Woah, is this year over yet? What a clusterfuck this year has seemed, at times. And, though little will suddenly change as a new day and year dawn, I remain hopeful and look ahead with open eyes and heart. If one thing helped me survive 2017, that’s music. Great new albums this year from many of my favourite artists, and some beautiful, heart-warming, and surreal concerts. Looking back at that makes me very happy.
The top favourite is again crystal clear. Annie Clark, a.k.a. St. Vincent, followed up her 2015 self-titled masterpiece with another beautiful record, full of sweet heartache. In 2016, Björk had her breakup album; in 2017, it was Annie’s turn. I am absolutely head over heels with Masseduction, so much so, that it comes before another widely acclaimed and excellent new album by Kendrick Lamar. DAMN may lack some of the brilliance of To Pimp A Butterfly, but it also seems more mature, somehow. More pop music follows after that. I always have a soft spot for Lana Del Rey and Lust For Life didn’t disappoint. Many a moments have I caught myself softly singing along, while cooking or walking. What I did NOT expect, however, was the Lorde would make an appearance on this list… And yet, Melodrama may be one of the albums I’ve returned to the most in the past couple of months; it’s got more depth than first meets the eye.
Lots of good new rock too, this year. QOTSA’s Villains is surprisingly understated, but great fun. So were All Them Witches’ Sleeping Through The War and all FIVE of King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard’s albums (yes, that is five albums in one year and fun as they are, understated they are decidedly not…) Speaking of Australia, Courtney Barnett returns with a duet album with Kurt Vile. It’s sweet, pleasant, and… not my favourite; but I love them both. Finally, on the rock front, The Flaming Lips’ Oczy Mlody was just a beautiful way to open the new musical year, last January.
What else… Oh yes, Björk is back too, with Utopia, signalling a more positive outlook after Vulnicura, which I preferred, I must say. Pure Comedy by Father John Misty is beautiful and rich, Roger Waters’ Is This The Life We Really Want? rather unexciting, I See You, by The XX strong and worthy of their previous work, Kamasi Washington’s Harmony of Difference magical and sprawling, Spoon’s Hot Thoughts just ok, Sylvan Esso’s What Now addictively fun, Bob Dylan’s Triplicate difficult to love, but with gems within it, and Benjamin Booker’s Witness, a bit more timid than I’d hoped.
Lastly, I loved Laura Marling’s Semper Femina and lost myself to her voice on many occasions and, closing with one of my top five albums of the year (and second favourite concert…), Warhaus follow up their first album with one worthy of being their self-titled record.
I told you there was a lot of good music this year! And what a difference from last year’s five entries! So, what do you think? What were your favourites in 2017? What are you looking forward to in 2018?
St. Vincent – Masseduction
Kendrick Lamar – DAMN
Lana Del Rey – Lust For Life
Lorde – Melodrama
QOTSA – Villains
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Flying Microtonal Banana
All Them Witches – Sleeping Through The War
Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile – Lotta Sea Lice
The Flaming Lips – Oczy Mlody
Björk – Utopia
Father John Misty – Pure Comedy
Laura Marling – Semper Femina
That’s a lot of favourites. Love the Warhaus one.
I’d like to add Unpeeled, the second live album by Cage the Elephant