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|Jas' PASSIONATELY modest 2017|
smaller list than usual, but I honestly did not enjoy as much new releases than usual this year, so I whittled it down to my absolute favourites. and in doing that, decided to go all out and write descriptions this time.
There's something unusually anachronistic about this. Like, it's definitely an album that could have only been made now, but something about it is still stuck in the past. I think it's probably the production style that gives it this aura. In any case, there are some fucking bangers on this. I only got around to hearing it today but I enjoyed it so much I felt it deserved to take the 50 spot if nothing else.
|49||Stampede to Timberline|
a Sad Song in a Major Key
North0House2 continues to make introspective and reflective ambient folk. The last time I checked in with him was with "You Were My Coldest Season" and if I'm going to compare my experience with this to that, I'd have to say the latter comes out on top. While I found the atmosphere on YWMCS to be prettier and SSIAMK overstays its welcome a little, that's not to say it's without its own merit. It's a little more conversational, there's some Kozelekisms to it and it continues to provide interesting food for thought in it's found interviews that accompany some of the more ambient tracks. North0House2 has his niche and he's sticking to it and good on him.
Quite an unexpected follow up. Can't say I loved it like I did Ujubasajuba, found myself almost wanting to skip through the first two songs which really struggled to hold my attention, but from track 3 onwards it had me again and I have to admire this group for their tight musicianship and versatility. There's some pretty sick riffs in the 2nd half of this.
|47||Kelly Lee Owens|
Kelly Lee Owens
Fantastic production, super promising first effort from Kelly Lee Owens. Get this one up on a decent volume through speakers and you can really feel the textures and the spaces between the sounds.
I have a bit of a funny connection to Lucy Rose's music that I don't really feel I'm in the mood to go into, so rather than divulge the full colour this album presents for me, I'm just going to address it in much the same as I did in my review (click the album, it's the review that comes up, as it's the only one). Rose now has a fully developed and matured sound on this album and it's consistency is its strength. Your attitude may change as time goes on, but at the end of the day, you're still you.
A Shadow in Time
Nothing particularly adventurous as far as Basinski goes, which is actually a recurring theme for a lot of the albums in this area of the list, though nonetheless it stands as a fair tribute to Bowie and a great piece of study music. When I listened to this, I had it on while I was working on an assignment in the university library, and the repetitive nature and gradual decay of the music was nice to keep focus with.
The Assassination of Julius Caesar
Now, and this will come up a couple of times throughout the list, but, this year was my first year at university. Most of the people I met and went out with at the end of the week were bisexual, so we frequented a popular LGBT cabaret club. The reason I bring this up is that they did not play anything like this there (it was mostly Lady Gaga), and as such I feel as if I can not truly appreciate this album in the same way that Plane and Xenophanes did.
I can think of a couple of people in particular who are going to throw their toys out of the cot at this being all the way down here (though they should just be grateful I actually enjoyed it enough that it's in the top 50) and are probably going to completely disagree with everything I say about this album. I actually do not give a shit, however. Sukekiyo are, and probably always will be, simply an amalgamation of the bands that the members of the supergroup are from. A big step up from their debut, you get the best of all worlds except for Dir En Grey, whose representative here, Kyo, is having to work with the fact that he has destroyed his voice, and can get quite difficult to hear his struggle so much with the higher passages and hear him twang so much for projection. At the end of the day though, it's instrumentally pleasant, the songwriting is competent and Kyo's performance is certainly admirable.
Nothing has made me laugh out loud quite as much this year as seeing Kendrick buy into his own hype. Having discovered long after his own fanbase that apparently he intended the album to also be listened to backwards, he decided to drop the album again… backwards. Now, what Kendrick and his loyal "I work out at the library" fanbase don't realise, is that the correct way to hear this album is to actually listen to the collectors edition… backwards. You realise something amazing: that the album is actually about as good as you thought it was the first time and that there's no big secret to it, he did actually just follow up To Pimp a Butterfly with a bread and butter hip hop album, which is fine, cause it's a good album. NATION. Is better though but the mods kept deleting it off the site so I can't include it on the list.
When i listen to this i pretty much just imagine the whole thing as a live performance in some grimey, back alley club. It's just got that rawness to it, that feel of spontaneity that the studio doesn't always capture as a wise man by the name of Gin Rummy would put it: it's an unknown unknown.
I actually did genuinely enjoy this, I'm not fucking around. It's way too fucking long though, that much is obvious. Anyway, what i picture when I listen to this album is a post-human world where everything is in ruins, but instead of the stone ruins and shit we have in like Greece or the UK and shit, it's all decaying metal and concrete. But there still robots and shit walking around, still carrying out the same functions they used to, but no longer for any purpose.
Love What Survives
Writing descriptions for an entire year end list is entirely new territory for me, and a lot of the time I find myself stuck for inspiration when it comes to the albums I didn't listen to as much as others. The way I make these lists is I add them to the ranking as I go and then chop and change throughout the year. Through all of this chopping and changing and albums being added, this remained in the top 50. To do that, it had to make enough of an initial impression for me to not push it out. In that sense, the album's title is quite apt I suppose. I think this had quite an unfamiliar feel for me, as I remember being uncertain as to what emotions i was feeling on a couple of the tracks
Skin and Earth
In what is possibly one of the most adorable turn of events of the year, Lights taught herself how to make comics, and wrote her own comic series to accompany this album. Musically, unfortunately this is a considerable step down from Little Machines, which is my favourite Lights album. The change in producers is painfully obvious, and it's also excruciatingly present that there were too many cooks in the kitchen, trying out every pop trope of the decade, some of which already died a couple of years ago. Lights has admitted in interviews that some of the choices for the album's cuts are a little out of her control, and that's understandable, that's how the game's run. But whatever, she's full of life and full of energy and I enjoy a good portion of this album and despite all my criticisms and it's low placement, it probably got heavier rotation than 90% of the list.
In unusual fashion, we see how Arca connects with his music as a person. Predictably, Arca's voice is about as unusual and alien as the music itself. This album has sparks flying everywhere, but like, dark sparks… or something. Actually yeah I like that idea, that sounds about right.
Plastic Beach came out when in my first year of secondary school and they've been my favourite band ever since. So it's an appropriate coincidence that Humanz ended up coming out in my first year of university. You have to give Albarn credit for his continuous reinvention of how he wants Gorillaz to sound. Sure, Humanz isn't as art-rocky or rooted in various yesteryear popular music as past releases, but that makes sense considering this album cycle has seen the virtual band as close to our world as they've ever been. This is a seriously impressive effort from the inexperienced producers that took the helm for this project, and in typical Damon Albarn fashion, he shows that he can make club music that doesn't feel out of touch. This album is a party for the end of the world, and the bonus disc is the after party.
|35||The War on Drugs|
A Deeper Understanding
Beer commercial rock, again. I don't have to try to pretend that I'm not mad that this is essentially the same album again, cause I'm not, since I loved Lost in the Dream, and this made me feel that way all over again.
Fuck i mean, people say the year went by fast but, in saying that the beginning of the year feels like forever ago. And it was forever ago that I heard this album last. I've just had one of those years where some things just got left behind. Every song is a landscape, and sometimes when you're staring at the landscape in your hometown that you've known all your life, you notice things in a way that you've never thought to before. That's what this is.
Just a big fat fuckin Boris album. A lot more slow burning than Noise, quite a classic Boris sound with a few modern sensibilities. Really as far as Boris goes this album doesn't have a lot to say for itself other than that it's an album by three people who fuckin love what they do.
|32||Tyler, the Creator|
Jesus when I first heard this I needed to tell someone to hold the fuck up. I didn't care who you know, just the nearest human in my vicinity. Cause this is weird, right? There is absolutely no way Tyler the Creator can just come out of left field with an album this good, it's not fucking natural, it shouldn't happen. But he did, he's done it and we can't go back.
Big Fish Theory
In my hall of residence, my room was literally right next to the shower, in the sense that the shower straight up cut into my room and came right up to the foot of my bed. Anyway, there was this chick that would take showers with Big Fish up super fucking loud. It's a good fucking thing I really like this album then.
|30||Count to Altek|
She Will Fly With You Forever
I feel like it's kinda odd that we had to wait this long to hear a project like this from AnimalsAsSummit, who releases so many projects a year that he can be tough to keep up with. If the atonality, improvisation and lack of coherency of his past works have put you off, then you chose the wrong year to stop listening. There was the odd dud, namely the bizarre "grindcore" E.P. and the rather familiar A Seraphia Entwined, but outside of this AnimalsAsSummit stepped his game up this year, putting out his best work under the King Green moniker: Hesiod, and two crowning achievements with the collaborative Count To Altek project, with the standout being this release here. Tightly composed, instrumentally proficient and avoiding the sensation of track bleed, the most rewarding project yet.
Great Many Arrows
There's actually only six arrows on this, which imo isn't that many, so I think they're overselling this a bit. This album's big, it's noisey, it's powerful, it's a gripping listen. You're never quite sure where it's going to take you, it's like walking through a dark sewer system with absolutely no idea how you got in there or how to get out.
Going into this, my prior exposure to Oddisee was as a producer, with his instrumental album The Odd Tape. That's certainly his greatest talent imo, the beats on this are fucking fantastic. As it turns out, the guy can rap too and he can write a solid hook. Admittedly, and this has to be acknowledged, my hip-hop taste is pretty safe and I don't exactly make any allusions to this not being the case, i'm pretty up front about that, so that probably comes across in my hip-hop picks. I'm no expert, but I mean I don't really give a shit cause I thought this album was fucking good.
|27||Gang of Youths|
Go Farther in Lightness
Every time I came back to this album, which initially sat crazy high on the list, i realised that my opinion of this album rode mostly on Achilles Come Down. i'm not trying to say that the rest of the album doesn't have merit, cause it does, it's a fantastically written album and it's unabashed positivity is something we could all do with. But, Achilles Come Down just fucking runs the game here, it's such a cut above the rest of the album that it's hard to see the album as a bigger picture.
This album feels aquatic for me. Probably because of the establishing track Orca, but there's an almost synesthetic quality of rippling blue to this album for me. A fucking fantastic collection of beats (someone ctrl+f how many times i've said fucking fantastic, i feel like i'm doing that a lot). It's summer here in New Zealand atm and I've had this on rotation a lot cause it gets you in the mood so fucking good.
David Firth's content activity has slowed down considerably, he's a man constantly improving on his art and it takes him so much longer these days. Makes sense then that his latest musical release under Locust Toybox, and his first on Brain Feeder is his longest outing. Most of the IDM and specifically Aphex Twin influence is stripped away here and we get a lot of Firth's ambient textures with a healthy dose of macabre.
Take Me Apart
Here's another thing you've got to give Damon Albarn credit for, he knows how to pick his collaborators. I've heard him say in an interview before that he likes voices, and that's usually how he picks them, based on the character of their voice. She sure does have a voice on her, but her style of sensual R'n'B isn't exactly an uncornered market. I'd have to say that's my biggest criticism of Take Me Apart, is that while it delivers me exactly what I want in fantastic fashion, it isn't challenging me, it's not yet giving me "Kelela", but it's still early days of course.
Turn Out The Lights
It's very quiet and solemn a lot of the time, and i distinctly remember saying out loud to myself the first time I tried to listen to this album "I don't fucking need this right now". Which is actually probably what Baker found herself saying quite a bit during the writing of this album, and something I also found myself saying to myself on several occasions throughout this year. It was just one of those years, and I think a lot of us felt that in our own ways.
I'm Not Your Man
They're difficult words to hear, in my case it'd be "I'm Not Your Girl", but the same concept applies. There's difficulty in the words on this album and the difficulty is felt in the music all the same. Brilliant songwriting keeps this album a float through its run time, which is uncharacteristically long I suppose for an album of this kind, but there is no way in hell you're gonna want to switch it off.
Possibly one of the happiest moments of my year, was getting the notification from spotify that the new Bjork album was out. I had the house to myself (i'm back at home at the moment) and i put this on and from the very second Arisen My Senses started, I knew this was going to be one of her best albums. I really didn't enjoy Vulnicura, it puts me to sleep. It's so bitter and inert. Utopia is the perfect answer then, the passion of life restored, Bjork finally feeling like Bjork again and Arca masterfully painting lush rainforests of sound, the eden of love awakened.
One of the most youthful sounding records of the year, dream pop that doesn't fall into the trap of being somniferent, and soft shimmering indie pop, the kind I've grown to love. It's so hard to find this kind of thing with an engaging charisma, but Yumi Zouma are on to something.
Now this is an interesting development as well. It surprises me in a way that Avey Tare is actually still interested in producing this kind of music, cause I'll be honest, I don't actually enjoy any of the AnCo albums after Feels (yeah that includes Strawberry Jam), but this has that vibe that I find so alluring about freak-folk era AnCo. I mean considering the low opinion their newer albums are garnering, this is seriously fucking impressive.
Music For People In Trouble
On Music for People in Trouble, production, songwriting and musical proficiency collide to make one of the most engaging and tangible singer-songwriter releases of the year. The sound quality here is so vibrant you can feel it fall between your fingers like gossamer.
This is one of the most fantastic albums of the year conceptually. When it starts out, you can feel kind of unsure that you're on board with it, but as it goes on you realise that it's the story of a young woman finally discovering self-worth, and it's a strong statement about breaking side-chick culture. Oh, and one other thing, it's fucking insanely well-produced.
A Crow Looked At Me
Yeah this is a tough one. But an important thing to remember when you're discussing it is to remember that it is indeed a piece of music, and it should be accepted as such. And as a piece of music, it's layers are revealed with context. It feels rushed, it feels imperfect. Because probably was, it probably was incredibly painful to write and play the songs over and over until they were presentable, and he probably gave up. But death is something that happens to everyone, and the simplicity of the music is incredibly apt in this sense, but Elverum's lyricism and the lo-fi production which makes him uncomfortably present is what makes it personal, and what makes it his pain, and what allows us to see that he's hurting.
All the Way
There a very few people whose work I admire as much as I do Diamanda's. It's wonderful to finally hear new recorded material from her and to hear that she hasn't lost a single thing. Her voice is as impressive as ever, still more than capable of reaching absurd operatic heights and maintaining technical prowess remarkable for her age (the 28 second long Eb5 in You Don't Know What Love Is, anyone?). The frightening electricity of her presence exudes from the recording and the pain of those condemned and oppressed which she delivers by proxy is always boiling under the surface.
Who Told You To Think??!!?!?!?!
You know that's a real fucking good question. I can't remember if Milo ever found out what the answer to that question is (he probably couldn't, it's probably a rhetorical question). The word-play is on point and a little bit different from the norm, and the grooves are dummy good on this, the body moves without you asking it to.
Is This The Life We Really Want?
This was a gift. It really was, i mean seriously I'm not asking anything of Roger Waters this many years into his career. But it's like something was reawakened all of a sudden, and the man who wrote The Wall (or more specifically, The Final Cut in this case) crawled out of the woodwork. Unfortunately, there's something stupid obvious that holds this back… there's not a single fucking guitar solo on this. There's a missing sense of overall unity that would have given this it's last legs, something that's been missing from the world of Pink Floyd for a very long time. For a solo effort though, this is commendable and probably the best non-Barrett PF solo album.
I have like, literally no fucking clue if this is true for the rest of the world, but in New Zealand, if something is funny it's "crack-up". There is something kinda funny about this, that something can be so present and so moving despite relying so heavily on the sounds of the past. Fleet Foxes embody a revivalist sound so well on this album they almost feel deceptively more comfortable than those who were originally composing like this, and as there is something very modern thinking length and structure wise about the compositions, they probably are.
We're fucking back bitches. Christ, how's this for a comeback yeah? Probably not what a lot of people were after to follow Pygmalion, but I think it's worthwhile nonetheless. We see Slowdive tackle the new school sound with an old schooler's experience, each riff coming out at the listener with the kind of conviction only a group of people who have been at it since their formative years can give.
It's getting close to that point where i have to endure the arduous task of then copy-pasting all this shit into the list (yeah I do this in a google doc, i'm not stupid, I know what sputnik gets like and I'm not losing all this shit when i go to post). Mirror Reaper is one of the most insane displays of minimalism in the metal world i've ever seen. I believe this thing is actually a lone bass and drums? That's fucking stupid crazy. The most impressive thing about this monolith, is that it genuinely sounds like an 84 minute song, and not a bunch of movements mashed together under the guise of a big long song a la Delirium Cordia etc.
Dedicated to Bobby Jameson
Ariel Pink is a man with a vision if I ever heard one. The sound of this album is so goddamn specific that I can't imagine the writing and recording process that clearly. One of the most vibrant pop albums of the year. Colourful and world-building, the harmonies are magnificent and as I said, the sound and style of the album is wonderfully engrossing.
Now i'm really ashamed to admit that this album didn't grow on me quick enough to vote for it in the user's top 50, which retrospectively pisses me off cause now I adore this album. Much like I mentioned with the Bicep album, this really gives me the summer spirit. A captivatingly produced album that explores the ever shifting environment of sexuality and its place in today's society. Anyone that knows my taste also knows that I have a fetish for singers with unique voices, and Karin fits the bill.
4eva Is a Mighty Long Time
I was very surprised to see that this album went relatively unspoken this year. It's a mammoth effort, a double album perfectly capturing extroversion and subsequent introversion. Big beats, dope features and punchy hooks. Also, fuck, i've said this before, but the fact that there's a song on here that's basically a love song to the dude's fuckin car stereo kills me. I love this shit man.
|6||Sun Kil Moon|
Common As Light and Love Are Red Valleys of Blood
The melancholy and reflection of Benji seen through the everyday passage of time of Universal Themes. Kozelek at his most Kozelek. This album is wordy, meandering, bloated and opaquely personal, and that's perfect. Every time i hear this i think of times in my life that make me feel similar and know that someday i'll be old just like Mark and probably look back on my own life in a similar way. Common as Light and Love is an album about a man who's grateful for the life he's been given and the memories he's made, and is looking forward to making more as he continues.
James Murphy makes some of the coolest music on the planet. He's so uncool, have you seen the dude? The kind of music he makes, makes absolutely no sense, but James Murphy doesn't give a fuck what you think, he's cool. A friend and I independently of each other shared the experience of getting into LCD Soundsystem through this (though I did have precursory experience with older songs), but this album really got me into This Is Happening and those are the two albums that get the most spins from me. I think she likes this quite a bit more than I do though. That being said, it still makes my top 5, cause this album fucking rules and I played the absolute shit out of it this year.
Thom Yorke does R'n'B, except it's not Thom Yorke, it's Moses Sumney, and Moses Sumney does his thing in his own way. He's a vocalist who knows how to completely envelop a track. There's a real sense of less is more in the subtle production, and for all it's extravagant elasticity, Sumney's performances are actually rather subdued in and off themselves. Idk, I think this dude is set to be one of the most promising up and coming artists and I'm fucking excited to see where this goes.
After the Party
I think I'm probably gonna get a few scoffs for this one, but I'm not gonna be dishonest about my list this year, I fucking love this album. It reminds me of one of those stupid middle american romantic comedies that are only entertaining to watch drunk off your face with your mates or your girlfriend. I've always wondered why the bloody fuck pop punk bands continue to write music as though they were 18 still, and this album proves that the aging pop punk exists and it's beautiful.
I'm getting a real strong sense of deja vu here, being that this isn't the first time I've denied Chelsea my AOTY spot. But despite the crushing atmosphere, the phantasmic vocals and the typical Chelsea fashion of pushing her music to extremes… it's not as good as Abyss. And if it's not as good as Abyss, I can't give Hiss Spun the title that I (wrongly, by the way, I'd easily give it AOTY now) denied it.
I Tell A Fly
So here's my AOTY for 2017, a man whose music I've come to deeply appreciate and an artist I've come to greatly anticipate. I did not anticipate this at all, this is an incredible leap from his debut in terms of composition and lyricism. Like I this is so varied, dynamic and skillfully put together that I'm a little bit concerned he may have already produced his magnum opus. It successfully approaches the current climate without coming across as preachy and without coming across holier than thou, considering a lot of the album is Clementine having a laugh at being considered "an alien of extraordinary ability".
|and that's a wrap|
|the number 1 couldn't have been more proper! respect|
|Great list man, Always Love seeing people put effort into rather that just throwing 10 albums down. |
|Top lad, top picks|
|great list great write-up, didn't know there was a new oddisee to cop!!!|
|yeah I didn't expect another one so soon but ye, dropped that one and a live album|
|Sick list, agree on 2. Gotta check Clementine's|
|a fellow kiwi in this smorgasboard of obscure australian provinces... at last|
|Amazing list as usual.|
|great list, rec me up to 5 u think id love|
|cool list actually, interesting too|
|Didn't even know Clementine dropped this year might have to check cause his debut was sweet|
|Top notch list. Couldn't agree more with alot of these descriptions.|
|@potsy idk if you've checked the Bicep album or not but I imagine that's the one that's most in your ballpark here. you'd probably like Moses Sumney, Locust Toybox and AnimalsAsSummit and North0House2's projects (Count to Altek and Stampede to Timberline). idk if Oddisee appeals to you or not as well|
|idk how you feel about Diamanda Galas' blues material, but there's that too if you're into it|
|yer awesome jas|
|Hey man, thanks for throwing my latest album on here. Glad to hear what you think of it. |
|all goods my man. didn't notice you had new stuff out until quite late|
|nice list, and good descriptions. definitely share a few favorites, and agreed that bicep is perfect summertime full blast house jamz|
|huge list Jas! thanks for throwing CtA in there and happy to hear your thoughts on this release :)|