Albums of 2017

According to Spotify I listened to 48,105 minutes of music in 2017. That’s 800 hours or 30 days. A month of the year spent listening to music! Admittedly a fair bit of that was probably the kids (Imagine Dragon providing three of my top five songs a testimony to this!) but suffice to say there has been some great music in 2017.

So here are some of my favourites from the year:

1. Public Service Broadcasting > Every Valley

Standout track: Every Valley

I wasn’t a huge fan of PSB’s previous offerings but this is a stunning album, plumbing deeper musical depths than the Race for Space or War Room without abandoning the core of recycled samples that first brought them to collective attention. This is a beautiful homage to Wales and its mining past. Nostalgic without being sentimental, passionate without being political but above all a fantastic listen redolent with the voices, emotions and soul of the lost industrial communities of Britain.

Every Valley features some great collaborations, James Dean Bradfield on Turn No More in particular but the standout track for me is the opener featuring recorded interviews with Richard Burton. Simply wonderful, goosebump-inducing sounds exuding Hiraeth.

2. Ghostpoet > Dark Days + Canapés

Standout track: Woe is Meee

A gritty, up-tempo album with some lovely rhythms complemented by Ghostpoet’s laid-back, laconic lyrics. Harking back to the golden days of trip-hop without being nostalgic, this album breathes attitude and a vulnerable confidence. Woe is Meee – a collaboration with Massive Attack’s Daddy G – is my stand out track but special mention goes to the single, Freakshow, both mixing guitars, beats and Ghostpoet’s downbeat delivery into a pulsating, catchy sound that carries you along with it. A refreshing trip down the darker side and sounds of hip-hop.

Also, definitely check out the Slowdive remix of Woe is Meee.

3. IDLES > Brutalism

Standout track: Mother

A raw slab of concrete that smacks you in the face but underpinned with catchy tunes laced with abrupt vocals and sardonic humour. An energetic offering from the Bristol band, it would be an insult to offer a summary that didn’t pay a nod to the sharp, short energy of this fantastic album.

4. Queens of the Stone Age > Villains

Standout track: The Way You Used to Do

I would probably just throw this in any way because, you know, Joshua Homme. However, this album is a pretty special follow up to 2013’s outstanding …Like Clockwork. The album starts as it means to continue with the foot-stomping, riff-throbbing Feet Don’t Fail Me Now and only really abates for the finale, Villains of Circumstance. Whilst not as visceral as some of QOTSA’s previous offerings this is raw, Rock ‘n’ Roll dredged from the sawdust-filled, tequila-soaked spittoons of the Californian Desert.

And I loved every minute of it.

5. Depeche Mode > Spirit

Standout track: Where’s the Revolution?

In a year that saw the disaster of a General Election, growing social inequality and the Brexit locomotive shudder towards the cliff edge (don’t get me started on Trump), Spirit showed that a band in their fourth decade can still touch a nerve with synth-fused, guitar-driven songs, tapping into topical issues and the darker sides of life. Dave Gahan remains the consummate anti-hero, belting out Where’s the Revolution? as if he’s standing at the gates of the Bastille. The opener, Going Backwards sets the tone for a topical, reflective album that seems the perfect soundtrack to 2017:

We can track it all with satellites
See it all in plain sight
Watch men die in real time
But we have nothing inside
We feel nothing inside

Honourable mentions

Some of the other albums I’ve enjoyed this year: