Posts from Pumpjack Press authors and contributors about culture, books, economic and social justice topics, history and more, with the occasional poem and short story.

The Pumpjack Blowout Blog #Bestof2017 List


Books and music we loved in 2017


Here’s a list of some of our favorite books and songs from 2017. We are late getting this list up just a bit late this year, but better late than never, we figured, to share good news about great art, artists and thinkers.

Not all these books, songs or albums were published or created in 2017, but they were enjoyed or newly discovered in 2017. A shout out of gratitude to these artists and many others we “met” this past year for provoking our thoughts and entertaining us in a very bizarre year. 

For the books, for that we reviewed, the links are provided. We did not review any music this year, so we’ve added a line or two about what struck us about the songs. Presented alphabetically by first title word.


  • Croesus Gold by Glenn Harnden Review
  • Knots by Gunnhild Oyehaug Review
  • Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
  • So Much Blue by Percival Everett Review
  • The Dispossessed by Ursula LeGuin
  • Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
  • The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa Review
  • The Road to Darkness (Empire of the Senses) by Paul Leppin  Review
  • The School Days of Jesus: A Novel by J.M. Coetzee Review
  • The Sellout by Paul Beatty


  • Born a Crime by Trevor Noah Review
  • How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain Review
  • How Will Capitalism End: Essays on a Failing System by Wolfgang Streek Review
  • Internal Time by Till Roenneberg Review
  • Just Mercy: A Tale of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson Review
  • Phi: A Voyage from the Brain to the Soul by Giulio Tononi
  • Saving Capitalism for the Many, Not the Few by Robert Reich
  • White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson Review
  • Why I’m Not a Feminist: A Feminist Manifesto by Jessica Crispin Review
  • Why Unions Matter by Michael D. Yates Review


  • All Them Witches — Heavy and hypnotic, this Nashville outfit lays down some dark and powerful psychedelic stoner droner bluesy metal magic. Check out 3-5-7 from their Sleeping Through the War album.
  • Beautiful Small Machines — We’re huge Bree Sharp fans dating back to her joyful song, David Duchovny, on her first album. She joined long-time collaborator in the BSM project, going for a more electronic and funky sound that complements her strong and unique voice. Check out Bring Out Your Dead on the DJ Stayed Home album.
  • Hurts to Purr — This newly discovered album from 2006 blew us away. They should be so famous — a reminder that life is not fair. Lead singer Liz Pappademus has a pair of excellent solo albums, but check out Salesman’s Wife on their self-titled Hurts to Purr album.
  • Kali Uchis — Born in Colombia and raised in Virginia, she brings ALL the attitude, powerful vocals and a Latin infused doo wop/R and B sound that feels both timeless and brand new. Check out Ridin’ Around from her Por Vida album. It will be stuck in your head for days.
  • Luna — Warm and wistful, fuzzy and funky, Luna returned in 2017 with a long awaited album, A Sentimental Education, that mostly presents covers of some under-appreciated songs from other artists. The sound is hypnotic and the vocals are memorable, especially on Most of the Time, an old Bob Dylan song.
  • Margaret Glaspy — She’s responsible for one of the best lines of the year: “I don’t want to see you cry, but it feels like a matter of time.” It’s from the song You and I on the Emotions and Math album, which is all good.
  • Psychedelic Witchcraft — They are by far our favorite Italian blues-infused doom metal band. Her voice is amazing, and they have a witchy, Black Sabbathy vibe. Check out Set Me Free from their Magick Rites and Spells album.
  • The Wind and the Wave — This husband and wife team delivers the goods. We especially liked the song Grand Canyon from their album Happiness is Not a Place. And then check out the song Redhead in Aberdeen.
  • Thelma Houston — To be honest, we forgot about Thelma. Dear White People on Netflix reminded us why that was a mistake and why Saturday Night, Sunday Morning is one of the purest, grooviest, funkiest disco dance songs of all time.
  • Valerie June — One of the most impressive new voices in alt country/roots/Americana music, she released a number strong albums, and The Order of Time is her sophomore studio release. Check out the song Love You Once Made.