2017 has been a tumultuous year to say the least, however we have had some respite in the amazing music that has been released along the way. It has been a fantastic year for music with fantastic releases from all genres.
We decided that this year we will collectively compile an end of year list of our favorite albums, so from all of us here at CLUNK to you here are our top 30 (in no particular order).
Kendrick Lamar – Damn
By Bobby McCarty
Kendrick Lamar is a man who needs almost no introduction these days. Having consistently pumped out some of the most influential, innovative and important rap music the world has seen during his career. From humble beginnings he has risen past his peers and broken out of the constraints of genre to redefine what it is to be a rapper, and not in the way Kanye did, Kanye is a prat. Every track on this album is listed as explicit, and Kendrick unapologetically attacks America’s problems – ‘DNA’ is the perfect example. With this being one of the most important albums of the decade if not one of the best, it’s hard to see how Kendrick can continue to surpass himself again. Peerless musicians can only last so long until someone takes up the mantle, but still.. long live Kendrick.
J.I.D – The Never Story
By Bobby McCarty
Speaking of taking up the mantle… ‘J.I.D’ is a very promising new rapper to enter the realm. His music as well as his person bears a striking resemblance to Kendrick and he seems to be coming from just as humble a start as his predecessor. This debut album is a very strong start, and we could expect nothing less from an artist signed to J. Cole’s label. He describes his own music as “a clusterfuck of good shit” and we agree. This couldn’t be further from the mumble rap we are used to seeing out of Atlanta and is yet another redeeming example of quality music coming out of a saturated environment over in the states. Notable tracks include ‘NEVER’ and ‘D/vision’ which harken to Kendrick as well as ‘Hereditary’ and ‘All Bad’ which is far more heartfelt and feels like Anderson .Paak. Big moves from an artist who has honed his skills since 2012 and has waited until now to show his clear potential in this inaugural release.
Mastodon – Emperor of Sand
By Luigi Sibona
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Mastodon are the best band making music today and we should consider ourselves lucky to be witness to the Atlanta titans cementing their claim further.
Consolidating the lofty, proggy sensibilities of masterworks such as ‘Blood Mountain‘ and ‘Crack The Skye’, with the huge radio-ready choruses of their past two full-lengths to a quite frankly unfathomable degree of success, this is bold, powerful songwriting which nearly no other band in rock and metal can hold a candle to. It’s another dizzying, kaleidoscopic prog metal epic from a gang of musicians at the peak of their power. Just listen to standout track, ‘Clandestiny’, within the context of the allegorical concept of the record’s narrative for the emotional gut-punch of the year…
From the soaring, anthemic hooks of ‘Steambreather’ to the cacophonous stomp of ‘Roots Remain’ and on to the mind-expanding prog of ‘Jaguar God’, this album ‘Emperor of Sand’ makes a serious case for being the most accomplished record of their career.
While She Sleeps – You Are We
By Luigi Sibona
The best post-Brexit album of the year is also one that manages to instill a sense of communal positivity through its aggression and avalanche of riffs.
After 2015s criminally underrated, ‘Brainwashed’, the Sleeps boys are back with their crowd-funded, D.I.Y masterpiece ‘You Are We’ (check out the story behind this one, it’s genuinely life-affirming).
These guys throw so many riffs, huge choruses and socio-political angst at you over the course of a record, it can be a few spins before you take measure of just how accomplished it all is. From the huge opening of the title track you’re treated to newly refined interplay with the harsh/clean vocal dynamic courtesy of Loz Taylor and Mat Welsh, playing as a huge plus with the band’s more ambitious and daring song structures. Songs that manage to also be catchier and bigger than ever; riff-storm ‘Feel’ is the best thing they’ve ever written, ‘Silence Speaks’ makes Bring Me The Horizon’s Oli Sykes sound badass, and the political sentiment of ‘Empire Of Silence’ is so resoundingly on point (“we’re building walls where there should have been bridges, borders in the land that we roam…”) you just want to play it to everyone.
While She Sleeps are long past their dues as the flag bearers of British heavy music alongside Architects and this is the record it needs to happen for them with. They have everything going for them: huge songs, riffs for days and a fucking big communal heart in the right place. These are the best we got and we have to champion them.
Thee Oh Sees – Goblin
By Kieran Webber
Arguably one of the most inventive and unique rock/garage/punk bands around at the moment. Thee Oh Sees continue to be a force to be reckoned with. ‘Goblin’ infuses their most anarchic elements with huge, heavy catchy hooks that are backed by the snarls and screeches from John Dwyer. It is a high octane, energetic cascade of noise that is dangerously unrelenting.
We also get a reminder that John Dwyer and his team are masters of psychedlia similar to the last album ‘A Weird Exits’ there are some heavy psych tracks that are nothing short of sublime, this is present in tracks ‘Keys To The Castle’, ‘Nite Expo’ and closing track ‘Raw Optics’. As well as in the more obscure tracks like ‘Cooling Tower’ which is a jangly, jagged edged rhythmic bounce.
The album boasts Thee Oh Sees ability to meld and shapeshift around different influences and sound, yet still remain true to their original chaotic explosiveness that made them recognisable. The band is ever evolving and with each album release becomes more interesting, they are forever pushing the boundaries of their sound and it is fantastic to watch.
The Menzingers – After The Party
By Luigi Sibona
The Menzingers have carried on their winning run of excellent albums (check out 2012’s ‘On The Impossible Past’ and 2014’s ‘Rented World’) with their best album to date. Sitting somewhere between the Springsteen’s and Petty’s of the world and the basement punk that The Menzingers come from, ‘After The Party’ is a slab of introspective nostalgia that never feels indulgent or saccharine because it’s packed to the brim with world-class bangers.
There’s a golden-hour haze to this record that makes it infinitely timeless but it’s the song-writing on display here is what makes it stronger than all. There are songs for days here and tracks that will work for years and years and for people of all ages and sensibilities. From the opening vocal hook of “where we gunna’ go now our twenties are over” on ‘Tellin’ Lies’ to the summer punk anthems of ‘Charlie’s Army’ and ‘Bad Catholics’ to the sing-it-for-your-life title track this is the richest collections of rock songs I’ve heard in years.
Taken as a folk-punk collection of sing-along tracks, because by god does it work on that front, it’s faultless, but there’s so much going on here. The lyrics here are something else entirely; disarmingly honest and poetic with couplets so smartly worded it makes me question if we write in the same language.
The self-reflective nature of the record moves through memories, histories and anxieties speaking as much to dudes in their 30s having no idea how they got there, as to teens looking to the next decade with excitement and trepidation.
As someone who sits somewhere between those two camps, I can’t express the profound sincerity of this record. It’s one that’s going to ring true for years to come and it’s a total world-beater.
IDLES – Brutalism
By Kieran Webber
With the way the world is right now we need a band such as IDLES, an anarchic voice that speaks the truth in a most violent way. I often hear people say that “punk is dead”, to which I simply reply; “check out IDLES“. I have said this is in my full review but IDLES are arguably one of the most important bands in the UK right now and their debut album ‘Brutalism’ is solid proof of that. Throughout the album you are brutally subjected a variety of themes such as politics, death, love and social decay. It’s pure honesty and unapologetic rawness is terrifyingly brilliant.
Tracks such as ‘Mother’ point the finger directly at this Conservative government with lyrics such as “The best way to scare a Tory is to read and get rich”. All of this nail biting honestly comes through the snarling, gravelled vocals of frontman Joe Talbot whose vocals are reminiscent of Johnny Rotten.
IDLES are arguably the rebirth of real punk, but with the world in such strife and turmoil, where the rich get richer and the poor, poorer and with inequality at its highest is it any surprise that a band such as this rose through the cracks? They are an important voice that demands to be heard and I urge you to listen.
Converge – The Dusk In Us
By Luigi Sibona
Where do you even begin with Converge? A band that defy classification, if you want to boil them down to their roots and call them a hardcore band, then they’re one of the best hardcore bands ever. But that doesn’t even begin to describe what is the best musical unit working today. Each individual at play in the Boston four-piece is a creative force of nature. I’d be tempted to compare the intricacies of such a unit to that of a Swiss watch, if a Swiss watch could smash you round the face with a sledgehammer.
On their 9th studio album, ‘The Dusk In Us’, Converge are still pushing their sound forward at such a level of artistic propulsion that it is genuinely staggering. Every Converge record takes some breaking in due simply to their unwieldy, abrasive sonic assault but within the onslaught are moments of clarity, melody and transcendence that make this an entirely captivating listen.
The range of sound on this record alone will leave you floored. With rippers like the shout-along opener, ‘A Single Tear’ to the riff-tastic sulphur-flame of ‘Cannibals’ (burning out within 1 minute and 16 seconds), aggression is not in short supply. However, it’s when they offset the onslaught with moments of space like on the lamenting title track, letting you hang on Jacob Bannon’s haunting lyrics, that you feel the real heaviness of the record. Ending on the crushing ‘Reptilian’, containing possibly the biggest, sludgiest riff of the year, this is an expertly balanced work of art.
Between Kurt Ballou’s dense, ranged production, a rhythm section to rival any you care to mention and Jacob Bannon’s howling vocal dynamics, ‘The Dusk In Us’ is yet another incomparable display of theme, sound and execution by one of the greatest bands of our age.
Creeper – Eternity, In Your Arms
By Luigi Sibona
Exploding onto the scene with a perfectly conceived mission statement, Southampton’s very own Creeper have dropped what can only be the best rock debut of the year.
Having cut their teeth touring relentlessly and releasing three stellar EPs, the chemistry and songwriting shown here is that of a band years ahead of itself. With inspirations as eclectic as AFI, The Cure and David Bowie, Creeper throw a lot at the wall and, unfathomably, it all sticks! There’s punk rock, goth crooning, post-hardcore and huge pop hooks (‘Black Rain’ and ‘Suzanne’ will be the catchiest tracks of the year bar none), there’s even some country in the mix, and it all melds together seamlessly.
I can’t sing Creeper‘s praises highly enough, Creeper have what it takes to be the biggest rock band in the UK, headlining festivals, selling out stadiums and we’ll back them every step of the way.
Mac Demarco – This Old Dog
By Kieran Webber
For a long time I have argued that Mac DeMarco is one of the most impressive songwriters to have been spawned this side of the 20th century: his latest release ‘This Old Dog’ only further solidifies this opinion. The third LP boasts his more daring songwriting and cleaner studio sound, yet it remains very much distinctive to Mac’s signature style.
The opening tracks ‘My Old Man’ and ‘This Old Dog’ introduce you to his new yet familiar noise, setting a deeply emotive tone from the bat. Although the songwriting may have matured the nonchalant vibe forever floats through his music, and the warm electronic sounds infused with wavy guitar are truly calming.
Yet Mac also introduces us to his new musical exploration with the funky ‘Baby You’re Out’ and the harmonica infused ‘A Wolf Who Wears Sheeps Clothes’. This musical expanse only plays into the mysticism of Mac and will surely turn heads as it showcases his musical talent.
However, the one remaining factor throughout ‘This Old Dog’ is the peeling emotion that with each passing track becomes more prevalent, until the closing track ‘Watching Him Fade Away’ where all is laid bare. The singer comes to terms with losing something he never had, a father. His father came in and out of his life yet Mac cannot speak ill of him, he can only simply watch him fade away. Mac has always managed to pull on the heartstrings of his listeners but this raw closing track is hauntingly beautiful.
Vince Staples – Big Fish Theory
By Bobby McCarty
Vince Staples made it big with ‘Norf Norf’, a track which caused some unnecessary controversy including one particularly hilarious video of a woman in tears of woe at the lyrical content, but the difficult reality is that this is yet another rapper who speaks from experience which pretty much warrants any ‘unfriendly’ themes. To date though, Staples has vast range clear, there are songs on this album which are more like dance tracks than typical rap, just have a listen to ‘Love Can Be…’ and try and compare it to anything hip hop has dealt with before. Vince Staples is a powerhouse of real world drama and reeks of natural talent. Very few rappers these days are willing or able to freestyle on air without reciting pre written bars but a quick search on YouTube will turn up proof of this young artists prowess. As atypical as they come, this is an objectively great album even if not to everyone’s tastes.
Dyscarnate – With All Their Might
By Luigi Sibona
The best metal metal album of the year comes from a dinky three-piece from Horsham in West Sussex, but you’d be forgiven for thinking it takes an army of men to produce a sound of this magnitude.
Identifying very much as a death metal band, Dyscarnate are breaking the mold of their genre in a way only comparable to French heavyweights Gojira in recent years.
The production alone on this record sounds as if Atlas were to drop the world from his shoulders… it’s fucking HUGE. It’s the best sounding metal release of the year by a considerable margin, and when you take into account the incredible work deck-wizard Kurt Ballou has whipped up for the likes of Full of Hell, Code Orange and Darkest Hour, that’s saying something.
Every single track hammers you round the head with the most thunderous metallic grooves and riffs that sit in this goldilocks spot between displays of technicality and break-your-neck head-bangers. Lead single ‘Iron Strengthens Iron’ is a thunderous battle anthem and is just impossibly, inexplicably fucking awesome (listen to it!). ‘Backbreaker’ is all stomp and does exactly what it says on the tin and ‘All The Devils Are Here’ is the one of the best examples of death metal our shores has ever produced.
This album is one of those rare perfect ten records; cacophonous sonic delivery, riffs to slay for and songwriting chops the scale of which is incomprehensible coming from a band of this modest size and vintage.
Dyscarnate are a band that needs to be championed, sitting right at the top of the pack of British metal. ‘With All Their Might’ is not just the best straight-up metal record of the year but a contender for the best of the decade so far.
Zeal & Ardor – Devil Is Fine
By Luigi Sibona
You have never heard anything like this. I promise. Mixing Afro-Caribbean chain gang blues and black metal might seem like a totally incongruous idea and in many ways, it is. Based off a racist trolling on 4chan, Manuel Gagneu, the one-man band behind Zeal & Ardor, conceived something so beguilingly unique it’s unclassifiable.
Coming in at under 25 minutes, Gagneu packs in so much eclectic musicianship and haunting hooks you’d be hard pressed to believe it was the work of one man (every vocal, every instrument was played and recorded by Gagneu himself and pumped through antique mics). Citing the imagery of African slaves overthrowing Catholic Missionaries by evoking the spirit of Satan to be the foundation of the sound, ‘Devil Is Fine’ is utterly evocative and cinematic.
Inadvertently or not, ‘Devil Is Fine’ is something of a racial statement. Tying the music of slavery, to Nordic black metal, a genre rife with an uncomfortable history of race and white supremacy is an immensely powerful sentiment.
This isn’t even touching on the electronic influence on the record, the cuts that sound like they’re pulled from a child’s song box or the Tom Waits inflected ‘What’s A Killer Like You Gonna Do Here?’
Pallbearer – Heartless
By Luigi Sibona
On their third full length, the Arkansas quartet manage the near impossible for a doom band: to refine their sound, honing melodies and sharpening hooks whilst at the same time pushing further into the expansive, prog terrains so prevalent on their first two LPs and in doing so they’ve delivered their best work to date.
‘Heartless’ is an epic soundscape of moving mountains, tectonic shifting and elemental gods. Drawing as much from 70s prog bands (Pallbearer‘s love of Pink Floyd is very apparent) as their doom metal roots, this is an eclectic record but one that manages a genuine crossover appeal; first single ‘Thorns’ would sound at home on rock radio.
That’s not to say when they want to crush they come down like the sky is falling. Their wielding of the riff is up there with the best of them delivering possibly the best doom riff of the last decade in album opener, ‘I Saw The End’. They also deliver their finest moment in sprawling 12 minute opus, ‘Dancing In Madness’.
Pallbearer have been the next big thing for a while now and this is them shedding any apprehensions, jump on board.
AFI – The Blood Album
By Luigi Sibona
The triumphant return of the most underrated and under-appreciated band of the 90s punk revival, AFI came back with their best record in over a decade and damn, it’s good to have them back.
Having written a whopping sixty songs for the release and trimming it down to a relatively tight 14 tracks (expect a mighty deluxe edition down the road) this could easily be an album of all singles. Every track has the attention-grabbing hook that many a band would hang a release around. The canny pop sensibility on show here is genuinely impressive; it’s no easy feat to consistently generate such hooks at this rate. The term earworm doesn’t do them justice, these are ear-leeches and they latch on and don’t let go.
‘Hidden Knives’ is the record’s standout. It’s huge and a total show-stealer. Regardless of genre – find me a bigger hook this year, I dare you. These belting choruses feel big and they feel important. The pop rock ballads are deftly balanced with the bands most straightforward, punky riffing this side of ‘The Art Of Drowning’.
Like it or loathe it, this is rock solid songwriting and one of the best records of the year.
Meatbodies – Alice
By Kieran Webber
The second album from the Californian shredders comes as more of a full package than their self titled debut release. This time the fast paced, thrash explosion takes a backseat whilst a more psychedelic element comes forward, this isn’t to say the album is without it’s heavy hooks and infectious riffs backed by the occasional face melting solo.
‘Alice’ is a more full package than before with less pressure and music coming from Chad Ubovich. Previously Chad wrote, played and constructed the all the music however for ‘Alice’ this is not the case. ‘Alice’ is a full band effort and this is clear, it created space for the sound to grow and develop into the psychedelic realm. However, Chad still plays multiple instruments on the album but the extra help has allowed his tasty guitar licks to take centre stage.
The album has much to offer to the listener from the tangent filled ‘Alice’ to the infectious, riff-laden ‘Creature Feature‘ all the way through to the meaty ‘Disciples’. It’s an exciting album that boasts just some of the potential of this growing band and continues to show the world that the West Coast of America is keeping rock music alive.
Code Orange – Forever
By Karum Cooper
Since releasing the breathtakingly grievous, jaw-droppingly heavy ‘I Am King’ and dropping the ‘Code Orange Kids’ moniker, Code Orange also signed to major label Roadrunner Records, supported some of the biggest metal heavyweights in the world and generally seemed to be out for world domination. When the Pennsylvania hardcore outfit announced their sophomore effort ‘Forever’ – we all had very high expectations. Code Orange definitely stepped up to the plate. Forever is engaging. It’s powerful and visceral but also impressively diverse. The band’s frantic, noisy and raucous hardcore roots definitely shine through at points but not in an overwhelming and alienating fashion like a lot of metal crossover bands have the tendency to do these days. Not to mention single ‘Bleeding In The Blur’ which is in superbly reminiscent of late 90s grunge era. There’s also an impressive amount of interesting and exciting lead guitar lines present on this record – giving songs a real melodic streak that hasn’t really been present on previous recordings.
The band manage to successfully keep up their signature ‘punch to the fucking face’ style of resentful, tempered and formidable vocal styles whilst at times even having the opportunity to slouch down into a slightly more sombre, semi-depressive state of vocal affairs. Lyrically the band really brought their A game – again whilst keep the best elements of lyricism we heard on ‘I Am King’ Code Orange have come back more refined and in a much more raw fashion. I see these guys doing huge things in years to come – and they’re only really just starting!
King Krule – The Ooz
By Karum Cooper
The first album to come from Archy Marshall’s Moniker King Krule in over 4 years. After dealing with a host of mental health issues, addiction and coming to terms with his newfound fame (all of which has its place in Marshall’s lyricism), the record strikes me as a very real, interesting and profound change in musical direction for King Krule. ‘The Ooz’ is haunting. It’s woozily disorientating, not just in the eerie and ominous musicality, but in that the 19 song LP presents itself as more of a collection of dark, poignant and sombre sonic sketches with singles ‘Czech One’, ‘Dum Surfer’, ‘Logos’ and ‘Half Man Half Shark’ providing a solid line of direction toward this albums’ true musical centre.
Instrumentally; Krule’s love for jazz really shines through on this record – sporting lo-fi, analogue synthery that weaves its way in and out of the record, saxophonists Connor Atanda (Rago Foot), John Keek and Ignacio Salvadores also make their mark on the LP. In terms of vocal performance, Archy’s voice takes a back seat in terms of technicality, we’re treated with a host of vocal versatility in other ways; from surprisingly interesting, colourful and vibrant melody lines to harrowing and introspective growls snarls and groans.
Lyrically; the album provides listeners with a real insight into the most sullen recesses of Archy’s mental wellbeing. Touching on depression, insomnia, addiction and childhood troubles – it can be a really difficult record to listen to – especially when paying particular attention to the lyrical content. ‘The Ooz’ at times came across as being self-absorbed but lacking egotism. The altruistic, modest nature of Archy Marshall shines brightly through, juxtaposed with the almost conceited swagger brought by the musical and lyrical content of the album. King Krule is back and he is stronger than ever. I’m very excited for what the future holds for Archy!
The Contortionist – Clairvoyant
By Karum Cooper
Indiana’s Prog Metal masters have been definitively important for myself and a huge heap of progressive music fanatics alike. Known for juxtaposing their crushing, jarring and loaded metal riffs with beautifully serene, clean passages – ‘Clairvoyant’ absorbs all that The Contortionist stands for (somewhat – more on that later) and moulds it into one. The opener on this record ‘Monochrome’ (Passive) brought me into the swing of things pretty damn quickly – coming out with a heinously heavy almost stoner-metal esque riff before venturing into the bands’ signature clean guitar style and transitioning into the first single; ‘Godspeed’. Interestingly enough, I wasn’t initially excited by the first couple of singles to come from this album, with ‘Return To Earth’ being my favourite of the singles. I hear this record more as one piece of music than several separate tunes with the title track proving to be the climax and pinnacle of this whole piece. The lack of heavy on this thing did cause a little bit of upset between fans – whilst vocalist Michael Lessard ditches harsh screams all together and the band take a slightly more ambient, friendly and accessible approach, ‘Clairvoyant’ still dips in and out of The Contortionists’ other styles in a way that negates the need for some of the bands’ brutally (often somewhat unnecessary) brand of heavy metal.
The Contortionist have never been anything but atmospheric and immersive and with this record they’re more emotionally inundating than ever. With such assortment of textures and soundscapes, all carrying the mood of this record through from start to finish, this album flows in such a charming and pleasurable way. This really is such an engulfing and beautiful piece of music.
CHON – Homey
By Karum Cooper
With just a couple of years since the band’s debut album release, ‘Homey’ was an eagerly awaited album, to say the least. When the third single ‘Nayhoo’ revealed CHON to be working alongside a host of future-bass, trap and glitch-hop influences – my attention was truly diverted.
‘Homey’ to me is somewhat of an experimental record. Not in the traditional sense of the word but in that CHON seem to use this record to road-test a bunch of different musical avenues. Lead guitarists Mario Camarena and Erick Hansel have ditched the overly ‘shreddy’ style of electric guitar for some slightly more tasteful, refined jazz-influenced playing styles (A great example being the solo from second single ‘Waterslide’). The band have been great at pulling off this trial and error thing in a way that is concealed and withheld. Whilst still engaging with their primary fanbase but also establishing new fans simultaneously. ‘Homey’ is an extremely versatile effort carried out in a childlike, playful and carefree manner – where every song is so catchy and well structured and has the potential to be a single.
Tyler, The Creator – Scumfuck Flowerboy
By Karum Cooper
Myself and a lot of the western world saw 2017 as Tyler, The Creator’s transition from somewhat loveable yet bratty, capricious and semi-irritable internet troll, blatantly not at ease with his own persona into a real mature, gentle, sensitively whimsical and lovable personality who is really learning to be at peace with himself. Be it through Tyler’s musical works, his live shows, his social media presence or the rather surprising revelations about his sexual orientation (the latter of which the media has absolutely bastardized and diluted to a nauseating degree… but we won’t talk about that right now).
‘Flowerboy’ is the soundtrack to Tyler’s coming of age. It’s the sound of Tyler realising that the world can be a beautiful place albeit littered with struggle and corruption. On ‘Flowerboy’, Tyler talks about much of his internal struggle; issues with sexuality, loneliness and self loathing yet in a way that is conscious, thoughtful and at peace with these things. He holds them close and realises that this is part of what makes him who he is and that’s beautiful.
Tyler’s production and songwriting skills really shine through; and to such a high quality too. Since ‘Cherry Bomb’, we could hear a lot of the jazzier, more experimentation and soul influences which made me very excited. ‘Flowerboy’ for me is the pinnacle of this creative experimentation. This whole record is peppered with beautifully catchy vocal hooks – tunes like ‘911/Mr Lonely’, ‘Boredom’ and ‘Pothole’ are but a few examples. This record is scattered with superbly composed Hip Hop bangers with beautifully soulful undertones.
Lyrically I think we get an insight into the workings of Tyler’s mind more than ever – he talks a lot about on here about his lone wolf status, the materialistic and rather secular views he shares, his love for music, arts and dance as well as bringing up some really important political commentary regarding police brutality and civil rights. All of this is such a vast improvement on some of the lyrical themes in ‘Cherry Bomb’ that proves to us maybe Tyler, The Creator is actually growing up? This entire record in its structure, storytelling, lyricism and musicality is easily Tyler’s best work to date.
2 Chainz – Pretty Girls Like Trap Music
By Bobby McCarty
2 Chainz is here to represent an over-developed and fully commercialised scene from our friends across the pond. Working with the likes of Migos and the same producers who work with other artists such as Desiigner has produced a surprisingly good album from one of the more mature trap-esque artists on offer these days. Parts of the album are unexpectedly musical, tracks like ‘Realize’ and ‘It’s a Vibe’ redeeming an easily condemned genre. In ‘Realize’ he even takes a shot at his contemporaries; “mmmhmm mhmm nmm, man fuck all that mumble shit!” It’s also easier to enjoy with this album if you appreciate 2 Chainz as a character, he doesn’t have the same pomposity and arrogance which many rappers try and cultivate, but is instead humble and cool in his success. The tracks are underproduced in comparison to most autotuned formulaic trap music making this album well worth a listen, especially when you are lean.
Manchester Orchestra – A Black Mile To The Surface
By Alex Platt
I’d heard a few Manchester Orchestra songs before this album, and I’d always enjoyed them but they had never been enough to make me want to explore them further. Now, I can hold my hands up and admit when I’ve been a fool. Sometimes it happens, even to the best of us (like me). But we are always allowed a change to redeem ourselves right? I’d seen a few tweets and reviews of singles from ABMTTS and they all sounded positive. Coupled with the fact that I’d enjoyed the score from the film Swiss Army Man, which MO vocalist Andy Hull had written and recorded using only his voice, I was excited for this album. And I was not disappointed. Hitting hard with the gentle opener ‘The Maze’, the album soon explodes into songs of Hull’s trepidation at becoming a father for the first time, and what that might mean for him and his relationships. It’s an honest (sometimes brutally so in places) but intimate look into the next stage of life and growing up and has made me a definite fan of the band.
Wiley – Godfather
By Bobby McCarty
How could we talk about rappers without paying homage to the Godfather of Grime. Wiley has been around for a long time, from the genesis of a scene which is still spinning heads around the world, he was one of the young innovators who built grime from the ground up and deserves credit as such. ‘Godfather’ is an album which calls back to the roots of a scene on the precipice of change as a new generation of artists emerge in our capital city. Collaborations with some of the greats such as Devlin in ‘Bring Them All/Holy Grime’ as well as references to everything old school give the whole album the feeling of something which was made in the golden days of Grime, but instead it just comes from a career rapper so genuine that no matter how much things change around him he stays true to his roots and continues to deliver the goods.
Cigarettes After Sex – S/T
By ALex Platt
Cigarettes After Sex soothed my headaches after long days at work, they made traveling on a night-bus through the London night after a night out bearable. The first time I listened to the album was as I had just crawled into bed after the first day of a hectic music festival and let the hangover and comedown wash over me and I’ve no shame in admitting it made me cry like a newborn baby. I wrapped myself up in the duvet and let myself sink into the mattress as Greg Gonzalez’s voice rocked me to sleep. To some (morons) it may sound like every song is the same but they all have their own unique mood and tone, and they weave a narrative of heartbreaking, longing, lust and love throughout all 46 minutes and 56 seconds.
Hazel English – Just Give In/Never Going Home
By Alex Platt
It’s always lovely to think that you’ve discovered a brand new artist, and in this case I think that statement might actually be true. I’ve yet to meet another person who’s listened to her, let alone heard of her, so I’m taking it a personal source of pride that it’s just me (and now my mum, who I’ve just introduced her to and is also now a fan). I discovered her in the way I discover so many artists; through the ‘related artists’ tab on spotify (I believe she was closely linked to Fazerdaze, who also had a right blinking good album out this year). The first song I listened to was ‘Never Going Home’ and I loved it, it was so catchy I couldn’t stop nodding my head to it for at least 9 hours (it was touch getting to sleep that evening). A collection of singles followed before her album dropped so I had a good idea of what to expect from the album itself. Each song feels, to me, like a cold yet incredibly sunny winter’s morning. The guitar riffs and Hazel’s fuzzy voice drawing me into that scenario each and every single listen. If you’re looking for a fix of lo-fi, delicate sun-drenched indie then look no further. Just give in and listen, you know you want to.
The National – Sleep Well Beast
By Alex Platt
There’s nothing I like doing more than listening to new music and just weeping (silently at first, but then as the songs go on the first sob erupts forth and then I’m a quivering wreck on the train to work) for hours on end. Luckily, there’s been no shortage of sad songs released this year to keep my cheeks suitably moist throughout it, even in the hotter, dryer months. This brings me sadly to ‘Sleep Well Beast’ by The National. The National are a band not known for their huge repertoire of happy songs, so obviously I was incredibly excited to get my tissues out. The album weaves a tale of a relationship collapsing and a divorce imminent, however there are flickers of hope throughout. Vocalist Matt Berninger sings openly about problems with his relationship, problems with his wife and more than anything, problems with himself. Despite the fact that I’ve never been married (and don’t intend to anytime soon) the album was still incredibly relatable, hitting hard on a few of my own personal issues. You can bet that Kleenex tissues were pretty much sold out absolutely everywhere when this album came out and that the majority of them I’ve stored in my spare room (but not for that reason though, you filthy minded individual).