If I hear the wailing first few chords of Dead Leaves & The Dirty Ground - I'm transported back to grey covered Ann Arbor days walking to class. The sound of Karen O's voice or the roaring crescendos of Arcade Fire's Funeral album or anything any of the Strokes touched, and I can practically smell New York's city steam rising from the streets (I lived there once :). And, yeah, there's about twenty tracks that send me directly to a sweaty upstairs dance floor in the North Monroe area of Grand Rapids, MI.
There's nothing new or novel in noting music's knotty relationship to memory. It's clearly part of it's evocative power. But as we look back on a year that - despite a ton of personal high points - was pretty much a dumpster fire, it is more than comforting to note that 5, 10, 20 years from now it'll be the Sza and the Kendrick and the Mura Masa that I'll remember vividly. Give me memories of Stef Chura in a basement or Flint Eastwood & Tunde together in Austin (or again at the Fisher in Detroit) or LCD in Chicago. The 2017 that wasn't on Twitter or cable news - that's the year to hold on to and relive.
With that in mind: my year in music (no algorithm needed). Hope it makes you feel something too.