The 163 best records of 2017: a very personal selection

Chronic underachieving here maybe, since I’ve only managed to find 163 albums I liked in 2017 for this year’s list; one down on my 2016 total. I’m sure many of you find implausible the idea of so many new albums being worth a listen. But as usual, I think it’s really important to share enthusiasms, to give a platform to a wealth of music that might not always be getting much attention in other end-of-year round-ups.

I can’t pretend that every album here will be acknowledged as a classic in 20 years’ time. But the richness and possibilities of a vast musical world still seems worth celebrating in the here and now, even while plenty of other commentators around my age seem so keen to claim that creativity has dried up, rock is dead, or whatever. Please note that this is very much a personal list, and that the official Uncut countdown, compiled from the charts of 40-odd key contributors, can be found in the current issue of Uncut.

I doubt I’m done with this yet, and so if I discover anything else I like in the next few weeks I’ll add them to the list: the Robert Stillman album only turned up the other day, for instance – glad I got to squeeze that in. I’ll resist fucking about with the order, since it’s obviously mostly arbitrary, and because I’ve flipped numbers one and two a few times too many in the past week; enough.

I will, though, try and add a bunch of links in here when I get a bit more time (I’m not going to embed videos and so on, and screw up all your browsers this year). Thanks for your patience and indulgence – I hope, as ever, I can lead you to some interesting music as a consequence of all this…

163 El Michels Affair – Return To The 37th Chamber (Big Crown)

162 Ifriqiyya Electrique – Rûwâhîne’ (Glitterbeat)

161 Gospelbeach – Another Summer Of Love (Alive Naturalsound)

160 The Heliocentrics – A World Of Masks (Soundway)

159 Mountain Movers – Mountain Movers (Trouble In Mind)

158 Peacers – Introducing The Crimsmen (Drag City)

157 Peter Oren – Anthropocene (Western Vinyl)

156 The Magnetic Fields – 50 Song Memoir (Nonesuch)

155 Ka Baird – Sapropelic Pycnic (Drag City)

154 Visible Cloaks – Reassemblage (RVNG INTL)

153 Alasdair Roberts – Pangs (Drag City)

152 Shannon Lay – Living Water (Mare/Woodsist)

151 Anna St Louis – First Songs (Mare/Woodsist)

150 The Frightnrs – More To Say Versions (Daptone)

149 David Grubbs – Creep Mission (Blue Chopsticks)

148 Dead Rider – Crew Licks (Drag City)

147 Shabazz Palaces – Quazarz: Born On A Gangster Starr/Quazarz Vs The Jealous Machines (Sub Pop)

146 Bill Orcutt – Bill Orcutt (Palilalia)

145 Joseph Shabason – Aytche (Western Vinyl)

144 Laraaji – Bring On The Sun (All Saints)

143 Sam Amidon – The Following Mountain (Nonesuch)

142 Charlotte Gainsbourg – Rest (Because)

141 Astrïd & Rachel Grimes – Through The Sparkle (Gizeh)

140 Laura Marling – Semper Femina (More Alarming/Kobalt)

139 Omar Souleyman – To Syria, With Love (Mad Decent/Because)

138 Orpheo McCord – Recovery Inhale (Bandcamp)

137 Mind Over Mirrors – Undying Color (Paradise of Bachelors)

136 Matt Jencik – Weird Times (Hands In The Dark)

135 Juana Molina – Halo (Crammed Discs)

134 Bargou 08 – Targ (Glitterbeat)

133 Neil Young & Promise Of The Real – The Visitor (Reprise)

132 Blanck Mass – World Eater (Sacred Bones)

131 Hologram Teen – Between The Funk And The Fear (Polytechnic Youth)

130 David Nance – Negative Boogie (Ba Da Bing)

129 Downtown Boys – Cost Of Living (Sub Pop)

128 Big Thief – Capacity (Saddle Creek)

127 Nick Hakim – Green Twins (ATO)

126 Sampha – Process (XL)

125 Angelo De Augustine – Swim Inside The Moon (Asthmatic Kitty)

124 Filthy Friends – Invitation (Kill Rock Stars)

123 Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy – Best Troubador (Domino)

122 Mapache – Mapache (Spiritual Pajamas)

121 Rhiannon Giddens – Freedom Highway (Nonesuch)

120 Jeff Tweedy – Together At Last (dBpm)

119 Como Mamas – Move Upstairs (Daptone)

118 Julie Byrne – Not Even Happiness (Basin Rock)

117 Colleen – A Flame My Love, A Frequency (Thrill Jockey)

116 Girl Ray – Earl Grey (Moshi Moshi)

115 Kelela – Take Me Apart (Warp)

114 Nadia Reid – Preservation (Basin Rock)

113 Robert Haigh – Creatures Of The Deep (Unseen Worlds)

112 Tamikrest – Kidal (Glitterbeat)

111 Antibalas – Where The Gods Are In Peace (Daptone)

110 Queens Of The Stone Age – Villains (Matador)

109 Mark Eitzel – Hey Mr Ferryman (Décor)

108 Anjou – Epithymia (Kranky)

107 King Gizzard – Flying Microtonal Banana (Heavenly)

106 Alvarius B – With A Beaker On The Burner And An Otter In The Oven (Abduction)

105 Zimpel/Ziołek – Zimpel/Ziołek (Instant Classic)

104 Thurston Moore – Rock’n’Roll Consciousness (Caroline)

103 Mavis Staples – If All I Was Was Black (Anti-)

102 On Fillmore – Happiness Of Living (Northern Spy)

101 Woods – Love Is Love (Woodsist)

100 Julia Holter – In The Same Room (Domino)

99 Trio Da Kali & The Kronos Quartet – Ladilikan (World Circuit)

98 Kevin Morby – City Music (Dead Oceans)

97 Fever Ray – Plunge (Rabid)

96 Tootard – Laissez Passer (Glitterbeat)

95 Kevin Drumm – October(Early Warning) (Bandcamp)

94 Gregg Kowalsky – L’Orange L’Orange (Mexican Summer)

93 Jen Cloher – Jen Cloher (Milk)

92 Thundercat – Drunk (Brainfeeder)

91 Zombie Zombie – Livity (Versatile)

90 Feist – Pleasure (Polydor)

89 Seabuckthorn – Turns (Lost Tribe Sound)

88 The Dream Syndicate – How Did I Find Myself Here (Anti-)

87 Oh Sees – Orc (Castle Face)

86 Bjork – Utopia (One Little Indian)

85 Goran Kajfes Subtropic Arkestra – The Reason Why Volume 3 (Headspin)

84 Elkhorn – The Black River (Debacle)

83 Jlin – Black Origami (Planet Mu)

82 Les Filles De Illighadad – Eghass Malan (Sahel Sounds)

81 Jay-Z – 4:44 (Roc Nation)

80 The Deslondes – Hurry Home (New West)

79 Circuit Des Yeux – Reaching For Indigo (Drag City)

78 Bedouine – Bedouine (Spacebomb)

77 Frozen Corn – Frozen Corn (Idea)

76 SAICOBAB – Sab Se Purani Bab (Thrill Jockey)

75 Bibio – Phantom Brickworks (Warp)

74 Heron Oblivion – The Chapel (Self-Released)

73 Various Artists – The Hired Hands: A Tribute To Bruce Langhorne (Scissor Tail/Bandcamp)

72 Prins Thomas – Prins Thomas 5 (Prins Thomas Musikk)

71 Man Forever – Play What They Want (Thrill Jockey)

70 Širom – I Can Be A Clay Snapper (Tak:til)

69 Thor & Friends – The Subversive Nature Of Kindness (Living Music Duplication)

68 House And Land – House And Land (Thrill Jockey)

67 Robert Stillman – Portals (Orindal)

66 Dean McPhee – Four Stones (Hood Faire)

65 Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings – Soul Of A Woman (Dap-Tone)

64 Art Feynman – Blast Off Through The Wicker (Western Vinyl)

63 Wand – Plum (Drag City)

62 Feral Ohms – Feral Ohms (Silver Current)

61 Lindstrøm – It’s Alright Between Us (Smalltown Supersound)

60 Six Organs Of Admittance – Burning The Threshold (Drag City)

59 Bill MacKay – Esker (Drag City)

58 Brokeback – Illinois River Valley Blues (Thrill Jockey)

57 William Basinski – A Shadow In Time (Temporary Residence)

56 Alexander – Alexander (No Label)

55 Vince Staples – Big Fish Theory (Def Jam)

54 Ron Gallo – Heavy Meta (New West)

53 Aldous Harding – Party (4AD)

52 The Cairo Gang – Untouchable (God?/Drag City)

51 Daphni – Fabric Live 93: Daphni (Fabric)

50 Tinariwen – Elwan (Anti-)

49 Laura Baird – I Wish I Were A Sparrow (Ba Da Bing)

48 Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith – The Kid (Western Vinyl)

47 James Elkington – Wintres Woma (Paradise Of Bachelors)

46 Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile – Lotta Sea Lice (Marathon/Matador)

45 Zara McFarlane – Arise (Brownwood)

44 Claire M Singer – Fairge (Touch)

43 Wet Tuna – Livin’ The Die (Feeding Tube/Child Of Microtones)

42 Grizzly Bear – Painted Ruins (RCA)

41 Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires – Youth Detention (Don Giovanni)

40 David Rawlings – Poor David’s Almanack (Acony)

39 Beast – Volume One/Volume Two (Pre-Echo Press)

38 Saz’Iso – At Least Wave Your Handkerchief At Me: The Joys And Sorrows of Southern Albanian Song (Glitterbeat)

37 Ty Segall – Ty Segall (Drag City)

36 Margo Price – All American Made (Third Man)

35 Träd, Gräs Och Stenar – Tack För Kaffet (Thanks For The Coffee) (Subliminal Sounds)

34 Tomaga – Memory In Vivo Exposure (Hands In The Dark)

33 Arbouretum – Song Of The Rose (Thrill Jockey)

32 Brooklyn Raga Ensemble – Terry Riley’s In C (Northern Spy)

31 James Holden & The Animal Spirits – The Animal Spirits (Border Community)

30 Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Barefoot In The Head (Silver Arrow)

29 LCD Soundsystem – American Dream (Columbia)

28 Fleet Foxes – Crack-Up (Nonesuch)

27 Bill MacKay & Rykey Walker – Spiderbeetlebee (Drag City)

26 Michael Head & The Red Elastic Band – Adios Senor Pussycat (Violette)

25 Chuck Johnson – Balsams (VDSQ)

24 Gas – Narkopop (Kompakt)

23 Michael Chapman – 50 (Paradise Of Bachelors)

22 Brian Eno – Reflection (Warp)

21 Floating Points – Reflections: Mojave Desert (Pluto)

20 Anthony Pasquarosa With John Moloney – My Pharaoh, My King (Feeding Tube)

19 Rick Tomlinson – Phases Of Daylight (Voix)

18 Kendrick Lamar – DAMN. (Top Dawg)

17 Four Tet – New Energy (Text)

16 Hans Chew – Open Sea (At The Helm)

15 Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – The French Press (Sub Pop)

14 Gunn-Truscinski Duo – Bay Head (Three Lobed Recordings)

13 The Necks – Unfold (Ideologic Organ/Editions Mego)

12 Wooden Wand – Clipper Ship (Three Lobed Recordings)

11 Endless Boogie – Vibe Killer (No Quarter)

10 Kamasi Washington – Harmony Of Difference (Young Turks)

9 Jake Xerxes Fussell – What In The Natural World (Paradise Of Bachelors)

8 Chris Forsyth & The Solar Motel Band – Dreaming In The Non-Dream (No Quarter)

7 Hurray For The Riff Raff – The Navigator (ATO)

6 Joan Shelley – Joan Shelley (No Quarter)

5 Psychic Temple – Psychic Temple IV (Joyful Noise)

4 The Weather Station – The Weather Station (Paradise Of Bachelors)

3 Hiss Golden Messenger – Hallelujah Anyhow (Merge)

2 Joshua Abrams & Natural Information Society – Simultonality (tak:til/Glitterbeat/Eremite)

1 Bitchin Bajas – Bajas Fresh (Drag City)