The 50 best albums of 2017

You’re starting on page 3 of this, click here to start at the beginning.

21. Jlin — Black Origami

A groundbreaking work of electronic music that blends Chicago’s footwork with more primitive Detroit-bred tones, Black Origami is as much a musical exploration as it is an artistic statement. Created by Indiana-based producer Jerrilynn Patton, the album offers a dizzying array of fast-paced rhythms alongside quick vocal samples, creating avant-garde soundscapes that are both physically jarring and head-boppingly clean — and sometimes inexplicably both. Because of its jagged musical edges, this album will be an acquired taste for many listeners, but it’s also the kind of distinctive musical expression that we expect to see emulated (perhaps with less drama) by big-name producers in the coming years.

iTunes 

22. Valley Queen — Destroyer EP

Fans of Fleetwood Mac and Neil Young will find something familiar and exciting in the music of LA-based Valley Queen, whose Destroyer EP offers the same piercing female vocals and warm rock style made iconic by the legendary rock-and-rollers. Elegant and introverted lyrics combine with clean and precise arrangements over the course of these five tracks, a debut release that serves as a near-perfect introduction to this young band.

iTunes 

23. Twain — Rare Feeling

There were perhaps no two more powerful opening singles this year than Solar Pilgrim and The Sorcerer, the first two songs on the latest album from New York folk band Twain. Sparse and delicate guitars pair with the soaring alto of songwriter Mt. Davidson on both, driving home dark and powerful lyrics about love and loss, and settling you in for a compelling journey through the mind of one of the folk world’s most important new voices. This is one to put on with the lights out, or to take with you to your favorite quiet place for careful consideration.

iTunes 

24. Braxton Cook — Somewhere In Between

Saxophonist/vocalist Braxton Cook blazes new ground on the aptly named Somewhere In Between, combining cutting-edge jazz compositions with the sounds of contemporary electronic artists like Flying Lotus and Thundercat, all while throwing in a dash of ’90s R&B for good measure. Shredding instrumental solos divide simple vocal choruses, with fat grooves acting as a glue to fuse everything together. Don’t let the gray hairs tell you jazz is dead; jazz is this.

iTunes 

25. (Sandy) Alex G — Rocket

Alex Giannascoli has long been revered by members of his own generation as among the best young songwriters alive, earning himself the admiration of acclaimed pop successes like Frank Ocean (who employed Giannascoli as a collaborator on last year’s smash success Blonde). On Rocket, listeners get the same stream-of-consciousness lyrics and clean instrumentation offered on previous releases, this time codified by more simple musical forms and better overall production. The sounds on the album are as diverse as its subject matter, ranging from gentle acoustic guitars and strings to remixed digital beats and distorted vocals.

iTunes 

26. Kevin Morby — City Music

Though it came shortly after last year’s excellent Singing Saw, the sophomore release from songwriter Kevin Morby is a fully formed effort that focuses on the hustle and bustle of modern city life. With a Dylan-like deadpan, Morby offers interesting observational lyrics, surrounded by a wall of sound that includes numerous synthesizer and percussion elements. The growth in Morby’s songwriting ability is palpable here, and sets the stage for a long, successful career — especially if he can keep up this pace.

iTunes 

27. Migos — Culture

Regardless of where you stand on modern trap music, Atlanta hip-hop icons Migos provided some of the most essential listening of the year with Culture, a slick work of Southern hip-hop with clean lyrics and expertly simple beatmaking. Densly rhythmic lyrics occupy the vast majority of the album’s 13 tracks, paired with Atlanta’s legendary drum sounds and floating synthesizer tones, making for an album that’s much more sophisticated than initially meets the ear.

iTunes 

28. Steve Lacy — Demo

It’s hard to believe when you hear the finished product, but the bulk of this album from 18-year-old Southern California producer Steve Lacy was produced on an iPhone. A series of bite-sized singles that blend soulful lyrics with groovy drum and bass lines, this 13-minute debut easily ranks as one of the most thoroughly unique releases of the year, and is made all the more impressive in that you can take it all in on a single coffee break.

iTunes 

29. The XX — I See You

Prior to the release of I See You, The XX were known for their subdued indie-pop arrangements, not effortlessly mixing in a proper Hall & Oates hook. That changed in 2017. Lyrically, the anguish and rampant disillusionment are still there. But the London trio’s R&B-laced core is now joined by four-to-the-floor beats, lush strings, and a steady pulse of dub, culminating in a patchwork of guitars and electronic flourishes that push and pull at all the right moments. We have producer-bandmate Jamie xx to thank for taking the band’s earlier sound, disassembling it, and sculpting the pieces back together into something far richer.

iTunes 

30. Mac Demarco — This Old Dog

Slacker rock hero Mac Demarco‘s latest album, This Old Dog, exhibits the same slow-paced song structures that fans have come to expect from the gap-toothed goofball, but this time they are wrapped up in a shinier overall package. Songs like My Old Man showcase a new penchant for digital drum and keyboard sounds, but still feature the same quirky lyrics and timeless grooves that originally drew listeners to Demarco as a bedroom artist. While it may not top our list, this album easily ranks among the most compelling of the year.

iTunes 

Home Theater

Is Amazon making headphones to compete with the Apple’s AirPods?

Amazon is reportedly working on a pair of Alexa-enabled true wireless headphones to compete with Apple's AirPods. The new true wireless model will allow people to bring Alexa with them anywhere and may come out in the fall.
Gaming

Xbox One X vs. PlayStation 4 Pro: Which console is more powerful?

Far from cooling down, the console wars are only getting more intense. We compare Microsoft's Xbox One X to Sony's PlayStation 4 Pro to help you decide which premium console is right for you.
Home Theater

Celebrate Record Store Day in style with the best vinyl setups

From simple and affordable to sleek and swanky, these are our recommendations for incredible vinyl setups that will allow you to listen to your favorite records with outstanding fidelity and take your collection to the next level.
Gaming

These are the must-have games that every Xbox One owner needs

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From Cuphead to Halo 5, the best Xbox One games offer something for players of every type.
Deals

Apple Watch Series 3, Fitbit Charge 2 see price cuts from Walmart and B&H

Save around $50 on the Fitbit Charge 2 from Amazon and more than $100 on the Apple Watch Series 3 at B&H Photo Video and Walmart. These may be slightly older models, but they're still excellent fitness trackers and smartwatches.
Home Theater

Apple AirPods 2 vs. Samsung Galaxy Buds: Which are the better buds?

Who makes the better true wireless earbuds? Is it Apple, with its classic white AirPods and fantastic charging case, or Samsung, whose new Galaxy Buds boast waterproofing, a wireless charging case, and sleek ergonomic design.
Home Theater

Amazon’s Echo Link and Echo Link Amp bring hi-fi sound to Alexa’s living room

Amazon's Echo Link and Echo Link Amp are designed to bring high-fidelity sound to your Alexa ecosystem. Are they worth the significant expense over a smaller Echo speaker, and how well do they integrate into a typical hi-fi system?
Music

The best new music this week: Weyes Blood, Ages and Ages, and many more

Looking for the best new music? Each week, we find the most compelling new releases just for you. This week: Ages and Ages, John Vanderslice, Kendrick Scott Oracle, Louis Cole, Shana Cleveland, Tyler Ramsey, and Weyes Blood.
Music

How to clean your records to keep them looking good and sounding sweet

Vinyl records are back in a big way, but the sound quality can suffer if you don't keep your collection clean. Check out our tips for keeping your vinyl and stylus immaculate, so you can hear every note of your favorite analog tunes.
Music

These droolworthy albums are among the most expensive vinyl records of all time

From rare Beatles originals to one-off test pressings, these are some of the most expensive vinyl records on Earth — the kind of discs that make plaid-clad record collectors and average listeners alike green with envy. Or sticker shock…
Home Theater

Keep those albums sounding great by converting your vinyl to a digital format

There are all sorts of reasons for ripping records and storing them digitally, but what's the best way to do it? We cover the different types of equipment and software available for ripping records at any price in this guide.
Emerging Tech

Even a true rock god can’t smash this unbreakable 3D-printed metal guitar

Rock stars love to smash guitars. Geeky engineers love to build things using the latest high-tech tools. What happens when both parties meet? This "unbreakable" 3D-printed metal guitar.
Home Theater

Record Store Day is here! Here's how to build a killer vinyl collection

Feeling the vinyl vibe? You're not alone. If you're interested in starting your own record collection and listening to tunes the analog way, we're here to help. This guide will take you through everything you need to know.
Music

Amazon rumored to be launching free music-streaming service

Rumors are swirling that Amazon is planning to take on Spotify by launching its own free, ad-supported music streaming service. This seems to be a move aimed at Echo users in particular.
3 of 5