By now most of you have seen my end of the year awards, but what would the end of the year be without a list of my favorite albums? Normally I would give a Top 5, but since there was so much great music this year and it is our 7th year as a publication, I figured…why not? Let’s do a Top 7 instead.
You all know what my favorite album of the year was, so instead of going last to first, I will do the exact opposite. I hope you all enjoy my list and please leave your list in the comment section. Remember…it’s not a competition, it’s a celebration! Happy New Year!
1. Paramore – After Laughter
As I mentioned in my end of the year awards, Paramore always seems to get it right. Hayley Williams blends depression and anxiety with upbeat melodies and excruciating, to the heart lyrics in a way that nobody else can….because nobody else can.
All too often, bands try to reinvent themselves and fall flat. Paramore however has this knack for completely changing it up all the while remaining just as recognizable as they were back in 2004. After Laughter was yet another brilliant piece of work from the Tennessee natives.
This one shouldn’t come as much of a surprise for anyone who’s read my posts this year either. Lights was my Female Artist of the Year and her song “Savage” was my Song of the Year as well. Much like Paramore, Lights continues to reinvent herself and each time I hold my breath a little, wondering if she can continue to hit it out of the park. Sure enough…she does.
Skin and Earth was written as a companion to her six part comic book series by the same name. As we have seen from other artists in the past, these sort of projects very often fall flat. This however was not the case with Lights as Skin and Earth absolutely crushed expectations. Her vocals just keep getting better and her music gets more and more well rounded with each release. Despite her hordes of fans, Lights still remains a bit under the radar in the music world. I can’t help, but believe that won’t last much longer.
I remember seeing Portugal. The Man in concert back in 2011 in Redmond, WA. They were playing an outdoor day festival and only had a 30 minute set, but boy did they make the most of it. Ever since that show, I was a fan of the boys from Portland, Oregon (by way of Wasilla, Alaska) and I can’t tell you how happy I am to see their hard work and talent finally pay off with a nomination at the upcoming Grammy Awards.
Woodstock never quits. It’s a full on “get up and dance” style album, equipped with stiletto sharp lyrics and culturally relevant subject material. “Feel It Still” was the unofficial Summer anthem of 2017 and for good reason, it’s nearly impossible not to love these guys. Now go get yourselves a Grammy!
4. Erin McCarley – YU YI
Yet another artist who keeps it fresh with each release and does it well. Erin McCarley’s, YU YI, is a major departure from her debut, Love Save The Empty and even her sophomore release, My Stadium Electric, but still a phenomenal piece of work from the Texas native.
With YU YI, McCarley ditches her singer/songwriter sound for a somewhat abstract (at times), electric, experimental sound with tracks like “Cherry Tree” (f/ Ruslan) and “Dignity” that show just how versatile she is as a writer. As not to stray too far, tracks like “We Got The World” and “I Can Be Somebody” do act as throwbacks to her early work and help make the album a well rounded release.
5. Dia Frampton – Bruises
I have been fortunate enough to interview several artists from NBC’s The Voice and have watched every episode of the show since it’s inception. What I am about to say next isn’t meant as a dig at the show, but merely a fact about talent shows in general and having such a quick introduction to such a large audience. Much of the time it takes an artist who finds popularity on this type of show a few years to shed the generic/safe sort of sound that comes after being on the show. I mean it makes sense right? When you’re competing for votes each week, you work to appease a very large group of music fans with very different tastes. It’s no wonder the product you end up putting out doesn’t exactly scream “original”.
As for Dia Frampton, I was a fan of her back in the days of Meg and Dia, so seeing her on the first season of The Voice only made me wonder why the hell people hadn’t caught on before the show. That being said, although Frampton did release an album not too long after the first season wrapped up, it took her quite a bit longer to follow it up with Bruises, the album I was hoping to hear all along. Frampton hits all the right buttons with Bruises as the album is not only a maturation for the singer/songwriter, but also an awakening to who she truly is as a solo artist. The production is phenomenal and so are the vocals and writing. At the time it was released, I said it would be one of the best albums of the year and I was not wrong.
6. Sarah Darling – Dream Country
For the past few years I have repeatedly driven home the fact that female artists in country music are keeping the genre relevant right now with their originality and Sarah Darling is personally one of my favorite artists who did that in 2017 with her truly magical release, Dream Country.
It seemed as though Dream Country came out almost as soon as 2016 ended. I remember saying that if it was a preview of what was to come in 2017 that we were in for a good music year and sure enough, we got treated to a hell of a 2017. The concept album takes you on a calming, wondrously beautiful vacation each and every time you listen to it and is one of those quality compilations that will stand the test of time. If you didn’t listen to it when it came out, you absolutely have to now.
7. Jillette Johnson – All I Ever See In You Is Me
I was a real idiot for ranking these, since honestly there is very little separating each one as Jillette Johnson’s sophomore release, All I Ever See In You Is Me is an exquisite piece of art that really shows just how talented of a songwriter she is.
The album starts off with the genius track “Bunny” and continues to impress with “Flip a Coin”, “Like You Raised Me” and “I’m Sorry”, before ending with the heart breaking, yet beautiful “Thumbelina”. Johnson has been a favorite of ours here at Lemonade since she started and I personally couldn’t be more proud of what she has become as an artist. Congratulations Jillette on such a beautiful release.
So there you have it! My Top Seven Albums of 2017. It’s going to be hard for 2018 to top it, but I look forward to seeing it try.
Editor in Chief of Lemonade Magazine