Best Albums of 2017

10. Mount Eerie A Crow Looked At Me


There are quite a few sad albums on this top ten list, but none takes the cake quite like A Crow Looked at Me. The album is an almost stream of consciousness telling of the events leading up to, during, and after the death of Phil Elverum’s wife. If that sounds tragic, listening to the album only amplifies it, leaving a pit in your stomach as you listen to him sing and tell tales of finding out she was sick, him doing tasks that remind him of her, and most heart breaking-ly of all, raising his daughter as a single dad. It’s almost too much to handle, but it’s the kind of record we need to help us mourn.

9. Phoebe Bridgers Stranger in the Alps
Bridgers’ debut album is full of contemplative folk songs, catchy, full of heartache, and containing a self deprecating sense of humor, Bridgers’ was one of the best discoveries of the year for me and will likely continue to be a star in the indie folk scene.
8. Young Thug Beautiful Thugger Girls
Young Thug is a continuously evolving artist, changing up his music with every album to playfully rap over. Mumble rap reached a peak this year, but Thug does more than just mumble, he garbles over his songs, making indescribable inflections and noises that come through as a really fun mix of hip-hop, R&B, and reggae. That’s not to say Thugger Girls is chaos, instead, Thug chose to accompany many of the songs with acoustic guitar and the beautiful melodies of singer Millie Go Lightly. The album is ever-surprising, a fun look into the mind of an evasive artist.
7. Rapsody Laila’s Wisdom
Rapsody’s latest album is a fantastic blend of jazz, soul, and Gospel tinged beats and thoughtful lyrics. There’s a complexity to her songs, she joins BJ the Chicago Kid and Anderson.Paak for a couple of lengthier tracks that beautifully throw the gauntlet. She perfectly delivers every verse, riding through complicated rhymes whilst sounding casual. With Laila’s Wisdom Rapsody proves she’s one of the most interesting emcees out there.
6. Nana Grizol Ursa Minor
Seconds into Ursa Minor the sound is obvious, Nana Grizol is bringing 90s indie rock back. It makes sense, the group is filled with members of former indie stalwarts, reformed into a group to speak into 2017. This is more than a legacy act however, Nana Grizol’s songs are as good as any band who hits the nostalgia parts of our brains and were one of the albums I returned to most throughout the year.
5. Cloud Nothings Life Without Sound
This album didn’t get as much buzz as their previous two releases, but I found it just as thrilling as the others. Life Without Sound is a confident rock record, perfectly encapsulating everything the genre can be in the year 2017 when raspy guitar lead jams are about as uninspired as they come.
4. Marika Hackman I’m Not Your Man
Hackman fits somewhere in between the sullen indie folk of Julien Baker and Phoebe Bridgers and the raucous and raw rock being made by groups like Tacocat and Diet Cig. She’s perhaps most similar to Courtney Barnett, whose rock and folk jams are dripping with irony and a wry wit. Hackman’s songs are subtly beautiful and unexpected even when they seem straightforward. She makes use both of the electric guitar and simple acoustic ones, putting out one of the best records of the year.
3. Julien Baker Turn Out the Lights
Baker’s previous album, Sprained Ankle, became an unexpected indie hit in 2015 when she was just 20, delivering emotionally complex, if simple ballads about depression, faith, and loss. Now 22, with a surprising amount of expectation thrust upon her for her sophomore album, Baker went larger, making use of her voice to contrast the soft piano and acoustic guitar throughout the album. It’s grander without changing the core sound of Sprained Ankle; a beautiful progression that is able to maintain everything we all loved about her first record.
2. Kendrick Lamar Damn. 
We will surely reach a point where Kendrick releases something that everyone shrugs off as unnecessary, but across the last five years the discussion has revolved around whether his latest work is amongst the best of all time. Damn. continues this, while not as ambitious as To Pimp a Butterfly, it features the best rapper releasing hit singles where he goes hard (“DNA.”, “Humble.”), allowing Rihanna to throw out some guest verses (“Loyalty.”), getting U2 to partake (“XXX.”) and a seven-minute magnum opus where he spills his guts (“Fear.”). He’s always exciting and it will likely be years before he stops being at the forefront of every single one of these lists.
1. Priests Nothing Feels Natural
Released just one week after Trump was inaugurated, this was the album I needed to both question and riot against the things happening around. It’s an angry combination of forthright punk and more experimental noisy post-punk. It’s academic and anarchic, puncturing our consumeristic society and calling out the bland dreams it creates in us: “But I don’t think you care about anything / Why would you applaud such uninteresting social climbing / Even the emperor’s new clothes made a scene” (“Puff”). I constantly turned to the album throughout the year, allowing it to speak into the angst of the moment.  It’s exciting and full of life even if the life it exudes is bitter toward a patriarchal and commercialistic humanity bent on its destruction. Sometimes the anti- movements are just what we need to rise from the ashes toward justice. For 2017, this feels right.

Top 10 Podcasts of 2017

I might release some thoughts about podcasts and some honorable mentions at a later date. Or I might not. Either way here’s my ten favorites from this year.


10. The Nod

Gimlet moved Brittany Luse from Sampler and brought in her Eric Eddings, co-host from For Colored Nerds, to make a show that celebrates black culture. The Nod is what is typical to Gimlet at this point, turning what should be a pretty straightforward conversational show into a highly edited and researched program. The Nod is a great combo of public radio research and fun bits the hosts bring.

9. Spontaneanation

Paul F. Tompkins continues to reign in the podcast world, forever an essential guest for every comedy show, Tompkins show, which interviews a guest to inspire a longform improvised story (while soundtracked), is a consistent delight. Perhaps even more importantly is Tompkins willingness to break free of the white man guest that so often occupies comedic podcasts. He consistently features women and people of color to fantastic results.

8. Off Book

Off Book combined two of my very favorite things this year: improv comedy and show tunes. Jess McKenna and Zach Reino improvise an entire musical every episode, breaking into song with the help of pianist Scott Passarella to create songs that are often clever, catchy, and tell a complete and typically wild story.

7. S-Town

The much anticipated follow up to the Serial series once again rocked the podcast world. This time lead by Brian Reed who follows a lead he gets into the south and discovers one of the most fascinating interviews he could possibly find. I think the show makes too much, too early of its “mysteries” when all it really wanted to be was a character study and boy does it deliver on the latter.

6. Vox’s The Weeds

A show for policy wonks, occasionally the hosts get sucked into discussing the latest political news, but the show really thrives when they get “into the weeds” of an issue. Most episodes end with the discussion of a research paper where they discuss the feasibility of an idea and how its real world implications would play out. It’s a highly informative and often entertaining look into the underlying ideas that shape our country.

5. Rob Has a Podcast

The RHAP empire somehow continues to grow, releasing multiple episodes a day, to the point where Rob has now left certain shows to be hosted by former listeners in order to continue them on as he manages more and more. He’s probably the hardest working guy in podcasting and it’s paid off, there’s no other TV recapper who does a better job than him. Even for those not interested in reality television, spending time in the RHAP community will likely convince you it’s something worthwhile.

4. NPR’s Embedded

The regular format of the show was an extremely well produced look into news stories that had disappeared from the forefront of the headlines in order to see where they were at now. It was excellent, but the episodes Kelly McEvers and team produced this year, were brilliant and necessary. Across two different seasons they tackled “Police Videos” and “Trump Stories”, bringing nuance and history to two highly controversial subjects. “Police Videos” brings multiple perspectives across multiple shootings, including one where a police officer is shot and killed. “Trump Stories” covers the people who surround Trump, what they were doing beforehand, what their motivations seem to be and how they got to be at the righthand of our current president.

3. Radiolab presents More Perfect

Last year I combined the two and Radiolab was great again this year, but I had to highlight More Perfect for taking the flare of what makes a great Radiolab episode–production value plus moral quandary–and turning it on the justice system. As our nation’s political state grows increasingly tense, understanding the underlying powers that hold it together is important and More Perfect is here to walk us through the questions, tensions, and massive frailties of our system.

2. Doughboys

Doughboys continually is a must-listen upon its weekly release and in our overloaded podcast environment, this is the hugest compliment. The boys remain as self-deprecating as ever despite their continuing success in the podcast. They treat each fast food restaurant with a surprising amount of sincerity for a show that goes off on wild tangents and have series of shows like “Rocklobsterfest” and the “Tournament of Chompions”. The blend of sincerity and comedic skill still remains one of my favorites in the podcast landscape today.

1. Comedy Bang Bang

This show has been essential for me for the past several years, but has never quite snuck into the top spot. Sometimes you’ve got to reward your favorites and Scott Aukerman continues to crank out the funniest shows. For those not in the know Aukerman plays a version of a talk show host who typically interviews a guest, before eventually being interrupted or bringing in another guest who is actually a character played by a comedian. They travel down some wild paths as they offer up strange characteristics and Aukerman tries to throw them off and get them to start discussing even more off kilter ideas. It’s my favorite podcast and this year it deserves the number one spot.

Best Songs of 2017 pt. IV (25-1)

2016 MTV Movie Awards - Show

Listen to it on Apple Music (Spotify coming soon)

25. The National “The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness”

24. Mike WiLL Made-It “Gucci on My (feat. 21 Savage, YG, Migos)

This is a song that hits because of the range of its stars. Savage is low key, Migos bring their mumbling trap flow, and YG does a traditional West coast rap backed by a chorus of women. It’s the perfect melding of styles, exactly what you hope for when bringing together some of the biggest stars in the genre.

23. Algiers “Cry of the Martyrs”

Algiers blend of gospel and punk doesn’t always work for me, but when it does it sure is great. Franklin James Fisher belts out an anthem here as speedy guitars aggressively back him.

22. Aminè “Sundays”

Chance the Rapper was bound to create successors of his uber-sincere, Gospel-tinged hiphop, and Aminè is one of the first to do so. “Sundays” is an extremely positive reflection on faith, doubts, and trying to get by when things get tough.

21. Downtown Boys “A Wall”

We need punk music to speak against the powers that be, it’s naturally combative, and has been political since its inception. Who better than a Latina woman fronted punk band to do so? Their opening track directly addresses the notorious wall, bringing a fury that we need in 2017.

20. Paramore “Pool”

Paramore abandoned their mid-00s pop-punk stylings for a more musically complex and 80s/90s inspired sound. “Pool” is a pitch perfect 90s song, with a dreamily catchy chorus.

19. Priests “JJ”

“JJ” tells the story of a love that never was, from initial attraction to the realization that nothing will come together. It ends in a shouted nihilistic conclusion “I wrote a bunch of songs for you/ but you never knew and you never deserved them. Who ever deserves anything anyway? / What a stupid concept.”

18. Calvin Harris “Slide (feat. Frank Ocean & Migos)”

17. Cloud Nothings “Modern Act”

16. Future “Mask Off (Remix) [feat. Kendrick Lamar]”

The original is great, let’s make that clear, but what song isn’t improved by adding a Kendrick Lamar verse to it? So good.

15. Marika Hackman “Violet”

14. Lorde “Liability”

Lorde’s piano driven ballad is a heartbreaker.

13. Freddie Gibbs “20 Karat Jesus”

I’m a sucker for talented rappers going hard and “20 Karat Jesus” sees Gibbs go hard.

12. Young Thug “Family Don’t Matter (feat. Millie Go Lightly)”

Young Thug chose to open up his album with an acoustic ballad of hip-hop and R&B. Millie Go Lightly beautifully concludes the song tenderly in a surprising move from an always surprising artist.

11. KYLE “iSpy (feat. Lil Yachty)

This song is kinda cheesy, I’ll admit it. But I just can’t shake it. I’ve listened to it over and over this year. Yachty is always cheesy, but there’s a charm to it, none better than here.

10. Gucci Mane “Meta Gala (feat. Offset)”

Remember when I mentioned the 2nd best use of a ringing gong in hip hop? Well here’s number one. Metro Boomin’ creates a sparse beat, with the gong calling attention and allowing Offset to deliver one of the best verses of the year.

9. Carly Rae Jepsen “Cut to the Feeling”

Carly Rae Jepsen only released one song this year, a track recorded for the animated film Leap!, yet she still cracked my top songs of the year list. There’s no better pop song writer /performer working today, “Cut to the Feeling” proves that.

8. Julien Baker “Turn Out the Lights”

Baker released another album of beautiful, sparse, and sad songs. “Turn Out the Lights” is my favorite of the bunch, all of which find slivers of hope in the melancholy. We get to hear her vocal chops here, as the song crescendos and the despair fills in.

7. Dirty Projectors “Up in Hudson”

“Up in Hudson” tells the story of the initial romance and eventual split of David Longstreth and former bandmate/amour Amber Coffman. It’s a seven and a half minute hipster R&B opus, reflective of the rise of indie rock era, while concluding “love will burn out / love will just fade away”.

6. Migos, Nicki Minaj, Cardi B “MotorSport”

Migos were the group of the year and their late year collab with Cardi B (the year’s other breakout star) and Nicki Minaj was an astonishingly fun surprise late in the year. I saw that this had been released, put it on, and after I had heard it once, I repeated it my entire drive home. How can you not be a little charmed by the Offset and Cardi B romance, especially when Cardi B gives us the line “I turn Offset on”, something that’s just cheesy enough that it becomes cute.

5. Phoebe Bridgers “Motion Sickness”

“I have emotional motion sickness”, Bridgers sings in a line that has the most perfect poetic flow.

4. Migos “Bad and Boujee (feat. Lil Uzi Vert)

Almost more meme than song, Migos announced that they owned the world late last year with lead single “Bad and Boujee”. Migos went on to seemingly feature on one million hip-hop songs this year, most of which are actually fantastic, but ultimately none better than “Bad and Boujee”.

3. Kendrick Lamar “HUMBLE.”

Today’s hip-hop king reigns supreme pt. I.

2. Jesca Hoop “The Coming”

Hoop deals with her questions of faith by imagining Jesus give up his reign over the world and deciding not to come back. It’s a deeply personal song that dismantles those parts of faith which are hateful or don’t make sense. It’s sparse and sung with a deep conviction, one that’s defiant while haunted by beliefs that are always nearby, but not quite resonant.

1. Kendrick Lamar “DNA.”

Today’s hip-hop king reigns supreme pt. II. Lead in by a track that features a scene in which Kendrick is shot, “DNA.” opens hard, harder than any other song of the year (beating out “HUMBLE.” by a hair). It examines Kendrick’s entire being, telling of his family’s history, his current success, the evil lurking within, the violence of street life, and the celebration of blackness. He samples a Fox News segment that criticizes him and then shreds through his next bars with fury. This is the most exciting current artist at his best and there’s nothing more exciting than that.

2018 Pop Culture Goals

The annual pop culture goals of the year list! Who’s ready?! This year I’m really swinging for the fences, even with a 3-month old baby. This is your life, are you who you want to be, right?

Read Infinite Jest

First up, one that I’ve been wanting to do for years, but didn’t want to casually start, knowing that I’d absolutely fail. This year I’m going to read David Foster Wallace’s magnum opus, but I’m giving myself the entire year to do so. The book is 1,079 pages, so I’m committing to 21 pages a week to keep up and actually finish it.

Write something 71% of all days

71% is 5 out of 7, which is more doable than 100% of all days, but will still be quite the challenge and allow me to take weekends off. My writings will be based on random prompts that I find on the internet and will only be somewhere between 100 and 500 words, but will push me to practice something I really enjoy doing. Keeping up with the rhythms and being sure to work out sentence structures with consistency will help me creatively and in future employment.

Do the Stephen Soderbergh culture calendar 

For those not in the know, director Stephen Soderbergh keeps track of everything he reads and watches with an unbelievable commitment. This year I decided to do the same as an exercise and did so for the month of January. This year I want to keep up with the entire year, because it’s a really fun way to reflect on all you did.

Watch 5 films from watch list

Last year, I was able to watch 5 films on my Letterboxd “watchlist”, a list of movie blind spots across the cinema landscape that I’ve yet to enjoy. For the most part they fit into the “eat your vegetables” of movies, which is why it’s good to push myself slowly across the essentials of film canon. My list is here. A series of films I’m particularly keen on trying to watch this year are the Apu trilogy, directed by Satyajit Ray.

2017 Pop Culture Goals Review

It’s the end of the year, which means it’s time to look back at the pop culture goals I had set for myself coming into the year. A lot happened this year that affected my opportunity, I welcomed a son into the world and if I had known with certainty that I would be I might have been less ambitious. That being said, I was still able to accomplish 1/2 of the goals that I set, so I feel more proud than embarrassed. It’s all a lesson in triteness, but it does push me forward into some challenging areas of life that I believe are ultimately good for me, so I’ll take it.

Here are last years goals and my updates on them:

Rewatch ten of my favorite films from 2007

I didn’t meet this. I got off to a great start, but just plain gave up. There’s just a lot to watch already, plus a baby came. Babies give you less time to do things I guess.

I watched: The King of Kong: A Fistful of QuartersGone Baby GoneLars and the Real GirlChop Shop, and No Country for Old MenNo Country improved the most for me, while Gone Baby Gone‘s final twist didn’t hit me as hard as when I first watched it.

Read 3,000 pages

I had a goal to read 3,000 pages this year, which was only 8 a day, ultimately an improvement of my feeble previous attempts. I did it! It was great and got me back into the groove and I am all about the reading groove.

This is what I read:

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Finishing the Hat by Stephen Sondheim

The Plague by Albert Camus

Americanah by Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie

The Day the Revolution Began by NT Wright

Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

What is the Bible? by Rob Bell

Movies Are Prayers by Josh Larsen

The Nix by Nathan Hill

Telling God’s StoryA Parent’s Guide to Teaching the Bible by Peter Enns

Watch 5 films from my watchlist 

I also accomplished this! This was great, I was able to watch a few movies I’ve been dying  to watch for a while.

Here’s the list:

Do the Right Thing, Singin’ in the Rain, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Yi Yi, In The Mood For Love

Finish television series I am in the middle of

I swear I’m never going to finish Mad Men. I watched another season of it this year, putting me about halfway through season 5 and I absolutely love it, but I just can’t keep up the consistency.

Top 10 TV Shows of 2017

Read part 1 of this to hear my overall thoughts about television and see my runner ups. Also, shout out to Marvelous Mrs. Maisel which I’ll probably love, but haven’t finished yet.

10. Big Mouth (season 1)


This is probably the dirtiest show I’ve ever watched, like, I’m telling you not to watch it–it’s that dirty. But if you can get past that you’ll find a really affecting series about coming to understanding with one’s self and body in what can be the most fragile years of existence. In ramping up the honesty to 1,000%, creator Nick Kroll makes a comedy about puberty really moving, and even necessary, particularly in the ways it captures a multitude of growing up experiences.

9. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (season 2)

crazy ex

Rachel Bloom’s comedy-musical takes lead character Rebecca Bunch’s “craziness” even further in season 2, making you question how they’ll ever be able to answer for her actions (they brilliantly answer this in season 3). Bloom’s songs are brilliantly funny (I’ll never be able to think of the Santa Ana winds again) and she’s created a wonderful cast of characters that will hopefully stick around for years to come.

8. The Americans (season 5)


Probably the least action packed of all the seasons and almost serves as a precursor to its sixth and final season, but the Jennings’ family internal politics is just as fascinating as the global spy ones by this point. The family grapples with exactly how to be a family while living as Russian spies in the USA and it feels just as consequential as the decisions made by global leaders.

7. Fargo (season 3)


No question it’s the worst of the three seasons, but by the time it all wraps up with Mary Elizabeth Winstead facing off against Ewan McGregor, I was all in.

6. Lady Dynamite (season 2)

lady dynamite

Believe it or not, Maria Bamford’s semi autobiographical comedy about her life in comedy and her mental health issues gets even wackier in season 2. This time she uses her past life and a weird world in the future where she’s been given her own television show by a company called “Tuskvision” (whose logo is in Netflix red) to make sense of her life in current times. It’s a quick-witted and meta comedy that fills the Arrested Development void in our hearts as Bamford forges ahead as one the most creative comedians working.

5. Big Little Lies (season 1)

big little

I just finished watching this and I wonder how different it would have felt watching it at its original air date in April. This was the pre-cursor to our post-Weinstein world and it’s ending almost feels like a representative recompense for all that’s happened. Each woman in this show is affected by gross abuses of power in the hand’s of men and its conclusion, while violent, hopes to break the cycle which if never brought to the light will never be broken. Plus, Reese Witherspoon absolutely crushes it here.

4. Stranger Things 2


I thought the first season of Stranger Things was pretty good, but flawed. Season 2 was instantly intriguing, highlighting the great parts of last season, and paying off every story line with a heartbreaking satisfaction (Bob’s story, the reuniting of Eleven and Mike, everything with Dustin). It worked better for me on almost every level this time around and was an absolute joy to watch.

3. Nathan For You (season 4)

nathan for you

Nathan Fielder’s reality show is in essence a program to help small businesses find their footing, but in reality mocks the process of the whole system, finding shortcuts wherever possible, while showing that there’s a lot of people willing to do a lot if they think they’ll be on television. Season 4 seems to be even more focused on those loopholes, finding Nathan getting a doctor’s note to be able to sneak chili into a minor league hockey game and paying someone to legally change his name in order trick the local news into thinking actor Michael Richards had given an extra large tip. It all concludes with the brilliant “Finding Frances” which brings back a beloved character from the 1st season and follows him on an epic and hilarious journey.

2. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (season 4)

last week tonight

John Oliver’s weekly late night show combines the depth of policy of Vox’s The Weeds podcast, the tenacity of community organizing, and pitch-perfect comedic chops all into one show. It’s the kind of show that a hip civics teacher would show their students to inform them about policy issues and interest them in current political happenings. We needed this show more than ever this year to shine light, to be the silliest voice of reason, and to call us into action whenever possible.

1. Master of None (season 2)


A consummation of Aziz Ansari’s interests, there’s really no other show out there that as boldly does what it wants. From its opening moments which see Ansari in Italy, in a beautiful black and white ode to The Bicycle Thief, to the award winning Thanksgiving episode which slowly shows Denise coming out to her parents across a series of Thanksgiving dinners. There’s a will they or won’t romance which delightfully plays out across the back half of the season, an episode that completely abandons its main characters to follow a diverse array of people in the city, and an episode all about modern dating. There was no other television show that made me more thrilled to see what would happen next than Master of None.

Top TV Shows of 2017 (runner-ups)

Television is always tricky to rank and quantify in a list like this, anytime you start a show you’re potentially jumping on board for 5 years of ups and downs. If you continue watching a show, it’s likely because your invested in the character’s story and want to find out what happens to them. There are also new shows added every year that compete with ones you’ve watched for years; the sixth season of a show may be comforting, but is not as exciting as the newest and hottest show out there. How do you compare the two? It’s difficult, but that’s what we do here, so let’s do it. First, a few runner ups that I enjoyed.

A technicality, I’m only picking complete seasons, because I don’t think it’s fair to judge something when it’s whole story has not been told, so The Good Place season 2 and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend season 3 are not included, though they are amongst my two favorite pieces of TV released this year.

Veep (season 6)


Fresh off the Boat (season 3)


Review (season 3)


Review’s 3rd and final season might have cracked the top 10 if it hadn’t been only three episodes. Nevertheless, Review ended the only way it could have, brilliantly pushing Forrest’s neurosis to the most extreme–an endless place of self-sabotage.

Catastrophe (season 3)


Dear White People (season 1)


The Handmaid’s Tale (season 1)


Trial and Error (season 1)


Making History (season 1)


Making History (and Powerless below it) were both network shows cut off in the middle of their seasons due to a lack of interest by their network’s audiences. This was a huge bummer because both were charming little shows, neither had the extreme ambitions of your HBO miniseries’, but would have been fun to continue watching. Making History had all sorts of alt-comedy folks and played with American history in ways that were interesting, while Powerless was the only piece of comic book fanfare in the last 10 years to just straight up fail (it makes sense then that it would be the only one I really paid attention to).

Powerless (season 1)

Powerless - Season 1

Best Songs of 2017 pt. III (50-26)


The list continues, read the pre-cursor, part I, and part II.

Listen on Apple Music

Listen on Spotify 

50. Big Boi “Kill Jill (feat. Killer Mike & Jeezy)”

Big Boi’s album was all over the place, “Kill Jill” serves as an example of that, backed by a Japanese voice sampler, that turns epic rather than cheesy thanks to an impressive guest verse by Killer Mike and chorus by Jeezy.

49. From Planetarium “Mercury”

48. Nana Grizol “Bright Cloud”

47. Grace VanderWaal “I Don’t Know My Name”

I discovered this twee acoustic track thanks to Apple Music’s curated “New Music” playlist. I enjoyed it and kept listening to it over a couple of months. One day I decided to look up Grace VanderWaal and discovered that not only did she rise to fame thanks to America’s Got Talent, but that she is only 13 years old. There’s a surprising gravitas here, along with its catchy melody.

46. Calvin Harris “Feels (feat. Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry, Big Sean)”

Katy Perry’s chorus is the highlight of Harris’ album which brought a lot of summer fun this year.

45. Gordi “All the Light We Cannot See”

Gordi makes some really catchy indie pop, “All the Light We Cannot See” was a standout, offering an epic chorus akin to the very best work of Florence + the Machine (whom I love).

44. 21 Savage, Offset, Metro Boomin’ “Ghostface Killers (feat. Travis Scott)”

Savage, Offset, and Metro Boomin’ surprise released Without Warning the day after Halloween, it was great, but also a missed opportunity considering it’s a perfect album for the holiday. The album’s opener, “Ghostface Killers”, sets the tone brilliantly, with the second best gong usage in a song produced by Metro Boomin’ and featuring Offest of the year (the best is coming later). Boomin’s producer tag is slowed down, leading into Offset’s verses which are then brilliantly complemented by 21 Savage’s lethargic meter (I don’t think there’s another person this side of Kendrick Lamar that I enjoy guesting on songs). It’s an epic and haunting track.

43. Sorority Noise “No Halo”

42. Diet Cig “Maid of the Mist”

Diet Cig is both colorful and raw, you’ll find yourself smiling and chanting along with adrenaline to Alex Luciano’s witty and aggressive lyrics.

41. The Shins “Name For You”

The Shins can still craft quite the indie rock gem, “Name For You” is a delightful transportation back to when we all thought Zach Braff could change our lives.

40. Lil Uzi Vert “XO TOUR Llif3”

The story of this song, which says that Uzi Vert haphazardly released it on Soundcloud so that he could beat whomever had found his phone that he lost while stage diving, is brilliant enough to get it into the top 50 alone–I mean it’s got typos in it and became a legit radio hit this year. Uzi Vert was the most prominent example of the emo/goth/hiphop movement, which was surprising considering he started the year as the guy with the verse nobody liked on “Bad and Boujee” (let the record state that I like that verse). “XO TOUR Llif3” is great.

39. Miya Folick “Give it to Me”

This song escalates further and further beyond anywhere than you would ever expect it to, Folick is a powerhouse.

38. Nana Grizol “Nightlights II”

90s indie rock is still relevant (more on this in the best albums list).

37. No Thank You “Teeter”

36. Big Thief “Mythological Beauty”

35. Algiers “The Underside of Power”

34. Manchester Orchestra “The Gold”

One of my favorite high school bands released another solid record into their discography, “The Gold” features the perfect melodies of singer Andy Hull, rising and falling to a more tempered musical backing than the band’s last couple of albums.

33. Rapsody “Power (feat. Kendrick Lamar & Lance Skiiwalker)

32. DJ Khaled “I’m the One (feat. Justin Bieber, Quavo, Chance the Rapper, Lil Wayne)”

This was the year of the collaboration, with albums released by multiple artists, and pop artists featuring slews of artists in the zeitgeist. Khaled nailed this combo here, a Bieber melody with a guest spot from the year’s hottest rap group (Migos’ Quavo), and an ever-sincere and perfect Chance the Rapper (oh and also Lil Wayne).

31. A$AP Ferg “Trap and a Dream (feat. Meek Mill)”

Just listen to how hard A$AP Ferg goes in that first verse.

30. Drake “Passionfruit”

Drake sure can craft a pop rap song.

29. Lomelda “Nervous Driver”

Such a subtly beautiful lo-fi track.

28. Cloud Nothings “Internal World”

27. Marika Hackman “My Lover Cindy”

26. Lil Uzi Vert “The Way Life Goes (feat. Oh Wonder)”

Best Songs of the Year pt. II (75-51)


The list continues, read the pre-cursor and part I.

Listen on Apple Music

Listen on Spotify 

75. Joe Goddard “Lose Your Love (Radio Edit)”

74. Jesca Hoop “Songs of Old”

73. Big Thief “Capacity”

72. Paramore “Idle Worship”

71. Grizzly Bear “Mourning Sound”

This song (and “Neighbors” below) deserve good headphones to catch the intricate beauty of what Grizzly Bear does sonically in their songs. There are intricate layers compiled together in what on its face seems to be a pretty straightforward indie rock song, but is devastating when paid close attention to.

70. Alvvays “Your Type”

Alvvays are one of a number of bands reviving the raw bubblegum rock of the Ramones, doing so with more delicate melodies than the brashness of that band, while still maintaining all the energy that makes their songs so fun.

69. Mozzy & Gunplay “They Know”

68. Half Waif “Night Heat”

67. Drake “Gyalchester”

66. The War on Drugs “Holding On”

Adam Granduciel has created another beautifully airy folk record with A Deeper Understanding. “Holding On” is a soothing and soaring song that seemingly rises throughout its runtime. I’ve always maintained The War on Drugs is the best summer come-down band out there, their music is relaxing and breezy, just what you need after a long summer’s day.

65. Agent blå “Faust”

64. MIKE “VICTORY LAB (feat. Mal Devisa & King Carter)”

MIKE’s avant-garde hiphop is not the most accessible, but “VICTORY LAB” features great backing horns and a soul filled chorus from Mal Devisa that are a great accompaniment to MIKE’s laid back delivery.

63. Jay-Z “Family Feud (feat. Beyoncè)”

Jay-Z’s response to Beyoncè’s throw everything on the table in groundbreaking fashion Lemonade is surprisingly forthright about his infidelity and his mistakes, he also continues his rags to 1%-er braggadocio tale, even going as far as  laying out his financial planning strategy in some lyrics. Here he combines both, offering up my favorite lyric from the album, appropriately backed by a Beyoncè vocal: “what’s better than one billionaire? Two.”

62. Rapsody “Laila’s Wisdom”

61. Manchester Orchestra “The Alien”

60. Playboi Carti “Magnolia”

59. Smino “Netflix & Dusse”

Smino was a great discovery of the year, blkswn was one of the more underrated hiphop albums of the year. He’s got a unique flow, switching back and forth between R&B melodies and a rap delivery. “Netflix & Dusse” is the catchiest song on the album and features some of the best wordplay of the year:

“I got a pizza on the way, bae, bae
I’m tryna lay, lay
Lil’ lady, ayy, I brought a bouquet
Of the treefer
And I’m feelin’ like we should d-d-duck away
Netflix and Dusse And if I do say so myself
That ass a creature”

58. The New Pornographers “Play Money”

The New Pornographters’ new album has melodies so catchy you feel as if you need to eat veggies to make up for their sugary pop-ness. Both this and “Whiteout Conditions” (below), are filled with easy drums and synths that’ll force you to smile.

57. Kamasi Washington “Knowledge”

Kamasi Washington has transcended jazz, breaking his way into indie music blogs thanks to his 2015 magnum opus The Epic and his participation in Kendrick’s To Pimp a ButterflyHarmony of Difference didn’t quite get the same buzz, but was nonetheless an excellent record, featuring one motif across six tracks, my favorite being “Knowledge”.


A fun hiphop “boy band” featuring 16+ members who met on an internet forum, Saturation II is filled to the brim with promise, not everything hits, some lines are quite clunky, but there’s perhaps no other hiphop album as refreshing and progressive as this one. Saturation III was released this week and on a first listen feels just as promising.

55. Grizzly Bear “Neighbors”

54. The New Pornographers “Whiteout Conditions”

53. Feist “Century”

Feist’s new album completely avoids the cute Apple commercial indie rock that made up so much of the mid-00s. Instead its a sprawling and often surprising album. “Century” is raw, lead by its bass line and drums, into an epic and nearly shouted chorus.

52. Phoebe Bridgers “Smoke Signals”

51. From Planetarium “Neptune”

Sufjan Stevens, Bryce Dessner, et al’s music project based around the solar system truly does feature some of each member’s best work. “Neptune” is as beautiful as any song Sufjan has ever made. Sufjan may have never completed his 50 states project, but he has now made a song about every planet, so there’s that.

Fertie’s Rap

When we first discovered that Anna was pregnant I wrote this rap as a way of letting some of our family members know. This is from the perspective of our child, who we call Fertie (bonus points to you if you can guess why…). Thought I’d share it with you, here it is:

Allow me to introduce myself

I am the one, the only LIL FERTIE


Yo yo yo yo yo

Here we go

Who is the greatest lil embryo

As I begin to grow, you won’t stop my flow

I’m a proverbial bond bout to go into escrow


So watch out for me when I come around

I’ll make everything in your life turn upside down

One day I’ll see the world and take its crown

For now this womb is Lil Fertie’s hometown


My rhymes terrify they make you psychotic

You can find me chilling out in the sac of amniotic

Don’t defy me, I’m your new neighbor

If I get too excited I may induce labor


Even though I barely exist

There’s no way you can’t resist

Cuz with a flick of the wrist, I’ll give ya the gist

I’m about to make my way to #1 on your top 5 list


All this being said, I know you’ll love me

I’m in utero now, I’ll come out eventually

I’ll walk around and you can meet me

But for now give a holla to Anna’s belly