In just six months, 2017 managed to produce more memorable albums than entire 2016, and it seems like the best is yet to come. Anyway, here’s eight of my favourite records from the first half of the year:
1. Alexandra Savior – Belladonna of Sadness
Great songwriting, unique voice and memorable arrangements make it hard to believe this is Alexandra’s debut album. Mysterious and dreamy, it bears many similarities to Arctic Monkeys’ Humbug – not suprising at all, given that Alex Turner has his fingerprints all over this record – he played most of the instrument, produced the whole thing and did a bit of songwriting too – but he stays somewhat in the shadows, allowing Savior’s personality to be the main focal point here. It’s not flawless, but no debuts are, and I’m seriously excited what we will hear from her in the future.
2. Slowdive – Slowdive
The first single, Star Roving, really did hype me up for the release of the band first record since over 20 years – and they lived up to the hype, too. Dominated by beautiful, ethereal songs, bordering the line between dream pop and ambient, Slowdive’s forth album is a wonderful, almost spiritual experience.
3. Spoon – Hot Thoughts
Spoon never really dissapoint – every three years or so they release another solid indie album, this time with a dance-y twist to it. Excellent production, great guitar tones and a couple of really surprising tracks account for an exciting listen and one of the most fun albums of the year.
4. Vince Staples – Big Fish Theory
Despite Gorillaz’ Humanz being a rather mediocre album, I have to give it credit for introducing me to this Californian rapper. His second studio album may be short, but it’s an intense one, bursting with agresiveness, creativity and passion. Crystal clear production makes it even better, with experimental electronica giving Big Fish Theory an extra, avant-garde flavour
5. At the Drive-In – in•ter a•li•a
Surprise, surprise! Turns out a post-hardcore band can return after 17 years and still sound fresh, convincing and passionate. Of course, Omar and Cedric were constantly playing with each other on countless side projects, but still – in•ter a•li•a doesn’t sound outdated or misplaced in the slightest. Not quite the level of Relationship of Command, but a great return to form neverthless.
6. Kendrick Lamar – DAMN.
All aboard the hype train! Yeah, I got caught too, and I won’t hide it – if it wasn’t for the amount of media buzz before the release I probably wouln’t care about this album. I’m glad I did though, cause DAMN. is a perfect illustration of how a modern rap record should sound like. Effortlessly mixing all kinds of moods and emotions Kendrick created a multi-layered masterpiece that has room even for a U2 cameo, and makes it sound good.
7. Bastard Disco – Warsaw Wasted Youth
Oh, this is a good one. Blending together elements of Sonic Youth (the ever-present noise), Nirvana (energy and a natural sense of catchiness) and post-hardcore (screaming vocals), this quartet from Warsaw hasn’t really gotten as much attention as they deserve. Give it a listen, it’s one of the most promising debuts of the year.
8. Ride – Weather Diaries
It’s been a good year for shoegaze – two classic bands releasing long-awaited comeback albums (fingers still crossed for MBV). Ride’s fifth studio record didn’t really receive universal acclaim like Slowdive earlier this year. Weather Diaries certainly has its flaws, but Ride were always leaning towards more conventional alternative/pop-rock sound, and they execute that formula really good here. Most of all, it captures the essence of the band enjoying playing together, bringing some excellent songs along the way.