As the title indicates, this was a tumultuous year for my family and for the world around us. It was a year for learning and growing and just dealing. Music for me is always an escape and 2017 was a great year for new music to wash away all the pain and fears. (Just for the record everything is looking up and we are in a very good place now!)
This year my musical tastes were all over the map. Seriously, quite literally everywhere. I knew I have diverse taste, but after creating my preliminary list of albums I really saw the vast pool of genres I submerged myself in this calendar year. I listened to rock, alternative, indie rock, indie pop, pop, country, folk and metal to fame a few. My list started out with 23 albums, which are all listed here. I’ll only comment on the top 10 or so, but you all should really check them all out.
Without further ado…
Grizzly Bear – Painted Ruins
This was easily my favorite album this year from one of my favorite bands. From beginning to end this one talks to me. I love how this one flows, and love its slight indie pop sensibility. Although is does have its upbeat moments, this a great album just to sit and chill with.
Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile – Lotta Sea Lice
This was an interesting release for me. Kurt Vile, a quite popular singer/songwriter/indie artist, teamed up with the much newer but very similar artist, Courtney Barnett to record Lotta Sea Lice. Being the indie music nerd that I am, you would have thought I would have a long musical relationship with Vile, but the truth is that this album is my first real contact I’ve made with him. And it is awesome! Both artists have an uncanny tongue in cheek way with lyrics and both share a very down trodden tone to their vocals that are a perfect match. I look forward to discovering more of Kurt music in the months and years to come!
Wolf Alice – Visions of A Life
Visions of a Life itself is a little bit eclectic. Wolf Alice, in its very short historywould best be considered alternative rock or shoegaze. Although this record is definitely a little of both of those, it also dips its feet into pop rock, electronica and punk. It has brutal harsh moments followed by soothing melodic moments. You can band your head to one track and dance you butt off to the next. It one reason I loved it so much, I feel like just as I was getting settled, it would give me a sucker punch.
Avatarium – Hurricanes and Halos
Thanks to my fellow Four Northmen, I can enjoy the bellowing vocals of Jennie-Ann Smith and Marcus Jidell’s wailing guitar licks. This one always gets me howling away with a fist in the air! To me this is quintessential heavy metal.
Bell Witch – Mirror Reaper
What a slow burn! Every moment of this one had me anxiously waiting for the next. This is not for the faint of heart, or for one looking for a catchy tune. The single 83-minute track meanders its way through a dark, dreamy landscape that never really takes off. Its treasure is in that slow melodic burn.
Aldous Harding – Party
Party was a substantially late addition to my top albums. I discovered this album from an end of year top albums list posted by Rough Trade in early December. Again, I was drawn into a landscape that is a bit darker and more melodic. Vocally and musically Aldous reminds me a bit of Joanna Newsom, although quite a bit more melancholy. I found myself singing some lyrics for days.
Father John Misty – Pure Comedy
Another interesting adventure for me. There was quite a bit of promotion swirling around before the release of this one. I hadn’t really followed the former Fleet Foxes drummer since he had gone solo and really didn’t really know what to expect. I took a shot and upon my first listen I was quite underwhelmed and confused. I mean he certainly wasn’t bad, but I didn’t think he was doing anything special. If anything, I thought his songs were overly weighed down by lyrics. But then I listened again, and again…and again! Now I amazed he spins an very clever web of lyrics that submerges itself into our present turbulent world. It has me excited to see where his song writing travels in the future.
Lana Del Ray – Lust for Life
The beautiful Miss Del Ray’s breathy vocals have always made me weak in the knees. I’ll claim my hipster moment by saying that I’ve flowered her since her “Video Games” Myspace breakthrough back in 2011. Yup, I heard of her first! (haha, well maybe not…) I’ve heard others claim this is more pop sounding album than her previous outputs, but I’d argue she always had a very pop tilt to her unique style. Like much of what I like this one is a bit more low key and requires a bit more dedication to really get it.
St. Vincent – MASSEDUCTION
Oh my god I love St. Vincent!! I got to see her live at the House of Blues in Boston this year (free tickets even!). She has to be one of the best performers (and guitarists) alive today! MASSEDUCTION was so much different then what I expected. I expected an indie rock album, dripping with guitars. What we got was a crazy indie art pop album with minimal dripping guitars. I found this album much more upbeat and bright as anything Annie Clark has ever done. Albeit different, still a masterpiece.
Beck – Colors
Beck surprised with a unexpectedly good pop album. If anything, this was my guilty pleasure for the year. Beck being a guilty pleasure sounds absurd considering his status as an alternative music legend, but that just shows how far from familiar this Beck record was. I couldn’t stop listening to it in the weeks after its release. I’ll be interested in seeing how this one holds up over time for me.
The Shins – Heartworms
I was surprised I did not see this one on more year end lists. I even heard a few music aficionados comment they were disappointed with this album. Due in part to it being released early in the year it was the album I listened to the most this year. Classic Shins songwriting if you ask me.
Man, I could go on and on. Some of the honorable mentions below I love dearly. But since I’ve already covered 11, here are the rest of my favorites:
Primus – The Desaturating Seven
Wolves in the Throne Room – Thrice Woven
Filthy Friends – Invitation
Elder – Reflections of a Floating World
Arcade Fire – Everything Now
Haim – Something to Tell You
Fleet Foxes – Crack-up
The Weeks – Easy
Feist – Pleasure
Lorde – Melodrama
Thurston Moore – Rock N Roll Consciousness
The XX – I See You
Margo Price – All American Made
So…this blog is pretty defunct at this point. I now only use it to post my year-end lists. If any of you stumbled upon this page and want to follow me and counterparts in our quest to spread our love of music, you can follow us on Facebook here à @FourNorthMenOfTheRockpocalypse.