18 December 2017

The ATTIWLTMOWOS Top 40 albums of 2017

So, we have reached the end of the year and it's been an eventful 12 months!  So much has happened, the standard of the records released this year has been outstanding, with over 200 albums being in contention for our album of the year.  It's been hard to trim them down to 40, let alone anything smaller.  In another year, some of the albums that have not made the list would have been in the mix, but the quality for 2017 has been incredibly high.  But we're not here to talk about what has not made it, we are here to talk about the ATTIWLTMOWOS top 40, and as expected there is not a Gallagher in sight!  So, here we go......

40 - The Bronx - V

It wasn’t until I saw Mariachi el Bronx that I finally understood the Bronx.  That might surprise some people, but what are you gonna do!  V is an album I have been playing on and off for the last month or so, just as an album to listen to without any pressure of reviewing it at that moment, which has helped a lot.  It means I have had the opportunity to let it sink in, to absorb it rather than complete a “shot from the hip” review!  For me, this is a great album, with songs such as “Side Effects”, “Channel Islands” and “Past Away” sounding brilliant, it is a gem of a record.

39 - Tooth Grinder - Phantom Armour

Phantom Armour has become a late contender to the metal throne as far as 2017 is concerned, with a slice of Modern Metal that mixes a bit of Post-Hardcore, a bit of Nu-Metal, with a lot of emotional baggage and a fuck load of riffs.  It’s not quite a perfect release, they do have a few too many lighter number (in a given sense of the word “Lighter”) and there are a few songs that could have been removed for an EP and it would not have changed the mark for the album.  But that is down to personal taste.  This is a brilliant album, one that I would recommend to anyone who is looking for a something different from Metal in 2017.

38 - Burn - Do or Die

Sometimes you just want your music to be heavy and loud, sometimes you want it to have a message at its core and at other times you need a combination of the two.  Do or Die keeps up the great tradition of Hardcore music by keeping those principals alive, whilst still soundings like a mosh-pit could erupt at any given moment.  If you’re lucky enough to have purchased one of the limited vinyl with the cool print, I am eternally jealous.  Best Hardcore album of 2017, hands down!

37 - King Gizzard & The Wizard Lizard - Murder of the Universe

Over the three chapters, Murder of the Universe is played out over twenty-one songs, the band have created one of the best rock concept albums of the year, it's a fantastic album which feels like a horror comic that has been recrafted to music.  One of the gems of 2017, check it out now!

36 - Danko Jones - Wild Cat

In an age where Rock music has been stated to be over, it’s great to see bands such as Danko Jones are still out there, giving it their all and achieving results in the face of increasing odds against them.  For every serious artist, you need an artist that knows how to get a crowd moving.  There is no questioning their talent, or the fact that they are serious about their art, I know because every time I have seen Danko Jones live, they give their all.  You can also say the same about this record, whilst it’s not the deepest of record, you know it’s just a fun record.  You’re not going to debate what is going on in “She Likes It”, you already know everything about it before it starts to fade out. However, Wild Cat is a primal album, a beast that is designed to get the room moving, the knees quaking and the headbanging.  Yes, there are a couple of tracks that sound out of place in 2017, yes, I might like a bit of change from them, but that’s not the point here.  Wild Cat is saying “if it’s not broken, why try to fix it when it works so well?”  I love this record for its sound, for its ability to play to the strengths of Danko Jones, it quite simply – rocks!

35 - Cheap Trick - We're All Alright

For me, this is one of the best albums of Cheap Trick's latter-day career, it just keeps it simple and to the point.  By sticking to basics, it plays to their strengths and you would not want them to do anything else.  They are the American version of Motörhead for me, the American AC/DC if you will.  They have their formula and they have perfected it over the years, this album is a distilled version of that sound and it is as fresh as ever.  Are there any faults?  Well, that depends on your love of this type of rock album, if you are not a fan of classic rock than this might not be your cup of tea.  But that is not the fault of the band, they have just made a brilliant classic rock album, one of the best of 2017.  I sadly can't give it full marks, due to the fact that it's too on the point classic rock style, it could have done with maybe one more slower number.  I know it has about three, but it would not have hurt it to have another and maybe the cover of 'Blackberry Way' should have been on the standard version. You must also at this point (rightly or wrongly), compare We're All Alright! to their back catalogue and stand it up against their past release. To be honest, as good as this album sounds, they have released other albums which have the edge this one.  But it is so close, I mean it's within touching distance and it does not detract from the fact that this is a brilliant record from Cheap Trick.  If you want to get your rock on, this is the album for you.

34 - Benjamin Booker - Witness

Witness is a brilliant album, one that is full of protest, passion and the blues.  But as good as it sounds, there is a sense of shame that this album still needs to be made.  As human beings, you would have thought in the year 2017 that race relations were at a point where this record was required.  It's a protest record, one that deals in subjects that people will feel uncomfortable listening to and it's brilliant.  The repression of recent years is creating a generation of musicians who are willing to speak up, to do more than bear witness and Benjamin Booker is one of those musicians.  Any faults?  Nothing that I would comment on to be honest, the album has some strange production to these ears, but that does not take away from the power of the songs.  I cannot praise this album enough, this is a beautiful and brave record.

33 - CJ Wildheart - Blood

The thing I love about Blood is that CJ is embracing the future as well as acknowledging the past as well, something that some people are not able to do with ease.  Blood is a punky/metal little upstart of a record, one that makes the angry teenager in me excited and wanted to bounce around with youthful exuberance.  Time will tell where this falls in his overall discography, but for me this is his best work out of his recent solo album.  It just hits all the spots that you want from a CJ record: it has attitude, style and above all – kick ass tunes that make the world a better place just for being in existence.  There is no downside to Blood, the only thing is that I wish it was slightly longer; but that's a personal thing as I did not want the album to end.

32 - The Transcendents - Dirt Songs

I love the way The Transcendents approach music, they just seem to go head long towards not giving a fuck and then you realise that they have put so much thought, effort and time into their sound and it's such a great joy once that piece of information hits home for the listener.  Now, I am not going to lie and say that they have made the easiest listening album of the year; this is still far off the beaten track and heading towards a point that is far on the horizon. So, what is it that makes this release stand out for their other works?  Well, the songs on Dirt Songs are the usual quality mix of off the wall, Beefheart loving bat crap crazy noise that we have come to love from The Transcendents.  There are a few pieces which require further spins to for my money, some pockets of drone to be extracted from them; but overall, it's another fine release from one of the pioneer mavericks from An Nua-Shéalainn.

31 - Dreadzone - Dread Times

One of my friend's (when describing this album) put it best when he called it "a lovely kind of retrospective of all their styles over the 20 odd years"; I think that is probably the best description I have heard about this album since its release, from one of the guys who is pretty much spot on when it comes to bands.  Dread Times is one of those moments where everything somehow manages to work on so many different levels, and it blows your mind with each repeated listen.  I love that there is a darkness to this record, these are dark times and you need someone to speak up for the masses.  It's a fantastic album, and whilst there might be a couple of tracks which do not work for me all the time, I cannot fault the album at all and I think it's in the mix for our album of the year. Do yourself a favour, invest, investigate and play loud (bass heavy rumbling)!

30 - Ryan Adams - Prisoner

There are times when I'm listening to Prisoner, and I find myself in awe of this album.  As misery can be a great catalyst at times and when the pain is hot and malleable, it's usually then that the creative type can use that resource and channel some of that emotive fuel and make the pain into flesh via music.  Prisoner is a beautiful album, one that has a lot of similarities to Love Is Hell with some fine song that deal with a dark period in the man's life.  It does have a few moments which do not meet the high standards of songs such as "Doomsday", "Broken Anyway" or "Breakdown", but the overall impression I have of this album is that misery can love company.  As this is one side of the break-up, you are never too sure what you are getting, but the music is so good that it will help people if they are feeling the same.  

29 - The Flatliners - Inviting Lights

Inviting Lights has been my introduction to the Flatliners, it is such a rewarding experience.  To be brutally honest, I am surprised I have not came across them before as they tick a lot of boxes for me.  They play melodic hardcore as good as any other band in the genre, they are thought provoking and can rock with the best of them.  There is a little bit too much self-pity to some of the lyrics, but this is still a top quality release.  For those looking for new (or old) Melodic-Hardcore heroes, I present to you The Flatliners!

28  - The Charlatans - Different Days

They have done it, they have finally done it (at least for me)!  The Charlatans have made a great, great album with Different Days that should (hopefully) be held as their classic record!  Now, I'm not going to pretend that Different Days is a perfect record, there are a few tracks which could have been jettisoned and it wouldn't have affected the outcome of the album, but they do not detract from the quality of this record sounds.  As a person who has been a casual fan of their music, I am very impressed by this album.  It's one of those moments where everything seems to come together for a band, the production, the songs, the guests helping the songs instead of overshadowing the band and it just sounds so good.  I sort of hate myself a bit for saying that after so many years of moaning about them, but I'm also so glad I picked this up as I truly love it when a band creates such a great record.  Well played Messrs Blunt, Burgess, Rogers and Brookes, well played and well done!

27 - Iron Monkey - 9-13

9-13 is the sound of the terminally pissed off, the down-trodden revolting against the world, the primal expression of a fucked off generation with nothing to lose.  I love (for want of a better word) that they have come back together, and that this union has unleashed this untamed beast of an album.  Now, some people are going to compare it to their previous incarnation, which is a natural thing to do.  But it’s also something I have tried to avoid in a way, as Iron Monkey’s first run was such a tour-de-force that to compare them would be unfair.  They have stayed true to themselves, that is enough for me and then some.  Also, a lot of people might reject this, just because it's not the original line-up.  But to those people who have not listened to this for that reason, get over it!  This is a great Iron Monkey album, it does not fuck up their legacy, in fact, it brings a new dimension to it and what more would you want?  It's great to have Iron Monkey back in any form, having a new album is just the cherry on top of a huge cake.  Granted, the cake is toxic and will kill you, but that is always the risk you take with Iron Monkey anyway. Hopefully, there will be more to come, as this is a spectacular album!

26 - dälek - Endangered Philosophies

Endangered Philosophies is another brilliant album from dälek, they have continued the fine form that they started on Asphalt for Eden and taken it to its ragged, sinister edge.  It isn't an easy album on the soul, but it’s an important album as dälek are one of the best hip-hop acts currently out there.  This is an album which will not have any fair-weather fans, it’s one you will either love or hate, personal I adore it.  If I had one piece of criticism, it would be that Endangered Philosophies sounds a little too similar to Asphalt for Eden in tone, but even then, that does not bother me.  I would be deliberately looking for issues where none exist in my mind, this is a great album and if anyone says otherwise, they are lying. Too many times I have been hung up when a band stays on the same course, but when it’s still baring fruits as gloriously dark as this, what is there to complain about.  This is another special album in 2017, showcasing dälek at a creative peak.

25 - InHeaven - InHeaven

As debut goes, this is spot on.  You are not going to find anything as good as this coming out of indie music this year (well, maybe Mogwai - but they are more Post Rock than Indie).  I love the laidback feeling of InHeaven which somehow manages to be energetic as well, the music is amazing, and it has not been off my music player for the last week or so.  They have captured a feeling of youthful disenchantment, the hungry for something new and it is all done with a fuzzy guitar peddle, a large bass and drum combo, mixing female and male vocals and attitude.  Whilst it may not have been on my radar before I saw them live, it has made a massive impact for me.  Buy InHeaven, go and see them live and prepare to be amazed.

24 - Paradise Lost - Medusa

As Paradise Lost get older, they seem to be returning to their old ways.  Medusa retreats further to their doom roots, sounding as if the funeral is in full flow with the skies as black as thunder.  This is both a good thing and a bad thing; going back towards that earlier sound (in some peoples’ eyes) could be viewed as retreat, an admission of failure.  However, when it sounds as good as this, who really gives a fuck!  Paradise Lost are doing what they do best, massive doom metal songs which sound best when they are played as loud as possible.  Granted, it isn't their most instance record, but it's one of the most rewarding on repeated spins.

23 - Bootsy Collins - World Wide Funk

You don’t listen to a Bootsy Collins album expecting anything but a collection of songs about sex and designed to dance to, World Wide Funk continues that fantastic tradition and it is great to hear his funky bass in the world once more.  Yes, there are a few songs that don’t really float my boat, and yes, it could have lost a few songs.  But I still find myself enjoying the best percentage of this album, it's timeless and it has some great moments.  Sometimes you need music to dance to, you could do a hell of a lot worse than World Wide Funk, it’s my surprise of the year and I’m so happy to have found it.  Now, get your funk on!

22 - Lorde - Melodrama

Lorde has gone from being a pop act to becoming a pop icon in the space of one album, she has destroyed her critics (me included) in the space of eleven songs and Melodrama is one of the best pop records of 2017.  I cannot fault this record for the type of music it is, this is an adventurous record for a pop artist to release at any stage in their career, to unleash this as their second album it is a leap of faith which has paid off in the best possible way.  Another thing I love about this record making a pop album where you best songs are full of swearing is an awesome thing to hear!  The promise of her first album has come to fruition, but I think that the best is still yet to come.  I really do not mean that in a condescending way, but there are still moments here which could be improved, such artistic knowledge as this only comes with time.  Also, the more I listen to this album, it becomes more apparent that this is the statement that the 1975 were trying to make last year, but Lorde has the talent to bring it all together.  Pop music has sorely needed a new Queen of Pop for a long time, now they have one  - The Queen is dead, long live the Queen!

21 - Dead Cross - Dead Cross

In the space of ten songs, which include a bizarre cover version of the Bauhaus classic “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”, Dead Cross have created a unique record, where each song is an intense rollercoaster ride which does not let up from beginning to end.  When you play Dead Cross, you play it to as a primal release that you experience with it.  Once you start with “Seizure and Desist”, it's probably best to power all the way to “Church of the Motherfucker”.  This is not to get it over with in one go, it just works better as a whole and not as a load of individual tracks.  Dead Cross is not the sound of a “Supergroup” – this is the sound of lunacy made flesh.  I adore it for all the right/wrong reasons and it makes me so happy when it is on, which probably tells you more about my state of mind than I care to admit.

20 - Steven Wilson - To the Bone

For me personally, I don't think that Steven Wilson is capable of producing a poor album, he just seems to have the Midas touch when it comes to creating prog rock.  To the Bone has some amazing moments to add to his impressive back catalogue and it is an album worthy of the praise it has been receiving.  However, it's also an album that has followed the jaw dropping Hands. Cannot. Erase. and the brilliant odd-cut delights of 4½, so it is stuck in the shadows of its dominate brothers to a certain extent.  But when all is said and done, this does not stop this album being a truly great release in 2017, one that will hopefully gain more fans and be an introduction to people for this great musician.

19 - Ginger Wildheart - Ghost in the Tangledwood

Ghost in the Tanglewood is short on time, but it's big in heart and I applaud the effort that has been made here.  This is for the most part, an album which doesn't have that anger which have been fuelling other releases (or flat out denial for some records) and that is refreshing to be honest.  It will offer hope to people, showing that you can battle your demons, sometimes you need that little piece of hope that this can be accomplished, and that hope sometimes arrives in the form of music.  The folk element of this album is something that has always been hinted on songs from other releases (‘Reinventing the Wheel’, ‘Illuminating Times’, ‘We’ve Been Expecting You’ to name a few), after going all glam-pop with Hey Hello! and noise with Mutation, it was a natural thought that he would eventually find that folk rock album.  It fits the lyrical content here and it is good to see that he is finding a way to explain his demons, maybe it will help others.  So, how do I feel about it as an album, taking away the cathartic help and looking at it as a piece of art/music?  Well, I think it's brilliant; yes, it is not as mind blowing as ‘Mutation III’ and it is also one which I would hold over both Hey Hello albums (I know I am in the minority here, they just haven’t worked for me).  So, why did it only get 8 out of ten when it was originally reviewed?  Well, to be honest I am sort of uncomfortable giving it a mark at all, due to the personal nature of the record.  Also, it is a hard record to listen to when everything is going well, it is very mood specific.  It's also not a perfect record in some ways, but that is part of the beauty here.  It's not one of those shiny beasts, where everything is perfect as it's a natural album that is just trying to make sense of the world and moving one step at a time.   There is a fragile humility to it, also for once it doesn't have a bucket of swearing and that is a real surprise to be honest. One thing is for sure – it will start a conversation or two, so I would recommend people go out there and purchase it.

18 - Crystal Fairy - Crystal Fairy

Oh, my giddy aunts...... that was good, I mean that was fantasy level amazing and beyond with more awesome levels than an expansion of your computer game of choice.  Now, this is heavily leaning on the Melvins side of their collective musical experience.  And make no mistakes about it and I would have understood if they had have just named it as the Melvins (isn't there about eighteen different versions of the band at the moment), it still would have sounded glorious.  But Mr Rodríguez-López and Ms Gender Bender are not just people for hire on this one, they are vital parts of this group and album.  Sir Osborne and Crover are on fine form, as is Mr Rodríguez-López; however, I think it's the vocals of Ms Gender Bender is the very core of this album for me, her performance is outstanding.  With every release that I hear from her, she takes massive steps in confidence and she is becoming one of my favourite performers - seriously, what a talent.  If this is the only thing that this band release, that is fine as it's a fantastic record that showcases a band at their prime - but I hope there is more.

17 - Cloakroom - Time Well

Time Well is one of the albums that really should have received a full review, but time is truly against me at the point.  Cloakroom (for my money) are the American modern equivalent of Dublin Legends, My Bloody Valentine.  They are bathed in reverb, which they use to smother the audience in noise, giving this album a retro feeling.  But it isn't an album that is looking back at you from a time long gone, Cloakroom have made their own mark in Shoegazing with this album, Time Well is a brilliant record that needs to be heard to be believed.

16 - The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets - The Dukes of Alhazred

This is such a fun album, one that does not have an iota of seriousness in its bones, unless it is about monsters and horror in general.  It's how music should be at times when you can just switch off, let the music roll over you and learn a bit about the fucked-up things that a man has seen/invented in their own minds when off their tits on Ouzo.  It is not a perfect album, there is a familiarity to the songs by the time you get to the end that you know it could've been trimmed and been just as joyous.  But the number 13 has mystic meanings, something that should not be lost on the listener.  Overall, The Dukes of Alhazred is a great album with a deal with the devil attitude, some class riffs and some crazy assed themes – what's there not to love here?  Official verdict - Bat crap crazy, but good!!!!

15 - Mutation - Mutation III: Dark Black

You are not given any level of comfort with this album, as the vitriol has been unleashed and you know what, that is exactly what I wanted from this album from Mutation.  The quality level is stupidly brilliant on here, it is short, sharp and to the point in terms of delivery and it does not outstay its welcome as you will quite easily just press repeat and listen to the sonic attack repeatedly.  It is as far from The Wildhearts (for the most part), Silver Ginger 5 and Hey Hello! as you can get without changing styles.  You're not going to please everyone with an album such as this, but this is not an album for everyone either - this is only for people who enjoy music that is by its very nature, not easy to listen to, for people who find sonic attacks to be fascinating and cathartic, for people who have been in those dark moments where everything is not ok, it's for people who have been damaged and sometimes need something else to get them through.  I think Mutation III is a great album,  it's as subtle as an explosion and with as much impact as well  - so, get it now.  Also, for my money it is still so much better than Hey Hello! (still not understanding that one).

14 - PigsPigsPigsPigsPigsPigsPigs - Fed the Rats

Released at the beginning of 2017, Feed the Rats by North-East of England band PigsPigsPigsPigsPigsPigsPigs is something that must be heard to be believed.  If ever there was a prize for hidden gem of the year, this album would almost certainly on the shortlist.  Three tracks long and over thirty-five minutes long, Feed the Rats is a sludge/amplifier worship album that is designed to let you tune in and zone out.  It's a fantastic record; the production is huge, and it never gets old or boring.  If you love your music heavy, get this nowGet this one now!

13 - Chris Catalyst - Life Is Often Brilliant

Life Is Often Brilliant is an album that has its roots in the past, but it brings them right up to date.  You can tell that Chris Catalyst is cut from the same cloth that brought us Drowning Poole, Honeycrack, and yes, The Wildhearts as well.  But his style also has a different twist – there is a personal feeling to this album that makes it hard to ignore in 2017.  Considering my first introduction to the sound of this man was Robochrist, it couldn’t be further apart unless he released an album of Deep House music.  I like this record, it is just a pure rock album, one that gently reminds you that it’s not all that bad at times.  Because it cannot always be rain and progressive jazz, sometimes you need to look around a little and see the good things around you.  Over the months since it was first released, I have come to appreciate its charms, it’s as unique and special as anything his contemporaries have released via PledgeMusic.  I like this album an awful lot, it is a ray of sunshine on any day and it has been a pleasure to review it again, I’m just sorry that my original got lost in the void.  Either way, I had an excuse to listen to this gem of a Power Pop/Rock record and it is glorious!

12 - Jaya the Cat - A Good Day for the Damned

A Good Day for the Damned is a great album, one that you can embrace with all the ease of a large rum at the start of an evening.  It’s a bit long for my tastes, but it’s better to have too much than too little when it comes to Jaya the Cat.  It mightn't be the deepest album in places, but then there is so much love in here as well.  I’ve seen this making a lot of end of year charts, it really doesn’t surprise me.  I love this album; Jaya the Cat have released another album that will get the party going at a moment’s notice.  So, this album should come with a health warning, if only to make sure you don’t get hooked on it…. Fuck it, let the good (and melodic) times flow!

11 - Maxïmo Park - Risk to Exist

It really comes to something when Maxïmo Park are releasing the biggest political album of the year (it was released just after an early general election was announced in the UK) and I don't mean that with disrespect,  as it's such a huge revelation that I cannot help but applaud the band.  It's is also something that makes this band a little more endearing to me, raising their profile higher and it was pretty high to start with.  It isn't as if they have not done this sort of thing before, but they have gone all out on
Risk to Exist, looked at the current state of the world and nailed it to the wall on this album.  Their hearts (and political) motivations are placed with pride on their sleeves, it sings to me in way that I was not expecting when I first started to listen to this record.  They aren't going through the motions with this album, they're fighting with everything that they possess and have come back with an album that matches Too Much Information in terms of quality and style.

10 - Fret! - Through the Wound the Light Comes In

Through the Wound the Light Comes In
is a great release from Fret! and it's also one that gives me great hope for their future, with the recording produced with M.P. Wood adds so much depth to their sonic attacks that it should be laid down as a weapon of choice in a duel.  There is so much reverb, noise and sound that it ends up acting like a fourth member to this band, it's a truly wonderful piece of post-rock noise.  I would recommend to you that you head over and purchase the CD version as soon as possible, as it's one of the best albums to have been released in 2017.

09 - Thundercat - Drunk

The multi-produced album!!! An old nemesis of this blog, but for once I am not going to be complaining.  Drunk is the third studio album from soul/jazz fusion artist Thundercat and features the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Flying Lotus and Pharrell Williams amongst others.  Drunk contains twenty-three tracks and lasts over fifty minutes….and what a glorious album, what a stunning record!  It's one of those moments where my lack of time is upsetting me as it deserves a details review (I hope to get one up at some point).  The music moves me on so many different levels, it really is one of my favourite records of the last few months and will be in my list for album of the year.

08 - Nadine Shah - Holiday Destination

When you think of Nadine Shah, you cannot think of her in terms of this pop-star or this current band.  You need to look towards artists like PJ Harvey, Patti Smith, Joni Mitchell when looking for reference points, for people who are equal in stature, as well as male contemporaries such as Tom Waits, Nick Cave and other people who have forged their own paths throughout the years.  Her voice is uniquely Northern, you cannot mistake the accent to her singing and for me, it sounds like home (mainly because she was born just south of where I live).  The music behind the vocals is just as important, supporting her visions with a beautiful performance that never swamps Nadine singing, these performances showcasing her message and making sure we know what is important.  She isn't afraid to speak her mind; no subject matter is out of bounds and she is willing to be a voice for the down trodden and oppressed people who are shunted from door to door.  This is a brave record, a unique one as well and my joint favourite political statement of the year with Maximo Park’s Rise to Exist.  It's just shy of a perfect record, but this is still going to be high in my end of year chart.  In years to come, Holiday Destination will be looked at as the album that launched Nadine Shah's career to bigger heights.

07 - Glassjaw - Material Control

(Taken from my review for Bearded Gentlemen Music - it's a great site, you can check it out here) Material Control was a late contender for album of the year, a dynamic release that reintroduces Glassjaw to a new generation of people. It is straight out of the gate, a full-on Hardcore nirvana experience (the mythical state, not the band).  It does not let you rest and it sounds brutal as hell, just what you want from a Hardcore record. My gut reaction to Material Control… I really like this album, I mean I REALLY like it!  It sounds like controlled fury, an explosive torment unleashed on the world.  It’s the only thing I have listened to for three days straight, I am sure it’s given me nightmares as well as the end of year migraine, as far as my record of the year is concerned.  I will be revisiting Glassjaw’s previous releases, just to see if I have changed my mind on them.  Well played Glassjaw, well played!
06 - Kelly Lee Owens - Kelly Lee Owens

This is a great introduction to the work of Kelly Lee Owens, it has a soul that you don’t always acquire on your first release, it has a presence that transcends its own genre and it is one of the best secrets of the underground in 2017.  It works in every situation, as a relaxer, as a club album, as a driving album, as a piece to get excited about and play to your friends.  I love Kelly Lee Owens (the album), it’s such a unique piece of art and I recommend you check it out now!

05 - Sparks - Hippopotamus

Hippopotamus is a wonderful album, a fantastic work of art that is worthy of the praise it has been receiving.  It's great to see that this album will be heard by a larger audience who will hopefully listen to some of their recent back catalogue and see what they have missed.  The song writing is of the usual high quality, with only a few tracks which do not quite make the grade.  Because of this, it feels like it could have been trimmed by a couple of tracks (just a couple) and it would have been a smoother album.  But I would rather have too much from the Sparks than too little, they're the sort of act I could listen to for weeks and never get bored.  This album shows them flexing their own muscles properly for the first time in ages, it also shows that they still have it, they can still compete with the best on their own two feet.  Now, can we also have another FFS please, as well as more solo Sparks as well?  I truly hope so, as Hippopotamus is one of the best art pop album of 2017!

04 - Lucky Malice - Misfit

What a short and thrilling album! Misfit is a fantastic Punk record, it has an old school attitude and it is up there with the best of them for my money.  It has such energy, so a raw and powerful explosion of politics, feminism and emotions that it is hard to ignore.  You may notice I am not mentioning about their politics and messages as much as I could during the review, this is mainly because I want the songs to give the message once you listen to Misfit.  This is because that way, you will get the message directly from the source and it will be delivered better than I ever could – I believe that ladies get the shitty end of the deal all the time anyway, and I think Lucky Malice are on the button here.  I wanted to give them (and their songs) an equal platform throughout the review, without me getting everything wrong.  The message behind the songs are more important than me trying to interpret them, I would only fail in my interpretation of these powerful numbers, I know my own failing points.  Lucky Malice are a great band – full stop!  I love their messages, I love their attitude and I hope it empowers ladies around the world.  It is music like this which needs to be heard and hopefully it will change a lot of people’s attitudes.  Their gender for me is part of their identity and it also means that they are capable of delivering great things, they have created an album that has the energy of a Bad Brains & Discharge hybrid, full of drama, powerful social messages and frantic riffs, kicking the hell out of the subject matters and it sound glorious.  I would be lying if I said this album had the greatest production ever, but that is not what Punk was ever supposed to be about.  It was about getting the message across, warts and all!  If I was pushed to pick a downside, there is little deviation between the songs.  But if you are looking for that in a Hardcore, kick-ass Feminist punk album, you might as well try to find truth in a politician.  I think this is a great album which has kicked its way to my heart and will be in my top ten of the year, hopefully it will propel them to greater heights and kick a few people along the way.

03 - Mogwai - Every Country's Sun

I have a new favourite Mogwai album.  They have finally bettered Mr. Beast and I cannot be more pleased with the results of Every Country’s Sun, it's as good a record as you are going to hear in 2017.  It is an album where every track is placed with delicate precision and it finally feels like they have been unleashed, as if they have been allowed to explorer their own soundscape after all those soundtracks.  There isn't a moment I wouldn't listen to over & over again, even “1,000 Foot Face” and not enjoy it which is the sign of a great album for me.  Negatives?  None, it's one of those perfect moments of sound.  I think Mogwai have reached a new peak and I love it, well done Mogwai, please can we have some more?

02 - Idles - Brutalism

Idles have made one of the best debut albums I have heard in ages, its vicious and snarling, with a hint of post punk attitude added to the noise.  They may have been created in the Bristol Indie scene, but Idles are so much more than just another indie band.  They stand out of the crowd and grab attention with Brutalism, with songs that will terrify weaker mortals.  If there was anything I would have to nag about its that the tracks are a tiny bit samey in places, but to do that would be deliberately looking for faults to be honest.  Just purchase this album now, turn it up loud, and annoy the living fuck out of everyone in your neighbourhood.  Also, try to catch them live, as they are a bonkers act worth seeing.

01 - Oxbow - Thin Black Duke

To say it took a while to understand the 'Thin Black Duke' is an understatement, but that does not mean I didn't enjoy it from the beginning as understanding and enjoying an Oxbow album is two different things entirely.  In fact, I was floored at it is a powerful record, the strength behind the music is amazing and I am finding it hard to put into words just how beautiful this album sounds.  It is an outstanding piece of art, one that I am still coming to grips with.  I wish there were more albums created with this much attention to details, with this much passion, determination and skill.  This is a masterpiece, one that is without equal in 2017 so far and one that will be incredibly hard to beat.  I usually try to think of some sort of criticism so that my reviews do not sound like a sonnet, but the review for Thin Black Duke is pretty much a love letter to an album that is hard to love and impossible to put down.  I cannot compare it to any other album out there, it's a unique and beautiful experience that reveals more with each listen and it's still a mystery in so many ways.  For this to be beaten in 2017, someone is going to have to create an opus beyond human reckoning.  If I had to describe this in one word that word would be flawless (or terrifying, I go backwards and forwards on that one).

And there you have it!  So, I would like to thank you all for reading this, take care and here is to a brilliant 2018!

17 December 2017

Alice Cooper (Band) - Killer

Alice Cooper is a legend that really doesn't need any introduction, if you're new to the game then you've got a little bit of catching up to do.  But I do feel that as I'm reviewing one of the classic Alice Cooper Band records, that a small history lesson is required.  Back in the 1970's, Alice Cooper was the devil incarnate to a lot of people at the time, his on-stage antics at the time have long since became the stuff of legend and he was on a bit of a roll.  Killer is the fourth album to be released in a three-year period, and the second to be released in 1971 after their commercial breakthrough Love It to DeathKiller was produced with Bob Ezrin and upon its release, it reached 21 in the USA Billboard Top 200, with two songs ("Be My Lover" and "Under the Wheels") also making an impact in the US Billboard single charts as well.  So, Alice (and his band) was in full flight at the time, trying to branch in new directions, and starting to enjoy one of the most successful periods of his musical career - but how well has Killer aged?  Well, let's find out......

01 - Under My Wheels

"Under My Wheels" is a stone-cold classic, a song that is still performed in his live shows.  It has a horn section, it has a glam rock sensibility, it has an OTT introduction, and it's also one of the best songs that the band ever released.  "Under My Wheels" is a beautiful song about heading out for the night, the anticipation of what is to come, and it contains a youthful excitement that still resonates all these years later.  I love this number, it's one of my favourite Alice Cooper songs and I could listen to it for ever (I would probably go mad, but at least I would have a great soundtrack along the way).

02 - Be My Lover

"Be My Lover" is (for want of a better phrase) a song about getting your end away, young lust and sort of autobiographical in a sense.  It's all about Alice picking up a lady at his show, with both the boy and the lady talking about how long it's going to take to get to paradise.  It's a fun song, one where the lady makes the first move and it's one that has aged better than a lot of its contemporaries.

03 - Halo of Flies

"Halo of Flies" is Alice's attempt by the band to prove that they could perform King Crimson-like progressive rock suites, and was supposedly about a SMERSH-like organisation.  SMERSH was a Russian umbrella organisation for three independent counter-intelligence agencies in the Red Army formed in late 1942.  It has an Eastern European feel to the music, with a Hard Rock undertone that gives it a 60's vibe as well.  It's another song which I could imagine would be gratefully received by the Alice Cooper audience if it was given an airing, as it has aged incredibly well.

04 - Desperado

According to two sources, "Desperado" is about two subjects.  According to in the liner notes of A Fistful of Alice and In the Studio with Redbeard, "Desperado" about his friend Jim Morrison, who died the year this album was released.  Alternatively, according to an NPR radio interview with Alice Cooper, "Desperado" was written about Robert Vaughn's character from the movie The Magnificent Seven. Either way, it's a beautiful song which brings another side of Alice to Killer, with its acoustic guitars, string section and light touches that resonate to this day.  It's one of my favourite songs on this album, it's another stone cold classic.

05 - You Drive Me Nervous

"You Drive Me Nervous" is a song about a lover who fears their partner, with nothing going right.  It's a flat out, riff laden, rock & roll classic! It's a simple creature, one that doesn't stay around for too long, but that still leaves its mark upon you.  There is not much in the way of depth here, but it's still one of my favourite on this album.

06 - Yeah, Yeah, Yeah

"Yeah, Yeah, Yeah" is a glam rock tune, with lyrics that are really open to interpretation.  It's a simple number in some ways, with a lighter sound compared to other track on Killer.  It's a good song, but not one that I would go out of my way to listen to outside the confines of Killer

07 - Dead Babies

"Dead Babies" was a controversial song at the time, a lot of people just read the title and thought it was a sicko piece designed to cause an instant reaction of disgust.  But that isn't the case, it was conveying an anti-child abuse message, with harrowing lyrics about the dangers that some children face with parents who don't give a shit.  It's a hard-hitting number, one which is not designed to give the listener comfort, but to give the listener a warning.  For that reason alone, it's one of the most important songs on the album, but the music is also classic Alice, with a Hard Rock riff that stays in your memory long after it has finished.   

08 - Killer

Alas, all things must come to an end, and Killer ends with its title track.  "Killer" is a song about a man who is facing his punishment for taking another person's life, with a typically macabre ending that is filled with sounds of horror as the hangman performs his deadly deed.  It would have been used to kill the Alice character on stage during their live shows at the time, something that must always happen as Alice is a bad lad.  It's the perfect ending to this album, filled with OTT riffs, screams, a brilliant drum performance by Neal Smith and a sense of drama that should always be part of an Alice Cooper album.

At the time, the Alice Cooper Band were on a roll, their next two releases were School's Out and Billion Dollar Babies. Two years later, they would release Welcome to My Nightmare, which is another of my favourite Alice Cooper albums, which was the first solo Alice Cooper album which as effectively ended the Alice Cooper Band.  But that was in the future for Alice Cooper as far as Killer is concerned, so what are my final thoughts?  Like a vintage wine, Killer has aged incredibly well.  Except for one track, I could see each of these still making it into an Alice Cooper live show, to be honest, each song still sounds that good forty-six years later.  If I was asked to pick a few Alice Cooper records for people to start with, this would be on that list (along with Welcome to My Nightmare, The Last Temptation, School's Out & Billion Dollar Babies), it's one of his best and rightly hailed as a classic.

9.5 out of ten - Almost perfect, almost......

Top track - Under My Wheels (but Desperado was so close as well)

You can purchase Killer from Amazon here.

You can visit the Alice Cooper website here.

You can follow the activities of Alice Cooper on Facebook here.

You can stream Killer on Spotify here.

You can stream Killer on Deezer here.

You can stream Killer on Tidal here.

16 December 2017

Jaya the Cat - A Good Day for the Damned

Jaya the Cat is a Ska/Reggae Punk band who are based in Amsterdam, Holland, but they're originally from Boston, Massachusetts.  I’ve had the joy of seeing them live once, whilst I was flat on my feet, but it was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen.  It was at the Think Tank in Newcastle a couple of years ago, it was nicely full, and Jaya sounded fantastic.  I went in just a bit curious about them, as my friends were raving about them, and I came out a fan.  So after that, I went through their back catalogue and I’ve been awaiting new music from them.  Which bring me to Good Day for the Damned, which was released on 17th November 2017 on Bomber Records.  It has been a long wait for me to review this album, also to post it (due to illness and other things, this has been incredibly delayed).  But, now I am finally reviewing it, so how has Good Day for the Damned turned out?

01 – Wine Stained Futon

“Wine Stained Futon” is a song about Amsterdam, but it could be a song about being home and trying to live your life with relevant ease.  It’s a great number, it is one that will get the crowd warmed up slowly, letting them bounce as the band launch loosen their collective shackles.  I love the chorus of this song, it keeps getting stuck in my head.

02 – A Rough Guide to the Future

“A Rough Guide to the Future” seems to be a song about the conflict of emotions that seems to be in the world, how everything seems to be turning to shit right now, so we might as well start to party as we are on our way out.  It has a spark of energy that is infectious, one that cannot help but raise a smile to these lips.  If the party/world is ending, this is part of my soundtrack!

03 – Sweet Eurotrash

“Sweet Eurotrash” is a song about misadventure, the wonders of the night and this narrative is explored over a slow and brooding Reggae Punk sound.  It feels like an argument is in full force as if you have walked in to see a couple quarrelling, with broken glass over the floor.  I wasn’t too sure what to think when I first listened to this song, but there is a certain charm to this song, something underneath it which has kept me coming back for more.

04 – Black Heart

“Black Heart” focuses on the Reggae side of their arsenal more than the punk, something that often happens on a Jaya album.  It is a gentle rhythm, a feeling of being lost to the narrative and a bit of love added to the mix as well.  It’s a lover’s song, one that has the memory of being alone added to the salvation of being found, it’s a tale that will be told many times again. It’s also a song which keeps the album ticking over nicely, not one I would reach for straight away, but neither is it one I would skip.

05 – Huddersfield Rain

“Huddersfield Rain” is another love song, one about all the good times, all the bad times and the need for a drink to ease the pain of loneliness.  This mid-paced reggae focused number has a decent sound, a bit of energy and a sound that’s akin to the calling of the lost.  Whilst it sounds nice enough, it’s not bowling me over if I'm honest.  Time to move onto the next one…...

06 – Just Leave Me There

“Just Leave Me There” is an energetic ball of self-loathing, mixed with the destructive attitude of a man at the end of his own sanity.  It’s a dark, claustrophobic number that brings a hardcore punk edge to the album, with its gang chanting chorus and massive riff.  I love this song, it’s a brilliant number, full of passion, desire and a sense of despair.  But it’s also a number that will make people realise that they are not alone, that there are other’s who suffer the same apprehensions and that need help as well. 

07 – Wreckage

Country Reggae Punk?  Well, that is sound of “Wreckage”, which is a song about a relationship that has hit the rocks, and everything is doomed.  Once more, I am not connecting with this number so I will move onto the next song.

08 – Amsterdam

“Amsterdam” is a fantastic song, another one about Jay the Cat’s adopted city, the great port of Amsterdam and you can feel the love that they have for the place.  It’s a catchy number, it makes no bones that it ‘s not always perfect, but their love for their home is eternal.  What a great song!

09 – The Palm Reader’s Face Looked Shocked

“The Palm Reader’s Face Looked Shocked” is a beautiful number, with haunted fairground vibe to the opening, that gives way to a ska tune that has so much energy, that it could dance out the door with your partner and you wouldn’t care!  It’s a number that might be as fast as other songs on the album, but it’s such a good number that it will automatically be one that you send to people, just to show how good Jaya the Cat sound.

10 – Fucking in Love

“Fucking in Love” is a passionate number, a slow number about how love can be beautiful, demanding and heart-breaking all at the same time.  I like this one, it brings a dry smile to my face, you can hear all the arguments and laughter in the song, just by the delivery of the band.  A subtle, but very effective number.

11 – Sunday Morning

“Sunday Morning” is a party song, but with a twist.  It’s about enjoying the moment, to hell with the consequences and to enjoying life with a carefree attitude.  It’s another number which gives more with each listens, one that you can easily see as a sleeper hit for this album.  It could end a show and the crowd will be dancing, it has that “continue the party in the house” feeling, with an energy that never really leaves you.

12 – A Good Day for the Damned

The title track is about how God can sometimes smile on the damned, how the world can give people a break and how the world can be an alright place.  All of this happens with a hangover, something that is cured with more booze and drugs, all played out to over a slow reggae-influenced number.  It’s another good number, nothing more and nothing less.

13 – The Streets of Shoreditch

“The Streets of Shoreditch” is a sing-along song, one that has a strength of determination, a line of hope and a lot of love.  It’s a great number, it has a familiar feeling, like the end of night tunes you sing on the way home from a night out.  It’s one I would gladly listen to all day and all night, it’s just a beautiful piece of music.

14 – Mad at You

“Mad at You” is a love song about that special someone who makes you complete you, not a pissed off number which I thought it might be when I saw the title.  It’s a piece that gets under your skin, it’s mixture of rock ‘n’ roll & reggae is infectious.  Another good number that will bring a smile to your face.

15 – Drunk Balloon

“Drunk Balloon” is another love song, a soulful number about wanting to escape the world and to fly to new pastures.  It’s a gentle way to end this record, but it’s also a fitting ending as well.  The melody is charming, the performance is hypnotic, and it ends the album on a poignant and fragile moment.

A Good Day for the Damned is a great album, one that you can embrace with all the ease of a large rum at the start of an evening.  It’s a bit long for my tastes, but it’s better to have too much than too little when it comes to Jaya the Cat.  It might not be the deepest album in places, but then there is so much love in here as well.  I’ve seen this making a lot of end of year charts, it really doesn’t surprise me.  I love this album; Jaya the Cat have released another album that will get the party going at a moment’s notice.  So, this album should come with a health warning, if only to make sure you don’t get hooked on it….Fuck it, let the good (and melodic) times flow!

8.5 out of ten – Oh, now you have my attention, and maybe my time, money and heart.

Top track – The Streets of Shoreditch

You can purchase A Good Day for the Damned on Amazon here.

You can visit the Jaya the Cat website here. 

You can purchase A Good Day for the Damned on Bandcamp here. 

You can follow the activities of Jaya the Cat on Facebook here. 

You can stream A Good Day for the Damned on Spotify here. 

You can stream A Good Day for the Damned on Deezer here.

You can stream A Good Day for the Damned on Tidal here.

11 December 2017

The ATTIWLTMOWOS Top 50 songs of 2017

Who doesn't like an end of year list?  No-one!  They tell you they don't, but inside they secretly do.  So, as we approach the end of 2017, it is time for the traditional look at the best songs of 2017.  The quality of the tracks this year has been outstanding, any song in this list could have easily topped it, but there can be only one.  So, let's see what is the time 50 songs of 2017:

50 - Foo Fighters - Run

"Run" was the first single to be released from Concrete & Gold, which keeps up the tradition that the Foo's have of releasing the best song from the album first!  It's your standard stadium anthem that has become their forte, it's not a massive shift in style, but it's still as catchy as the common cold!

49 - Erasure - Love You To The Sky

With the sound of pounding drums, Messrs Bell & Clark start this album with a song about being in a solid relationship and love is at the top of the agenda.  It is a powerful, joyous pop song that has every trapping of their old-school sound, mixed in with modern synths and a sense of fun which is lacking in a lot of music at the moment.  Is it a deep song, no; but is that what a pop song should be, a little flippant number that sends your heart racing, digging into your head for hours afterwards and just bring sunshine in the world by just existing!

48 - The Afghan Whigs - To The Floor

Well, they do like to add drama to the proceedings, you have to give them that.  Ending this album with a flourish, The Afghan Whigs ponder the need to crash and burn to grow strong once again.  Starting with a dramatic clash of sound, slowing it down slightly and then building upwards with a pace as slow as a funeral march and as poetic as a Shakespearian sonnet.  It certainly ends In Spades in flames and thunder, the perfect way to end an Afghan Whigs album in my opinion.

47 - Son of Dave - Six Weeks

The start of “Six Weeks” is what I am used to with Son of Dave, just one man, his harmonicas and very basic percussion.  But it doesn't last, and the full band come in, but there is nothing wrong with that.  In fact, it sounds great, this song feels like it is designed for the road, it is a journeyman’s song and it is one of the defining moments of this record.  In fact, it's my favourite song on Music for Cop Shows this album, it's a brilliant number!

46 - Beck - Square One

“Square One” is the penultimate song on Colors, a song which transcendence the overall empty feeling of the album.  It reminds me a lot of Ben Folds at his most outlandish, there is a humour to the song that has sorely been missing from this record.  Everything comes together, production, music, performance and the result is head and shoulders above everything else on the album.  Beck has always been able to do pop, this is proof positive of that.

45 - Biters - Let It Roll

It is another back to basics rock & roll anthem, it has all the right ingredients to be an instant classic in their live set.  A riff that keeps on giving, a solo that will have people wishing they can play the guitar, a song that is designed for the rock dance floor and it will have people hitting the peddle when it comes on it the car.  I love this sort of song, it just gets in your head and it opens The Future Ain't What It Used To Be in style.

44 - Cloakroom - Concrete Gallery

Taken from the album Time Well, "Concrete Gallery" is a slow, sludge-like, indie song that sounds as if My Bloody Valentine managed to get Bob Mould to slow down for a second and jam with them.  Coming in at over six minutes in length, it will sort out the casual fans from the fanatics.  But I have a feeling that this band don't worry about issues like this, they just worry about creating sonic noise and that's exactly what they deliver!

43 - alt-J - Deadcrush

alt-J have always been able to write a  fantastic song or two, their album might sometimes be sketchy, but they always have at least one track that snares my interest.  "Deadcrush" is taken from their third album, RELAXER, which is their finest work so far.  With its art-house/indie hybrid, it really has no right being such an earworm, but it has a hypnotic effect, one which you will want to repeat many times over.

42 - METZ - Drained Lake

"Drained Lake" can only be described as a force of nature, it's a whirlwind of a song that smashes straight out of your speakers and into your heart.  Taken from the album Strange Peace, "Drained Lake" is a song that highlights all the positives of METZ, their power, their passion and their ability to sound incredibly pissed off.

41 - William the Conqueror - In My Dreams

With the wounded howl of a man in pain and drowning in sorrow, ‘In My Dreams’ starts off Proud Disturber of the Peace in fine form. It is an apprehensive and solid country/rock number which has a dark noir tale of self-destruction, the vocals are hypnotic and the relentless pace of the music is stunning as well.  There is a mixture of style here, a little bit of post-grunge, a little country, a lot of rock attitude and a confidence that cannot be measured.  It is unlike anything I have heard from this (or any other) genre in many moons, it is definitely one of the best pieces of music in 2017, what a stunning opener.

40 - wecamefromwolves - The Peak Beneath The Sea

Starting with a fade in, they start "The Peak Beneath The Sea" in strong style as they deal with the subject of wanting to reach safety and trying to access the refuge that all people seek when everything becomes too much.  It is a strong song, the hook in the chorus is catchy, the performance is as good, perhaps a bit better than their previous material and it makes you want to hear further songs from the band.  It still sounds like them, but with improvements on each level that comes from experience and working together.

39 - OTHERKIN - Razorhead

Dublin based OTHERKIN are a band you overlook at your peril, "Razorhead" is taken from the album OK, which was released in September this year.  OTHERKIN sound like the snot-nosed younger brother of The Strokes, with a singer who gives a shit.  They have attitude, a punk rock leaning to their sound and "Razorhead" sees them in full flight.

38 - Benjamin Booker - Believe

Benjamin Booker delivers more gospel-blues infusion with "Believe", exploring the themes of inequality and racism further and sounding both hopeful and defeated in equal measure.  It is a great number, one of the most powerful of the album with its heartbreaking message and timeless sound.  It needs to be played daily, it needs to have its message heard far and wide, as it makes the heart heavy that there are people in the world for who this situation is a daily reality.  One of the most powerful songs on Witness, stunning.

37 - Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever - French Press

"French Press" is the title track from the latest EP released by Austrailian indie rockier, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever.  With a repetitive riff that gets under your skin, "French Press" will bring to mind feelings of summer, endless possibilities and the anticipation of things to come.

36 - Deaf Havana - Fever

"Fever" is taken from the album All Those Countless Nights, it chronicles those early days of a relationship when love is new and exciting.  With a modern rock sound, Deaf Havana has been deservingly receiving praise for their work, with this being the highlight of their recent release.

35 - Quicksand - Cosmonauts

It's great to have Quicksand back, it's even better that Interiors is a brilliant album. "Cosmonauts" is a slow-Post-Hardcore number, with an effective riff that latches onto you.  It's not the most instant song on the album, but it's the one that you will keep coming back to.

34 - Goldfinger - A Million Miles

Now that is how to start a Ska Punk album!  An explosive start, straight out of the blocks for Goldfinger with 'A Million Miles' on their album The Knife, as they're in the process of musing the passing of time, without being able to hold back the emotional turmoil that has built up over the years.  It is full of energy, it has a great riff and a chorus that is a true earworm.

33 - Wild Pink - Great Apes

‘Great Apes is the first track proper on Wild Pink and they come across as the love child of Jonah Matranga and the Weakerthans, after one of them had an affair with Sparklehorse.  It is the blend of alternative rock and emo that would have been huge back in the late 1990’s but is still sounding very solid in the here and now.  It has a massive hook which acts as a chorus that sticks in your head, some random lyrics that will mean something to some people, and just sound like nice words to others, all packaged in a stomping song that will ignite a room in unison.

32 - The Mountain Goats - Andrew Eldritch Is Moving Back to Leeds

"Andrew Eldritch Is Moving Back to Leeds" shouldn't work, it has no right to sound as good as it sounds, but The Mountain Goats are a unique band, who somehow manage to take something that sound be either twee or ignored, and make it sound touching, nostalgic, slightly sad but all done in good humour.  Once you hear it, you'll want to listen to it again.

31 - The Flatliners - Nicotine Lips

The theme of self-destruction is brought into the middle of the stage with 'Nicotine Lips', once more with that sense that nothing is going to stop this car crash from happening.  It has one of the best chorus hooks I have heard in 2017, it explodes out of the blocks and makes me want to jump around the room with no cares and a freedom that seems to be in contrast or conflict with the actual content of the song.  I love that, the song has a message and it still gives a totally different reaction - what a tune.

30 - InHeaven - Regeneration

How can one band have two stone-cold classics on one album?  It hardly seems fair in some ways, but that is how the cookie crumbles.  “Regeneration” is a song youthful disenchantment, isolation and the desire to escape reality.  The powerful words of this song would be redundant without the music to back them up, something that InHeaven do not have to worry about.  It is a great song, the highlight of the album as it has the power to make thousands of people losing themselves for a moment, where they will not feel alone because of the unity of this song.

29 - Lucky Malice - Cry Wolf

“Cry Wolf” blasts out of your speakers as a strange hybrid, mixing the frantic nature of Discharge, a hint of Echobelly meets Babes in Toyland to the vocals and then some Wildhearts/Backyard Babies vibes as well, with a large cut of hardcore to the mix as well.  It is a smash ‘n’ grab number, a short, sharp kick to your private parts and it is better than any pop-punk out there.  It’s a brilliant opening, one that grabs your attention from the beginning and there is so much attitude, what is there not to love here?

28 - Kelly Lee Owens - Bird

“Bird” kicks off the second half of Kelly Lee Owens in style, it’s a chill-out anthem in waiting and will be high in my own personal song of the year list.  It has a lovely little repetitive chime running through the song, once again bringing the organic feeling back to the album, the energy pitches and wanes in the right places here, creating one of the best pieces of electronica in 2017, simple and delightful.

27 - Electric Guest - Zero

"Zero" could have been made in the 1980's, it's so retro that it hurts.  You're taken to a world of pain and invisibility, where nothing is going to work and existence is a dull shade of grey.  But those words are performed over a fantastic piece of music, a stirring piece that lifts the spirits as you sing in unison with the band.  It's worth listening to Plural just for this song alone.

26 - The Charlatans - Different Days

"Different Days" is a song that reflects on a failing relationship and how things can change very quickly, all played out on one of those numbers that give a vibe like sunshine coming through a window in a dusty room.  Starting with a foreign accent (apologies, I am useless when it comes to languages that are not English and I would not want to cause offense by stating it was ‘X’ language), this song features backing vocals from Sharon Horgan, it has a beautiful hook in the chorus and it just keeps on give with each spin of the track. This song is a driving song, one that will make miles pass in minutes and journeys will feel shorter whilst it is playing.  It is a stunning song, one that makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end and it sounds glorious!

25 - T.S.O.L. - Sometimes

T.S.O.L. are a band who seem to have been around forever, there is something eternal about them and their style of punk and "Sometimes" is their strongest song on The Trigger Complex.  It's a short, sharp, kick in the balls, with more energy that one song really requires.  But I'm glad they used that energy on this song, so simple and brilliant posed.

24 - Sparks - Edith Piaf (Said It Better Than Me)

The video for “Edith Piaf (Said It Better Than Me)” is a still-animation where the Sparks are chasing a bird through Paris, but the bird ends up capturing them in a cage and flying away.  Musically this is a moody piece, one that is full of drama and a vocal performance that gives the chills that only Russell Mael can provide. This is one of those moments where a song hits all the right spots instantly, it is an instant hit from the hands of Ron and Russell, definitely one of the best songs I have heard so far in the second half of 2017.

23 - Champs - The Garden Is Overgrown

Whilst we await another album from the Isle of Wight natives, Champs decided to release "The Garden Is Overgrown" as a reminder of what we're all missing.  This piece of synth-pop genius is a little gem in the modern world of pop, it also makes you yearn for more new music by the Champs, hopefully, they will release something sooner rather than later.

22 - Danko Jones - My Little R'n'R

“My Little R’n’R” is a typical Rock song, one that compares a lover to the soul of Rock ‘n’ Roll, with this lady having the right attitude for him, one that Mr Jones cannot help but submit to.  It’s a cheeky rock song, but aren’t all rock numbers to a certain degree?  The same could be said about all Pop numbers, Indie numbers, Deep-House numbers, and so on and so forth.  It has that magic factor, the special something that makes it fun and special.  When a song sounds as good as this, all that matters is the passion behind the performance and the fact that it is one of the best songs on this album.   In fact, I would go as far as to say it is one of the best songs of 2017.

21 - A New Nowhere - You and Me

A New Nowhere have been creating some waves in Newcastle, and it all started with this song.  "You and ME is a post-Grunge, melodic alternative rock number with a good vocal delivery, decent lyrics and a great riff (as well as a good little solo as well).  If I had to draw comparisons I would go for a mixture of Blameless, Kerbdog and The Virginmarys; all of whom have released some of my favourite songs over the years.  A New Nowhere are sure to do the same in the years to come.

20 - Laura Marling - Nothing, Not Nearly

'Nothing, Not Nearly' is a stunning song on the below average Semper Femina, my deity, what a tune we have here!  A love song that is full of the pitfalls, traps and endings, the quality of her songwriting comes out on this song.  From the first moment, I heard it, I could hear the talent behind the song, time and effort which went into creating the song.  The lyrics feel as if they were written in a different age, with music that has such soul, it has huge gaps that add to the sound, and it always feels like it is going to crash at any moment.  But it is held together with a talent and passion, something which is not taught, it can only come naturally and it ends the song (and album) with the door being closed, signifying that this period of her life is over.

19 - Marmozets - Play

Taken from their forthcoming album Knowing What You Know Now, "Play" has been a huge success all around the world.  It's been used as a theme song for a WWE:NXT Pay Per View, mainly due to its fantastic energy of the band.  It's a stone-cold beast of a track, one that you will not forget easily, not that you would want to forget it at all.

18 - Ginger Wildheart - Don't Say Goodbye

Oh, my deity, this is a heartbreak and that is in this sea of emotional torrents that we find Ginger!  With a full band in the background, the words are sung with a gentle humanity and grace that reflects the fragile state of the story.  Parting is a hard thing to do and this song is about leaving a loved one behind when you must be elsewhere.  Being a long distant parent must be a hard thing to do, I can only imagine how it must feel, but this song gives some light to how it is for the person who is away.  At first, I preferred ‘My Old Friend The Blues’, but I ended up falling under its gentle charms, this is a real tearjerker.

17 - The War on Drugs - Strange Thing

"Strangest Thing" is a song about how the world is a hard place, how a new direction is required to escape the limbo of existence.  It starts off at a plodding pace and I was in fear that I was going to fall asleep.  But then the chorus hook kicks in around the two minutes forty-second point, at this point, I almost had an accident.  The build from that point is nothing short of dramatic, full of beautiful passages and heart-breaking moments of tender contemplation.  When a song can make that sort of instant connection, it transcends everything else that has come before it and this is one of those moments for TWoD.  It is a beautifully crafted number, one which requires patience and gives some much in return.

16 - Chris Catalyst - Wake Me Up on Monday

“Wake Me Up on Monday” is the nearest that Chris Catalyst comes to having a Big Starr/Teenage Fanclub Power Pop/Rock number on Life Is Often Brilliant.  It just brings a sense of sunshine to my world each time it’s played, even though Monday’s can be the most hated of days to some people.  But Mr Catalyst has created a joyful number here, with a great little solo in the middle and a chorus that should come with a health warning, as it is so catchy!

15 - L.A. Spring - Heart & Soul

With 'Heart And Soul', L.A. Spring wisely decided not made a carbon copy of 'Passerby', a practice of trying to re-create their first single which is a trend that a lot of bands seem to do these days.  However, they have not created a song that is a thousand miles away from that first song.  The music of this melancholy number sounds like it is specifically composed for the dark hours after a night out and you are talking about everything and nothing at the same time.  It is the small conversations of the twilight that come together for me on this sound.  The party has been going on and the party is ending, the club is closing and people are having to move on.  It could have been written about the recent closure of Fabric or any other venue that you can care to think about in the UK and abroad.  It turned out to be their swansong, but what a way to go.

14 - Future Island - Cave

Let’s get this out of the way - "Cave" is a great song, steady beat, mid-paced in style, striking vocals and a very good hook towards the end of the song.  The main difference comes in the chorus which has a slight difference and acts as a passionate call for non-believers, but apart from that it is business as usual with this indictment of God/The Gods/Is anyone out there.  I really, but I have no illusions that I am listening to a song that sounds the exact same as everything on The Far Field, underneath its top layer of synth and demanding, harrowing vocals.

13 - Young Fathers - Only God Knows (Feat. Leith Congregational Choir)

The second song from Young Fathers the T2: Trainspotting OST, it's a brand new piece from this Scottish collective and by deity it is glorious.  It is attacking, it is biting, the choir adds a layer of beauty to the sound, they have not blunted their sound to fit in; what this shows is that the band are already expanding how they sound and it is just as important a song as 'Shame' was on 'White Men Are Black Men Too', it is so frantic and it sounds so important.

12 - Mew - Candy Pieces All Smeared Out

I truly thought this was going to be my top song of the year, right up to the point when I started to get the list together.  Starting with a heavy guitar opening, you are introduced to another song that is heavy on nostalgia and deals with the different aspects of a person's personality, being happy in someone's arms, the burden of love and how everything can be all of this and nothing at the same time.  Mew love to delve into those murky waters and create a song that has so many different things happening, but on 'Candy Pieces All Smeared Out' they have really outdone themselves.  This is one of the best songs I have heard in 2017, it has truly eclipsed anything else out there in terms of instant reaction, sound, passion and the ability to make me smile, no matter what mood I am in.  It is sunshine in musical form, it is summer with notes, it is a fantastic song that will have crowds jumping in unison and should make the world a happier place by just existing.

11 - Maxïmo Park - What Equals Love

"What Equals Love" is a song could be read in many different ways.  This song could be about a failed relationship, it could be a song that contains a political message in the mix, it could just a simple Indie Disco hit.  What I can confirm is that it has an 80’s vibe to the music (don’t let that put you off) and bring the fun along with the message (whatever that may be).  I am really enjoying this song as it works on so many different levels, it is such a fucking joy.

10 - Ghost Signals - Start Families/Avoid Hip Parties

The second single from Ghost Signals is one of those times when you truly hear a band take a leap forward, where they step up a level and move onto something new.  Coming across as a cross between The Cure, New Order and The War of Drugs, Ghost Signals has upped their collective game on "Start Families/Avoid Hip Parties", a song that chronicles the change in people's lives as they start to drift away from the night's out and towards family life.  I look forward to hearing more songs from them, as this song is amazing.

09 - The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets - Archnotopia

Arachnotopia’ is another horror punk number, this time it is all about spiders taking over the planet and making it a web-paradise for all of the arachnoids everywhere!  It is silly, a little childish and I love it so much!  It has a simple riff that goes the song and it is a catchy as a web in the face first thing in the morning.  I love the way it sounds, it is so simple and effective that it is sort of surprising that it has not be created before the Dukes of Alhazred.

08 - Dunes - Love from Below

"Love from Below" is quite possibly one of my favourite songs in the last few years, just because it has that unnatural ability to be stuck in your head for weeks on end.  Once it has started to be played in my house, it must be played to the end – no questions on that one.  Originally released as a single demo, “Love from Below”, the riff is incredibly catchy and sounds absolutely amazing.  It is such a great song, that it will have Josh Homme looking to see if he wrote it himself when he catches wind of it.

07 - Cattle - Fears & Hesitation

To begin with, "Fears & Hesitation" begins with the same sort of music that started "Caring" and "Acrylic", which upon first listen was feeling like a bit of a rut, to be honest.  Nothing wrong with the style, just a tad repetitive.  However, around the one minute, thirty-four mark, everything start to go quiet and reverb; you are awaiting the explosion and when they drop, it feels like you are in the middle of swirling pit of noise.  The riff is so good, I am not sure why it has not been created before, but I am so glad that it exists in this form – without a doubt, the best song on Nature's Champion.

06 - The NX - Swingers & Roundabouts

(Here is my review which was taken from an article published on Bearded Gentlemen Music) The NX are another Newcastle band who are currently making waves when this single was first released, it made number two in the UK iTunes rock charts. That is really good for a band who are doing all the work by themselves, they are truly making an effort with this release. The sound is about alternative sexual lifestyles, so their first version of the video was released on Porntube.  They have released an office-friendly version of the video as well, which is probably just as well as the other video is the sort that might get your fired! Musically, it is a swirling hardcore punk mix that sounds like it will start a fight in an empty room, the hooks are absolutely fantastic and it has a manic personality. If you want to hear your next hardcore punk legends, look no further!

05 - Dropkick Murphys - I Had A Hat

"I Had A Hat" is a song that sounds like a fight is forming from the opening chord and the party is happening as the fists are flying at a wake, a bar and everywhere else until the “hat” is returned to its rightful owner.  When the band are making this sort of song, it showcases their strengths for me; anarchic, mad as a box of frogs, full of energy and it could start a party by itself.  They have other facets, but this is the one which works the best for me.

04 - Idles - Mother

"Mother" is quite possibly the strongest song on their album Brutalism, a song that has some thought-provoking lyrics; work conditions for females, scaring Tories (love those lyrics), knowledge and how to use it.  The bite to the vocals will knock holes in walls, the bass line is pumping, and the guitars sound as if they are coming from the depths of the void.  Its a really towering song, one which you need to hear as soon as possible.

03 - Nadine Shah - Holiday Destination

Oh, my deity, “Holiday Destination” really did make a late bid for being the song of the year (and it almost won it).  It’s a song about how the world is slowly but surely, turning into a fucked-up place with locals being pushed out, holidaymakers taking over the world and refugees being found in the water.  Musically, this is a subtle number with a huge bass sound, Ms Shah’s vocals are enthralling on this number.  It’s one of the best songs of 2017, and we are only two numbers into this album.

02 - Bootsy Collins - Hot Saucer (feat. Musiq Soulchild & Big Daddy Kane)

“Hot Saucer” is taken from the album World Wide Funk, it's one of many songs on that album which is about sex, love and every rude word has been replaced with the word funk.  It’s a song for the dancefloor, one to get the body moving and it’s stupidly catchy. It’s also one of the best songs of the year, it’s that damn good and it has not been off my player since I first heard it, hands down it’s that best song on the album.

01 - Lorde - Homemade Dynamite

"Homemade Dynamite" is one of those songs which would not give me peace, it kept cropping up and I could not avoid it.  It's a song about an explosive friendship/relationship that can start a party in an empty room, where everything is an adventure and the night is full of possibilities, this is the sort of pop song that I love.  It has a lot of swearing, it has a fantastic backing music, the vocals are subtle and it all comes together in a fantastic package of joy.  It is the best song on Melodrama, it's now the top song of the year as well!

So - there you have it!  Below is a link to our Spotify playlist (only missing three songs that were not on that service), till next year - Eddie

The ATTIWLTMOWOS top songs of 2017 on Spotify 

Past sermons

Greatest hits