Best of 2017 - Renaldo Matadeen's Picks (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Best of 2017

Renaldo Matadeen's Picks (2017)

Staff picks

Hi all,
2017 was a great year for music. Let’s keep 2018 clean, classic and hopefully free of the Grim Reaper.

Top 20 of 2017

20. Kamikaze Girls: Seafoam

Wiretap records

This British two-piece pumped out grunge bangers like "Berlin" and then dial it down to an emo/shoegaze level on "Weaker Than". It's musically diverse, filled with different sounds and tempos, and an honest look at things like love, sex and gender issues. There's something here for you no matter what kind of rock music you like.

19. Choir Vandals: Dark Glow

Animal Style Records

This record takes a while to get going but when it does, it floats from warm, poppy indie tracks like "The Gardener" and "White Glove" to dark, cynical and moody slow burns like "Mother" and "Sequencer". That's when the thick, buzzy and ethereal sound of Choir Vandals swarms you and drowns you. It's a lush, buzzy soundscape that also represents a band that's as versatile as you could hope for.

18. The World Is A Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid To Die: Always Foreign

Epitaph Records

TWIABP look at the politics of America and then detail how we're all refugees building lives across the world. From the acoustic-driven story of "Marine Tigers" to the emo-horns on "I'll Make Everything" the band not only touches on the fight against hate and racism, but they also document their own inner turmoil over the years. It's a fine return to form.

17. Slowdive: Slowdive

dead oceans

Emo and shoegaze at its best. If you never listened to them before, well this record will set you straight. Beautiful, dreamy and then some. If you're into Beach House, Kite Party and My Bloody Valentine, prepare to fall in love again.

16. Dropkick Murphys: 11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory


Form is temporary, class is permanent. And boy, do these guys show that. Bagpipe-rock at its finest. "Blood" is a testament to the fighting spirit and overall human will. One of the best songs of all time, from a band that simply remains atop their game.

15. Alvvays: Antisocialites

Polyvinyl Records

Dream pop that'll take you back to your young days of puppy love. Cute, romantic, cheesy... but still something that tugs at your heartstrings. Probably their best to date. Got some punk spunk to it too. Every track on this record is something to fall in love to.

14. Choke Up: Stormy Blue

Say-10 Records

Their 2015 album remains one of my top records ever and this is a great follow-up. They're not as raging as last time but hey, that's what adulting will do for you. Choke Up slow the tempo down a bit and leave the angst to the lyrics, not the gang vocals and abrasive punk edge they have. But those are there as well! One criminally underrated band that you need to sink your teeth into!

13. Canadian Softball: Awkward and Depressed


One badass parody album that makes fun of the emo genre in just the right way. It riffs off so many bands and dives deep into the lyrics, the Tumblr effect and the angst we emo folks have. There's something for American Football fans, a sick Sunny Day Real Estate cover of "Seven" and "Ohio Is For Emo Kids" which sums me up. Also, there's a little something for Star Wars fans that you need to check out. All good, clean, depressive fun.

12. Worriers: Survival Pop

Side One Dummy Records

Indie/power-pop/pop-punk with a strong message. Lauren Denitzio is as charming as ever with melodic barbs of feminism, acceptance and well, all the messages we need to take in to make the world a better place. Seriously, another album with too many great songs to choose from. Still on replay for me!

11. Sorority Noise: You're Not As ___ You Think You Are

Triple Crown Records

A great follow-up to their last album. "No Halo" is one of the best indie-punk songs ever and Cam Boucher once more makes you cry as he waxes on about death and regret. Depressing as usual but emo enough to make you love life even more.

10. Waxahatchee: Out In The Storm

Merge Records

Katie Crutchfield goes in hard here as she sings about life's hardships, the calm before the storm and the wreck it leaves. Love is a storm, is what she basically says. Indie, acoustic, folk and well, rock and roll as can be. Seriously, this is as powerful as Hop Along and Laura Stevenson. Dramatic but still, it hits home hard.

9. Captain, We're Sinking: The King of No Man

Run For Cover Records

Another gem from the indie-punkers from Philly. Just like The Menzingers, aka their brothers, they go on and on about growing old and leaving the fire of youth behind. "Trying Year" is an amazing upbeat song that sums up how much they left behind the angst of old. This time it's all about optimism and not pain. But you still get that on slow burns like "Hunting Trip".

8. Quicksand: Interiors

Epitaph Records

Quicksand return from the ashes and '90s fans, you're in for a treat. It's like the Deftones decided to take a different form, in their prime. The buzzy post-hardcore cuts and nu-metal vibe is a trip down memory lane indeed. It's like they never left. Rival Schools fans, this is for you.

7. Prawn: Run

Topshelf Records

One of my favorite bands of all time. They're less aggressive than the last album and go back to their old days. It's mid-tempo, without horns but still got that post-rock flavor that'll make fans of Explosions in the Sky cry. Melodic, shimmery and beautiful. No wonder Jimmy Eat World took 'em on tour. "North Lynx" and "Leopard's Paw" are some of the best songs this year.

6. Juiceboxxx: Freaked Out American Loser

Dangerbird Records

One of Milwaukee's best acts. He can rap and deliver something that feels like the second coming of the Beastie Boys, as heard on "Freaking Out" but then he flips it up and goes punk, noise and garage-demo on you. One of the most sonically schizo albums I've ever heard and it's pure magic. Amazing job and wishing this dude the best.

5. Iron Chic: You Can't Stay Here

Side One Dummy Records

Punk rock to help you overcome loss and remember you are loved. Glad to see these guys still powering on because the punk world needs their fast-paced and catchy bangers. It's a song about the angels in our lives and reminds us never to forget them, especially when they're alive.

4. The Menzingers: After The Party

Epitaph Records

This album speaks to me on so many different levels. It's all about remembering that even in the '30s, life can be a party. It's a toast to the past but a welcoming punk/dad-rock nod to the future. The self-titled track is one of many on tap here that shakes my very soul. Some of the band's best work to date. They're so consistently good and it was an honor seeing them at Riot Fest.

3. Brand New: Science Fiction

Procrastinate! Music Traitors

This album is so dark and when you look back at the lyrics, they feel like Jesse Lacey was foreshadowing the scandal that ensued. Even looking back, the lyrics are pretty demonic when you factor in what he admitted to and I did feel when I first heard this that something was wrong. This was a confessional, a documentary. Some of the band's best music with so many great slow-burners like "451", "137" and "Lit Me Up" -- but all from a guy who deserves to have the book thrown at him. They weren't kidding when they said "2018 RIP". Let's hope these predators are axed out all industries.

2. Rainer Maria: S/T

Polyvinyl Records

They're back with their best album ever. There, I said it! Every song here is simply irresistible. Sucks I didn't get to see them at Fest because this album is another one that hits all the right emotive notes. Love, fear and anger. All from a band that's been through so much. Grunge fans, post-hardcore fans... rock and roll fans, just dive in and let the warmth swallow you whole. This is true beauty.

1. The Smith Street Band: More Scared of You Than You Are of Me


This is punk at its best. Emotive, wayward, catchy and also, a band that will blow you away live. Thank God I saw them at Riot Fest too. I love how this chronicles a break-up and its stages: from grief to anger to acceptance to optimism. Not everyone's for you but hey, you gotta keep on trekking -- its message. You'll be perfect for somebody. "Suffer" is a Jeff Rosenstock kinda banger to emphasize that it's okay to hate yourself on this journey as is "Kills Me To Have To Be Alive"... but all in all, this album is about the triumph within us. Fucking epic set of rippers. All tracks are beyond words. Just dig in. Everything is perfect here.