The first three months of 2017 gave us plenty to dive into and take our attention away from the rat race of American politics and monotony of daily life.  There’s tons of stuff to cover and not everyone is going to want to listen to everything I include on this list so I’m dividing the releases into three sections.

The first group is going to consist of the albums that I liked the most (makes sense right?) These works are all super solid and should be played from front to back to get the full experience. All will be in the running for my annual “Albums of the Year” list.

The second category is composed of albums that have good songs on them scattered throughout but weren’t immaculate enough as a whole to make the top category.  Or, more often than not, they just don’t encompass the genre(s) I listen to the most.  Still good works overall though!

The third and final section is made up of more obscure sounds as well as albums I have yet to explore deeply.  In fantasy sports terms, these are the sleepers.  If you’ve liked artists from the top two categories and want to peep this one as well, then by all means explore these deep cuts.

Now, here’s my never-ending reminder that music is subjective.  There was plenty of stuff that I didn’t include on here.  Additionally, every artist is featured for a reason so being in the third category isn’t meant to be a knock on any them. Hope ya find something you like!

Group A

The Menzingers – After the Party


Genre: Punk / Heartland Rock
Release Date: February 3rd

No longer in their twenties, the Pennsylvania band wrote songs that reflect back upon their youth and come to terms with no longer being irresponsible kids anymore. Though lacking the grit of older albums like fan-favorite The Impossible Past, there are no dull spots on the album. With plenty of catchy vocal hooks and guitar licks, this is a very good album that is sure to age well.

Listen To: “Lookers” + “After the Party” + “Livin’ Ain’t Easy”


Mr. Elevator and the Brain Hotel – When the Morning Greets You


Genre: Psychedelic Rock
Release Date: February 10th

One of the best bands in the modern Los Angeles psych scene, this release was heavily anticipated by Mr. Elevator fans since they dropped Nico and Her Psychedelic Subconscious four years ago.  Though featuring two previously released (but re-recorded) songs and arguably not as intense as their first record, there are plenty of frantic jams sprinkled across meandering trippy grooves that are sure to elicit a favorable response to even the most casual listener.  It’s like MGMT for grown ups.

Listen To: “Sunshine Daydream” + “Hypnotized” + “Cosmic Dream” + “Fuzz Phantom”


Strawberry Girls – Italian Ghosts


Genre: Progressive Groove Rock
Release Date: February 17th

These three highly talented musicians from Salinas, CA blew the dust off of their debut EP, added some new tracks, brought in great guest vocalists and added a bucket of hot musical polish to round this out into a solid album.  It is truly a pleasure to experience the various tempos and moods captured throughout.  Do you think Chocolate Jackalopes live in the Vanilla Rainforest?

Listen To: “Vanilla Rainforest” + “Thank God” + “Been That, Done There


Chicano Batman – Freedom Is Free


Genre: Indie Rock / Soul / Tropical
Release Date: March 3rd

Either they’ve already blow up or they’re about to.  All aboard the hype train my friends! Every song on the album is delightfully pleasant and well-worth your attention. This band is everything that is right about America (norte y sur). Sonic happiness. Soak it up.

Listen To: “Friendship (Is A Small Boat In A Storm)” + “Freedom Is Free” + “La Jura


Stolas – Stolas


Genre: Progressive Post-Hardcore
Release Date: March 17th

They kicked out Jason and got rid of the screams (boo) but that meant that Carlo took over all vocals in addition to manning the kit (yay).  This album isn’t as raw and doesn’t rip as hard as Living Creatures but I do think it sounds better than Allomaternal. The band’s current sound is like a mix of The Mars Volta and Closure in Moscow.  There is great synergy within the three piece and Sergio’s guitar solos always blow me away.  The bassist, RJ, unfortunately left the band soon after the album’s release in order to prioritize his mental health so enjoy his masterful skills on an iteration of Stolas that will never again be duplicated.

Listen To: “Bellwether” + “Damage Division” + “Catalyst


Hand Habits – Wildly Idle (Humble Before the Void)


Genre: Indie / Dream Folk
Release Date: February 10th

Super mellow songs to get lost to.  Meg Duffy is an excellent artist and has put together an amazing collection of calm, melancholic mood music. Highly enjoyable! This album can be defined as “expansive, atmospheric arrangements punctuated with intricate melodic details. Indoor music at its finest: listen in the morning, in bed with your partner, in the kitchen while you make coffee, at night when you read on the porch.” Chiiiiiillllll.

Listen To: “Flower Glass” + “All the While” + “Book On How To Change


The Buttertones – Gravedigging


Genre: Surf
Release Date: March 31st

LA band churning out classic surf tunes reminiscent of a time before the genre became overly poppy.  For fans of older surf acts like Dick Dale and the Deltones and more modern groups like Corners and label-mates Tijuana Panthers.  Hear that sax wail!!

Listen To: “Sadie’s a Sadist” + “Moroccan Monsoon” + “Gravediggin”

Group B

Emmure – Look at Yourself
Genre: Metalcore / Djent
Release Date: March 3rd

The entire band abandoned Frankie but he picked up Joshua Travis on guitar so I guess it’s a wash. It’s still Emmure. Heavy djent noise.

Listen To: “Shinjuku Masterlord” + “Flag of the Beast” + “Russian Hotel Aftermath


KOOL A.D – Sky Ladder

Genre: Hip-Hop / Freestyle Rap
Release Date: March 14th

The Cuban half of Das Racist is still the best rapper in the game when he wants to be.

Listen To: “Lapsang Souchong” + “Funny Papers” + “California Grapevine” + “Real Trap Shit


Sorority Noise – You’re Not As ______ As You Think

Genre: Indie Punk / Emo
Release Date: March 17th

Hartford, CT boys and ten songs about coping with the death of friends, depression and anxiety.

Listen To: “No Halo” + “Disappeared” + “Leave The Fan On


Oddisee – The Iceberg

Genre: Hip-Hop
Release Date: February 24th

Socially conscious and thought-provoking words strung across beats sourced from soul, R&B and a plethora of other musical genres.

Listen To: “Things” + “NNGE (feat. Toine)” + “Like Really


WSTR – Red, Green or Inbetween

Genre: Pop-Punk
Release Date: January 20th

Riding the UK wave of pop-punk, this is the debut full-length from some lads of Liverpool for fans of Neck Deep, State Champs, etc.

Listen To: “Featherweight” + “Footprints” + “Eastbound & Down


In Love With a Ghost – Healing

Genre: Electronic / Chillwave
Release Date: March 3rd

Parisian songs to what could be a killer soundtrack for an animated film.

Listen To: “i was feeling down then i found a nice witch and now we’re best friends” + “qwerty enchanted the house and now it’s attacking us

Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah – Ruler Rebel

Genre: Jazz
Release Date: March 31st

The first in a series of three releases that channel many of today’s social issues like xenophobia, climate change, and the prison industrial complex within a mix of West African and New Orleanian sounds that creates a rich and highly textured jazzy blend.

Listen To: “Ruler Rebel” + “New Orleanian Love Song” + “The Reckoning”

Group C

Push Over – Demo EP

Genre: Post-Hardcore
Release Date: February 6th

Listen To: “Transitioning Seamlessly


Ondatrópica – Baile Bucanero

Genre: Afrobeat / Cumbia / Tropical
Release Date: March 10th

Listen To: “Hummingbird” + “Lazalypso” + “Cumbia De Los Bucaneros


Can’t Swim – Fail You Again

Genre: Pop Punk / Alternative Rock
Release Date: March 10th

Listen To: “We Won’t Sleep” + “Stranger


Onra – Chinoiseries Pt. 3

Genre: Hip-Hop Beats / Chinese Record Samples
Release Date: March 10th

Listen To: “Loyalty” + “Autumn Moon Shining Over the Calm Lake” + “The Storm


Real Estate – In Mind

Genre: Indie Rock
Release Date: March 17th

Listen To: “Darling” + “Saturday


Hector Plimmer – Sunshine

Genre: Electronic / Chill
Release Date: March 17th

Listen To: “Let’s Stay” + “Kalimba” + “I Wish


Northlane – Mesmer

Genre: Metalcore / Djent
Release Date: March 24th

Listen To: Citizen” + “Intuition” + “Zero-One