Another year of great music got released and I found many new releases which I discovered either by physical CD, digital download or streaming online. The list of albums I’ve compiled are ones that stayed on my playlists and my iDevices for repeated plays.
There was a fair amount of albums I listened to that didn’t make the top 10. It didn’t mean they were bad albums. Not by any means. It just means they didn’t get the number of repeated plays of these albums that made it to this end of year best of post.
And with that, here’s my top 10.
Nine Inch Nails “Add Violence” EP
– Trent and Company (which is pretty much Atticus Ross as the other official member of the band) have gone down the EP route, giving us new music quicker, rather than spending years making new albums. With this set of 5 songs, we have the lead track of “Less Than” which musically takes us back to The Fragile song construction era. The rest of the songs follow suit and give us some creative sounds (the ending track “The Background World” being almost 12 minutes in length). “The Lovers” was the featured track on an episode of the Song Exploder podcast.
Marilyn Manson “Heaven Upside Down”
– This album, the 10th studio release, was supposed to be called SAY10, a play on the name Satan. Instead, we get that album title repeated in the song of the same name “SAY10” The other 9 songs are pretty strong, with the typical industrial strength of any Marilyn Manson song. The top track is “KILL4ME” with it’s clever pop hook mixed with the guitars of Twiggy Rameirez, who is no longer part of the band due to sexual assault allegations. The album closes with “Threats Of Romance” which throws in some ballad-piano notes. All in all, another great album by the shock rocker.
Foo Fighters “Concrete And Gold”
– I admit, as a long time fan of Dave Grohl’s band, this album wasn’t as good as previous releases. And a few of my friends that are also long time fans didn’t like it at all. But the songs “Run” and “La Dee Da” are very strong tracks that have that Foo Fighters sound that I’ve grown to love on every single one of their albums. “Dirty Water” and “Arrows” are on the weak side, but they are easily skipable. There’s enough for me to like here, so it’s a keeper.
Father John Misty “Pure Comedy”
– A mix of sounds that emulate Elton John and Billy Joel, this toned down version of Father John Misty resonated very well with me. I played this album a lot since it first came out 11 months ago. The artist, born Josh Tillman, has really grown into a songwriting genius with tracks like “Things It Would Have Been Helpful to Know Before the Revolution” which is the most Elton John sounding song of the bunch. The title track “Pure Comedy” is another that takes a page from Elton John, and adds the word “Comedy…” repeated over and over as the rest of the lyrics tone down organized religion and other high and mighty referred to as “godless animals” This is one of those albums you listen to from start to finish.
– This is the sophomore album by the New Zealander teen that broke out big time with the song “Royals” The lead single from this album is “Green Light” and from there, the album just gets better with songs like “Sober”, “Liability” and “Homemade Dynamite” Lorde has grown up and her vocals are more pronounced on this album, and she has really shined in how she comes across on stage. I saw her live in 2014 and would love to see her live again to hear these new songs.
Spoon “Hot Thoughts”
– Spoon is one of those bands that have been around a while, put out a few albums and yet you can’t remember any of their song titles. Yet when you hear their music, you hum along to the beat and the lyrics. The big hit here is “Can I Sit Next To You” which is pretty damn catchy. So is the lead track “Hot Thoughts” And “Tear It Down”, which has glimpses of ELO song construction elements. This is an album you should listen to, even if it’s just to force you to know the names of the songs.
Depeche Mode “Spirit”
– With 4 years passing since their last album “Delta Machine”, which wasn’t all that when I reviewed it (it’s still one of my least favorite of their albums), I’d say that 4 years was enough time to go back to the studio and come up with something better. And Martin Gore, Andy Fletcher and Dave Gahan did. The album is really good and the tracks are really strong. The lead single “Where’s The Revolution” is that good. So is “Cover Me” with it’s leading words, “I’ve felt better/I’ve been up all night” It reminds me of many great songs with that similar song construction like “Clean” and “I Am You” There is the one Martin Gore song “Eternal” that stands out as the ‘meh’ track, which at least this time, is not as horrible as “The Child Inside” from the last album. Overall, this was a well deserved return to the band I’ve known and loved for more than 30 years.
Foster The People “Sacred Heart’s Club
– This band has been around for longer than the 6 years and 3 albums they have made so for. But it was 2011’s “Torches” that was their breakthrough into the mainstream and they’ve gotten bigger each and every album since, at least in this fan’s opinion. Songs like “Sit Next to Me” and “I Love My Friends” are repeat staples for this band, both in their ability to be listened to multiple times and just the right amount of familiar sounding to their songs on previous albums. And then you have the catchy “Static Space Lover” which is a gem on every level. Of course, the big radio hit “Doing It for the Money” still is what the band’s sound was made famous for. And “SHC” is so good. I’ve never been disappointed by this band’s music and this third album is proof that they keep creating great music.
– I didn’t fully listen to this album until mid-November and then I played it non stop for two weeks. My review of the album was pretty solid as was each repeated listen of the album, which quickly grew on me. I was already familiar with the songs “Dreams” and “Wow” as they were released well in advance of the official release date of the album. And songs like “Colors” and “Up All Night” were easily liked once they became familiar to my listening ears. I’ve liked Beck since the “Loser” days, and he’s no loser. And this latest album proves that on many levels.
LCD Soundsystem “american dream”
– Since the first time I heard “Daft Punk Is Playing At My House”, LCD Soundsystem has been one of those ultra creative bands that use their electronic version of repetition to ingrain their sounds into your head. And permanently into your music library. This album wasn’t supposed to happen, as the band had broken up. But after James Murphy met with David Bowie during one of their working sessions together, and was pretty much told to get the band back together and create new music, I don’t think much else needs to be questioned here. So the band made their reunited announcement (just days before Bowie died), got back together and took 18 months to create this album. It’s sad that Bowie never got to hear the completed work, but I think he would have been proud to know what he inspired.
Songs like “tonite” “american dream” and “call the police” (yes, all in lowercase) are proof that any of us LCD Soundsystem fans are glad to have this 4th studio album. The first 3 tracks that open the album “oh baby” “other voices” and “i used to” are just as great. And as a tribute to Bowie, “change yr mind” which has a nice catchy beat reminiscent of “Scary Monsters”, is that perfect blend of repetitive sound that makes this song come alive. I am proud to say that this album came out on top, even if it had to duke it out with Beck the last few weeks of 2017. Now we just need more tour dates.
And now, here is my choice for top album of 2017….
My musical tastes don’t always match what my readers like, so if you were expecting an album on this best of list, speak up below in the comments below. Or give me a shout out on anything you like on my list.