2017 was a big year for music releases from artists old and new.
Billboard-topping giants like Kendrick Lamar, Taylor Swift, Drake and Ed Sheeran released new albums in 2017, as did Las Vegas hometown sweethearts Imagine Dragons and The Killers. Long-awaited releases from Fleet Foxes, The War on Drugs, LCD Soundsystem, Kesha, Beck and St. Vincent dropped, too.
Meanwhile, the music-streaming industry skyrocketed and vinyl sales continued to grow.
Las Vegas record-shop owners shared some of the top artists and records, new and old, they listened to in 2017.
Wax Trax Records
Wax Trax Records on South Decatur Boulevard may be where “the ‘50s and ‘60s live,” owner Rich Rosen said, but it has records from every era in his three-floor shop.
He said this year’s top sellers continued to be the classics: Fleetwood Mac, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd (particularly “The Dark Side of the Moon” and “The Wall”) and The Beatles (“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and “Abbey Road”).
Rosen has looked for mellower music as he’s gotten older, he said.
“Lately I’ve been going to female jazz vocalists,” Rosen said. Some of his top artists this year were Billie Holiday and Nina Simone. Rosen also listened a lot to jazz trumpeter and singer Chet Baker, “and of course, Frank Sinatra.”
Rosen’s son, David, grew up with his dad’s record collection and now composes and produces music for film and television and personal projects. Because of that, he said he listens to a variety of genres and styles.
David Rosen’s favorite five releases this year were Ryan Adams, “Prisoner”; Jason Isbell, “The Nashville Sound”; The War On Drugs, “A Deeper Understanding”; The Raveonettes, “2016 Atomized”; and Nine Inch Nails, “Add Violence.”
Zia Records, a pop-culture lover’s mecca since 1980, has two Las Vegas locations. Employees Karl Hartwig and Rae Jeralds from the West Sahara Avenue location shared their top five picks of 2017.
Some of Hartwig’s favorite bands haven’t released an album in years, including Slowdive, an English rock band formed in 1989. The band’s last album was 1995’s “Pygmalion.”
So he was a little nervous when the band released a self-titled album in May. He felt the same was about Ride, another English band that formed in 1988. The band released its first album in 21 years, “Weather Diaries,” in June.
Both made it on Hartwig’s list of top albums released this year and lived up to his expectations.
One album that surprised him was Harry Styles’ eponymous solo album, his first after splitting with the boy band One Direction. “Harry Styles” debuted at the top of the Billboard’s Top 200 in May. Six Zia employees had Styles’ record in their top five.
“Every single one of them probably listens to different styles of music than the others,” Hartwig said. “It’s a really good record. It’s not just pop.”
Hartwig’s list included Slowdive, “Slowdive”; St. Vincent, “Masseduction”; Ride, “Weather Diaries”; Björk, “Utopia”; and Harry Styles, “Harry Styles.”
Jeralds also put Harry Styles on her list. Jeralds tends to be more of a fan of rock and pop music, she said, “with a little metal sprinkled in.”
“Harry Styles is one of the newer (artists) I didn’t think I was going to like,” but he surprised her, Jeralds said.
“I think everybody who put out albums this year that I was waiting on either met or exceeded (expectations),” she said.
Jeralds picked the artists on her list because “there was something different that band or musician did that they don’t normally do that worked for them.”
Her top five were Harry Styles, “Harry Styles”; Motionless In White, “Graveyard Shift”; Hanson, “Middle of Everywhere”; Marilyn Manson, “Heaven Upside Down”; and In This Moment, “Ritual.”
“I’m all over the place,” said David Levin, owner of Vegas Vinyl on East Sunset Road. The shop stocks mostly used vinyl, CDs and cassettes, so Levin tends favor classics.
In 2017, Levin listened to Steely Dan’s “Greatest Hits” (1978). The album has selections from the band’s first six studio albums, including “Can’t Buy a Thrill,” “Countdown to Ecstasy,” and “Pretzel Logic.”
Levin also went back to listen to Parliament’s live albums, including “Live: P-Funk Earth Tour,” and funk band War’s “The Very Best of War” album.
A blues fan, Levin said he also had Muddy Waters’ “Hard Again” (1977) on repeat.
“Some of this stuff I’ll play in the store for people,” Levin said, “… to introduce people to some stuff they might not be familiar with.”
Music sales in the United States
Streaming revenues grew about 17 percent in the first half of 2017 in the United States to $4 billion, with a record-high 30 million paid subscriptions, according to the Recording Industry Association of America.
Vinyl sales also increased, to $182 million in the first half of 2017, according to the assoc