IBG Contributor Emily Cramton’s Top 5 Indie Albums of 2017

It’s been a great year for music, and considering the world we’re living in, we need it more than ever. Check out my five favorite indie albums of 2017…

5. In Mind, Real Estate

To me, Real Estate creates such a warm and peaceful atmosphere. Guitar riffs are deliberate and melodic, vocals are gentle, and the overall sound is clean. Their newest album is no different.

In Mind is soothing to listen to, offering an aural escape from the fast pace of daily life. Real Estate’s sound space is uniquely their own, and each song brings you deeper into their comfort zone as opposed to branching out. For In Mind, this sense of comfort really works. They don’t need to venture out into new and exciting ideas because what they have is already beautiful and well-crafted. In my opinion, In Mind works best as a cover-to-cover listen. Take the time to listen straight through and immerse yourself in the calm world that Real Estate has created.

4. Half-Light, Rostam

Once a member of Vampire Weekend, Rostam Batmanglij is out on his own this year with his first solo record, Half-Light. Rostam caught my attention last year with his collaboration with Hamilton Leithauser in I Had a Dream That You Were Mine, my personal favorite record of 2016. Long established as a talented and boundary-breaking musician and producer, Rostam strips down a bit with this album. His voice is interesting, with a near mumbling quality at times that adds a sense of intimacy.

“Gwan” is one of my favorite tracks. Its atmospheric quality transports you as Rostam sings of someone he loves. After years of working with Vampire Weekend and collaborating with others, Rostam’s first musical venture truly out on his own cements his talents not only as a collaborator, but as a solo artist.

3. Masseduction, St. Vincent

St. Vincent’s newest album is different for her — a lot more poppy, a little more personal, and more powerful than ever. Motivated largely by the aftermath of being pushed further into the public eye, Annie Clark has created a record that she uses to expose herself on her own terms, in a medium with which she is most comfortable.

Theatrical and bold, Masseduction puts it all on the line. When you look at St. Vincent’s discography, her versatility in sound and musical execution is something special. Her first record, 2007’s Marry Me, is a bit dark and edgy, jazzy in moments and eccentric overall. Compared to the pop, electronic, highly produced nature of Masseduction, St. Vincent’s decade-old solo debut could not be more different. Masseduction still highlights Clark’s versatility, from the nearly robotic title track to the stripped down and emotional “Happy Birthday, Johnny.” Through all of it, Clark’s unmistakeable talents as a vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter shine through.

2. Pure Comedy, Father John Misty

Father John Misty is the pseudonym of Josh Tillman, formerly of Fleet Foxes. His third album Pure Comedy is largely a symbolic social commentary, telling the story of a species with a half-formed brain. Tillman is an extremely talented storyteller, and Pure Comedy is the perfect showcase of his lyric abilities.

This comes after 2015’s I Love You, Honeybear, a personal and romantic album that is one of my all-time favorites. Pure Comedy is much broader in scope, offering a view of the world as opposed to Tillman’s own experiences. With “Total Entertainment Forever” focusing on technology to the title track speaking on mankind as a whole, Pure Comedy offers a bold and blatant perspective on culture and society — sometimes strange but always honest and exactly what needed to be said.

Clocking in at just under an hour and fifteen minutes, Pure Comedy is an epic album, beautiful in every aspect.

1. Antisocialites, Alvvays

Nearly tied with Pure Comedy for me, Alvvay’s sophomore release has a slight edge that secured its top spot on my list. Infectious and dreamy, almost every track is an ear worm in the best way. After getting my aptly-bright yellow vinyl record in the mail, I kept it on near constant rotation for the next week.

Alvvays was strong out of the gate with their self-titled debut in 2014, which included the song “Archie, Marry Me.” Playful and romantic in nature, this song is lyrically a stark contrast to much of Antisocialities, largely a breakup album. However, the dreamy and shoegaze-y sound that is characteristically Alvvays is still there and better than ever. Their energy is infectious, and Molly Rankin’s voice is strong and confident. From the edgier sound of “Plimsoll Punks” to the slow and wistful closer “Forget About Life,” the record demonstrates the band’s versatility.

Antisocialites is the perfect album for jamming in the car with your windows down, and I’m really excited to see what the future holds for Alvvays.