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!


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