Friday 22 December 2017

Is this 2017? (part one)

Some blogger and his #1 fave album of the year (with apologies to The Swede...)

I was going to do something a bit different this year for my end-of-year round-up. I started it, but then the malaise that struck me back in the autumn kicked in again and I just couldn't be bothered to continue. Sorry 'bout that. To be honest, it was a bit of a naff idea anyway. Not that some of you would mind that of course...

So instead, here's a quick run through some of my fave records of 2017. There'll be more next Friday. Firstly though, it's worth noting what a great year it's been for female artists. My two favourite albums of the year have been by solo females, while many others are either female-fronted acts or have significant female contributions. My fave songs on the Broken Social Scene album, for instance, are sung by the lady members - Leslie Feist's turn on the title track is just wonderful. Even the Jesus & Mary Chain drafted in Isobel Campbell, Sky Ferreira, Bernadette Denning and the Reid brothers' sister Linda to sing some parts.

Nadine Shah - 'Holiday Destination'
An in-yer-face opus that not only astonished me, but knocked me sideways, upside-down and back-to-front. Direct and confrontational, nothing else had the effect 'Holiday Destination' had on me this year. Its main themes were immigration, the refugee crisis and mental health - not particularly easy listening perhaps, but by god it was moving. This record can stand proudly alongside last year's Savages album 'Adore Life' as one of the albums of the century so far.

(While I'm at it, I'll happily name Out The Way as my song of the year, and Nadine's show at The Globe in Cardiff as my gig of the year too. A clean sweep, no less!)

Alvvays - 'Antisocialites'
Pop album of the year. That's POP! with a capital P. O. and P. Pure, unashamed POP! tunes in a classic indie style. This is how C86 would sound if it came out in 2017. Never fails to get me singing and smiling this one (which is not a particularly pretty sight or sound, but few records can achieve it).

Which leads us nicely to...

The Jesus & Mary Chain - 'Damage & Joy'
Didn't think I'd like this one as much as I did. Jim and William's first album in what must be 1,000 years was - and still is - a pure joy. One of my most played in-car albums of the year and definitely the most welcome surprise of 2017 for me. This song in particular fills me with delight:

Queens Of The Stone Age - 'Villains'
Now MrsRobster keeps her cards close to her chest when it comes to music critiquing (unless it's Björk or anything Paul McCartney has ever been involved with, in which case she becomes almost psychopathic). So when, during a car journey soundtracked by 'Villains', she utters the phrase: "This is a good album," you know it must be pretty special. She loves a good riff and few excel at them better than Josh Homme.

Broken Social Scene - 'Hug Of Thunder'
If you omit the last two songs from this record, it would be Broken Social Scene's finest. Some absolute corkers here, from the rousing multi-member anthems they're known for (Protest Song, Halfway Home), to the arty swagger of Vanity Pail Kids and Stay Happy, by way of the mellow, more restrained moments of Take Me With You and the absolutely gorgeous Feist-fronted title track. It has a lovely warm production too which makes it ideal for these long, cold nights!

Other mentions must go to:
Ride - 'Weather Diaries'

Echobelly - 'Anarchy & Alchemy'
Grandaddy - 'Last Place'
Three excellent comeback records. I was particularly taken by the Echobelly one which is not only drenched in blues, but also shows that far from diminishing with age, Sonya's voice has matured magnificently!

H. Hawkline - 'I Romanticize'

Sparks - 'Hippopotamus'
Records for those who like their music to be a little... quirky? eccentric? different? Both bloody good though.

Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs - 'Feed the Rats'
Crystal Fairy - 'Crystal Fairy'
Proper loud records for when I needed to vent my spleen without actually venting my spleen!

More next week. Have a good holiday everyone.


  1. Wonderful. Lots to delve into here. Also great to see Echobelly still going strong.

  2. Looking back, I wish I had given TJMC a chance. Made the lists of Drew and Adam too. Between the three of you I must concede Damage and Joy must be good. With you on Alvvays. Sparks was a just miss on my list. Nadine Shah seems to be getting the attention she deserves. Her name has popped up all over the place this December. Your review of that gig has stuck with me. I know you’re not much into this sort of thing, but happy holidays to you and your family.

  3. Alvvays and Echobelly will now be ordered on the back of these words of recommendation....