Most of us can agree: 2017 was a beast of a year. The music sometimes reflected our weariness, carrying it like a burden. At other times it engaged directly with the sense of foreboding and crisis in the air. But what spoke to me the most, it turns out, was music that delivered both comfort and challenge, a salve and a spur. To one degree or another, every album on this list fits that criterion — and so do the additional 10 that appear as honorable mentions, any of which could easily have come off the bench and into the game.