Listen Up: Our Favorite Albums of the Year

After egg nog, year-end lists are our favorite seasonal treat. We asked Listen staffers to share their top pick for album of the year, and got a varied list of seriously acclaimed artists and albums. Check ’em out, and enjoy our Best of 2017 playlist on Spotify.

Colin – Strategist

Thundercat – Drunk

Frequent Flying Lotus and Kendrick Lamar collaborator Stephen Bruner steps into the spotlight with his debut album, which packs 23 songs into 50 minutes. Thundercat’s bass chops are impressive, but it’s his inventive playing style, oddball arrangements, and unique sense of melody and harmony that make this album so special.

Magda – Senior Account Director

Sampha – Process

He’s the voice that’s accompanied the likes of Solange, Drake, Kanye, and Frank Ocean on their biggest songs, and Process is a work he can finally call his own. The remarkable, meditative album takes you on a journey through grief and self-discovery. Absolute stand-out of the year.

Josh – Senior Strategy Director

Flor – come out. you’re hiding

Swimming through the sea of today’s pop landscape can be overwhelming, inundated as we are with washy synth-pop, chilled-out pseudo-soul/R&B, and bedroom electronic acts all competing to own the post-EDM era. That’s why it’s rare to find an actual band that manages to tap into all of those trends while also delivering songs that are strong at their core, catchy as f*ck, and rock a sound that is relevant. come out. you’re hiding does all that and more, and it’s the album I’ve kept coming back to all year: Each track has popped up on my feed independently, immediately caught my ear, and then is revealed to be yet ANOTHER track off of Flor’s debut that stands out from the pack… Oh, and they’re signed to Fueled by Ramen. Nice pivot, FBR.

Steve – Partner + Grace – Marketing Operations Manager

Kendrick Lamar – DAMN

End-to-end, this album is compositionally brilliant, sonically rich, melodically interesting, lyrically profound… The list goes on. Anyone who offers a different take on “album of the year” is kidding themselves.

Brett – Partner

Hurray for the Riff Raff – The Navigator

Because I slept on everything else until now, and she sounds like a young PJ Harvey — which is not something that should be slept on.

Leah – Associate Creative Director

St. Vincent – MASSEDUCTION

This may be St. Vincent’s darkest (yet poppiest?) album yet. That Jack Antonoff production adds a lovely pop sheen to some seriously heavy themes. I’ve always been a St. Vincent Stan, but her ballad of LA haterade (“Los Ageless”) has solidified my love for all things Annie Clark.

Taylor – Senior Producer

Anna of the North – Lovers

This is sweet, dreamy Scandinavian electro-pop. Between Anna’s airy vocals and synth-pop ballads, the record feels like a confessional from a best friend. The entire album is a hit, but “Fire” is a must listen, and proves there’s a reason why Anna is garnering shoutouts from Tyler the Creator and Frank Ocean. For people that like: LÉON, Sigrid, MØ, feelings (not a band name; actual feelings).

Sam – Senior Account Director

The XX – I See You

I’ve always loved The XX. I’m British, and remember going to see them when they were first starting out in London at a tiny venue. More recently, we went to see them perform at Forest Hills Stadium in Queens. It was a balmy summer evening and it was the first time I’d heard songs from the new album live. It was also the first gig me and my husband had been to since we had our twin girls the year before. Needless to say, it was a pretty special evening and further cemented my love for this band.

Shelleyjane – Design Director

Japanese Breakfast – Soft Sounds from Another Planet

Michelle Zauner’s sophomore album is Twin Peaks levels of dreamy and magnetic. Laced with extraterrestrial atmospheric intros and outros, her voice shines over melancholic arrangements. The songs’ spacious, expansive sounds envelop the listener in warmth. (Shout out to Syd’s Fin and Anna of the North’s Lovers).

Kurt – Producer/Mix Engineer

Actress – AZD

AZD features texturally diverse and inspiring sound design which remains satisfyingly claustrophobic throughout. That said, it was really tough to choose, so honorable mention goes to Sondre Lerche’s Pleasure; Kirin J Callinan’s Bravado; Lindstrøm’s It’s Alright Between Us As It Is; and death’s dynamic shroud.wmv’s Heavy Black Heart.
Enjoy our Best of 2017 playlist on Spotify, and we’ll catch you next year!

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