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Like the sparkling snowfall and the appearance of eggnog in grocery stores, lists of the "best albums of the year" have become a consistent winter occurrence. Blogs, newspapers, and weird friends that haven't talked to you since high school take to their favourite social media sites to inform the public about what music from the past 12 months should be respected (and in some cases, revered) by everyone, regardless of peoples' individual tastes. There's an underlying tone that, if you don't like any of the albums listed by these supposed artistic authorities, then you are an uncultured swine unaware of what good music sounds like. With that said, the following list is not of such a purpose. It's just a list of albums that I've particularly enjoyed over the past several months, and I'd like to share it with you in the possibility that you may also find something enjoyable in it. I am aware that there are a couple genres that are disproportionately represented over others. If you don't like rock, you may have a hard time harvesting anything for your own listening pleasure, but on the chance that we do end up having some similarities in musical tastes, I am happy to present my top 20 albums of 2017 (and then some):
20. 'Who Built the Moon?'—Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds (Alternative Rock)
An album as big and odd as the artist name, Noel Gallagher infuses an old-school sense of rock and roll into this short collection of songs with a confident drive.
19. 'The Underside of Power'—The Algiers (Alternative)
Classified by many critics as "dystopian soul," The Underside of Power comes on strongly and unapologetically. But if you enjoy a strong, soulful voice backed up by some really cool and different instrumentals, this is a good place to start.
18. 'The King of No Man'—Captain, We're Sinking (Alternative Rock)
Significant punk influences complemented with dynamic musicianship create an impressive, rollicking album sure to keep you paying attention.
17. 'Just the Beginning'—Grace VanderWaal (Pop)
Building and improving upon her already quirky and unique voice, the young pop star from America's Got Talent is expanding the horizons of her vocal ability and musical prowess.
16. 'Songs of Experience'—U2 (Rock)
The Irish rock outfit has been in the business for quite some time now, and their latest album proves that they still know how to bring in new fans.
15. 'Utopia'—Serena Ryder (Pop)
If you were disappointed by the most recent albums by Katy Perry or Adele, then this album may set your heart at rest; a lovely balance of rousing pump-up songs and powerful, heartfelt ballads.
14. 'Harry Styles'—Harry Styles (Rock)
Having left One Direction, Harry has been free to write a handful of Rolling Stones-esque hits, accentuated with his own soaring voice and acoustic tendencies.
13. 'How Did We Get So Dark?'—Royal Blood (Alternative Rock)
Two guys, a singer/guitarist and a drummer, providing all the sound they need for a good, hard rock album.
12. 'Rainbow'—Kesha (Pop, Rock, Folk)
If you were paying attention to entertainment news during the first half of 2017, you know that Kesha has been through some pretty rough times. Well, she's come out victorious, and has written an album with equal parts fun, variety, and heart.
11. 'After Laughter'—Paramore (Pop Rock)
They've put aside the heavy punk sound that for which they're known and loved, in order to create a slick, retro detour, speckled with hints of the band's roots.
10. 'Origami'—Vinyl Theatre (Alternative Rock)
A fun mixture of heart-pounding choruses, clever guitar work, and refreshing use of keyboard and synthesizer made this album one of my favourites for the summer.
9. 'I Hope You Don't Mind Me Writing'—Lucy Spraggan (Singer/Songwriter)
Spraggan tackles relationships and the changing times with her uniquely authentic singing voice and skill in storytelling.
8. 'Only the Lonely'—Colony House (Alternative Rock)
Whether they're busting out a stomping jaunt complete with introductory cowbell, or cruising through a Beach Boys-style romp, these boys are bringing good times for all.
7. 'Villains'—Queens of the Stone Age (Rock)
The same swagger that the Queens have become known for, coupled with delightfully off-center melodies and tones.
6. 'Notos'—The Oh Hellos (Folk Rock)
Take a truly talented folk band with beautiful lyricism, add a nice, crunchy electric guitar, and you get this seven song delight.
5. 'Concrete and Gold'—Foo Fighters (Rock)
Dave Grohl and his merry band of rockers have come out with another solid album of rollicking jams that one would be hard-pressed not to tap their foot or nod their head to.
4. 'Broken Machine'—Nothing But Thieves (Alternative)
It's so angsty, but they do it so well. Striking vocals backed up with a band that finds its home in going hard.
3. 'Grace Street'—Big Wreck (Rock)
I will confess: technically, this album came out in December of 2016, but I missed it in my last top 20 list, and it deserves to be acknowledged. One of the most musically impressive modern rock albums that I've heard in a long time.
2. 'Heiress'—Novo Amor & Ed Tullett (Singer/Songwriter)
A truly beautiful work of art. The two male voices, almost consistently in falsetto, couple with musical accompaniment which rises to epic highs and descends to calming lows.
1. 'The Click'—AJR (Alternative Pop)
I know. In a list dominated by rock bands, how could my #1 favourite album of the year be a pop album? The answer is that the three guys that put this album together have so masterfully woven the challenges and issues of early adulthood into beautifully honest, charmingly witty, and outrageously catchy pop songs, from the beginning overture/mashup of the album to the final number, inviting me to just "come hang out."