One of the things that I love most about music is how it can sweep me away.
No matter how many years pass or new albums I hear, I am still awed when it happens — the way a fragment of melody or barely-caught lyric can tune some dial in my brain and shift the world around me into a different color. It’s a personal alchemy. I break into involuntary smiles and unasked-for tears and dance to a song that no one can hear but me. I remind myself that I am alive and better for it.
I’m aware that it’s a cliche to wish for escape in a year like this one. 2017 has pushed hard against the idea that the world is a fundamentally good place. As I’m typing this, Alabama has just barely rejected sending an accused pedophile to the Senate and I’m happier than I’ve been in months. But I can barely believe what I typed. It’s confusing and it makes me angry to think that we’re so far from where we could be. Sometimes it feels like I am trying in futility to hold it all back.
My favorite music this year has been made by artists who help me push. They are black, white, straight, queer, gender-fluid, young, old… you name it. They come from places as far-flung as New Zealand and Sweden and as close to home (but still a world away) as the Marcy Projects. In their stories and rhythms and harmonies, I have found a release from all the regressive ideals and bullshit, the energy to rip the Twitter IV out of my arm and go somewhere else for three or four minutes at a time. In the words of one of my favorite artists: “fuck politics, let’s do some dancing.”
Here are ten albums from 2017 that created worlds of their own for me. Maybe they can do that for you too.
10. U2 – Songs of Experience
U2 has gathered a global congregation by reaching heavenward, but their latest effort literally aims for the cosmic. Political and personal, existential and anxious — at its core, Songs of Experience is a series of missives on love and communion from beyond the grave. I have returned to it repeatedly since its December release, each time discovering something new, fresh footsteps on a journey that at this point stretches far beyond Joshua Tree.
So where are we going? Continue reading