Posts Tagged ‘Best Albums Of 2017’

Communions, made up of brothers Martin & Mads Rehof and high school friends Jacob van Deurs Formann and Frederik Lind Köppen, began in 2014releasing their debut EP Cobblestones, followed by a 7″ & EP. These releases, as well as the forthcoming 7″, precede the band’s anticipated debut album & showcase Communions’ distinctive sound full of transcendent melodies, delicate guitar lines & emotive pop-leaning rock songs.

The quartet came together at Copenhagen’s infamous venue-cum-rehearsal space, Mayhem, they wilfully took chances with their music to see if they could arrive somewhere else. It was the band’s conviction that let them land here intact, and with a collection of songs that chart their journey.

“Blue” makes the most of everywhere Communions have been. And through all of this the stakes have changed, but the sensitivity and craft with which the band takes risks has bloomed. An eloquence now shines through, and you can take it or leave it. Discarding some of the moodiness found in their previous recordings, Blue tells us what was always natural to Communions. It’s about love, and taking chances, it’s about trying something, and it still doesn’t matter if there’s apprehension—it’s better when you’re too busy to notice. The youthful confusions and exaggerated sentiments are there, though this time it’s captured with a newfound maturity. It’s a change in perspective presented in pop.

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On one hand, Phoebe Bridgers’ debut album features desperately downcast lyrics like “Jesus Christ, I’m so blue all the time / And that’s just how I feel / Always have and always will.” On the other, the singer-songwriter’s website resides at phoebefuckingbridgers.com, and the title of Stranger In The Alps is a nod to the ludicrously edited-for-TV version of The Big Lebowski. Maybe these glimpses of humor are just Bridges trying to let the world know that she’s actually okay. Because listening to this mortally sad, yet frequently magical debut, you might be led to believe she’s irretrievably despondent.

But Bridgers’ melancholy is her truest artistic friend, and she taps that deep well for some incredibly strong songs that are presented gracefully whether she’s keeping things austere or adding orchestral color. Stranger starts with an unstoppable pair of singles in the swirling “Smoke Signals” and the album’s most upbeat moment, “Motion Sickness.” The former indicates an album that could’ve gone a much different way: Two clicks slicker and a bit of a dance beat, and it might be a mainstream hit ballad for someone like Ellie Goulding. But Bridgers keeps it intimate, complete with references to dead heroes—Bowie, Lemmy—and songs about loneliness (specifically The Smiths’ “How Soon Is Now”). “Motion Sickness,” meanwhile, offers the album’s only real hopping pulse and singalong chorus.

After that, it’s on to a trio of songs that will receive inevitable, justified, and flattering comparisons to another sad L.A. troubadour, Elliott Smith. “Funeral,” “Demi Moore,” and “Scott Street” are all clearly indebted to Smith—particularly that last one, which begins with a line that’s almost a direct tribute: “Walking Scott Street feeling like a stranger / with an open heart, open container.” Even though it’s close, it’s not slavish, and Bridgers pulls off the rare trick of emulating someone so singular and delicate without losing the emotion. “Killer” might even be more brutally beautiful than some of Smith’s best; on it, Bridgers is joined by X frontman John Doe, whom she asks to “kiss my rotten head and pull the plug.”

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If this all sounds like a depressing slog, it’s actually quite the opposite: Like the best sad-bastard music, Stranger In The Alps alchemizes sorrow into redemptive beauty. It’s never about wallowing, but about slowly moving through it. That difference, played out over some incredible, wise-beyond-her-years songwriting, makes it one of the best albums of the year.

Listening to Partner is like hanging out with your best friends, assuming your best friends are queer Canadian stoners with hooks for days. For Josée Caron and Lucy Niles, that’s actually true, and their easy chemistry is evident on the excellent “In Search Of Lost Time”, both on the album’s 12 songs and in the goofy skits threaded throughout. What’s even more evident is their musical chops, the kind of righteous riffage that can turn anything from wandering around a grocery store high to discovering your roommate’s sex toy into a slyly subversive guitar-rock anthem.

A lot of rock music the last few years also sounds like the 90’s. Partner a Canadian two-piece that provide full disclosure of the decade that influenced them most, with songs about corny daytime T.V. shows like Maury and Judge Judy, an open affinity for grunge riffs, and a sense of humor that recalls the slacker goofiness of Wayne’s World. Despite their lack of self-seriousness, though, Partner are serious musicians, and In Search of Lost Time is perhaps the best product of the 90’s revival because it doesn’t sound dated at all. The tongue-flicking solos, anthemic melodies, whimsical lyrics and profoundly delectable riffs form truly terrific rock songs that render the generic question, “are they reinventing the wheel?,” moot. This band doesn’t care to make a sweeping impact on the current state of guitar music, they’re just trying to kick back, munch on some snacks, and crank out some kick-ass tunes. That’s rock ‘n roll in its purest form.

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Vocals / Lead Guitar by Josée Caron
Vocals / Rhythm Guitar by Lucy Niles 
Bass by Kevin Brasier
Drums by Simone TB

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Don’t Be A Stranger is more than just a title, it’s Nervous Dater’s musical ideology. The Brooklyn quartet have a refreshing disregard for social norms on their debut full-length, offering excruciatingly awkward, uncomfortable and embarrassing personal details with the finesse of a reckless, drunken double-text. However, rather than cringe-worthy, their lyrics (which all four members contribute to) come across as unusually genuine. Nervous Dater songs create a unique musician-listener dynamic; one that feels like you’re hearing out a close friend, or even having your own suppressed emotions validated by the fearlessly forward frontwoman, Rachel Lightner. Her and her bandmates slam through some of the most exhilarating pop-punk, hooky indie rock, and engaging emo of the year on this record, all while puking their innermost anxieties all over the kitchen floor. By the end, though, they still have more guts than any one of their peers.

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One of my favorite albums of the year, loved it from the first time I listened. I tried to find my favorite track on this album, but kept changing it after listening through the album because I truly enjoyed every one.

Nervous Dater is
Rachel Lightner, Kevin Cunningham, Andrew Goetz, & Yon Heenan
Additional Vocals – Megan Gouda & Kelly McGovern
Trumpet & Flugelhorn – Brad Lightner

Destroyer 'Ken' artwork

Dan Bejar, aka Destroyer, has announced a new album today called Ken. The title is apparently lifted from the original title of Suede’s “Wild Ones”. Ken will be Bejar’s first album since 2015’s Poison Season. It’s out October 20th on Merge Records . Chaos strikes in a hospital. Satan haunts a fashion show. Tinseltown swims in blood. Destroyer’s twelfth album, ken, is full of unforgettable scenes from Dan Bejar, one of indie rock’s finest lyricists, with a macabre bent suiting his newfound penchant for gothy synths.

The LP’s opening number, “Sky’s Grey”,

Vancouver garage-rock trio The Courtneys are the first non-New Zealand band to sign to Flying Nun Records, an independent label known for its influential catalog of 1980s and ’90s guitar pop. Fitting for the band, devoted students of the sound they now recall and push forward with their sophomore LP, expanding the “jangle without sacrificing their cozy, lo-fi charm,” . Blending punk simplicity with hearfelt lyrics and good old-fashioned fun, these are bold songs “to be shouted into hairbrush-microphones everywhere.” Former tourmate Mac DeMarco once asserted: “The Courtneys are gonna melt your face off.”

Indie fuzz rock trio The Courtneys debuted in 2013 with a set that impressed on an international scale. The Courtneys II. The aloof, sugary singing from drummer “Cute Courtney” binds nicely with “Classic Courtney’s” exciting phaneritic guitar work. Together with “Crazy Courtney” on bass, the trio takes us on a highly engaging ride through lo-fi slacker culture and bubble-gum garage punk. The disc opens with “Silver Velvet”. “Country Song” bursts with a wall of guitars, the album’s standout jam. “Lost Boys” pays tribute to the 80s’ vampire craze while surf rock dresses up “Mars Attacks”. This was easily 2017’s best rock album.

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Jen Twynn Payne – Drums/Lead Vocals
Sydney Koke – Bass/Vocals
Courtney Loove – Guitar/Vocals

Austra is a JUNO nominated electronic pop project from Toronto, created by Katie Stelmanis in 2009 and includes three other players. Future Politics is album number three. It offers a tighter, punchier sound than the previous two with addictive beats and instant likeability. Lyrically, the songs are smart in not offering specific political ideas in a world where a cacophony of entrenched opinions and opposing interests is flourishing fiercely, scattering humanity into different antagonistic camps. Universal themes are touched upon, for example that both exploitation and mendicancy are undeserving of praise.

Katie also re-introduces the subject of alienation by technology, certainly truer in today’s world with ubiquitous cell phone finger tapping. She does this, however, with a warmer presentation than grim visions presented by say Ultravox in “Dislocation”. As such, the album has more of a hopeful vision of the future and inspires us to be creative in conjuring up new and better systems of society than the worn-out models of today. And amidst the chaos and the hostile arguments, it reminds us too, via the cover, that you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink. Austra’s Future Politics offers a refreshing cleanse for wearied minds.

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(Sandy) Alex G is one of those artists who dumps dozens of lo-fi albums on Bandcamp, but few catch the spotlight the way he has over the last three years — and deservedly so given the musical growth visible on his latest album Rocket, proving those “prodigy” tags slapped on him back then weren’t over-exaggerated hype.

On its surface, Rocket is a vaguely Americana record where he finally sheds Elliott Smith comparisons for those of Cassadaga-era Bright Eyes, but it’s the experimental tracks. On Rocket, he steps past the Elliott Smith comparisons and into an unsuspected combination of beautiful Americana-evoking tunes often fit with strings (“Proud,” “Bobby,” “Powerful Man”) and left-field instrumentals that vary between hardcore freak-outs (“Brick”) and restless, wild fits (“Horse”). What some might find discombobulated is one cohesive vision in the mind of Alex Giannascoli. A guy-next-door songwriter so brilliant and special that Frank Ocean nabbed his talents for both Endless and Blonde, Giannascoli tells tales that aren’t always relatable and might only make sense to him, but still somehow feel like home.

SIDE A 1. Change My Mind (0:012:40) * 2. Kicker (2:395:28) * 3. New (5:318:45) 4. Joy (8:4913:30) 5. Child’s Play (13:3415:49) 6. Promise (15:5019:19) 7. Trash (19:2522:08) 8. Trade (22:1023:26) 9. After Ur Gone (23:2825:47) * 10. Mud (25:5627:44) * 11. Mary (27:4831:02) 12. Bug (31:0533:46) 13. Kara (33:4736:49) 14. Clouds (36:5239:14) 15. Salt (39:1843:55) *

SIDE B 16. Soaker (43:5945:37) 17. Sorry (45:3948:20) 18. Nintendo 64 (48:2351:00) 19. Hollow (51:0255:07) * 20. Skating (55:0857:40) ** 21. Memory (57:411:00:32) * 22. Tie Me Down (The Skin Cells) (1:00:351:02:58) 23. Scar Tattoo (1:03:011:06:04) 24. Sarah (1:06:061:08:57) 25. Snot (1:09:011:14:00) * 26. Sandy (1:14:031:16:42) 27. Break (1:16:461:19:41) ** 28. In Love (1:19:421:23:11) ** 29. Waiting For You (1:23:151:26:43) ** 30. Mis (1:26:491:30:05) ** 31. Change (1:30:061:32:08) ** 32. Explain (1:32:111:33:45) 33. Message (1:33:461:36:30) * 34. Clouds (1:36:321:38:55) 35. Go Away (1:38:561:39:55)

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N.Y.C. blues-punk combo Boss Hog was helmed by the husband-and-wife team of singer Cristina Martinez and singer/guitarist Jon Spencer. If you like your blues rough, devilish, dirty and burning as hell you’ll be as ecstatic
about the spectacular return of Boss Hog. After 16 years this glowing gang featuring legendary blues junkie Jon Spencer and his charismatic wife and ex-Pussy Galore tiger Cristina Martinez the band have released new album BROOD X earlier this year. The longplayer bellows viciously as if the 5-piece band is involved in a merciless, sonic fight with evil demons, with unsightly cacodemons and anything nasty in daily life on this troubled planet.

Boss Hog was formed in 1989 by Cristina Martinez and Jon Spencer. The band has released three disturbed and sexually provocative studio albums and as many EPs, along with numerous incendiary and slashing singles, on the world’s most important record labels, including Amphetamine Reptile, In The Red, and DGC/Geffen. Boss Hog is internationally-known as New York City’s most provocative and original rock’n’roll band.

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Band Members
Cristina Martinez, Jon Spencer, Hollis Queens, Jens Jurgensen, Mickey Finn,

The National has been slowly, sometimes imperceptibly fine-tuning its sound over the course of seven albums. A common jab is that all of the band’s records sound the same (or, worse yet, that they’re boring). Sleep Well Beast, on first listen, won’t change that, but first listens are never where The National’s albums do their strongest work. An hour-long odyssey into the darkness of our times, both political and personal, Sleep Well Beast is quietly, gorgeously insinuating, from the Leonard Cohen-esque “Nobody Else Will Be There” to the electronic thrum that drives the incredible title track. It’s music that, as usual, demands and rewards close attention.

The National’s ‘Sleep Well Beast’ came out on September 8th on 4AD Records, and on Friday (July 14) they took the opportunity to present the album in full live at Guilty Party, a two-day collaborative concert at Basilica Hudson in Hudson, New York.

Watch them perform the live debut of ‘Born To Beg’ along with ‘Guilty Party’.

The National live from their Guilty Party in Hudson, NY

Sleep Well Beast was produced by member Aaron Dessner with co-production by Bryce Dessner and Matt Berninger.  The album was mixed by Peter Katis and recorded at Aaron Dessner’s Hudson Valley, New York studio, Long Pond, with additional sessions having taken place in Berlin, Paris and Los Angeles.