Thursday, December 28, 2017

Top 20 Albums of 2017

20. Slowdive-Slowdive

After a 22 year absence, Reading's Slowdive returns with yet another late night, chill out dream pop masterpiece.

19. Pwr Bttm-Pageant

This band could do quite well in the early 1980s. The whole record is just fun!

18. Kasabian-For Crying Out Loud

Leicester's own turn out another great record. This one is even stronger than the last one. A real foot stomper!

17. Ride-Weather Diaries

I thought Ride was done 20 years ago. They weren't. Thank God. Their music is fucking beautiful.

16. Alvvays-Antisocialites

Toronto's Alvvays are a most welcome breath of fresh air to the music scene. This entire record is pop bliss. "Dreams Tonight made my Top 20 tracks of the year. Here's another cut that reminds me a great deal of Suzanna Hoffs.

15. The Charlatans-Different Days

The West Midlands of the United Kingdom can claim this gem of band that has brought us over 25 years of fab music. They started with baggy pants music, coasted through Brit Pop, and are still around churning out a new record every couple of years. Here's the title track.

14. Fazerdaze-Morningside

Amelia Murray from Auckland, New Zealand is the brain child behind this dreamy music. This is her first full length record and it's perfect for summer days at the lake.

13. Bruno Mars-24K Magic

Ah, are so awesome with this Morris Day kissed record. Kick it out, brother!

12. Run the Jewels-Rtj3

Killer Mike and El-P produced the track of the year with "Hey Kids." The whole album is an instant rap classic. Here's my other favorite track from the record.

11. Strand of Oaks-Hard Love

Timothy Showalter has proven that there are indeed good things that come from Indiana. This is his fifth record and it's an absolute gem. Here's a dreamy track that reminds me a great deal of Ryan Adams.

10. San Cisco-The Water

I wish this band from Freemantle, Western Australia could see massive success here in the United States. They had a decent shot back in 2011 and 2012 in my hometown in Minneapolis but they just didn't quite make it. They still are all the rage down under, though, and enjoy an indie following in the rest of the world.

Their latest record is just as good as their previous two. Here's a track.

9. Ryan Adams-Prisoner

Ryan Adams is the best artist from North America today. No one even comes close. His music deeply evokes the soul of the United States. He's a total and complete fucking genius and I cherish each release of music that he offers to the world.

His latest effort, a deep lament over his breakup with Mandy Moore, is yet another stunning achievement. The whole album is amazing and that's why I couldn't pick just one track for my Top 20 tracks list.

8. Beck-Colors

The new Beck album starts off sounding like the third Friendly Fires album that doesn't exist yet. As the album progresses he gets into more familiar territory but this new direction is most welcome.

7. Thundercat-Drunk

Thundercat is the stage name for LA's Stephen Bruner. He obviously spent a lot of time listening to Todd Rundgren because this album feels a lot like "Wizard, A True Star." I also hear some King Crimson in there as well as Smile-era Brian Wilson. And then, of course, his own unique oddness which is bloody magnificent.

6. Liam Gallagher-As You Were

Liam goes solo! And guess what? It's MEGA! Beady Eye was a nice band but Liam works well on his own just like his older bro. Here's a very Beatles-esque track....

5. Blaenavon-That's Your Lot

Next to The Blossoms, Hampshire's Blaenavon are the best new band in the UK. What a stellar debut record.

4. Stereophonics-Scream Above The Sounds

Kelly and the lads from Cwmaman, Wales return with a triumphant record that is their best since Language, Sex, Violence, Other. The music is cinematic in nature with a plethora of new stories set to strike deep in your soul. Here's one of them....

3. Noel Gallagher-Who Built the Moon?

Noel's third release is the finest of his now 5 year old solo career. What an epic piece of work! It's easy to recognize that he took a great deal of care with each track.

2. BNQT-Volume 1

What kind of album do you suppose Fran Healy (Travis), Alex Kapranos (Franz Ferdinand), Eric Pulido (Midlake), Ben Bridwell (Band of Horses) and Jason Lytle (Grandaddy), backed by other members of Midlake (Jesse Chandler, Joey McClellan and McKenzie Smith) might make?

A fucking great one!

I'm always a little wary of supergroups but this one really worked. They had two tracks that made my Top 20 Tracks of 2017.

1. Childhood-Universal High

I've always been a sucker for soul music. It's so hopeful and stirs great optimism in me for the future. This is exactly why Nottingham's Childhood get the nod for album of the year. When their first LP (Lacuna)  came out in 2014, I thought it was great. They sounded like another great British Dream Pop band.

For their second album, front man Ben Romans-Hopcraft decided to take the reins and drive the project. The result is a 70's inspired soul album that evokes nostalgia for a bygone era. The only fault I can find in the record is that it's only 10 tracks and I wanted more. But that's just how many cuts would have been on a 70's soul album, right?

Top 20 Tracks of 2017

Hey folks, it's that time Top 20 tracks of 2017. Counting down from 20...

First up is #20 and Westlake Village, California's own Foxygen with  "Follow the Leader," a stellar track that sends me right back to my days of listening to WLS on this really crappy AM radio I had. It sounds like it came out in 1979!

#19 of my Top 20 Tracks of 2017...Philly's own Strand of Oaks with fab track, "Radio Kids." There's an urgent story in this track that really hit me.

#18 on my Top 20 tracks of 2017...New Zealand's Fazerdaze with "Jennifer." A summery wisp of a track, this one was played quite a bit during tennis coaching and moonlit walks in July and August.


 #17 of my Top 20 tracks of 2017...Freemantle, Australia’s own San Cisco. This is from their 3rd LP, The Water. I really wish they would catch on here in the States more...


#16 of my Top 20 Tracks of 2017...super group BNQT with their 70s dripped track, "Unlikely Force." This could have easily been a soft rock hit in 1978. Band of Horses frontman Ben Bridwell handles the vocals and songwriting duties on this track.


#15 of my Top 20 Tracks of 2017...Portland's own Chromatics with "Shadow." There was no way I could make a Top 20 list without featuring a song from the Best TV show of 2017, Twin Peaks: The Return. Even though this track first came out in 2015, it set a certain tone for this year with the series revival and beyond.


#14 of my Top 20 tracks of 2017..."Wall of Glass" by Manchester's own Liam Gallagher. Obviously, I'm going to like anything the Gallagher bros do and it's pretty boss that we now basically get two Oasis albums every other year. But Liam did a great job with this track and the whole LP. Much better than Beady Eye. And it was great seeing him in the Main Room just a few weeks back!


#13 of my Top 20 tracks of 2017...Honolulu's Bruno Mars with "24K Magic." What a fun track!! It came out at the very end of 2016 so it doesn't really count for that year. I played it (and the whole record) constantly this year as it reminded me a great deal of The Time and Prince.


#12 of Top 20 tracks of 2017...Todd Rundgren and Donald Fagan with "Tin Foil Hat." In the first year of the Trump presidency, there is really no better track. This marks the first collaboration between two of my big music heroes. Perhaps Todd should fill in occasionally for the recently passed Walter Becker.


#11 of Top 20 tracks of 2017..."Tokyo" by LA's own Thundercat taken from his magnificent LP, Drunk. This song (and indeed the entire record) reminds me a great deal of the previous entry on my list, Todd Rundgren. This song makes me want to go to Tokyo!

#10 of my Top 20 Tracks of 2017..."Wow" by Beck. Every album Beck makes is wonderful. Most of this record sounds like the 3rd Friendly Fires album that has yet to materialize. But this track is vintage Beck. So glad I finally got to see him this year!

#9 of my Top 20 Tracks of 2017...."The Man" by The Killers. Brandon Flowers and Co. are back with this (ahem) killer track. I want to sing this song to every woman I have ever known!

#8 of my Top 20 Tracks of 2017...Hampshire's own Blaenavon with "Let's Pray." Most reminiscent of the Smiths, this track off of their debut LP (That's Your Lot) was in heavy rotation with me this year. No doubt, one of the most exciting new UK bands....

 #7 of my Top 20 Tracks of 2017...West Midlanders The Charlatans with corker of a cut, "Hey Sunrise." I've been a fan of this band for over 25 years. They were a precursor to the '90s Brit Pop era and they've stayed strong for this entire time.

 #6 of my Top 20 Tracks of 2017...Toronto's own Alvvays with "Dreams Tonight." Hands down, the most beautiful track of the year. I'm always a sucker for romantic tales...

#5 of my Top 20 Tracks of 2017...another entry from the supergroup, BNQT. "Hey Banana" is a slinky, Jim Morrison-esque number sung by Alex Kapranos (Franz Ferdinand). I really love this song...

#4 of my Top 20 Tracks of 2017..."It's A Beautiful World" by Noel Gallagher. Noel has outdone himself with his latest LP, "Who Built the Moon?" This is my favorite track.

#3 of my Top 20 Tracks of 2017..."California Light" by Nottingham's own Childhood. This band should run a clinic on how to remake yourself. Their first album was shoe gaze Brit pop. This track, from their 2nd LP, Universal High, is straight up soul and sounds bloody magnificent. Nearly the track of the year if it weren't for the top 2.

#2 of my Top 20 Tracks of 2017...Cwamaman, Wales' own Stereophonics with "What's All The Fuss About?" A most cinematic track from Kelly and the lads this time around. I like how the song just goes and goes until it doesn't.

And the #1 track of 2017...drum roll, please...."Hey Kids" by Run the Jewels. This track helped me a great deal throughout 2017 get through Donald Trump's first year in office. It's angry, irreverent, loud, obnoxious and wonderful. Killer Mike is a beast.