The Top Releases of 2017 So Far
By 'top releases' we mean 'our favourite releases'. It feels a little more accurate to steer clear of the term 'best' because, let's face it, it's all just a matter of opinion. How is a great album even measured? Some people listen to music for the instrumentals or observe the technicalities, some people get hung up on the lyrics and indulge purely in the storytelling. While others sit back, soak it all up and judge an album on how it makes them feel.
Albums are a journey, listened to in their entirety they can be powerful tools for change, whether it be political or personal. Even for those that don't create music with a certain purpose in mind, they still remain a powerful tool for seeing the world from various perspectives. Whether from Germany, America, UK, Australia, Canada or Venezuala - it's an insight into the mind of someone else that you might not have had without music.
Here are some to soothe you, some to groove to and some to let loose to. In no particular order:
Kevin Morby - 'City Music'
Producer: Richard Swift.
This is Morby's fourth LP and things just keep getting better. You can hear the growth between 'City Music' and his debut 'Harlem River', but it's not necessarily a musical progression - he's always been incredibly consistent. It's just a new perspective, a fresh approach based on his incredible ability to articulate his own experience. Morby's music is authentic, vulnerable and empowered. Grab a drink, take a seat and give this one your full and undivided attention.
Key tracks: City Music, Tin Can and Come to me Now.
DWIG - 'What’s Paradise'
Dwig's third album 'What's Paradise' really is a thing of beauty. It's so dynamic, yet each track still manages to remain distinctly Dwig. Some could easily soundtrack your night out, while others are there to indulge in on a Sunday afternoon. At times it's techno, at times it's jazz, with smooth German production being the recurring theme throughout.
Key tracks: Southern Sightseeing, What's Paradise and Pyramid Mountains.
The Moonlandingz - 'Interplanetary Class Classics'
Producers: Sean Lennon + The Eccentronic Research Council.
The Moonlandingz are made up of members of Fat White Family and Eccentronic Research Council and their debut album is likely be on the 'best of' lists of many at the end of 2017. It's a carefree rock album that doesn't take itself too seriously. It's wild, unique and god damn addictive. There's a few cameo appearances on there too, including but not limited to, Yoko Ono and Phil Oakley (The Human League). The persistent drums and catchy hooks will keep you coming back for more.
Key tracks: Sweet Saturn Mine, This Cities Undone and Black Hanz.
Methyl Ethel - 'Everything Is Forgotten'
Producer: James Ford.
Ah, dearest Methyl Ethel, Australia's new sweethearts. Their second album has the nation dancing, and international audiences moving too. It's upbeat psychedelic pop-rock with a real rhythmic kick. Although it contains various bangers, there's some slow profound moments too, with lead singer Jake Webb's unique vocals leading the way.
Key tracks: Ubu, Drink Wine and Hyakki Yako.
TOPS - 'Sugar at the Gate'
Canadian darlings TOPS have added another delightful pop album to their discography in 2017. Even when the mood is gloomy, they still manage to somehow brighten your day. Recorded in LA, the album is a beautiful collection of pretty, fuzzed out pop. Beware, once you fall for Jane Penny's vocals, there's no going back.
Key tracks: Hours Between, Petals and Further.
Ho99o9 - 'United States of Horror'
Producers: Tizhimself, David Andrew Sitek, Ian Longwell, Paul Giese, Yeti, Killer.B, Soraya Lapread, Cameron Bartollini, Mark Solomich, Ultragash, Brain Orchestra and Eric Hoegemeyer.
Hardcore hip hop duo Ho99o9 have something to say, and you better be ready to hear it. Their aggressive political approach succeeds as their passion leaves you no choice but to listen. The songs are powerful, outspoken and encourage the listener to rage - it's one big therapeutic release. Best consumed live.
Key Tracks: War Is Hell, Knuckle Up and United States of Horor.
Kirin J Callinan - 'Bravado'
Producer: Aaron Cupples.
The magical world of Kirin J Callinan has come back to life in sonic form with his second LP 'Bravado'. His jovial approach is completely unique, riding a blurred line between taking the piss and simultaneously creating brilliantly catchy pop music. There's a number of great collaborations featured on the album too, including Weyes Blood and Connan Mockasin. Callinan is wild, eccentric and maybe his huge talent is the very reason he manages to get away with so damn much.
Key tracks: S.A.D, Bravado and Friend Of Lindy Morrison.
(Sandy) Alex G - 'Rocket'
Producer: Alex Giannascoli (Alex G).
The beautifully strange sounds of Philadelphia's DIY king exceed all expectations on his eighth LP 'Rocket'. It's a melodic mix of grounded tracks that'll transport you to the dreamiest of places. All the while highlighting his splendid guitar skills (the skills that caught the ear of Frank Ocean and featured on his two 2016 releases). This really is an album to snuggle into - cherish the warmth it supplies.
Key tracks: Bobby, Proud and Powerful Man.
Fred und Luna - 'Im Klanggarten'
Producer: Rainer Buchmüller (aka Fred und Luna).
There's a certain element of drama on this album, a feeling that brings with it real sense of depth. The persistent beat and swirling synth are a nod to 70s and 80s krautrock. Mixed in with laid back electro beats, it's a sound Buchmüller has described as 'elektrokraut'. It's the first release on Frank Wiedemann's new label Bigamo and we can't wait to hear what's next.
Key tracks: Minisong, Besuch and Die Frau kommt.
Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever - 'The French Press'
Okay so this is the only one on the list that isn't an album, it's an EP but it needs to be on the list. So forget the technicalities and take a moment to revel in the nostalgic sounds of these Melbourne rockers. There's something so nice about a band who utilise their Australian accents, embrace them and let them shine on the world stage. Our accent isn't always that easy to digest, so to hear it sound so soothing drifting amongst glittering guitars feels good. It's a super tight collection of tracks that feels both authentic and special. Look out, world.
Key tracks: French Press, Dig Up and Julie's Place.
Bonobo - 'Migration'
Producer: Simon Green.
Simon Green (aka Bonobo) is the kind of guy who makes music that is hard not to love. His percussive beats are full of beauty and hope, ultimately creating a sound that is both digestible and divine. His sixth album 'Migration' is slightly less suited to the dance floor but will still have you moving from head to toe. It's a complex journey full of growth, tension, experience and joy - and it's been steady on repeat since January. Sounds best on vinyl.
Key tracks: Bambro Koyo Ganda, Kerala and Break Apart.
POND - 'The Weather'
Producer: Kevin Parker.
Perth's POND released their seventh album this year and it's certainly one you'll want to experience live. It's full of twisting synth, dark moments and danceable drums. Nick Allbrook's familiar vocals always seem to tell a story in the most authentic of ways - he's both passionate and dynamic in his delivery. It's a considered album with all of the Pond essentials: funk, mystery and sass. Keep 'em coming.
Key tracks: Paint Me Silver, Sweep Me Off My Feet, and A/B.
Slowdive - 'Slowdive'
Producer: Neil Halstead.
It's been a while between drinks and it's not often you'd say 'it was worth the wait' after 22 years, but in this case, it really is. Slowdive have returned in 2017 to remind everyone who's boss. Their self-titled fourth LP is well-layered, captivating and heartfelt. It's no stretch to say that 'Sugar for the Pill' will land itself among the best songs of 2017. If you're searching for shoegaze heaven then you've come to the right place.
Key tracks: Sugar for the Pill, Don't Know Why and Star Roving.
Talaboman - 'The Night Land'
Producers: John Talabot + Axel Boman.
What Talabot and Boman create is pure magic. Individually talented in their own right, when they combine their powers they manage to produce seductive, focused, hypnotic sounds. There's an infectious persistence to each song that keeps you intrigued throughout. It's a dynamic album consisting of tracks that build gradually and others that get straight to the point. Talaboman are an experimental duo that always seem to satisfy with their moody night sound.
Key tracks: Safe Changes, Loser's Hymn and Brutal Chugga-Chugga.
Major Leagues - 'Good Love'
Producer: Jonathan Boulet.
Brisbane four-piece Major Leagues create dreamy garage-pop that'll sweeten your world from the moment you press play. They've crafted a really tight, delightful sound on their debut album - with a hint of grit to help maintain that DIY fuzzy goodness. There's a really nice consistent pace throughout, with each song telling a different story of love and learning. This LP is super sweet with a twist of badass thrown in for good measure.
Key tracks: Mess Up, It Was Always You and Holiday.
Arca - 'Arca'
Producer: Alejandro Ghersi.
Venezuelan born, London-based producer Alejandro Ghersi (aka Arca) dropped his third LP earlier this year. It's quite difficult to articulate the effect that this album has on the listener. The words 'powerful' and 'chaotic' spring to mind, but it's more than that. It's deep, it's evocative and it comes from a place of darkness, eventually unravelling itself into a thing of true beauty. In terms of production it's as clear as it is complex, giving life to a crisp, experimental electronic sound. This will likely remain one of most dynamic releases of 2017 overall.
Key tracks: Piel, Desafio and Fugaces.
Froth - 'Outside (Briefly)'
Producer: Tomas Dolas.
Froth are one of the best live bands about town. So it's possible this album is on this list because we're longing to see them live again. Or, it's more likely to do with the fact that Froth's third LP is a blissful journey of fuzzed out guitar and hypnotic beats. The upbeat moments of chaos are some of its best, with persistent basslines balanced out beautifully by Joo-Joo Ashworth's calming vocals. It's a dreamy collection of tracks that only confirms why they're on nearly every playlist we create.
Key tracks: Contact, Sensitive Girl and Show a Flower a Candle and It Will Grow.
Alex Napping - 'Mise En Place'
Producer: Erik Wofford.
Austin four-piece Alex Napping have released an honest guitar driven sophomore album, one that manages to make you feel the best and worst kinds of emotions in the space of just nine tracks. Lead vocalist Alex Cohen is very authentic in her delivery which makes you listen in that little bit closer - believing every single word. It's pretty for the most part but things get a little heavier too. This is a really catchy hit of pop-rock that we've had on steady rotation since it was released.
Key tracks: Wife and Kidz, You've Got Me and Tender.
Brightness - 'Teething'
Producer: Alex Knight.
Alex Knight aka Brightness is one of our favourite new Aussie music projects (although he's been around for a while playing in other bands). That was determined very quickly after hearing 'Talk To Me' for the first time. His debut album as Brightness is short, sweet and rather diverse. At times you're caught up in a well-layered almost folk like song, then another track pops up and it's as though you're listening to a Daniel Johnston album. It's a raw, honest and heartfelt DIY sound that's incredibly easy to connect with.
Key tracks: Talk To Me, Waltz and Surrender.