Every year, I pick my favorite albums that will  pump up your productivity. They have that "something special" that matches up with a work setting, cranking out reports and listening on earbuds at your desk. If you have other picks to add, send me a quick email.

1. The War on Drugs: A Deeper Understanding

No artist released an album in 2017 that even comes close to The War on Drugs. It's not just the best of the year--it might be the best of the decade, full of cascading guitar solos and feel-good digressions coupled with poignant lyrics about life and relationships.

2. The National: Sleep Well Beast

A band the cool kids love (and practically worship), The National released a more subdued album in 2017 that focused more on broken relationships. One song called The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness has a groove that will sweeten up any Excel spreadsheet.

3. Elbow: Little Fictions

If you don't know the band Elbow, you're missing out. Prog rock masters from England, the band released an organic-sounding album that fits perfectly with your daily work duties. Songs like Gentle Storm blend nicely into the background (in a good way).

4. Lea Porcelain: Hymns to the Night

A fantastic synth-rock band, this warmly inspiring album sounded amazing on my favorite headphones of the year (the  Focal Clear). A song like Bones has breaks and instrumental diversions that will melt your keyboard and mouse into a puddle.

5. Manchester Orchestra: A Black Mile To The Surface

This album by one of my favorite bands sounds more orchestral (living up to their name) and finely-tuned, especially on songs like The Moth that stop on a dime. If you can see them play the songs live it is worth it, especially to see how they choreograph the songs.

6. Japandroids: Near to the Wild Heart of Life

It's jaw-dropping to discover that Japandroids is just two guys, one playing drums and one on guitar. Somehow, it feels like a much fuller sound. Their best album yet, Near to the Wild Heart of Life is as explosive as ever, a post-punk outing with tons of fireworks.  

7. Wolf Parade: Cry, Cry, Cry

Reuniting to make their finest album, Wolf Parade seems like a basic punk band with two people playing synth, but they write with revelatory insight. You're Dreaming is their best song, mostly because it made me type faster and think about post-work activities.

8. Jenn Grant: Paradise

Not many artists sing like Jenn Grant, her voice an instrument of ingenuity and grace. On the song Hero she turns a simple chorus into an abject epiphany. Every song has an organic feel with smooth and spacious percussion and bass.

9. LCD Soundsystem: American Dream

For a band that seemed to fall off the face of the planet, LCD Soundsystem roared back to life after seven years in stasis and made the musical rebound of the decade. I'm still amazed by some of the guitar work on the album and how it all fits together.

10. Bleachers: Gone Now

In that weird "guilty pleasure" category of music, Bleachers released a pop album that has echoes of John Lennon and a similar musical ethos. The album sounds like a geeky guy wandered into a Katy Perry recording session and totally took over on every song.

Published on: Dec 18, 2017
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