After a lackluster 2016, the average quality of music has risen considerably, and 2017 was an amazing year for music enthusiasts like us. We found it difficult to squeeze all the best albums into a list of just 50 releases, but after some intense work, we finally shaped the best chart for our tastes. It was the year in which Charli XCX found her way to drop new solid experimental pop sounds, Brockhampton unsettled the hip-hop world with their insane Saturation trilogy, and M.E.S.H., Iglooghost, and Lee Gamble reached a new artistic maturity in their new albums. New trends that timidly formed in previous years finally found their consummation in 2017 and can now be shared by old and new artists alike. If this analysis is correct, in 2018 we can expect to bear witness to even further improvement. Now enjoy our chart; if you want to listen to the best music of this year you can find it on our Spotify playlist.
50. Richard Dawson – Peasant
Richard Dawson’s follow up to 2014’s Nothing important comes in the form of Peasant, a muddy and twisted look into a beautifully constructed Anglo-Saxon England in the form of left-field musicianship and grand storytelling. Each track holds thematic content of a nightmarish and uninviting world that Dawson superbly conveys, using imagery of “great evil” to an unsettling but almost welcoming effect. What is initially notable in Peasant however, is that the shift in storytelling that paces the record is more fluid and coherent than his previous albums. It’s more beautiful and easy to listen to, a record that draws you into a masterly crafted old age England world.
Best track: Ogre.
Read more in Peasant review.
49. Brand New – Science Fiction
This year Brand New released what seems to be a very well-written and unexpected goodbye letter. The whole record is permeated by the consequences of Jesse’s apparent bipolar disorder on his life and also on the band’s music, known for his melancholic and downhearted lyrics. Science Fiction can be considered as Brand New’s mature record, being less angry and quieter, opening to a wide introspective ground. There’s no room for dominant screams as in their 2009’s effort or as in The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me. This is a time for slow thoughts over essential instrumentals instead of discouraged screams over powerful and weighty moments.
Best track: Can’t Get it Out.
Read more in Science Fiction review.
48. death’s dynamic shroud – Heavy Black Heart
This year death’s dynamic shroud (for the first time without the suffix .wmv) returned with an outstanding vaporwave release, in which dancey drums and melodic glitched synths build up a poppy sound collage, a component which they never pushed so hard in their last works. Heavy Black Heart is surely one of the best vaporwave records of the year and one of the most successful in their lengthy discography.
Best track: You at Night.
47.William Basinski – A Shadow in Time
Whenever a new William Basinski project comes out the listener knows what to expect. With the exception of 2005’s “Melancholia”, a minimalistic set of haunting, piano-based tracks, the New Yorker composer usually drifts working with tape loops, electronics and drones. The centerpiece of “A Shadow In Time” again is represented by the tape loops but especially in “For David Robert Jones” the composer managed to install some new and surprisingly successful elements. Following this argument, the opener results by far in the most significant piece while the closer sounds a little bit predictable and not odd enough for William’s standards. While it doesn’t reach the greatness of “The Disintegration Loops” series, “A Shadow In Time” admirably blends agony with purity and the result is an unmissable album for all ambient aficionados.
Best track: For David Robert Jones.
Read more in A Shadow in Time review.
46. Thundercat – Drunk
“Drunk” is a kaleidoscopic record, both funny and melancholic, wonky and pensive, that mixes instrumental virtuosity and quirky lyrics, dragging the listener through “the rabbit hole” and back. The way Thundercat proceeds in his journey is asystematic and replicates the state of confusion caused by alcohol abuse, giving him an unpredictable stylistic freedom, which perfectly fits this wonderful narration of his interior life.
Best track: Show You The Way.
Read more in Drunk review.
45. Converge -The Dusk in Us
The Dusk In Us is out five years after 2012’s All We Love We Leave Behind, and it brings forward some of the themes the band had already developed in its predecessor. Here the emphasis is stronger on empathy, hypocrisy and on the love/pain dichotomy. Empathy especially, is the feeling that Converge manage to spread within the whole album and doing so they are moving closer to us: quoting Rick Dekkard in Philip K. Dick’s masterpiece “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”: “Ultimately, the empathy gift blurred the boundaries between hunter and victim, between the successful and the defeated”.
The most impressive aspect of The Dusk In Us is the ease which the band shifts from devastating, powerful aggressions to delicate and frail remissions: at this point Converge is an inseparable being in which the synergy between every component stands unmatched.
Best track: The Dusk In Us.
Read more in The Dusk in Us review.
44. Dedekind Cut – The Expanding Domain
The Expanding Domain is an inaccessible and obscure journey beyond common human imagination. Featuring collaborations like the ones of Death Grips’ drummer Zach Hill, Mica Levi, Elysia Crampton and Prurient, Dedekind Cut produced one of the most experimental and dark releases in the field of ambient music, which drag the listener in an intangible and horrifying environment, something that can be traced back to Stranger Things’ Upside Down.
Best track: The Expanding Domain.
Read more in The Expanding Domain review.
43. Bibio – Phantom Brickworks
For any fan of Bibio, Phantom Brickworks is a pleasant surprise—it’s a soft, sweet ambient album from the same guy who released an Electro R&B record just a year ago. Yet one can still find Stephen Wilkinson’s signature melodies and elegant pastoral imagery embedded in its swirling piano eddies and hypnotic, ghostly synth fog. It demonstrates a mastery of several ambient genres on his part—and we look forward to where he takes his sound next.
Best track: Phantom Brickworks II.
Read more in Phantom Brickworks review.
42. Baths – Romaplasm
Romaplasm is an ecstatic shock for anyone interested in Experimental Electronic, a first-class work of electro-acoustic glitch production mixed with progressive elements mixed with Will Wiesenfeld’s interesting Queer Japanophilic eccentricity. His penchant for creating bright, anime-inspired lyrics and soundscapes envelops the listener completely—and is well worth the time and trouble to figure out its complexities.
Best track: Adam Copies.
Read more in Romaplasm review.
41. Lorde – Melodrama
Lorde’s second album has been hailed as a kind of maturation record, wherein she has crafted her individual sound and brought her music into the realm of Adult Contemporary—not just highschooler fun. This may be an overestimate—but certainly Melodrama has carved out a very large audience for the pop star, and we anticipate that she will go on to refine her sound to even greater heights in the future.
Best track: The Lourve.
Read more in Melodrama review.