2017 was without a doubt, a fantastic year for music. In all music scenes, artists were able to explore new realms of sound and songwriting to create a year that will go down in history, as being one of the greats. Here’s a short list of some of my personal favourites.
Big Thief – Capacity
In their second album, Big Thief achieved everything their first album ‘Masterpiece’ did, and more. The level of careful and clever songwriting here is absolutely fantastic. In the song Mythological Beauty in particular there are two really powerful lines which read “I was just five and you were twenty-seven; Praying “don’t let my baby die.” It’s amazing the amount of sheer power and emotion that can be evoked in just two lines. It’s lines like this that make this album something truly special and rewarding.
Featured Tracks: Pretty Things, Great White Shark, Mythological Beauty and Mary.
The xx – I See You
After a five year break, which saw Jamie xx release his 2015 Grammy Nominated solo album ‘In Colour’ as well as working hard on the trios third studio album, I See You was released in 2017 to critical acclaim. Each track is unique, exciting and musically engaging. All three members have their moments to shine, and work superbly together for arguably their best album release to date.
Featured Tracks: Say Something Loving, Replica, On Hold, and I Dare You.
The Jungle Giants – Quiet Ferocity
What a year it has been for the Jungle Giants! They landed not one, not two, but four songs in the triple j Hottest 100 for 2017, as well as announcing a series of national tours in 2017 and 2018. Why you may ask? Because of their fantastic third album ‘A Quiet Ferocity’! The album excels in almost every way from excellent songwriting, amazing song compositions and a whole lot more. These guys are definitely on the rise at the moment, and I don’t think it will be easing down anytime soon.
Featured Tracks: On Your Way Down, Bad Dream, Used To Be In Love, and Quiet Ferocity.
ODESZA – A Moment Apart
Okay, fanboy moment here, but Clayton Knight and Harrison Mills are amazing! Each album the duo has released under ODESZA, from 2012’s beautiful ‘Summer’s Gone’ to 2014’s jaw dropping ‘In Return’ all the way to 2017’s epic ‘A Moment Apart’; ODESZA is arguably one of the best electronic acts out there. Taking cues from their live set performances, ‘A Moment Apart’ sees them taking an almost cinematic adventure. This is clearly evident in their show stopping live performances that incorporate electronic pads, with trumpeters, guitarists and a full fledged drumline.
Featured Tracks: A Moment Apart, Boy, Line of Sight (feat. WYNNE & Mansionair), Meridian, and Divide (feat. Kelsey Bulkin).
Rapsody – Laila’s Wisdom
Rapsody’s sixth album does not show any signs of weakness for the artist. Dominating the rap scene, ‘Laila’s Wisdom’ is evidence why. Featuring performances from the Anderson .Paak, BJ The Chicago Kid and the man himself, Kendrick Lamar, the helms some of hip-hop’s greatest for an absolute great ride.
Featured Tracks: Power (feat. Kendrick Lamar & Lance Skiiwalker), Nobody (feat. Anderson .Paak, Black Thought & Moonchild), and Knock On My Door (feat. BJ The Chicago Kid).
Paul Kelly – Life Is Fine
The legend returns! Since is debut-album all the way back in 1981, one would think that over thirty years later there would be no way an artist could still remain relevant and entertaining. But no, Paul Kelly it turns out is even more alive than he ever has been before with his 23rd album ‘Life Is Fine’. The album rocks across its 12-tracks, proving that classic rock has not died and is still as enjoyable and entertaining as it was 30 years before.
Featured Tracks: Finally Something Good, Firewood And Candles and Letter In The Rain.
Bonobo – Migration
Following early teases of his sixth album in Kerala and Break Apart (feat. Rhye) Bonobo delivered with ‘Migration’. It’s an album that fuses together all Simon Green’s years of talent into an expertly crafted electronic LP. There are moments of beauty to be found everywhere across the record, with exceptional sound design and song compositions across board. Even as tracks like Outlier run for over 7 minutes, Bonobo still finds ways to make them musically engaging and interesting through clever arrangement and automation.
Featured Tracks: Break Apart (feat. Rhye), Outlier, Grains, Bambro Koyo Ganda (feat. Innov Gnawa), No Reason (feat. Nick Murphy) and Figures.
London Grammar – Truth Is A Beautiful Thing
I can sum up this album in one word. Yep, one word. Hannah Reid’s vocals. They are absolutely amazing. Coupled with the excellent minimalist production from Dan Rothman and Dominic Major, London Grammar’s sophomore album is truly a ‘beautiful thing.’ There is so much to love about their craft. Honestly, it will keep you engaged and mesmerised from its opening track Rooting For You to its final song What A Day.
Featured Tracks: Big Picture, Wild Eyed, Hell To The Liars, Leave The War With Me, and Truth Is A Beautiful Thing.
Kendrick Lamar – DAMN.
Yes, I do agree that Kendrick Lamar’s previous two albums ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’ and ‘good kid, m.A.A.d city’ were better albums than DAMN., but even then, that does not mean that DAMN. is not a good album. Everything ranging from the song writing, production, feature acts, artwork and music videos are without a doubt exceptional. Kendrick clearly knows his ability on this record, but he pushes it and tries to challenge what a hip hop artist can, or should I say, should or should not do. I can’t even get my head around the fact that one of the producers for the record, Steve Lacy, made some of the songs from the album entirely on his iPhone 6! If the album says anything, it’s that Kendrick’s on top.
Featured Tracks: DNA., ELEMENT., PRIDE., LOVE. (feat. Zacari), and FEAR.
Thrupence – Ideas of Aesthetics
Signed by Future Classic, Thrupence, Jack Vanzet, is a man of many talents. He is the visionary behind the album art for RUFUS DU SOL’s 2016 album art ‘Bloom’. He assists with many of the visual components for Vance Joy in his Live Visuals. And is a producer under the name of Thrupence. His album ‘Ideas of Aesthetics’ is almost a culmination of all Jack’s talents into one. It is carefully crafted and constructed, so much so that if you listen carefully you can hear sounds of him sitting down on the seat of a piano. Why, you may ask would he leave those ambient sounds in the record? Well, it’s because it all contributes to the fragility and innocence of the album. It’s overall a lovely listen.
Featured Tracks: Forest on the Sun, Rinse Repeat, Conversations (feat. Edward Vanzet), and Acacia Road.
Lorde – Melodrama
New Zealander Lorde delivers not a great album, but an excellent one with her second record ‘Melodrama’. It exceeds in so many ways from her past record, which itself is amazing as well! Songs are produced, and written so well as Ella explores the theme of solitude following the break down of a long-term relationship. It’s a new dimension of pop music that adopts a more electropop exterior; differing from the minimalist style of her debut album. It’s no surprise that many named the record as Album of the Year, and that it received a Grammy Nomination for Album of the Year in 2017.
Featured Tracks: Green Light, Sober, Homemade Dynamite, Liability, Supercut, and Perfect Places.
Four Tet – New Energy
Arguably my favourite album of 2017, Four Tet’s tenth studio album ‘New Energy’ is without question a masterpiece. It works so well in almost every way. Kieran Hebden is a master of his craft, blending samples, sound design altogether through beautiful compositions that transform, evolve and defy expectations. It’s crazy to listening to a song to hear it change into another without you even noticing. All of a sudden you’re in a new song, and you wonder how you didn’t notice it all these instruments coming in. That’s because Kieran is just so good at his craft, and is why Four Tet will go down in history as one of the pioneers in electronic music.
Featured Tracks: Two Thousand and Seventeen, LA Trance, Scientists, You Are Loved, SW9 9SL, Daughter, and Planet.
Some of my other favourites: SZA – Ctrl; Airling – Hard to Sleep, Easy to Dream; Petit Biscuit – Presence; Gang of Youths – Go Farther Into Lightness; Teen Daze – Themes for Dying Earth; Arcade Fire – Everything Now; Pnau – Changa; Vince Staples – Big Fish Theory; Greta Stanley – Full Grown