2017 has been one of the craziest years, not just in music or the arts, but in politics and in my personal life. But for now, I am going to stick with the music aspect for the introduction.
First off, this was an incredible year for music. In each of the nine different categories for Lemonade Magazine’s Favorites, I had no less than three artists or bands competing for each award. It was with great difficulty that I finally settled on who my favorites were over the past 12 months. As I am typing this I am struggling to stick with who I initially chose.
Secondly, thank you to all of the artists, PR and record labels for sending us all of the incredible music that we listened to in 2017. We did more interviews, more reviews and listened to more music than any other year in our eight year run.
And of course, I need to thank all of our fans and readers. I may sound like a broken record, but there is no way we would be doing any of this without your support and encouragement. Editor Brandon and I are continually amazed at the amount of interactions on social media and the traffic we see on our site. You make it all worth it. So thank you!
Favorite Album: Retrofuture by DOT
When I came across Retrofuture by Kate Ellwanger, better known as DOT, I was in total shock. The album was perfectly named and the music evoked nostalgic feelings, yet still had me looking toward the future. And the beautiful thing is that Ellwanger literally did everything on this record. She produced, recorded, sang and founded the female-centric label, Unspeakable Records, which released her music. The 23-yr old Olympia, WA native has found an electronic sound that is boundless and timeless.
Favorite Song: “Can’t Be Alone With You” by Luci
While the Los Angeles-based trio Luci, consisting of McKail Seely, Ashley Maietta and Ariana Tibi, have only released one song so far, it is a brilliant track. “Can’t Be Alone With You” is filled with killer, sensual harmonies that ensnares all of the senses. A bluesy, pop-infused track that is so unique and fresh that it was impossible to ignore. Their vocal chemistry is undeniable and while we wait for more from the talented trio, we still have “Can’t Be Alone With You”.
Favorite EP: Heavy Heart by Mothica
If you are looking for an upbeat, but an emotional anthem for heartbreak and relationships, then Mothica‘s Heavy Heart EP is going to be your jam. The 6-song EP is 100% complete. It is flawless vocally and is layered with synth beats and a depth of emotion and heartache that most artists only dream of reaching. On top of the emotional waves, Mothica has found a sound that blends the best of indie electro-pop and mainstream hip-hop and R&B. Heavy Heart is brilliant.
Favorite New Artist: MIEARS
2017 was an interesting year for newcomer Michelle Miears. She took a break from her band BLSHS (pronounced Blushes), to work on a solo project simply titled MIEARS, her hometown was hit by Hurricane Harvey and did all of this while working. Her debut EP, Who Will Save You?, is filled with her lovely, ethereal vocals that are tinged with a heartbreaking sadness. MIEARS gathers everything that is right with electro-pop by layering down-tempo beats, soothing, sensual melodies with her tender, delicate vocals. It is a brilliant first effort that highlights all of her musical talents.
Favorite Male Artist: Jaymes Young
Seattle-native Jaymes Young had one of the most highly anticipated album releases in 2017. Coming off the coattails of his critical successes of Habits Of My Heart and Dark Star EPs, Feel Something was still a huge breakout for the singer/songwriter. Feel Something combined everything good about music. It took the quirkiness and alternative sounds of an indie records and blended it with the exquisite, detailed production of a major label to produce something that is fresh and radio-ready. On top of that, he set off on a major North American tour that saw him visit 16 cities in two countries in less than a month.
Favorite Female Artist: Bishop Briggs
I had the pleasure of seeing Bishop Briggs in concert at Bumbershoot in September 2016. Her ability to engage with the crowd with a huge amount of energy was insane. She pushed through the exhaustion of bouncing around the stage and jumping while never missing a bit or a hook. And when she sings, she sings with passion and power. The British songstress finds a way to balance her high-energy performances with emotional depth that might be unmatched by any other artist out there; male or female. Bishop Briggs is an entertainer, but not just. She is also a brilliant songwriter and a performer.
Favorite Band/Duo: Highland Kites
This trio of Marissa Lamar, Neil Briggs and Alex Edwards, better known as Highland Kites, took everything that was good about independent music and created the gold standard for an indie release in I’m Not Weak. The Los Angeles trio have traveled and performed all along the West Coast delivering their personal, relatable music with conviction and love. There is an honesty and truth that Highland Kites portrays and delivers and they deserve your attention and ears.
Favorite Music Video: “Own It” by Bailey Bryan
I had the pleasure of catching Bailey Bryan earlier this year at her show in Seattle and the 19-yr old future country star is one of the nicest and sweetest people I have met. The Washington native is on the fast-track to stardom, but at the beginning of 2017, she released her first music video to critical acclaim. The innovative style (it was the first video to have been shot vertically to fit best on your smart phone) and brilliantly positive message combined with Bryan’s undeniable charm and quirkiness brought the video to the forefront. This was difficult to choose as I also had Halsey‘s “Bad At Love” and SOFI TUKKER‘s “Best Friend” videos tagged as well, but because of the innovation along with Bryan‘s talent she got the nod.
Favorite Moment: Having The Love Of My Life Say Yes
I had a lot of things to choose from including seeing over 50 artists perform live in 2017 and interviewing Grammy-nominated duo SOFI TUKKER and a lot more, but none impacted my life as much as the love of my life agreeing to be my wife. For those of you who do not know, I asked Jess Bennett, that lovely lady in the photo above, to marry me after a round trip to the middle of rural eastern Oregon to see the Great American Solar Eclipse. While I did not ask during the eclipse, I did propose later in the evening after the once-in-a-lifetime event and I wanted to follow that up with something else special. I could not have asked for a better friend and partner. So thank you, Jess for making 2017 such a special year. I love you and I am looking forward to spending the rest of my life with you.