Best of 2017: Art Pop and Indie Rock / Dream Pop

Art Pop

All of these albums are in my top 25 of 2017 as of this writing. This list has so many of my personal favorites of the year, but it seems like there are many people out there on the internet that like a lot of them too. There’s quite a range of music represented here, from folk and chamber pop to electronic, pop, and house. Listening back to it over the past couple days, I’ve noticed that everything here is a success because the artist has carved out a specific space in each of these works and has explored it in all of the ways that they feel like. These are all distinct, unified, and daring works.

10. Colleen - A Flame My Love, a Frequency - A great snapshot of an artist expressing a specific concept within the limitations that help them accomplish their goal. Really lovely ambient pop. 

9. Laurel Halo - Dust - This is the Autechre of Art Pop albums, in that I’m still trying to understand it but I know that I always enjoy putting it on.

8. Fever Ray - Plunge - If you’re a young and/or alternative person, it’s hard not to get on board with everything that Karin is doing and standing for here. 

7. St. Vincent - MASSEDUCTION - Annie’s best collection of songs yet are her poppiest yet. I always want her to go in a different direction, but I can’t argue with these results.

6. Kelly Lee Owens - Kelly Lee Owens - A lot breezier than most of the records on this list. This reminds me of Orchestra Of Bubbles in that it’s electronic music for pop music fans and that it’s indefinitely good.

5. Perfume Genius - No Shape - Mike Hadreas is the (far from) token male artist on this list. I slept on this record for a long time before giving in to its pop genius and emotional resonance

4. Susanne Sundfør - Music for People in Trouble - This is a massive record of sad, Swedish songwriting and amazing performances of many musicians, most of all Sundfør.

3. Circuit Des Yeux - Reaching for Indigo - Haley Fohr doesn’t hold anything back besides maybe her guitar, with which she mentioned she is currently in a fight. 

2. Aldous Harding - Party - A beautiful and strange album where every song can be plumbed indefinitely for enjoyment. Harding takes a lot of chances in songwriting and they all pay off.

1. Jessica Hoop - Memories Are Now - This album does something very specific for me. It reminds me of the energy of the “freak-folk” movement that’s been reined into pop music. It’s so often off-beat but keeps you with it at each step. 


Indie Rock / Dream Pop

This is my last list of songs (non-electronic) that I’m putting out for 2017, and it has 4 of my top 10 overall albums (a list that I’m not publishing :) ). These are basically a lot of Indie stalwarts coming back to put out great records that are every bit as worthwhile as their amazing back catalogues. Then there are also a few cool bands who are new to me!

10. Wurld Series - Air Goofy - This bandcamp find is basically a song-for-song re-write of Slanted & Enchanted, which turns out, is a very enjoyable thing to do.

9. Real Estate - In Mind - Real Estate is both further mellowing out and further diving into their effects pedals. The songwriting here is sweet, breezy, and every bit as good as their last couple records.

8. RF Shannon - Jaguar Palace - Sublime dreamy slowcore that borrows good ideas from Americana, Chamber pop, and psychedelia of many different decades. It might be the sequel to Ray Lamontagne’s Ouroboros.

7. Peter Silberman - Impermanence - The Antlers front man struck out his own for an understated and lovely set of songs. I prefer this to all of the Antlers albums. 

6. Alvvays - Antisocialites - It might seem too catchy, too wordy, and too sweet, but it’s actually none of these things and instead is a perfect pop record.

5. Ariel Pink - Dedicated to Bobby Jameson - Ariel strikes a balance between inscrutable and unforgettable on this record that he hasn’t had since “Before Today.” Worth the effort to get there.

4. Grizzly Bear - Painted Ruins - The ideas for Painted Ruins lean more towards Veckitamest than anywhere else. This is a very different record, but it hits the best notes of all of their previous work.

3. LCD Soundsystem - American Dream - I’m in the 99% of people who are happy to have this record. I like it and appreciate it more every time I listen to it.

2. Fleet Foxes - The Crack-Up - It’s so much darker and more difficult than both of its predecessors that I think the world is having a hard time digesting it. I found it at the right time for me, though, and I hope it has a right time for everyone. 

1. Slowdive - Slowdive - I remember being slightly disappointed with the live performances of these songs, because they weren’t perfect live. Here, they’re perfect.