Tired of the hyperbole that permeated music in 2017 — like seeing Taylor Swift’s visage on UPS trucks or blocking your cart’s path in Target? Or hearing your easily-mollified co-workers jabber about how the new U2 album “Songs of Experience” is a “glorious return” when it really resembles some hodge-podge of old Bon Jovi B-sides? (And not in a good way; the fire, apparently, is quite forgettable.)
Was there any ray of sonic hope in the oppressive political climate? Any record worth buying/downloading that lived up to the hype? You really had to dig, but they were out there, waiting to be unearthed. Here are this writer’s personal favorites, in reverse order.
10) Sunshine & the Rain, “In the Darkness of My Night” (Ernest Jenning Record Co.)
Husband/wife duo Justin and Ashley Morey kick up one hell of a garage-retro racket on this clever updating of the skeletal White Stripes schematic.
9) Hurray for the Riff Raff, “The Navigator” (ATO)
Bandleader Alynda Segarra set out to rediscover her Puerto Rican cultural heritage and came out sounding like a more street-wise Mink DeVille.
8) Rancid, “Trouble Maker” (Hellcat)
Tim Armstrong and company did not phone it in: These proto-punks are even more bare-knuckled and brazen than they were in their halcyon early days.
7) Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, “Who Built the Moon?” (Sour Mash)
The ex-Oasis anchor’s best compositions in years, these songs keep growing with every listen, starting with the addictive ’50s rave-up “Holy Mountain.”
6) INHEAVEN, “INHEAVEN” (PIAS)
Easily the best new British band of the year, this quartet has the sweet but punchy wallop of The Vaccines being coated in pancake syrup.
5) Steve Earle, “So You Wannabe An Outlaw” (Warner Bros.)
Back on Warners and back on renegade point, Earle turns in a truly inspired collection, exemplified by the alt-country/hip-hop mashup title track.
4) Sarah Shook & The Disarmers, “Sidelong” (Bloodshot)
At first her deep Southern drawl and loping tear-in-your-beer-isms might seem like country caricature. But no, Shook is the real trailer-park deal.
3) Alvvays, “Antisocialites” (Polyvinyl)
Molly Rankin and crew streamlined their sound so sleekly on this sophomore masterpiece, it borders on the chiming brilliance of vintage Primitives.
2) Sleigh Bells, “Kid Kruschev” (Torn Clean)
Once again, the team of Derek Miller and Alexis Krauss have forged new noise-pop pathways, this time inspired by the upstate New York wilderness where Krauss now resides and guides hiking tours.
1) Flogging Molly, “Life is Good” (Vanguard)
The panacea every rock fan needed this year, Dave King and crew’s Celtic-flavored disc was the ultimate feel-good album, rowdy and rollicking from start to finish, even as it dealt with dark political subjects.