OK – it was hard, but we did it! 2017 has been a cracking year for albums but we whittled it down to our Top 25… ready, set, GO!
25. Mura Masa – Mura Masa
One of the most exciting producers around today, Mura Masa’s self-titled effort has rightfully earnt its place in our top albums of the year. With guests such as A$AP Rocky, Charli XCX, Christine and the Queens and none other than Damon Albarn across the 13 tracks, we dare you to argue with us.
It’s not just the features that shine through on this full-length effort either, with tracks such as opener ‘Messy Love’ that sees his production skills at their best. Not to mention when his vocals shine through on ‘Blu’ the duet alongside Albarn.
It’s always been clear that Mura Masa has a bright future ahead of him, but this album release proved that he’s 100% in it for the long haul… and that we’re all going to be better off for it. Samantha Daly
24. Declan McKenna – What Do You Think About The Car?
This album, as we are sure you are aware, is full of fantastic tracks. After releasing protest song ‘Brazil’ in 2015, winning Glastonbury’s Emerging Talent contest, McKenna released his debut this year at just 18 years old, silencing the critics who thought he was too young to release something so complete and mature. Tobias Pugh
23. Tove Lo – Blue Lips (Ladywood pt.2)
Swedish pop phenomenon Tove Lo has already made it onto our lists with her groove-inducing anthem ‘Disco Tits’, but third album Blue Lips shows that Lo has not necessarily abandoned all of her moody pop ways in favour of high-octane pop tunes. Whilst ‘Disco Tits’ is arguably the best track, Blue Lips is a concept album crammed full of songs pertaining the ups and downs of a relationship. Tracks such as ‘Struggle’ are infused with heartache and frustration, whilst ‘shedontknowbutsheknows’ documents a lover having doubts. None quite reach the euphoric peak of ‘Disco Tits’, but tellingly talk of a love on the wane. Kayleigh Watson
22. King Gizzard and the Wizard Lizard – Sketches of Brunswick East
For sheer bravado, Aussie psychsters King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard have to be on all end of year lists. Their attempt to release five albums in one year has demanded the attention of fans and critics alike, but what’s been most impressive has been the maintaining of quality in this exercise of quantity. Their ninth album, Flying Microtonal Banana, released back in February was a superb exercise in micro-tonal tunings, Murder of the Universe (May) was the “concept album to end all concepts”, while number four Polygondwanaland was released free in November to encourage fans and stores to make their own pressings. But for this list I have chosen the jazz-collaboration with Alex Brettin’s project Mild High Club; Sketches of Brunswick East released back in August. This album marked the biggest stylistic shift for King Gizzard since 2015’s acoustic, Paper Mâché Dream Balloon, and showed the band were able to switch off their fuzzy, distorted, recorded-through-a-sock psych for melodic, modal jazz. The tracks flow into each other, with psych bubbling under the surface; like on ‘Tezeta’ with its Coltrane ‘Favourite things’ melody meets Syd Barrett chanted lyrics. The flutes sound gorgeous on ‘Rolling Stoned’; just teetering on the edge of chaos while the Bossa-Nova meets bubble bath of ‘You Can Be Your Silhouette’ is bloody beautiful. Irrespective of whether they make it to number five, this album along with the others they have released in 2017 have cemented King Gizzard’s position as one of psych’s finest. Arthur Charlesworth
21. Creeper – Eternity, In Your Arms
Many say they’re evoking a movement similar to that of MCR and when you listen to the album in full it’s understandable how people would come to that conclusion. Everything about the album is over the top, it’s narrative song writing at its best and they do well keep the energy level just right at every point of the effort. This debut is as theatrical as it is fun, as it is emotional. It’s fair to say that they’ve brought a new life back to the UK rock scene that it’s been missing for quite a while and hopefully this can only continue for the better. Samantha Daly
20. LOUIZA – Party Trick
Melody-savvy with an eclectic blend of jazz, stylistic avant-garde qualities and undeniable talent, you can’t help but sing along with LOUIZA. The band’s magnetism and intellectual arrangements resonate with audiences ready to leave the end of the spectrum which deals with mass-produced mainstream ‘art’ we are exposed to on a daily basis. Band leader Rebecca Mimiaga’s contemporary jazz influences shine through on the record like a prism being penetrated by light from every angle, making it impossible to ignore her delicate yet haunting vocals. They produce that melancholic feel grunge brought to the world we are all so familiar with, evoking emotions that aren’t overtly happy or sad. In a recent interview with us, she told us she wants to move people in the way she is moved when listening to music such as Nirvana or B.B. King, describing it as “euphoric pain”; an aspect that strikes the icy cores of all those who dare try and understand rock and roll and this phenomenal record. Rahul Bhogal
19. Sheer Mag – Just Can’t Get Enough
Pennsylvania’s Sheer Mag are a band that are so composed and confident in their sound that they er, sound like they’ve been around the mill before. Mixing nostalgia for classic punk and rock with a fresh dose of gusto, their debut album Just Can’t Get Enough mixes their brattish energy with a soul and groove reminiscent of an Alabama Shakes-meets-Thin Lizzy supegroup. The throaty powerhouse vocal of Tina Halladay brings a touch of class to their lo-fi rock, belting passionately through the shameless guitar riffing. Listen and love it. KW
18. Björk – Utopia
In sharp contrast to her 2015 album Vulnicura, Björk’s new album sees her healing from heartbreak and coming back stronger. Utopia is her world, her playground, a place created and curated by her and protégé producer Arca. It’s a beautiful, airy, peaceful world, one that doesn’t feel like recorded music at all, rather a space to escape into. Its arguably her most complete, most immersive achievement, one that affirms who she is and what how much she has and is still contributing to music. TP
17. The Buttertones – Gravedigging
LA label Innovative Leisure have always had an impressive stable of artists with the likes of the Allah-Lahs, BADBADNOTGOOD and Tijuana Panthers. The Buttertones have always lurked on the outside of this select group until they stepped into the spotlight with their third release, Gravedigging. Not that they got cleaned up for the cameras. Rather this album is a beautifully created mess: a rock ‘n’ roll Bitches Brew, where The Cramps, Clash and Creedence are chucked into a cauldron, along with everything from Spaghetti Western soundtracks to ‘Psychotic Reactions’, creating a record where no two songs sound the same. What’s more, it doesn’t end there; ‘Pistol Whip’ combines theatrical opera with operating theatre, ‘Sadie’s A Sadist’ is pure Fat White Family, ‘I Ran Away’ doo-wop and the title track surfs its way through the doors of perception. Few LPs of eleven songs have the diversity of a double album, but the same Ramones-esque narcotic induced pace from start to finish; this is one of them. AC
16. Arca – Arca
After producing music for the likes of Kanye, FKA twigs, Kelela, releasing multiple experimental records and collaborations, Alejandro Ghersi has found his voice. Not just literally, though Björk did convince him to sing, but with his self-titled release Arca has released his most powerful work yet. With dark and strange instrumentals working with his operatic voice, listeners of the album are transported elsewhere. As if inside a nightmarish machine of creeping, crackling, crawling noises toward a world of bliss and ecstasy. At times, it’s terrifying, at others it’s terrifying because of its strange and pure beauty. TP
15. St. Vincent – Masseduction
Complete with Jack Antonoff assisting with the production, Annie Clark delivers a pop album unlike any other pop album. Massive, cinematic chorus’, resounding electronic hooks and lyrics that challenge fame, pleasure, lust, love and drugs. An intimate-sounding, personable effort that sucks you in and doesn’t let you go. SD
14. Billionaire – Cheap Credit
Sometimes an EP is all it takes for an artist to capture our airways. This was the case with Billionaire on Cheap Credit. The five songs of synth driven dark satire meets social commentary had traces of a hundred other bands, but at the same time were like nothing else. ‘Reasons to be Fearful’ combined concerns both surreal (“man-eating spiders”), and real “Russia getting bold” and “Sharia Law” with his trademark goth-tronic textures. ‘World Loves a Trier’ is a dark backbeat, ‘Death of a Star’ is lyrically astute and ‘You Owe Me’ has touches of pop. Everything about these songs seem simple and minimal, but don’t let this fool you; they are complex, complicated and demand your maximum attention. AC
13. Miguel – War & Leisure
Miguel only released War & Leisure in December, but we correctly anticipated it would be one of the best records of the year. Uplifting energies and melodies are seamlessly designed to help elevate the spirits and souls of a species in a world currently fuelled by tumultuous political climates. Take ‘Pineapple Skies’, perhaps the most stand-out ‘happy tune’ on the record, it presents an uncannily satisfying vocal rhythm and eargasmic overtones, as though Bill Ward and Neil Peart had a child and then those three decided to become singers. An album inspired by the glorious emerging electronic sounds of the 80’s, it combines rock, soul and pop to yet again sprinkle Miguel’s uniqueness over a garden sprawling with brand new sounds from the songwriter often regarded as the ‘modern Prince’. This feel-good set of tracks is not to be missed. RB
12. PVRIS – All We Know Of Heaven, All We Need Of Hell
Massachusetts’ electro-pop punk trio PVRIS are no strangers to our ‘best of’ lists this year, already featuring on our Top Tracks and Top Music Videos. Now though, it’s time to check out the whole album. All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell (‘conveniently’ shortened to AWKoH,AWNoH) takes PVRIS’ killer sound from debut releases ‘Fire’ and ‘St. Patrick’ and adds a darker, more synth-laden twist. Tracks such as ‘Anyone Else’ are principal in showcasing the ever-impressive vocal talents of Lynn Gunn, whilst ‘What’s Wrong’ proves that PVRIS can add more foot-stomping pop and lashes of synth without losing the kick-ass punk edge that brought them into the spotlight in the first place. JM
11. Phoenix – Te Amo
By the time lead single ‘J-Boy’ dropped unexpectedly in the spring, Phoenix had been absent for four whole years, which is a long time when their fans (hey!) are as fevered and invested in their incomparable sound and talent for reinventing themselves with each album. After the brash electronic warbles of previous album Bankrupt!, this year’s effort Te Amo was certainly a side-step. Drawing inspiration from a romanticised ideal of Italian culture, Te Amo weaves tales of youth and romance in rose-tinted electro-pop. Crammed full of hip-wriggling tunes including the title track, ‘Tuttifrutti’ and ‘Fior Di Latte’, the retro sound of Phoenix’s latest shows the cult band in a brand new light. KW
10. Sløtface – Try Not to Freak Out
Albums are often most effective as soundtracks to a period of time. Whether it’s a concept album, a heartbreak album or one that just boasts a present and authentic mentality, albums are just better this way. Sløtface’s debut album is one of those, a defiant, radiant and exciting record chronicling the growth of the band and the changes you experience in a post adolescent world. The album welcomes you to live vicariously through its diary like lyrics and powerful guitars, which express youth at its vulnerable, awkward, anxious and nostalgic best. The flow of songs is perfect, the feelings are relatable and the songs are just brilliant. TP
9. RATBOY – Scum
It’s always been incredibly evident that Jordan Cardy is massively talented and this has been epitomised with the release of debut album SCUM. The deluxe album sitting at a mighty 25 tracks (and radio intervals), the album effortlessly flows into each other. Binding massive hooks, plenty to sing along too, a whole lot of energy and… versatility. The album touches on indie rock, reggae, dub, there’s even somewhat of a pop ballad (‘Laidback’), it’s a great collection of tracks and most importantly; it’s a lot of fun. What will he do next?! SD
8. Oneothrix Point Never – Good Time Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Yet again, Oneohtrix Point Never makes it on to another one of our end of year lists. This time for his whole score for the Safdie Brother’s production, ‘Good Time’. OPN manages to create a work of art that not only sounds like and is a film score, but also provides enough separation between the ambient tracks and soundscapes for it to be a genuinely listenable record without a constantly irritating affiliation to another piece of art. However, the dramatic textures still fit seamlessly with the equally enigmatic film, inducing a heightened sense of emotion, thereby fulfilling the music’s purpose. RB
7. Kamakaze – Wavey Shirt Wednesday
With an already impressive repertoire of tunes and bars behind him, amassing millions of views of Youtube with his Road Rage freestyles, appearing on Charlie Sloth’s Fire in the Booth and clashing Derby in the finals of Red Bull’s Grime-A-Side series in 2016, Leicester rapper / MC Kamakaze shows his class with his second EP release this year Wavey Shirt Wednesday. Inspired by the titular colourful garms sported by the Kamdog himself, this EP showcases local talent from producers in Leicester, and indicates that he’s not opposed to exploration and experimentation in terms of his sound. Kamakaze’s earlier release ‘Royal Blud’ showed that he has hard-hitting bars and a powerful flow, but ‘Wavey Shirt Wednesday’ raises the bar, and shows that the Leicester artist can also create professional, chart-worthy grime anthems.
“This project might not be what you expect but I can assure you it’s fire from start to finish. I put a lot of heart and soul into it.”JM
6. Trevor Sensor – Andy Warhol’s Dream
You won’t see this album in many end of year lists, you won’t see it in many ‘albums you may have missed from 2017’ lists, but Trevor Sensor’s debut is certainly one of my LPs of the year; and it should be one of yours. Fleshing out the folk of last year’s EP Texas Girls and Jesus Christ, Andy Warhol’s Dream sees Sensor switch between many styles and subjects, all the while supporting a distinctive theme with his distinctive voice. Like the Lemon Twigs’ debut, this record certainly bears the imprint of Foxygen’s Jonathan Rado on production but it is mainly a stand apart, standalone masterpiece. From the threat looming large on the horizon of ‘the Reaper Man’, to the Lou Reed smirk on ‘Stolen Boots’ or the experimental title track, this record is a thrilling ride start to finish. Like Father John Misty’s Pure Comedy it takes the troubles of today and ties them to lush sounding baroque pop, but Andy Warhol’s Dream is a much more exciting listen; indie folk with all the singer-songwriter, black-and-white album cover pretensions but with the depth to hold up to repeated listenings. It is an album about Warhol’s ‘Fifteen Minutes of Fame’ but the impact on singer and listener lasts much longer. So for God’s sake, if you haven’t already, listen to this masterpiece! AC
5. Brockhampton – Saturation pt. 1, 2, 3
Three albums, a tour, a prom, countless videos, a Viceland documentary, merch and a movie. That’s what Californian Boy Band Brockhampton have achieved in 2017. These things aren’t just impressive in number form, take a look at any of them and you’ll see that Brockhampton are the most important band to have emerged over the past few years. Their fights against homophobia, racism, rape culture and the odds are all soundtracked in inventive, bold and witty ways, with creativity and talent and prevailing against all else. The era of Saturation is an important one, one that is already inspiring a generation and building the legacy of a group of some of the most exciting artists in music today. Saturation 3 wasn’t even out at the time of writing, but we were already so confident of its brilliance to put it on our list. TP
4. Gothic Tropic – Fast or Feast
An album that came out of nowhere earlier in the year was Fast or Feast by guitar wunderkind Cecilia Della Peruti and her latest project Gothic Tropic. Crafting quirky summery tunes infused with a hazy nostalgia sees Peruti plant herself firmly as a solitary presence in indie pop, a place most similarly held by the laidback retro vibe of Australia’s Ladyhawke. Songs such as ‘How Life Works’ introduce her anecdotal lyricism, whilst the left-field video channels her personality perfectly. KW
3. Blaenavon – That’s Your Lot
To say this album was a long time coming is perhaps the biggest understatement of the year. Blaenavon’s debut single came out way back in 2013, so for those really on the ball… it’s been a long four years. Full of astonishing EP’s, but never that much desired full length. But wasn’t it worth the wait?! Full of careful build ups, fiery outbursts and melodic indie riffs, this cinematic album bridges that gap between tracks that are great to listen to… but also massively come alive in the live setting. An impressive feat. SD
2. Wolf Alice – Visions of a Life
If they weren’t already the best band in Britain, they are now. The London outfit released Visions of a Life to great reception from critics and audiences worldwide, managing to fill it with track after track of epic, cinematic soundscapes, where there’s simply no room for poor composition. Swirling vocals and whirring guitars we are so used to are taken to another dimension through ‘Space and Time’, as they hit us harder than ever before, with more prowess and an infectious amount of elegance to the grit that oozes from the no nonsense rockers. One of the best albums of the year and with the potential to be a modern classic, it possesses a certain degree of ‘Formidable Cool’; a rare occurrence in modern music. RB
1. Lorde – Melodrama
An album that could have so easily been a disappointment, but instead turned into a confirmation that maybe, just maybe, David Bowie might be right and Lorde might certainly be the future of pop music.
It was with trepid excitement that we listened to Melodrama, after the euphoria of ‘Green Light’ had finally died down (who are we kidding, it still hasn’t, but you get what we mean) and the long agonising wait was over; it could only go one of two ways.
The reality however, was better than we could ever have imagined, an album that’s beautifully messy. Taking the messy feelings and situations of life and presenting them so vividly, dynamically and precisely that you are quite literally gripped. An emotional rollercoaster; what Lorde said about ‘Green Light’: “it’s complex and funny and sad and joyous and it’ll make you DANCE” can easily be applied to the whole album and some. Quite simply (and we feel very strongly about this), it’s a masterpiece. SD