Yay! The annual music review for all three people that actually check it! Says cynical me.
Anyway, I’ve been doing this post since the first Christmas since I started blogging, so I just keep at it. ‘Last year’ I only posted this in March because I kept discovering new things during December. That happened mostly because other sites and blogs publish their top 10s, and I listened to a lot of stuff I missed before.
This year is different because I’ve not gotten around to listening to anyone else’s top 10 list yet. I probably have missed things, but I’ve not found that out yet. I hope to start catching up to a lot of podcasts and bookmarked links in January, but with the way things are I sincerely doubt it.
Oh, and a warning. If you’re not into Americana, Folk and/or Country, you can just close this tab and do something else. There’s nothing for you here if that’s the case.
Since a couple of years I’ve been listening to American folk and rock music more and more. Add to that that a lot of the names I had on my radar didn’t release anything or released something that just didn’t grab me as much as I expected.
Among these names are Hiss Golden Messenger, Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stone Age, Laura Marling, The Waifs, Future Islands and some others. Other records were good but the following list were simply better. Think of Valerie June, Ryan Adams, Alt-J, Torres, St. Vincent and The National.
My 2017 on Spotify is a lot longer than that, and I really enjoy each record in there. Maybe the latest additions slightly less since I’ve not really gotten around these yet, but there’s a lot of good music in there.
Anyway, to make a short story not too long, let’s get to my top 10 for the year.
#10: Johnny Flynn – Sillion
Flynn’s voice takes a bit of getting used to, but after some random encounters in playlists I listened to, I started liking it. A lot. It is kind of moody, which I like as you might know.
#9: David Rawlings – Poor David’s Almanack
I first heard of David Rawlings when he joined Gillian Welch on stage in Paradiso a couple of years ago. He’s not overly prolific, and I didn’t really like his record before then. Recently he released a new record and I do like this one! It’s a fairly recent discovery, and to say it’s been on repeat since is exaggeration. It’s been a regularly played one though.
#8: Feist: Pleasures
The only non-country record in my list this year. But it’s Feist and I think I like everything she’s done so far over her carreer. It’s a bit jumpy but thoroughly enjoyable to listen to a lot of times.
#7: Nikki Lane: Highway Queen
A record I really didn’t like at first, somehow. The only reason I listened to it was that on every music channel I follow online it kept popping up. She also headlined a small ‘festival’ in Paradiso in spring and I dismissed it because I didn’t like Nikki Lane. Now I regret I didn’t go.
#6: John Moreland: Big Bad Luv
There was a John Moreland on my list in 2016 too. It seems the man has a lot of things to process through music since he’s been releasing a lot of records. I missed all his shows in The Netherlands this year due to other stuff like being on holiday and having a baby. Luckily, he’s coming back in 2018!
#5: Rhiannon Giddens: Freedom Highway
In a way this is the best record on this list. However, the best doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the most enjoyable in my book. This record has stunning lyrics and music and is also sort of significant since Giddens doesn’t shy away from addressing all kinds of wrongs in society.
#4: Sean Rowe: New Lore
If you check the comments in most of Sean Rowe’s Youtube videos, a lot of people came there by watching The Accountant. Somehow I watched The Accountant because of all the comments on Youtube. A good movie, but the music is better.
Mr. Rowe has a bit of a strange voice that takes some getting used to, like Johnny Flynn’s, but when I found a previous record of him on Spotify somehow, I really enjoyed it right away.
We even used a line from the below song in the birth announcement card of our youngest.
And the track that’s used in The Accountant, as closing credits if I’m not mistaken:
#3: Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit: The Nashville Sound
Jason Isbell is a champ and has produced some awesome records over the span of his career. Somehow his previous record never made my list, and I think that’s because I found out about it too late. Quite a shame since there’s a few cracking songs on it. This year I didn’t make that omission and The Nashville Sound makes it here.
It’s a bit more pumped up than his previous couple of records, and a bit more ‘American’ too. Just like his show I saw last autumn. Great, but rather ‘American’. I’m not sure how to explain it, but I guess you’d know if you saw it.
#2: Old Crow Medicine Show: 50 Years of Blonde on Blonde
I’m not even going to explain this. It’s Old Crow Medicine Show releasing their take on Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde. What more could you want?
#1: Courtney Marie Andrews: Honest Life
I’m not even sure when I found this record. What I do know is that when I first heard it I knew this was going to be on this list. The only reason John Moreland was higher on my list according to Spotify (based on songs played) is that he has more songs out, but this is the record I played most over the last twelve months.
I saw her perform live in Amsterdam last summer (Paradiso again) and I absolutely fell in love with her/the music all over again. She’s coming back to Amsterdam in April, which is a shame since there’s no way I’ll be able to make it to this gig. But I’m not going to cancel my trip to Scotland for it…
Based on my list and relistening to a lot of my 2017 playlist I can only conclude that 2017 was a very good year for music I like. However, most of the stuff I really enjoyed came from unexpected and unknown artists.
NB: The only reason Purgatory by Tyler Childers is not on number one is that it’s not officially released in Europe yet. Since I heard the record a couple of times, and saw most of it performed live this summer, I expect that would have at least moved number 2 to 10 down, and maybe number one as well.