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Our favorite CDs of the year

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The Day's writers select their favorite CDs of 2017.




One listen to this band and you'll know immediately they're from Hawaii or some tropical paradise. Just kidding. Soup is Norwegian, and "Remedies" is absolutely a wintry, Scandinavian record: five distinctive, atmospheric tunes that sound like snow falling in your brain — but with impossibly lovely vocal lines and lonely, haunted themes. My favorite record of 2017.

— Rick Koster

From a Room: Volume 1 and From a Room: Volume 2

Chris Stapleton

It's hard to turn on the TV or the radio without bumping into Stapleton. Good for him, since he spent so many years writing hits for others. Now his biggest problem is where to put all the trophies (and cash). "Broken Halo," the hit single from Volume 1, is a timely tune considering the weekly tragedies we're witnessing. But, really, there's not a bad one among the 18 songs on these two albums.

— Tim Cotter

To the Bone

Steven Wilson

If Earth has a resident musical genius, it's Wilson. He's an incredible melodicist, a visionary producer — and a proud fan open to all sorts of styles and influences. Each Wilson album has his instantly identifiable DNA but also explores other frontiers. With "To the Bone," he focuses on the sort of '80s sophisticated pop associated with Talk Talk, Peter Gabriel and Tears for Fears. Wilson's catching crap from prog fans for the "simplicity" of this record, but so what? An amazing collection of wonderful songs including a calculated tune called "Permanating" that should be the top single of 2017 (but of course won't be).

— Rick Koster

Meaning of Life

Kelly Clarkson

Vocal goddess Kelly Clarkson went a little more soul and R&B on this album, and she slays it. As usual.

— Kristina Dorsey

American Dream

LCD Soundsystem

After a mysterious five-year split, the members of LCD Soundsystem reunited two years ago and finally released their much-anticipated fourth album, titled "American Dream." The album, besides being an ode to the bygone eras of '70s, and '80s synth pop, post-punk, electro-funk and art-rock, also explored some deeper themes of endings and of the American dream itself, all the while putting out some seriously dance-worthy tracks.

— Mary Biekert

Get Up and Go

The Vadim Neselovskyi Trio

Jazz pianist Neselovskyi includes 11 superb original tunes that, as I wrote earlier this year in The Day, summon "the moods, versatility and stylistic qualities of artists ranging from Bill Evans and Lyle Mays to Claude DeBussy and Frederic Chopin — all the while establishing his own identity." Wonderful chops but never at the expense of the material.

— Rick Koster

Guitar for Sale

Ray Scott

Scott's one of those guys kicking around Nashville, going from one record label to another and not getting much radio play. He popped up on my radar in 2012 with the fun and funny single "Those Jeans." But this year has brought his best work. "Livin This Way" is a particularly timely look at addiction. "I get high then I get low/So I get high again/I know this guy right down the road/Who's got my medicine."

— Tim Cotter

Killers of the Deep


Fans long ago gave up on the idea that the Rolling Stones would ever make another great — or at least very, very good — album. What happened is that the fun '70s British rock act Sharks reformed and, with "Killers of the Deep," THEY made the last great Stones record. Remember rock 'n' roll? This is it writ exuberantly.

— Rick Koster

Kids in the Street

Justin Townes Earle

Being the son of legendary Steve Earle and named after Townes Van Zant is a lot to live up to, but JT keeps crafting outstanding songs. The title cut will bring you back to the days when you played ball in the street in front of your house. Forget about trying to attach a label to Earle and just listen to cuts such as "What's She Crying For" and "Faded Valentine."

— Tim Cotter



Every Ice Age or two, producer Wolfgang Voigt, known in the ambient music world as Gas, surfaces with a new recording, and "Narkopop" is the latest. This is excellent news. To hear "Narkopop" is to body surf across the tops of tossing storm clouds, all the way to a rainy heaven, where you can meet up with the ghost of Edgar Froese, the Tangerine Dream sorcerer whose work inspired Voigt so mightily.

— Rick Koster

The Nashville Sound

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit

Just when I refuse to give the country music industry/fans any credit at all, they've suddenly started to embrace genuinely brilliant artsts far beyond the shallow template of modern Nashville. Eric Church and Chris Singleton are examples, but Isbell, the ex-Drive-By Trucker, is on another planet in terms of greatness. Songs like "If We Were Vampires," "Cumberland," "Anxiety" and "White Man's World" are scalpel-sharp narrative observations within blessedly sparkling songcraft. It's pretty much a flawless Americana album.

— Rick Koster

A Deeper Understanding

The War on Drugs

Songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Adam Granduciel is the four-star general in this particular War, and this record will probably be his masterpiece. Fusing all manners of musical styles with a particular nod to melancholic '80s pop as well as caressing tides of foaming synths, this album represents one of the very few times a Grammy nomination (Best Rock Album) indicates the committee has looked beyond the shallow machinations of the industry.

— Rick Koster


Charlotte Gainsbourg

Influenced by the signature French style of her father, the legendary 1960s French singer Serge Gainsbourg, Charlotte Gainsbourg, in her fifth album, offers more of a window into the complexities of who she is.

— Mary Biekert

The Weight of Those Things

Miranda Lambert

With her public split from husband Blake Sheldon as the backstory, “Tin Man” was the most heartbreaking hit of the year in a genre known for breakup songs. Unlike Shelton, she continues to write her own material, and no one in country music, male or female, is doing it better.

— Tim Cotter

Snake in the Grass

Long Goodbye

The Autumn Chorus

A heartbreaking pair of tunes by Robbie Lloyd-Wilson, who WAS the Autumn Chorus. I say "was" because Lloyd-Wilson died in early 2017 of bowel cancer. He wrote these songs as farewells to his wife, unborn child, friends, family and fans. Beautiful and tender works sculpted with affection, gratitude, longing and maybe a little regret — but no self-pity.

— Rick Koster



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