It’s clear that 2017 was an incredible year for our music scene and tons of unbelievable music came from plenty of the best artists in their respective genres. Albums like DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar, Reputation by the all-powerful Taylor Swift, and Melodrama by Lorde tops the lists of the big time publications, and transcended expectations of critics and fans alike.
The same can be said for artists in the independent music scenes. Bands that are playing to 800 to 1200 cap rooms instead of stadiums, but are releasing outstanding bodies of work in 2017.
And in the days of Spotify playlists, where single songs tend to dominate your ears, enjoying an entire album worth of music means that you have something special in front of you.
That being said, here is Resurget Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief, Robert Sherman’s, picks for the top 10 albums of the year.
10. Run The Jewels 3 – Run The Jewels (Run The Jewels, Inc.)
Having played the “rap disruptor” role since their inception in 2013, El-P and Killer Mike returned to 2017 by dropping their third studio record in four years. Honing their skills as a partnership, RTJ3 crafts their production and lyricism entwined with topics the likes of Donald Trump, white privilege and the Black Lives Matter movement. Run The Jewels mixes the world of political turmoil with fierce flows in what I consider (sorry Kendrick) the hip-hop album of the year.
Check out: “Call Ticketron”
9. Dead Reflection – Silverstein (Rise Records)
Silverstein is one of those bands that you don’t think will ever go away…and that’s a good thing. Dead Reflection is the Canadian band’s ninth studio album, and I believe that it is their most complete work to date. This record emulates everything that I love about Silverstein, and having been around the world once or twice, the band is happy to experiment with their sound, not relying on their age-old approach to a hybrid of metalcore and post-hardcore, but rather demonstrating their talents with everything from pop-punk to their punk rock origins.
Check out: “The Afterglow”
8. Always Lose – The Gospel Youth (Rise Records)
Seemingly coming out of nowhere, UK-act The Gospel Youth’s debut album will leave you wanting more of the band. Sam Little’s flowing vocals and emotionally vested lyrics flourish in front of a full on pop-punk arrangement that you’d mistaken for veterans of the scene. The Gospel Youth has actually only been to the United States once, for Warped Tour, which is incredible considering the strong following they have garnered since Always Lose has been out. What sets Always Lose apart is its strong relate-ability, with every song on the track listing having the ability to connect in one way or another.
Check out: “Revolutions”
7. True View – Stick To Your Guns (Pure Noise Records)
Stick To Your Guns have been on the DIY tour grind for the better part of 12 years, and with their sixth studio album True View, the band from Orange County continues their campaign to bring their form of hardcore and metalcore mixture to larger audiences across the country, (they’re already a giant act across Europe) and they’re succeeding. Although, I am a bit biased, STYG is one of my favorite bands, and their 2012 release Diamond is up there for favorite records of all time, True View does not disappoint from beginning to end. Despite their steady rise in popularity, the band stays true to themselves by maintaining politically fueled lyrics in front of heavy as hell breakdowns, as consistently expected from Stick To Your Guns.
Check out: “3 Feet From Peace”
6. You’re Not You Anymore – Counterparts (New Damage/Pure Noise Records)
Counterparts has been on a steady incline since their 2013 release, The Difference Between Hell and Home, which landed the Canadian hardcore outfit on the Billboard Indie and Heatseekers chart for the first time in their career. Their following release in 2015 (Tragedy Will Find Us) and this years You’re Not You Anymore shows the band grow even more, reaching the Billboard 200 with both releases. YNYA is the latest installment of vocalist Brendan Murphy’s advancement of the band, and has scored positively across the board with critics. What pulls me into YNYA is how personal Murphy’s lyrics are, in a scene where vulnerability is scarce, it’s refreshing for a hardcore band to embrace that aspect of their art.
Check out: “Rope”
5. All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell – PVRIS (Rise Records)
If you were a fan of the groups debut record White Noise, then you were probably (not so) patiently waiting for its follow-up, All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell, and you may have been surprised at what you heard. The progression and maturation of not only lyrics from Lynn Gunn but also the musicianship on this record is paramount. White Noise gave you a look into the brain of an incredible lyricist, but AWKOHAWNOH successfully places you, and enfolds you emotionally, into whatever song you’re listening to. The record is only 10 songs long, but it is a complete experience in-and-of itself. If anyone was worried that PVRIS were going to hit the dreaded sophomore curse, that worry dissipates as soon as the first track finishes.
Check out: “Heaven”
4. Wolves – Story of the Year (Self-released)
Story of the Year fans waited a very long time for this record to be released. Funded solely through PledgeMusic and fully self-released, the band utilized the freedom that they never experienced at a major label to release an end-of-the-year bombshell. SOTY embraces the characteristics that made them who they are, and seven years since their last release it feels like they never left. Wolves provides the listener with a sound that feels like it’s cultivated naturally over years, rather than from a band that’s been dormant for over five years. Story of the Year combines the nuances of post-hardcore with perfectly fitted electronic programming, combining very well with vocalist Dan Marsala’s hybrid of singing and screaming. The lyrical content of Wolves is all over the place, but the common theme across the album is one of life circling around you, and it perfectly hits the mark.
Check out: “How Can We Go On”
3. Feel Something – Movements (Fearless Records)
Even though they may not admit it, Movements has blown up over the last year. Extensively touring off of their EP, Outgrown Things, throughout the last year and a half, the following that the California band has amassed was ecstatic when Feel Something was announced and released. Feel Something is a record created from a band that know exactly who they are, with a vision of what they want to create. The blend of emo, pop punk and alternative rock is beautifully composed to coexist with vocalist Patrick Miranda’s lyrics that hit close to home, early and often. The entire record is filled with relate-able, yet poetic, tracks that have the capability to immerse the listener, and sees the band reach heights and a momentum that most do not experience on a debut record.
Check out: “Suffer Through”
2. Lovely Little Lonely – The Maine (8123)
What more can possibly be said about Lovely Little Lonely by everyone’s favorite emo outfit, The Maine. Lyrically and sonically, I believe this self-released record to be perhaps the album of the year in independent music. Yes, I know I have it as number two, BUT the number one album on the list is on a major label, giving Lovely Little Lonely the crown of independent music in 2017. The Maine has been around for almost 11 years, and has such a loyal following that it sounds almost foolish to say that Lovely Little Lonely shows a band hitting its stride. But that’s exactly what this release is. Every single track on the album showcases the bands perfectionism, which is evident when you listen through the entire track list, and find yourself starting the record over again as soon as you’re done. You can tell that Lovely Little Lonely is the crown jewel of The Maine’s discography, and is easily the bands most cohesive and evolved release to date.
Check out: “Taxi”
1. One More Light – Linkin Park (Warner Bros./Machine Shop)
I want to preface this excerpt by saying that I bought this album the day it was released, jammed it a few times through and found the lyrical content to hit home deeply. The album is full of tracks about self-doubt, anxiety, and depression, accompanied by a very pop composition that gives a nice contrast to the words. Linkin Park was the first band I ever saw in a live performance, they were the first physical record that I had ever bought with my own money, and this was the first release in years that I absolutely enjoyed listening to.
Then, Chester Bennington’s passing sparked a whole new life into the songs that I’m sure the band didn’t even see them evolving into. Songs like “One More Light” and “Nobody Can Save Me” became so much more than songs created to help fans “feel like they’re not alone”.
With that being said, this album is actually very good. One More Light got some flack when it was released because it came off as “too poppy”, but in reality it’s a version of Linkin Park that is comfortable with the evolution of their music, and the creation of a record that would exist far beyond the songs on it.
Check out: “Halfway Right”