ND Staff Picks the Best Albums of 2017

What we've been listening to behind the scenes

Wait! Readers pick their "favorite albums" while ND staff picks the "best albums"?


C'mon...give 'em a break. It's Kim's last post in her official capacity and maybe these are the 'best albums'. Or maybe she meant to call it 'favorites' but her fingers missed the letters on the keyboard. I've argued for years that there is no such beast as an artistic 'best' but the world is full of pundits and personalities that are convinced otherwise. So be it. Could be worse...given that the new incoming editor comes from Paste, be prepared for a 2018 NoDep with articles that have titles such as The Top Ten Best Twerking Videos Accompanied by Fiddle and Banjo Music On You Tube and other such intellectually challenging fodder. Bye Kim...really really really hate to see you go. 

Paste does have a lot of inane one likes a beer anymore than I do, but when you have a list of 103 Christmas beers ranked (or Pumpkin Beers and Oktoberfests in October), and most of us can't possibly access more than about 20 of them, that's not all that helpful...Twerking to Fiddle and Banjo...I must've missed that one, but I'm sure it was there...

And I will say this Easy Ed...your comment that it can always be worse hits the nail on the can, and it often is...

Don't get me wrong I too appreciate what Kim as the steward of the ND ship has accomplished and the length of her tenure. A thankless task but the money's not great. Having said that let's hope more value is placed on the community and their contributions to site both in terms of content and ND's longevity by Hilary. And yes, it indeed could be worse.  



The new editor will be tasked with overseeing and making any changes to the website. If you're not familiar with, you might want to head over to get a taste from where her past experience comes from. There is a ton of content displayed...ignore the clickbait and lists...but the functionality and design of the site is light years ahead of this one. Can't imagine she'd make a job change if she wasn't tasked for improving this scrap heap. Also, although I never have met, spoken or corresponded with her, the articles she's written show a vast knowledge of music and excellent writing. For us holdovers from times past, hang onto your hats. If I was to guess, I suspect you'll see less community involvemnet rather than a return to it, and more content from a new crop of contributors. By virtue of her not taking the time to yet reach out to those of us with active columns says a lot. I think the clock is ticking for me and the rest of us boomers. 

But back to the real reason were here: this list of albums and artists is of course not 'the best' but rather a closed list of 'favorites' and for that I'm enjoying the day sampling some of those titles I haven't yet explored. What we call it and how it's decided is not germaine to the fact that music reccomendations are always welcomed by me. With hundreds of thousands of new collections released every year, it's needle in the haystack. And there are more than enough haystacks around to satisfy my thirst for exploration. 

I  glanced at Paste and the broad infotainment scope was closer to People magazine than No Depression. 

For example: The funniest tweets. Why you should age your white wine. Teen television is dead.   

If the goal is to become more "Pastey" I propose the site's name be changed to Depression.




I have noted before that Paste as it was orignally conceived was much different than it is was, on balance, a really good music magazine, and that was almost the whole focus, and I heard some great artists for the first time on their sampler CD's, much like many of us did with samplers from Rounder or Red House...but it went to be published online only (like ND) because that was not a viable model long term apparently, and now now it is something completely different...listicles and trendy focus and eventually they started publishing quarterly again in  print, like ND, so there is a similar history...I don't care for it much now, though every now and then something like the old mag surfaces on the website...I bought the first print edition...meh...not the same, though the vinyl sampler was cool...

If there isn't already a magazine called Depression I'd be surprised...

Mr. Clown, I like your idea of changing the name to Depression. I never understood why No Depression was picked for the orignal print magazine anyway since country (cry in your beer) music is often very depressing. Alt-country is usually at odds with mainstream country and its politics so its artists are certainly very depressed about what's going on politically in the country while some mainstream country artists are cheering on the Jerk-in-Chief. A lot of Americana artists are protesting with their music about this state of affairs so "Depressing Music" sounds about right and since misery loves company it's actually comforting to know others are feeling the same and one is not alone.

Throughout the summer of 1995, Peter Blackstock and Grant Alden sorted ideas for No Depression's first issue, taking the name from the AOL bulletin board (itself named after Uncle Tupelo's first album and the Carter Family song of the same name) that focused it’s interest on alternative country. 

I believe I had heard something about that before--the name coming from Uncle Tupelo--but without knowing that reference, which most people wouldn't, I think it's a rather odd name for an organization that champions country/alt-country/roots music all of which comes from the blues.

Thanks for exactly where it came from...I knew the Uncle Tupelo link...

I always thought it was based on the great lost Dada influenced novel "Node Pression"!

Well yeah...that too...

Was that novel actually Dada influenced, or Sonia Dada influenced?



This is what happens when you try to insert a video into a comment. You get two for the price of one. Innovative. 

Just in case you were wondering you in fact can play them both at the same time giving it the classic 70's quadraphonic sound! I had a hard time getting them in sync but adding a second wireless mouse and good timing did the trick.

Now if only this doesn't double post.

Just in case you were wondering you in fact can play them both at the same time giving it the classic 70's quadraphonic sound! I had a hard time getting them in sync but adding a second wireless mouse and good timing did the trick.

Now if only this doesn't double post.

No such luck Mr. and Ed have given me double vision...and Quad audio...

During a break at the Austin Stage at MerleFest some years back when ND was in it's first print version I overheard a conversation among three folks: a 50 something man, a twenty something man, and a twenty something woman. It went like this:

20 M: (pointing at the ND banner above the Stage) "What's No Depression?"

50 M: "That's the name of the magazine that co-sponsors this stage.

20 M: "What kind of name is that?"

5o M: "It's taken from the title of the Uncle Tupelo album which is considered to be the first alt country record."

20 M: "Uh?"

50M "Which in turn took is from the Carter Family song, "There's No Depression in Heaven" that gave solace to many during the depression"

20 W: "What were they depressed about?"

Rim shot. 

Easy Ed, you've always been a straight shooter here. But really, since the departure of publisher Kyla Fairchild in early 2014, and the arrival of FreshGrass, No Depression's communal spirit has, for the most part, disappeared. Remember when its "vibrant group of dedicated users" mentioned here had "featured bloggers," including myself, whose year-end lists were highlighted, more participation from active members (including myself) in assembling the website's year-end list and a lot more community involvement in general?

There was a lot of appreciation shown for one's work back then, too, whether it was featured in weekly newsletters or promoted on social media. With all the content supplied over the years, much of it original work that included reviews, interviews and photos, a little gratitude shown from this recent regime would have been nice, but not necessarily expected. Now that it's impossible to even get anyone from the "editorial staff," such as it is, to answer an email, the lack of support is disappointing.  

Happy New Year, y'all. 


Best list I have seen to date, thanks will look up Rayna Gellert as well. - Am I the only one who loved the "Americana" cd with Ray Davies and the Jayhawks? - Have not seen it anywhere?

Gill Landry's Love Rides a Dark Horse needs to be getting more love. It's a really excellent follow up to his self-titled record. 

The Records from Jason Isbell and the Secret Sisters really hit home for me in terms of songwriting and performance. I agree entirely about the timely writing of Isbell and how some of the songs on that record really speak to 2017. Im going to need to dig deeper on this list, but I'm excited to! Thanks for Sharing!

A low-budget online magazine necessarily relies on reader-supplied content, and needs an active community. This inevitably results in a lot of iffy content, along with the kinds of stuff that we all enjoyed in the "old days" of ND online. A move towards more of an edited presence that can build revenue (as in ad clicks) is a big risk, but when taken requires less focus on the community and a move towards a more "magazine" approach. I personally think ND has done this pretty well. 

Kim has been a big part of this, and I'm sad to see her go -- I sure hope that the next slice of her life remains public in some way, because I value her voice.

But change is inevitable. The fact the new editor comes from a different-looking place doesn't mean that we're going to get a Paste replica. I appreciate Ed's note about her music knowledge and background, and remain hopeful, as ever.

As to the content of the post, I'll admit I find these curated types of list more helpful than the reader vote types. I mean, Ryan Adams? Thoughtful commentary coming from places I recognize. And Valerie June was a great find, one I found through ND. 

Reyna Gellert was unknown to me prior to this list. Although I try to keep on top of all new roots music albums and musicians, it’s an impossible task. I spent all day yesterday listening to her work and my life is a little better because of it. If for no other reason, and despite the poor choice of a title (imho) for this post, Reyna is now my favorite discovery of 2017. It’s times like these that I’m thankful for this website...busted and broken as it is. 

I love Silver Tears, but it came out in 2016 (late)and made my list last year.

Yep.   I find the inclusion of a 2016 release at the top of the staff picks particularly amusing because among the albums I had requested to be added to the Readers Poll master list were four that had connections to both late 2016 and 2017 (e.g. a CD release in 2016 and a digital or vinyl release in 2017, etc).   Three of the four were rejected because of their 2016 connections.  The only one they accepted was an album that had a 2016 Record Store Day vinyl release, and a 2017 CD/digital release.  They agreed with me that the RSD vinyl release shouldn't disqualify an album as a 2017 release due to the limited availablity of such RSD releases.  If the Tasjan album hadn't alrady been on the master list, and if I had suggested it as a part of my list, the suggestion would have been rejected by the ND powers that be.  Yet there it is atop the staff picks.  But still, warts and all, I always enjoy the ND readers and staff picks each year.

The list is sorta alphabetical.

Whitney Rose releases 2 cds in 2017. The EP South Texas Suite and cd Rule 62. Both are worthy of the best of the year. Whitney sings Honky Tonk  and Country like she is a Tennesse girl. But she is  Canadian. She also incorperates the early 60's girl groups in her sound. Listen to "Be My Baby" with Raul Malo from the Mavericks and the Leslie Gore "You Don't Own Me". Both on UTUBE.  You'll see what I mean