It was a weird year music-wise for me. I listened to a total of 2345 songs according to iTunes play counts, which is up a lot from last year. Most of the increase was in the Exotica genre, where I loaded up on releases from past years including Tiki Joe’s Ocean and Tikiyaki Orchestra/Tikiyaki 5-0.
In terms of albums released in 2017, here is my ranking.
1. Voodoo III – Robert Drasnin
Plucked from obscurity in the 1990s when his 1959 exotica album Voodoo was discovered by tikiphiles, Drasnin spent his later years working on two follow-ups. Voodoo III was recorded just before his death and released in a limited edition at Tiki Oasis in 2015. The first “anyone can buy it” release was this year, so we’re counting it as a 2017 release. This is great stuff if you like Exotica, the mostly instrumental mix of jazz and Latin percussion. Voodoo III includes several songs with wordless-vocals. One song features sung lyrics, the appropriately entitled “Aloha.” It’s a great album.
2. Wonderful Wonderful – The Killers
A comeback album featuring one of their best singles, “The Man.” I still like the Killers and saw them live for the first time this year.
3. Number 1 Angel – Charli XCX
I was surprised I liked this “mixtape.” Most songs feature a hip-hop collaborator but I’m still digging Charli’s give-no-fucks attitude. I’m not sure what the genre is called but it is definitely more of a mellower electronica. I like Charli’s more alt/pop leaning material but this will do (I wasn’t a fan of her Pop 2 mixtape released at the end of the year)
4. I Love You Like a Brother – Alex Lahey
Song pop hooks from Australian alternative singer-songwriter Alex Lahey. Her single “Every Day’s the Weekend” was one of the best of the year.
5. Concrete and Gold – Foo Fighters
An OK release from the Foos, with a few songs I thought were really good but mostly were fairly generic. I totally dug the song “Sunday Rain” featuring regular drummer Taylor Hawkins on vocals and guest drummer Paul McCartney (the song does have a Beatles vibe).
6. Songs of Experience – U2
An okay album but nothing special from U2. Nothing overly catchy or memorable but at least I do like listening to it.
7. Witness – Katy Perry
I got this album when I purchased tickets to her concert, so I guess I’ll count it. Follows the more mellow pop trend. I liked the lead single “Chained to the Rhythm” but like most music fans felt this was a step back from the pop hooks we’re used it.
8. Spirit – Depeche Mode
Disappointing release with only one just-okay song “So Much Love.” Otherwise forgettable.