelujah Anyhow
10. War on Drugs, A Deeper Understanding
Favorite show of 2017: The Flaming Lips at Spokane’s Knitting Factory
—John Fleming, owner of Ear Candy
1. Kendrick Lamar, Damn
2. Japanese Breakfast, Soft Sounds From Another Planet
3. Mount Eerie, A Crow Looked At Me
4. Fantasy Suite, First Impression
5. Paramore, After Laughter
6. Great Grandpa, Plastic Cough
7. (Sandy) Alex G, Rocket
8. Lorde, Melodrama
9. Western Daughter, Driftwood Songs
10. Sampha, Process
—Nicholas Hawksley, Camp Daze organizer
Notable shows of 2017:
1. Spiral Stairs, April 24, Portland: Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks may be a better (and, go figure, longer-lasting) band than Pavement ever was, but Scott Kannberg’s first tour in eight years provided something his old bandmate can't deliver: unbridled joy.
2. Steely Dan, April 28, Las Vegas: Both band and audience would like to pretend there was a certain level of irony to the “Reelin’ in the Chips” Las Vegas residency. There was not. But we all left one of Sheldon Adelson’s casinos geekily talking about the amazing way in which Walter Becker’s guitar underpins everything. And this turned out to be his second-to-last show ever.
3. Belle and Sebastian, August 8, Seattle: Was sad to miss Travelers’ Rest a few days later, but happy, in a summer of mostly festivals and outdoor co-headliners, to see a two-hour indoor set by the consummate Scottish show band (I know the season’s over, but did you hear their “Christmas Wrapping”?)
4. The Hideout Block Party, September 23, Chicago: Eleventh Dream Day, the Condo Fucks, Jon Langford, Antietam and 75 Dollar Bill, all celebrating 60th birthdays and the 60th anniversary of Sputnik.
5. Alejandro Escovedo/The Minus Five, November 10, Portland: Alejandro in full glam/Velvets/Crazy Horse mode backed by Peter Buck, Scott McCaughey, Linda Pitmon and the incredible Kurt Bloch. Extra-poignant because McCaughey suffered a stroke as the tour hit San Francisco one week later.
—Jason Cohen, writer and music critic
The best live show of 2017 was undoubtedly Ween at the new KettleHouse Amphitheater. The instantly sold-out show was nearly the debut of the venue and on an evening in July of 2017, there was nothing more “Missoula” than 4,000 costumed fans on the banks of the Blackfoot River chanting the lyrics in unison with Cold Smokes raised high in the air. It was magic. —Rep. Ellie Hill Smith (D- Missoula)
1. Look Blue Go Purple, Still Bewitched: Legendary New Zealand four-piece finally gets a stunning and much deserved compilation via Flying Nun Records surveying their 1980s catalog. With jangled Johnny Marr guitars and sugar melodies, Look Blue Go Purple was as relevant as other New Zealand acts in the music scene, like The Clean and The Verlaines.
2. Caroline Peyton, Intuition: Originally released in 1977, super ambitious, multi-genre hopping, but captivating psychedelic swirl belted out with such conviction, I can’t believe this was dormant for so many years on a small label from Indiana. My absolute favorite this year.
3. Emitt Rhodes, Mirror: I snagged this release from the free pile at a record swap, and got bowled over by this one-man band. It’s a Badfinger/Beatles blowout with more hooks than 1,000 Jeff Lynnes. This is as underrated as it gets.
4. Marisa Anderson, Traditional and Public Domain Songs: Reissued by the immaculate Mississippi Records out of Portland. Marisa Anderson’s solo guitar work is equal parts John Fahey, Pops Staples and Loren Connors. Shimmering, haunting and exquisite instrumental electric guitar perfection.
5. Tift Merritt, Stitch of the World: The Raleigh artist releases her finest album since her Bramble Rose debut. Lonely Americana stretching far and wide across the desert plains. Produced by the Iron & Wine guy with absolutely stunning results.
Favorite show of 2017: Trumans Water live at The ZACC. I waited 20 years to see these guys, and they delivered a mind-bending Beefheart-never-left-the-building avant set of gems to a few lucky attendees. Legends of the weird and bent sound that really made 1990s music worthwhile. —Bryan Ramirez, music writer
1. Chastity Belt, I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone: Smart, quintessential NW post-punk/shoegaze album about dealing with the emotional rollercoaster of existence.
2. Pixx, The Age of Anxiety: Angular synth-pop in the vein of Grimes delivers timely commentary in a catchy vessel.
3. The War on Drugs, Deeper Understanding: An album I was highly anticipating, and it definitely delivered.
4. Kurt Vile & Courtney Barnett, A Lotta Sea Lice: A beautiful document of a beautiful musical friendship, with vocals calling and responding in a perfect way.
5. Caroline Keys, Mean to Stay: An amazing album from this Missoula-based artist isn’t easily pigeonholed. It’s somewhere between folk and country with an experimental bent, created by a top notch team of local musicians.
6. Charlotte Gainsbourg, Rest: A certifiably French release produced by Sebastian and one of the guys from Daft Punk, this album’s dark subject matter is the soundtrack to a top club night where you’re the only one on the dance floor.
7. Waxahatchee, Out in the Storm: Earworms from start to finish, elevated by strong vocal harmonies. It will have you singing along.
8. Slowdive, Slowdive: Such a sonic treat after all these years, regardless of how it was recorded.
9. Iron and Wine, Beast Epic: Sam Beam takes it back to his roots as he deals with a recent breakup. Lush harmonies.
10. Queens of the Stone Age, Villains: Mark Ronson’s production on this album is stellar, putting it right in the pocket. This is Josh Homme’s exercise in absolution.
LCD Soundsystem, American Dream
Top 5 Songs That Made Me Cry in 2017:
Perfume Genius, “Slip Away”
Belle and Sebastian, “We Were Beautiful”
Father John Misty, “Ballad of the Dying Man”
Iron and Wine, “Bitter Truth”
Hiss Golden Messenger, “Jenny of the Roses”
Best Live Show of 2017: Belle and Sebastian at Travelers’ Rest festival, a band I thought I’d never see live, let alone in Montana.
—Adelaide Every, DJ and visual artist
1. Iced Earth, Incorruptable: A really solid album from a band that has been flying under the radar for 30-plus years. Stu Block has a great vocal performance on this album, combined with the timeless riffs of Jon Schaffer.
2. Once Human, Evolution: This is the band’s sophomore effort, but there is no slump here.
3. November’s Doom, Hamartia: Chicago’s own puts forth a solid offering combining their style of death metal and clean vocals with doomy riffs and death metal thunder.
4. Byzantine, The Cicada Tree: Byzantine took a few years off, but this album combined with the 2015 release prove the band is back full force.
5. Rex Brown, Smoke On This: This is the first solo effort from Rex Brown of Pantera and Down. It has more of a blues heavy-rock feel that almost anyone can dig on.
Favorite show of 2017: Scorpions and Megadeth at Spokane Arena.
While Megadeth was extremely disappointing at this show, Scorpions more than made up for it. These guys have been rocking out for 50 years, and are still rocking hard. They played all of the classics and sprinkled in some new material as well. The giant light show and huge stage production made it that much better.
—Eddie Johnson, singer for Blessiddoom
1. Lydia Loveless, Boy Crazy and Single(s): Alt-country spitfire couples prickly lyrics with hooky guitars in the power-pop nuggets comprising a great reissue package. Her spare take on Elvis Costello’s “Alison” is so emotionally naked, I almost feel dirty listening to it.
2. Old 97s, Graveyard Whistling: Thick slashes of chewy, punkish guitar provide spicy counterparts to a set of wry, potent songs that keep these Texas rockers firmly in their sweet spot. Like eating taco meat with a spoon.
3. JD McPherson, Undivided Heart and Soul: If Buddy Holly had lived and relocated to Motown, he might have sounded like this. Throwback songwriting and arrangements thickened up with Black Keys-style production make for a roots-rockin’ blend of rhythm and melody.
4. Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, The Nashville Sound: “Nobody here can dance like me, everybody’s clapping on the one and the three.” Intelligence and humor accompany Isbell’s shift from self-reflection into Springsteen-esque character studies and more upbeat country-rock.
5. Sarah Shook and the Disarmers, Sidelong: The best album of 2017 sounds like Tammy Wynette fronting the Ramones if they were talented hillbillies with moonshine breath. Kick-ass country with a protagonist proclaiming her badassery with hilarious and/or chilling images.
6. Caroline Keys, Mean to Stay: One of Missoula’s most talented collaborators steps into the spotlight, and she shines. Lovely arrangements and heartfelt songwriting are delivered with stellar performances on these folk-country gems.
7. Chuck Berry, Chuck: The rock ’n’ roll progenitor’s final album was 20 years in the making, and two of his kids contribute to a broad mish-mash of studio sessions. It’s uneven, but hey, what were you doing when you were 90?
Favorite show of 2017: Veteran alt-country warriors Old 97’s showed an adoring Top Hat crowd how grown-ups do it, playing gimmick-free rock ’n’ roll (with a fill-in drummer!) while we sang every word to them. Rhett Miller’s tender reading of “Question” melted hearts and gave me the year’s biggest man-crush.
—Ednor Therriault, music writer
Izaak Opatz, Mariachi Static: It has been in constant rotation in my car since I got it last spring. The songwriting, arrangements and feel are in a sweet spot that is so perfect for driving around on Montana two-lane highways. So, so good.
Favorite live shows of 2017: The Caroline Keys and the Lanesplitters CD release was phenomenal. Top-notch playing and heartfelt singing and a dash of Missoula silliness. Also (ahem) Cross Country this year was insanely fun. —Grace McNamee Decker, fiddle player
Come to Grief, The Worst of Times: Everything else can fuck straight off. —Jim Repulsive, local taste maker
Hobosexual, Monolith: Proves rock-n-roll still lives in random crevices beneath hipster-synth-mandolin-crap-noise.
—Melissa Thompson, Sasshole
Light Coma, Unreality: I don’t live in Missoula anymore and neither does Andrew Cohen, but he put out an unbelievably great record with a band called Light Coma this year. I also saw him live and he kicked off his set with a blistering version of “Maggot Brain.” —Ben Miller, formerly of the Missoula Public Library
1. Kendrick Lamar, Damn
2. LCD Soundsystem, American Dream
3. Beck, Colors
4. Gorillaz, Humanz
Favorite show of 2017: PJ Harvey in Portland.
—Neva Whipple, The Beastro
Favorite singles of 2017:
1. Tove Lo, “Disco Tits”
2. MUNA, “I Know A Place”
3. Carly Rae Jepsen, “Cut To The Feeling”
4. Alice Merton, “No Roots”
5. Selena Gomez, “Bad Liar”
6. Francis and The Lights (Featuring Chance the Rapper), “May I Have This Dance”
7. Cardi B, “Bodak Yellow”
8. N.E.R.D. (Featuring Rihanna), “Lemon”
9. Lorde, “Supercut”
10. Sigrid, “Don't Kill My Vibe”
These songs are an ideal playlist for soccer moms with BDSM fantasies, hipsters on phentermine, toddlers with filthy mouths and gays on house arrest. —Richard Fifield, author of The Flood Girls
1. Shahs, Vineland: While this album is awaiting a proper vinyl release, it came out digitally this year and blew my mind with how different and great a band they are.
2. Dreamdecay, YÚ: Another mind-cleanser from this great spacey, hardcore-y band from Seattle.
3. Rakta, III Technically a last-year release, but I got it this year and it’s a spooky, layered, pumping record by this great Brazilian trio.
4. Fantasy Suite, First Impression: I’m a sucker for well-executed and austere pop, and Fantasy Suite’s record is a total classic.
5. Swamp Ritual, Sunchaser: Think of a heavy dose of green smoke pouring from a souped-up van driving a little too fast on a desert highway.
6. Bill Orcutt, Bill Orcutt: This guy is one of those people who picks up a guitar and makes you forget all the bad guitarring you’ve heard in your life.
Favorite show(s) of 2017: This is a toss-up between seeing the Plastic Harmony Band and Trumans Water at the ZACC; Shovels and Fantasy Suite at Freecycles; Big Business, Mahamawaldi and Jolly Jane at the Badlander; and, this month, the Jesus Lizard doing a reunion show in New York.
—Josh Vanek, music writer