Albums of the Year 2017

Adult – Detroit House Guests

All Them Witches – Sleeping Through The War

All Them Witches cherry pick teh best bits from a number of different musical genres. There’s a bit

Ben Frost – The Center Cannot Hold

You’ll need some decent bass speakers for this. That’s the first thing you realise about 5 seconds into “Theshold of Faith” when the first sonic depth charge implodes. This is probably Frost’s most brutal work since “By The Throat”. It’s an uncomfortable, edgy and extremely rewarding electronic album.

Big:Brave – Ardor

Primal, almost primitive music spread over three lenthy tracks. These Canadians lay the raw, emotive and quite unique vocals of Robin Wattie over skeletal extended guitar wails and thudding drums. Hypnotic and compelling.

 

Brainwaltzera – Aescoba EP / Outdives EP

This is a delightful revisit to early 80’s acid house sounds that are used to create gentle ear fillers rather than belting floor fillers. The tunes are excellent and demand multiple repeat listens.

The Brian Jonestown Massacre – Don’t Get Lost

Anton Newcombe’s late-era purple patch continues with this terrific album. The reworking of “Dropping Bombs on the Sun” is the best track I heard this year, blissed out and beautiful.

The Bug and Earth – Concrete Desert

 

Cigarettes After Sex – Cigarettes After Sex

What a dreadful, dreadful, band name. So bad you could be forgiven for not even bothering to listen, as I nearly did. After all, if you name your band that then you can’t have any taste in music, or can you? Actually, yes, as it turns out.
This is an album of simple and pretty lovelorn songs in the vein of Galaxie 500. And it’s done extremely well indeed.

Circle – Terminal

You just can’t dislike these Finnish lunatics. They dress like crazy glam rockers. They’ve made about a million albums – at least one of which was by another band that they leased their name out to for a laugh. Clearly they have a refreshing lack of self-importance.
But, perhaps surprisingly, their music is very good indeed. This is a belter of a psych-rock album with more than a hint of the progressive leanings of European innovators like Goblin.

Colin Stetson – All This I do For Glory

Colin Stetson is the Conan the Barbarian of the saxaphone. Not for him your smooth and sexy Baker Street style solos. He wrestles notes out of his sax like he’s trying to fell a bear. He has this continuous breathing thing going on and he makes his own percussion by slapping, wailing and wringing ever bit of sound out of the thing. At least part of the appeal is in knowing that all the sounds on here were created by one person and one instrument but the musical compositions themselves rise above this and reward repeated listens as all kinds of subtelties emerge.

Dead Sea Apes – Sixth Side of The Pentagon

It’s great when bands ignore genre conventions and just make what the hell kind of music they want. This is, I suppose, a deep dub reggae album made by psychedelic explorers.

Do Make Say Think – Stubborn Persistent Illusions

Perhaps, like me, you feel your spirit to live being eroded by the standard “Post Rock” album. There’s just so much of it around and so little of it is different from anything else. All that grandiose, po-faced, quiet, loud stuff sucks the marrow from my bones. Which is why I found this album so refreshing. The music is fun fresh and not at all formulaic. It’s like a bunch of good musicians got together and played some music, saw where it was going and turned it all into songs.

Ecstatic Vison – Raw Rock Fury

I think Ecstatic Vision are extremely keen to impress on you that they are rock musicians and that this is a rock album. Thankfully they are quite right. They are and it is, and very good one at that. It’s all overdriven 70’s style hard psychedelic rock that grabs you and shakes you around abit, might even spit you out after.

Elder – Reflections of a Floating World

Forest Swords – Compassion

Four Tet – New Energy

Gary Newman – Savage (Songs From a Broken World)

In the video old Gary appears to be losing a fight with a flock of traveller’s money belts, or is it back support braces? in the Sahara!
But he’s arugged veteran and I’m sure he got his face free in the end.

This album, the third in his celebrated career resurgence, is very good. The sound, pleasingly, continues in the industrial electronic style of the last two and there’s some good tunes on here.

Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Luciferian Towers

Godspeed.. are producing new stuff at a dizzying rate. Given the state of teh world then I’m sure they feel that they need to. What is interesting is that this is their most optimistic and generous album ever. I read and then couldn’t get out of my head that album centre “Bosses Hang” sounds llikea post rock version of “With a little help from my friends”. It does, in a marvellously good way. They should make an album a year for ever, or until teh end of the world, whichever comes first.

 

Goldfrapp – Silver Eye

Goldfrapp are always up for trying new sounds out and I’ve lots of time for experimentation and not resting on your laurels. Having said that it was very nice to hear that on this album they’ve gone back to the electro-funk-pop sound they do so very well.

Gnoomes – Tschak!

The Heliocentrics – A World of Masks

I might have to go on a bit here. See, this record absolutely blew me away. I’ve never really heard anything quite like it. I guess if you took the swooning, sultry delights of the track “Sly” from Massive Attack’s Protection and just went off and imagined a whole world based on it you’d have a start at getting the feel of this brilliant album.

You know when every track flows on and it seems like the only possible music you could listen to between the track before and the track after – this is like that. This is all about mystery and seduction and you’ll never quite know what’s going on.

Heliocentrics have made great music before but never anything as engrossing and all-encompassing as this. The Slovakian singer Barbora Patkova is a marvellous choice of vocalist, her strong yet plaintive style is just perfect.

So there you go, album of the year*

* Full disclosure: it’s Jazz. Moral of the story is never say never!

Here Lies Man – Here Lies Man

This is a chunky and distinctive album by a band who base their sound on 70’s Afro-funk with a healthy stir of psych.

Hey Colossus – The Guillotine

Hotel Wrecking City Traders – Passage to Agartha

Jane Weaver – Modern Cosmology

Ibibio Sound Machine – Uyai

John Richardson – The Fold

Juana Molina – Halo

Julie’s Haircut – Invocation and Ritual Dance of My Demon Twin

Menace Beach – Lemon Memory

Les Amazones D’Afrique – Republique Amazon

Lorde – Melodrama

Moonlandingz – Interplanetary Class Classics

Penguin Cafe – The Imperfect Sea

Pigs Pigs PIgs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs – Feed The Rats

What a silly name! These Newcastle sludge monsters have spawned a dirty great mess of a raucous din. There are two huge, slow, messy dins with a four minute Sabbath doom reprieve called Sweet Relief in the middle. All in all it’s a right tasty sandwich.

Power Trip – Nightmare Logic

PWR BTTM – Pageant

The New Pornographers – Whiteout Conditions

If you’ve read any of these reviews before you’ll have noticed that anything by New Pornographers gets on here. That’s because they have been consistently the best writers of hook laden pop gems for, I don’t know, decades.

Pumarosa – The Witch

Queens of the Stone Age – Villains

The Radiation Flowers – Summer Loop

REZN – Let it Burn

Run The Jewels – RTJ3

Download here for free – https://runthejewels.com/

Sasquatch – Maneuvers

A straight up driving hard rock album. Think of Soundgarden, QOTSA, Audioslave. Nothing new here – just a great example of how much fun this stuff is when it’s done well.

Sherwood and Pitch – Man vs. Sofa

The Shins – Heartworms

Slowdive – Slowdive

Spectres – Condition

This is the Kit – Moonshine Freeze

Throwing Snow – Embers

Ufomammut – 8

Ulrika Spacek – Modern English Decoration

Venn – Runes

Wire – Silver/Lead

New Discoveries

Tess Parks and Anton Newcombe –  I declare Nothing

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