Here we are… another year over. 2017 has been a pretty crap year for everyone it seems. Personally, it was pretty challenging but not working retail made it a bit more bearable. Also, the music was pretty dang good! As usual I’ll be picking five main ones, three honorable mentions, and then various and sundry.
TOP PICKS OF 2017
Xandria, Theater of Dimensions – It’s too bad Dianne Van Giersbergen left/got kicked out. It seemed like they’d really found their groove as Theater is probably the best Xandria album I’ve heard so far. It pretty much dominated the first part of the year.
Cooper, Alice, Paranormal – Like I said, it seems like a pretty by-the-numbers Coop disc. It features a couple songs written by the original Alice Cooper band. But despite not risking much it’s such a blast to listen to with good, fun songs and lots of energy. Isn’t he like… in his 70’s at this point?
Bent Knee, Land Animal – This pretty much came out of nowhere. I’d never heard of Bent Knee before but they’ve been around a while. Land Animal is their forth album. It’s eclectic and fierce and all over the map stylistically. If there was one album that was completely different from anything else I heard this year it was this one.
Paramore, After Laughter – It seems like any time Paramore comes out with a new album, it ends up on my year-end list. It’s rare to have a band as consistent as this. Four albums in a row that I’ve loved. That’s a rare feat and I’m happy to add Paramore’s dour-yet-bubblegum-but-really-sad-also-it’s-the-eighties album to the list.
Galactic Cowboys, Long Way Back to the Moon – If Bent Knee had the most challenging album of the year, Galactic Cowboys had the most comfortable. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. The boys have come back from a seventeen-year hiatus with a quality album that’s just as good as the stuff from their heyday. Not that they actually had a heyday, mind you. This was a fantastic way to cap off the year and I hope this isn’t a one-off reunion.
Ayreon, The Source
Living Colour, Shade
Sons of Apollo, Psychotic Symphony
FAVORITE ALBUM FROM 2017 THAT TECHNICALLY WON’T BE OUT UNTIL 2018
Deliverance, The Subversive Kind – I was a backer for this album because Deliverance is one of my favorite bands of all time. This particular effort was billed as a return to the band’s thrash roots. Boy howdee is it ever. I think this is probably the band’s heaviest album to date. This won’t be out for a bit yet but I’ve been grooving on it since October.
FAVORITE ALBUM FROM 2016 THAT I DIDN’T GET TO HEAR UNTIL 2017
Lady Gaga, Joanne – I’ve had kind of a spotty relationship with Lady Gaga. Loved The Fame and The Fame Monster. Hated Born This Way. Liked ARTPOP okay but I didn’t think it was anything spectacular. Joanne, however, is brilliant. Gaga has matured significantly for this album and it shows. The title track is one of the best songs she’s written, period. Now I heard some great albums from 2016 in the first part of 2017 (Testament, A Tribe Called Quest, and Flotsam & Jetsam spring to mind) but Joanne was the one that really stuck with me. Especially since the more melancholy vibe of the album kind of fit with what I was going through with my father dying in February.
FAVORITE REISSUE OF 2017
Fear Not, Fear Not – I haven’t reviewed this one yet but it’s a pretty easy pick. Fear Not was a commercial Christian hard rock band that missed the big time by about two years. This debut came out just as alternative and grunge was altering the music landscape. It’s unfortunate because this reissue proves just how great this album is. Everything clicks, from the guitar tone to the production to the songs themselves. The cover art is also a bit more befitting a rock band as well.
FAVORITE RANDOM ALBUM I HATED FROM MY YOUTH BUT GREW TO LOVE IN 2017
P.I.D., The Chosen Ones – I liked Back to Back waaaaay back in the day and I bought The Chosen Ones this year because I wanted to hear some old school Christian rap that I hadn’t already heard a million times. I remember that I didn’t like this when I bought it originally but I couldn’t tell you why. This time, however, I got it. Whatever “it” is. Of all the old Christian rap I got this year, this one rose to the top of the heap as one I wanted to listen to again and again. I also really liked No Room 2 Breathe by Dynamic Twins but this year was the first I’d ever heard it.
ALBUMS I’M LOOKING FORWARD TO IN 2018
Marmozets, Knowing What We Know Now
Ty Tabor, Alien Beans
And there you have it! What were some of your favorite albums from this year?