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The Audible Snail writesCHIRP Radio Best of 2017: Sondra the Audible Snail

CHIRP Radio Best of 2017

Throughout December, CHIRP Radio presents its volunteers’ top albums of 2017. Our next list is from DJ and Campaign Manager Sondra: The Audible Snail.

A combination of upbeat dashed with a strong sense of skepticism. At times flippant (most times flippant). A little feminist, a little angry, a lot of love dancing with defiance. Some sweetness. That probably best fits my selections. 2017 was a hard year, for many people, but the music is getting louder, and so are our voices.

 

Out in the Storm by Waxahatchee (Merge)
BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Waxahatchee Out in the StormThough I have opted to unrank my list, Waxahatchee's Out in the Storm is probably my favorite album of 2017. The fourth track, "Recite Remorse," moves the album into the familiar, ethereal—even holy—sound I have come to love about Katie Crutchfield's music. It also captures the feeling of being trapped, the feeling of losing something, the feeling of having one's narrative co-opted.

 

 

Life Will See You Now by Jens Lekman (Secretly Canadian)
BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Jens Lekman Life Will See You NowJens Lekman is forever my favorite optimistic-pessimist and Life Will See You Now follows through. The carousel of joyful melody in "Our First Fight" honors that optimistic-pessimism perfectly. I am a sucker for lyrics, especially old themes a good storyteller threads through all of their stories. The opening track, "To Know Your Mission," back-references time and place in songs from earlier albums: the month of August ("Your Arms Around Me") and 7/11 ("Tram #7 to Heaven"). Jens also kicks up the funk on this album and that is great!

 

 

Near to the Wild Heart of Life by Japandroids (ANTI-, Arts & Crafts)
BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Japandroids Near to the Wild Heart of LifeGarage punk. The best ballads. Short, sweet, 8 track album. "I used to be good / but now I'm bad!" Everything about this album sings to the sentiment of how it feels to be defiant in this world, and to feel good about that defiance. It is also a love album, in a very American, and a very true, way. You can hear that in the distortion of "I'm Sorry (For Not Finding You Sooner)." The band doesn't really want to tell you it's a love album, though. But it is winking.

 

 

What Now by Sylvan Esso (Loma Vista Recordings)
BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Sylvan Esso What NowLike the muffled recording of a kazoo, or a muffled voice, Sylvan Esso opens What Now with crackling speakers on the album's first track, "Sound." The song becomes less distorted and clearer as it progresses and she sings: "I was going to write a song for you / Gonna sing it loud / Gonna sing it at such decibels that / all you'll hear is sound." One gets the sense that the plan to write a song for someone got distorted (by life, by betrayal, by loss), which sets the brilliance and tragedy of the whole album. Also, synth love..

 

 

Pollinator by Blondie (BMG, Infectious)
BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Blondie PollinatorThis album needed more play everywhere in 2017. The opening track "Doom or Destiny" is a brilliant collaboration with Joan Jett, two rock 'n' roll all-star women from the '80s. The song is a direct commentary on what it feels like to be a women in 2017, and quite frankly, how we are tired of it. If her earlier albums depicted women in the role of lover, fighter, competitor, this album matures a young, naive love to one that has experience, scars, and all of the eye rolls and contradictions that come with contemporary cis-het courting. It's a bit tragic, but pollinator = queen.

 

 

Quazarz vs. The Jealous Machines by Shabazz Palaces (Sub Pop)
BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Shabbaz Palaces Quazarz vs. The Jealous MachinesMelodic chants and hip-hop commentary on pop culture, this album is eerily foreboding. It combines fantasy with politics and storytelling. Drum machines like a dream sequence into a darkness that will hold you.

 

 

Beast Epic by Iron & Wine (Black Cricket Recording Company, Sub Pop)
BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Iron & Wine Beast EpicThere is no better album to listen to on the morning of the Winter Solstice. Iron & Wine like a snowy blanket, a cup of tea, a hibernation ale, an old friend singing a lullaby in an old town. CHIRP DJ Tyler Clark reviewed the album earlier this year for Consequence of Sound and said of it: “Iron & Wine sounding like Iron & Wine again.” He is right. “where we keep the light we're given / we can lose and call it living”

 

 

Rainbow by Kesha (Kemosabe)
BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Kesha RainbowPreach. This album speaks for itself. Kesha <3 forever.

 

 

Finding Shore by Tom Rogerson with Brian Eno (Dead Oceans)
BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Tom Rogerson with Brian Eno Finding ShoreFinding Shore asks listeners to do just that. Jazzy, ambient, acoustic, instrumental. Pause for an afternoon, close your eyes, listen for the ocean until you see it. Having grown up by the sea, coastal Maine in my blood, I can hear salt water splashing up into these notes. "Gabbord" is my favorite track, followed by "An Iken Loop." Take yourself out to sea by playing this album, it will feel good to be there.

 

 

Humanz by Gorillaz (Parlophone, Warner Bros.)
BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Gorillaz HumanzR&B, soul, a bit of reggae, Humanz features so many talented artists spanning hip-hop, gospel, and soul. The album gives voice to women artists in equal measure as men, and is age-inclusive in its collaborations. Mavis Staples makes an appearance on track 14, "Let Me Out," and "We Got the Power" could potentially be the album’s anthem. A dance party of resistance, Humanz is infused with the type of social commentary that has become amplified in music in 2017. The album closes with "Circle of Friends," a prayer soft enough to put a light in your heart.

 

Califone - Heron King Blues (Deluxe Reissue) - Dead Oceans
Big Thief - Capacity - Saddle Creek
Magnetic Fields - 50 Song Memoir - Nonesuch
Angel Olsen - Phases - Jagjaguwar
Grandaddy - Last Place - Columbia

 

 

 

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Categorized: Best Albums of the Year

Topics: best of 2017

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