Top 17 of '17
by Amy Tweddle
2017 has been interesting year across the board but more so in music. Sometimes it takes something like global instability to ignite true art, and this really has been the case this year - the standard of music really has been outstanding. Don't get me wrong, the vacuous mainstream still exists and infects us daily but there is hope - music as 'art', music as 'concept', music as 'commentary' is making one hell of a comeback and this list reflects the pieces of art that have affected me the most this year.
1. TORRES - Three Futures
I. LOVE. THIS. ALBUM. Easily my favourite of 2017. I'll admit that I was nervous when I heard lead single 'Skim' prior to the album release as I was such a big fan of 'Sprinter', the new material sounded so minimalistic and seemed to lack the punch of Mackenzie's previous work...how wrong was I? 'Three Futures' needs to be listened to as a whole piece with everything in context, then and only then will it make sense. TORRES is an artist constantly evolving and is deserving of more recognition, she is often overlooked but do not underestimate her, I have a feeling we'll be seeing/hearing a lot more of her. 'Three Futures' is at times dark and hypnotic ('Helen in the Woods', 'Concrete Ganesha') then introspective and wistful at others, yet all tied together with a constant pulse in the form of programmed drums - the most noticeable difference in sound compared to previous releases. I'm not going to lie, this album will take a couple of listens to fully digest the concept and content - at first this album seems disparate and cold but invest time and you will be rewarded greatly - I've listened many times and I'm still discovering new layers that I missed the first time round.
2. St Vincent - MASSEDUCTION
Masseduction feels very much like an 'event' than an album release - the concept/message is far bigger than the musicality - but then isn't that the point of this album? The whole package of Masseduction has been very cleverly put together and promoted, poking fun at our constant need to satisfy our consumerism and materialism.
3. Aldous Harding - Party
A surprise favourite...if Kate Bush and PJ Harvey created an artist then Aldous would be 'it'. 'Party' is stunning start to finish and features some backing vocals from Matt Hadreas (Perfume Genius) which only add to the beauty and artistry of this album. Aldous Harding is a refreshing voice in today's musical landscape, filling every expression with conviction.
4. The National - Sleep Well Beast
Highly anticipated release from The National and it doesn't disappoint. At times morose and introspective, at times jubilant and aggressive - exactly what you'd expect - this may well be my soundtrack to these dark nights, comforting in despair and reassuring in darkness.
5. Moses Sumney - Aromanticism
Comparisons to Jeff Buckley are obvious and high praise indeed, however, that doesn't make them less true. 'Aromanticism' strips you of your guard 'til you're naked and ready to accept what Moses is willing to share with you. This feels like an intimate insight into the world and mind of Moses that if anyone else were to attempt might come off as trite and disingenuous , however, this invitation is very genuine. An album several years in the making features musicians such as Thundercat, Nicole Miglis, and Tosin Abasi, of whom add to what is a delicate yet forceful soundscape that accompanies Moses' effortless emotional peaks and troughs.
6. Kendrick Lamar - DAMN.
Probably THE most important rapper we have - provocative, insightful, honest and angry. This guy really is the real thing. If you somehow slept through the last two years, this album will catch you up - Kendrick manages to tap into the social consciousness and verbalise everything that we feel whether we realise it or not. Stylistically different to TPAB, DAMN feels more abrasive and brazenly holds a mirror to our collective psyche. If this album doesn't make you question how we live/exist then I fear that there is no hope for you. Hip Hop is the new Punk - and Kendrick is the antagonist we need.
7. The Big Moon - Love in the 4th Dimension
In these heavy, dark days comes an album packed full of joy and fun. The Big Moon will whisk anyone willing to join them back to the good ol' days of Britpop where bands like Elastica and Sleeper ruled supreme.
8. Slowdive - S/T
There's only really one word that describes this album: Lush. The vocals, instrumentation, everything is lush...it's almost so tangible you can bathe in it.
9. Equinox - It's Hard to be Happy when your Head is full of Sin
Honest, brutal and disarming. The only spoken word album on this list brings together a host of underrated musicians to produce a cohesive yet multifaceted backdrop to compliment the monologues of the poet Equinox. You can read my full review of this album here
10. Perfume Genius- No Shape
This album is beautiful. There are no other words that can succinctly convey the intricacies and poignancy of 'No Shape'. You can read my full review of this album here
Gang of Youths - Go Farther in Lightness
Cherry Glazerr - Apocalipstick
Vagabon - Infinite Woods
Hurray for the Riff Raff - The Navigator
Girlpool - Powerplant
Strand of Oaks - Hard Love
Wolf Parade - Cry Cry Cry