Over the past twelve months, one of my life goals was to listen to as much as possible. About half way into the year I realised I was on course to hit a pretty cool milestone so I can say with pride, that I managed to enjoy 500 albums this year.
From those 500, I have taken my absolute favourites to talk about a little bit, and link them below so you too can enjoy.
50. TWIABPAIANLATD – Always Foreign
Amidst band departures and anger at the political landscape, TWIABPAIANLATD make an ironic stab at how crap things are in their song writing whilst maintaining their rich, full post rock sound.
49. The XX – I See You
Jamie XX’s solo work creeps in as The XX mash fresh sounds together, for their fans to party to the band’s best record yet.
48. Wiley – Godfather
The only Grime album you needed to pay attention to this year.
47. Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels 3
Just at the turn of the year, Run the Jewels stayed on form releasing their third album in four years. Despite these being free mixtapes, they have far more stud records than most major label releases.
46. Brutus – Burst
In a year with returns from Queens of the Stone Age and Royal Blood, Belgium’s Brutus released the best stadium rock music. It’s one of the most immediate and loud albums I heard this year.
45. Mount Eerie – A Crow Looked At Me
It would be impossible and immoral to discuss this album on terms of enjoyment. One of the most harrowing expressions of grief ever recorded, but a must listen.
44. Manchester Orchestra – A Black Mile To The Surface
A genius showcase of burying honest insecure and sometimes existential problems inside of electrifying, grandeur indie rock.
43. Sheer Mag – Need To Feel Your Love
The Philadelphia punk rock band strip things back to basics for riff anthem after riff anthem with powerhouse vocals and killer hooks.
42. THEY – Nu Religion: Hyena
R&B burst out of its glass ceiling with dark blends of rock, pop & hip hop around every twist.
41. Khalid – American Teen
A very solid Pop/R&B effort from now global superstar Khalid which exerts an adrenaline shot of much needed youthfulness into the scene.
40. Cigarettes After Sex – Cigarettes After Sex
A single sound captured across an album. CAS’s static dreamy shoegaze makes this into a concept album about love, sex and the world we live in.
39. Pond – The Weather
There’s been plenty of mind-bending prog rock soundscapes from Aussie bands Tame Impala and King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard over the past few years, but Pond’s The Weather is the most successful yet.
38. Code Orange – Forever
In a year of outstanding efforts from metal bands (Mastadon, Pallbearer, Converge as notables), It’s Pittsburgh’s Code Orange who stole the show.
37. Jay-Z – 4:44
Jay’s understated comeback says exactly what it needs to with regards to family, race and politics. Lyrically his best album in over a decade, with raw production that didn’t need flash to sell its story.
36. Kesha – Rainbow
A deeply personal album start to finish which has its faults but really charms through in pop and country records.
35. Corbin – Mourn
R&B outsider Corbin channels grunge heroes to make a post-modern take on what heavy rock and hip hop can sound like meshed together.
34. Phoebe Bridgers – Strangers In The Alps
A debut album has no right to be this good lyrically, but LA singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers sticks the landing instantly. Looks back at classic song writing but paints it with a modern folk palette ala Lana Del Rey or Angel Olsen.
33. Brockhampton – Saturation 3
The culmination of a year long project results in the boyband’s most versatile and experimental work. The album concludes looping into its predecessors whilst pointing towards similar output next year.
32. SZA – Cntrl
Top Dawg Entertainment had a fantastic year with Kendrick (we’ll get to that), but SZA’s coming out party was better than we could have ever hoped for. She effortlessly joins Lamar and Schoolboy Q as the label’s heavy hitters.
31. Charli XCX – Number 1 Angel
Frustrated with the direction her label vision for her, Charli lets us into her brain. She’s a traditionalist pop fan and pop star, but also a visionary creating the future of pop music with her friends.
30. Yung Lean – Stranger
In a break out year for many emo rappers, the Swedish OG puts out stellar work to show he’s still King Emo of the Emo Castle.
29. Alex Lahey – I Love You Like A Brother
Frantic, funny and life affirming indie rock from Australia by one of the most likeable artists making music today.
28. Joey Bada$$ – All Amerikkkan Bada$$
Whilst I loved this on first hearing, I waited all year round for the seminal Trump album. I had it with me almost the full year. It’s Joey’s record.
27. Rina Sawayama – Rina
Sunny, inventive pop music from London newbie Rina Sawayama. The blog hive’s favourite pop record of the year, it’s easy to understand why.
26. Julien Baker – Turn Out The Lights
Gorgeous voiced Tennessee singer Julien Baker boxes herself over self-worth, religion and loneliness in an epic that rivals any Rocky movie. Almost like a movie or diary being played out, you hear Julien grow in confidence and willpower as the album progresses, which is stunning.
25. LCD Soundsystem – American Dream
James Murphy gives fans the comeback beyond their dreams with several tribal rants and raves about life in America.
24. The Horrors – V
A triumphant return for Gothic indie band The Horrors who make their most complex records of their career on an air tight V.
23. Thundercat – Drunk
Manic and daft at points, Thundercat’s experimenting is one of the most thrilling listens this year.
22. Makthaverskan – III
Perfect 80s gothic songwriting from the Swede’s third album featuring some of the most infectious guitar records of the year.
21. Rapsody – Laila’s Wisdom
Rap’s new megastar sets out her path with a stellar debut album.
20. Trampolene – Swansea To Hornsey
Probably the best Welsh indie album since The Holy Bible. Passionate to its roots lyrically wrapped much craved real guitar riffs. It’s like the days of early Arctic Monkeys.
19. Brand New – Science Fiction
First things first, I heavily condemn and give no credit to the frontman of this band. That being said, Brand New made the best album of their career and made songs that genuinely help battle adult male depression. That’s something to shout about.
18. Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes – Modern Ruin
Something different for Hardcore Punk hero Frank Carter turned out to be something that felt just right. Loud, punchy, layered punk rock masterclass on offer here.
17. Dave – Game Over
Late in the year, after some satisfactory single drops, Dave finally sets the bar. Seven minute political wastes and beef based club smashes, Game Over is Dave heading into 2018 on top.
16. Muna – About You
Dark and funky indie with plenty of dance references from LA trio Muna. There’s special songwriting with love songs written from the viewpoint of homosexual woman but with the ability to fit a relatability for anyone. Certainly one of the brightest sparks from a new band this year.
15. The National – Sleep Well Beast
The National finally made a record I loved start to finish with Sleep Well Beast. From clicking the play button, you’re taken into their own mood the band have honed over the years. They make several of the best singles of their career, and their best album. I’m a casual fan and this excites me. What it must feel like to be a National hard core and have had this release.
14. Brockhampton – Saturation
Ah, where it all started. After a string of creative, intelligent singles like Gold and Star, Brockhampton released the first of their life altering Saturation albums. It stood up as a full album, with each song offering something new and exciting. I played it to death and you should too.
13. Logic – Everybody
The magna carta of positive rap music in 2017 was through Logic and his groundbreaking Everybody. This would have been a perfectly great choice for a Grammy now that I think about it. Stupid Grammys.
12. Sorority Noise – You’re Not As ___ As You Think
Upon discovering the fantastic movie Manchester By The Sea, which is one of the most brutal and real depictions of male depression and grief I’ve ever seen, Sorority Noise’s triumphant take on the topic was a real sticky album for me. It was the film’s counterpart, spearheaded by the amazing No Halo. I never dropped it, they were my favourite hard rock band this year.
11. Drake – More Life
A playlist is a cooler word than an album anyway, Drake’s in the right here guys. More Life was a celebration for me of everything Drizzy has released over his career. There are songs on there that hark back to his early days like his collab with Jorja Smith, songs that hark to the future like his trap anthem Portland and banger after banger.
10. Charli XCX – Pop2
Late year surprise drop Pop2 is Charli XCX’s most complete work. Her and PC Music’s AG Cook combined with a plethora of friends to create many individual choons but also a fully flexed showcase of both of their fantastic vision for pop music. The album being called Pop2 is fitting, as they seem to be trailblazing the way.
9. Idles – Brutalism
British band Idles were the centrepiece of angry punk speaking about political issues surrounding Brexit and other tragedies and let downs by the government. Songs like Mother and Well Done resonated with crowds upon crowds over Summer festivals. It came timely and really fit the bill of what youths in Britain needed to express their views on the way the country is being run.
8. Tyler, The Creator – Flower Boy
Tyler, The Creator released his best work of his career with Flower Boy, his own Channel Orange. I say that not only because he used the lyrics on the album to talk about his sexuality but also to release music we never thought he would create. This is an album about love, about growing up and likewise topics, whilst maintaining enough OF-esque rap bangers.
7. Paramore – After Laughter
The pop punk band stake their claim as the best pop band on the planet, reaching into the past to draw inspiration from 80s rock pop like Blondie which you can certainly hear in their hit Hard Times. What is admirable is whilst this plays as Paramore’s most colourful album in their now long career, it is also their darkest lyrically. Songs like Rose Coloured Boy and Fake Happy are some of the most stunning of Hayley Williams’ lyrics.
6. Father John Misty – Pure Comedy
Our Father dropped his second full length which is a long, complex and funny take on the world we live in. It’s a commentary on the world we live in for cynics, pessimists and optimists too. Modern life hasn’t felt so real on record.
5. Lorde – Melodrama
Melodrama is such an important record. Lorde on it sways away from the pop hierarchy (her tour was Academy level, not Stadium as her contemporaries). She is the cool popstar to adore, and adored she was by the many this year. Green Light and Melodrama tops so many lists. The album itself is a concept album of a break-up and getting back into the swing of life. It’s gorgeous start to finish.
4. Creeper – Eternity, In Your Arms
Creeper’s debut album sits so highly because of how exciting it is to have a new British band evoke the highs of emo heavyweights like My Chemical Romance or earlier Fall Out Boy. Eternity, In Your Arms is a quick storm of punk rock imagery, painted with the band’s sensational branding. They are the most accessible emo band in what seems like forever to obsess over. Their music allows that, and encourages it. They should from here become massive.
3. Kendrick Lamar – Damn
I’m not sure any of us are clever enough to dissect Damn and discuss it properly but I know at least that it is genius. Kendrick Lamar is on his own level, in his own world with his music. With Damn, for me, he cements his-self as the greatest artist working today. His music makes hits, has bars to appeal to all hip-hop fans, but still feels like it’s deeper than that. Then of course in December when the wave of excitement had mostly passed, he announces that the album was supposed to be played backwards. Damn is an enigma that I can’t wait to throw on repeat until I work it out.
2. J Hus – Common Sense
The biggest success in British music this year came from UK rapper J-Hus. His loud blend of 90’s west coast rap production, African rap flow and lyrical content and his ability to create R&B anthems was unmatched. Every song on Common Sense feels like a celebration. It’s a positive album about winning in life. It should have won the Mercury!
1. Brockhampton – Saturation 2
My most played album this year, and also my favourite, is the second instalment on the whirlwind ride that was Saturation. Brockhampton, the world’s best new boyband threw us Saturation 2 at a time when I was still trying to pick my jaw up from the first album. Brockhampton have injected energy into my day to day life this year, creating music that is always instantly exciting, fresh and damn good at a blistering pace. Their love for their craft and them being so young and new to music that they can threaten break-ups or drop music at the click of a tweet is so attractive. For me exploring new music and finding things to listen to, they have been the best thing about 2017.
The album itself is stacked, more so than their debut or Saturation 3 which followed in December. The cinematic opening to Gummy is a solid example of how their music on this record felt a bit more layered and more confident of the band’s style than their predecessor. Queer and especially Junky are some of the best tracks about sexuality in rap songs ever laid to record. More so than their other albums, there are songs here which give everyone a chance to shine. Meryln Wood’s quirkiness on Swamp or Ameer Vann’s angry flow about race on Fight were highlights. The group’s best vocalist Bearface does his best year’s work on Jesus and Summer. The album cohesively comes together, offering some of the finest production work of the year. The group created Saturation with the pun of oversaturating the music industry with three albums in a year. They made everything that was great about music in 2017.