It would be inaccurate to define 2017 as a year of comebacks, given that many classic groups have also made their return in 2016. I would consider it, however, a year of disappointments: some of its most notable releases, coming from recent popular acts and classic bands alike, have very much failed to live up to expectations. In cases such as Arcade Fire, these new albums are seen as career low points. Of course, all of this is rather subjective, but I find it also safe to state that there have not been any “instant consensus classics” in the same vein as To Pimp a Butterfly (2015) or Blackstar (2016) this year either. However, even then, 2017 is not devoid of memorable releases.
This list is non-definite: not only can the difference in quality between two different records be very arbitrary, but my feelings on them and their placement can change as time goes on and as I listen to more releases that have come out this year. For the time being, these are the best albums to come out in 2017. Continue reading
“Buried so close to the fountain of youth you can almost reach”
Artist: Queens of the Stone Age
Released: 25 August 2017
Recorded: January – March 2017
Genre: Alternative Rock (Hard Rock, Garage Rock)
Producer: Mark Ronson, Mark Rankin
Issue Date: 2017
Best Track: The Evil Has Landed (Un-Reborn Again is a close second)
TRACKS: 1) Feet Don’t Fail Me; 2) The Way You Used to Do; 3) Domesticated Animals; 4) Fortress; 5) Head Like a Haunted House; 6) Un-Reborn Again; 7) Hideaway; 8) The Evil Has Landed; 9) Villains of Circumstance
Following the dissolution of seminal stoner rock group Kyuss in 1996, its ex-guitarist Josh Homme would found Queens of the Stone Age that same year, taking up lead vocal duties as well. The band is known for its modernized hard rock style, its musical and sonic experimentation, and its array of collaborators, including Mark Lanegan and ex-Kyuss bassist Nick Oliveri among others. Their most famous efforts are Rated R (2000) and Songs for the Deaf (2002), the latter of which features Foo Fighters/ex-Nirvana member Dave Grohl as a full-time drummer.
“On and on I don’t know what I want, on and on I don’t know if I want it”
Artist: Arcade Fire
Released: July 28, 2017
Recorded: September 2016 – April 2017
Genre: Indie Pop, Alternative Dance (+Synthpop)
Producer: Arcade Fire, Markus Dravs, Thomas Bangalter, Steve Mackey, Geoff Barrow
Issue Date: 2017 (Columbia)
Best Track: Everything Now (including its intro and reprise)
TRACKS: 1) Everything_Now (Continued); 2) Everything Now; 3) Signs of Life; 4) Creature Comfort; 5) Peter Pan; 6) Chemistry; 7) Infinite Content; 8) Infinite_Content; 9) Electric Blue; 10) Good God Damn; 11) Put Your Money on Me; 12) We Don’t Deserve Love; 13) Everything Now (Continued)
Formed in 2001, Canadian rock group Arcade Fire are one of the major players of the 2000s-2010s indie scene. Their highly acclaimed debut Funeral (2004) introduced and popularized an anthemic style of indie rock that would gain momentum in mainstream music and influence a multitude of groups in the following years. They continued in that direction in Neon Bible (2007) and The Suburbs (2010), both of which were major critical and commercial successes, with the latter hitting #1 in the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States. The band members play a multitude of instruments, though Win Butler and Régine Chassagne generally provide lead vocals.
“In these times of sedition, well, nothing is dull”
Released: 28 April 2017
Recorded: September 2015 – 2016
Genre: Art Pop, Electropop
Producer: Damon Albarn, Remi Kabaka, The Twilite Tone
Length: 49:19 (1:08:55 w/ bonus tracks)
Issue Date: 2017
Best Track: Busted and Blue
TRACKS: 1) Intro: I Switched My Robot Off; 2) Ascension; 3) Strobelite; 4) Saturnz Barz; 5) Momentz; 6) Interlude: The Non-Conformist Oath; 7) Submission; 8) Charger; 9) Interlude: Elevator Going Up; 10) Andromeda; 11) Busted and Blue; 12) Interlude: Talk Radio; 13) Carnival; 14) Let Me Out; 15) Interlude: Penthouse; 16) Sex Murder Party; 17) She’s My Collar; 18) Interlude: The Elephant; 19) Hallelujah Money; 20) We Got the Power; [BONUS TRACKS:] 21) Interlude: New World; 22) The Apprentice; 23) Halfway to the Halfway House; 24) Out of Body; 25) Ticker Tape; 26) Circle of Friendz
Gorillaz is a virtual band masterminded by musician Damon Albarn (of Blur) and artist Jamie Hewlett, and comprises fictional members 2-D, Murdoc Niccals, Noodle, and Russel Hobbs. This project has become famous over the course of the 2000s, in part due to its music, mixing pop, electronic and hip hop while incorporating a variety of guest stars, and in part due to the universe in which the band evolves, as can be seen in its music videos and other promotional material. Demon Days (2005) is their most popular release, and their most well-known songs include “Clint Eastwood”, “Feel Good Inc.”, “DARE”, and “On Melancholy Hill”.
“My left stroke just went viral, right stroke put lil’ baby in a spiral”
Artist: Kendrick Lamar
Released in: 2017
Genre: Hip Hop (Conscious, West Coast)
Label: Top Dawg Entertainment
Issue Date: 2017
Best Track: DNA.
TRACKS: 1) BLOOD., 2) DNA., 3) YAH., 4) ELEMENT., 5) FEEL., 6) LOYALTY., 7) PRIDE., 8) HUMBLE., 9) LUST., 10) LOVE., 11) XXX., 12) FEAR., 13) GOD., 14) DUCKWORTH.
Kendrick Lamar (born in 1987) is a Californian rapper: while he had been releasing mixtapes since the early 2000s, his acclaim rose exponentially with the release of each of his records in the 2010s. He is primarily known for the major-label releases good kid, m.A.A.d city (2012) and To Pimp a Butterfly (2015), both of which were considered among the best albums to be released in their respective years. These records have quickly made him an important figure in the current hip hop industry, and have also influenced other works such as David Bowie’s Blackstar (2016).
- “Wherever we go, we go, we go”
Disregarding the current social and political climate for a moment (not that I would care to talk about that on a music review series), 2016 was certainly an eventful year. Amidst the deaths of many great music artists, — disregarding the obvious one, there were also Prince, Dennis Davis, Keith Emerson, Greg Lake, Nick Menza, John Berry, Leonard Cohen, George Michael, and Phife Dawg among others — we have been able to see long-running groups and artists not only release efforts after many years of silence, but also, in some cases, come up with great albums after a long period of middling releases. Some artists are making their exit, while others have entered into new and unexpected directions. Something is certain: there was something to please everyone, and there was always a surprise around the corner, which made 2016 a delight when it came to digging into new albums.
As usual, this is a non-definitive list, not only because the difference in quality between two different records can be very arbitrary, but also because my feelings on these albums and their placement can change as time goes on. For the time being, however, these are the best albums to come out in 2016. Continue reading