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Thursday, 28 December 2017

The Best Albums of 2017

As selected by an ensemble of south-west Victoria's most talented musicians, artists, media personalities and other D-list celebrities!

In my previous life as a journalist, I would compile an end-of-year list in which I got a bunch of the top musos and musically-connected people from my region to share their favourite albums of the year. Rather than let that tradition die, I've migrated it to my blog and upped the ante by inviting even more of my super-talented friends to take part.

Hopefully you can find some great music to listen to here, including some of the great music created by some of the selectors (links are everywhere, people!).

So behold - talented people sharing their favourite music of 2017.


Jono Colliver (Dr Colossus, Vance Joy, Gums, Money On Verema)


1. The National - Sleep Well Beast
"A rare example of a band hitting their stylistic stride without becoming comfortable and repetitive. Lyrically an open wound, sonically an electrical storm, and a dynamic tracklisting which rewards multiple listens as much as it instantly gratifies on the first. Dark and sharp."

2. Father John Misty - Pure Comedy
3. Kirin J. Callinan - Bravado
4. Thundercat - Drunk
5. Arcade Fire - Everything Now
6. Frenzal Rhomb - Hi Vis High Tea
7. Electric Wizard - Wizard Bloody Wizard
8. Tyler The Creator - Flower Boy
9. Dead Cross - Dead Cross
10. Harry Styles - Harry Styles


1. Valerie June - The Order of Time
"Valerie does things to me. From first listen to many after, this album is such a treat.  If 'feeling at home' ever had a sound, it would sound like this.

2. Chris Stapleton - From A Room: Volume 1
3. Spoon - Hot Thoughts
4. Robert Finley - Goin’ Platinum!
5. Mount Eerie - A Crow Looked At Me
6. The National - Sleep Well Beast
7. The War On Drugs - A Deeper Understanding
8. Polish Club - Alright Already
9. Alex Cameron - Forced Witness
10. Benjamin Booker - Witness

Gareth Colliton (artist)



1. UNKLE - The Road: Part 1
"It's an album of post-apocalyptic melancholia, storms of driven strings, iron-framed piano ballads, and haunted vocals hanging in the dusty clouds. Like the book and the film that inspired it, The Road goes deep and it goes dark."

2. Gorillaz - Humanz
3. Camille - OUÏ
4. Bjork - Utopia
5. Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings - Soul Of A Woman
6. Father John Misty - Pure Comedy
7. Saskwatch - Manual Overdrive
8. Laura Marling - Semper Femina
9. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - Flying Microtonal Banana/Murder Of The Universe/Sketches Of Brunswick East/Polygondwanaland 
10. London Grammar - Truth Is A Beautiful Thing

Bill O'Connell (Bill, Gums, Kashmere Club)



1. Aldous Harding - Party
"This record is minimal in its production but loaded with conviction and emotion. Aldous has an entirely unique voice and approach to song structures. I hear and feel things I never have before, and believe every second of it."

2. Father John Misty - Pure Comedy 
3. Big Thief - Capacity 
4. The Teskey Brothers - Half Mile Harvest 
5. Benjamin Booker - Witness
6. Kirin J Callinan - Bravado
7. Dr Colossus - The Dank 
8. The Cactus Channel - Stay A While 
9. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - Murder Of The Universe
10. Paul Kelly - Life Is Fine

Jeremy Lee (ABC Radio, Farmers Co-Op)



1. The Orbweavers - Deep Leads
"Melbourne's The Orbweavers have crafted another gorgeous set of crystalline tunes continuing their fascination with history and science. A lush, dreamy, and deeply rewarding listen."

2. Saint Etienne - Home Counties 
3. Various ‎– Closed Circuits (Australian Alternative Electronic Music Of The '70s & '80s, Volume 1)
4. LCD Soundsystem - American Dream
5. Beck - Colours
6. Joe Goddard - Electric Lines
7. St Vincent - Masseduction
8. Real Estate - In Mind
9. Thundercat - Drunk
10. Methyl Ethyl - Everything Is Forgotten 

Brady Jones - (Red Eagle, Gutsy As!!)





1. Benjamin Booker - Witness
"In what was a surprisingly decent year for new releases, Booker's smoky and soulful second offering is the cream of this year's crop. While the pace and grit of Benjamin Booker's debut album is still present, Witness has rounded the edges and backed off on the beats per minute to great effect. Bonus points for a great Mavis Staples collaboration."

2. Queens of the Stone Age - Villains
3. Aldous Harding - Party
4. Holy Holy - Paint
5. Big Thief - Capacity
6. Elder - Reflections Of A Floating World
7. All Them Witches - Sleeping Through The War
8. Valerie June - The Order Of Time
9. Royal Blood - How Did We Get So Dark?
10. Hiss Golden Messenger - Hallelujah Anyhow

Liam Barling (Aika, Blackwood Jack)



1. The National - Sleep Well Beast 
"Lonely, lustful, textural, near-masterpiece."

2. The War On Drugs - A Deeper Understanding
3. Chihei Hatakayama - Void XIII
4. Cigarettes After Sex - Cigarettes After Sex
5. Harry Styles - Harry Styles
6. Akira Kosemura - In The Dark Woods
7. Moses Sumney - Aromanticism 
8. Four Tet - New Energy
9. Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement - Ambient Black Magic
10. Ben Frost - Super Dark Times


Corey Verhaegh (The Ascended)




1. Veil of Maya - False Idol
"This album is a compilation of everything I wish to achieve in my own writing, Thick riffs, great scream and clean vocals, and very melodics hooks."

2. The Ascended - Part II
3. Trivium - The Sin & The Sentence
4. Miss May I - Shadows Inside
5. The Acacia Strain - Gravebloom
6. Northlane - Mesmer
7. August Burns Red - Phantom Anthem
8. Counterparts - You're Not You Anymore
9. Kreator - Gods Of Violence
10. Body Count - Bloodlust



Derrick Price (The Alamo)




1. Frenzal Rhomb - Hi Viz High Tea
"Although their lyrics for this album have deteriorated somewhat compared to previous instalments, the lads have kept the bar high when it comes to kick-ass, energetic punk rock. Switching across to producer Bill Stevenson (Descendants) on this and their previous album has been the real winner here. Mix and master quality is out of this world."

2. Orsome Welles - Rise EP
3. Bodyjar - Terra Firma EP
4. Blink 182 - California (Extended Edition)
5. Queens Of The Stone Age - Villains
6. Rancid - Trouble Maker
7. Dropkick Murphys - 11 Short Stories Of Pain & Glory
8. Dr Colossus - The Dank
9. Steel Panther - Lower The Bar
10. The Real McKenzies - Two Devils Will Talk



Jade McLaren (The 80 Aces)



1. EXO - The War

"This album is pure pop mastery. The production of the sugary sweet melodies is first-class work and reminiscent of the dedication put into chart-topping disco albums of the late '70s and early '80s. Each song bleeds in to the next making it impossible to not bop along for the entire album."

2. Beck - Colours
3. G-Dragon - Kwon Ji Yong EP
4. Action Bronson - Blue Chips 7000
5. Black Pink - Blackpink EP
6. Queens Of The Stone Age - Villains
7. Kendrick Lamar - DAMN.
8. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - Sketches Of Brunswick
9. Dr Colossus - The Dank
10. Poppy - Poppy.Computer

Andrew Kirkland



1. Spoon - Hot Thoughts
"Hot Thoughts is a tremendously strong album and I've rated it my #1 purely because I reckon I've listened to it more than any other album in the list during 2017. It boasts incredible mature production, catchy songs, and is balanced very well in its track order. It's an eclectic collection of tunes that range from in-your-face stomp pop with mesmorising bass lines and drums patterns to esoteric chants. The haunting electric piano used on several tracks also harks back to early Supertramp or Zombies. I’m a sucker for jangly-but-powerful guitars too, which always rockets any musical product up my favourites list."

Neil Finn - Out Of Silence
Rebecca Barnard - Music For Listening & Relaxation
Husky - Punchbuzz
Beck - Colours
Elbow - Little Fictions
Paul Kelly - Life Is Fine
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds - Who Built the Moon?
Neil Young - The Visitor
Dhani Harrison - In Parallel

Brady James




1. Nothing But Thieves - Broken Machine 
"Broken Machine is an emotional rollercoaster. This band is so unbelievable to watch growing and playing. Conor Mason's voice is ethereal, angelic and delicately interwoven throughout. Some of the hardest hitting rock out there right now. Gut-wrenching, melodic, soaring, kinetic, powerful. Highlights: Particles, Sorry, Amsterdam."
2. Kendrick Lamar - DAMN.
3. Stormzy - Gang Signs & Prayer 4. Nancie Schipper - Sleeptalking 5. Logic - Everybody 6. Jay-Z - 4:44 7. Tyler The Creator - Scum Fuck Flower Boy 8. Julien Baker - Turn Out The Lights 9. Paul Kelly - Life Is Fine 10. Bjork - Utopia

Nigel Wearne



1. Sun Kil Moon - Common As Light & Love Are Red Valleys Of Blood 
"This year Sun Kil Moon has been on high rotation. Common As Light & Love Are Red Valleys Of Blood is so different that I honestly can't remember hearing anything else like it. Spoken word poetry, prose, and random stories (including one about a chameleon versus a cat), diary entries, musings on David Bowie and Ali, augmented by busted-up dad hip-hop. It's completely whacked and compelling. A slow burn that requires the lyrics booklet."

2. Andy Irvine & Luke Plumb - Precious Heroes
3. Red Tail Ring - Fall Away Blues
4. Rowena Wise - Rowena Wise
5. James Kenyon - Imagine You Are Driving
6. David Rawlings - Poor David's Almanack
7. Jen Lush - The Night's Insomnia

Emily Bissland (ABC)




1. Aldous Harding - Party
"I’ve never heard anything like it. She sings powerfully from a deeply vulnerable and feminine place. Her songs build to epic crescendos, her vocal range is surprising, and her songs are beautifully punctuated."
2. Eaten By Dogs - Anxiety Ain’t No Currency 
3. Benjamin Booker - Witness


Jacob Pugh (Runk)



1. Freddie Gibbs - You Only Live 2wice EP
"Fresh out of a jail, Gangsta Gibbs proves again he’s one of raps most effortless storytellers with this release, laying down vivid narratives over woozy, hard-hitting production. On this record, Gibbs is as authentic as he is vulnerable, going from dropping dizzying schemes about the perks of trapping (Alexys) to reflecting on the strain being locked up away from his family has had on his mental health (Homesick). Definitely one of the top 5 MCs alive, dude stays dropping fire and these joints are no exception."

2. 21 Savage & Offset - Without Warning
3. Foley - Hey, Don’t Worry About It
4. King Krule - The Ooz
5. Future x Young Thug - Super Slimey
6. The Smith Street Band - More Scared Of You Than You Are Of Me
7. Kendrick Lamar - DAMN.
8. Migos - Culture
9. XXXTentacion - 17
10. Future - Future



Adam B Metal (The Departed)



1. Enter Shikari - The Spark
"Enter Shikari redefine their sound once again with The Spark by delivering a more melodic approach without sacrificing any of their trademark energy. You know you are on a winner when songs like Live Outside and The Sights hit the speakers and everyone in the house from 5 to 35 starts singing along with it. An absolute ripper of an album."

2. The Midnight - Nocturnal
3. Royal Blood - How Did We Get So Dark?
4. Perturbator - New Model
5. Fox Capture Plan - Untitled
6. Body Count - Bloodlust
7. He Is Legend - Few
8. Converge - The Dusk In Us
9. Kendrick Lamar - DAMN.
10. Vince Staples - Big Fish Theory

Nancie Schipper



1. Lorde - Melodrama
"The four-year wait since her debut album was proved well and truly worthwhile, and as a result each track is stunning, anthemic and memorable. Highlights: Green Light, Liability, Supercut."

Alex Lahey - I Love You Like A Brother
Amy Shark - Night Thinker EP
HAIM - Something To Tell You
Julien Baker - Turn Out The Lights
Maggie Rogers - Now That The Light Is Fading EP
Middle Kids - Middle Kids EP
Stella Donnelly - Thrush Metal EP
Tired Lion - Dumb Days
Vera Blue - Perennial

Wil Ridley 



1. Linkin Park - One More Light
"They got hammered for trying something new (which they’ve been doing since A Thousand Suns) and on reflection it's a very sad cry-out of an album. I wasn’t too taken on the first listen but some really nice pop tracks in there and a very easy album to listen to in full."

Harry Styles - Harry Styles 
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds - Who Built The Moon?

Jordan Lockett (Southern Ocean Sea Band, Silverkane, Gramps)



1. Robert Plant - Carry Fire 
"Robert Plant gets better with age and Carry Fire is further proof that it’s cool to age, and that you can age/mature well. Carry Fire (Plant’s 11th solo album) is the second album with backing band The Sensational Space Shifters, and it's a cosmic folk global melting pot of brilliance. I don’t know how but there are existential guitar tones (which are a delight) blended with harmonies, subtle rhythms and Plant’s powerful yet subtle voice. It's a modern masterpiece and a true testament to the album as an art form."

2. Paul Kelly - Life Is Fine 
3. David Rawlings - Poor David’s Almanack
4. Neil Young - Hitchhiker
5. George Maple - Lover 
6. Curtis Harding - Face Your Fear 
7. LCD Sound System - American Dream 
8. Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings - Soul Of A Woman 
9. Charlotte Gainsbourg - Rest 
10. Brian Eno & Tom Rogerson - Finding Shore


Jack & Michael Fitzgerald (Capricorn Records)



1. The Teskey Brothers - Half Mile Harvest 
"Just love their old school Stax soul sound coming from eastern suburbs of Melbourne. Can't get enough of it."

2. War On Drugs - A Deeper Understanding
3. Dan Auerbach - Waiting On A Song
4. Steve Earle & The Dukes - So You Wannabe An Outlaw
5. RVG - A Quality of Mercy 
6. Joey Bada$$ - All Amerikkkan Bada$$
7. David Rawlings - Poor David’s Almanack
8. Paul Kelly - Life Is Fine
9. Liam Gallagher - As You Were
10. The Rollings Stones - On Air


Gus Franklin (Southern Ocean Sea Band, Sheahan Drive, Gramps, Architecture In Helsinki)



1. Laura Marling - Semper Femina 
"Laura Marling is an amazing artist using evocative lyrics and intimate songscapes.  Here she teams with my current favourite producer - Blake Mills (also producer on Perfume Genius’ No Shape from this year) - to conjure up a deeply textural and intricately detailed paean to her personal experiences with intimacy in and out of love and everything female (the title itself paraphrasing a Latin text to create the slogan "Always Woman"). This is one of those records full of amazing texture, depth & detail, and will no doubt continue to be a world to step inside and be surrounded by for many years to come."

2. Mount Eerie - A Crow Looked At Me
3. Aldous Harding - Party
4. Perfume Genius - No Shape
5. Cornelius - Mellow Waves
6. Kendrick Lamar - DAMN. 
7. Sarah Davachi - All My Circles Run
8. Ariel Pink - Dedicated To Bobby Jameson
9. Karl Blau - Out Her Space
10. Phoenix - Ti Amo

Matt Neal (Doctor & The Apologies, Gutsy As!!, The 80 Aces)



1. Idles – Brutalism
"Boasting an acerbic wit to match the caustic guitars, these Bristol post-punks kick out the jams on their first album, slinging a whole swag of uptempo noisy rockers in the face of anyone who'll listen. It's angry, volatile and bloody good fun, as all the best punk should be."

2. St Vincent – Masseduction
3. Metz – Strange Peace
4. Gang Of Youths – Go Farther In Lightness
5. Foo Fighters – Concrete & Gold
6. Beck – Colours
7. Mount Eerie – A Crow Looked At Me
8. Batpiss – Rest In Piss
9. Algiers – The Underside Of Power
10. Dr Colossus – The Dank
11. Nothing But Thieves - Broken Machine


BONUS READING: The story behind Mount Eerie's A Crow Looked At Me - the most devastating and powerful album of 2017.

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