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RLLMUK'S FAVOURITE ALBUMS OF 2017 - RESULTS!

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On 27/01/2018 at 19:36, Jamie John said:

I made a playlist a week ago of the top 20 albums that I hadn't listened to already and have decided to make my way through them, starting from number 1. This week, therefore, in the car on the way to work it's been Slowdive, by Slowdive. I've listened to it about 6 times through during my commute, and I'm not sure why it's got the number one spot. I like the first track ('Slowmo') a lot, and I'll probably get the second one ('Star Roving') as well. Apart from that, however, the remaining 6 tracks just sort of wash over me and there's nothing that especially stands out or makes me take notice. It's just a bit boring. I appreciate that the band, back in their heyday, were seminal in the development of shoegaze, but I far prefer Cigarette After Sex's album from last year, which has a similar-ish sound. I expect it's people who enjoyed their earlier output who have pushed it up to number 1.

 

By about Thursday I'd got pretty fed up with Slowdive so I started to listen to the Mastodon album instead. I was a bit dubious at first, as I've never really been into heavy metal, and when I saw that there was a track called 'Scorpion Breath' on the album I grew even more doubtful. After only a couple of listens, however, I can tell that this will definitely be a keeper. The drumming and the guitars are completely infectious. It's hard not to pull this face when you're listening to it:

 

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Great stuff.

 

I had Emperor of Sand by Mastodon on repeat from Monday through to Thursday and I'm definitely going to get it. I like pretty much every track on it - face melters, every one.

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I think 'Ancient Kingdom' and 'Roots Remain' might be my favourites, though, or maybe it's 'Jaguar God', the closing track. (Incidentally, whenever I listen to this one I always picture this guy from Guacamelee, for some reason.)

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It turns out I do like metal after all. I'd be interested in recommendations people have for anything similar.

 

Anyway, I skipped the next three albums as I already own DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar (which I think is excellent) and the new LCD Soundsystem album (which I also enjoyed), and I'd listened to the St Vincent album before, but, as I've mentioned in another thread, I couldn't get on with it at all. That brought me to Harmony of Difference by Kamasi Washington, which I didn't realise was an EP, or mini-album, until I streamed it and saw it was only 6 tracks long. Regardless, however, it's excellent - joyous, poppy, beautiful jazz music that instantly puts you in a good mood. It's been firmly added to my 'To Buy' pile :)

 

Next week I'm going to see how I get on with the Jane Weaver album.

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I’m not a metal fan, but I bloody love Mastodon. Not sure if they really qualify as metal any more, maybe more so with their first couple of albums, but their later stuff incorporates all sorts of styles. I would also recommend their Crack the Skye and Blood Mountain albums, although they’re all worth listening to.

 

Frustratingly, I haven’t found another band that scratches the same itch, so would also be interested in recommendations for similar sounds.

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Cold Dark Place is really good too.  It's an EP they recently released which stands toe to toes (lol, good one) with anything on Emperor of Sand.  If you're after something generally metal-ish but accessible, I'd recommend giving Baroness a try - I find most of their albums fairly bland but Yellow & Green has some absolute belters on it, also, if you fancy something a bit more upbeat, rock'n'rolly and bluesy, try Clutch. Their older stuff is heavy as hell, but you're safe with From Beale Street to Oblivion onwards. E.g. -

 

 

 

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On 02/02/2018 at 20:37, Jamie John said:

Next week I'm going to see how I get on with the Jane Weaver album.

 

I can't figure out if I like this album or not. I really like 'Slow Motion', which I will definitely get, and probably 'Loops in the Secret Society' as well. As for the other tracks, I like bits of them - typically the driving bass lines in pretty much every track, and the psychedelic, hippy guitars and electronics - but I don't know if there's enough here for me to justify buying the entire album. I will keep it  in my weekly playlist and come back to it before I make up my mind.

 

In contrast, Brutalism, by Idles, had me at the first line of the first track: "I WANT TO MOVE INTO A BOVIS HOOOOOOOME, AND KEEP A LIST OF EVERYTHING I OWWWWWWWWWWWWN!" Hilarious. The rest of the album is excellent as well. It reminds me of a slightly more musical Sleaford Mods interleaved with Sid Vicious' streams of unchecked, barked vitriol. Raw, vociferous, fuck you punk music. Really good. Being Bristolian they're near me as well. I might see if I can find any live dates for them.

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Over the past couple of weeks I've been listening to a few different albums: Savage by Gary Numan, Antisocialites by Alvvays, and Relatives in Descent by Protomatyr, numbers 11, 12 and 13 on the list respectively (I already own the QOTSA album, and while I think the BR2049 OST is great when you're watching the film, I find it difficult to listen to soundtracks without the accompanying images).

 

The Gary Numan album I really like. My only previous exposure to Numan has been 'Cars', so the sound on this wasn't what I was expecting at all: a lot heavier and bassier; parts of it almost remind me of The Prodigy, or other big beat bands, although the lyrics and strings are a lot more melancholy. (Has he been through bouts of depression or something? I don't know much about him.) Regardless, it's a keeper. My favourite track is probably 'When the World Comes Apart', although there's a lot on it I like.

 

Antisocialites I don't like nearly as much, and I'm surprised to find it so high up the list, seeing as its fairly jejune, fluffy, jangly pop sound seems to be so different from the forum's typical tastes. I quite like the singsong 'Dreams Tonite', but that's about it. There's nothing especially egregious about anything on the album, but then there's nothing that especially excites, either. It's a salted ricecake of a record - over before you even notice its there.

 

Relatives in Descent I've only been listening to for a few days, but there's not much on it that's kept my interest so far. The singer sounds like a slightly gruffer Nick Cave, and has a similar talking/singing kind of style. I'll keep it on rotation for a few days next week and see if anything sticks.

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Savage was my favourite album of last year. I find it best listened to as one whole, as the soundscape ebbs and flows between tracks and has recurring themes. Splinter is more dark I think.

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I began the week by giving Relatives In Descent another whirl, and while, like the Jane Weaver album, I like bits of certain tracks, the album as a whole didn't grab me. I like the guitars but the bloke's voice annoys me. He can't sing, which, I know, isn't exactly necessary in a punk band, but he tries to too much, and I just found that it grated on my ears.

 

After that I skipped Orc by Oh Sees, which I'd already listened to (and got four tracks from, but not the entire album - it's not as good as A Weird Exits from 2016) and moved on to Amber Galactic by The Night Flight Orchestra. When I come across a band I've not heard of (which is quite a few in the awards list) I have a quick skim of their Wikipedia page first. These guys are apparently a "Swedish hard rock band from Helsingborg", which immediately made me thing that they'd have a fairly heavy, doomy, Scandinavian-style kind of sound. I should have guessed when I saw the album cover that this wouldn't be the case:

 

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It turns out their sound is straight out of the mid 70s. The whole album sounds like a slightly camp Deep Purple/Heart/Journey/Thin Lizzy pastiche, and with tracks with titles like "Space Whisperer" and "Saturn in Velvet", more than a pinch of Spinal Tap, although from what I can tell the entire thing is straight-faced and not supposed to be taking the piss. Once I'd got over my initial surprise, I found that I actually liked most of it, maybe not enough to get the entire album, but there are a couple of really good guilty pleasure, singalong rock ballads in there. "Something Mysterious", especially, is great. If you didn't know any better, however, you'd be forgiven for thinking that it's a 40 year-old record. I'll probably recommend it to my dad.

 

Next up is A Deeper Understanding by The War On Drugs. Speaking of my dad, I bought him this on vinyl for Christmas as he really liked Lost In A Dream, which I wasn't as keen on but got a few tracks from. Maybe I'll like this one more!

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The Kelly Lee Owens album, along with excellent solo efforts from Prins Thomas and Lindstrom are definitely three of the best albums from 2017 that I've listened to this year.

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Next up is A Deeper Understanding by The War On Drugs. Speaking of my dad, I bought him this on vinyl for Christmas as he really liked Lost In A Dream, which I wasn't as keen on but got a few tracks from. Maybe I'll like this one more!

 

I must have listened to this about a dozen times over the course of a week, desperately trying to get into it. The first few times I listened to it, it just seemed to wash over me, and nothing really stuck. I couldn't help but think (and continue to think) that the bloke just sounds so much like Bob Dylan, it's like he's doing an impersonation. He does that thing where Dylan goes up sudDENly in the middle of a word. There are even a couple of tracks with a lot of dodgy harmonica going on. The rest of the album just sounds like a Springsteen homage. Half a dozen listens later and I've decided I like 'Pain' and 'In Chains', ish. I think. 

 

After that I listened to Every Country's Sun by Mogwai. I've listened to three or four albums by Mogwai and have collected a few tracks from each, but I think once you've heard one of their albums you've heard them all. Some of this was ok, but most of it sounded like they'd just put a load of stuff in a "Mogwai track generator" and arbitrarily put what came out into an album. It's a bit anti-climactic. There's nothing here that I like as much as what I like on Happy Songs for Happy People, or Mr Beast.

 

Next was New Energy by Four Tet. Overall, I think most of the tracks lacked texture and didn't really go anywhere after the first minute or so. The only tracks I especially like are 'SW9 9SL' because it builds up to a proper drop towards the end, and 'Planet, which has more of a rhythm to it than anything else on the album. I like the vocal on "Daughter" as well, though even that runs out of steam after a couple of minutes. The rest of the record I thought it was boring and repetitive.

 

Finally, I've given It's Alright Between Us As It Is by Lindstrom a whirl over the last couple of days. I can't find much of note yet, and I can't claim to have much knowledge of Norwegian dance music, but I'll keep it going into next week and see if it grows on me. After all this instrumental stuff however, I feel the need for something to sing along to loudly in the car.

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It's been a month since I last updated and I've listened to a few more albums from the list.

 

I kept the Lindstrom album on my commute playlist for a week or so but I just couldn't get into it. I felt the same way with the self-titled Kelly Lee Owens album (number 22), as well, I'm afraid. I like to think that I've got a fairly eclectic musical taste and that I'm open to most genres, but this particular brand of floaty ambient techno, or however you want to define it, just doesn't do anything for me. I might feel differently about it if I was listening to it in a club or something, but whenever I had it on in the background all of the tracks just seemed to merge into one amorphous blob.

 

After that I listened to the Kelela album, Take Me Apart (number 18), which I liked a lot more, although not quite enough to buy the album. A lot of it reminds me of FKA Twigs as they both share a similar electronic R&B sound with some great bass lines. 'Blue Light' is a banger:

 

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I can't really be done with The Darkness, so I skipped Pinewood Smile by them and listened to Science Fiction by Brand New instead. I like 6 out of the 12 tracks on it and think they're at their best at their heaviest:

 

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It's no surprise to find that the band list Nirvana and Modest Mouse as some of their influences.

 

This week, alongside some other stuff not from the list, I've had French Press by Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, all 23 minutes of it, on the go, and its light punk/surf rock sound has gone down very well in the sunshine.

 

I'm up to the mid-20s on the list now with a third of 2018 nearly gone already and I think I may start cherry-picking from the remaining albums on the list based on the stuff I think I'm definitely going to like. Drunk by Thundercat, for instance. So far I think the most glaring omission from the list is Ctrl by SZA, which came out in June. A mate of mine lent it to me at the start of this year and if I'd listened to it when it first came out it would comfortably be in my top 5 for 2017. This Calvin Harris remix of the best track on the album is superb:

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Recommended if you enjoyed the Kelela album and/or most other modern female-fronted R&B.

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