my top 50 albums of 2017

Posted by Brad Schelden, December 28, 2017 03:30pm | Post a Comment

shout out louds

#50 Shout Out Louds - Ease My Mind (Merge)

These guys first got me under their spell more than 10 years ago when Our Ill Wills came out. I am now a fan for life and always find it comforting to drift back into a new Shout Out Louds album. This music soothes the soul and lulls you into a different place. At least it does that for me. I don't know how else to describe it other than being Swedish indie soft rock.

Soccer Mommy

#49 Soccer Mommy - Collection (Fat Possum)

This was not the best year for band names. But I really think all the good band names might be taken. But you really should not judge a band by its name. I really don't like the names of at least half the new bands that I like. This band reminds me of the indie rock jangly twee days of K Records. Which always makes me happy. They are like Veruca Salt meets The Softies. I am still forever stuck in the '90s and there are plenty of bands still playing music like the '90s never ended.

Lina Tullgren

#48 Lina Tullgren - Won (Captured Tracks)

This album wins for most disturbing '60s folk instructional magic cult artwork album cover. This is one of those dark indie records that I always end up falling in love with. Give me a female singer and some dark and dreamy poetic music and I am on board. I am always looking for the new Mazzy Star or Cat Power in my life. I love my music arty and dark.

Kelly Lee Owens

#47 Kelly Lee Owens - Kelly Lee Owens (Smalltown Supersound)

This has really been a rough year for most of us. And I really always need my music to escape into when times are tough. These albums are like my safe place. Sometimes they are like my best friend or my therapist. I will always look at certain songs and albums and remember exactly how I felt that year. This album has a dark dancey vibe going on. It sort of reminds me of the weird dreamy sounds of Chris & Cosey.

Moon Diagrams

#46 Moon Diagrams - Lifetime Of Love (Sonic Cathedral)

Super catchy and weird dream pop from the drummer of Deerhunter. The album is addictive and easy to digest. It is a bit all over the place and includes a 14 minute 90s ambient dance jam. But it really is all about the last track "End Of Heartache." I can listen to that song all day long.


com truise

#45 Com Truise - Iteration (Ghostly International)

Com Truise is really one of my favorite named bands. I am sure Tom Cruise has no idea who these guys are though. The album sounds like it could be the soundtrack to some cool driving video game. Another nice album to melt into and forget all your worries with.

chelsea wolfe

#44 Chelsea Wolfe - Hiss Spun (Sargent House)

I always enjoy listening to a new album by Chelsea Wolfe. Deep and dark and brooding. Ethereal goth music. Sort of sounds like what Siouxsie Sioux would sound like if she was in a current band on a metal label.

cherry glazerr

#43 Cherry Glazerr - Apocalipstick (Secretly Canadian)

Another one of my favorite band names. I get a sort of Blonde Redhead feeling from this new album. Maybe mixed with some Yeah Yeah Yeahs. This album totally makes me feel like I am back in San Francisco watching a band at the Bottom Of The Hill in 1999.


tara jane o'neil

#42 Tara Jane O'Neil - Tara Jane O'Neil (Gnomonsong)

I have been in deep love with the voice of Tara Jane O'Neil for a long time now. Nobody quite does dark and brooding folk music like she does. You really have to be in the right kind of mood to welcome this album into your life. But I often find myself there.

japanese breakfast

#41 Japanese Breakfast - Soft Sounds From Another Planet (Dead Oceans)

Another great album from Japanese Breakfast who just released her debut last year. Not exactly a typical twee album. But it is all sorts of cute and twee and dreamy. For fans of Camera Obscura and Belle & Sebastian.

nite jewel

#40 Nite Jewel - Real High (Gloriette Records)

Nite Jewel has given us her own take on 90's R&B jams. Many of the songs end up sounding like a cool mix of Everything But The Girl and Aaliyah. I always end up liking whatever Nite Jewel puts out. Ethereal slow jams.


#39 Cende - #1 Hit Single (Double Double Whammy)

This Cende album is a super catchy power pop album. But also sort of a like a mix of The Get Up Kids, The Decemberists & Fugazi. If you can imagine such a thing actually sounding good. 

toro y moi

#38 Toro Y Moi - Boo Boo (Carpark)

Chaz Bundick never lets me down when he puts out a new album. Groovy and dreamy dance jams. His albums are like ethereal space music. It just makes me happy whenever I listen to Toro Y Moi.


#37 Vök - Figure (Nettwerk)

I have always loved Bjork and Sigur Ros. And I finally made it to Iceland this year to discover the country that made them. It all makes sense now. Icelanders are all a bit weird. But in a good way. Everyone was super nice and had no problem admitting they sort of believe in fairies and elves. This album is a bit dream pop and bit dance music. Perfectly Icelandic.

the drums

#36 The Drums - Abysmal Thoughts (ANTI-)

I had to take a little break from Jonny Pierce and The Drums. I just listened to that first album too much. But after being mildly disappointed by a couple of their albums I am officially back on board with The Drums. Imagine The Smiths mixed with some bubblegum pop and you get The Drums. Super addictive and catchy.


#35 Cloakroom - Time Well (Relapse)

This album sits somewhere between 90s emo and shoegaze. Like a mix of Touch & Go bands like Slint and Pinback with some of Justin Broadrick's Jesu. It is heavy and doomy but also ethereal and dreamy. The perfect mix of hard and soft.

wear your wounds

#34 Wear Your Wounds - WYW (Deathwish)

I have never been a fan of Converge but I was excited about this album before I even ever heard it. Wear Your Wounds is Converge's Jacob Bannon slowed down musical adventure. This is another beautiful mix of heavy music with dreamy shoegaze. Like Converge mixed with Low. It is great music for the end of the world. 

plastic flowers

#33 Plastic Flowers - Absent Forever (Native Sound)

Another album of synthy dream pop. I have really been liking what this label has been putting out lately. Native Sound has given us Miserable, Vow & Sheer. It is easy to just disappear into this dreamy album. Like all good music should let you do.

misty coast

#32 Misty Coast - Misty Coast (Old Flame)

Psychedelic dream pop from Norway. Like a more dreamy Yeah Yeah Yeahs. For fans of Beach House or The Raveonettes. Misty Coast is a perfect name for this band and this album.

hazel english

#31 Hazel English - Just Give In / Never Going Home (Polyvinyl)

Another Australian in my top 50 this year. This one now based up in Oakland. Hazel English has given us an album of ethereal and swirly indie pop. The kind of album I would have fallen in love with decades ago that I still find myself falling in love with over and over again.

drab majesty

#30 Drab Majesty - The Demonstration (Dais)

Another album that I could not help but love. I can't resist a great synth goth record. Drab Majesty sounds like the great days of Clan Of Xymox. Dark, gloomy and mysterious. But also catchy in that way that '80s dark wave perfected.




#29 Priests - Nothing Feels Natural (Sister Polygon)

I keep going back to this album to try and decide how I feel about it. It is mostly because I forget how much I like it until I go back to it. Sitting somewhere between punk and no wave. They remind me of the arty music scene in San Francisco from the late '90s and early '00s.


the horrors

#28 The Horrors - V (Caroline)

The Horrors have gone through some musical changes over the last 10 years. I have really enjoyed the journey and I think I might like this album the best. The album is super fun and dancey. A bit of dark wave and shoegaze help to create some super catchy jams. It is exciting to see a band put out something this good five albums into their catalog.



panda riot

#27 Panda Riot - Infinity Maps (Panda Riot)

Panda Riot give us some fantastic shoegaze from Chicago. It is seriously hard to believe that this album came out this year. I could totally be convinced this album came out in 1991. Beautiful dreamy vocals over fuzzy swirling guitars.

agent bla

#26 Agent blå - Agent b (Kanine Records)

Post punk from my favorite named city Gothenburg, Sweden. I was hoping Agent Bla meant something more interesting. But it just means Agent Blue. A spooky and dreamy death pop album. This album is full of energy and has some great dark and gloomy anthems.


#25 Marker - Marker (Medical Records)

Every album on my list is one that I enjoy diving into over and over again. The first time I listened to this album it was like hanging out with a long lost friend. It was familiar and comforting and gave me everything I love. This album is like a slowed down version of your favorite album that has somehow made it better. Ambient and moody shoegaze.

day wave

#24 Day Wave - The Days We Had (Harvest)

I have been enjoying this Oakland dudes EPs that have come out over the last couple of years. He has finally given us a full length album. This is a great little album that is near perfect pop. Another album to file with your dreamy pop. The album ends with the best song on the album "Wasting Time."

john maus

#23 John Maus - Screen Memories (Sacred Bones)

I love this dude. His albums are a little bit spooky and a little bit weird. His albums to me are always these great little time capsules to disappear into. He transports me to a sort of imagined synthy cinematic world.

nabihah iqbal

#22 Nabihah Iqbal - Weighing Of The Heart (Ninja Tune)

Try to imagine a slowed down blissful version of Ladytron. This album is like a more experimental new wave album. A great late night album.


bell witch

#21 Bell Witch - Mirror Reaper (Profound Lore)

This album will take you on a very long doomy journey. The whole album is only one long track. I have listened to this album many times all the way through. I can never stop it once I start the album. The album is really worth the time you need to spend with it. Dark and droney and sometimes exactly what I need to get through the day.

julien baker

#20 Julien Baker - Turn Out The Lights (Matador)

Julien Baker made my favorite album two years ago. And she has put out another fantastic album this year. She has one of those heartbreaking voices that I love. Another great album of modern folk from one of the best new musicians we have.

keep shelly in athens

#19 Keep Shelly In Athens - Philokalia (Keep Shelly In Athens)

This album has yet to come out on CD & LP but I just love it too much to not put on my list. They remind me of the goth days of San Francisco and Switchblade Symphony. I really fell for this band a couple of years ago. This new album is just as good. I love a good arty gothtronica album.



#18 Au.Ra - Cultivations (Felte)

This is apparently the year of Australia since I seem to have a bunch of Australians in my top 50 this year. There was just no way that I wasn't going to love this album. Electronic dark dreamy wave. Au.Ra does not disappoint.  

buzz kull

#17 Buzz Kull - Chroma (Burning Rose)

Buzz Kull is Sydney musician Marc Dwyer. He has made a fantastic little dark wave album. Spooky and gloomy and everything dark wave should be. For fans of Trust and Cold Cave. I think I might need to go to Australia soon.

death of lovers

#16 Death Of Lovers - The Acrobat (Dais)

I always love a good dramatic band name. This album sounds like a long lost Depeche Mode or Flock of Seagulls album. But not the "I Ran" Flock of Seagulls. More like "Nightmares" or "The Story Of  A Young Heart." This album has elements of shoegaze but it really is more like a modern new wave album. And I obviously love it.


#15 Slowdive - Slowdive (Dead Oceans)

Having Slowdive back in my life is one of the coolest things that has ever happened in my life. I was beyond obsessed with their first three albums but never got to see them live in the '90s. Not only did I get to finally seem them live but they gave us a new album! And it is great. Rachel Goswell and Neil Halstead and the entire band are like my long lost best friends that are now back in my life.



#14 Hoops - Routines (Fat Possum)

Dream pop from Indiana. I can never get enough of jangly dream pop. I always think that every year will be the last of albums like this. But they keep coming and they keep making me so happy. Another great album to listen to on your headphones.

big thief

#13 Big Thief - Capacity (Saddle Creek)

I kept trying to get into their first album from last year. But this new album was the one that really finally made me a fan. Big Thief makes folky heart breaking ballads. This was really a messed up year and it was nice to have albums like this to help us get through it.


rafael anton irisarri

#12 Rafael Anton Irisarri - The Shameless Years (Umor Rex)

I always need a couple of albums like this every year. This is a dark and minimal instrumental album. It sort of sounds like it is raining through the whole album. I think I would have liked the new Blade Runner a lot more if this dude did the soundtrack. For fans of Burial and Tropic of Cancer.

the xx

#11 the XX - I See You (Young Turks)

This is the third album by the XX. I was a seriously huge fan of their first album. Probably loved it too much. So that second album was bound to let me down. But I really do love them again. I saw this album performed live and got to really appreciate it even more. Nobody combines dance music and dream pop as good as the XX.



#10 Kelela - Take Me Apart (Warp Records)

I went through most of the '90s and '00s being really into R&B music. I loved my SWV and TLC. I loved my Aaliyah and Missy Elliott. But I just don't find much I love these days in the genre so I get very excited when I find an album like this. This album is super sexy and has a futuristic feel to it.


#9 Rostam - Half-Light (Nonesuch)

I never was able to get into Vampire Weekend. But Rostam Batmanglij turned me into a superfan with this solo album. When I first heard "Bike Dream" I was hooked. The album is unique, catchy, dreamy and super fun.

desperate journalist

#8 Desperate Journalist - Grow Up (Fierce Panda)

This is one of those albums that seemed to come out of nowhere. But I quickly realized this was the album for me. Like a mix of Elastica and Echobelly. British post punk that sounds like angsty brit pop. "Why Are You So Boring" is my song on this album.



#7 Airiel - Molten Young Lovers (Shelflife Records)

Airiel is a Chicago shoegaze band that have been around for about 20 years. But I have been anticipating this new album for a while. They sound like some of my favorite bands on labels like Sarah or Morr Music. But shelflife is the perfect home for them. They are like a bookish version of shoegaze. A mix of The Decemberists and Pale Saints.



#6 Froth - Outside (Briefly) (Wichita Recordings)

This album is for fans of the recent shoegaze revival of Captured Tracks bands like Beach Fossils and Wild Nothing. The album also reminds me of Imperial Teen. Catchy and jangly and dreamy.



#5 Pixx - The Age Of Anxiety (4AD)

Pixx is UK singer Hannah Rodgers. She sort of reminds me of Electrelane or Le Tigre. A dreamy and artsy indie album. I could also imagine this album being played along with Kylie Minogue or Sia or St. Vincent. She really should be that popular.

jay som

#4 Jay Som - Everybody Works (Polyvinyl)

It gives me hope when a young lady in her early 20s can make an album like this. It makes me even happier she is from the bay area! This album could have easily come out on K Records in the late '90s. It is an indie dream pop sort of record. Meant for you to listen to alone in your bedroom. This album is like if The Cardigans were on 4AD. Twee Pop mixed with dreamy Pop.

phoebe bridgers

#3 Phoebe Bridgers - Stranger In The Alps (Dead Oceans)

I am a sucker for sad songs. I can never get enough Red House Painters or Cat Power. Phoebe sits somewhere in between and creates some beautiful sad love songs. She's got a sort of country feel but in a good way. This is the kind of album I need at least one of in my life every year. And it is a beautiful thing when I find it.


#2 Deafcult - Auras (Hobbledehoy)

A fantastic debut from this new Australian shoegaze band. Dreamy and irresistible. My love of shoegaze will probably never go away. But I never thought new bands could ever capture the sound so well. A perfect mix of My Bloody Valentine., Dinosaur Jr. and Slowdive. And I am not apparently a fan of Australian shoegaze music!

cigarettes after sex

#1 Cigarettes After Sex - Cigarettes After Sex (Partisan Records)

I really tried to not fall in love with this album. But I couldn't resist it. I think Cigarettes After Sex sort of forced itself into the #1 spot this year. I keep going back to it this year and keep falling in love. The singers voice just gets me every time. They sort of sound like one of those dark and dreamy late 90s Twin Peaksish sort of bands. Like Tindersticks or Spain. A beautiful voice and a beautiful album for you to fall in love with. 


Relevant Tags

Pixx (1), Jay Som (2), Phoebe Bridgers (1), Cigarettes After Sex (3), Top 50 (2), Best Of 2017 (19), Froth (4), Rostam (2), Kelela (11)