The Best Non-Jazz Albums of 2017

Initial draft collected on Nov. 16, 2017. The file will be updated as additional worthy records are found (although updating may lag behind the official 2017 list). Last year's list was never frozen (OK, let's say it was frozen on Nov. 16, 2016). There also exists a parallel list of The Best Jazz of 2017.

Note: numbering of lists (aside from A/A-) is only temporary, to make it easier for me to tally up stats.


For A-list only: [*] indicates that I reviewed this on the basis of an advance, often a CDR copy (a good thing, I might add, for vinyl-only releases). [**] identifies a record that I've only heard via download or through a streaming service like Rhapsody/Napster.

For all lists, I've included 2016 (and in rare cases earlier) records that I discovered after last year's freeze date, but I've only included such records if they were so little known that they received less than five points in the 2016 metacritic file. These are marked, e.g., -16, after the label.

New Music

1. Orchestra Baobab: Tribute to Ndiouga Dieng (Nonesuch/World Circuit)
One of Senegal's most important bands, their 1970s shrined in multi-volume compilations called La Belle Epoque, with more albums since 1992, one of the best (Specialist in All Styles) from 2002, the last before this in 2008. Dieng (1947-2016) was the group's long-time singer, though he is ably replaced here.

2. Sylvan Esso: What Now (Loma Vista)
Electropop duo from North Carolina, singer Amelia Meath and producer Nick Sanborn. Second album. Terrific. **

3. Pere Ubu: 20 Years in a Montana Missile Silo (Cherry Red)
Originally from Akron, one of my favorite bands of the late 1970s, in business ever since with singer David Thomas essential for continuity, but while none of the original musicians appear here, I often find the guitar reminding me of The Modern Dance, not to mention the drums. **

4. Joey Bada$$: All-Amerikkkan Bada$$ (Pro Era/Cinematic)
Brooklyn rapper Jo-Vaughn Scott, second studio album after three mixtapes. Despite his fondness for dollar signs, this finds him thinking hard about injustice in the nation, and while the "three K's" isn't deep, I don't mind him dropping a little kitsch into the dialectic. Nor an occasional obscenity, like "fuck Trump." **

5. Hamell on Trial: Tackle Box (New West)
Singer-songwriter Ed Hamell has been cranking out DIY folk tunes with punk intensity since 1989, includes a song here mostly about Trump ("The More You Know"), one about the fear even white folk have about getting shot by cops, and best of all an Australian "Mouthy B"'s critique of America (some choice lines: "I don't think your government cares about its people," "what's with all the flags? I've never seen such insecurity in all my life," "along with freedom 'heroes' is the most overused word in your national vocabulary"), as well as four "Froggy" songs. Cover shows a burning city behind a blasphemous Lady Liberty. Title song is about life coming with many hooks. **

6. Re-TROS: Before the Applause (Modern Sky Entertainment)
Chinese rock group, "underground" but how would we know? Some vocals (even some in English), but rhythm tracks predominate, some quasi-industrial, some new wave danceable, some sound like Pulnoc fortified by a Kinshasa junkyard, which is to say really amazing. **

7. The Perceptionists: Resolution (Mello Music Group)
Alt-hip-hop group from Boston, cut Black Dialogue, a terrific album, in 2005, plus a mixtape and a live album around that time, and nothing since then until now, although Jeffrey Haynes has had a notable career as Mr. Lif, as has Jared Bridgeman (aka Akrobatik). Not sure what happened to third member DJ Fakts One, but only two faces on this cover. Smart politics, the beats more jumbled as befits our more chaotic era. **

8. Steve Earle & the Dukes: So You Wannabe an Outlaw (Warner Bros.)
There's nothing glamorous about those outlaw songs, but the roots grow thick, not least with the fiddle. **

9. Craig Finn: We All Want the Same Things (Partisan)
One of the most distinctive and touching voices in recent rock history (mostly with Hold Steady), a writer with a fine ear for speech and lots of compassion for other people, both down and out and temporarily up -- which seems to be the gamut these days. **

10. Kendrick Lamar: Damn (Top Dawg/Aftermath/Interscope)
Metacritic score 96 on 29 reviews -- if not a lock to top 2017 EOY lists a very strong favorite. As has always been the case, I'm slow getting him -- can't much relate to the slice of life, and the soft beats and sliding melodies take time to sink in. Still, his chronicle of fear really got to me, and there seems to be much more floating in the ozone. Still, doubt I'll really get there: I grew up thinking that the telos of music is pleasure, not (for lack of a better word) art. **

11. Jesca Hoop: Memories Are Now (Sub Pop)
Singer-songwriter from California, seventh album since 2007, a name I've run across before but hadn't checked out. Reality-based (i.e., folk-ish), just not sure how well this reads as literature, but it impresses me musically, some pop hooks and rhythmic tricks, bits that sound like everyone from the Roches to Kate Bush and like no one else at all. **

12. Oddisee: The Iceberg (Mello Music Group)
Amir Mohamed el Khalife, rapper born in Maryland, based in DC, father from Sudan, prolific since 2005 (Wikipedia counts 11 studio albums, 10 mixtapes). Beats acoustic, band rocks, even swings a little, the raps fast and impressively level-headed. **

13. Run the Jewels: Run the Jewels 3 (Run the Jewels)
Producer El-P and rapper Killer Mike, second album scored high on 2014 EOY lists but this one appeared too late for notice in 2016 (digital release Dec. 24) but the CD release held back until Jan. 13, we'll treat it as a 2017 release. Much as before, the beats are forced hard, the rhymes dense, the one I caught about refusing to kill for the government makes sense to me, also the one about "mama said." **

14. Lord Echo: Harmonies (Soundway)
From New Zealand, aliases Mike August and Mike Fabulous, bills himself as "underground super-producer." Sounds more soul than anything but not as retro as Mayer Hawthorne. You might triangulate that with disco and nu and rocksteady and find something fresh. **

15. Carl Craig: Versus (InFiné)
Pioneering electronica producer from Detroit, his 1997 album More Songs About Food and Revolutionary Art a personal favorite, but I can't say as I've followed him closely since. He provides electronics and production for his tracks here, but the bulk of the sound comes from a 22-piece orchestra, arranged by Francesco Tristano to bring forth the drama, suggesting classical music but when have they ever enjoyed such danceable beats before? **
16. Youssou N'Dour: Seeni Valeurs (Jive/Epic)
From Sénégal, emerged from Etoile de Dakar quite young as a star, and has dominated since the mid-1980s, but while his Nonesuch albums (2002-10) got notice in the US, his more recent releases hardly cause a ripple. First I heard of this was in an isolated EOY list, and I've yet to find a single review or press release -- it does show up on numerous streaming sites, and for sale as a download. Strikes me as masterful, especially as the rhythm adds layers upon layers. **

17. John Moreland: Big Bad Luv (4AD)
Country singer-songwriter, born in Texas, moved around a lot including a spell in Kentucky but counts Tulsa as his home. Title was a throw-away line in the upbeat closer but his non-Nashville label must have dug it. Fine collection of songs, some fast, some slow, he does it all. **

18. Conor Oberst: Salutations (Nonesuch)
Here he refashions his Ruminations songs (plus a few more) for full band. With his harmonica, I was struck by how accomplished his Dylanisms had become on the demos, but he's got an even better sense of electric Dylan's tricks of the trade. Songs maturing too. **

19. Tinariwen: Elwan (Anti-)
From northeast Mali, which is to say the vast Saharan heartland, though they've long since moved on, finding a convivial desert studio in California near Joshua Tree National Park, convenient for various semi-famous musicians (only one I recognize is Kurt Vile) to drop in and dissolve into what's more than ever trance music. Hard to differentiate among their eight albums, but this one lacks the frenzy I recall, yet doesn't suffer for that. **

20. Syd: Fin (Columbia)
Vocalist for the Internet tries a solo album. Small voice, matter-of-fact beats, picks up toward the end with a couple of featuring credits (who is this Steve Lacy?) and a song about "Insecurities" -- whoever's doing that low voice is helping a lot. **

21. Dev: I Only See You When I'm Dreamin' (Devishot)
Devin Tailes, pop singer from California, second album, not all that splashy but knows when to flirt and when to break it off -- title song is about an ex, and she prefers it that way. **

22. The XX: I See You (Young Turks)
Most sources lowercase xx, although typographically the albums always looked to use multiplication signs if you want to get pedantic about it. Looks close enough to uppercase for me. Tough for me to judge: the hooks slip in with barely a notice, aside from one song ("On Hold") which will wind up among the year's most surefire hits. **

23. Arcade Fire: Everything Now (Columbia)
Alt/indie group from Montreal, fifth album since 2004, hugely popular and critically esteemed -- third album, The Suburbs, seemed to be a lock on album of the year polls until Kanye West spoiled their party. I'm not a huge fan but haven't found much cause to fault their albums. I might quibble about this being too ornate, but after five or six plays nearly every song has clicked. Still, probably won't play it again until EOY, but I have little doubt I'll enjoy it then. **

24. Arto Lindsay: Cuidado Madame (Northern Spy)
Part of New York's post-punk "No Wave" movement (his band was DNA), although his experience growing up in Brazil has always tugged him towards Tropicália -- his many albums leaning one way or the other, or in this case both. **

25. Daddy Issues: Deep Dream (Infinity Cat)
Three-piece "grunge pop" band from Nashville -- Jenna Moynihan (guitar/vocals), Jenna Mitchell (bass), Emily Maxwell (drums) -- with an eight-cut, 27:12 cassette. Sometimes they work through their issues with punk rage, sometimes just refrain them to death ("Creepy Girl," "Shitty World"). **

26. Waxahatchee: Out in the Storm (Merge)
Fourth band album for Katie Crutchfield, joined here by twin sister Alison Crutchfield -- the pair previously fronted P.S. Eliot, then split with Alison recording as Swearin' before her solo album early this year. The hard anthems up front start as din but 3-4 songs in I start to follow, and even discern a bit of Alabama drawl. **

27. Eminem: Revival (Aftermath/Shady/Interscope)
Starts with a bitch about how he's lost his stardom, but he somehow managed to snag the sample of the year -- no less than Beyoncé singing the "Walk on Water" refrain. It's clearer than ever that he has a signature style: tightly wound raps rising from fierce to batshit crazy, played off against irresistible pop hooks. Sometimes the batshit even rings true, especially when he takes on Trump and racism. **

28. Jason Eady (Old Guitar)
Country singer-songwriter, born in Mississippi but seems to be associated with Texas, with a half-dozen albums since 2005 on obscure labels. Picks his way through unassuming songs, easy and graceful, most with stories to tell. **

29. Matt North: Above Ground Fools (self-released)
Nashville session drummer writes and (I assume) sings a batch of big beat rock and roll songs, with clear lyrics more than a little sharp. **

30. Charli XCX: Number 1 Angel (Asylum)
British pop singer Charlotte Aitchison considers this a mixtape though why is unclear to me. Same for the characterization as "avant-pop" -- possibly looking for something that conveys how beyond ordinary it is. **

31. Angaleena Presley: Wrangled (Thirty Tigers)
Pistol Annies member, cut an excellent debut album in 2014 (American Middle Class), returns for her second. This one takes longer to click, but it ends on a succession of high points, including songs written with rockabilly pioneer Wanda Jackson and the late Guy Clark and a short meditation on a "Motel Bible." **

32. Oumou Sangaré: Mogoya (No Format)
Wassoulou singer from Bamako, the capitol of Mali. She's recorded super albums since 1991's Moussolou. While Christgau detects a loss of "engagement" here, I find myself enjoying it just fine. **

33. Hamell on Trial: Big Mouth Strikes Again: Hamell Live (New West)
Seems to be download only, with a code provided with the new studio album, but streams separately. Some redundancy (including another "Mouthy B"), some songs from earlier albums (like "The Happiest Man in the World"), some patter including a story about three grandmas coming up to him and asking whether he has any edgier material. He tries to satisfy them, even to the point of explaining "that's how you wave a towell." **

34. Cigarettes After Sex: Cigarettes After Sex (Partisan)
Slowcore band, originally from El Paso, principally Greg Gonzalez -- an appealing idea, I once thought, but this is the first group that delivers on the concept, perhaps because I hear more than a little Neal Tennant in his voice. Still doesn't find redemption in dance, or much of anything else, so this may be a passing fancy. **

35. Alison Krauss: Windy City (Capitol)
Started out as a bluegrass fiddler, crediting her band on most of her albums, but she's always sung, remarkably on these ten covers. She may look like a lost mannequin on the cover, but there's nothing stiff or fake here. Especially choice cuts: "Gentle on My Mind," "Poison Love," "You Don't Know Me." **

36. Lorde: Melodrama (Lava/Republic)
Pop star from New Zealand, cut her first album in her teens, released this second album to much acclaim at 20. Co-writes most of her songs with Jack Antonoff, avoids the big producer-centric glitz most pop artists aim for, even has a way of talking her way into them that recalls Lily Allen. Not as fucking brilliant, but already pretty damn sharp. **

37. Randy Newman: Dark Matter (Nonesuch)
First album of new songs since 2008's Harps and Angels, not that he hasn't been busy during the Obama era: Discogs shows him with two Songbook volumes, two live albums, and five soundtracks -- by now, not just his meal ticket but his toolchest. The first three songs, with their historical-philosophical concerns, are so detailed it takes little effort to imagine the videos. The rest of the album, aside from the story of Sonny Boy the First, is unsentimental filler, and probably better for that. Christgau proclamed this an "album of the year contender" -- something I don't hear at all, but I massively underestimated Harps and Angels, doubting it for much the same offhandedness. **

38. Les Amazones d'Afrique: Republique Amazone (RealWorld)
New group, all women, mostly names I recognize from solo careers -- Angélique Kidjo, Kandia Kouyaté, Mamani Keita, Nneka, Mariam Doumbia (of Amadou &) -- none from Les Amazones de Guinée, last heard from on their brilliant 2008 Wamato. This is more limited to beats and chants, but they grow on you. **

39. St. Vincent: Masseduction (Loma Vista)
Canadian Annie Clark's fifth (or sixth) album, her bestseller and evidently a critical favorite -- I'd guess top-five in year-end polls but little chance of topping Kendrick Lamar, for starters. A bit arch and arty for my tastes, but always interesting, never more so than here, where half the songs quickly click, and more welcome should I ever give it more than the three spins I've logged. Title song pronounces it "mass seduction" and pairs it with "mass destruction": she has a point, a deeper one than critiquing Trump, although that's part of it. **

40. Colter Wall (Young Mary's)
Young (21) singer-songwriter from Saskatchewan, first album, has a deep voice which sounds much older, especially on slow ones (i.e., most of the time). Has some DJ patter in the middle, something about flipping the record over, which makes him out to be a much bigger deal than he is. Then the second half makes me think maybe he should be. **

41. Chuck Berry: Chuck (Dualtone)
Legend, content to rest on his laurels since Rock It in 1979, then announced this album on his 90th birthday, but didn't live long enough to see its release. Eight originals, two fair approximations. Of the originals, two are obvious glosses on classics ("Lady B. Goode," "Jamaica Moon") but "Wonderful Woman" veers just far enough from "Back in the USA" to seem like a new hit. A couple others offer off-handed surprises, and nowhere does he struggle to top himself like on his '70s albums. **

42. Orchestre Les Mangelepa: Last Band Standing (Strut)
Kenyan band, formed in Nairobi in 1976, mostly Congolese musicians, contributed two songs to the justly famous Earthworks compilation Guitar Paradise of East Africa. Never toured outside of Africa until 2016, belatedly landing a record on this UK label. This remakes some of their early hits, probably not helped by the mellowing of age, yet remains remarkable. Better late, I suppose, than never. **

43. Girma Bèyènè & Akalé Wubé: Éthiopiques 30: "Mistakes on Purpose" (Buda Musique)
Ethiopian, no recording dates but seems to be recent. Bèyènè plays piano and sings, somewhat talky; Akalé Wubé is a band, with sax, trumpet, guitar, bass, and drums, plus some guests drop in. Their relaxed flow doesn't sound all that African, but that's just how unique they are -- and note that the horns can on occasion slip into jazzy dissonance. **

44. Ray Wylie Hubbard: Tell the Devil I'm Gettin' There as Fast as I Can (Bordello/Thirty Tigers)
Singer-songwriter from Oklahoma, called the band on his first (1976) record the Cowboy Twinkies, didn't strike me as very important until his 2010 album A. Enlightenment B. Endarkenment (Hint: There Is No C), but has topped that good one three times since. **

45. Khalid: American Teen (Right Hand/RCA)
Last name Robinson, b. 1998, grew up on Army bases including six years in Germany, sung in the US Army Band. Doesn't strike me as much of a voice, but his songs are offhandedly catchy and they grow on you. **

46. Anna Tivel: Small Believer (Fluff and Gravy)
Singer-songwriter from Portland, plays guitar and violin, fourth album, has a producer who spruces up the sound without clutter or distraction. A lovely album, I find myself hanging on every word. **

47. Thomas Anderson: My Songs Are the House I Live In (Out There)
Singer-songwriter from Oklahoma, self-released a long-titled but marvelous debut in 1988 and has kept working at it -- ninth album in my databse, but there are probably more. He's clear enough I can follow the words, and smart enough I want to, and while this may not be his deepest set, the keyboard-heavy music sets it up so elegantly I want to keep working on it. **

48. Peter Perrett: How the West Was Won (Domino)
British singer-songwriter, fronted a memorable band called the Only Ones 1976-82, recorded a solo album in 1994 as the One, and finally came out with this album under his own name. Opener recalls "Sweet Jane" but is pretty great on its own. Then you start to recognize the old band, just older, slower, wearier, more desperate. Aren't we all? **

49. Gato Preto: Tempo (Unique)
Dance groove duo, producer Lee Bass (from Ghana) and singer-rapper Gata Misteriosa (from Mozambique) -- based somewhere in Europe, but that's about all I've been able to find, although I count 25 releases (including EPs and Remixes) on their Bandcamp page. Which makes them a subject for further research, although for now I'd rather not muddy up the clear uniqueness of their electro rush. **

50. Lana Del Rey: Lust for Life (Interscope)
Fifth album since 2010, started as a young pop ingenue but shifted last time into a winning slowcore groove which works even better here, especially when she plaintively demands "the fucking truth" -- helps that she doesn't evince any of the genre's depressiveness, and employs the occasional rapper. Tails off a bit at the end, but only after a trio of songs that I take to be patriotic in the best sense -- about caring for each other. **

51. Lost Bayou Ramblers: Kalenda (Rice Pump)
Cajun group, formed in Lafayette, Louisiana in 1999 by brothers Louis and Andre Michot, with ten albums. Starts out with a stomp, the percussion noisier than expected, the accordion louder, the vocals shriller, all of which stands out in a genre where things tend to blend together. **

52. Call Super: Arpo (Houndstooth)
British electronica producer, Joseph Richmond-Seaton, second album plus a bunch of shorter releases since 2011. The little stutter beats don't seem like much at first, but gradually they grow radiant, and even the electronic washes shimmer. **

53. Nona Hendryx & Gary Lucas: The World of Captain Beefheart (Knitting Factory)
Lucas' project (labor of love?): he played guitar in Beefheart's Magic Band in the 1980s, and in 2005 formed a jazz group with Philip Johnston called Fast 'N' Bulbous. Otherwise, he pops up in all sorts of odd places -- my database shows him with Pulnoc and doing a Max Fleischer tribute. Hendryx is a singer, the strongest voice in '70s Labelle, but she's wanders downtown, most memorably working with Bill Laswell's Material. Mixed bag of songs, but most as unexpected as Monk, which gives them plenty to chew on, and leaves you with "Tropical Hot Dog Night" stuck in your synapses. **

54. Marvin Pontiac: The Asylum Tapes (Strange and Beautiful)
Fictional artist invented by Loung Lizards saxophonist John Lurie. His back story started with birth in Mali in 1932, mother Jewish from New Rochelle, father a west African who abandoned him, grew up in Chicago playing blues harmonica, copying Little Walter; went nuts, believing he had been abducted and probed by aliens; hit and killed by a bus in 1977. Pontiac first appeared in our world when Lurie released his Greatest Hits in 2000. Not much sax here; mostly guitar and growl. Can't claim it's as good as Beefheart, but if you miss him you might welcome a kindred spirit. **

55. Wu-Tang: The Saga Continues (eOne)
Released in October, the group name shortened to note the absence of U-God (some legal issues, royalties maybe), conspicuously produced by Mathematics, pretty much universally ignored (68 at Metacritic on 13 reviews, only one EOY list appearance I've noted, and 100th place at that). I can't say I've ever been much of a fan, and indeed disliked the whole 1990s gangsta fad, but time changes everything, not least how one perceives those who haven't changed. They're old school now, their beats/samples sound great, giving their tales of drug dealing an air of literature, and their defense of black masculinity a quest for dignity and power (albeit with a whiff of sexism). **

56. Omar Souleyman: To Syria, With Love (Mad Decent)
Syrian wedding singer, a style known as dabke, currently based in Turkey, was introduced to the United States in 2006 via the first of four Sublime Frequencies comps, and has since become an international star. Hard to choose between his last three albums, but this is the hottest, heaviest, most frenetic albums I've heard this year, so it stands out clearly from everything else. **

57. Dori Freeman: Letters Never Read (MRI)
Folk singer, eponymous debut album last year was very striking. Remarkable voice, nothing affected but everything she does with it is completely stressless -- even a cappella. Short (28:17), but ten songs, none rushed, all satisfying. **

58. Robt Sarazin Blake: Recitative (Same Room, 2CD)
Singer-songwriter from Bellingham, Washington; started as Robert Blake, later went as Sarazin Blake, and seems to have settled on this moniker although Robert Sarazin Blake works for his Bandcamp pages. This seems far removed from his folk roots: while I'm often impressed by his wordplay (good examples are "Couples" and "Work"), I'm more so by the music, especially when the decidedly non-folkie saxophone wails. **

59. Swet Shop Boys: Sufi La (Customs, EP)
Anglo-American hip-hop duo -- or Indian-Pakistani if you trace them back a generation -- Heems (Himanshu Suri, ex-Das Racist) and Riz MC (Riz Ahmed, had a breakout acting role in The Night Of). Dropped a terrific album last year, Cashmere, following it up with this six track, 15:22 EP. **

60. Starlito & Don Trip: Step Brothers Three (Grind Hard)
Two rappers from Tennessee, Nashville and Memphis, released their first Step Brothers in 2011. Midtempo beats, rhymes unroll methodically, everything so loose you're surprised to find it holding together. Christgau tweeted "best hip-hop album of a year that should damn well be generating better ones." Took me three plays and I'm still not convinced, but desperate times are upon us. **

61. Fat Tony: MacGregor Park (First One Up, EP)
Houston rapper, born in Nigeria as Anthony Lawson Jude Ifeanyichukwu Obiawunaotu, shortened to Anthony Jude Obi. Fourth studio album, a bit short at eight cuts, 28:35, but with an infectiously easy flow, not that life comes so easy. **

Also added the following 2016 albums after freezing the 2016 year-end file:

1. Oren Ambarchi: Hubris (Editions Mego)
Guitarist, percussionist, born in Australia, roots Iraqi Jewish, has fifty-some records since 1998. One piece split into three parts: a fast, complex drumbeat with distorted guitar, an impressive trick that deserves to run on for 40 minutes. **

2. Martha: Blisters in the Pit of My Heart (Dirtnap)
Indie power pop band from County Durham in the north of England, Housemartins territory, self-described as "queer, vegan, and anarchist." Second album, not sure the politics are sharp and clear enough (certainly not up to Housemartins standards), but as group rock goes probably the best I've heard since Parquet Courts. **
3. L'Orange & Jeremiah Jae: The Night Took Us in Like Family (Mello Music Group -15)
Don't know anything about L'Orange, but he seems to be the beat guy, with Jae rapping (also guest spots for Gift of Gab and Homeboy Sandman). Skits can break the groove, which is pretty compelling. **

4. L'Orange & Mr. Lif: The Life & Death of Scenery (Mello Music Group)
Conceived as an Orwellian dystopia, where art and music are banned and people are herded into worshipping the sun, the moon, and, of course, their fearless leader. Released about a month before we entered our own brave new world, where art and music survive because the new leaders are too clueless to suspect they're subversive. That may be why I found this much funnier than was no doubt intended, but that's how we deal with dystopia these days. **

5. Africans With Mainframes: K.M.T. (Soul Jazz)
Hieroglyphic Being (Jamal Moss) and Nolelan Reusse, first full-length album, title stands for Kemetic Modulating Textures (although Napster calls it Soul Jazz Records Presents Africans . . . -- I don't see K.M.T. on the cover). This is considered Chicago acid house. As Andy Beta wrote of Moss, "for every CD-R of synth squalls there is another full of manic drum machine polyrhythms." He brings his whole kit together here. **

6. Beans on Toast: Rolling Up the Hill (Xtra Mile -15)
English singer-songwriter Jay McAllister, a folkie more in the American mold of low budget songsters pursuing their political calling -- which in his case includes traveling and singing and drinking. One song calls for the return of Robin Hood ("we need to take what's rightfully ours"), but more typical is his commune where "a lot of nice people being nice to each other/a lot of fun people having fun with each other/a lot of good people being good to each other." **

7. Élage Diouf: Melokáane (Pump Up the World -15)
From Senegal, born El Hadji Fall Diouf, toured as half of the Diouf Brothers before settling in Montreal and going solo. The fast ones remind me of N'Dour or Ade, and while he's certainly not in their league, he can sweep you away. **
8. Mariem Hassan/Vadiya Mint El Hanevi: Baila Sahara Baila (Nubenegra -15)
Dance music, so the rhythms pick up, along with what for lack of a better informed context I'll call war whoops. Hanevi makes his mark early on by talking through the dances. While he doesn't have Hassan's legendary voice, the energy he brings makes the difference. **
9. Peter Stampfel and the Brooklyn & Lower Manhattan Fiddle/Mandolin Swarm: Holiday for Strings (Don Giovanni)
The Swarm is often out of control, and the mass of not-very-harmonic voices is unruly, but the leader remains so unique you never for a moment have trouble picking him out from the chaos. **

10. Factory Floor: 25 25 (DFA)
British duo, Gabriel Gurnsey (drum machines) and Nik Colk (guitar, electronics, machine-like vocals), aim at "post-industrial" -- I guess that means mechanics toned down to pastoral levels. Not much range but resonates with me. **

Honorable Mention

Additional non-jazz rated B+(***), listed alphabetically.

  1. Aesop Rock & Homeboy Sandman: Triple Fat Lice (Stones Throw, EP) **
  2. Big Boi: Boomiverse (Epic) **
  3. Big K.R.I.T.: 4Eva Is a Mighty Long Time (Multi Alumni/BMG, 2CD) **
  4. Mary J Blige: Strength of a Woman (Capitol) **
  5. Body Count: Bloodlust (Century Media) **
  6. Benjamin Booker: Witness (ATO) **
  7. The Clientele: Music for the Age of Miracles (Merge) **
  8. Rodney Crowell: Close Ties (New West) **
  9. Corey Dennison Band: Night After Night (Delmark)
  10. Diet Cig: Swear I'm Good at This (Frenchkiss) **
  11. Beth Ditto: Fake Sugar (Virgin) **
  12. Emperor X: Oversleepers International (Tiny Engines) **
  13. Golden Pelicans: Disciples of Blood (Goner) **
  14. GoldLink: At What Cost (Squaaash Club/RCA) **
  15. Hard Working Americans: We're All in This Together (Melvin) **
  16. Mariem Hassan: La Voz Indómita (del Sahara Occidental) (Nubenegra) **
  17. Idles: Brutalism (Bailey)
  18. Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit: The Nashville Sound (Southeastern) **
  19. J.I.D: The Never Story (Dreamville/Interscope) **
  20. Jonwayne: Rap Album Two (The Order Label) **
  21. Kondi Band: Salone (Strut) **
  22. Alex Lahey: I Love You Like a Brother (Dead Oceans) **
  23. Jon Langford: Jon Langford's Four Lost Souls (Bloodshot) **
  24. Jens Lekman: Life Will See You Now (Secretly Canadian) **
  25. Methodist Hospital: Giants (self-released) **
  26. Migos: Culture (QC/YRN/300) **
  27. The Mountain Goats: Goths (Merge) **
  28. The National: Sleep Well Beast (4AD) **
  29. New Order: NOMC15 (Pledge Music, 2CD) **
  30. The New Pornographers: Whiteout Conditions (Collected Works/Concord) **
  31. North Mississippi Allstars: Prayer for Peace (Legacy) **
  32. Old 97's: Graveyard Whistling (ATO) **
  33. Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark: The Punishment of Luxury (White Noise) **
  34. Paramore: After Laughter (Fueled by Ramen) **
  35. The Paranoid Style: Underworld USA (Bar/None, EP) **
  36. Princess Nokia: 1992 Deluxe (Rough Trade) **
  37. Protomartyr: Relatives in Descent (Domino) **
  38. Public Enemy: Nothing Is Quick in the Desert (Enemy) **
  39. Whitney Rose: South Texas Suite (Six Shooter, EP) **
  40. Saint Etienne: Home Counties (Heavenly) **
  41. Shabazz Palaces: Quazarz: Born on a Gangster Star (Sub Pop) **
  42. Shakira: El Dorado (Sony Latin Music) **
  43. Sarah Shook & the Disarmers: Sidelong (Bloodshot) **
  44. Sleaford Mods: English Tapas (Rough Trade) **
  45. Spoon: Hot Thoughts (Matador) **
  46. Mavis Staples: If All I Was Was Black (Anti-) **
  47. Chris Stapleton: From a Room: Volume 1 (Mercury Nashville) **
  48. Stik Figa: Central Standard Time (Mello Music Group) **
  49. Sunny Sweeney: Trophy (Aunt Daddy) **
  50. Fred Thomas: Changer (Polyvinyl) **
  51. Vieux Farka Touré: Samba (Six Degrees) **
  52. Charli XCX: Pop 2 (Asylum) **
  53. Young Thug: Beautiful Thugger Girls (300/Atlantic) **
  54. Zeal & Ardor: Devil Is Fine (MKVA) **

Also added the following 2016 albums after freezing the 2016 year-end file:

  1. Autolux: Pussy\'s Dead (30th Century/Columbia) **
  2. CupcakKe: Audacious (self-released) **
  3. Fantastic Negrito: The Last Days of Oakland (Blackball Universe) **
  4. Injury Reserve: Floss (Las Fuegas) **
  5. Kano: Made in the Manor (Parlophone) **
  6. Randy Newman: The Randy Newman Songbook Vol. 3 (Nonesuch) **
  7. Renegades of Jazz: Moyo Wangu (Agogo) **
  8. Snakehips: All My Friends EP (Sony Music, EP) **

Reissues/Historic Music

The standard for historic music is a record where everything was recorded 10+ years ago, regardless of whether it's ever been in print before. Some past lists may have treated previously unreleased music as new (regardless of actual age), but I've never been able to manage that distinction consistently. This category also includes compilations of previously released music, including straight reissues, although my selection is very erratic.

1. American Epic: The Collection (1916-36, Third Man/Columbia/Legacy, 5CD)
The flagship, a box set tied to a documentary exploring a wide range of pre-WWII American music, country-folk and blues and Latino and Hawaiian and Native American but eschewing pop and jazz -- you get Ma Rainey but no Bessie Smith, Jimmie Rodgers with a cornet not Louis Armstrong. Although the dates spread out a bit, more than 90% fall within 1926-31 -- the two earlier cuts are solo fiddle pieces, the late ones blues so classic they seem older (Leadbelly, Robert Johnson). Closer, that is, to Harry Smith's purist Anthology of American Folk Music than it is to Allen Lowe's broader and deeper 9-CD American Pop. Eleven duplicates from Smith, but I recognize more songs than that as classic, and more still I didn't know at all. Comes in a hardcover book with song-by-song annotation.

2. American Epic: The Soundtrack (Columbia/Third Man/Legacy)
Tied into a three-part PBS program on the early recording history of American music, which the labels plan on expanding to a whole cottage industry, this being the most select, most succinct product: 15 songs [14 on Napster, dropping "Jole Blon"], all stone cold classics, skewed toward an oft-overlooked diversity (not just blues and country but Latin, Cajun, Hawaiian, and Native American -- but no jazz), expertly remastered. Too short, especially compared to the voluminous treasure troves Harry Smith and Allen Lowe have compiled, and I don't yet have an opinion on the series' 5-CD box set. But extraordinary. Maybe America was indeed once great. **

3. The Rough Guide to Jug Band Blues (1920s-30s, World Music Network)
I should track down these dates -- always a problem with this label, but at least it's possible with old blues, unlike much world music -- but this does a nice job of rounding up a coherent style, highlighted by outfits like the Memphis Sheiks, Cannon's Jug Stompers, the Memphis Jug Band, and various bigger names backed by Jug Bands (Tampa Red, Memphis Minnie, Jimmie Rodgers). **

4. The Rough Guide to Hillbilly Blues (1920s-30s, World Music Network)
As with the Jug Band Blues compilation below, this strong compilation of white country blues includes a handful of fairly well known pieces and a lot of background context, perfect for beginners, sufficient for most (although certainly not the last you need to hear from Jimmie Rodgers or Charlie Poole). **

5. Ladies & Gentlemen: The Rolling Stones (1972, Eagle Rock)
Key line (from Wikipedia): "The film was sold by The Rolling Stones as a tax-incentive based venture capital investment." Film cut from four 1972 concerts, no songs older than 1968, the concept was that by setting theaters up with a new-fangled quadraphonic sound system viewers would feel like they're in the middle of a 10,000 seat arena. In 2010 it was remastered in HD digital and "shown in select theaters." Of course, nowadays it's just streamable product, probably consumed alone on a phone or tablet. Still, this was when they started referring to themselves as "the world's greatest" and at the time the boast seemed credible. **

6. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever: Talk Tight (2015, Sub Pop, EP)
Australian group, first of two EPs -- this one 7 songs, 28:59, released in Australia in 2015 with "C.F." spelled out as Coastal Fever. Picked up along with the follow-up by an American alt-indie label. They sustain their 4-minute average with ringing altish guitars, then for a change of pace do a nifty Go-Betweens impression. **

7. American Epic: The Best of Country (1927-34, Third Man/Columbia/Legacy)
Same deal, sixteen cuts, only one later than 1930. Given the series' folk focus, these early cuts stay clear of the Smithsonian's canonical Classic Country Music -- only three artists in common, two (Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers) represented here with their first 1928 Bristol sessions. (The third is Uncle Dave Bacon, although comparing the lists I have to wonder how Gid Tanner and Riley Puckett missed here, and Clarence Ashley and Charlie Poole missed there.) So I find this more useful than The Best of Blues, although the integration forced on the box is better still. **

8. Professor Rhythm: Bafana Bafana (1995, Awesome Tapes From Africa)
Thami Mdluli, from South Africa, started making instrumental albums (mostly synths) around 1985, a sort of township jive meets house music which may or may not be related to kwaito (introduced to the US in Earthworks' Kwaito: South African Hip Hop (2000). Actually sound more like disco to me, or perhaps I should say what "African disco" should sound like? Seroiusly upbeat, ecstatic even. **

9. Now That's What I Call 90s Pop (UMG/Sony)
Part of a vast sampler series, the label a joint venture between the two megacorps dominating an industry where creativity has always flowed in from the margins. I've never bothered with their annuals, but having a whole decade to work with here, they make a case for "trickle up." The 1990s were the decade when I finally turned from pop music to new jazz and a systematic dive into old country-blues-pop, so I doubt if I actually own more than a handful of these 18 hits -- "Whatta Man," "Poison," "Gonna Make You Sweat" -- although there are other famous earworms like "MMMBop" and "Livin' La Vida Loca." Cover touts this as "The Ultimate 90s Pop Hits Collection" but that just shows the limits of corporate grasp. It wouldn't be hard to pick out a superior '90s pop mixtape, but this winds up being useful -- the now obscure exceptions that prove the rule. **

10. Hamad Kalkaba and the Golden Sounds 1974-1975 (Analog Africa)
From northern Cameroon, both sides of all three singles Kalkaba released. Starts super bouncy, a kind of roughed up take on highlife called gandjal. Barely slows down after that, ending too soon at 27:33. **

11. Andina: The Sound of the Peruvian Andes 1968-1978 (Tiger's Milk/Strut)
Cover notes "Huayno, Carnaval & Cumbia" -- the latter a style associated with Colombia, something I would have thought more common in coastal Lima than the isolated backbone of the country. But the Incan civilization was centered in the Andes, so what do I know? Starts off remarkably upbeat and plays off that in various ways, some corny, which just adds to the fun. **

12. Anna Domino: East and West + Singles (1984, Les Disques du Crépuscle)
Singer-songwriter, an army brat born in Tokyo, grew up in Ann Arbor, Firenze, and Toronto before winding up in New York and getting signed to a Belgian label. Hard to peg. Christgau tried "hypnotic with no cosmic aspirations." CD reissue adds three increasingly catchy singles and a demo to the five-cut debut EP, getting us to a respectable 38:19. [**]

Also added the following 2016 albums after freezing the 2016 year-end file:

1. Boombox: Early Independent Hip Hop, Electro and Disco Rap 1979-82 (Soul Jazz, 2CD)
No prehistory here -- nothing antedates "Rapper's Delight," the only names I know are Spoonie Gee and the Treacherous Three. More imitation than innovation, but as a collection of party rhymes this is hard to beat. **

2. New Orleans Funk Vol. 4: Voodoo Fire in New Orleans 1951-77 (Soul Jazz)
First New Orleans Funk volume came out in 2000. I thought it was terrific when I reviewed it in Recycled Goods, but didn't notice later volumes until this one. Mixed bag, but the high points are revelations, and the rest is pretty hopped up. The exception in many ways -- among them the only song I recognize, is James Waynes' "Junco Partner" (one of those highlights, perhaps my favorite version ever). **

3. Meridian Brothers V: El Advenimiento del Castillo Mujer (2005, Discrepant)
Vinyl reissue of the Colombian group's first album, recorded in Copenhagen by "core member" Eblis Alvarez, "abstract folk music" sounding remarkably disjointed -- recommended especially to fans of Tom Zé. **
4. Count Ossie and the Mystic Revelation of Rastafari: Tales of Mozambique (1970-75, Soul Jazz)
Born Oswald Williams (1926-76), he was one of the innovators of nyabinghi, a primitivist hand drumming style wrapped up in the Rastafari cult. His drumming with chants and the occasional horn are simple and seductive. **

Honorable Mention

Additional non-jazz rated B+(***), listed alphabetically.

  1. American Epic: The Best of Blues (1927-36, Third Man/Columbia/Legacy) **
  2. Mulatu Astatke: Mulatu of Ethiopia (1972, Strut) **
  3. Boombox 2: Early Independent Hip Hop Electro and Disco Rap 1979-83 (Soul Jazz) **
  4. Dancehall: The Rise of Jamaican Dancehall Culture (1977-93, Soul Jazz, 2CD) **
  5. James Luther Dickinson: I'm Just Dead I'm Not Gone (Lazarus Edition) (2006, Memphis International) **
  6. Don Drummond: Don Cosmic (1960-65, Studio One) **
  7. Gentle Giants: The Songs of Don Williams (Slate Creek) **
  8. Joe King Kologbo & the High Grace: Sugar Daddy (1980, Strut) **
  9. Hayes McMullan: Everyday Seem Like Murder Here (1967-68, Light in the Attic) **
  10. Miracle Steps: Music From the Fourth World 1983-2017 (Optimo) **
  11. Motörhead: Under Cöver (1992-2014, Silver Lining Music) **
  12. John Prine: September 78 (Oh Boy) **
  13. The Revelators: We Told You Not to Cross Us [20th Anniversary Edition] (1997, Crypt) **
  14. The Rough Guide to the Music of West Africa (World Music Network) **
  15. Sheer Mag: Compilation (2014-16, Wilsuns RC) **
  16. Sweet as Broken Dates: Lost Somali Tapes From the Horn of Africa (1969-2002, Ostinato) **
  17. Bro. Valentino: Stay Up Zimbabwe (1979-80, Analog Africa, EP) **
  18. Neil Young: Hitchhiker (1976, Reprise) **

Also added the following 2016 albums after freezing the 2016 year-end file:

  1. Mose Allison: I\'m Not Talkin\': The Soul Stylings of Mose Allison 1957-1971 (BGP) **
  2. Bitori: Legend of Funana: The Forbidden Music of the Cape Verde Islands (1997, Analog Africa) **
  3. The Hamilton Mixtape (Atlantic) **
  4. Punk 45: Les Punks: The French Connection: The First Wave of French Punk 1977-80 (Soul Jazz) **

Notes

Additional new non-jazz records rated B+(**) or below (listed alphabetically by artist).

  1. 2 Chainz: Pretty Girls Like Trap Music (Def Jam) ** [B+(*)]
  2. 21 Savage: Issa Album (Slaughter Gang/Epic) ** [B+(*)]
  3. 21 Savage/Offset/Metro Boomin: Without Warning (Epic) ** [B+(*)]
  4. Ryan Adams: Prisoner (Blue Note) ** [B+(*)]
  5. Actress: AZD (Ninja Tune) ** [B+(*)]
  6. Fatima Al Qadiri: Shaneera (Hyperdub, EP) ** [B]
  7. Algiers: The Underside of Power (Matador) ** [B-]
  8. Alvvays: Antisocialites (Polyvinyl) ** [B+(**)]
  9. Chino Amobi: Paradiso (NON) ** [B]
  10. Arca (XL) ** [B]
  11. Nicole Atkins: Goodnight Rhonda Lee (Single Lock) ** [B]
  12. Cardi B: Gangsta Bitch Music Vol. 2 (KSR) ** [B+(*)]
  13. Julien Baker: Turn Out the Lights (Matador) ** [B]
  14. Banda Magda: Tigre (GroundUP Music) ** [B+(*)]
  15. Bardo Pond: Under the Pines (Fire) ** [B]
  16. Bargou 08: Targ (Glitterbeat) ** [B+(*)]
  17. Courtney Barnett/Kurt Vile: Lotta Sea Lice (Matador) ** [B+(*)]
  18. William Basinski: A Shadow in Time (Temporary Residence) ** [B]
  19. Beck: Colors (Capitol) ** [B]
  20. Bibio: Phantom Brickworks (Warp) ** [B]
  21. Bicep: Bicep (Ninja Tune) ** [B+(**)]
  22. Big Thief: Capacity (Saddle Creek) ** [B+(**)]
  23. Scott H. Biram: The Bad Testament (Bloodshot) ** [B+(**)]
  24. Black Lips: Satan's Graffiti or God's Art (Vice) ** [B+(*)]
  25. Bleachers: Gone Now (RCA) ** [B+(*)]
  26. Blondie: Pollinator (BMG) ** [B]
  27. Blushh + Maddie Ross: Split (self-released, EP) ** [B+(**)]
  28. Bomba Estereo: Ayo (Sony Music Latin) ** [B+(**)]
  29. Brand New: Science Fiction (Procrastinate! Music Traitors) ** [B]
  30. Phoebe Bridgers: Stranger in the Alps (Dead Oceans) ** [B+(*)]
  31. Brockhampton: Saturation (Question Everything/Empire) ** [B+(*)]
  32. Brockhampton: Saturation II (Question Everything/Empire) ** [B+(**)]
  33. Brockhampton: Saturation III (Question Everything/Empire) ** [B+(**)]
  34. Action Bronson: Blue Chips 7000 (Vice/Atlantic) ** [B+(**)]
  35. Brother Ali: All the Beauty in This Whole Life (Rhymesayers) ** [B+(**)]
  36. The Brother Brothers: Tugboats E.P. (self-released, EP) ** [B-]
  37. Don Bryant: Don't Give Up on Love (Fat Possum) ** [B+(*)]
  38. Bully: Losing (Sub Pop) ** [B+(**)]
  39. Burial: Subtemple/Beachfires (Hyperdub, EP) ** [B]
  40. Julie Byrne: Not Even Happiness (Ba Da Bing) ** [B+(**)]
  41. Daniel Caesar: Freudian (Golden Child) ** [B+(*)]
  42. Loyle Carner: Yesterday's Gone (AMF) ** [B]
  43. Playboi Carti (AWGE/Interscope) ** [B+(*)]
  44. Cashmere Cat: 9 (Mad Love/Interscope) ** [B+(*)]
  45. Charly Bliss: Guppy (Barsuk) ** [B+(**)]
  46. Chastity Belt: I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone (Hardly Art) ** [B+(*)]
  47. Chicano Batman: Freedom Is Free (ATO) ** [B-]
  48. Tyler Childers: Purgatory (Hickman Holler) ** [B+(**)]
  49. Chronixx: Chronology (Soul Circle Music/Virgin) ** [B+(*)]
  50. Cleric: Resurrection (Figure, EP) ** [B+(*)]
  51. Cleric: Retrocausal (Web of Memory) ** [B-]
  52. Cloud Nothings: Life Without Sound (Carpark) ** [B+(**)]
  53. Amber Coffman: City of No Reply (Columbia) ** [B+(**)]
  54. The Courtneys: II (Flying Nun) ** [B+(**)]
  55. Rose Cousins: Natural Conclusion (Old Farm Pony) ** [B]
  56. Allison Crutchfield: Tourist in This Town (Merge) ** [B+(**)]
  57. CunninLynguists: Rose Azura Njano (A Piece of Strange Music/RBC) ** [B+(**)]
  58. CupcakKe: Queen Elizabitch (self-released) ** [B+(**)]
  59. Miley Cyrus: Younger Now (RCA) ** [B+(*)]
  60. Pan Daijing: Lack (Pan) ** [B-]
  61. Damaged Bug: Bunker Funk (Castle Face) ** [B]
  62. Richard Dawson: Peasant (Domino) ** [B]
  63. The Deslondes: Hurry Home (New West) ** [B]
  64. Dirty Projectors (Domino) ** [C]
  65. Fabiano Do Nascimento: Tempo dos Mestres (Now-Again) ** [B+(**)]
  66. Dalton Domino: Corners (Lightning Rod) ** [B+(**)]
  67. Downtown Boys: Cost of Living (Sub Pop) ** [B+(**)]
  68. Drake: More Life (Young Money/Cash Money) ** [B+(*)]
  69. Bob Dylan: Triplicate (Columbia, 3CD): ** [C+]
  70. Open Mike Eagle: Brick Body Kids Still Daydream (Mello Music Group) ** [B+(**)]
  71. Justin Townes Earle: Kids in the Street (New West) ** [B+(**)]
  72. EMA: Exile in the Outer Ring (City Slang) ** [B+(**)]
  73. Brian Eno: Reflection (Warp) ** [B+(**)]
  74. The Fall: New Facts Emerge (Cherry Red) ** [B+(*)]
  75. Erica Falls: Home Grown (self-released) ** [B+(**)]
  76. The Feelies: In Between (Bar/None) ** [B+(**)]
  77. Feist: Pleasure (Interscope) ** [B]
  78. Filthy Friends: Invitation (Kill Rock Stars) ** [B+(*)]
  79. Fleet Foxes: Crack-Up (Nonesuch) ** [C+]
  80. Floating Points: Reflections - Mojave Desert (Luaka Bop) ** [B+(*)]
  81. Billy Flynn: Lonesome Highway (Delmark) ** [B]
  82. Forest Swords: Compassion (Ninja Tune) ** [B-]
  83. Four Tet: New Energy (Text) ** [B+(**)]
  84. Future: HNDRXX (Epic/A1/Freebandz) ** [B+(**)]
  85. Future (Epic/A1/Freebandz) ** [B+(**)]
  86. Future & Young Thug: Super Slimey (Epic/300/Atlantic) ** [B+(*)]
  87. Future Islands: The Far Field (4AD) ** [B+(*)]
  88. (Sandy) Alex G: Rocket (Domino) ** [B]
  89. Charlotte Gainsbourg: Rest (Because Music) ** [B+(**)]
  90. Lee Gamble: Mnestic Pressure (Hyperdub) ** [B+(*)]
  91. Gabriel Garzón-Montano: Jardin (Stones Throw) ** [B]
  92. Gas: Narkopop (Kompakt) ** [B]
  93. Howe Gelb: Future Standards (Fire) ** [B+(*)]
  94. Ghostpoet: Dark Days + Canapes (Play It Again Sam) ** [B+(**)]
  95. Freddie Gibbs: You Only Live 2wice (ESGN/Empire) ** [B+(**)]
  96. Rhiannon Giddens: Freedom Highway (Nonesuch) ** [B+(**)]
  97. Perfect Giddimani: Live My Life Again (Giddimani) ** [B+(*)]
  98. Girlpool: Powerplant (Anti-) ** [B]
  99. Gogol Bordello: Seekers and Finders (Cooking Vinyl) ** [B+(**)]
  100. Goldfrapp: Silver Eye (Mute) ** [B+(*)]
  101. Grandaddy: Last Place (30th Century/Columbia) ** [B+(**)]
  102. Tee Grizzley: My Moment (300/Atlantic) ** [B+(*)]
  103. Haim: Something to Tell You (Columbia) ** [B+(**)]
  104. Laurel Halo: Dust (Hyperdub) ** [B+(*)]
  105. Marika Hackman: I'm Not Your Man (Sub Pop) ** [B+(**)]
  106. Halsey: Hopeless Fountain Kingdom (Astralwerks) ** [B+(**)]
  107. Aldous Harding: Party (4AD) ** [B]
  108. Calvin Harris: Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1 (Fly Eye/Columbia) ** [B+(*)]
  109. H. Hawkline: I Romanticize (Heavenly) ** [B]
  110. Wade Hayes: Old Country Song (Conabor) ** [B]
  111. Paul Heaton + Jacqui Abbott: Crooked Calypso (Virgin EMI) ** [B+(*)]
  112. Tim Heidecker: Too Dumb for Suicide: Tim Heidecker\'s Trump Songs (Jagjaguwar) ** [B]
  113. Natalie Hemby: Puxico (GetWrucke) ** [B+(**)]
  114. Emily Herring: Gliding (Eight 30) ** [B]
  115. Lilly Hiatt: Trinity Lane (New West) ** [B+(**)]
  116. Dylan Hicks: Ad Out (Soft Launch) ** [B+(**)]
  117. Robyn Hitchcock (Yep Roc) ** [B+(*)]
  118. Homeboy Sandman: Veins (Stones Throw, EP) ** [B+(**)]
  119. Hurray for the Riff Raff: The Navigator (ATO) ** [B+(*)]
  120. J Hus: Common Sense (Black Butter/Epic) ** [B+(**)]
  121. Ibeyi: Ash (XL) ** [B+(*)]
  122. Ibibio Sound Machine: Uyai (Merge) ** [B+(**)]
  123. Japandroids: Near to the Wild Heart of Life (Anti-) ** [B+(**)]
  124. Japanese Breakfast: Soft Sounds From Another Planet (Dead Oceans) ** [B+(**)]
  125. Jay-Z: 4:44 (Roc Nation) ** [B+(**)]
  126. Garland Jeffreys: 14 Steps to Harlem (Luna Park) ** [B+(*)]
  127. The Jesus and Mary Chain: Damage and Joy (ADA/Warner) ** [B+(**)]
  128. Jlin: Black Origami (Planet Mu) ** [B+(**)]
  129. Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings: Soul of a Woman (Daptone) ** [B+(*)]
  130. Jupiter & Okwess: Kin Sonic (Glitterbeat) ** [B+(**)]
  131. Kasai Allstars & Orchestre Symphonique Kimbanguiste: Around Félicité (Crammed Discs) ** [B+(**)]
  132. Kasai Allstars: Félicité Remixes (Crammed Discs) ** [B+(*)]
  133. Kehlani: SweetSexySavage (Atlantic) ** [B+(*)]
  134. Kelela: Take Me Apart (Warp) ** [B+(**)]
  135. Kesha: Rainbow (Kemosabe/RCA) ** [B+(*)]
  136. The Koreatown Oddity: Finna Be Past Tense (Stones Throw) ** [B+(**)]
  137. King Krule: The OOZ (True Panther Sounds) ** [B]
  138. Pierre Kwenders: Makanda at the End of Space, the Beginning of Time (Bonsound) ** [B+(*)]
  139. Steve Lacy: Steve Lacy's Demo (Three Quarter, EP) ** [B]
  140. Zara Larsson: So Good (Epic/TEN) ** [B+(**)]
  141. LCD Soundsystem: American Dream (DFA/Columbia) ** [B+(**)]
  142. Les Filles De Illighadad: Eghass Malan (Sahelsounds) ** [B+(**)]
  143. Mr. Lif & Brass Menazeri: Resilient (Waxsimile) ** [B+(*)]
  144. Lil Uzi Vert: Luv Is Rage 2 (Atlantic) ** [B+(*)]
  145. Dua Lipa: Dua Lipa (Warner Brothers) ** [B+(**)]
  146. L'Orange: The Ordinary Man (Mello Music Group) ** [B+(**)]
  147. Low Cut Connie: "Dirty Pictures" (Part 1) (Contender) ** [B]
  148. Luka Productions: Fasokan (Sahel Sounds) ** [B+(**)]
  149. Mad Professor/Jah9: Mad Professor Meets Jah9 in the Midst of the Storm (VP) ** [B+(**)]
  150. The Magnetic Fields: 50 Song Memoir (Nonesuch, 5CD) ** [B-]
  151. Taj Mahal & Keb' Mo': TajMo (Concord) ** [B]
  152. Manchester Orchestra: A Black Mile to the Surface (Loma Vista) ** [B]
  153. Aimee Mann: Mental Illness (SuperEgo) ** [B+(*)]
  154. Roc Marciano: Rosebudd's Revenge (Quality Control/300/Atlantic) ** [B+(**)]
  155. Laura Marling: Semper Femina (More Alarming) ** [B+(*)]
  156. Spoek Mathambo: Mzansi Beat Code (TEKA) ** [B+(*)]
  157. JD McPherson: Undivided Heart & Soul (New West) ** [B+(*)]
  158. Vic Mensa: The Autobiography (Roc Nation) ** [B-]
  159. Tift Merritt: Stitch of the World (Yep Roc) ** [B+(*)]
  160. Michete: Cool Tricks 3 (self-released, EP) ** [B]
  161. Miguel: War & Leisure (ByStorm/RCA) ** [B+(*)]
  162. MIKE: May God Bless Your Hustle (self-released) ** [B+(**)]
  163. Father John Misty: Pure Comedy (Sub Pop) ** [B-]
  164. Mdou Moctar: Sousoume Tamachek (Sahel Sounds) ** [B+(*)]
  165. Modern Mal: The Misanthrope Family Album (Mal) ** [B+(*)]
  166. Mokoomba: Luyando (OutHere) ** [B]
  167. Juana Molina: Halo (Crammed Discs) ** [B+(*)]
  168. The Moonlandingz: Interplanetary Class Classics (Transgressive) ** [B]
  169. Thurston Moore: Rock N Roll Consciousness (Caroline) ** [B+(*)]
  170. Gurf Morlix: The Soul & the Heal (Rootball) ** [B+(**)]
  171. Mount Eerie: A Crow Looked at Me (PW Elverum & Sun) ** [B+(*)]
  172. Mount Kimbie: Love What Survives (Warp) ** [B]
  173. Lorrie Morgan/Pam Tillis: Come See Me & Come Lonely< (Goldenlane) ** [B+(**)]
  174. Van Morrison: Roll With the Punches (Caroline) ** [B]
  175. Van Morrison: Versatile (Legacy) ** [B+(*)]
  176. MUNA: About U (RCA) ** [B+(*)]
  177. Mura Masa (Polydor) ** [B+(*)]
  178. Murs: Captain California (Strange Music) ** [B+(**)]
  179. Willie Nelson: God's Problem Child (Legacy) ** [B+(**)]
  180. NERD: No One Ever Really Dies (I Am Other/Columbia) ** [B+(**)]
  181. Nnamdi Ogbonnaya: Drool (Father/Daughter/Sooper) ** [B-]
  182. Zephaniah OHora & the 18 Wheelers: This Highway (MRI) ** [B+(**)]
  183. Kelly Lee Owens (Smalltown Supersound) ** [B]
  184. Oxbow: Thin Black Duke (Hydra Head) ** [B+(*)]
  185. Ozomatli: Non-Stop: Mexico to Jamaica (Cleopatra) ** [B+(*)]
  186. Brad Paisley: Love and War (Arista Nashville) ** [B]
  187. Perfume Genius: No Shape (Matador) ** [B-]
  188. Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band: Front Porch Sessions (Family Owned) ** [B+(**)]
  189. Allison Pierce: Year of the Rabbit (Masterworks) ** [B]
  190. Pink: Beautiful Trauma (RCA) ** [B+(**)]
  191. Awa Poulo: Poulo Warali (Awesome Tapes From Africa) ** [B+(**)]
  192. Margo Price: All American Made (Third Man) ** [B+(**)]
  193. Priests: Nothing Feels Natural (Sister Polygon) ** [B+(*)]
  194. Chuck Prophet: Bobby Fuller Died for Your Sins (Yep Roc) ** [B+(*)]
  195. Queens of the Stone Age: Villains (Matador) ** [B]
  196. Quelle Chris: Being You Is Great, I Wish I Could Be You More Often (Mello Music Group) ** [B-]
  197. Rag'n'Bone Man: Human (Columbia) ** [B-]
  198. Lee Ranaldo: Electric Trim (Mute) ** [B+(*)]
  199. Rapsody: Laila's Wisdom (Def Jam) ** [B+(**)]
  200. Rashad: #LevelUp (Self Made) ** [B+(**)]
  201. Real Estate: In Mind (Domino) ** [B]
  202. Nadia Reid: Preservation (Basin Rock) ** [B+(*)]
  203. The Regrettes: Feel Your Feelings Fool! (Warner Brothers) ** [B+(**)]
  204. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever: The French Press (Sub Pop, EP) ** [B+(**)]
  205. Whitney Rose: Rule 62 (Six Shooter) ** [B+(**)]
  206. Rostam: Half-Light (Nonesuch) ** [B+(**)]
  207. Mark Rubin, Jew of Oklahoma: Songs for the Hangman's Daughter (Rubinchik) ** [B+(**)]
  208. The Sadies: Northern Passages (Yep Roc) ** [B+(*)]
  209. Ryuichi Sakamoto: Async (Milan) ** [B+(*)]
  210. Sampha: Process (Young Turks) ** [B+(*)]
  211. Romeo Santos: Golden (Sony Latin) ** [B+(*)]
  212. A. Savage: Thawing Dawn (Dull Tools) ** [B+(*)]
  213. Rina Sawayama: Rina (The Vinyl Factory, EP) ** [B-]
  214. Rev. Sekou: In Times Like These (Zent) ** [B-]
  215. Serengeti: Jueles/Butterflies (self-released) ** [B+(*)]
  216. Shabazz Palaces: Quazarz vs. the Jealous Machines (Sub Pop) ** [B+(**)]
  217. Nadine Shah: Holiday Destination (1965) ** [B+(*)]
  218. Sheer Mag: Need to Feel Your Love (Static Shock) ** [B+(**)]
  219. The Shins: Heartworms (Columbia) ** [B+(*)]
  220. Shinyribs: I Got Your Medicine (Mustard Lid) ** [B+(*)]
  221. ShitKid: EP 2 (PNKSLM, EP) ** [B]
  222. ShitKid: Fish (PNKSLM) ** [B+(*)]
  223. Skyzoo: Peddler Themes (First Generation Rich/Empire, EP) ** [B+(**)]
  224. Sleater-Kinney: Live in Paris (Sub Pop) ** [B+(*)]
  225. Slowdive (Dead Oceans) ** [B+(*)]
  226. Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith: The Kid (Western Vinyl) ** [B]
  227. Sneaks: It's a Myth (Merge, EP) ** [B+(*)]
  228. Jay Som: Everybody Works (Polyvinyl) ** [B+(*)]
  229. Songhoy Blues: Résistance (Fat Possum) ** [B+(**)]
  230. Sorority Noise: You're Not as ___ as You Think (Triple Crown) ** [B+(**)]
  231. Spellling: Pantheon of Me (self-released) ** [B]
  232. Mavis Staples: I'll Take You There: An All-Star Concert Celebration (Blackbird Production Partners, 2CD) ** [B+(**)]
  233. Vince Staples: Big Fish Theory (Def Jam) ** [B+(**)]
  234. Chris Stapleton: From a Room: Volume 2 (Mercury Nashville) ** [B+(**)]
  235. Stormzy: Gang Signs & Prayer (Merky) ** [B+(*)]
  236. Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives: Way Out West (Superlatone) ** [B]
  237. Moses Sumney: Aromanticism (Jagjaguwar) ** [B+(*)]
  238. Taylor Swift: Reputation (Big Machine) ** [B+(**)]
  239. SZA: Ctrl (Top Dawg/RCA) ** [B+(**)]
  240. Tamikrest: Kidal (Glitterbeat) ** [B+(**)]
  241. Thundercat: Drunk (Brainfeeder) ** [B+(*)]
  242. Thurst: Cut to the Chafe (self-released) ** [B+(**)]
  243. Traxman: Tekvision (Teklife) ** [B-]
  244. Tricky: Ununiform (False Idols) ** [B+(*)]
  245. Trio Da Kali and Kronos Quartet: Ladilikan (World Circuit) ** [B+(*)]
  246. Turnpike Troubadours: A Long Way From Your Heart (Bossier City) ** [B]
  247. Ty Dolla Sign: Beach House 3 (Atlantic) ** [B+(*)]
  248. Tyler, the Creator: Flower Boy (Odd Future/Columbia) ** [B]
  249. Vagabon: Infinite Worlds (Father/Daughter) ** [B+(*)]
  250. Valerie June: The Order of Time (Concord) ** [B+(**)]
  251. Valley Queen: Destroyer (self-released, EP) ** [B-]
  252. Ecca Vandal (Dew Process) ** [B+(**)]
  253. The War on Drugs: A Deeper Understanding (Atlantic) ** [B]
  254. Wiki: No Mountains in Manhattan (XL) ** [B+(**)]
  255. Wire: Silver/Lead (Pinkflag) ** [B+(*)]
  256. Wizkid: Sounds From the Other Side (Starboy/RCA) ** [B+(**)]
  257. Lee Ann Womack: The Lonely, the Lonesome & the Gone (ATO) ** [B+(**)]
  258. Wooden Wand: Clipper Ship (Three Lobed) ** [B]
  259. Jane Weaver: Modern Kosmology (Fire) ** [B+(*)]
  260. Wolf Alice: Visions of a Life (Dirty Hit) ** [B+(*)]
  261. Roy Woods: Say Less (OVO Sound/Warner Brothers) ** [B+(**)]
  262. Charlie Worsham: Beginning of Things (Warner Bros. Nashville) ** [B]
  263. Jaime Wyatt: Felony Blues (Forty Below, EP) ** [B+(*)]
  264. Neil Young + Promise of the Real: The Visitor (Reprise) ** [B]
  265. Msafiri Zawose: Uhamiaji (Soundway) ** [B+(*)]
  266. Zola Jesus: Okovi (Sacred Bones) ** [B]

Additional reissued/archival non-jazz records rated B+(**) or below (listed alphabetically by artist).

  1. Acetone: 1992-2001 (Light in the Attic) ** [B]
  2. Vincent Ahehehinnou: Best Woman (1978, Analog Africa) ** [B+(**)]
  3. Otim Alpha: Gulu City Anthems (2004-15, Nyege Nyege) ** [B]
  4. Battle Hymns (Quasi Band) ** [B+(**)]
  5. The Bob's Burgers Music Album (Sub Pop, 2CD) ** [B+(*)]
  6. Chévere (Parma) [B]
  7. Deutsche Elektronische Musik 3: Experimental German Rock and Electronic Music 1971-81 (Soul Jazz, 2CD) ** [B+(*)]
  8. Dion: Kickin' Child: The Lost Album 1965 (Norton) ** [C-]
  9. Los Camaroes: Resurrection Los Vol. 1 (1976, Analog Africa) ** [C+(**)]
  10. Mono No Aware (Pan) ** [B+(*)]
  11. Willie Nelson: Willie's Stash Vol 2: Willie Nelson and the Boys (2011-12, Legacy) ** [B+(*)]
  12. Now That's What I Call Tailgate Anthems (1975-2016, Sony Music Entertainment) ** [B+(*)]
  13. Oté Maloya: The Birth of Electric Maloya on Réunion Island 1975-1986 (Strut) ** [B+(*)]
  14. Outro Tempo: Electronic and Contemporary Music From Brazil, 1978-1992 (Music From Memory) ** [B+(*)]
  15. Hermeto Pascoal & Grupo Vice Versa: Viajando Com O Som: The Lost 1976 Vice Versa Studio Sessions (Far Out) ** [B+(**)]
  16. Pop Makossa: The Invasive Dance Beat of Cameroon 1976-1984 (Analog Africa) ** [B+(*)]
  17. The Replacements: For Sale: Live at Maxwell's 1986 (Rhino, 2CD) ** [B+(**)]
  18. The Rolling Stones: Some Girls: Live in Texas '78 (Eagle Rock) ** [B+(**)]
  19. The Rolling Stones: Totally Stripped: Paris (1995, Eagle Rock) ** [B+(**)]
  20. The Rolling Stones: On Air (1963-65, Interscope) ** [B+(**)]
  21. The Rolling Stones: Live 1965: Music From Charlie Is My Darling (1965, ABKCO) ** [B+(**)]
  22. The Rolling Stones: Sticky Fingers Live at the Fonda Theater 2015 (Eagle Rock) ** [B+(*)]
  23. Space, Energy & Light: Expermental Electronic and Acoustic Soundscapes 1961-88 (Soul Jazz) ** [B+(**)]
  24. Shina Williams & His African Percussionists: Agboju Logun (1984, Strut, EP) ** [B+(*)]
  25. Allen Ravenstine + Albert Dennis: >Terminal Drive (1975, Smog Veil, EP) ** [B]
  26. Umoja: 707 (1988, Awesome Tapes From Africa, EP) ** [B+(**)]
  27. Zaïre 74: The African Artists (Wrasse, 2CD) ** [B+(**)]

New non-jazz records I haven't heard estimated to have a 2% (or better) chance of making the A-list if/when I finally hear them:

Reissued non-jazz records I haven't heard estimated to have a 2% (or better) chance of making the A-list if/when I finally hear them: