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
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Two year ago, Julien Baker quietly released her debut record, Sprained Ankle, opens a new window (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, opens a new window - the best part is, she doesn't hold anything back. Two years later, she's now signed onto indie juggernaut, Matador Records, opens a new window, 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, opens a new window

Remember when Dr.Dre, opens a new window and Snoop Dogg, opens a new window said that Kendrick Lamar was the new king, opens a new window 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, opens a new window.

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

3. Now That the Light Is Fading by Maggie Rogers
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I found out about Maggie Rogers from the same way most people found out about Maggie Rogers: that viral video, opens a new window of Pharrell Williams, opens a new window 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", opens a new window. 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, opens a new window 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
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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, opens a new window 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, opens a new window that the legendary 45 King, opens a new window 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, opens a new window and Frank Ocean, opens a new window 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
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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, opens a new window and Pete Yorn, opens a new window 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, opens a new window services, opens a new window!

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, opens a new window
  2. Fénix, opens a new window by Nicky Jam, opens a new window
  3. Five by Prince Royce, opens a new window
  4. Energía by J Balvin, opens a new window

Karen from the Half Moon Bay Library:

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

Kajah from the Millbrae Library:

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

Jessica from the Pacifica Sanchez Library:

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

Michael from the Pacifica Sharp Park Library:

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

Michael from the Portola Valley Library:

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

Carmen from the San Carlos Library:

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

Dan from the Bookmobile:

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

Nicole C. from Administration:

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

What are your top 5? Let us know below.

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