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Dylan Peterson writesCHIRP Radio Best of 2017: Dylan Peterson

CHIRP Radio Best of 2017Throughout December, CHIRP Radio presents its volunteers’ top albums of 2017. Our first list for this year is from Features Director Dylan Peterson.

Weird year, right? I've been tweeting Jens Lekman lyrics for as long as I've had a a Twitter, because he says everything better than I ever could. So, here's some from his song, "Postcard #22"...

Yeah it's a fucked up world, put your jacket on and be brave
The market wants you to work yourself into the grave
But be a punk at least in spirit
Reject the stick and the carrot
And never let yourself be enslaved
And keep dancing
Don't ever stop the dreaming -JL


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

Jens Lekman Life Will See You Now“All of the songs are emotionally autobiographical, in that I wouldn’t write about something that I haven’t experienced. But the way they were constructed, I actually became more and more fascinated with writing fiction this time, because, well for one reason I wanted to use my imagination more,” Jens told me earlier this year when I interviewed him for a CHIRP Podcast feature. On Life Will See You Now, his imagination took him to a ferris wheel, to a storm by a harbor, through the entirety of evolution, and to a wedding in Finistere. Or, maybe it didn’t. I’m not sure where the lines between fiction and non-fiction blurred, but I do know something happened to me the first time I listened to this album, something that has never happened to me before. I cried during every single song. Sometimes the crying was mixed with laughter, sometimes heartache, but always an understanding. The biography of Jens Lekman is universally relatable; it is deeply emotional in its sorrow, in its confusion, in its joy, in everything that is human. And truly, an imagination doesn’t lie, if only it would speak up. In 2017, when life in this ridiculous world can sometimes feel like too much to bear, I’m more thankful than ever for the clear, assuring, imaginative voice of Jens Lekman.



#2   Everybody Works by Jay Som (Polyvinyl)
BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Jay Som Everybody WorksI never knew how badly I needed to yell “but I like the bus!” at a show. But, I did. Specifically, my inner child needed it. Jay Som’s Melina sings in equal parts old sage and teenage jester. The result is not haughty, but it’s not exactly simple either—just, resolute. The crunchy guitar riffs are dense with 90s kid nostalgia, and everything on Everybody Works sounds like new shoe smell. I want to put these songs on, lace them up, walk around in them, take a few jumps, very comfy, still a little room to grow into them next year too.



#3   Rocket by (Sandy) Alex G (Domino)
BUY: Reckless / Amazon

(Sandy) Alex G RocketSometimes I think Prince was wrong. Not about books and black lives, but sometimes I think that albums don’t matter anymore. Everything is so digital now. Millennials have such short attention spans. There is Spotify. There is Red Bull. But then (Sandy) Alex G comes along with Rocket just to prove that Prince was right. He was right! He was right!! Listening to this album from start to finish is so exciting. You don’t know where you’re going to end up, but there isn’t a bad view to be found. Americana, hardcore, punk, chillwave, they’re all here. I don’t have any idea how, but it all works. Because, yeah, this album matters.



#4   Ti Amo by Phoenix (Glassnote)
BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Phoenix Ti AmoThe summer album! One of the best bands in the world making synth pop about dreams of a happier place. The warm and wonderful world of Ti Amo is pure invention, but the juxtaposition of entertainment and art is Phoenix’s trademarked gelato flavor. They have made a gleefully paradoxical album here, and that’s exactly what they were going for. It’s an untucked dress shirt. Fake eyelashes still on in the morning. Its falseness is sexy, and/or its sexiness is false. It’s interesting, and it’s fun--pure Phoenix.



#5   Abysmal Thoughts by The Drums (Domino)
BUY: Reckless / Amazon

The Drums Abysmal ThoughtsBreakup albums are the realest shit. The Drums were a band, and still are, but now every aspect of The Drums’ look and sound is directed by singer Jonny Pierce. Abysmal Thoughts is his singular expression of confusion and sadness, performed with exuberance and major chords. It may have required a lot of pain and loss to arrive at this music, but Pierce is far from wallowing here. This is brave stuff. This is what it sounds like when an artist makes the choice to love himself first. It’s beautiful.



#6   Life Without Sound by Cloud Nothings (Carpark)
BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Cloud Nothings Life Without SoundCloud Nothings opened for Japandroids on their most recent tour. This would’ve made sense four or five years ago, but it reeeeeally should’ve been the other way around. Cloud Nothings is so much bigger than Japandroids now. I mean, is there a better rock and roll band in the world, even? No, there isn’t. You’ve heard Cloud Nothings, too. You know. It’s obvious. Life Without Sound is their best album yet.



#7   Good Nature by Turnover (Run for Cover)
BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Turnover Good NatureI could never embrace the emo revival thing, but Turnover are better than all the other nu-emo bands. They aren’t whiny. At least not on Good Nature, they aren’t. They’re not complaining about a girl who did them wrong and now deserves to have an awkward saw taken to her thighs, or an ultimatum of whether she’d prefer his finger on the trigger or, his face down dead across her floor. None of that typically misogynistic emo bullshit. Turnover is chill and good.



#8   Mura Masa by Mura Masa (Polydor)
BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Mura Masa Mura MasaAny kid with a laptop and Ableton can produce a song these days, so it takes something exceptionally special to garner the attention of Damon Albarn, Jamie Lidell, A$AP Rocky, and Charli XCX for his debut album. Mura Masa really is that special. He’s still only 21, but pretty much all the sounds heard on his album are made from instruments that he learned how to play himself. He’s probably a prodigy.



#9   Onism by Photay (Astro Nautico)
BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Photay OnismIs experimental pop a thing? Well, it is now. Photay is like Aphex Twin doing Todd Terje, or maybe vice versa. Either way, it’s the new jazz. I don’t know how he found these sounds and was able to record them for all of us to hear, but they make me want to dance about Autechre.



#10   Open by Grandbrothers (City Slang)
BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Grandbrothers OpenIn the tradition of other great German new-music pianists like Hauschka and Nils Frahm, Grandbrothers play the world’s best instrument in ways previously unheard. Virtuosity is the new punk. Especially in Germany, apparently.


Is that what I was scared of? It's fucking ridiculous. -JL




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Categorized: Best Albums of the Year

Topics: best of 2017

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