Baeble's Top 30 Albums of 2017
    • THURSDAY, DECEMBER 07, 2017

    • Posted by: Baeble Staff

    It's the most wonderful time of the year, when every music critic ever compiles their year end lists. 2017 proved to be another great year for music, with albums from artists like Lorde, The War On Drugs, and Perfume Genius all itching their way to the top of our playlists. The Baeble Staff got together to decide which albums made the biggest impact this year, which you can read and watch below. Do you agree?

    30. Need To Feel Your LoveSheer Mag

    Tina Halladay is one of the most powerful front people out there today. Her voice is so classically rock and roll, while maintaining her own very distinct tone and style. Paired with rhythm guitarist/primary lyricist Matt Palmer's inherently relatable words, as well as brothers Kyle and Hart Seely's effortlessly cool, groovy lead guitar riffs and driving bass lines, respectively, this band is almost universally appealing. Their debut full-length album, Need To Feel Your Love, which follows three EPs, answers the prayers of 1970's rock loyalists, old school punks, metal heads, indie kids, and anyone who's looking for songs with soul. The tracks on this album wrangle with matters of both the heart and the current political climate, the latter of which is more important to acknowledge in art now than ever. From "Expect the Bayonet," which very clearly is speaking to last year's election, to "Suffer Me," howling about the Stonewall Riots of 1969, this album is not only a musical masterpiece, but a necessarily relevant piece of political commentary full of lament, rage, and honesty. – Grace Eire

    sheer mag need to feel your love

    29. Soft Sounds from Another PlanetJapanese Breakfast

    This year, Michelle Zauner of indie-rock act Japanese Breakfast hypnotized us with her sophomore album. The title perfectly encapsulates the sounds and moods of the experimental record. Glinting with airy vocals and foggy instrumentals, the record sustains a haunting ambience. The single "Machinist" incorporates spoken-word and is self-described as a "sci-fi narrative about a woman who falls in love with a robot." Stocked with vivid lyrical analogies and misty melancholia, Soft Sounds from Another Planet reflects on personal experiences with trauma, loss, and love. The album straddles between pain and resilience, creating a multi-dimensional framework. – Maddie Brown

    japanese breakfast soft sounds from another planet

    28. Visions of a LifeWolf Alice

    Wolf Alice tested their limits with Visions of a Life. They're a rock band that sometimes borders on punk ("Yuk Foo"), shoegaze ("Don't Delete The Kisses"), and retro throwbacks ("Beautifully Conventional"). Though this string of releases might confuse a listener, they still manage to keep their title as one of the most exciting indie rock bands out in the world right now. It's their most expansive piece of work yet, and there's a song on there for everyone. – Kirsten Spruch

    visions of a life wolf alice

    27. Harry StylesHarry Styles

    Harry Styles is a good example of one of the most jarring boy band-to-solo artist transitions we've witnessed, and for the best. His goal was never to create chart-topping hits, but to focus on his artistry and make what he's been truly yearning to make. Styles is another great example of a reinvention gone right, and with beautiful songs like "Sign Of The Times" and "Kiwi," he's off to an exciting start. – Kirsten Spruch

    harry styles

    26. American TeenKhalid

    The R&B newcomer has made his mark with five Grammy nominations, including Best Urban Contemporary album. Featuring hit singles "Young Dumb & Broke," and "Location," Khalid's debut studio album is a sincere exploration of the quandaries of youth. Blending billowy futurism with 80s pop, the soulful singer captures the ups and downs of young romance and teenage shenanigans, complete with plenty of modern-day references. Supplied with millennial anthems and mid-tempo ballads, American Teen spills with vulnerability. Khalid may be just 19, but he's provided us with one of the most impactful albums of the year. – Maddie Brown

    american teen khalid

    25. More Life Drake

    Don't ever say Drake doesn't listen to the critics, especially the critic in his head that drives him year in and year out to keep innovating and producing new material. 2016's Views was decent, and gave us "Hotline Bling", but there was the under-riding feeling and criticism that Drake was stagnating, and that the emotionally-intuitive Champagne Papi that we had grown so accustomed to was on his way out. It's for that reason, and many more, that Drake did an about face this year, and released probably his most ambitious and diverse project to date. More Life is a mixtape that clocks in at just under the length of a feature film, and carries the verve and panache of a director's magnum opus. Nothing was off limits from Drake with this release, and you can really tell he put himself out there trying to rewrite the script of his career. More Life simultaneously melds pop, R&B, dancehall, grime, hip-hop, house, and cocktail-lounge jazz into a fusion that is as cohesive as it is eclectic. At times, it doesn't always hit—it's pretty funny listening to Drake try his hand at grime and say "ting" like he grew up next door to Stormzy—but you have to respect him for trying. There's always the fears as an artist ages that either they'll stick to the same tired sound until we're sick of it, or they'll try something new and totally face plant. With More Life, Drake manages well to tread the fine line, staying true to the sound that brought him recognition, while pushing the envelope of what is expected of him. The mixtape is long, and definitely requires a commitment, but it's an immersive experience that proves rewarding in the end. – Chris Deverell

    drake more life

    24. CultureMigos

    With Culture 2 fast approaching—word from the Migos' camp is that it will be out in January 2018—it's easy to forget that it has only been a year since the world got its first real taste of the Atlanta trio. Okay, a year and a little more, given that the single "Bad and Boujee" was released in late 2016, but it's incredible to see how quickly the group skyrocketed to international acclaim with Culture. And while the internet has democratized music and blurred geographic lines, the renaissance spearheaded by the likes of Migos and 21 Savage shines a well-deserved light on the Southern, and specifically Atlanta, rap scene that hasn't been seen since the likes of T.I. and Gucci Mane, and 2 Chainz going solo. But that's beside the point. "Bad and Boujee" stole the show and wound up going quadruple platinum, and deservedly so, but the album is filled with tracks that stand as worthy singles on their own two feet. The grandiose, Atlanta-minimalism is used to great effect on the featured tracks "Deadz" and "Slippery", but when left to their own devices, the trio proves that they don't need big name features to hold it down on their own. Takeoff, Offset, and Quavo playfully complement and clash with one another on tracks like "T-Shirt" and "Big on Big", making a definitive statement that what was overlooked in their earlier mixtapes and in Yung Rich Nation is now here to demand your attention and to stick around. "Motor Sport", the first single off the upcoming Culture 2, dropped recently and shows that the group has no intention of losing their momentum, and if the group can replicate the success they had with Culture, then we've got a lot to look forward to from them coming soon. – Chris Deverell

    migos culture

    23. After LaughterParamore

    Paramore isn't fizzling out anytime soon. They made the right decision to stray away from the emo days and reinvent themselves with this new wave-flavored album. With super fresh and quirky songs like "Hard Times" and "Told You So," there's no doubt that the rock band has reasserted their relevance. Front woman Hayley Williams also lets down her guard and opens up about depression on top of the otherwise seemingly chipper music. It's a Paramore we've never seen before, and it's a Paramore that's stickin' around. – Kirsten Spruch

    paramore after laughter

    22. Turn Out The LightsJulien Baker

    A lot of artists and albums and songs are going to win a lot of awards this season, and that's all good and fair, but I'm telling you right now, none of them can hold a candle to Julien Baker's Turn Out The Lights in the category of most profoundly intimate album ever. At only 22 years old, Baker has accomplished in Turn Out The Lights that which most artists, of any medium, can go their whole lives without doing, creating a piece of work that is not only commercially successful, but is true to the spirit of the artist and instantly relatable to the audience. The album is sparsely populated, but with only her voice and one or two instruments, Baker fills each song with a near-religious gravity and catharsis. I know it's incredibly cliched to say, but this album is something you experience, rather than listen to. You can really hear Baker pouring every ounce of herself into each song, and even if you can't directly relate to the very human narratives and emotions placed before you, you can't help but admire the design crafted by the genius of her architect. Turn Out The Lights probably won't be the album you play while ringing in the new year, but it is a somber and wonderful reflection on all we are and where we've been. – Chris Deverell

    turn out the lights julien baker

    21. Mura MasaMura Masa

    The self-titled record from UK producer Mura Masa is only his debut, but it's excellent. He takes cues from other DJs, combining tropical influences with rap and pop, but when it all comes together, it sounds like nothing else. It's a dance record that offers more than just dance -- you can feel good when listening to the Charli XCX-led "1 Night" and "NOTHING ELSE!" featuring Jamie Lidell, but then you can also experience something completely different with songs like "Blu" and "Second 2 None." He scored some amazing guests like Damon Albarn, A$AP Rocky, and Christine and the Queens – how? Obviously people had a reason to believe in him, and this final product proves that. It's a breath of fresh air and a fantastic start for the electronic newcomer. – Kirsten Spruch

    mura masa self titled

    20. MasseductionSt. Vincent

    With albums as good as 2011's Strange Mercy and 2015's self-titled, Annie Clark makes it pretty damn hard to top herself, but... She did. We've never really gotten too many love songs from the guitar-slaying rocker, but on Masseduction, it's almost all we get. She finally opens up about the pain of being in love on "Los Ageless." It was ballsy to make "New York," a piano ballad under 3 minutes long, the album's lead single, but it works. Her live shows are not accompanied by other band members, but just Clark and her neon, plasticy spandex. Clark is no longer looking out at all of us and singing ominously, but taking an introspective look at her own self. It's cliche to say, but it feels like a rebirth. – Kirsten Spruch

    masseduction st vincent

    19. I See YouThe xx

    The third album by Romy, Oliver, and Jamie was released earlier this year with a huge reception from not just fans, but basically... everyone. It was a long wait of five years for these guys to give us a follow up to their second album, Coexist, however, this new collection delves into a more explorative deconstruction of their boundaries. We get to see the height of Jamie's production capabilities coupled with Romy and Oliver's dulcet vocals -- everyone seems more confident. The album works as a discussion between the three members, as each incorporates their distinct personalities through the lyrics and composition. – Rachael Morrow

    the xx i see you

    18. Painted RuinsGrizzly Bear

    "It's chaos, but it works," Daniel Rossen sings on "Four Cypresses." That same phrase can be used to describe the technical musicality of the band's four members. Songs like "Three Rings" and "Aquarian" feature kooky, overwhelming arrangements, with buzzing bass and schizophrenic drums. Most songs don't reach their melodic core until the second half of the song -- but hey, this is Grizzly Bear, after all. The wild arrangements and sonically huge sound just feels so damn cathartic and good, especially in songs like "Losing All Sense" and "Sky Took Hold." Looks like the five year long wait was worth it. – Kirsten Spruch

    grizzly bear painted ruins

    17. Pure ComedyFather John Misty

    It's easy to sound like a broken record when writing a politically-charged album nowadays, but Josh Tillman uses his off-kilter sense of humor and sarcasm to execute it all in his very own way. "We're all still pretty good at eating on the run," he sings on "Things it Would Have Been Helpful To Know Before The Revolution." The way he talks about humanity, technology, and growing old throughout is uncomfortable, which is what makes it so great. Plus, he leaves us on a hopeful note: "But I look at you as our second drinks arrive / The piano player's playing ‘This Must Be the Place' and it's a miracle to be alive." The guitar-driven album is technically stunning, with some of it being recorded live with only a couple of takes, the end product is warm and strangely comforting, despite the subject matter. – Kirsten Spruch

    pure comedy father john misty

    16. Flower BoyTyler, The Creator

    Tyler finally gave us what we've all been waiting for. He broke down his wall and actually, kind of, got in touch with his feelings? On Flower Boy, we see who he truly is -- a lonely boy who, because of that loneliness, acts like a downright punk, for lack of better words. "I'm the loneliest man alive, but I keep on dancing to throw 'em off," he sings on "911 / Mr. Lonely." The fabulous features on the record are not to be overlooked also -- Frank Ocean, A$AP Rocky, Kali Uchis, and Lil Wayne amongst others make appearances throughout. – Kirsten Spruch

    tyler the creator flower boy

    15. Big Fish TheoryVince Staples

    I'll admit, I got a pretty late introduction to Vince Staples, stemming from when I watched that epic rant by that Christian mom about his track "Norf Norf." Since then, Staples has been a regular feature on most of my playlists, and for good reason. Summertime ‘06 was a refreshing step outside of what felt like a generic esprit in popular rap, and I think a lot of that is owed to Staples' ear for talented producers, such as the legendary Clams Casino, who made a couple of appearances on the double album. With this year's follow-up, Big Fish Theory, Clams Casino didn't return, but the album is replete with a wealth of talented producers that construct a stunning sonic landscape that gives Staples a blank check to flaunt his talents over. While flirting with plenty of different genres, the heart and soul of Big Fish Theory lie in the tracks like "Big Fish" and "SAMO" which showcase Staples unrepentant self-assured and in-your-face attitude. Not to mention the fact that the album features some serious heavyweight features, including A$AP Rocky on "Big Fish," Kendrick Lamar on "Yeah Right," and Ty Dolla Sign on "Rain Come Down." Big Fish Theory is a serious progression from Summertime ‘06, which was a great album in its own right, but there's just more to be excited about with the new avenues that Staples is pursuing. There's 12 tracks on this album, and each one gives you a different taste of Staples' capabilities, ranging from R&B and rave-rap, to downtempo and club bangers, and that's why it warrants a spot on any End of the Year album chart. – Chris Deverell

    big fish theory vince staples

    14. Everybody WorksJay Som

    Everybody Works isn't Jay Som's first effort but this fantastic album put the music project of Melina Duterte on many new listeners' radars. The album wastes no room on excess, with each track hitting a high emotional note before seamlessly transitioning into the next. Everybody Works sounds like the movie soundtrack to the struggle in our life, with tracks alternating between songs of hopeless defeats and promises to keep on trying. With beautiful instrumentals backing relatable romantic platitudes, and an incredible amount of consistency throughout, it's easy to include this album as one of the best this year. – Alexander Spruch

    jay som everybody works

    13. american dreamLCD Soundsystem

    After the group's nearly five year disbandment, LCD Soundsystem made a comeback this year with their fourth studio album, american dream. Bursting with post-punk and synth-pop sounds, the Grammy-nominated album incorporates crisp percussion and blazing guitars. It's summoned comparisons to David Bowie's Berlin Trilogy, and the closing song "black screen" seemingly pays direct homage to the glam-rock legend. The disco-loaded track "tonite" probes into the nightmare of aging. "change yr mind" appears to be a trajectory of the band breakup, muddling with discordant guitars and depressive states. american dream is an expertly executed record that's a no-brainer on this list. – Maddie Brown

    american dream lcd soundsystem

    12. Blue LipsTove Lo

    Tove Lo concludes last year's Lady Wood with its paired concept album, Blue Lips, aka parts 3 and 4. The first half, which starts with "LIGHT BEAMS" is exactly what you'd think it'd be -- bright, shimmering dance music that follows Lo has she goes on an adventure, looking for meaningless hookups and one night stands. On the second half, labeled "PITCH BLACK," she dives into her experience with a serious breakup. "I never really understood how people move on from a heart to love another, oh if I could, I would," she shares on "Bad Days." "9th of October, can't think of it sober 'cause all of it fuckin' hurts," she confesses on "9th of October." Lo is one of the very few who can sing lyrics like "I'm wet through all my clothes, I'm fully charged, nipples are hard" without sounding phony and cringeworthy, and then on top of that, seamlessly transition to a very real, authentic, heart-wrenching break-up story. – Kirsten Spruch

    tove lo blue lips

    11. UtopiaBjörk

    Groundbreaking work by a groundbreaking woman, Björk's 10th album is as spiritually intimate as her first. Arca's contribution yet again proves that when these two geniuses get together, true magic occurs. Bjork's eccentricity continues to translate into her music, with shrill flute samples and undulating vocals, Utopia brings to life the hidden elements of a new, worldly dimension. This collection delves into her own matriarchal realm, where she has created a sanctuary for ideas and experimentation to flourish. This is evident in the title track, which encompasses the album's airy, dream-like atmosphere. It's as if she has picked us up and transported us to another dimension, where the natural world combats the emotional. The echoes of birds on almost every track adds to this sense of tranquility but also creates this confusion as to its strange harmony. Comparatively to the chaos of her previous album, Vulnicura, Utopia has settled into a state of peace, with both her situation and the promise of the future. This is an album that doesn't just tip toe around the edges, but breaks right through to the other side into untouched territory. – Rachael Morrow

    utopia bjork

    10. Sleep Well BeastThe National

    Since the release of their 2007 album Boxer, The National have stamped a decade's worth of songs with their own stylistic emblem. Their songs have come to represent a specific thing; slow burning, romantic, densely layered with precise, atmospheric swells of guitars, horns, string arrangements and percussion. You know a National song when you hear one, and chances are you either fall hopelessly in love with it, or claim the band to be a bunch of middle-aged mopes writing boring, wine drunk tunes. Sleep Well Beast, the band's seventh album, represents the first major shift the band's formula. In a way, the band spend the album trying on new sounds: guitar solos on "The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness", arena rock with "Day I Die" (I swear, that guitar sounds ripped right out of The Edge's guitar rig), interesting electronic skirmishes on "Born To Beg", and a little political, punk rock attitude on "Turtleneck". It all makes for what is easily the most challenging National record in a decade…but one that rewards the listener with magnificent new surprises with each listen. – David Pitz

    the national sleep well beast

    9. A Deeper UnderstandingThe War On Drugs

    The War On Drugs' ascension to the top of the indie rock world is still one of the most pleasant and somewhat surprising trends in music. Let's be honest for a second: there aren't a lot of new (ish) rock and roll bands garnering near universal praise. Of course, Adam Granduciel and his longtime bandmates deserve everything coming their way…especially after following up their breakthrough, 2014 album Lost In The Dream with A Deeper Understanding this year. Their major label debut elevates Lost in the Dreams' meandering, heartland synth and guitar acrobatics in almost every way, and has produced memorable singles like "Holding On", "Pain", and "Nothing To Find" in the process. Now if they could just figure out how to release an album more than once every three years! – David Pitz

    the war on drugs a deeper understanding

    8. Take Me ApartKelela

    The debut album from our one true love, Kelela, is everything we expected it to be and more. From a production standpoint, it technically shines. From an emotional standpoint, Kelela exploits her personal sensuality and turns it into a new form of sexy dance music. Her patience resonates throughout the album, as she creates these tracks that unfold gradually, giving them space to breathe. It has this feeling of completion, a wholeness that was not rushed but achieved through careful guidance. After her EP Hallucinogen proved her capabilities as an intellectual musician, Take Me Apart cements this position whilst examining its power. She embraces the necessity for optimism in heartbreak in the track "Better" where she talks about her choices to end a relationship. Its lyrical honesty is mingled with the almost contradicting melody, creating this confusing atmosphere evident in any break up. – Rachael Morrow

    kelela take me apart

    7. The OozKing Krule

    King Krule, aka Archy Marshall, is a mysterious soul, but on The Ooz, he's an open book. He explores the feeling of loneliness, of being an outsider looking in. Marshall has created a lot of things under a lot of different names, but this is the best of them all. "Dum Surfer" is one of his most danceable, catchy songs and "Lonely Blue" goes back to the classic, introverted Marshall that we all know. His special voice and use of jazzy chord progressions is what ties it all together and makes it another timeless record. – Kirsten Spruch

    king krule the ooz

    6. Crack-UpFleet Foxes

    Fleet Foxes have always tip-toed on the edge of sounding a bit like a group you'd encounter at a renaissance fair…especially after their 2011 release, Helplessness Blues. For that reason I put off on diving into the band's first album in 7 years until I heard this interview. Suddenly Crack-Up opened it's arms to me; I got it, I understood the moments of calm nothingness that transitioned into dramatic swells and sudden grooves. These are songs that sound like patiently bobbling around on the ocean, waiting for the perfect set to arrive, and the slightly panicked rush of adrenalin to ride into the shore when it does. It's gorgeous music and will likely go down as the band's defining moment. – David Pitz

    fleet foxes crack up

    5. ProcessSampha

    In a time when albums about relationships and break-ups dominate the market, Sampha decided to dedicate the entirety of his debut album to his mother, who passed away from cancer. That alone is enough to evoke emotion -- there's a sense of panic and desperation in songs like "Plastic 100 C" and "Kora Sings." "Sleeping with my worries," he sings in the opening track, the one he loves being torn away from him, completely out of his control. His use of instruments is interesting, too -- pattering drums, glitchy synths, and different types of strings. He may have a quiet presence next to his collaborators (Solange, Drake, Kanye West, Jessie Ware), and the album might not be full of Top 40-ready hits, but Sampha has the voice, story, and musicality to be a star in his own right. – Kirsten Spruch

    sampha process

    4. CtrlSZA

    "Wish I was comfortable just with myself, but I need you, but I need you, but I need you," SZA confesses in the Ctrl's opening track "Supermodel." Hearing that line alone sets the tone for the entire album: brutally dark thoughts that most people in a relationship are afraid to say out loud. "You know I need too much attention for shit like that," she continues. None of it comes off as desperate, though it easily could. Throughout the record she sings about jarring topics like sharing a man with another woman and cheating on her man -- all things that teens today go through in the Tinder age. It's her stream of consciousness style of writing that makes it so deeply honest, raw, and heart-wrenching. It's an album about modern romance that will live on for a very long time. – Kirsten Spruch

    sza ctrl

    3. No ShapePerfume Genius

    The fourth album Mike Hadreas has released under Perfume Genius is most certainly underrated (amongst listeners, not critics), but it's important. On 2014's Too Bright, Hadreas was singing at us, but here, it feels more like he's singing with us. He's finally in a good place -- or, he's not, but has accepted it -- and is moving on to more positive things. It's an album about love and devotion, which is not only heard in the open lyrics but in the production. A drum kit is almost completely absent, and the acoustic sounds are soft and pure. There's no one that sounds quite like Mike Hadreas. – Kirsten Spruch

    perfume genius no shape

    2. MelodramaLorde

    Although Lorde is looked at as a pop superstar, she didn't necessarily follow along in the footsteps of her peers with Melodrama. Hell, she didn't really follow along in the footsteps of anyone. Songwriting mastermind Max Martin even called the album's lead single "Green Light" a case of "incorrect songwriting." The writing may be technically incorrect to some, but the final product exceeds in delivering immense emotions and vivid storytelling. It's always quality over quantity with Lorde -- each song meticulously crafted, each word penned with care, heart and soul put into it all. As she tells an empowering story of a 20 year old woman going through a breakup, she manages to make an album that sounds like no other, that everyone and their mothers can relate to. – Kirsten Spruch

    lorde melodrama

    1. DAMN.Kendrick Lamar

    We all know Kendrick Lamar is good. At this point, he is one of the best. To Pimp A Butterfly took the number one spot on a lot of 2015 lists, and now he's doing the same with DAMN. That's what it's about -- not only working your way to the top, but then having the talent and the power to stay there. DAMN. trades in funky jazz for some classic beats, putting more of the focus on the brilliance of Lamar's verses. It also takes a more introspective exploration through Lamar's mind, but it doesn't completely ditch the political stance that made him so important today. – Kirsten Spruch

    damn kendrick lamar

    © 2020 Baeble Media. All rights reserved.