SCM Music’s Top 50 Albums of 2017

THERE is very little point in telling you just how tumultuous 2017 has been for the world. It’s been plastered all over the television, newspapers and Twitter. But as always, we have music to turn to, and 2017 provided an alternative to death and alternative facts. Following Joe’s annual song round-up, take a look at SCM Music’s top 50 albums of 2017.

Feel free to click on the album title for a sample of the record.

50. Amber CoffmanCity of No Reply

Columbia

An emotive listen that combines Pop and Country influences with a style that reminds the listener that Coffman spent years as part of the Dirty Projectors (thanks David Longstreth). City of No Reply shows that Coffman is comfortable stepping into the spotlight. Her emotions bleed through into her music and make this album, not only an enjoyable listen, but also a moving one.

 

 

49. Molly NilssonImaginations

Night School Records

Nilsson’s Imaginations has the vibe of The Space Lady if she wrote Vaporwave. Nilsson doesn’t take herself too seriously, but manages to captivate with well crafted Electronic beats and quirky lyrics. It’s a formula that Nilsson works with brilliantly. If you’ve not listened to Molly Nilsson before, Imaginations is a good point of entry and will hopefully see her win over new fans.

 

 

48. Tara Jane O’NeilTara Jane O’Neil

Gnomonsong

The touching and beautiful ninth studio record from the Chicago native, this self-titled release takes inspiration from acts such as Wilco and Elliott Smith, and sees O’Neil put her own touches to the formula. This album takes it’s time, spooling out beautiful lyrics and lulling the listener into a trance with it’s serene atmosphere. While not attempting to create something earth-shaking, it certainly creates beauty.

 

 

47. Kelly Lee OwensKelly Lee Owens

Smalltown Supersound

With this self-titled statement of a debut album, Kelly Lee Owens delves into the world of Indie Pop and Electronic to produce is hypnotic and exciting record. There are flecks of her Indie Rock past in the fine details of this record, but on the whole, it indulges on some Ghost Culture inspired sounds. If you fancy exploring some new Welsh electronics, give this a spin.

 

 

46. St. VincentMASSEDUCTION

Loma Vista Recordings

Following Annie Clark’s self-titled 2014 album, MASSEDUCTION sees the Indie heroine complete her transformation into a Pop star, complete with songs about pills and chirpy synthesisers. Tracks like ‘New York’ keep MASSEDUCTION relatively grounded, and Clark pours genuine emotion into several tracks, cutting through the satire with her unique vocal talents.

 

 

45. Margo PriceAll American Made

Third Man Records

As many of you will have noticed, it’s been an interesting year for the United States, and Margo Price comments on this with the aptly titled All American Made. Always the wordsmith, Price gives us some more wonderful stories on the finest Country record of the year. Her duet with Willie Nelson is a great pairing and shows how Price can hold her own against even the giants of the genre.

 

 

44. Princess Nokia1992 Deluxe

Rough Trade

Expanding her 1992 mixtape, Princess Nokia gives us a monolith of a Rap record, which sees her throw down straightforward, sharp rhymes. Her knack for referencing pop culture and telling it how it is only works in her favour on this album. Nearly every one of these 16 tracks is a total banger. Hopefully 2018 will give us more Princess Nokia and her effortless charm.

 

 

43. LCD SoundsystemAmerican Dream

DFA / Columbia

LCD Soundsystem’s comeback, was (thankfully) not just a copy and paste job from their past career. American Dream sees the group take a new approach to their sound, and the results are gratifying. Tracks such as ‘tonite’ and ‘oh baby’ show them develop a sound the draws from U2 and 80’s era Bowie. It’s a great comeback album that shows a group in their second stage of their career.

 

 

42. Jesca HoopMemories Are Now

Sub Pop

Memories Are Now shows just how excellent Jesca Hoop’s voice can be. Manipulated and layered, her harmonies are easily one of the most appealing parts of this record, which is strips instrumentation back to it’s minimum. She weaves hooks out of thin air and reels the listener in with her quirky persona and lyrics. This album is a must listen for fans of Folk and acoustic records.

 

 

41. Joey Bada$$All-Amerikkkan Badass

Cinematic Music Group

Joey Bada$$’ second studio album is incredibly sunny considering it’s subject matter. Falling into that ‘Conscious Hip Hop’ category, Bada$$ speaks a lot about topics common in Hip Hop at the moment, which has attracted some criticism. But at the heart of it, this is a really good record, with a good message at it’s core. Joey Bada$$ continues to show promise as a rapper, and it’ll interesting to see where he goes next.

 

 

40. Sun Kil MoonCommon As Light and Love Are Red Valleys of Blood

Caldo Verde

Mark Kozelek likes to tell a story, and nowhere is this more evident than on this new Sun Kil Moon project. A double album, Common As Light… sees Kozelek lament on everything from his experiences with fans, conspiracy theories, his love for other countries and current affairs. It may not be for everyone, but it’s hard to deny Kozelek’s talent for conjuring up truly unique music.

 

 

39. Code OrangeForever

Roadrunner Records

The Metalcore/Hardcore Punk fusion band Code Orange return with Forever. As expected, this record is overflowing with energy and grit, but there are daring musical moments that help make this album so good. Clocking in at 34 minutes, Code Orange manage to cram in enough excitement and surprises to keep the listener riveted and intrigued.

 

 

38. DeerhoofMountain Moves

Joyful Noise

Erratic yet tuneful, Deerhoof’s new record is both a joy and a curiosity. While not entirely alien, this record pushes the boat out while still remaining easy to enjoy for first time listeners. The group pull in some decent guest appearances on this thing, but it’s the stellar songwriting that makes Mountain Moves such an enjoyable listen. A fun and underrated album by Deerhoof.

 

 

37. WaxahatcheeOut in the Storm

Merge

Out in the Storm sees Waxahatchee make her first ever ‘Indie Rock’ album, moving away from her Folkier roots. At a precise 10 tracks, Out in the Storm is Katie Crutchfield’s most powerful to date, with Crutchfield utilising the full extent of her vocal abilities. The guitars, drums and bass are driving and infectious. Out in the Storm might not be the group’s best album, but certainly takes them into new territory.

 

 

36. Vince StaplesBig Fish Theory

Def Jam

Vince Staples’ left-field sophomore album is a bit of a departure from his debut, and takes him down an avant-garde direction. Elements of Dance, Techno, Grime and Trance music make appearances on this record, as well as vocal samples and guest stars. This is not your typical Hip Hop album and will not be for everyone. But if you give it your time, the genius of this album will take hold of you.

 

 

35. Xiu XiuForget

Polyvinyl

After the group’s chilling Twin Peaks record last year, Forget sees them switch it up, creating some off-kilter Pop music with a heavy synth presence. With elements of spoken word, rap and avant-garde music, Xiu Xiu manage to weave together a coherant and surpisingly accessible record that shows all their best qualities. A enjoyable and well-crafted record that even new comers to Xiu Xiu will like.

 

 

34. Big ThiefCapacity

Saddle Creek

Moody, gloomy Folk Rock is just what Big Thief give us on Capacity. Flecks of Psych and Alternative pop up from time to time, but on the whole, this album is a fresh wave of Folk melancholy. The muted vocals stand in stark contrast to the often heavy instrumentals. This gives a personal touch to this album, like you’re reading a diary, or having an intimate conversation in a busy bar. Truly wonderful.

 

 

33. Wolf AliceVisions of a Life

Dirty Hit

While this album takes itself way too seriously, and is plagued by some, err, off lyrics, if you sit back and enjoy what Wolf Alice have created if you’ll find pure bliss.  The band conjure up some wonderful lyrical and musical hooks on this thing that will worm themselves into your ear and refuse to leave. OK, it won’t be changing the music scene any time soon, but sit back, relax, and indulge in this album.

 

 

32. Forest SwordsCompassion

Ninja Tune

With influences stretching from 90s Big Beat to modern contemporaries such as Jamie xx and Four Tet, Compassion is the second album from Matthew Barnes aka Forest Swords. Fitting in snugly with the roster at Ninja Tune, Compassion gives us some glitchy and enticing samples that are cut and pasted exquisitely throughout the record.

 

 

31. Neil CicieregaMouth Moods

Self-Released

Cicierega’s third ‘Mouth’ album is as weird and wonderful as the series previous installments. Mouth Moods shows more tracks that shouldn’t work together being mashed up into something that’s sometimes funny, sometimes beautiful, sometimes disturbing, but always innovative. If you’re unfamiliar with this series, and you’re into mash up music, please give this a listen.

 

 

30. BrockhamptonSaturation II

Question Everything, Inc.

While each installment of the Saturation trilogy was brilliant, it was part II that really stood out. Track after track of pure Hip Hop excellence, with every member of Brockhampton shining on this release. Their ‘Boy Band’ approach to Hip Hop sees them expand into unexpected topics, and incorporate sounds that other artists could only dream of working in.

 

 

29. Colin StetsonAll This I Do For Glory

52Hz

All This I Do For Glory showcases more of Stetson’s unique talent with the saxophone. While advancing his sound to a degree, his new album is primarily more great music, without alienating his fanbase. This is an album for anyone to drop into, and I’m sure Stetson will find new fans through his hypnotic rhythms and breathing techniques. A must listen to for anyone looking to get into Experimental Jazz.

 

 

28. Tender PreyFalling Off Chairs

Tequila Worm

The creeping bass and distant guitars of Tender Prey’s Falling Off Chairs soundtrack a strangely eerie record. The naive vocals sound strangely, almost hypnotically, out of place against the weird landscape conjured by the instrumentals. Tender Prey twists and turns simple topics into riddles and rhymes, creating more mysticism among some solid Indie Pop tunes.

 

 

27. SZACtrl

Top Dawg Entertainment

The long-awaited debut from Tog Dawg’s SZA did not disappoint. With lyrics centered on sex and confidence, Ctrl gives us some wonderful tracks, such as ‘Supermodel’, ‘Drew Barrymore’ and ‘The Weekend’. It’s a real transitional period for SZA, whose growth from girl to woman is well documented through these 14 tracks. This is a great album, whose appeal will stretch from Hip Hop experts to RnB fans.

 

 

26. Chastity BeltI Used To Spend So Much Time Alone

Hardly Art

One of the most downbeat records of the year, Chastity Belt’s third album couples Slacker Rock with harsh vocals and painfully truthful lyrics. It’s a disparaging laugh at a dire situation put to music, but the result is truly glorious, and possibly the group’s finest record to date. Recommended for anyone who likes Dinosaur Jr, early R.E.M. or Mac DeMarco.

 

 

25. Tyler, the CreatorScum Fuck Flower Boy

Columbia

Arguably Tyler’s most sophisticated record, Flower Boy showcases a change of style for the Odd Future man. Featuring great features from the likes of Rex Orange Country, Frank Ocean,  ASAP Rocky and, seriously, Jaden Smith, Tyler still remains the star. His flow is standout yet still with that signature charm. Tracks such as ‘Who Dat Boy’, ‘911 / Mr. Lonely’ and ‘Boredom’ show that this is very much Tyler’s hour.

 

 

24. Blanck MassWorld Eater

Sacred Bones

The sheer terror and intensity the world has been in during the transition from 2016 to 2017 can be summed up in Blanck Mass’ latest record. Intense, erratic electronics over dubbed with screaming vocals with influences from the likes of Aphex Twin and Vaporwave, World Eater is not an easy listen. However, amongst the chaos, Blanck Mass manages to create a glimmer of hope.

 

 

23. KelelaTake Me Apart

WARP

Easily the sexiest record of the year, Take Me Apart sees Kelela pulling from contemporaries such as FKA Twigs to create a minimal, seductive debut album. The stripped back beats on this record let Kelela really take control with her startling vocals. She avoids falling into sounding like every other Electro-RnB artists and leaves her own unique stamp on this fantastic album.

 

 

22. Eugene Capper & Rhodri BrooksPontvane

Bubblewrap

The electrifying duo of Capper and Brooks fuse Surf Rock, Folk and Psych on their long awaited debut. Pontvane is a precise album that’s not afraid to take it’s listener on a journey, with diversions and curve balls at every turn. The joint vocals of the lead performers intertwine and collide perfectly, complimenting each other, and infecting this record with both melancholy and joy.

 

 

21. Hurray For The Riff RaffThe Navigator

ATO Records

Incorporating elements of Americana, Folk and Blue, Hurray for the Riff Raff’s sixth full length record, The Navigator, has a sound that will appeal to many fans of old school Blues groups. But the lyrics on this record tell the tale of someone lost in a city changed by gentrification and trying to find their way through life. As a result, this album will find many fans with ‘millennials’, and rightly so.

 

 

20. RosalíaLos Ángeles

Universal Music Spain

A real tearjerker of a record, Los Ángeles sees Rosalía and her producer reinvent some traditional Flamenco music and cover some more recent numbers too. Even if (like myself) you don’t speak Spanish, Rosalía’s vocal tone, accompanied by some exquisite guitar playing, are enough to make you fall in love with this record. Even with the unexpected Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy cover closing this album, Los Ángeles is still a classic Spanish language record that real raises the bar for Folk music in 2017. It would not be a surprise if this record fell beneath the radar for a lot of the English speaking music world, so if you’ve not checked this album out, I implore you to do so.

19. AlvvaysAntisocialites

Polyvinyl

On their second album, Canada’s Alvvays really upped their game when it came to songwriting. Each one of these ten track is precise, well-written and catchy, with front woman Mollie Rankin producing some of her best work to date. Alvvays blur the boundaries of genres, keeping the mantra of an ‘Indie Rock band’, but with plenty of Pop music sensibilities. In fitting with this 80s resurgence we seem to be going through, the band pull strongly from New Wave music, more notably on the song ‘Saved by a Waif’, which could easily be passed off as a Kim Wilde song. This album is a step up for Alvvays and shouldn’t be missed.

18. H. HawklineI Romanticize

Heavenly

I Romanticize is much like Antisocialites. H. Hawkline’s latest record sees him hone in his songwriting skills, resulting in some of his strongest work to date. Smart and sassy, I Romanticize moves away from what we might have expected from a H. Hawkline release, but he still toys with elements from his previous albums. He manipulates his spiky guitar leads and thumping bass lines, his unique vocal abilities into catchy hooks. Dripping with elements of Psych Folk and Lo-Fi (and dare I say, Krautrock?) tracks such as ‘Television’, ‘Cold Cuts’ and ‘Last Days of the Factory’ fuse these genres together seamlessly. Effortlessly cool and incredibly fascinating.

17. Mount EerieA Crow Looked At Me

P.W. Elverum & Sun

A Crow Looked At Me puts to music the deepest and darkest experiences one person can go through. The loss of his wife to cancer lead Phil Elverum to create this album, seeped in pure grief. This is far from an easy listen, in fact it’s arguably one of the most difficult albums to digest from 2017. But Elverum’s lyrical abilities and stripped back instrumentation will get under your skin. There’s not much more that can be explained about this record, it’s the kind of thing that has to be listened to to really get a grip on. But if you do go into this record, give it your time, because it’s the details of this album that really make it moving.

16. Jay-Z4:44

Roc Nation

Jay-Z hasn’t had the best few years in terms of his music, personal life and business ventures, but if it all needed to happen to give us 4:44, then it might have been worth it. Shawn Carter gives us a DIY aesthetic on this record, providing us with confessional Rap over producer No I.D.’s cut-and-paste beats. Sure, there’s some of the old Jay-Z swagger on this thing, but for the most Carter gives us a humble commentary on the social and economical state of the U.S.A. as well as delving into developments in his personal life. Easily one of the greatest returns of the year, and one of the best Hip Hop records, don’t let this album pass you by.

15. Father John MistyPure Comedy

Sub Pop

Josh Tillman returns with an album devoid of the sentiments that helped make I Love You, Honey Bear such an endearing listen. His humour is still here though, with the darkness turned up to 11. Perhaps one of the only good ‘Trump’ albums, Pure Comedy gives us a bleak outlook to the future, as Tillman uses his epic wordplay to conjure up some disturbing imagery. Tillman manages to craft some epic Folk music on this record, stretching and meandering without becoming monotonous or preachy. This especially applies to the 13 minute long ‘Leaving L.A.’ where Tillman narrates his departure from the the city of Angels.

14. PriestsNothing Feels Natural

Sister Polygon

Part of a string of great Punk albums to come out this year, Nothing Feels Natural, the debut album by Priests, swaggered onto the scene in January. Part Karen O, part Johnny Rotten, the vocal talents of Katie Alice Greer are the centrepiece of this monolithic record. Backed by spider-like guitars and rambunctious drums and bass, the quartet personify anger, frustration and philosophy through their music. While these themes might not exactly be new to Punk and Post Punk, the group’s musical approach  to these topics is so refreshing, it helps make this album so great. Moving past the boundaries of their genre, Nothing Feels Natural is one of the best Punk records of the year.

13. Oh SeesOrc

Castle Face

The prolific Oh Sees/ Thee Oh Sees / OCS / whatever they now call themselves brought us a couple of records this year, the best being Orc. After some decent efforts in 2016, Orc really restores the group’s trademark fast-paced and psychedelic sound. A crunchy Garage rock mantra soundtrack songs about mythological horror, the band playing the part of the titular orc, give this album some well needed character. The group once again show how they’re able to reinvent themselves time after time, and continue to bring in new fans with their unpredictable sound and great song-writing skills. Here’s hoping this steak doesn’t end.

12. LordeMelodrama

Lava / Republic

Lorde could easily have given us a mediocre return after four years without a record (looking at you, Haim), but thankfully that wasn’t the case. It might be predictable to say it, but Melodrama sees Lorde mature and develop her sound. She toys with her vocal abilities, almost giving us a teaser for what she plans for the future, as well as some of the best Pop songs of the year. ‘Green Light’, ‘Sober’, ‘Supercut’, ‘Liability’ and ‘Perfect Places’ are all outstanding numbers that leave the listener’s mouth watering for more. Perhaps the most relevant Pop Star of 2017, here’s hoping it less time for Lorde to give us more excellent material.

11. Jen CloherJen Cloher

Remote Control

Cloher’s self-titled record is an excellent effort by the singer-songwriter. Touching on topics such as the music industry and long-distance relationships, there are few frills on this record. Instead, Cloher’s wit and excellent songwriting skills shine through, making it the heart and soul of the record. From the self-aware ‘Forget Myself’ to the incredibly touching ‘Dark Art’, Cloher reveals her innermost thoughts. They’re not always the prettiest, but the bitter truth that comes through in these songs is what helps make them so riveting. If you’re unfamiliar with Cloher’s work, and you’re a fan of Australian Indie Rock, be sure to check this record out.

10. Yazz AhmedLa Saboteuse

Naim Records

Jazz record of the year, Yazz Ahmed’s La Saboteuse started life as four separate EPs before being brought together into this fantastic record. Having previous worked with the likes of Radiohead, Ahmed maintains a connection to this world, notably in her cover of ‘Bloom’. As you could guess from the cover, Ahmed infuses elements of World and Psychedelic music in this record, keeping a strong beat throughout, while erratic solos and glide effortlessly in and out. Ahmed isn’t afraid to push the boundaries of her sound, letting the music speak for itself and refusing to rush. Bitches Brew is a clear influence on this sound, and Ahmed has created a new perfect Jazz Fusion record.

9. ColleenA Flame My Love, a Frequency

Thrill Jockey

In the past, Colleen has used both electronic and organic sounds to create a minimal vibe. A Flame My Love… sees her work with the former, but acting like a sequel to her older records, such as The Golden Morning Breaks. Once again, she is able to craft some of the most beautiful music of the year. Incorporating her vocals into several tracks, Colleen doesn’t detract from the hypnotic ambient music she is creating, instead adding new layers of intrigue. Wave after wave of bubbling textures add themselves to ocean of sound that this album creates. At it’s peak, this record is spectacle; something that’s to be marvelled at and appreciated.

8. Fleet FoxesCrack-Up

Nonesuch

After taking a long hiatus, there was a lot of pressure on Fleet Foxes to deliver on this, their third studio album. Thankfully Robin Pecknold and company came through with a melodic, lush and beautiful record. Crack-Up is an album that is mature and shows how the Fleet Foxes sound has grown rich and fuller with age. While the group bring back familiar traits from their older records, they weren’t afraid to incorporate new elements into their sound and take a few risks. Announcing their return with an eight minute long single is just an example of this. If you were a Fleet Foxes fan back in ‘the day’, then definitely come back to them and revel in this wondrous record.

7. Phoebe BridgersStranger in the Alps

Dead Oceans

Another wonderful singer-songwriter whose career is just beginning, Phoebe Bridgers’ debut pulls strongly from Country and Indie Folk influences. Her angelic voice may be soft on the ears but her derogatory and depressing lyrics will break your heart. At the age of 23, it seems death has already played a integral part of her life, even on a track so unassumingly titled as ‘Demi Moore’. But even while there gloomy moments, Bridgers shows someupbeat attitudes through the record. Phoebe Bridgers is an excellent songwriter, and Stranger in the Alps shows so much promise for what will hopefully be a long and fruitful career.

6. Emily Haines and the Soft SkeletonChoir of the Mind

Last Gang / eOne

Ditching the New Wave and Indie attitude that you would expect to find on a Metric record, their frontwoman, Emily Haines, brings back her Soft Skeleton project for Choir of the Mind. Nearly devoid of glitzy guitars and synth, this record focuses predominately on Haines’ vocals and piano work, occasionally adding in other instruments when the song calls for it. The result of this is an incredibly direct record that layers sound and creates a nostalgic and downbeat atmosphere. While there are a few unexpected moments (including Haines quoting Rihanna on a spoken word track), Choir of the Mind is, on the whole, a touching and haunting listen.

5. Mac DeMarcoThis Old Dog

Captured Tracks

After the excellent Salad Days in 2014, and the mini-album Another One in 2015, Mac DeMarco reduced his sound. The Jangle Pop songs are stripped back on This Old Dog. Instead, DeMarco brings it back to acoustic guitar, light synths and drum machines for the most part. His confessional and personal lyrics are complimented by his likeable persona and witty lyricism. For the most part, This Old Dog is a downbeat and low-key record which works in it’s favour. When DeMarco wants to build up tension or create a climax, it stands out as a significant lyrical or instrumental point for the album. This is especially effective in the latter half of the record, with track ‘Moonlight on the River’ and ‘On the Level’ being particularly of note. Here, the album sky rockets from moody Folk into distorted electronics and vocal snippets that take the record to another level, showing just how fluid DeMarco’s songwriting has become.

4. Girl RayEarl Grey

Moshi Moshi

Having built up a buzz for a few years now, London trio Girl Ray give us their debut record on Moshi Moshi. With obvious comparisons to acts such as Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci aside, there’s a bliss to Earl Grey that manifests itself through the jangly guitar and harmonious vocals of the group. Having built up a sound through non-album tracks ‘Trouble’ and ‘I’ll Make This Fun’, the group continue to entertain this mantra on this record. Songs such as ‘Preacher’ and ‘Stupid Things’ give us more whimsical Indie Pop, while ‘Don’t Go Back at Ten’ might just be the most fun song on the record.But the group revel in this chance to create a complete record and stretch their artistic process. The results are some of the most entertaining and fascinating songs on the album. The 13 minute long track ‘Earl Grey (Stuck in a Groove)’ sees them transition from section to section with new vigor, and ‘A Few Months’ takes them down darker and funkier territory. It’s a pleasure to hear how triumphant this album is.

3. IdlesBrutalism

Balley Records

After so many artists in the U.K. purport to ‘political’ and ‘punk’, yet all we have to show for it are poorly written Kasabian songs, it’s nice to see one band delivering on the goods. Bristol band Idles give us pulsating, driving Punk music with straight talking, often harsh, lyrics. Aside from giving us the hook of the year on ‘Well Done’ (“Why don’t you get a job?/ Even Tarquin has a job/Mary Berry’s got a job”) the band lament gender politics (‘Mother’), art (‘Stendahl Syndrome’) and unemployment (‘Faith in the City’) amongst other topics. Backing these tablets of anger and frustration come a tight rhythm section akin to that of Savages and other Post-Punk bands, but coupled without of control guitars which cut through the songs providing misdirection and anarchy. There’s a reason this album is called Brutalism. The only exception to this is the closing track, ‘Slow Savage’, where frontman Joe Talbot, accompanied by only soft drums, piano and his own howling vocals,  is left with a heartbreaking song seemingly about a dysfunctional relationship. A fitting way to end such an album.

2. Kendrick LamarDAMN.

Top Dawg / Aftermath / Interscope

Look past the memes about syrup sandwiches and playing this album backwards and you’ll find Kendrick Lamar’s fourth studio album, not counting last years outtakes compilation. DAMN is another fantastic effort from Kung-Fu Kenny, and see’s him move away from the Jazz and Funk inspired To Pimp A Butterfly and into the trend of conscious Rap that we’ve seen so much of this year. That doesn’t mean Lamar has dropped the use of concepts or stories. If anything, a lot of what is featured on DAMN seems like the dark follow-up to TPAB. It shows Lamar thinking about fame, life, death, America, heritage and God. At points Lamar is almost dissecting elements of religion, linking himself to the character of Job from the bible, as well as African Americans to Israelite. In the music that accompanies this we have features from the likes of BadBadNotGood, Rihanna, Zacari and U2 (which goes down surprisingly great). And amongst all of this, Lamar still has time to fit in some bangers on this thing. ‘Humble’ is, of course, brilliant, while ‘DNA’ is a hard hitting opener. Lamar doesn’t sit still on this record, or try to hold onto the acclaim that TPAB brought him. Instead, he moves on and gives us one of the finest records of the year.

1. FeistPleasure

Interscope

Following 2011’s Polaris Prize winning, yet somewhat lacklustre, Metals, Feist returned with Pleasure. Reinvigorated and ballsy, Pleasure has given us some of Feist’s best music for years. Her songwriting skills, coupled with the quirks and surprises this record had to offer, make it the best of the year. The inverted love songs such as ‘A Man Is Not His Song’, ‘I Wish I Didn’t Miss You’ and ‘Baby Be Simple’ show Feist giving us an alternative to so many nostalgic emotions that she’s laid on us in the past. These songs address individuality and the company of one’s self, as well as confidence. While the last two of these are very stripped back, with Feist toying with her vocal ability, the first gives us these wonderful group vocals and a euphoric ending, culminating with, of all things, as Mastodon sample. But on other tracks celebrate love,with equally unexpected moments keeping the charm of this record alive. The spoken word passage on ‘Century’ performed by Jarvis Cocker is both charming, hilarious and seductive. No one could have seen this coming, but it’s the icing on the cake for this song. Then the song ‘Any Party’ is a wonderful bluesy number which features one of the Feist’s most passionate performances. Every song on this album sounds like a single, and each one is so perfectly performed it’s impossible not to be invested in it. The quirks this album have to offer give it even more personality, and it shows that after years of performing, Feist has really mastered her skills as a writer and performer. This is an amazing album, and our album of 2017.

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