Happy belated New Year! Wishing you all good luck, good health, and good times in 2018.
The Jom 100 is comprised of 100 albums released in 2017 that I happened to listen to the most based on the following arbitrary parameters:
- Scrobbler data
- Recommendations from users
- Super-subjective taste based on whatever seemed like a good idea at the time*
*This is a very similar strategy to the lady who who won the NCAA Football Confidence Pick’Em contest I was in this year: she went solely off of whether or not they were a B1G team (except for the University of Michigan, which completely shat the bed, allowing her to go a perfect 8-0 in B1G bowls; gg Harbaugh), followed by their color scheme.
The Jom 100 is in alphabetical order and the mini-blurbs are purposely short because I know nobody reads those (and please don’t listen to all 19 hours of it at once). Pick-and-choose what you might be keen on checking out (unless you are 69% of the site [stats confirmed by macman] and won’t find anything at all; in that case, thanks for the clicks, I guess?).
You’ll see obvious deficiencies in particular genres, which is my own fault. Feel free to recommend anything I might have missed — even if you think it’s obvious. There are also some albums (e.g. Bell Witch’s Mirror Reaper) which were excluded because I wanted to pick two songs from each record, so adding an entire album to the playlist seemed a bit overkill to me.
Algiers – The Underside of Power
Post-Punk / Post-Industrial
LIYL: Liars, Tom Waits, The Mooney Suzuki
In comparison to their debut, there is greater emphasis on the industrial sound compared to emphasizing guitars, but it’s not as if the guitars are completely absent. Franklin James Fisher does an impeccable job vocally, whether it’s politically-charged vitriol or soulful gospel messages of perseverance.
Amenra – Mass VI
Atmospheric Sludge / Post-Rock
LIYL: Celeste, Fall of Efrafa, Year of No Light
Foreboding and malevolent, Mass VI also finds pockets of beauty amidst Colin H. van Eeckhout’s baleful screams and larynx-tearing shrieks. The production is cleaner this time out, which is one of the many hallmark ingredients that will persuade me to listen to a record. It’s also a shorter record (approximately 40 minutes), but the atmosphere and ambiance doesn’t suffer for it.
And So I Watch You from Afar – The Endless Shimmering
Math Rock / Post-Rock
LIYL: Adebisi Shank, BATS, 65daysofstatic
Yeah, that album art is a little ruff, but for someone who really, really liked Heirs (it feels like I was the only one around here, to be honest), it was comforting seeing the Belfast-based outfit ditch the vocal flourishes found on that record in favor of letting the guitars drive the melodies. I really like the themes and motifs that the quartet revisit, especially in the album’s first five tracks.
Arcane Roots – Melancholia Hymns
LIYL: Dead Letter Circus, Reuben, Biffy Clyro
When I first spun this record, it didn’t grab me right away, but it started to pique my interest more as autumn started to become more blustery and segue into winter. Some are understandably turned off by the pivot to alternative from their post-hardcore roots, but the potent instrumentation is steady and consistent, complementing Andrew Groves’s robust vocals.
Atlas Pain – What the Oak Left
Power Metal / Folk Metal / Symphonic Cheese
LIYL: Equilibrium, Valhalore, Stormtide
Sorry for making up a genre there, but one of my quibbles with this record is that it can’t decide if it’s symphonic/power metal or folk. I was promised Italy’s Atlas Pain would deliver more folk on their LP compared to their 2015 EP, and while there are certainly some memorable moments, What the Oak Left is more symphonic/power than folk. That said, vocalist Samuele Faulisi keeps your attention, cackling when the music builds to furious crescendos and other particularly passionate moments.
LIYL: Baroness, Black Tusk, High on Fire
Heavy, enveloping sludge with greater emphasis on melody compared to previous releases (the clean guitar, in particular, is a highlight when it gets super sludgy). Although things can maneuver slower than a drag in the record’s latter half, the album’s ferocious lyricism and themes are expertly balanced with the record’s crisp production.
Blanck Mass – World Eater
LIYL: Fuck Buttons, Roly Porter, Emeralds
I knew I wanted to feature the cold and calculating “Rhesus Negative”, but it was a tough call choosing between “Hive Mind” or “Silent Treatment” as my other favorite track from this. If I had a mild form of chromesthesia, I imagine I would hear every single color in the wheel, and World Eater is masterful in maintaining its energy and intensity (with the occasional respite).
Blood Cultures – Happy Birthday
LIYL: M83, Youth Lagoon, MGMT
The klap 4 2017 hypetrain was 4 real, friends.
Broken Social Scene – Hug of Thunder
Indie Rock / Chamber Pop
LIYL: Stars, Metric, Spoon
When I’m feeling nostalgic or wistful for 10 years ago, Hug of Thunder is like an instant time machine. That’s not to say that the record sounds dated, but has a certain air of familiarity and comfort to it, like your favorite hoodie on a cool fall day.
Brutus (BE) – Burst
Post-Hardcore / Shoegaze
LIYL: White Lung, Iceage, Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Burst‘s frenetic pacing is an obvious highlight, as is the fiery guitar work, but drummer/vocalist Stefanie Mannaerts’ performance is sublime. There are plenty of occasions where it sounds like her voice might crack or cower or otherwise lose its gusto, but it never does; instead, it seems to serve as a harbinger to a cathartic explosion of soaring guitars and thunderous percussion.
Buried Feather – Mind of the Swarm
LIYL: Blues Pills, The Sonic Dawn, Purson
insomniac15-centric psychedelic rock.
Captain, We’re Sinking – The King of No Man
Emo / Pop-Punk
LIYL: The Hotelier, The Sidekicks, Signals Midwest
Oof. I wouldn’t call it a misstep – the guitars are reminiscent of Tiny Moving Parts’ Celebrate in spots – and there are some appreciably gorgeous songs (the album’s bookends, in particular, if you can get past the subpar lyrical hooks in the chorus). In looking at this album’s sound-off page, it seems like it was fairly divisive here, but I’m a sucker for bright guitar and will overlook other weaknesses.
Cloakroom – Time Well
Shoegaze / Slowcore
LIYL: Whirr, Hum, Nothing
In starting to explore shoegaze and slowcore a bit more this year, one of the lessons I’ve learned is patience. I’m not quite sure if the genre is ‘for me’ yet, but I’m a sucker for gigantic and eclectic pedal boards. Sometimes the glacial pace moving from stanza to stanza can be numbing, but the ambiance cultivated in “Concrete Gallery” is one of many highlights throughout Time Well.
The Contortionist – Clairvoyant
Progressive Metal / Progressive Rock
LIYL: Polaris-era TesseracT, Skyharbor, Monuments
The Contortionist have completely dog-legged from the harsh vocals and djent riffing found on preceding albums, but there is still plenty of heaviness to be found. The easiest parallel to draw is that of TesseracT’s (or, perhaps more specifically, the Ashe O’Hara-era of TesseracT along with his work in Voices from the Fuselage), so if you’re a fan of 2014’s Language, this is well worth a spin.
Converge – The Dusk in Us
LIYL: Botch, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Trap Them
It was a slight surprise to not see this in the Staffers’ list this year given that several of us had it on our individual lists (albeit on the lower end), but that doesn’t suggest that this album is weak release by any stretch of the imagination. I understand that there was some trepidation with Bannon’s Wear Your Wounds excursion, and while there are more clean vocals on The Dusk in Us compared to prior works, I find that it adds another dimension to the all-pervading strife and turmoil.
LIYL: Gloson, Unearthly Trance, Omega Massif
A fantastic debut LP that runs counter to the belief that post-metal has devolved to ripping off Isis/Neurosis/Cult of Luna. Granted, there aren’t many new flourishes to the formula, but I find the gargantuan crescendo-to-climax runs to be especially resplendent (see the last 3:30 of “Towers” as an example), as if a mudslide is reaching top velocity down Sludge Mountain.
Progressive / Art Rock
LIYL: Anathema, Steven Wilson, Tim Bowness
It was either this or The Optimist, and honestly, everything seems to point to me listening to Monochrome more in 2017 for its earnest immediacy. I think tabbing The Gathering’s Anneke van Giersbergen for guest vocals was a wise choice, as her style seems to complement Cavanaugh’s supremely well in tracks like “Soho”, and Monochrome‘s somber disposition is easy to empathize with Cavanagh and the stories he spins throughout the record.
Deluge Grander – Oceanarium
Progressive Rock / Chamber
LIYL: Birds and Buildings, King Crimson, Little Atlas
Dan Britton is a multi-instrumentalist wizard, and he and his bandmates have crafted a record that can test your stamina in sections. A lot of the record is reminiscent of ’70s-era progressive, albeit with slower-developing progressions from movement to movement, but many of these songs are impeccably arranged and performed if and only if you allow yourself the time and energy to let the songs develop (for me, I needed to see the individual trees [e.g. the bass clarinet, the saxophone, the trumpet, et al] first before the big-picture forest; perhaps for more-seasoned listeners the reverse would be true).
Diablo Swing Orchestra – Pacifisticuffs
Avant-Garde Metal / “Swing Metal”
LIYL: Unexpect, Subterranean Masquerade, Pin-Up Went Down
It’s neither as weird nor as impacting as Pandora’s Piñata – the songs seem to follow a linear path compared to a Byzantine one – but new female vocalist Kristin Evegård delivers an auspicious debut and DSO still know how to put the ‘swing’ in ‘swing metal’. That said, it would have been nice to hear Daniel Håkansson a bit more often; I don’t feel his talent is utilized as much as it could have been.
Do Make Say Think – Stubborn Persistent Illusions
LIYL: Mogwai, Explosions in the Sky, Caspian
“Return, Return Again” is probably my post-rock song of the year; failing that, it’s my all-time favorite Do Make Say Think track. It’s unlike anything else on the record and felt (and still feels) like an instant classic in their discography.
Drab Majesty – The Demonstration
Darkwave / Post-Punk / Synthpop
LIYL: The Cure, Cold Cave, Depeche Mode
Sure, many of songs are built on the same formula: pulsating bass, looping guitar arpeggios with the treble cranked to 11, the steady thump on a drum machine, and Bauhaus/New Order/The Cure/Depeche Mode-influenced vocals wrapped up in an ’80s Grand Theft Auto: Vice City aesthetic.
Dropkick Murphys – 11 Short Stories of Pain and Glory
Punk / Pub Music
LIYL: The Pogues, The Tossers, Flogging Molly
A friendly reminder that this list is 100 albums I listened to the most this year, so this is one that dominated Q1 and then seemed to fall out of favor once 2017 transitioned to Q2. That said, the seminal Boston outfit wrote another safe-but-solid record, albeit eschewing some of the folk elements heard on Signed & Sealed in Blood. They continue to wear their hearts on their sleeves, reminding listeners of the courage and perseverance displayed during the Boston Marathon bombings (“4-15-13”), have a new candidate in which to open concerts (“The Lonesome Boatman”), put their trademark spin on the traditional “I Had a Hat” to make it fun, and covered Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “You’ll Never Walk Alone” in part to give hope to those impacted by the opiate epidemic plaguing the East Coast (and all over America, for that matter). While Ken Casey acknowledges that the song has been covered before, he wanted the Murphys’ version to sound triumphant, and the band do a respectable job in reaching that ambition.
Eidola – To Speak, to Listen
Post-Hardcore / Progressive
LIYL: A Lot Like Birds, Dance Gavin Dance, Hail the Sun
This album is a tale of two halves: the first half is more of the bombastic post-hardcore persuasion while the latter is calmer and more introspective. For example, vocalist Andrew Wells has discussed how “Loti” is meaningful to him personally because of how it lends itself to Sikhism, and how the band’s discography to date is interconnected, not dissimilar to how those who practice religion or describe themselves as spiritual feel that they might feel harmony with a higher power or their fellow man. Although these two ideas might seem disparate sonically, the album flows cohesively.
Elder (USA-MA) – Reflections of a Floating World
Stoner Rock / Heavy Psych
LIYL: Egypt, Dopelord, Ethereal Riffian
Developing and expanding on Lore‘s sound, Elder’s juxtaposition of subtle atmospheric passages with heavy, heavy guitars and slow-burning psychedelic/progressive twists-and-turns made this an easy selection.
Everything Everything – A Fever Dream
Art Pop / Indietronica
LIYL: Bloc Party, Alt-J, Muse
A Fever Dream‘s title reflects its pacing in many ways, especially in its supremely catchy opening third, but the album’s run from “Good Shot, Good Soldier” to “Desire” is bewitching, too. A case where an artist picked excellent singles to be sure, but also allow for some solid gems to discover in the rest of the record, too.
Exquirla – Para Quienes Aún Viven
Post-Rock / Flamenco nuevo / Progressive
LIYL: Toundra, Alcest, Jardin de la Croix
Full disclosure: the flamenco nuevo influence isn’t that conspicuous, but the collaboration between Toundra and Niño de Elche brings one of the post-rock albums of the year. Although it meanders in spots, I can’t think of a more stunning capstone than the album’s final two tracks (featured in the playlist).
Fen – Winter
Atmospheric Black Metal / Post-Rock / Blackgaze
LIYL: A Forest of Stars, Agalloch, Woods of Ypres
Yes, there’s a ton of tremolo picking, blasts, and shrieks across the six movements, but each one seamlessly flows to the next, and you can actually hear the bass!
Flogging Molly – Life is Good
Celtic Rock / Folk Punk
LIYL: The Pogues, The Mahones, Dropkick Murphys
Truthfully, Life Is Good is a logical progression for the band, whose signature Celtic folk songwriting remains as robust as ever. As you would expect, their multi-layered songwriting exudes congruence with King’s lyricism, a staple calling card throughout the band’s discography. In songs like the caustic, marching “Crushed (Hostile Nations)” or anthemic, banjo-driven lead single “Reptiles (We Woke Up)”, he weaves his observations and sociopolitical commentary through a gentler lens compared to the subversive soapbox-and-megaphone approach he opted for throughout Speed of Darkness.
Flotation Toy Warning – The Machine That Made Us
Chamber Pop / Neo-Psychedelica
LIYL: The Flaming Lips, Grandaddy, Olivia Tremor Control
Even though it doesn’t do a ton in differentiating itself from 2004’s Bluffer’s Guide to the Flight Deck, the interplay between the keys, strings, and brass builds a warm, inviting tone that ultimately buoys Paul Carter’s odd, yet engrossing vocals.
Forest Swords – Compassion
Ambient Dub / Downtempo
LIYL: The Haxan Cloak, Oneohtrix Point Never, Laurel Halo
Even when individual songs seem to be scrubbed with greys and blues, some gorgeous pockets of brightness break through, particularly when the tribal drumming gets infused in the soundscapes.
Gang of Youths – Go Farther in Lightness
Indie / Heartland Rock
LIYL: Titus Andronicus, The Gaslight Anthem, The Smith Street Band
For whatever reason, Gang of Yutes didn’t get a ton of coverage in year-end lists, leading me to conclude that Australia is going to take over Sputnikmusic and you’ll start hearing adverts on Triple J (maybe we can run commercials to finance some changes!). My one complaint with this record is one that seems to be fairly common: a lot of this could have been truncated.
Gas – Narkopop
Ambient / Minimal Techno
LIYL: Stars of the Lid, Fennesz, The Field
Wonderful comeback album and the flip-side of the Pop coin. I played it quite often when I needed moments of calmness or stillness, and Wolfgang Voight surely knows how to cultivate an ethereal, hazy sonic murals.
Glassjaw – Material Control
LIYL: The Blood Brothers, Thursday, Deftones
Alright, so I contributed a slightly longer blurb here about this.
Godspeed You! Black Emperor – “Luciferian Towers”
Post-Rock / Drone / Chamber
LIYL: Set Fire to Flames, A Silver Mt. Zion, Swans
While still a far cry from their earlier work but a closer approximation to ‘Allelujah!, the monolithic bleakness and oscillating rises and falls still make for a compelling listen.
Have Mercy – Make the Best of It
Indie Rock / Midwest Emo
LIYL: Tiny Moving Parts, Balance and Composure, Seahaven
After solid emo revival releases with The Earth Pushed Back and A Place of Our Own, the band’s third effort skirts emo tendencies in favor of more indie rock stylings.
Heaven in Her Arms – 白暈 (White Halo)
Screamo / Blackgaze / Post-Rock
LIYL: Envy, Sed Non Satiata, Suis la lune
Sure, the Envy likenesses are unequivocal, but the oscillating to-and-fro between blackgaze-tinged screamo and tranquil post-rock was unrivaled in 2017.
Heron (USA-PA) – You Are Here Now
LIYL: Moonlit Sailor, Codes in the Clouds, Yndi Halda
Taking cues from the warm swatches on their album art, You Are Here Now is arguably the ‘brightest’ post-rock record in 2017. Heron’s debut is akin to Colors in Stereo-era Moonlight Sailor. Definitely an album I’ll resist as the winter thaw emerges and the seasons segue into spring and summer.
Hot Water Music – Light It Up
Punk / Post-Hardcore
LIYL: Bad Religion, The Lawrence Arms, The Gaslight Anthem
Chuck Ragan’s and Chris Wollard’s vocals haven’t given out on them yet, and who woulda thunk Hot Water Music would’ve taken a page from Bad Religion with that title track?
Hundredth – RARE
Shoegaze / Alternative Rock
LIYL: Turnover, Hyperview-era Title Fight, Drug Church
Similar to what Title Fight did with Hyperview, Hundredth have maneuvered to shoegaze/alternative territory from their earlier melodic / post-hardcore roots. The one major difference that differentiates it from similar artists is the drumming and percussion being more present in the mix.
IDLES – Brutalism
Post-Punk / Post-Hardcore
LIYL: Protomartyr, Pissed Jeans, METZ
Immeasurable sardonic and layered with vitriol, Joe Talbot’s disdain for certain sects of British society – namely the conformists and those who ensure that social stratification continues to oppress those the bourgeois consider to be undesirable – makes for an incessantly compelling listen. The album does run a little out of gas towards the end, but the album’s first half is as pristine as post-punk can be.
Incendiary – Thousand Mile Stare
New York Hardcore
LIYL: Backtrack, Madball, Turnstile
Metallic hardcore with some excellent riffs and bellicose aggression and some hip-hop influences, as if Rage Against the Machine hailed from Long Island or New York City rather than Los Angeles.
Incubus – 8
Alternative / Pop Rock
LIYL: 311, Hoobastank, Third Eye Blind
More songs like “Glitterbomb”, “Nimble Bastard”, and maybe the occasional “Make No Sound in the Digital Forest”, please, and less of… everything else.
Japandroids – Near to the Wild Heart of Life
Indie Rock / Noise Pop
LIYL: Wavves, The Hold Steady, No Age
Fans of Celebration Rock and Post-Nothing likely won’t appreciate the band’s transition to slicker production and melodies, but there are plenty of gorgeous melodies and hooks throughout the record.
Jessie Ware – Glasshouse
Pop Soul / Contemporary R&B
LIYL: Banks, FKA twigs, Katy B
Thematically, Ware’s lyricism revolves around her relationships, namely with her partner and especially her first-born child. “Thinking About You” is particularly gripping, as she reflects on her feelings when she is away from her child. The soothing soundscapes are pleasant, but as it should, Glasshouse‘s highlights are almost always carried by her powerful voice.
Progressive / Post-Rock/Metal
LIYL: Katatonia, *shels, Caspian
With Katatonia going on a potential hiatus (and if they decide to call it a day by bowing out on The Fall of Hearts, what an album to go out on!), I was looking for something similar. It’s not exactly what I was looking for, but Rituals is in the melancholic ballpark.
Kauan – Kaiho
Post-Rock / Neofolk
LIYL: Sigur Ros, Saor, The Morningside
There’s greater focus on post-rock stylings compared to the ambient nature of records like Sorni Nai, so as a bona-fide sucker for lush, vivid soundscapes (“Sateen huuhtoma” is the record’s zenith in my mind despite it being the penultimate track), there was plenty to enjoy here.
Kelly Lee Owens – Kelly Lee Owens
Ambient Pop / Downtempo
LIYL: Julia Holter, Grimes, Porter Ricks
Beautifully constructed with multiple layers of subtle ambiance. The transitions between songs and individual movements are seamless, and there are tons of techno, downtempo, and traditional pop influences to explore on her eponymous debut LP.
Leprous – Malina
LIYL: Haken, Earthside, Caligula’s Horse
It seems as though listeners were disappointed in the record’s softer moments, yet the symphonic elements in songs like “Stuck” (despite its dubious lyrics) were mesmerizing. Einar Solberg’s vocals are pristine throughout the record, which was to be expected, but Baard Kolstad’s drumming is what seemed to captivate me the most.
Living Colour – Shade
Hard Rock / Blues Metal
LIYL: Fishbone, Bad Brains, Faith No More
It seemed like it was only a matter of time before we’d see a new record from Living Colour since this particular performance in 2013, which split the difference between this record and The Chair in the Doorway. From top to bottom, Shade brings the riffs. It is a spectacular model of consistency, with rarely a misstep in vocals and instrumentation.
Lor – In Forgotten Sleep
Folk Metal / Progressive
LIYL: Aether Realm, Wuthering Heights, Vali
Lor’s debut has a wondrous mix of folk (“Visions of Awakening”), progressive (“Eidolon”), and power metal (“Dark Cloud”) — something you might not anticipate from an American-based band. Obviously, I was more keen on the folkier flourishes, but their penchant for writing exceptionally strong melodies (especially in their choruses) is what also sets them apart. With the level of creativity exhibited here, I don’t foresee a sophomore slump.
Lorde – Melodrama
Synthpop / Art Pop
LIYL: Lana Del Ray, Halsey, Tove Lo
It seems like some forgot to recognize Lorde released Pure Heroine when she was 16 years old. To me, it stands to reason that Melodrama would be a logical progression in her songwriting, reflecting on persistent themes related to adulthood, heartbreak, and introspection. It’s more ‘arty’ than Pure Heroine, but it’s still the pop record of the year for me.
Lunatic Soul – Fractured
Art Rock / Progressive
LIYL: Riverside, Gazpacho, Depeche Mode
In comparison to 2014’s Walking on a Flashlight Beam, Fractured showcases more electronic and trip-hop tendencies. “Blood on the Tightrope” establishes the album’s ethos right at the jump.
Major Parkinson – Blackbox
Neo-Prog / Art Rock
LIYL: Mr. Bungle, Kaizers Orchestra, Cardiacs
I wrote about Pacifisticuffs earlier, suggesting that DSO weren’t as break-neck with the bizarre. Major Parkinson still bring the weird but don’t sacrifice the pop sensibilities amidst all the wild tempo changes and ever-vacillating personality changes.
Manchester Orchestra – A Black Mile to the Surface
Indie / Alternative
LIYL: O’Brother, The Dear Hunter, Circa Survive
Such an appreciated recovery from Hope, with bombastic choruses in a concept record rife with relatable imagery and atmosphere. While I understand how hackneyed it can be talking about album art, I really enjoyed how the art synchronizes and mirrors the musical output.
Mastodon – Emperor of Sand
Progressive Metal / Rock
LIYL: Baroness, The Sword, High on Fire
Brann Dailor is one my favorite drummers, so of course I’ll slobber over the percussion here, but I’d also like to spotlight how his vocals continue to improve with each record. I also appreciate how the Atlanta-based quartet are encroaching on new territory with their more pop-oriented affections, as the album’s singles were excellent forays into this direction.
The Menzingers – After the Party
Punk / Alternative
LIYL: The Gaslight Anthem, Captain, We’re Sinking, Red City Radio
Sure, Brian Fallon is out doing his own thing away from Gaslight, but sometimes you need a wistful punk album where the vocalist spins a wheel of female names and then writes about them, as The Menzingers do with Julie from the Wonder Bar in “Lookers” and Juliet from “Charlie’s Army”. This record was one of my most-played in 2017, and likely will continue to do so for quite some time, especially with the stories spun in the album’s strong opening and closing thirds (a day in the life plucked from “Tellin’ Lies”: “Everything is terrible . . . where are we going to go now that our twenties are over?”).
Mogwai – Every Country’s Sun
LIYL: Explosions in the Sky, This Will Destroy You, Do Make Say Think
I adore album opener “Coolverine”, but it’s not in the playlist because everyone also likes it or everyone thinks Mogwai fell off after Happy Songs for Happy People and there’s nothing they can do to bring those folks back. Like Ron Swanson, I’m a simple man: if it has the quintessential elements of second-wave post-rock, I’m probably going to listen to it a lot. Every Country’s Sun is a bit overlong, but it’s still a solid addition to their discography.
Monolord – Rust
Doom / Stoner Metal
LIYL: Sleep, Electric Wizard, Dopelord
A slight step down from Vænir, but Rust still brings some fantastic riffs alongside crisper production without sacrificing the trademark sludgy/fuzzy sound heard on Vænir.
Mors Principium Est – Embers of a Dying World
Melodic Death Metal / Symphonic
LIYL: Insomnium, Omnium Gatherum, At the Gates
The orchestral elements on Embers of a Dying World are expertly crafted, and of course the interplay between the rhythm and lead guitars is excellent with the Finnish (rather than Gothenburg) flair. “Death is the Beginning” is another highlight with the female vocal as well.
Ne Obliviscaris – Urn
Progressive Metal / Melodic Black Metal
LIYL: Xantochroid, Enslaved, In Vain
As I was tracking the 100 records towards the end of December, it seemed like it was going to be between Urn and The Forest Seasons. Ne Obliviscaris have the reputation of being ‘that band with the violin or whatever’, but the vocals have also improved (both types, too, although the clean vocals do bring the hefty cheddar) and the guitars harken back to more Portal of I days rather than Citadel.
Folk Metal / Black Metal
LIYL: Kroda, Graveland, Drudkh
The folk emphasis is greater here than on Голос сталi/The Voice of Steel, so if you prefer the black metal side of the coin, you might retreat back to the 2009 record. On this album, though, Nokturnal Mortum excel in juxtaposing ferocity with tranquility, making for an eclectic and diverse listen
Nothing But Thieves – Broken Machine
LIYL: Muse, Royal Blood, Highly Suspect
No-frills alternative whose back-to-back-to-back run of “Amsterdam”-“Sorry”-“Broken Machine” stands far above the rest of the record. The one album on here where you might look at the LIYL and notice the similarities (short of mentioning a certain band whose name would be similar to “Wandering Prognosticators”).
LIYL: Verneri Pohjola, Aki Rissanen, Nir Felder
This album’s pacing is a true delight, and the Finnish guitarist has a stellar supporting cast as well. The frenetic opening to “Arps” brings to mind of Robert Fripp, meaning that user Frippertronics (and all of you, for that matter) should give it a listen.
Ostraca – last
LIYL: Youth Funeral, Loma Prieta, Ampere
Archetypal screamo with plenty of heart within the heartache – “Nausea” easily tops (or is at least Top 10) any list for screamo songs of the year.
Pain of Salvation – In the Passing Light of Day
LIYL: Fates Warning, Ayreon, Wolverine
This seems to be the most divisive record on the staff and user lists – people either abhor or adore it. I’m more of a centrist with my feelings on it, but it’s one hell of a return record (for those unaware, Daniel Gildenlöw developed an extremely serious infection from a flesh-eating bacteria (don’t worry, the links will take you to written words, not images of necrotizing fasciitis) and made an astonishing recovery. The title track is a career highlight, and the lyrics understandably reflect on Gildenlöw’s time in the hospital. It’s a bit odd for a progressive album to not have multiple memorable guitar solos (only the one from “Angels of Broken Things” comes to mind immediately), and I still don’t know what to make of Ragnar Zolberg’s departure (whether it was a firing or a quitting). We’ll find out with the next one.
Paramore – After Laughter
New Wave / Synthpop / Pop-Punk
LIYL: PVRIS, Tonight Alive, No Doubt
Believe it or not, After Laughter is on here because the album is positively resplendent and not an excuse for me to post this :20 video. “Hard Times” is an instant classic, and I do believe that a record requires an assertive opener to set the tone for the record. It might be a bit too persuasive, though, as the rest of the songs don’t quite reach its level, but I can’t help but believe that Hayley Williams, a returning Zac Ferro, and Taylor York had a delightful time crafting this record in the studio. The ’80s synthpoppy vibe permeating the record is sublime; “Rose-Colored Boy” reminds me of Belinda Carlisle.
Penguin Cafe – The Imperfect Sea
Modern Classical / Chamber
LIYL: Hauschka, Wim Mertens, Steve Reich
Arthur Jeffes’ Penguin Cafe continues to excel, and while there is still a specter with his late father’s Penguin Cafe Orchestra looming, it’s not an ominous ghost. The Imperfect Sea sees Penguin Cafe start to form their own tributary off the PCO stream rather than rolling with the current, although there are still plenty of allusions to the legacy band. There are also three covers: one that’s revisited from PCO and two electronic songs (Simian Mobile Disco’s “Wheels Within Wheels” and Kraftwerk’s “Franz Schubert”), but the originals (especially “Ricercar”) are the true highlights.
Persefone – Aathma
Progressive Metal / Melodic Death Metal
LIYL: Amorphis, Dan Swano et al, In Mourning
The four-part epic closing the record keeps your interest, but keyboardist Miguel Espinosa shines most in terms of cultivating the atmosphere throughout the record, whether it’s the transition tracks or in the aforementioned 4-parter. It doesn’t change too much from Spiritual Migration, so on the Jom 100 continuum, it’s closer to Leprous (guitarist Øystein Landsverk has a guest spot here) than Ne Obliviscaris.
Planning For Burial – Below the House
Shoegaze / Slowcore
LIYL: Wreck and Reference, Have a Nice Life, Caina
Heavy, depressive shoegaze with slowcore and doom influences. The drone sections are cold, with a glacial pace to match, while songs like “Somewhere in the Evening”, Thom Wasluck’s heavy volume swells are entrancing.
Power Trip – Nightmare Logic
Thrash Metal / Crossover
LIYL: Iron Reagan, Municipal Waste, Pantera
“Executioner’s Song (Swing of the Axe)” is assuredly the thrash metal song of the year, but Nightmare Logic‘s wide-reaching appeal can be heard on a record chock-full of shrieking chromatic solos, domineering rhythm guitar, roaring gang vocals, and incendiary drumming.
Pretend – Circular Ræsoning
Post-Rock / Midwest Emo
LIYL: American Football, Dilute, Delta Sleep
Their previous offerings run overlong and can be exhausting to sift through, but paradoxically enough, this digestible 36-minute LP’s best track is the cinematic near-21-minute closer “Longer Repose” .
Priest (SWE) – New Flesh
LIYL: Elegant Machinery, Rupesh Cartel, The Human League
Featuring former members of Mongolian Cosmonaut and Ghost (the latter of which has caused schisms with the ongoing Tobias Forge saga given that the musicians are clad in medicine doctor masks and pastor-in-gimp attire), the Swedish synthpop iteration of Priest is obscenely catchy. Fans of Depeche Mode, Yaz, and The Birthday Massacre would also appreciate this debut, which sonically brings to mind the ’80s being transplanted to a futuristic metropolis. “Private Eye” gives me a Cheshire Cat-like grin, “Virus” features a solo from the former Air Ghoul, and alluring singles like “The Cross” and “Reloader” exemplify other album highlights.
Propagandhi – Victory Lap
Melodic Hardcore / Thrash
LIYL: A Wilhelm Scream, Good Riddance, Strike Anywhere
Chris Hannah always has his finger on the world’s pulse. “Adventure of Zoochosis” is as prodigious a closer as he could write, featuring samples of the infamous Donald Trump/Billy Bush interview and scathing social commentary. His best line might come from the album opener and title track, however: “When the free-market fundamentalist steps on a roadside bomb outside Kandahar bleeding to death / I swear to Ayn Rand / I’ll ask if he needs an invisible hand.” Songs like “Lower Order (A Good Laugh)” are familiar typical Peter Singer worship, “Letters to a Young Anus” has Orwellian backdrop to it alongside caustic political criticism (no word on how Hannah feels about Jagmeet Singh), but Propagandhi still continue to shred at micro- and macro-level.
Protomartyr – Relatives in Descent
Post-Punk / Noise Rock
LIYL: IDLES, Ought, Preoccupations
As cynical as he is, Joe Casey’s casual swagger is brimming in spades, with lyrics that are occasionally existential but perpetually disdainful in “this age of blasting trumpets”. As in albums past, Protomartyr detest that critical thinking has given way to blind compliance, and the record’s enduring energy and spruced-up production is a merciful shot-in-the-arm amidst the current political slog.
Alternative / Synthpop
LIYL: CHVRCHES, Against the Current, The Jezabels
Maneuvering to a synth-driven style of darker pop, PVRIS’ sophomore effort highlights Lyndsey Gunnulfsen’s resilience as she continues to fight her depressive demons. That’s not to say that they’ve exchanged guitars for synthesizers outright, but many of these choruses soar thanks to the intersection of both elements.
Quicksand – Interiors
Post-Hardcore / Alternative
LIYL: Fugazi, Jawbox, Rival Schools
Another comeback album (this time 22 years) from a post-hardcore outfit that doesn’t sound like they’ve hit the proverbial copy-paste from the ’90s. “Illuminant”‘s chunky groove, in part thanks to Sergio Vega’s rumbling, rollicking bass, makes Quicksand’s shape-shifting all the more welcome.
Roger Waters – Is This the Life We Really Want?
Art Rock / Progressive
LIYL: David Gilmour, Syd Barrett, Steven Wilson
This would probably be Walt Kowalski‘s AOTY as the level of disdain Roger Waters has towards the current political climate, the ‘instant gratification’/”look at me now” society, and reality TV culture would be comparable.
Rosetta – Utopioid
Atmospheric Sludge / Post-Rock
LIYL: Isis, Cult of Luna, Mouth of the Architect
Don’t get me wrong: A Determinism of Morality is still my favorite Rosetta record. That said, I don’t seem to be as upset with Utopioid’s softer and spacier direction. There are still heavy sections, but they’re not as pervasive as on their earlier records, but the shimmering instrumentation and steadfast rhythm section bolster the record’s more space rock leanings.
Sannhet – So Numb
Post-Rock / Blackgaze
LIYL: Russian Circles, This Will Destroy You, Ghost Bath
Although there are still elements of blackgaze on So Numb, Sannhet have transitioned to a more post-rock sound, reminiscent of a This Will Destroy You-meets-Russian Circles-intersected-with-Explosions-in-the-Sky. The strings are also beautifully written, and even if So Numb leans on post-rock tropes, it feels like it’s Sannhet’s best album in their discography to date.
sleepmakeswaves – Made of Breath Only
LIYL: Explosions in the Sky, maybeshewill, pg.lost
As you can tell if you’ve bothered to read through these, there’s a lot of post-rock on the Jom 100. On the soft-to-loud continuum, sleepmakeswaves fall towards the left-hand side, but they also amplify the proggier and electronic elements on Made of Breath Only, and the chilly sensations felt on tracks like “Tundra” and especially “Midnight Sun” augment what amounts to be yet another stellar addition to their discography.
Slowdive – Slowdive
Shoegaze / Dream Pop
LIYL: Alcest, My Bloody Valentine, Blackfield
All you need are the first three tracks to have an appreciation for what 2017 Slowdive can do for you. Recommended reading: Frippertronics’ blog post.
Small Leaks Sink Ships – Golden Calf
Indie Rock / Math Rock
LIYL: TTNG, Tera Melos, Six Gallery
In December, former Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya expressed guilt over the beast that Facebook had evolved into under his watch, saying that the “short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops we’ve created are destroying how society works. No civil discourse, no cooperation, misinformation, [and] mistruth. And it’s not an American problem — this is not about Russians ads. This is a global problem.” I found it to be a pretty neat parallel with the cleverly-titled and masterfully-written “Dear John Connor”. Don’t let Golden Calf fly under your radar if you can.
The Smith Street Band – More Scared of You Than You Are of Me
Pop-Punk / Folk Punk
LIYL: The Loved Ones, Apologies, I Have None, AJJ
There’s no disputing the passion and irreverent, tongue-in-cheek self-awareness Wil Wagner exhibits time and time again on More Scared of You Than You Are of Me, and the energy from the Smith Street Band’s spirit is palpable from open to close. The streamlined production enhances the record’s copious hooks as Wagner continues to search for life’s purpose, with “Shine” and “It Kills Me” showcasing the highs and lows of his progress.
Soen – Lykaia
Progressive / Alternative
LIYL: Karnivool, Katatonia, Chevelle
Lykaia seems to divvy up equal weight to atmosphere and melodies. The Tool intimations are unmistakable, and Joel Ekelöf delivers an unwavering performance as the band lurch through soft verses and strident, assonant choruses. The musicianship is exemplary, particularly Martin Lopez’ drumming, and songs like “Jinn” incorporate a wider swath of influences outside of the Opeth canon.
Solstafir – Berdreyminn
Post-Rock / Art Rock
LIYL: Pelican, Primordial, Kontinuum
Pacifying and solemn, almost as if a handcuff to Sigur Rós and their penchant for creating calmness when necessary, but darker and more enigmatic with its frequent mood shifts. Not as piano-driven as Ótta, but still sustains peaceful moments more often than not.
Sorority Noise – You’re Not as _____ as You Think
Emo / Indie
LIYL: Modern Baseball, Braid, You Blew It!
This record conjures up similar feelings I experienced when listening to PUP’s The Dream is Over and Car Seat Headrest’s Teens of Denial from 2016, although Cameron Boucher’s lyricism on You’re Not As _____ As You Think is more depressing. That said, the record’s soaring melodies don’t sound out-of-place despite the omnipresent themes of loss.
Sorrow Plagues – Homecoming
Blackgaze / Post-Rock
LIYL: Woods of Desolation, Pure Wrath, Deafheaven
One-man blackgaze that might’ve been overlooked with all the returns to shoegaze (Ride’s Weather Diaries is another good example), but the guitars are far-and-away the record’s highlight. Unfortunately, the vocals are hit-or-miss and the percussion’s uneven mixing is a slight distraction, but it stands to reason that the next record could build on some of the ideas exhibited here.
Soup (NOR) – Remedies
Post-Rock / Progressive / Electronic
LIYL: Gazpacho, The Pineapple Thief, Big Big Train
I really enjoyed the ’70s-era curlicues embedded into Soup’s brand of post-rock. There’s greater attention to the electronics and synth-laden volume swells for sure, but the guitars and bass are also driving forces in augmenting the cinematic flair heard in Remedies.
Sparks – Hippopotamus
LIYL: Roxy Music, Franz Ferdinand, Piknik
Sparks are still charmingly bizarre, and with song titles like “So Tell Me Mrs. Lincoln Aside From That How Was the Play?” or rhyming “hippopotamus” with “anonymous” and “Titus Andronicus“, the brothers Mael show no signs of running out of creative steam.
St. Vincent – MASSEDUCTION
Art Pop / Synthpop
LIYL: Bjork, Lorde, Perfume Genius
Ceaselessly adventurous and noteworthy in its juxtaposition between ‘whatever you say, say nothing’ satire and genuine disclosure, MASSEDUCTION‘s walls of synths, drum machines, and Annie Clark’s estimable vocals and guitar playing provide for several memorable moments.
Steven Wilson – To the Bone
Art Rock / Progressive / Pop Rock
LIYL: Blackfield, Peter Gabriel, Talk Talk
I understand why some hemmed-and-hawed over To the Bone‘s accessibility, but I don’t see why it would lose any artistic merit. The new band members and guest artists, especially Ninet Tayeb’s features (namely on “Pariah”), bolster the poppier songs just as much as the expected progressive numbers. Lyrically, I liked Wilson’s humanistic overtures, especially on tracks like closer “Song of Unborn” and “Song of I”.
Threshold – Legends of the Shires
LIYL: Queensryche, Anubis Gate, Shadow Gallery
The first disc is much better than the second, and I honestly don’t recommend listening to both back-to-back. That said, the songwriting is very strong, and the choruses are some of the best Threshold have written across their discography. Glynn Morgan (returning to vocals for the second time in the band’s history, 23 years removed from Psychedelicatessen) seems to suits the luscious instrumentation best, especially on the first disc.
Tigers Jaw – spin
Indie / Emo
LIYL: Sup, Muscles?, Rainer Maria, Nervous Dater
I like the Brianna Collins-led songs more, mostly because her vocals seem to shimmer with the glittering guitars, Ben Walsh holds his own. spin is a great achievement for the duo, given that they performed all the music themselves without any studio musicians on their major label debut, although it does start to get a bit “samey” in spots.
Synthpop / Synthwave
LIYL: Kayo Dot, Arcturus, Dance With The Dead
Simply stunning. I had an inkling during Garm’s time with Arcturus that his vocals could be implemented in a Depeche Mode-style setting, but this record surpassed any and all soothsaying I might have had. The dark, frosty atmosphere is cleverly intertwined with warm electropop tones in the synthesizers, and it’s reassuring that, no matter what genre Ulver might decide to go trapezing through next, they’ll deliver extraordinary musicianship.
Vasudeva – No Clearance
Post-Rock / Math Rock
LIYL: Minus the Bear, Enemies, Covet
Derek Broomhead’s drumming is the linchpin that helps push No Clearance, not because it is overly flashy or falls into post-rock tropes like snare rolls preceding an explosion, but because his subtle changes help affect each song’s disposition. The guitars are also well-crafted, especially in “Turnstile” and “6 & 5”, although I would have liked to move them up the tracklist.
Von Hertzen Brothers – War is Over
Progressive / Alternative
LIYL: Kingston Wall, Coheed & Cambria, Crippled Black Phoenix
The Von Hertzens open War is Over with the 12-minute title track, a celebratory affair spotlighting their native Finland’s 100th birthday as an independent nation. It’s a brilliant song, broken up into three movements, and showcases the brothers’ knack for composition and arrangement. Songs like “Frozen Butterflies” highlight the band’s tilt towards more pop-oriented sensibilities, but the album’s bookends show that they can still craft well-written progressive tracks.
The War on Drugs – A Deeper Understanding
Heartland Rock / Indie / Americana
LIYL: Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, John Mellencamp
Look at the LIYLs: each of those men has a formula, too, that speaks to the hearts and minds of millions of listeners. Adam Granduciel’s might include having the same drum loops from Lost in the Dream, but it’s the guitars, melodies, and vocals that carry the most weight in the formula. In my mind, “Holding On” is the spiritual successor to “Red Eyes”, and both songs are entrenched as my favorite from each record.
Wind Rose – Stonehymn
Folk Metal / Power Metal
LIYL: Alestorm, Turisas, Rhapsody of Fire
Where Atlas Pain was more symphonic/power than folk, Wind Rose is more folk than symphonic (although both records feature healthy amounts of both). Vocalist Francesco Cavilieri seems to have really found his stride on the band’s third release, and the record’s folkier numbers (“To Erebor”, “Under the Stone”, “Fallen Timbers”) showcase some of the album’s strongest compositions.
Wolves in the Throne Room – Thrice Woven
Atmospheric Black Metal / Dark Folk
LIYL: Ash Borer, Agalloch, Altar of Plagues
The meditative ambient soundscapes are much improved on Thrice Woven (despite Celestite seemingly the handcuff to Celestrial Lineage, I would say this record splits the difference between those two and the gem that is Two Hunters), although the band could have truncated some of the interludes. Steve Von Till (Neurosis) has an ideal guest vocal on album highlight “The Old Ones Are With Us”, illustrating an earthy side to the record’s dark folk proceedings.
The World is a Beautiful Place… – Always Foreign
Indie / Midwest Emo / Post-Rock
LIYL: Moving Mountains, Empire, Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate), Prawn
There’s a certain level of push-pull sensation heard throughout Always Foreign, where the band seem to toe the line between their earlier Midwest Emo roots and more straightforward indie leanings. The lyrical content – there’s plenty of bile aimed at the current political climate as well as those proliferating casual xenophobia in social discourse, especially in “Fuzz Minor” – seems incongruous to the airy guitars and nasally vocals, but album highlights like “Marine Tigers” and “Faker”.
Want to see the next 50? Alright, here you are.