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Reality has been pretty hard to handle—and impossible to escape—this past year. But sometimes we just need a break, a pause to refresh the spirit for the challenges ahead or to remind us that this too shall pass, however dire things may seem. In that spirit, and in no particular order, here are 10 albums released in 2017 that might not solve our problems but are sure to make existence a tad more bearable. Apply as needed.
1. Delbert McClinton and Self-Made MenPrick of the Litter (Hot Shot Records/Thirty Tigers)On which a veteran honky-tonk shouter reaffirms the revitalizing effect of barroom swagger.
2. Laetitia Sadier Source EnsembleFind Me Finding You (Drag City)The former voice of Stereolab achieves easy-listening nirvana while taking a swipe at consumerism.
3. Don BryantDon’t Give Up on Love (Fat Possum)In his eighth decade, an overlooked soul artisan delivers his best album, offering hope to late bloomers everywhere.
4. Chuck BerryChuck (Dualtone)The architect of rock and roll delivers his pungent farewell, spirit unbowed.
5. The Beach Boys1967/Sunshine Tomorrow (Capitol/Ume)Brian Wilson and company unveil their loopiest, most unpredictable outtakes, opening a Pandora’s box of sublime psychedelic whimsy.
6. Shelby Lynne and Allison MoorerNot Dark Yet (Thirty Tigers)Siblings explore the power of sisterly love to heal the deepest wounds, and sing real pretty, too.
7. Little RichardHere’s Little Richard (Specialty)Little Richard’s first album has been reissued umpteen times, but this edition comes with 22 outtakes, showing how he worked his way to greatness. It’s like being on hand at the dawn of creation.
8. Various ArtistsSounds of the Unexpected (Ace)These goofy, eccentric pop instrumentals, ranging in provenance from the late-‘50s to the early ‘70s, are guaranteed to induce smiles on your darkest days.
9. Various ArtistsWayfaring Strangers: Acid Nightmares (Numero Group)Heavy, deranged rock from the dark side of hippiedom makes the present seem a little less bizarre by comparison.
10. Various ArtistsWoody Guthrie: The Tribute Concerts (Bear Family)Collecting two star-studded shows from ’68 and ‘70s, this bracing set is a rousing reminder that resistance is a vibrant, longstanding tradition.