XRAY SELECTS: Top 10 Albums of 2017

2017 was a colossal year for music around the world, across and in some cases bridging genres, where creativity reigned supreme. It was a year in which new artists rose from the peripheral, old heroes returned with some of the best work of their careers, and musicians everywhere became the voice for their communities; speaking out in the heated political environment. While we were fortunate to receive so much music this year, at times it was hard to keep up with the pace. Here are the albums that XRAY DJs returned to again and again throughout the year, the créme de la créme, to ensure none of this good good dodged your radar. – Scott Osgood (image by Mehran Azma)

Dannon Dripps

Dannon Dripps started as a radio DJ in the mid-90s at a High School radio station in Wyoming. Although his career eventually led him to work in other forms of media, he never really outgrew his love for the 90s sound and community radio. On Flannel Flag (Wednesdays, 1-3am) Dannon revisits both underground and mainstream 90s rock, along with its key influences and the aftermath of the movement, including those current artists that are still “flying the flannel.”

  1. PRIESTS Nothing Feels Natural (Sister Polygon)
  2. SLOWDIVE Slowdive (Dead Oceans)
  3. PARDONER Uncontrollable Salvation (Father/Daughter)
  4. JAY SOM Everybody Works (Polyvinyl)
  5. (SANDY) ALEX G Rocket (Domino)
  6. CHAD VANGAALEN Light Information (Sub Pop)
  7. CLOAKROOM Time Well (Relapse)
  8. MELKBELLY Nothing Valley (Wax Nine)
  9. METZ Strange Peace (Sub Pop)
  10. B BOYS Dada (Captured Tracks)

Ben Hubbird

Ben Hubbird is a DJ, label manager, and artist advocate. He started Party Damage Records with his friend Casey, works at CD Baby helping artists share their music with the world, and plays records at your favorite bars around town (Beech St. Parlor, Paydirt, Tough Luck, Dig a Pony, etc). You can catch his show Forever Now (Fridays, 3-4pm) here on XRAY.fm.

Best Portland Albums

  1. THE LAST ARTFUL, DODGR & NEILL VON TALLY Bone Music (ERYST)
  2. MYKE BOGAN Pool Party (ERYST)
  3. AUTONOMICS Debt Sounds (ROLA Records)
  4. COOL AMERICAN Infinite Hiatus (Topshelf Records)
  5. WILD ONES Mirror Touch (Topshelf Records)
  6. MO TROPER Exposure & Response (Good Cheer Records)
  7. JESSICA DENNISON + JONES Jessica Dennison + Jones (Party Damage Records)
  8. MÁSCARAS El Morán (Party Damage Records)
  9. MONTHS Black Hats for War (Self-Released)
  10. SUNBATHE Sunbathe (Self-Released)

Best Overall

  1. LOJII & SWARVY Due Rent (Fresh Selects)
  2. JENS LEKMAN Life Will See You Now (Secretly Canadian)
  3. JAPANDROIDS Near to the Wild Heart of Life (Anti-)
  4. DELICATE STEVE Cowboy Stories (Anti-)
  5. IRON CHIC You Can’t Stay Here (SideOneDummy Records)
  6. JULIE BYRNE Not Even Happiness (Ba Da Bing!)
  7. PROTOMARTYR Relatives in Descent (Domino)
  8. KEVIN GARRETT False Hope (Roc Nation)
  9. CHARLOTTE DOS SANTOS Cleo (Fresh Selects)
  10. MOUNT EERIE A Crow Looked at Me (P.W Elverum & Sun)

Jordan Rasmussen

The host of Cascadio, Jordan Rasmussen, transitioned from KPSU to XRAY.fm in August 2017. These picks for the albums of 2017 reflects a fluctuating taste indicative of post-college ennui under late capitalism. This list includes everything from the experimental ambiance of Laurel Halo and Visible Cloaks to the cozy melancholy of Strange Ranger and Bent Denim and more. With the exception of the explicit yet incisive Princess Nokia and Show Me The Body, all of these artists can be heard on Cascadio (Tuesdays, 2-3pm) on XRAY.fm.

  1. VISIBLE CLOAKS Reassemblage (RVNG Intl.)
  2. STRANGE RANGER Daymoon (Tiny Engines)
  3. LAUREL HALO Dust (Hyperdub)
  4. MOUNT EERIE A Crow Looked At Me (P.W Elverum & Sun)
  5. SHOW ME THE BODY Corpus I (Loma Vista)
  6. PRINCESS NOKIA 1992 Deluxe (Rough Trade)
  7. KELLY LEE OWENS Kelly Lee Owens (Smalltown Supersound)
  8. JEFRE CANTU LEDESMA On The Echoing Green (Mexican Summer)
  9. DEAN BLUNT & JOANNE ROBERTSON Wahalla (World Music)
  10. BENT DENIM Diamond Jubilee (Self-Released)

James Dineen

James Dineen sometimes hides behind the moniker of DJJX. He worked in commercial radio around this wide country since 1985; Boston, Los Angeles, Jackson Hole, Portland, and more, they all put up with his nonsense. His show, Sessions From The Box (Wednesdays, 2-3pm) has been in production since 2005. Prior to joining XRAY, James was the music director for PDX-centric KZME FM.

  1. OFFA REX The Queen Of Hearts (Nonesuch)
  2. PARLOR WALLS Opposites (Northern Spy Records)
  3. MR. ELEVATOR & THE BRAIN HOTEL When The Morning Greets You With A Smile (Rad Cat Records)
  4. GREAT YTENE Locus (Faux Discx)
  5. HAUNTED SUMMER Spirit Guides (Oddcargo Records)
  6. MAPPE OF A Northern Star, A Perfect Stone (Paper Bag Records)
  7. TINY HAZARD Greyland (Ba Da Bing!)
  8. TORRES Three Futures (4AD)
  9. FEIST Pleasure (Polydor)
  10. ST. VINCENT Masseduction (Loma Vista)

Ross Beach

Ross Beach is a songwriter, DJ, tech pro, and a co-founder and former president of the non-profit group PDX Pop Now! He hails from Louisiana where he was a DJ for KLPI-Ruston and where he played in numerous bands, including an early lineup of Neutral Milk Hotel. Hear him preview local concerts and spin strange, beautiful music on his XRAY show, Alive With Pleasure (Fridays, 2-3pm).

  1. ALDOUS HARDING Party (4AD)
  2. ALVVAYS Antisocialites (Polyvinyl)
  3. CIGARETTES AFTER SEX Cigarettes After Sex (Partisan)
  4. JAY SOM Everybody Works (Polyvinyl)
  5. MAGGIE ROGERS Now That The Light Is Fading (Capitol)
  6. PERFUME GENIUS No Shape (Matador)
  7. PRINCE Deliverance (RMA Music)
  8. SUNBATHE Sunbathe (Self-Released)
  9. TARA JANE O’NEIL Tara Jane O’Neil (Gnomonsong)
  10. WILD ONES Mirror Touch (Topshelf Records)

DJ Tex Clark

DJ Tex Clark has been involved with XRAY.FM since it was just a baby test signal with big dreams. On air, Tex hosts Circa Rad, a weekly rock-oriented show (Wednesdays, 7-8pm). If not listening to music somewhere, Tex can be found in downtown Portland slinging due process at the public defender’s office.

  1. SACRED PAWS Strike a Match (Rock Action)
  2. NADINE SHAH Holiday Destination (1965)
  3. PRIESTS Nothing Feels Natural (Sister Polygon)
  4. THE MOONLANDINGZ Interplanetary Class Classics (Chimera Music)
  5. MOUNT EERIE Crow Looked At Me (P.W Elverum & Sun)
  6. DOWNTOWN BOYS Cost of Living (Sub Pop)
  7. ALEXANDRA SAVIOR Belladonna of Sadness (Columbia)
  8. RON GALLO Heavy Meta (New West Records)
  9. MADONNATRON Madonnatron (Trashmouth Records)
  10. JACKIE SHANE Any Other Way (Numero Group)

DJ Dijon Mustard

Dijon Mustard conducts The Path is the Destination (Wednesdays, 4-6pm) on XRAY.fm, taking listeners on a path of discovery through the weekly deluge of new music. This fall he interned with Tender Loving Empire, and is in the process of realizing a label of his own to launch in 2018.

  1. KENDRICK LAMAR Damn. (TDE)
  2. THE NATIONAL Sleep Well Beast (4AD)
  3. PERFUME GENIUS No Shape (Matador)
  4. JULIE BYRNE Not Even Happiness (Ba Da Bing!)
  5. GUCCI MANE & METRO BOOMIN’ Droptopwop (Atlantic)
  6. MOUNT KIMBIE Love What Survives (Warp)
  7. KEVIN MORBY City Music (Dead Oceans)
  8. LCD SOUNDSYSTEM American Dream (Columbia)
  9. PARDONER Uncontrollable Salvation (Father Daughter)
  10. PALEHOUND A Place I’ll Always Go (Polyvinyl)

Honorable Mention: Protomartyr (Relatives in Descent), Sample (Process), Moses Sumney (Aromanticsm), King Krule (The Ooz), Big Thief (Capacity), Priests (Nothing Feels Natural), Tyler the Creator (Flower Boy), B Boys (Dada), Vince Staples (Big Fish Theory), King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard (Flying Microtonal Banana).

DJ Bob Ham

DJ Bob Ham is the host and producer of Double Bummer, which airs every Friday night from 11pm-1am. When he’s not at XRAY, you can find him writing for a variety of publications including Billboard, Paste, Consequence of Sound, and Portland Mercury. Check his work out at robert-ham.squarespace.com.

  1. RUN THE JEWELS RTJ3 (Run the Jewels, Inc.)
  2. BLANCK MASS World Eater (Sacred Bones)
  3. PRIESTS Nothing Feels Natural (Sister Polygon)
  4. MOUNT EERIE A Crow Looked At Me (P.W Elverum & Sun)
  5. JLIN Black Origami (Planet Mu)
  6. POWER TRIP Nightmare Logic (Southern Lord)
  7. HEATHER TROST Agistri (LM Dupli-cation)
  8. SAMPHA Process (Young Turks)
  9. MOOR MOTHER Fetish Bones (Don Giovanni Records)
  10. KAITLYN AURELIA SMITH The Kid (Western Vinyl)

R. Barrows

Between obsessing over vintage motorcycles and macabre antiques, R. Barrows has hosted Past Haunts in radio and event form for years. His passion for music and art stems from hours of sleeve-gazing at post-punk classics and back-spinning damaged LPs from bargain bins. With a dedication spawned from years of touring in shoddy ensembles and sweeping up record stores, he’s picked up tips and inspiration from basement dwellers and outsiders he’s hosted, including the likes of Drab Majesty, Pharmakon, Lust For Youth, Dva Damas, High-Functioning Flesh, Cult of Youth, Xeno & Oaklander, Sextile, and so on. Get a taste of the bleak (Mondays, 10-11pm) on XRAY, and catch Past Haunts events on dimly lit stages across PDX.

  1. LEYLAND KIRYBY We, So Tired Of All The Darkness In Our Lives (History Always Favours The Winners)
  2. THE CARETAKER Everywhere At The End Of Time (History Always Favours The Winners)
  3. OTTO A TOTLAND The Lost (Sonic Pieces)
  4. CARLA DAL FORNO The Garden EP (Blackest Ever Black)
  5. DRAB MAJESTY The Demonstration (Dais)
  6. NAAAHHH ‎Themes (Blackest Ever Black)
  7. BRAVEYOUNG Misery & Pride (Flesner)
  8. BRANNTEN SCHNÜRE ‎Muschelsammlung (Vrystaete)
  9. WETWARE Salpinx (BANK)
  10. HOLY MOTORS ‎Sleeprydr (Wharf Cat)

Chance Solem-Pfeifer

Chance Solem-Pfeifer is the host of Lyrical on XRAY (Mondays, 4-6pm). Outside the booth, he’s an editor, podcaster, and culture writer, who’s contributed writing to Paste, Splitsider, Fiction Writers Review, Boxing Insider, and Willamette Week.

  1. BIG THIEF Capacity (Saddle Creek)
  2. FATHER JOHN MISTY Pure Comedy (Sub Pop)
  3. LORDE Melodrama
  4. WAXAHATCHEE Out in the Storm (Merge)
  5. THE KICKBACK Weddings and Funerals
  6. ALDOUS HARDING Party (4AD)
  7. KENDRICK LAMAR DAMN.
  8. CHARLIE BLISS Guppy
  9. JESSICA BOUDREAUX No Fury
  10. THE NATIONAL Sleep Well Beast (4AD)

DJ Klyph

As a curator of the Portland Hip-Hop scene, DJ Klyph uses his platform to represent the under-represented. For the last 10 years, he’s promoted and supported music via the Welcome to the Neighborhood show (currently airing on XRAY.fm), the Klyph Notes podcast, the monthly hip-hop showcase Mic Check PDX and various local events including the Portland Institute of Contemporary Arts’ Time-Based Art Festival. With the return of lyrical and conscious music to the mainstream, Klyph is continually optimistic about the art form and excited for future generations to embrace the culture.

Best Northwest Albums

  1. RASHEED JAMAL Indigo Child (U Ain’t The Only 1!) (FRS TRB Republic)
  2. ONRY OZZBORN c v p ii d (Self Released)
  3. AMINE’ Good For You (CLBN)
  4. THEORY HAZIT TH Doom (Wet Work)
  5. MIC CAPES & DRAE SLAPZ Sheesh EP (Self Released)
  6. CHAMPAGNE DUANE The Campaign (Self Released)
  7. SHO BARRAKA The Narrative Vol.2 – Pianos and Politics EP (Humble Beast Records)
  8. BROOKFIELD DUECE One Day It’ll All Make Cents (Front Page Music)
  9. 5TH & WYATT Circadian Rhythms (Self Released)
  10. AL-ONE THE REMEDY Sharptongue (Self Released)

Best Overall Albums

  1. JOEY BADASS All-Amerikkkan Badass (Pro Era Records)
  2. KENDRICK LAMAR Damn. (Top Dawg Entertainment)
  3. JAY-Z 4:44 (Roc Nation)
  4. BIG K.R.I.T 4Eva Is A Mighty Long Time. (Multi Alumni)
  5. AMERIGO GAZAWAY A Common Wonder (Soul Mates)
  6. LUTE West 1996, Pt 2 (Dreamville)
  7. RAPSODY Laila’s Wisdom (Jamla Records)
  8. ODDISEE The Iceberg (Mello Music Group)
  9. TY FARRIS Room 39 (Self Released)
  10. DAVID BANNER The God Box (A Banner Vision)

Raybanjan

Raybanjan hosts Mod Lang (Wednesdays, 2-3pm), an examination of the eclectic world of rock as viewed through a power pop lens. Jangly folk-pop? Check. Alt-country? Check. Surf Garage Pop punk? ’60’s/70’s rock? Sweet soul music? Check check check. Mod Land explores the best of the Portland music scene with particular attention to bands that are playing in town.

  1. KACY AND CLAYTON The Siren’s Song (New West)
  2. ALVVAYS Antisocialites (Polyvinyl)
  3. TED LEO The Hanged Man (SuperEgo Records)
  4. ANGEL OLSEN Phases (Jagjaguwar)
  5. FATHER JOHN MISTY True Comedy (Sub Pop)
  6. WAXAHATCHEE Out in the Storm (Merge)
  7. DAVID BOWIE Cracked Actor (Parlophone)
  8. EYELIDS Or (Jealous Butcher)
  9. MO TROPER Exposure & Response (Good Cheer)
  10. GIRLPOOL Powerplant (Anti-)

Diana Suarez & Lenny

It’s 3 o’clock on a Monday, and you’re staring at the clock, trying not to fall asleep. Skip that third cup of coffee and tune in to your Existential Night Crisis on XRAY.fm (Mondays, 3-4pm), where DJ’s Diana (Tia Bruja) and Lenny will help you get through that midday slump with tunes, ‘tudes, and gratitudes. 2017 saw us delving into deep, dreamy melodies, post-emo female-charged angst, swinging samples and general badassery. Here’s a list of the new releases that got Diana groovin’ in 2017; Lenny added 11-14.

  1. CHARLOTTE GAINSBOURG Rest (Because)
  2. MAC DEMARCO This Old Dog (Captured Tracks)
  3. NICOLAS JAAR Sirens (Other People)
  4. MASCARAS Live from the Banana Stand* (Banana Stand Media)
  5. CHICANO BATMAN Freedom is Free (ATO)
  6. THUNDERCAT Drunk (Brainfeeder)
  7. CHASTITY BELT I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone (Hardly Art)
  8. JAPANESE BREAKFAST Soft Sounds from Another Planet (Dead Oceans)
  9. REPTALIENS FM-2030* (Captured Tracks)
  10. DEATHLIST S/T* (XRAY)
  11. FISH ShitKid (PNKSLM)
  12. SYD Fin (Columbia)
  13. CHERRY GLAZER Apocolipstick (Secretly Canadian)
  14. LCD SOUNDSYSTEM American Dream (Columbia)

Theo Craig

This December, Theo Craig celebrates 10 years as a resident of the Bridge City. When not hosting Take It To The Bridge (Fridays, 4-6pm), Theo is the Director of Music Programming at XRAY and bassist for Máscaras, Cat Hoch, and Alexandra Savior.

  1. THUNDERCAT Drunk (Brainfeeder)
  2. KENDRICK LAMAR Damn. (Top Dawg Entertainment)
  3. IBEYI Ash (XL)
  4. OH SEES Orc (Castle Face)
  5. CHAD VANGAALEN Light Information (Sub Pop)
  6. KING GIZZARD & THE LIZARD WIZARD Flying Microtonal Banana (ATO)
  7. ODDISEE The Icebergs (Mello Music)
  8. DOWNTOWN BOYS Cost of Living (Sub Pop)
  9. KEVIN MORBY City Music (Dead Oceans)
  10. GRIZZLY BEAR Painted Ruins (RCA)

Shira & Jené

Shira & Jené host Everyday Mixtapes on XRAY.fm (Saturdays 5-6pm), playing music to pre-funk your night, Hip Hop, Rnb, Afro Beat, Jazz, and everything in between. The two DJs spin around town and often book shows. Shira works with kids, loves dancing, and hanging out with Jené in her free time. Jené works for Marmoset as a Music Licensing Coordinator and loves to hike, go to shows, and hang with Shira when she’s free. Follow the show on Instagram @everydaymixtapes.

  1. ILL CAMILLE Heirloom (Jakarta Records)
  2. RAPSODY Laila’s Wisdom (Def Jam Recordings)
  3. NATE SMITH Kinfolk: Letters From Everywhere (Ropedope)
  4. DRAKE More Life (Republic Records)
  5. TONY ALLEN The Source (Decca Records)
  6. SZA Ctrl (TDE)
  7. CHRISTIAN SCOTT ATUNDE ADUJAH The Centennial Trilogy (Ropeadope)
  8. CHARLOTTE DOS SANTOS Cleo (Fresh Selects)
  9. LORD ECHO Harmonies (Soundway Records)
  10. SHARON JONES Soul of a Woman (Daptone Records)

Cheyenne McClain & Aaron Cohen

Aaron and Cheyenne began co-hosting Reverse Couple Skate on the Portland Radio Authority in early 2013, and have been with XRAY.fm since the beginning. They share a love of freeform radio, novelty songs, rare & obscure records, and vegan doughnuts. You can hear them live Saturdays, 8-9am. Their list below includes some added commentary. 

  1. ALICE COLTRANE World Spirituality Classics 1: The Ecstatic Music of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda (Luaka Bop)
  2. SUNNY & THE SUNLINERS Mr. Brown Eyed Soul (Big Crown) – long overdue retrospective of gifted West Side Sound singer/songwriter Sunny Ozuna
  3. V/A Virtue Recording Studios (Tramp) – solid collection of rare 60s-era Philly soul
  4. V/A Even A Tree Can Shed Tears: Japanese Folk & Rock 1969-1973 (LITA)
  5. V/A Lovin’ Mighty Fire: Nippon Funk/Soul/Disco 1973-1983 (BGP)
  6. V/A Tokyo NIghts: Female J-Pop Boogie Funk 1981 to 1988 (Cultures of Soul) – explores the City Pop genre that was popular in Japan in the 1980s
  7. V/A Pop Makossa: The Invasive Dance Beat of Cameroon 1976 – 1984 (Analog Africa)
  8. V/A Southwest Side Story (Numero Group) – yet another impeccably curated compilation from TNG
  9. V/A Soul of A Nation: Afro-Centric Visions in the Age of Black Power: Underground Jazz, Street Funk & The Roots of Rap 1964-79 (Soul Jazz)
  10. BERLIN GAME Down Twisted OST (Varese Sarabonde) – a surprisingly great, dark, synthy soundtrack to a predictably mediocre Cannon Films action movie from the 80s

Honorable Mention: Neil Young – Hitchhiker (Reprise), Hiroshi Yoshimura – Music for Nine Post Cards (Empire of Signs) – late 70s era ambient music, yet another great reissue of music from Japan

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