Top 5 Records of 2017

I don't know about you, but when I hear an album that I really like, I can listen to that same record on repeat over and over, day after day, for an absurd amount of time. I of course make sure that I am wearing headphones or that I'm alone in my car so no one has to suffer from my newfound obsession, but this typically happens a few times a year. So with 2017 all wrapped up, I decided to put together a list of 5 records that put me in a musical trance in 2017. And as a bonus, I reached out to a few colleagues at various libraries in the San Mateo County for input on their top 5 records of 2017 as well. Enjoy!

1. Turn Out the Lights by Julien Baker

Two year ago, Julien Baker quietly released her debut record, Sprained Ankle (also really good) on a relatively small punk label. She had spent most of her musical career up to that point playing in bands and accompanied by various instruments, so when she transitioned her sound to a more singer-songwriter route, it was something new and foreign to her. When describing her music, the words "raw" and "powerful" are an understatement. As an openly gay woman who grew up in a predominantly Christian community, I feel like she's got a lot to say - the best part is, she doesn't hold anything back. Two years later, she's now signed onto indie juggernaut, Matador Records, and just released a record that is hands down my favorite of the year. She keeps the song structures pretty simple throughout the record, not distancing too much from just an acoustic guitar and/or piano. But when you have her amazing vocals carry every song, it doesn't need much else.

Favorite tracks: "Appointments" and "Televangelist"

2. Damn by Kendrick Lamar

Remember when Dr.Dre and Snoop Dogg said that Kendrick Lamar was the new king of West Coast hip-hop? Yeah...he kinda hasn't let us down since then. Everything this guy touches turns to gold. And it's that type of gold that 20 years from now, pop culture will still be referencing and worshiping. "Timeless" is probably a good way to describe this record. Kenrick's flow is relaxed and easy, and the slow-tempo beats that he raps over on this record make his music seem so effortless (in the best possible way). So you just keep doing you, Kendrick - we will continue to listen. Also, side note: the cover art for this record rules. Not much to it, but that says a lot.

Favorite tracks: "YAH." and "GOD."

3. Now That the Light Is Fading by Maggie Rogers

I found out about Maggie Rogers from the same way most people found out about Maggie Rogers: that viral video of Pharrell Williams visiting Maggie's class at NYU to give a few students some pointers on their music projects (btw...if you haven't watched the video, you should). Pharrell's reaction when he first hears Maggie's voice over that unconventional, Bohemian-like dance beat is the same way I still feel when I listen to "Alaska". And don't get me started on that chorus. Since that video hit the internet, fans alike have been anxiously waiting for her to release an album, or anything for that matter. She finally released this record (although just a 5-song EP) earlier this year and it definitely did not disappoint. She's got this whole Cat Power thing going on, but on top of these dancy breakbeats - it's really the perfect harmony.

Favorite tracks: "Alaska" and "On + Off"

4. 4:44 by Jay-Z

When all is said and done, Jay-Z will go down as one of the most important MCs to come out of NYC (don't worry, Nas is still higher up on that list). I first heard Jay-Z when I was in the 6th grade and he rapped over that now iconic Annie sample that the legendary 45 King flipped for him. And I've been pretty hooked on him ever since. However, this album is different than his previous few. This album is more mature Jay-Z, it's more intimate and emotional Jay-Z. He has always been credited to be a great storyteller, but this record gets more into his personal life than ever before. As a listener, it's a new vibe that I can wholeheartedly respect for an artist that has really done it all. And plus, having Beyoncé and Frank Ocean featured on your album definitely isn't going to hurt your album by any means. 😉

Favorite tracks: "Caught Their Eyes" and "Bam"

5. Sleep Well Beast by The National

I'm not going to lie, I was a little late on the whole The-National-bandwagon-train. But trust me, I am a believer now. This record is solid and makes me want to dive into their whole back catalog (although with 7 albums, where should I start?!). The vocals are dry and soft for the most part, but the difference in music complexities really brings these songs to life. I describe this record like if The Postal Service and Pete Yorn had a baby...and if you know me, I'm a really big fan of Pete Yorn. Check this record out! And if The National is also a new band for you, why don't we both check their discography out through our various free library services!

Favorite tracks: "Guilty Party" and "I'll Still Destroy You"

Top Records From Other Staff

Francisco from the Atherton Library:

  1. El dorado by Shakira
  2. Fénix by Nicky Jam
  3. Five by Prince Royce
  4. Energía by J Balvin

Karen from the Half Moon Bay Library:

  1. Lotta Sea Lice by Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile
  2. Rock N Roll Consciousness by Thurston Moore
  3. School Damage by School Damage
  4. Paleta Sonora by Thee Commons
  5. 50 Song Memoir by Magnetic Fields

Kajah from the Millbrae Library:

  1. Lust for Life by Lana Del Rey
  2. Schubert Piano Sonatas Nos 20 & 21 by Krystian Zimerman
  3. Damn by Kendrick Lamar
  4. Compton Scattering by Greydon Square
  5. Something to Tell You by Haim

Jessica from the Pacifica Sanchez Library:

  1. Over the Garden Wall by The Blasting Company
  2. Coco (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) by Various Artists
  3. Human by Rag'n'Bone Man
  4. Evolve by Imagine Dragons
  5. Atomic Blonde (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) by Various Artists

Michael from the Pacifica Sharp Park Library:

  1. Damn by Kendrick Lamar
  2. Ctrl by SZA
  3. Flower Boy by Tyler, the Creator
  4. Culture by Migos
  5. MORE LIFE by Drake

Michael from the Portola Valley Library:

  1. Soaked by Hot Flash Heat Wave
  2. Ti Amo by Phoenix
  3. Sweatshop by Disasteradio
  4. Plural by Electric Guest
  5. Makes Me Sick by New Found Glory

Carmen from the San Carlos Library:

  1. Now That the Light Is Fading by Maggie Rogers
  2. A Deeper Understanding by The War on Drugs
  3. The Ooz by King Krule
  4. Cigarettes After Sex by Cigarettes After Sex
  5. Guardians of the Galaxy Awesome Mix by Various Artists

Dan from the Bookmobile:

  1. Revival by Eminem
  2. Damn by Kendrick Lamar
  3. Villains by Queens of the Stone Age
  4. Masseduction by St. Vincent
  5. Mosaic by 311

Nicole C. from Administration:

  1. Bodak Yellow by Cardi B
  2. Bridges Not Walls by Billy Bragg
  3. Witness by Katy Perry
  4. Kwon Ji Yong by G Dragon
  5. Lust for Life by Lana Del Rey

What are your top 5? Let us know below.

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