Photo by Eric Nopanen

2017 did not suck for Music

We’ve asked our entire team to contribute some of their favorites released in 2017. Check them out individually below, or thrown into a larger, combined playlist right here.

Drew Brown – Rise Creative Director

A year of heavy stuff for me. Converge is back from hiatus. Less Art is a mashup of members of a lot of my favorite bands.

Travis Vasquez (Truey V) – Rise Contributing Reporter

Magnolia was the wave of the summer and shook the scene.
Migos are the new Beatles
XXX is everything. Literally describes black lives.

Kate Rogers – Rise Contributing Reporter

Green Light, Lorde (my most favorite to rock out to in the car by myself or do jump squats to at the studio when I’m feeling extra firey)
Love, Lana del Ray (so moody, smoky, salty and deliciously sexy)
Honest, The Chainsmokers (I mean…who doesn’t love whatever these guys touch??)
I dig the lyrics of all these – they’re a little dark and twisty, which is totally my jam, but their sound is more upbeat than what I typically like.
If there are any 2016 runners up that I can squeeze in, River by Leon Bridges, Sleep on the Floor by the Lumineers and I Need A Forest Fire by James Blake ft. Bon Iver have literally not stopped playing on my Spotify for months.

Matt Pitarresi – Host, The Hurry Up Podcast

QOTS – Josh Homme’s recent tour incident not withstanding, since kicking a female photographer in the head during a show. He’s in need of some self-improvement, personally. But – The band as a whole totally reinvented their sound for this album and domesticated animals is just totally odd and funky. Any song that references the “I wanna know where the gold at!” Video is ok in my book.
Bully – That song rips, and is the message is so dead on. She has incredibly vulnerable lyrics, and on that song, it just hits the nail on the head.
Rozwell Kid – Catchy as hell rock pop with clever lyrics that doesn’t take itself too seriously and makes for a hell of a sing along.

Kevin Heffernan – Rise Managing Director

Marigold – Starting with local, 21-year-old barista at Tipico Coffee and Drummer for Head North, Benjamin Lieber produced a solo project in Marigold that sounds like the work of a seasoned veteran. High quality production, creative sound and lyrics, this album was a great surprise this year.
Truey V – Listed above, also entered into Spotify this year, after producing multiple indie tracks all over SoundCloud and videos previously. Kagome is a great sample starter to see what he’s talking about in a lot of his lyrics, mixing his personal experience and that of his friends and contemporaries with reflections on the state of black America and black Buffalo. It’s “Fuck Five Oh, available on SoundCloud, that is likely to launch Truey into the stratosphere in coming months.
Head North – mentioned previously, is entering their fourth year of production and touring together as a band. Starting in the traditional punk (oxymoron) scene years ago, their music has already evolved into a mature voice and sound with lyrics reflecting on lessons learned from heartache previously written about.
Maggie Rogers – A revelation in female indie rock. While there has been no shortage of new indie to explore, nothing has been as fresh and beautiful as Maggie Roger’s freshmen album. Every song is worth listening to alone, or checking out the accompanying music video, which are all off the wall bonkers, and typical of a NYU student given a budget to do whatever she’d like to with the video and her friends. A producer at heart, Rogers was blessed with an incredible voice that has you pushing replay over and over.
Sylvan Esso – Does not give a fuck. Both members had never been in bands that lasted longer than freshmen albums and tours, hence the album name “What Now” for their sophomore effort. Reportedly Electro Pop is very in for 2017, with callbacks to 80’s sounds, but this particular song is wave after wave of endorphins to get you through winter and into spring.
Cloud Nothings – A call back to Alt/Emo of the mid 2000s, Cloud Nothings dramatically lifted their production value on this album, but stuck to catchy singalong choruses, and I’m not complaining.
Tribe Called Quest – Cheating, it was a late 2016 release, but the entire album speaks to everything that’s going on in America through last year’s election, and oddly predictive of what we’ve seen in 2017. Absolutely robbed by the same Grammy awards that asked them to perform in 2016 without a single nomination for 2017’s awards, “We got it from here… Thank you 4 your service” is a reflection of the institutionalized racism and inequality each song, especially the one linked here, touches on.
Brand New – Since 2001, the band has grown more and more complex and deep with each album. Growing in distance from my own experiences and emotions since their 2005 album, “The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me” was released, Brand New struggled internally to fight off their own demons. Earlier this year, Lead Singer and writer Jesse Lacey came out apologizing for cheating on his wife all via countless accounts of sexting and affairs. While all our heroes will eventually burn or die, we could all see this coming as the self-crucifixion Lacey seemed to want all along. From the repetitive lyrics off their first album of “I’m gonna stay 18 forever…” it only seems fitting that Brand New will come to an end in 2018. Tour dates are already being canceled, and this latest album seems to be a bit of a self-reflective swan song. Brand New still has their wits about them, and in “Desert” linked below, they’re calling out the hypocrisy of those who use religion and God to justify fear and hate of everything from homosexuality to refugees and immigrants, framing an inevitable apocalypse. Look for other underlying meanings behind the lyrics in every song here, it’s likely the last you’ll get from Brand New.

Andrew Meyer – Producer, EXTRA by No Boundaries Podcast

Congratulations – Super American
It’s not a stretch to say 2017 was a banner year for WNY music. The emergence of pop rock heros Super American serves as the perfect microcosm for a great year of music in the Nickel City. “Congratulations” is a catchy yet introspective tune that hooks you in from the first listen and will stay in your head long after its rollicking chorus has ended. Do yourself a favor and listen to their Debut EP “Disposable.”
Indoors – The Flatliners
When The Flatliners tore the roof off of The Waiting Room before it closed last summer, frontman Chris Cresswell told the crowd that playing in Buffalo always felt a bit like a hometown show. With a song like “Indoors,” it’s easy to imagine the Brompton, Ontario natives making every stage feel like home. A rocking catchy chorus allows the song to ebb and flow perfectly and serves as the pinnacle of a fantastic record in “Wasting Light.”
Vacation Town – The Front Bottoms
Every now and then you find a tune that feels more like a physical place than a musical piece. The verses of this song serve as a perfect example of that and draw the listener in from the first psuedo-whiny lyric sung from Brian Sella. For me, this just serves as one of those songs that you can unpack over and over and find something new to love each time. Possibly the best song I’ve heard in the last five years, let alone year, “Vacation Town” is irreverent and unassuming yet sophisticated and mature. In other words: it bangs. Easily my favorite tune of the last year.

Caitlin Hartney – Rise Reporter

May I have this Dance: This song sounds like what love should feel like. It also sounds like Phil Collins!
I Love You: Because I’m a sucker for a cover that’s better than the original.
Bodak Yellow: When I am pretending (privately, in my own head) that I’m a boss with no fucks left to give.
Rake it Up: On mornings I’d rather do anything but go for a run: coffee, sneakers, and Nicki–in that order.

Bridget Schaefer – Rise Media Director

I’ve been a National fan for a long time, but the daytime show this month to benefit Buffalo Stringworks was the coolest concert ever, and this entire album rocked.

Hope your 2017 kicked ass musically, and cheers to all the amazing stuff that will come out in 2018.