Sunday, 31 December 2017

My favourite music of 2017

I'm often slow to pick up on music. I'm normally a few years behind, although sometimes a few years ahead.

These are my favourite albums of 2017 - but none of them were released in 2017. But they're albums that I have come to love this year. The first of which is truly astounding...

1) Steven Wilson: Hand. Cannot. Erase. (2015)

(Warning - this video is very emotional, contains deeply sad themes and will make you cry)

Steven Wilson is arguably the biggest English musician that hardly anyone in England's heard of. Through his work in Porcupine Tree and his solo work, he's a big deal in the progressive rock scene worldwide.

I have listened to bits and pieces of his over the years and I've never really got the hype. And, to be honest, I still don't. I've been listening to lots of his albums, including The Raven... and To the Bone which are both good albums, with some great moments. But Hand Cannot Erase is simply brilliant.

It contains disparate elements - spoken word electronica and pop rock mixed in with the more progressive elements. It's not music that you'd expect to work together but it really does. The overall theme of the album pulls it together and it has a number of truly spine-tingling moments.

This album will prove itself over however many listens you give it. It's top 5 of all the music I know and love.

2) Thank You Scientist: Stranger Heads Prevail (2016)

I discovered this album (and band) via a thread on Reddit. I had read through the thread, specifically looking to see if anyone had recommended Hand. Cannot. Erase. -  so when I saw that album with a lot of upvotes I began to trust the opinions of the Reddit hivemind. So while doing late night Christmas shopping, I discovered the band and bought this album.

This is genre-busting music. It's funk one second, prog metal the next. Then it's suddenly modal jazz, followed by insanely catchy pop rock. It's drums, bass, guitar, violin, trumpet and tenor sax, in equal measures, all of whom can really play.

The result is so energetic, so fresh and so enjoyable I can't help but grin and feel motivated when listening. The guys in the band clearly don't take themselves seriously but their music is certainly holds up to scrutiny.

3) Haken - Affinity

I finally got listening to some other under-famous English musicians this year. I enjoyed The Mountain but the retro-80s-sci-fi aesthetic of Affinity appeals to me greatly.

The guys in the band can play and they have the djenty edge I enjoy as a guilty pleasure. Again, they don't take themselves too seriously and make music that's fun and innovative.

I will grant that their singer is nothing special (besides a strange stage presence in the above video), but I'm totally over that.

If you want to start the new year the right way, start the video below at 23:54:00 tonight.

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