It’s been a year full of great music, I have to say. And I struggled, a lot, to put together a list of albums I’ve listened to and loved more than others this year. I would have material to outline at least another couple of lists, yet I had to keep it short and concise and this is the final Top 10 of my 2017.
10. Gordi – Reservoir
Sophie Payten wrote a bunch of songs that seem to come straight from the heart of a silent Australian countryside. Some sort of place not really accessible and – perhaps – yet to be fully discovered. She worked to her signature sound incarnating the spirit of that DIY I love the most. ‘Reservoir’ is one of the freshest and cutest album I came across in the past 12 months, for I had the privilege to listen to it growing through magic live sets, not to mention that unmistakable comparisons to Bon Íver music it naturally, immediately draw.
Essentials – ‘On My Side’, ‘Heaven I Know’, ‘Bitter End’, ‘Can We Work It Out’
Lyrics – I’m tired of just hiding away / Wrestling my instincts to keep it at bay / Cause forgetting you is like ignoring the weather / Or wanting you takes as long as forever [Can We Work It Out]
9. Jay Som – Everybody Works
I’m still wondering why Jay Som did open for Day Wave on a warm night, mid-May, last year. ‘Everybody Works’ is one of those jaw-dropping debuts that leave you with the feeling of listening to an artist – Bay Area’s Melina Duterte – who will certainly make a name for herself in the next future. A dense and sophisticated sound populates the journey of this record, and one listen only won’t be enough to appreciate its intricacies.
Essentials – ‘The Bus Song’, ‘Everybody Works’, ‘Baybee’, ‘One More Time, Please’
Lyrics – Take time to figure it out / I’ll be the one who sticks around / And I just want you to lead me [The Bus Song]
8. Perfume Genius – No Shape
One of 2017’s most appreciated records needed to find a spot in this Top 10. It came out of the blue and showcases all the hallmarks and endless skills of an artist like Mike Hadreas. The art-pop master embraces all the shades of his various influences, especially in masterpieces like ‘Slip Away’ or ‘Otherside’, a track to be listened to with closed eyes, flying to unimaginable lands.
Essentials – ‘Slip Away’, ‘Otherside’, ‘Alan’, ‘Die 4 You’
Lyrics – Did you notice / We sleep through the night / Did you notice, babe / Everything is alright [Alan]
7. St. Vincent – MASSEDUCTION
Annie Clark re-invented herself, once again. She’s in the spotlight, carrying her inestimable talent together with her own obsessions. Games of sex and power, literary quotes and nervous guitars draw comparisons to the experimental sounds of giants like Talking Heads. In between, electro-pop interludes (‘Sugarboy’, ‘Young Lover’) are perfectly fitting the emotional soundscape depicted in ‘MASSEDUCTION’. I still have to get this album properly, but I’ll get there.
Essentials – ‘New York’, ‘Young Lover’, ‘Happy Birthday, Johnny’, ‘Hang On Me’
Lyrics – Black saint, sinner lady / Playin’ knockoff soul / A punk rock romantic / Slumped on the kitchen floor [Masseduction]
6. Slowdive – Slowdive
Perhaps one of the very few cases of comeback and reunion as it should always be, after a hiatus of, what, 20 years or so? This seminal shoegaze band keeps moving me, and their latest self-titled record is a triumph of ethereal sounds and attention to production and details. Out of the eight tracks, ‘Star Roving’ is still waking me up in the morning, whilst ‘Slomo’ and ‘Sugar For The Pill’ makes me daydream. Welcome back.
Essentials – ‘Star Roving’, ‘Slomo’, ‘No Longer Making Time’, ‘Sugar For The Pill’
Lyrics – Give me your love, it’s a curious love / Give me your heart, it’s a curious thing [Slomo]
5. LCD Soundsystem – american dream
Not a simple album, ‘american dream’ is a journey, a story that embraces a wide set of emotions and – more importantly – it’s an homage to the White Duke, David Bowie, whose void left on earth is still impossible to fill. James Murphy’s confessions are right there, in the middle of a land where an emotional breakdown has left a bag of something that smells like regret.
Essentials – ‘oh baby’, ‘how do you sleep?’, ‘tonite’
Lyrics – Oh but please / Please shake me from my lovesick patient dream / Please baby please / And my love plays wait and see [oh baby]
4. Brand New – Science Fiction
I have to confess something: after the recent events – Jesse Lacey’s public image sinking in a sea of mud due to unforgivable allegations I don’t want to even start commenting on this space – I was unsure if it was even the case to include Brand New’s LP5 in this Top 10 list. Then I thought “ok, let the music speak”. Here it is, then, the fifth studio album from the Long Island’s band (with the less SEO-friendly name of all time) that troubled my adolescence so badly. It’s a shame things went downhill, for ‘Science Fiction’ is an album that will stay for a long time, even though it will be remembered as the sing of the swan for a band that lost all my respect.
Essentials – ‘Waste’, ‘Same Logic / Teeth’, ‘Desert’, ‘Lit Me Up’
Lyrics – I see those boys kissing boys / With their mouth in the street / But I raised my son to be a righteous man / I made it clear to him what fear of God means [Desert]
3. The XX – I See You
London’s XX chose the safest way to show up again after a few years far from the media spotlight and a series of side project that involved the members of the band. They proved once again they were right and ‘I See You’ – which is turning one year old these days – is still there, on my turntable, spinning its bangers.
Essentials – ‘Say Something Loving’, ‘On Hold’, ‘Replica’, ‘A Violent Noise’
Lyrics – They all say I will become a replica / Your mistakes were only chemical [Replica]
2. Julien Baker – Turn Out The Lights
Julien Baker has quite a story, in that limbo generated by addiction, wounds and a continuous sense of defeat and isolation. She turned that page, it’s – luckily – a close chapter now, yet certain feelings and some sort of fear are still there, hiding somewhere. ‘Turn Out The Lights’ is a masterpiece, a process through the need to become aware of your own limits and weaknesses. It was written by one of the most talented singer-songwriters of our times, and it shines bright in the indie universe where Matador Records confirm to be one of the few reliable tastemakers.
Essentials – ‘Appointments’, ‘Turn Out The Lights’, ‘Televangelist’, ‘Sour Breath’
Lyrics – I’m staying in tonight / I won’t stop you from leaving / I know that I’m not what you wanted, am I? / Wanted someone who I used to be like / Now you think I’m not trying / I don’t [Appointments]
1. The National – Sleep Well Beast
My album of the year is The National’s, and I have had no doubts whatsoever since the very first time I listened to ‘Sleep Well Beast’. It’s an intense, complicated and deep work, like if you got lost in the wood without any more signs of life around nor a known way to get back to your path. It’s an experience, and it will surely bring you somewhere. You’ll only find yourself with a different state of mind, at the end of it, because Matt Berninger and The National will destroy and then rebuild from scratch your feelings and mood. Sleep well, beast.
Essentials – ‘The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness’, ‘Guilty Party’, ‘Day I Die’, ‘Nobody Else Will Be There’
Lyrics – It’s nobody’s fault / No guilty party / I just got nothing, nothing left to say [Guilty Party]