Too much music
In 2017, the digital age continued to pile on the riches
I thought I listened to a ton of new music in 2017. And then I asked a handful of my music-loving friends what their favorite albums of the year were. I still have a lot of work to do. I’ve just started dipping my toes into the pool they filled over the last couple of weeks, and I feel like I’m drowning in choices.
Any naysayer who claims there isn’t any good music being made must not be interested in music anymore. With instant access to recording technology for creators, and instant connection (in both directions) between artists and fans, there’s never been a more bountiful time for music.
For me, as each year passes in this digital age, my consumption of whole albums has diminished as I choose to gorge on the ever-growing playlist of single tracks I haphazardly download as tunes catch my ear. In 2017, only four full-lengths held my attention: Run the Jewels 3, Run the Jewels; The OOZ, King Krule; Capacity, Big Thief; DAMN., Kendrick Lamar.
But a large number of individual songs in a wide range of styles have contributed to what’s turned out to be a varied and exciting personal 2017 mix—from “Quiet,” Milck’s pop song of empowerment that became an a capella anthem for the Women’s March, to “Kick You in the Face,” local duo Sex Hogs 2’s catchy anthem to face-kicking.
If I had to pick only 10 personal faves, in addition to the Sex Hogs’ noisy fun, I’d jam out to: “Let Go of My Ego,” Nnamdi Ogbonnaya; “Love Drug,” Die Antwoord, “Over Everything,” Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile; “Julie’s Place,” Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever; “Feel It Still,” Portugal. The Man; “Blue Train Lines,” Mount Kimbie; “Please Don’t Wait for Me,” Yak; “You Can Be a Fascist Too,” Playboy Manbaby; and “It’s So Cool in the Water,” Bread & Butter.
Of the new-to-me goodness sent in by my various music-nerd friends, so far, the over-driven garage rock of the Flat Worms’ self-titled debut is making the best face-melting impression. Here’s a sampling of what was sent my way:
Evin Wolverton, Chico musician: Ctrl, SZA; Blkswn, Smino (“Both of these records are absurdly surefooted, lush, future-forward visions of R&B. SZA sings with both confidence and vulnerability far beyond her years.”)
Mark Lore, music writer and CN&R alumnus: Power Trip, Nightmare Logic (“Punk and thrash for the modern age. These riffs give a merry ‘fuck you’ to 2017”). Do I Look Like I’m In Love?, The Prids; Relatives in Descent, Protomartyr; Laughing at the System, Total Control; Okovi, Zola Jesus.
Sesar Sanchez, Chico musician/promoter/photographer: DAMN., Kendrick Lamar; The Dusk in Us, Converge (“Boston metalcore heroes … continue to push the limit of their genre and expand beyond to other areas of punk, metal and rock ’n’ roll. This record is devastatingly heavy.”); Antisocialites, Alvvays; Bloom, Loner.
Nicole Coffield, KCSC general manager: Planetarium, Sufjan Stevens, Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhly and James McAlister; DAMN., Kendrick Lamar; The OOZ, King Krule; Everybody Works, Jay Som; Exchange, The Juju; S/T, Slowdive; Party, Aldous Harding.
Ayejay Morano, local illustrator and rapper: Jeffery, Young Thug; Without Warning, 21 Savage, Offset and Metro Boomin; Run the Jewels 3, Run the Jewels.
Conrad Nystrom, Chico musician and CN&R contributor: [Editor’s note: Just a sampling from my music-nerdiest friend’s exhaustive list of 2017 faves.] Strange Peace, Metz (Their best, and without a doubt the most punishing, thrilling and exhausting record this year); Capacity, Big Thief; Morningside, Fazerdaze; Or, Eylids; S/T, Flat Worms; Phases, Angel Olsen, 50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong, Caroline Says; Villains, Queens of the Stone Age; Why Love Now, Pissed Jeans; Rot, Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys; Fucking In The Future + 5, The Gotobeds; Every Country’s Sun, Mogwai; Memory of a Cut Off Head, OCS; Orc, Oh Sees.
Howard Hardee, CN&R calendar editor: Hot Thoughts, Spoon; DAMN., Kendrick Lamar; Three Futures, Torres (“It doesn’t sound like anything else I’ve heard this year. Check out the music video for her slow-burning title track and you’ve got a pretty good idea.”)
Robin Bacior, Portland musician, CN&R contributor: S/T, Joan Shelley; Not Even Happiness, Julie Byrne; S/T, Bedouine; Some Twist, Michael Nau.
Matt Loomis, local illustrator and DJ: The Demonstration, Drab Majesty (“It sounds like Killing Joke, Duran Duran and The Cure got together and made the best record of any of their careers.”); Appalling Ascension, The Ominous Circle; Eroded Corridors of Unbeing, Spectral Voice; Mirror Reaper, Bell Witch; S/T, Hell; Activities, Mozzy; I’m Havin’ 3, Skippa Da Flippa; Big Fish Theory, Vince Staples; Bodak Yellow, Cardi B (“Nobody came harder than Cardi B this year”).