Best of 2017: Dan’s Rainbows in the Dark Edition

9C 2017 EOY Header Image

I know I’m far from the only person on our staff capable of writing an end-of-year Rainbows in the Dark post, but I guess I called “dibs” first? So here we are. As you may recall, I made a point to keep my 2017 metal recap strictly metal. So now that 2018’s here, we’ll take a look back at 2017-in-Non-Metal, and keep it strictly non-metal. And don’t worry, this one will be a much shorter read than the metal list. (That’s not to suggest that these aren’t as good, or are less worth of extended written rants; it’s to suggest that at this point, I’m just kinda tired of writing about music from 2017.)

One stipulation: again — despite what the title may imply — I’m not suggesting these are the Best of 2017. I can’t make that call. These are just some albums I enjoyed from outside the metal spectrum. Okay. That’s it. Let’s get started… 

Ryan Adams — Prisoner

ryan adams prisoner album cover

Not quite at the level of 2014’s self-titled effort — at times, some of the songs feel a bit retread-y — but still a great listen.

Anathema — The Optimist

anathema the optimist

A beautiful, thoroughly engaging continuation of the concept from A Fine Day to Exit. Best Anathema album since that one? I think it might be.

Julie Byrne — Not Even Happiness

julie byrne - not even happiness

Pretty much the perfect rainy day album. Not Even Happiness is full of lovely, wistful folk songwriting that pulls you in more and more with each listen.

Cut Copy — Haiku From Zero

cut copy - haiku from zero cover

Nowhere near the acid trip that 2013’s Free Your Mind was, but still full of unbearably catchy, endlessly danceable tunes. (“Counting Down,” “Airborne,” etc.)

Drab Majesty — The Demonstration

drab majesty - the demonstration cover art

If Ulver was my favorite album of the year, then this thing was right behind it in the two-spot. Drab Majesty’s got a tremendous, expansive goth / shoegaze sound that you’ll want to come back to again and again. (Look no further than “Dot in the Sky” to see what I mean.)

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds — Who Built the Moon?

noel gallagher who built the moon album cover

I don’t think Noel’s had this much fun making music — or given so few shits — in…ever?

Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings — Soul of a Woman

sharon jones dap kings - soul of a woman album

Soul of a Woman is a final demonstration of Ms. Jones’ incredible talent, and a reminder of how devastating her death last year remains.

Kesha — Rainbow

kesha rainbow

There’s so much more to this album than just “Praying.” Don’t get me wrong — “Praying” is pretty great, but so is just about everything else on Rainbow.

Kendrick Lamar — DAMN.

kendrick lamar damn.

There are so few people even approaching this dude’s level. Three knockout albums in a row from Kendrick.

Lorde — Melodrama

lorde melodrama album cover

Melodrama is bigger, bolder and louder than Pure Heroine, and an enormous step forward for Lorde. If you liked the first album, you need to hear this one.

Migos — Culture

migos culture

Pure trap mastery.

Miguel — War & Leisure

miguel war & leisure

This album is pure sex. Also, “Wolf” has a section of lyric that goes ‘hide your kids, hide your wife’ so now all I can think of is Antoine Dodson, and that makes me immeasurably happy.

Phaserland — Cosmic Boundaries

phaserland - cosmic boundaries

I didn’t hear a better retro-/synthwave album this year. Fans of those genres, keep an eye on this Detroit project if you haven’t been already.

Sampha — Process

sampha process album

“Blood on Me” alone would have earned Process a spot on this list. That there are nine others to get lost in only strengthens its case.

Slowdive — Slowdive

slow dive - slow dive

There is no possible way to overstate how tremendous a return this is. Twenty-two years since Pygmalion and it’s like the band never left. Welcome back, Slowdive.

Syd — Fin

syd fin album cover

This doesn’t quite top Syd’s most recent group outing — The Internet’s 2015 gem Ego Death, but it’s still pretty stellar.

Ulver — The Assassination of Julius Caesar

ulver - assassination of julius caesar

My favorite album of the year, across all genres.

The War on Drugs — A Deeper Understanding

the war on drugs - a deeper understanding

Adam Granduciel’s in some kind of groove. His last two albums now have been stone cold classics. Another hour of dreamy, airy, get-lost-in rock.

Steven Wilson — To The Bone

steven wilson - to the bone album cover

Take his existing prog template, add in a little embrace of his pop sensibilities, and voilà! Steven Wilson gives us his best solo record to date.

The xx — I See You

the xx i see you

Giving producer Jamie more of a voice — okay, “letting him use samples” — was just what the former Mercury Prize winners needed. On I See You, the xx sound like a band rejuvenated, but never once lose their dreamy side.

That’ll do us! In general, 2017 wasn’t quite as bad for music as it was for literally-everything-else-on-Earth. Here’s hoping 2018’s a better one!

Keep it (maybe-occasionally-NOT) heavy,
Dan

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