My favorite albums of 2017 began with a list of more than 100 titles, which I winnowed down, based on music I reviewed, played and received requests for during my CHIRP shifts. The biggest question I ask myself for any of these titles is, “Will I be playing this music 10 years from now?” The answer is a resounding YES for these 10 fabulous artists. In alpha order, I present my favorite albums of 2017.
Another year full of swell music. Once again, I listened to at least 150 2017 albums full through at least once. This was a great year for modern R & B, in particular. My list is based only on albums that I own (yes, I'm one of the few people on Earth who still buys music), so I know there are great things that would be on this list, had I spent the time with them. Like that Alvvays album, for example. And I ended up punting on the Run The Jewels album -- it was physically released earlier this year, but they leaked it late in 2016. It's my number one between 2016 & 2017 release, I suppose.
I'm on air bright and early every Tuesday morning, and each week from 8-9am CT I host Girl Power Hour -- an hour-long set featuring music by women, femmes, LGBTQIA+ individuals, non-binary and gender non-conforming persons, and girl power allies. I started Girl Power Hour over two years ago now, but with this year's political climate/chaos, I feel like the effort to center marginazlied voices has been more important than ever. Plus, it's a blast to host and has helped me make the best of challenging times. This 2017 best of list is a compilation of 2017's most-played Girl Power Hour anthems. They're in no particular order (because competitive hierarchies are for patriarchy, etc.), but I reserved the first half of the list for some of my favorite locals.
James Chunga, who you may know as the bassist from another Chicago band, So Pretty, has released a solo album under the name Grumble. Tough Times on Oakwood Demos, released this month, is funky, folk punk that warrants your full attention, because the songs are just so damn pleasant to listen to both in the musical quality and witty lyricism.
Ironically, one reason his sound is so unique is that it revitalizes older components of folk punk. A lot of the themes of introspection, battling demons, and finding meaning in an unraveling life are themes that gave folk punk so much traction as a rallying point for the disenfranchised from The Pogues to Johnny Hobo and the Freight Trains.