In many ways, 2017 was a year that called for comfort music. Retreating from my usual habits of discovery, I found myself listening to the same records over and over again.
Though, some new records managed to make their way into my life and have become a new form of comfort.
Here's a list of 15 of my personal favorite albums of 2017 made by non-male musicians.
15. Three Futures - TORRES
In TORRES's third studio album, Mackenzie Scott brings her heavy hitting imagery and tongue in cheek lyricism to a new level. Three Futures shows a side of Scott that is bolder and uninhibited. Read my concert review for additional thoughts on the album.
Favorite tracks: "Skim," "Greener Stretch," and "Three Futures"
14. Infinite Worlds - VAGABON
Stepping into the forefront of indie rock, Lætitia Tamko singlehandedly put out one of the most influential albums of the year. Infinite Worlds is the embodiment of exemplary strength and fortitude. (See badass tweet below.) Read more about VAGABON's album and performance at Ottobar here.
Favorite tracks: "Cold Apartment," "Cleaning House," and "Fear & Force"
13. Soft Sounds from Another Planet - Japanese Breakfast
Japanese Breakfast's follow-up album to last year's Psychopomp is a triumph over grief and an exploration of the human condition. Taking the brave step forward, Michelle Zauner shows great resilience and artistic growth. (Read: Japanese Breakfast @ Black Cat)
Favorite tracks: "Til Death," "The Body is a Blade," and "Machinist"
12. Please Be Mine - Molly Burch
Newcomer, Molly Burch, released a masterpiece with her debut album, Please be Mine. Everything from the fifties-esque instrumentals and jazzy vocals are a tasteful brand of hopeless romantic. A modern-day Billie Holiday, Burch creates a wistful melancholy that manages to keep from feeling feigned. Seeing her open for Tim Darcy was one of the highlights of my 2017.
Favorite tracks: "Try," "Wrong For You," and "Torn to Pieces"
11. Greyland - Tiny Hazard
One of my favorite discoveries of the year was Brooklyn band, Tiny Hazard. Opening for Aldous Harding at the Park Church Co-Op, they left me completely awestruck. Alena Spanger's distinctive vocals mimic the flight of a seagull: floating above polyrhythmic waves of synths, bass, and drums, only to nose-dive unexpectedly "down down." Much like the album art, Greyland is imaginative, fantastical, and dream-like.
Favorite tracks: "Like a Child," "Ekon," and "Sesame"
10. WIldly Idle (Humble Before the Void) - Hand Habits
I first saw Hand Habits in a Planned Parenthood + ACLU fundraiser at The Music Hall of Williamsburg last January. I went for Sharon Van Etten, Daniel Rossen, and Beirut, but was deeply affected by Meg Duffy's performance. An exploration of space and sound, her debut album, Wildly Idle (Humble Before the Void), shows Duffy stepping into a new role as a solo artist. It is certainly an album I will keep coming back to.
Favorite tracks: "In Between," "Book on How to Change," and "Actress"
9. Antisocialites - Alvvays
Esteemed Canadian jangle-pop band, Alvvays, released their follow-up album to their 2014 self-titled debut. Following her own footsteps, Molly Rankin has once again written an entire album of catchy lyrics and hooky melodies. With Antisocialites, the band proves themselves worthy of being canonized within the modern indie oeuvre.
Favorite tracks: "Not My Baby," "Dreams Tonite," and "Forget About Life"
8. Night Night At The First Landing - Madeline Kenney
Night Night at the First Landing is an album that becomes more and more captivating with every listen. Madeline Kenney's "twang-haze" debut album is a spell-binding rumination on personal growth. (Read: Madeline Kenney @ DC9)
Favorite tracks: "Big One," "Witching Hour," and "Uncommon"
7. Capacity - Big Thief
A band unlike any other, Big Thief weaves awe-inspiring imagery into what feels like a treasured collection of home videos. Splicing together vignettes of many generations or even lifetimes, Adrianne Lenker's poetic lyricism is ruminative and transporting. (Read Big Thief @ Black Cat)
Favorite tracks: "Watering," "Coma," "Mythological Beauty" and "Mary"
6. Everybody Works - Jay Som
Jay Som is one of my favorite bands to see live, but their recorded album, which features Melina Duterte on every instrument, is just as impressive. I've already written about her twice this year, so read the following posts for more thoughts: Soccer Mommy + Stef Chura + Jay Som @ Rock & Roll Hotel & Jay Som @ DC9.
Favorite tracks: "One More Time, Please," "Remain" and "The Bus Song"
5. If Blue Could Be Happiness - Florist
Not only is If Blue Could Be Happiness an album that perfectly encapsulates the beauty of life and loss, but it does so with unabashed vulnerability. It was an album that taught be how to feel human again, and I am eternally grateful for its existence. (Read: Florist + Keeper @ DC9)
Favorite tracks: "Glowing Brightly," "The Fear of Losing This," "What I Wanted to Hold," and "Red Bird"
4. What Now - Sylvan Esso
Following one of the most enjoyable and sweaty concert experiences of my life, the 9:30 club speakers began to blare "You Make My Dreams Come True" by Hall and Oates. Everyone in the sold-out room stayed where they were and danced + sang along to the whole song. It was like being surrounded by a room full of Joseph Gordon-Levitts.
Favorite tracks: "The Glow," "Slack Jaw," "Die Young," and "Just Dancing"
(Also congratulations to Ellen Page & Emma Portner on their marriage! Watch their breathtaking movement film for "Slack Jaw" below.)
3. Party - Aldous Harding
Aldous Harding is one of the most striking performers of our time. Having seen her three times over the course of the year, I was still completely enthralled by her every time. Party is a stunning collection that showcases Harding's unearthly siren call. Her whimsical blend of goth folk and unconventional vocal style are peerless in today's music. (Read: Den-Mate + Aldous Harding @ DC9)
Favorite tracks: "What If Birds Aren't Singing They're Screaming," "Swell Does The Skull," "Blend," and "Horizon"
2. Thx - Lomelda
Thx was an album that consumed me entirely. I essentially drowned myself in it. It is dichotomous in that it is expansive, yet reserved... full, yet bare. Hannah Read's songwriting and voice call on every emotion I am humanly capable of. This past September, I was lucky enough to see her perform a house show. It was probably one of the most inspired sets I have ever witnessed.
Favorite tracks: "Bam Sha Klam," "Far Out," "Out There," "Only World," and "Interstate Vision"
1. Melodrama - Lorde
Along with Carly Rae Jepsen's E•MO•TION, and Sylvan Esso's What Now, Melodrama played an important role in some of the toughest points of my life. They were the soundtrack to my late-night drives home from the hospital. With my windows down on the highway, scream-singing along to every word, they helped me retain my sanity.
As a long-time fan of Pure Heroine, I had extremely high expectations for the new album and wasn't sure if it would be able to live up to them. But the songs of Melodrama are meticulously crafted. You can tell just how much thought went into everything, down to the timing of her ending consonants.
Ella Yelich-O'Connor's immaculate songwriting has become even more refined. Though she has left her once-signature, dark, teenage aesthetic behind, her new confessional style (under the guise of pop anthems) suits her well.
Favorite tracks: "Green Light," "Sober," "Homemade Dynamite," "The Louvre," "Liability," "Hard Feelings/Loveless," "Sober II (Melodrama)," "Writer In The Dark," "Supercut," "Liability (Reprise)," and "Perfect Places"