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GoldLink, At What CostGoldLink scored his first platinum hit with the syruppy “Crew,” teaming with fellow locals Shy Glizzy and Brent Faiyaz. That collaborative, DMV-first spirit animates At What Cost, an album that celebrates the past, present, and future of D.C. with a hook from Mya, Wale’s best verse in ages, and plenty of GoldLink’s dance-floor flow. —Chris Kelly

Priests, Nothing Feels NaturalArriving just weeks into 2017, Nothing Feels Natural has been a source of strength and catalyst for catharsis for many in a tumultuous year. But make no mistake, the expertly-crafted songs, bringing together post-punk, funk, new wave, and instantly memorable lyrics of Priests’ first full-length a standout record in its own right. —Dan Trombly

Den-Mate, EntropiiAs Den-Mate, Jules Hale found order in the chaos of Entropii, a darkly-hued EP of brittle, fractured synth-pop on which Hale’s icy vocals cut through industrial noise and serve as a deceptively seductive counterpoint to all the menace on display. —Chris Kelly

Rico Nasty, Tales of TacobellaDMV rapper Rico Nasty broke out in 2017 with her self-described “sugar trap” sound, mixing the guns-and-drugs shit-talking of trap music with saccharine melodies and video game synths. Tales of Tacobella is a half-hour introduction to her world, anchored by the infectious “Block List.” —Chris Kelly

Kombat, In Death We Are All The SameKombat’s final 7-inch delivers caustic guitar, howling vocals, and pummeling rhythms straight from the most furious moshpits of the new wave of D.C. hardcore. Though Kombat played their last show, fans of seminal D.C. hardcore bands Void and United Mutation should welcome this worthy successor to the canon. —Dan Trombly

Rashomon, DemoThat one of the year’s most acclaimed Japanese-language hardcore releases emerged from D.C. is a testament to this band’s talent and the continuing dynamism of the D.C. hardcore scene. These four tracks of raging, raw hardcore fully justify their immediate vinyl repress. —Dan Trombly

Shy Glizzy, Quiet StormThis was a great year for Shy Glizzy. His collaboration with GoldLink (“Crew”) received a Grammy nomination, and his new Quiet Storm mixtape showed off a more polished sound and keeps him on the fast track towards superstardom. —Sidney Thomas

Q Da Fool, 100 Round GoonQ Da Fool is currently the DMV’s hottest unsigned rapper. He released four mixtapes in 2017, but 100 Round Goon was the first, the best, and the one that kicked his flourishing career into overdrive. —Sidney Thomas

Nappy Nappa, New BalanceWhat does the future of Washington sound like? Nappy Nappa’s Davonte Squire and his partners—Black Moses and Mr. Dickerson among others—puts Southeast D.C. on the cutting edge with an EP that blends fractured beats, a day-in-the-life perspective, and undeniable hooks together with an Afrofuturist sound that never feels forced. —Justin Weber

Mellow Diamond, American GodFrom coaching Girls Rock to playing with a number of bands, Janel Leppin is one of the tendons who holds the D.C. music community together. On the striking and formidable American God, her latest venture into the solo spotlight, she reckons with a descending darkness while trying to find hope. —Justin Weber

3ohBlack, “Legg Walk”3ohBlack remixed “Walk” by Yung Gleesh, put his personal “Leggin” touch on the track, and scored a hit underground single that showed the entire world how to do the “Legg Walk.” —Sidney Thomas

Park Snakes, S/T (Deluxe Edition)By re-releasing their debut EP with a B-side of remixes from some of D.C.’s best experimental electronic musicians, Park Snakes not only elevated their own promising dark rock, they created something that feels only possible in the District. The swirling repetition of “I am an alien. I am a ghost” on Br’er’s remix of “Alien” is one of the more intense local music moments of 2017. —Justin Weber

Br’er, Brunch is for A$$holesBrunch is for A$$holes isn’t the best Br’er album, but it might be the quartet’s most fun offering. Thoughtful and introspective tracks pair nicely with songs coated in a delicious layer of sleaze, and with three versions of the title track, there’s more than enough brunch to go around. —Keith Mathias

Darkest Hour, Godless Prophets & the Migrant FloraD.C. metal stalwarts Darkest Hour put out their best album in a decade this year. A lot has changed for the band in 22 years, but one thing that’s remained consistent is that, when they’re firing on all cylinders, they write one hell of a heavy album. —Keith Mathias

Sickdeer, The Wretched of the EarthUnrefined, deliciously raw black metal with just enough twists thrown in to make it their own. —Keith Mathias

Irreversible Entanglements, S/TI feel like it’s a bit of a cheat to put Irreversible Entanglements’ self-titled debut on this list, since the ensemble only features one local member, bassist Luke Stewart. But considering City Paper curated their performance over the summer at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, it counts. Quite simply, Irreversible Entanglements’ fiery free jazz, which recalls the explosiveness of Archie Shepp and the cosmic wisdom of Sun Ra—all anchored by vocalist Camae Ayewa’s searing spoken word—is the most urgent and essential music released in 2017, full stop. —Matt Cohen

Brother Ah, Divine MusicIt’s funny that three of the best local albums released this year were actually recorded in the ’70s and ’80s. Funny because, for a year marked by unrelenting anguish, frustration, devastation, and pain, jazz legend Brother Ah’s three albums—The Sea, Meditation, and Searching—were perhaps the most calming, transcendental, and centering things I heard all year. Listening to this gorgeous box set is something of a spiritual journey, one that will land you in the chillest of moods by the end. —Matt Cohen

Kris Funn, CornerStoreThe ace bassist’s first album with his own band is one of the year’s best, and certainly D.C. jazz’s best. It’s the rare musical autobiography that is actually as deep and wide-ranging as the best written memoirs. —Michael J. West

Kung Fu Bastard, S/TSaxophonist Bobby Muncy and guitarist Anthony Pirog are the leaders, but drummer Larry Ferguson is the motor on this free-thinking, determinedly strange quartet record (which also features superlative work from bassist Nathan Kawaller). —Michael J. West

Shannon Gunn, What It Takes Shannon Gunn has pressed hard, and on multiple fronts, to articulate a nuanced and unique musical vision. What It Takes is where the trombonist’s quest comes together. —Michael J. West