I love music, and I have a lot of fun when I listen. But I also take my music very seriously.
Being a lover of lists, I constantly compare, grade and rank music as I listen. I count the number of bands we've seen live and venues we've visited in a year.
It's fun, I swear.
Spotify – without a doubt the greatest investment of $10 a month I've ever made – informed me I had listened to 80,996 minutes of music in 2017 – as of Dec. 7. Since then, I've logged many, many more minutes listening and making sure I had my top 50 records for the year ranked "correctly."
This year was tough, the toughest in the 6 years I've been making a "best of the year" list available publicly, either on social media, in print, or both.
Usually, there are 2 records fighting for the top spot. Some years, there's a clear No. 1 that's head and shoulders above the rest.
This year, there were 4 records I could have slotted at No. 1.
Each were career bests from some of my favorites.
Manchester Orchestra added a cinematic flair that its guitar-driven moody, melodic indie rock that made "A Black Mile to the Surface" the best of its five full releases thus far.
On "Life Without Sound," Cloud Nothings meshed to perfection their angry, raw punk with their melodic tendencies. I have no doubt Spotify is correct when it reports I listened to no album more than this one in the past 12 months.
Indie folk rocker Father John Misty did something in 2017 I didn't think he could do – top the brilliant 2015 release "I Love You, Honeybear." But "Pure Comedy" is better, fuller and equally snarky.
And speaking of moody, The National are at their best on "Sleep Well Beast," a wonderfully written and produced record that somehow manages to be both urgent and relaxed, and dark and uplifting.
Any of these records would be a comfortable fit in the top spot. But I can only pick one top record of the year. And they have to be ranked in some order.
But more on that later.
I graded just more than 500 records in 2017 – most of the indie rock and alternative rock variety. Of those, these were my favorite 50 records of the year.
Is "favorite" the same thing as "best?" Not necessarily. This list tries to combine both of those sentiments. The higher a record is on this list, the more impact it had on me throughout the year. That's the best explanation I can give you.
If you haven't heard of some or most of these records, I'd urge you to give them a listen. I think that's the real objective of these kinds of lists – to turn you on to a band or a record you might not have come across.