Biggest Ups: Over 40 Artists Share Their Favorite Albums of 2017

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Bandcamp artists pick their favorite albums of the year.

One of the features on Bandcamp Daily that generates the greatest amount of enthusiasm is Big Ups. The concept is simple: we ask artists who used Bandcamp to recommend their favorite Bandcamp discoveries. So, in honor of our Best of 2017 coverage, we decided to take Big Ups and super-size it. Here, more than 40 artists to tell us their favorite albums of the year.

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Yazz Ahmed

Samuel Hällkvist, Variety of Rhythm

I’m a massive fan of Samuel’s, and I find his music fascinating, compelling, surprising, and very enjoyable. Variety Of Rhythm is an album which reveals more with each successive listen, like viewing the constantly morphing wax in a lava lamp—hypnotic and beautiful.


Chino Amobi

B L A C K I E, Remains

Been following B L A C K I E for a hot minute and to me is one of the most gifted artists we have. They are my favorite live performer. This album is the synthesis of all they are and is inimitable by those who try. No one else could have made this album but B L A C K I E. The dynamism complexity and reach of Remains raw negritude while also engaging in innovative song structure makes it stand out above all the safe music of the day. Most would not dare to push that far.


Armand Hammer

Milo, who told you to think??!!?!?!?!

Milo’s album who told you to think??!!?!?!?! is one of our picks for Album of the Year. It’s a stirring piece of liberation technology, hidden in plain sight. This record is full of wonder and stillness and righteous anger and uncompromising joy, delivered over thick-bottomed loops and truncated glitches.

Buy Muy Drugs, Buy Muy Drugs

This year has been so packed with incredible music that the second choice is a hard one. We’re tempted to pick Open Mike Eagle’s latest, but ultimately, our second choice is something that kinda slipped under the radar: Denmark Vessey’s electrifying side-project, Buy Muy Drugs. It’s like nothing else out there. It features Mike Eagle and Yasiin Bey/Mos Def, and it will knock your head off your fucking shoulders.


Bell Witch

Aerial Ruin, Nameless Sun

Moggridge’s songwriting, performance, and vision is unparalleled in his latest release. Nameless Sun is a selfless, somber, and moving album that forces one to revisit. In my opinion, not only did he outdo himself with this latest release, but he gave an interesting glimpse into the future in terms of his ability to evolve his own sound. A truly remarkable piece of songwriting.

-Jesse Shreibman (Drums, Vocals)

The Ruins of Beverast, Exuvia

I’m of the opinion that The Ruins of Beverast get better with age. The haunting guitars and atmosphere, precision drumming, and quality vocal work amongst everything else sets the project high above the rest of the pack. The fact that it is all the composition of one person is even more incredible. Sheer brilliance.

-Dylan Desmond (Bass, Vocals)

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Jaimie Branch

Bottle Tree, Bottle Tree

I don’t often booty shake, but when I do, it’s ’cause the music is bangin’. The record I found myself kicking it to, and playing for folks most this year, is Bottle Tree. Intellectual smoking jammers by some true smokers. Dance Lock Revolutions and campfire sing-songs that don’t suck at all.


Chaos Moon

Inferno, Gnosis Kardias (Of Transcension and Involution)

The music on this record, given its “spiritual” aesthetic, is not exactly what I was expecting. In an era where it’s easy to pull your identity straight from the Deathspell Omega boilerplate, Inferno teaches a valuable lesson about expectations. Gnosis Kardias is unique—it’s weird, it’s oozing atmosphere, and, as a musician, it’s inspiring.


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Charly Bliss

Weaves, Wide Open

The new Weaves record has just about everything the four of us look for in an album:  witty and compelling lyricism, catchy melodies, and songs that showcase a deep understanding of the craft without ever sounding contrived. Both “#53” and “Scream” are top contenders for our favorite songs of the year, and if every Netflix original series isn’t in a bidding war to use “Slicked” in their title sequence, then they need to get it together.


Child Bite

Dead Cross, Dead Cross

I knew I was gonna love this one before I heard a note. The #1 metal drummer of all time, one of the most talented vocalists in the world, and half of the mind-warping San Diego-based outfit RETOX. 24 thumbs up.

-Shawn Knight (Guitars, Vocals)

Dopapod

Kalbells, Ten Flowers

My favorite album of 2017 is Kalbells’s Ten Flowers. I met the Rubblebucket crew when we were all living in Boston back in 2008, and used to sub in on keyboards from time to time. They are a group of creators that I truly respect, because they never released an album that is anything like their last. Kalbells, the solo project of Rubblebucket’s lead singer Kalmia Traver, continues this pattern of endless creative searching. Ten Flowers sounds like a warm and comfortable blanket that wraps around you.

-Eli Winderman (Keyboards, Vocals)

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Tica Douglas

L’Rain, L’Rain

This record unlocks so much emotion and it takes me different places every time, without even relying on words. You feel as if you’re sort of floating in the abstract layered-ness of it all, but there are incredible melodic hooks throughout that keep me grounded, and give the record a forward motion so I never feel too lost. Once I start playing it, I have to listen all the way through.


Mark Erelli

Kris Delmhorst, The Wild

Though Kris is a friend and I love all her records, this is my favorite of her’s since 2006’s Strange Conversation. Produced by her husband, Jeffrey Foucault, the warmth of her spirit and the knowing smile in her voice shine through on every track. The whole thing is killer, but the title track alone would make this one of my favorites of 2017.


Fire-Toolz

Giant Claw, Soft Channel

There was no way I could pick my favorite release of 2017, so I picked one from my favorite label, Orange Milk. I felt so overwhelmed the first time I listened to Soft Channel. Tears, goosebumps—even laughter. You know how sometimes something is so good that your body just doesn’t know what to do, so it laughs? I haven’t got the word count to tell you each and every reason why this record is perfect, so please just go and buy the damn thing. Keith Rankin is a master producer. He’s probably immortal. Runners up: Literally every single album that came out on Orange Milk this year.


Good Willsmith

The Residents & Snakefinger, 13th Anniversary Show – Live in the USA

A perfect introduction to The Residents’ incredibly intimidating catalog, offering up extended performances of some of their most beloved songs. For deeper heads, it’s truly a pleasure hearing the live arrangements of their dense studio compositions. Many of the songs take on a mega-doomy feel. Welcome to the dark carnival.

-Doug Kaplan

Integrity

The Como Mamas, Move Upstairs

Music has always been religious for me. Elevating yourself with music is a feeling that’s hard to compare or surpass. Regardless of which religion you may subscribe (if any), that feeling of expressing absolute belief through music is such a glorious and powerful weapon. The Como Mamas are three gospel singers from Como, Mississippi, and their conviction for their faith is unwavering and contagious. I love the sincerity that their voices offer to their audience. I was lucky enough to see these ladies perform a couple weeks ago in Antwerp, and it was an incredible experience.

-Dwid Hellion (Vocals)

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Jlin

Michael Vincent Waller, Trajectories

Michael’s album Trajectories is an absolute beauty. It’s a complex and an easy listen at the same time. Seventeen tracks that make a complete work of art. Listening to this album for me is like watching an artist create on a canvas in front of me. Michael has a way of telling a story with every key he strokes.


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King Woman

Spiritual Cramp, Mass Hysteria

I’ve been listening to these songs non-stop. King Woman played a show with Spiritual Cramp a while back, and I was pretty blown away by their performance. It’s super soulful and refreshing. I’m really excited for their full-length, which will be released next year.

-Kristina Esfandiari (Vocals)

Kode9

Visible Cloaks, Reassemblage

Spencer D’s Fairlights, Mallets, and Bamboo mixes of ’80s Japanese electronic music were life-changing for me, and this album updates, polishes and extrapolates some of those themes for 2017.


Neil Jameson

Integrity, Howling, For The Nightmare Shall Consume

Every Integrity record takes you on a journey, but I don’t think any have had as many twisted paths as this. Reaching across multiple genres, this record holds many secrets that require repeated listens to truly peel away. An absolute monster of an album.


Iron Monkey

Iron Monkey, 9-13

One-two-you’re a dead man. Iron monkey returns with, if not the best metal album of the year, then the best punk one. Nine tracks of grandiose hatesludge and psychospeedoom guaranteed to give you brain cancer. Buy it and let your kids go hungry.


James Heather

Jonwayne, Rap Album Two

An artist unafraid to bare emotions, who by rights should be at least 9.7 times more well-known. His concoction of complex raps, humble self take-downs, stoned Dilla-esque beats, and the musicality of his own West Coast jazz/soul and more introspective electronica productions, make him stand out. The fact that he roams the stage casually in flip-flops, but is sharper in the art than his peers, only reinforces him as my artist of the year.


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L’Orange

Quelle Chris, Being You Is Great, I Wish I Could Be You More Often

Quelle Chris is doing something casually that no one else can pull off with effort. He is a musician’s musician, a rapper’s rapper, an artist’s artist. And, in a world where everyone is an artist, everyone should listen to this album.


Locust Leaves

Pagan Altar, The Room of Shadows

For you and I, we know our headstone epitaphs will erode. Over long years of entropy, the solemn words of wisdom carved will fade. But for the late Terry Jones and his seminal epic doom metal band, Pagan Altar, this outstanding final record does more than act as the punctuation mark on a career trajectory of outstanding quality. The Room of Shadows is so good, it may possibly be their best offering. An offering, also an ablation. Pagan Altar, always so darkly obsessed with death, have made of their epitaph a beautiful paradox: Here lies Pagan Altar. They are eternal. They can never die.


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Mary Bell

gSp, 12″

I don’t even know where to begin! Layla Gibbon + Tobi Vail + Marissa Magic = my dream has come true! Seriously, this is so good. Very reminiscent of early Erase Errata and Mika Miko, minimalist, and yet, so much happens in the songs. More like this, please!

-Victoria Arfi (Guitars)

Cocaine Piss, Piñacolalove

Cocaine Piss come back with a severe blow! All totally fucked-up punk golden nuggets, it surely helped me find my inner unicorn. Plus, these guys are adorable and certainly deserve all the love in the world.

-Victoria Arfi (Guitars)

Patsy, LA Women

Honestly, my first thought was that it couldn’t be as good as their demos. I was completely wrong. Raw, catchy as fuck—my kind of L.A. woman.

-Victoria Arfi (Guitars)

Dazey And The Scouts, Maggot

It’s kind of a schizophrenic record and I really love it ! It’s sometimes funny, easy, melodic, sometimes aggressive, deep, sensitive, but always raw and definitively clever. Each song is unique. This is my 2017 nugget, and I can’t wait for their next release.

-Gaïlla Montanier (Drums)

Peninsula, LALALALALALA

They are two and they sound as if they are 10. I love how it’s kitty-cute, but also hits me in the face. I don’t know how Lucie manages to keep the softness in her vocals while spreading such violence with her guitar. The drums are strongly amazing and captivating. I’m so fascinated that I always have to put it on repeat. We want more, and we want it now!

-Alice Carlier (Vocals)

Medline

Various Artists, Ililta! New Ethiopian Dance Music

Contemporary Ethiopian music is less known today than the sound of the ’70s. This nice compilation from Catalytic Sound shows that there’s a lot to discover. Very unfamiliar grooves—the best way to travel with a record.


Mind Over Mirrors

Bill MacKay, Esker

Esker has been playing in our home like a wonderful déjà vu experience for the last few months. Part Hired Hand, part Sun City Girls, and completely of his own when it comes to unlocking the channels.


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Mr. Mitch

Duval Timothy, Sen Am

Duval’s music speaks to me in a way that only a few others can. Real, beautiful, emotive music for the soul. Sen Am is step above his previous albums with the addition of some new textures and sounds. Like myself, Duval is a minimalist at heart.


Mukqs

H. Takahashi, Raum

Takahashi’s Raum is my go-to record this year for relaxation and focus. His gorgeous ambient arrangements for iPhone soft-synths, layered with peaking drone washes and gentle mallet voices, drift in the perfect sweet spot between lulling stasis and bubbling melody.


μ-Ziq

Jana Rush, Pariah

Jana has created an almost perfect footwork album for 2017. It’s experimental in sound and structure, but not in form. You can still dance to this, but it has the same shock-of-the-new as when we Europeans first heard the Chicago sound back in 2008/9.


Necrot

Ascended Dead, Abhorrent Manifestation

One of my favorite albums of 2017 was Ascended Dead’s Abhorrent Manifestation. From start to finish, Ascended Dead lure the listener into a vortex of total chaos. “Abhorrent Manifestation” casts the darkest shadow imaginable over the course of 37 minutes of black/death in its truest form. One brilliantly composed album, to say the least. Total Support to those who already know. For fans of Possessed, Kerasphorus, and Morpheus Descends.

-Chad Gailey (Drums)

Nekrasov

Pagan Altar, The Room of Shadows

Easy. That fucking Pagan Altar album. I would only be insulting you if I told you why, and if you don’t know why, I feel terrible for you and those around you. Hang on—no, I won’t be. I’ll be naked, screaming like a banshee in your general direction.


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Nnamdi Ogbonnaya

Cende, #1 Hit Single

I honestly can’t believe that this album came out this year. It really feels like it’s been a part of my life for a lot longer. Every song is an experience on its own, with the rhythm section’s bouncy, head-bobbing grooves underneath the chugging guitars, and the Thin Lizzy-esque harmonies. It’s all brought together by Cameron’s dope-ass melodic vocal motifs. These eight songs work even better when they’re all strung together. I knew it would be that album for me after listening to “What I Want” and looking down at iTunes to discover I was at 34 plays, going on 35.


Jamie Paige

Natbird, In Flight

Natbird is someone I’ve been vouching for for years, but he put out something truly astounding earlier in 2017. Every song that he’s put together for In Flight feels almost painterly, his soundscapes are so vivid and colorful. It’s like instantly being transported to some far-off, ethereal, and haunting landscape. Extremely good, IMO.


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Priests

Girl Ray, Earl Gray

We’ve been jamming the Girl Ray debut a lot this year! It’s an incredibly expansive, musically articulate first record, very catchy guitar-centric pop (some vocal melodies had me like, “Damn is this Carole King’s long lost rock band?!”), but it’s also super adventurous in its instrumentation. The middle opus, “Earl Grey (Stuck in a Groove)” recalls some of my favorite “rock” parts of my favorite rock records—like Slant 6’s “Inzombia” and pere ubu’s “Sentimental Journey,” where the car swerves off the path and you’re taken for a delightful off-roading expedition you didn’t even see coming. And, since I need both ends of the musical spectrum, “Stupid Things” is one of my favorite pop songs this year, and I love the accompanying trio of music videos! This album has it all. More Girl Ray, please!


Quicksails

Nico Niquo, In a Silent Way

This incredible album got more spins throughout 2017 than most anything (other than live Dead, of course). Nico’s compositions beautifully weave through patient melodies that tap into my guttural sense of longing, relief, and subtle optimism. While some may hear overt simplicity in this work, I hear absolute timelessness.


Jordan Rakei

Joe Armon-Jones & Maxwell Owin, Idiom

I’m so in love with this release. It was the soundtrack to my first American tour, so it coincides with a lot of great memories. The subtlety of this release is sublime. So many layers of intricate production and beautiful sonics, with hints of jazz. It also has a nice flow of rhythm and character that is definitely unique to London.


Joseph Shabason

The Weather Station, The Weather Station

When I heard “Thirty” for the first time, I flipped my lid. It felt so vital and personal and meaningful and full of life—which is also how the rest of the album feels. Tamara’s a true GOAT, and The Weather Station is always in heavy rotation at my place.


Scour

The Life and Times, The Life and Times

The Life And Times latest record is my favorite album of the year. Mellow yet heavy, dark but beautiful, this band is criminally underrated. Everything they’ve done is phenomenal and recently they’ve been playing this entire album live!

-John Jarvis (Guitar)

Swarvy

John Bap, Yesterday’s Homily 

Beyond Jon’s brilliant engineering and use of the musicians and instruments around him (he produced, mixed, and mastered the entire record), the full arrangement from top to bottom moves like a dream—immersive and off, yet beautifully captivating.

Standing On The Corner, Red Burns

A truly modern mix of nearly every notable sound and style I can remember since childhood, somehow blended together in a way that I’ve never heard before. The sensory effect feels like spending too much time in New York—flashing lights, people and cars rushing around you, busy street sounds, abandoned buildings, graffiti, litter, cultures mashed against other cultures. It’s a perfect representation of modern life in that way, and its jagged juxtapositions feel so honest and deliberate that there’s something completely and oddly satisfying about it.


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TALsounds

Black Hat, Impossible World

I’ve loved all of Nelson Bean, aka Black Hat’s music, but his new album, Impossible World takes his work to new levels of complexity and beauty. He strikes a balance between minimal ambience and Aphex-like electronic overload, and the narratives and atmospheres he sculpts on each track have me hypnotized.


Usnea

Spectral Voice, Eroded Corridors of Unbeing 

As a longtime fan of Paul Riedl’s previous work with Merkstave, and his more recent project Blood Incantation, I was blown away by this record. Everything their several demos hinted at is blown out of the water with this crushing death doom masterwork. As much as I love Blood Incantation’s otherworldly cosmic death metal, Spectral Voice hits all of my doom-centric tastes and beyond. For fans of Evoken and Autopsy, it doesn’t get better than this.

-Justin Corey (Vocals, Guitars)

Von Pea

Quelle Chris, Being You is Great, I Wish I Could Be You More Often

It’s an album about the emotional back-and-forth of being an artist, being a man, and being a person in general. To be a black male hip-hop artist from Detroit doesn’t immediately scream “emotionally vulnerable,” stereotypically speaking, but this album does that in a dope way. On one song, he’s having the best day ever and he’s the shit. The next song, he’s full of doubt and mad that he’s wasting his time simply being who he is. This is all done in a super entertaining way, and it doesn’t come across “woe is me.” This album is like if the term ”emotional rollercoaster” was a good thing. Quelle is always dope, but this is my favorite project from him so far.


Walpyrgus

Argus, From Fields of Fire

Great epic heavy metal with strong musicianship and intense vocals. Has just enough doom metal flavoring to give it extra emotional weight.

-Jim Hunter (Bass)

Hammock, Mysterium 

One of the greatest outpourings of human expression, grief, and honor ever channeled into a recording.

-Tom Phillips (Keyboards, Guitars)

Perturbator, New Model

Blade Runner meets The Terminator. ‘Nuff said.

-Tom Phillips (Keyboards, Guitars)

High Spirits, Escape!

It’s like Scorpions meets The Ramones, with lyrics that can sometimes almost be vulnerable.

-Carlos Denogean (Drums)

Pounder, Heavy Metal Disaster

I played drums on this EP. Pretty straightforward heavy metal, done with conviction.

-Carlos Denogean (Drums)

Father John Misty, Pure Comedy

I think you need to resonate with this guy on some personal level to dig his music, because it’s mega weird. It’s like ’70s David Bowie, Acid-era Beatles, The Doors, and Elton John have a pill party in a cold hotel room. Weird chord progressions with weirder lyrics.

-Scott Waldrop (Guitars)

The Zephyr Bones

Adelaida, Paraíso

Español: Paraíso es el tercer LP de Adelaida. Un disco lleno de matices que van desde el pop mas cálido al shoegaze más etéreo. Al estilo DIY, este grupo de Valparaíso, Chile se muestra como una de las bandas más potentes de la nueva escena shoegaze latinoamericana.

Inglés: Paradise is Adelaida’s third LP, an album full of nuances ranging from the hottest pop to the most ethereal shoegaze. In the DIY style, this group from Valparaíso, Chile is one of the most powerful bands in the new Latin American scene.


Check out more Big Ups

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