AS WE APPROACH the end of 2017, it’s important to reflect that, while the world might be falling into chaos, at least we had some good tunes to listen too. Wrapping up this years content, we have a few articles coming out where we recommend our favourite songs and albums of the year. Kicking it off, we have some records that, while they didn’t make it into our top 50, are well worth your attention.
Arca – Arca
Arca’s self-titled third album is a nightmarish collage of glitchy electronics, distorted vocals and odd sound effects. Far from easy listening, Arca somehow manages to create moments of beauty out of this frightening aesthetic, even if the cover of this thing is terrifying.
Benjamin Clementine – I Tell A Fly
While Clementine still has an oddball and Avant Garde approach to song-writing, I Tell A Fly is easily a lot more accessible than his debut. A lot of new listeners will find joy in this record, and Clementine’s lyrics paint a beautiful and vivid picture that many will find appealing. It’ll be interesting to see where he goes from here, but for now, I Tell A Fly is enjoyable enough.
Johnny Flynn – Sillion
Perhaps most well known for writing the theme song to the show Detectorists, Sillion shows that Flynn is more than just a one-trick pony. Pulling from Folk and Blues roots, and incorporating some more contemporary influences, Sillion is an album that gives the listener some satisfying and well crafted songs. If you’re a fan of traditional Folk and want to give something new a spin, check this out.
Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Luciferian Towers
While Luciferian Towers doesn’t quite live up to the standard set by GY!BE’s past releases, there’s no denying there are many moments on this album that echo our times. There are many moments of horror and beauty mixed together into a cataclysmic wave of sound, something which the group has always done well. Curious? Check this thing out.
Goldfrapp – Silver Eye
Goldfrapp’s latest record is chock full of pumping electronics and danceable beats. While it may not be the most advanced record, or push the group’s sound forward, it’s a really enjoyable record that anyone who has an interest in Electronic music will be able to get into. Don’t let this pass you by, give it a listen.
Jay Som – Everybody Works
The sophomore record from Jay Som is a whimsical and dreamy record that is both fun and personal. Everybody Works is Bedroom Pop at it’s finest, and Jay Som has the ability to create a simple hook with minimal effort. This album will catch some people off guard, and if you’ve never heard of Jay Som before, you’ll soon struggle to get her out of your head.
Kesha – Rainbow
Perhaps not an album you expected to find on this list, Kesha’s comeback is beautiful, funky and fun, taking you on an emotional journey. This album has received a few nominations at net years Grammys, so here’s hoping it gets a nod. With some great contributions from the Dap-Kings Horns and Eagles of Death Metal, Kesha’s third album might just be her best yet.
Los Campesinos! – Sick Scenes
Sick Scenes is an album for the Quarter-Life crisis. With references to significant life changes over a sing-a-long Indie Rock and Pop Punk groove, it’ll find fans with many people in their late Twenties. Los Campesinos! capitalise on that grim nostalgia, turning it into a decent record with a certain charm to it.
Menace Beach – Lemon Memory
I would argue that Menace Beach’s second album is one of the most underrated of the year. Channeling aspects of Grunge, Surf Rock and Pop Punk, Lemon Memory is able to produce some stellar hooks, both vocally and instrumentally. Menace Beach are comfortable adding their own quirky personality to the music, all of which makes this album easy, and indeed fun, listening.
Mountain Goats – Goths
Goths is a nice deviation from what you’d usually expect from a Mountain Goats album. With no guitars (!!!) Goths gives us a fine tribute to John Darnielle’s favourite music from his youth. Despite the name, this album is colorful, whimsical and upbeat. While long time fans will no doubt like this, new fans will also find good points.
The National – Sleep Well Beast
While this isn’t The National’s finest album, it’s still a fantastic record. The National showcase some emotive and passionate songwriting, and, as always, Sleep Well Beast contains some lush instrumentals. Unfortunately though, some media outlets have totally blown the release of this album out of proportion. Don’t let the somewhat unnecessary hype around this album cloud your enjoyment of it.
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Who Built The Moon?
Arguably the better album from the Gallagher Bros. that was released this year. Who Built The Moon? exhibits what most Noel Gallagher albums do, which are the best parts of Oasis’ discography. While this album has received a lot of flack, you can’t deny that this album is, actually quite catchy. If you just enjoy this album for what it is, you’ll get on with this just fine.
Paramore – After Laughter
Fueled By Ramen
After Laughter saw Paramore pull away from their Pop Punk past and follow the likes of Carly Rae Jepsen in exploring a more 80’s inspired sound. Steering more towards the Pop as opposed to the Punk, the group sounds accessible, but without compromising their position within their scene. The results are pleasantly surprising and Paramore come away from it with possibly their best record to date.
Paradise Lost – Medusa
If you listen to one Doom Metal album this year, make it Paradise Lost’s Medusa. If you want eight straight tracks of sludgier, monolithic, no-nonsense power, look no further than this. Sure, the themes might be miserable, but Paradise Lost turn it into something to behold. A drab outlook has never sounded so good.
Penguin Cafe – The Imperfect Sea
Erased Tapes are a wonderful label, and Penguin Cafe’s Imperfect Sea personifies the sheer bliss that comes from so many ET releases. You don’t have to be an expert on Ambient music to enjoy this album. The subtle electronics will easily get under anyone’s skin. And when it sounds this good, you’ll be glad of it.
Public Service Broadcasting – Every Valley
PSB have always been a band who like to make an impact, and Every Valley does this more than any of their other albums. PSB rope in artists such as Lisa Jên and James Dean Bradfield to help tell the story of the decimation of the Welsh mines. It’s an album that surprises, yet still has enough features of traditional PSB records to keep fans happy.
Rapsody – Laila’s Wisdom
Five years after her debut album, and a whole host of guest appearances, Rapsody finally dropped her sophomore album this year. This record is beautifully produced, with some lush instrumentals and some great writing from Rapsody herself. It’s likely that this record might be overlooked, especially when so many great, high profile Rap record have been released this year, but please don’t let this pass you by.
Nadia Reid – Preservation
Preservation is a stunningly beautiful album. Nadia Reid’s simplistic vocal and guitar combo are a winning formula, and her performance is simply hypnotising. But while this album is gorgeous, it’s also emotionally draining. It’s an album that’s difficult to listen to, and will move you to your core when you dare venture into it.
Sacred Paws – Strike A Match
Scottish Music Prize winners Sacred Paws gave us a tight, riveting new album this year. The two-piece manage to channel energy and enthusiasm into every song creating infectious grooves, catchy vocal rhythms and so much more. Recommended if you enjoy lighthearted, easy to digest Pop music without too much sugar on top.
Sampha – Process
This year’s Mercury Prize winner (easily one of the best of a bad bunch) is a really great debut album. Despite having worked with so many different people, Sampha’s own work is remarkably personal and unique unto himself. If you’re a fan of SBTRKT or FKA Twigs and this fell under your radar, be sure to give this album and listen.
Sufjan Stevens/Bryce Dessner/Nico Muhly/James McAlister – Planetarium
This collaborative effort by these four artists is expansive and bombastic, perhaps a little too much. But that doesn’t distract from the fact that there are some amazing tracks on this thing. A cross between Stevens’ Age of Adz and the orchestral landscapes of the National and Illinois, this is a must have for any diehard fans of Stevens. And space.
Thundercat – Drunk
Thundercat’s latest record is a smooth outing for the bassist which sees him pull in the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Pharrell and Michael McDonald. There’s something hypnotic about the record, Thundercat’s excellent musicianship and sharp wit keep the listener hooked, with the short run time for many songs keeping the record interesting.
Roger Waters – Is This The Life We Really Want?
Roger Waters latest record is great primarily for two reasons. Firstly, it features the marvelous Nigel Godrich on production, who has, rightfully so, been nominated for a Grammy for his work. Secondly, it shows Waters giving us some of his most relevant, political and best written material in years. If you’re a Waters skeptic, and hate Trump, give this thing a go, you might be surprised.
21 Savage/Offset/Metro Boomin’ – Without Warning
Yeah, say what you will about Trap music, but this album is a banger. With three of the biggest names in the genre coming together in spectacular fashion, this album gives us 10 to the point, catchy tracks. The only thing that was without warning was how really great this album is.
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