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Kevin Morby tells us about his 10 favorite albums of 2017

Anyone who has paid attention to the lyrics on one of Kevin Morby‘s albums, like this year’s great City Music, knows he’s a thoughtful writer. He’s just as eloquent when it comes to other people’s music, as we learned last year when he wrote about his favorite records of 2016 for us. Kevin was nice enough to do the same again this year, offering up a key lyric from his 10 favorite albums of 2017, as well as a convincing argument for each. Check out his list below.

Kevin will be on tour in 2018 with Hand Habits (aka Meg Duffy, who plays guitar in his band), including two nights at Bowery Ballroom. Tour dates are listed, along with a stream of this year’s City Music, below.

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Bedouine – Bedouine

“I play with the moon, my only friend, it pushes/it pulls me, I don’t pay rent”

I think pound for pound, this is my favorite and most listened to album of 2017. Which is to say, if I had to take an album from 2017 to a deserted island, it would be this one. Production, performance and songwriting – this has it all. But more than anything, it has an incredible “vibe” that just fills the room with joy. Each time I would roll into my home feeling like a dirty 1 dollar bill after months of touring I’d put this album on and let it shoo away whatever demons and illness I brought in from the road.

Waxahatchee – Out In The Storm

“Everyone will hear me complain, everyone will pity my pain”

I toured with Katie earlier this year. It was my first tour of 2017 and also my first ever “solo” tour – meaning it was just me and a guitar alongside Katie and our good friend Mary Lattimore and two great friends of ours tour managing. We called ourselves “The Breakfast Club”. It was an amazing trip and it was right before both of our albums came out and we noticed we had many parallels between the two. Here are the comparisons between my latest album City Music and Out In The Storm: 1) The black and white covers, 2) It is both the 4th LP in our catalog 3) Both album covers were inspired by the work of Francesca Woodman. I ♥ KC (Katie Crutchfield, not Kansas City – though I do love Kansas City too).

Hurray For The Riff Raff – Navigator

“I just wanna prove my worth, on the planet earth, and be something”

Alynda Lee Segarra steps it up each album she makes. With this one, she’s created her own world. The albums like stepping into this incredible play. There’s an intro and an outro and inbetween you laugh you cry and you triumph. Pa’lante is an anthem for the ages.

Julie Byrne – Not Even Happiness

“I’ve been called heartbreaker, for doing justice to my own”

What i’m about to say is going to sound like a back handed compliment, but I assure you, it is not. Here it is: This is my favorite album to fall asleep to. Please note: I am obsessed with this album. This album has helped immensely this year while traveling non-stop. It is my airplane record, my xanax without having to take an actual xanax for it has some profound calming effect on my being. I saw Julie a few times earlier this year and she is wonderful live. She autographed my copy of her record with a Frank O’Hara Poem – what’s better than that?

Hand Habits – Wildly Idle Before The Void

“Hold me like a flower, hold me like an hourglass”

Meg is my guitar sister and plays in my live band. Sometimes I look over at Meg while we are playing and get so happy I cant handle it. But what some don’t know about Meg is that aside from being the best guitarist in the game – when she is not shredding space ship or train track, she makes soft beautiful music under the name Hand Habits. She made this wonderful album in her bedroom and it’s a great view into who Meg truly is, and it’s an absolute gem.

Big Thief – Capacity

“Seventeen, you took his cum, and you gave birth to your first life”

It is rare that in this life you get to witness true beauty. Beauty that feels alien but classic all at once. You know what I mean? Sometimes when watching Big Thief perform I think “this is probably what it felt like to watch someone like Neil Young or Karen Dalton perform near 50 years ago” and that feeling is paired side by side with the feeling of “I don’t think there’s ever been anything like this”. Big Thief’s magic is first and foremost in singer/guitarists Adrianne Lenkers incredible voice and songwriting – but beyond that – how well they seem to function on and off stage as a unit. Big Thief is a band in an era of solo artists, and they are – in my opinion – the coolest thing happening at the moment.

Aldous Harding – Party

“All my life i’ve had to fight to stay, you were right, love takes time, hey hey”

Aldous Harding was the best and most captivating thing I saw all year when I saw her perform at Primavera Sound in Barcelona. Speaking of having never witnessed something before, I definitely have never seen anything even close to her performance. It left me flabbergasted. Naturally, I bought the record and it became my soundtrack while on a week vacation in Vermont after a long and exhausting european tour. I was alone for most of the trip, driving through the green hills of Vermont listening to this album on repeat. I would rent a canoe every day and paddle out to the middle of this lake and play the record from my phone and let myself get lost in its eerie beauty.
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Anna St Louis – First Songs

“Oh, morning sun, takes a sad song and makes it sung”

Anna is one of my longest standing and best friends in the world. We grew up together and it’s been a joy knowing each other on this journey. Anna’s latest development in being awesome has taken the form of becoming an incredible songwriter and guitar player. What I love most about Annas music is the feeling of one first discovering their talent, like a superhero slowly yet suddenly realizing they have this magic power that they can use for the greater good of the universe and the people in it. Thats Anna.

Shannon Lay – Living Water

“If I were to know you, i’d show you all the little things”

I started a record label just to put this album out, that’s how much I love and believe in it. Incredible timeless music. Please do yourself the favor and not only listen to this album, but if you get the chance and feel like fully transcending into the heavens, go see her live.

(Sandy) Alex G – Rocket

“I’m so proud of you, and everything that you do”

At some point in the year my good friend and bass player Cyrus Gengras was driving me around LA blasting some awful music. “What is this horrible music? Please turn it off” I said. “It’s Alex G” he told me. For the life of me, I don’t know why I felt that way in the moment because a few months later I saw him open up for good friends Fleet Foxes and it blew me away. The next day I got obsessed with this album, and haven’t stopped listening to it. Just goes to show, sometimes there’s no better promotion than yourself which is why touring, though old fashioned, is the way of the future. I love this album and I loved his live show. Every song feels completely different than the last, making it listen like some wonderful mixed tape.


photo: Matt Leif Anderson
photo: Matt Leif Anderson

Kevin Morby – 2018 Tour Dates
Mon. Apr. 2 – Portland OR @ Mississippi Studios*
Tue. Apr. 3 – Portland OR @ Mississippi Studios*
Thu. Apr. 5 – San Francisco CA @ The Fillmore*
Fri. Apr. 6 – Los Angeles CA @ Troubadour*
Sat. Apr. 7 – Los Angeles CA @ Troubadour*
Mon. Apr. 9 – San Diego CA @ Casbah*
Tue. Apr. 10 – Tucson AZ @ 191 Toole*
Thu. Apr. 12 – Austin TX @ Barracuda (inside)*
Fri. Apr. 13 – Austin TX @ Barracuda (inside)*
Sat. Apr. 14 – Houston TX @ White Oak Music Hall (upstairs)*
Mon. Apr. 16 – Birmingham AL @ Saturn*
Tue. Apr. 17 – Nashville TN @ The Basement East*
Wed. Apr. 18 – Atlanta GA @ The EARL*
Fri. Apr. 20 – Baltimore MD @ The Ottobar*
Sat. Apr. 21 – New York NY @ Bowery Ballroom*
Sun. Apr. 22 – New York NY @ Bowery Ballroom*
Tue. Apr. 24 – Columbus OH @ Ace of Cups*
Wed. Apr. 25 – Detroit MI @ El Club*
Thu. Apr. 26 – Holland MI @ Park Theatre – Hope College*
Fri. Apr. 27 – Indianapolis IN @ The HI-FI*
Sat. Apr. 28 – Chicago IL @ Thalia Hall*
Mon. Apr. 30 – Madison WI @ High Noon Saloon*
Tue. May 1 – Milwaukee WI @ The Back Room at Colectivo*
Wed. May 2 – Minneapolis MN @ Cedar Cultural Center*
Fri. May 4 – Iowa City IA @ The Mill*
Sat. May 5 – Kansas City MO @ Record Bar*
* w/ Hand Habits

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