Monthly Spins: Best Albums of 2017

What a year. We again have so many remarkable artists putting out such astounding work. There’s nothing that gives me more pleasure than sharing excellent tunes and man is there a lot to account for in 2017. As regular readers might know, I do not follow a strict policy of reviewing albums only of the moment. There is so much great music being published on a yearly basis that it’s hard to keep up with it and there is nothing more thrilling than discovering some real gem that you missed from a few years back because no one except a few obscure sites reviewed it so some are not from 2017. Way more than half come from 2017 releases. Those albums getting longer reviews are ones I have not already covered in the monthly column.

Having read 40 or 50 Best of 2016 lists last year it becomes quite obvious that most music critics are lemmings, always headed blindly for the cliffs and in lock step with each other to my utter bafflement and amusement. Since we publish the new list on the first day of the month then January Spins will in essence be a continuation of this list, so keep an eye out for that in two weeks. So, as we head toward 2018, if we can count on anything anymore it’s that humans will continue to be inspiring. surprising, enlightening and entertaining us with innovative music in the year to come. I know that many of you will have your own favorites that we missed so please logon and leave comments. I’d love to hear some of your recommendations as well. Or, if you liked any of these and why. Cheers.

Laniakea: A Pot of Powdered Nettles
File Under: Grumbling Fur collaborators

Kaboom Karavan: A Short Walk With Olaf
File Under: bespoke sensei, visionary illbient

Big Thief: Capacity
File Under: folk-rock

Tyshawn Sorey: Koan
File Under: new music, jazz, composition, improvisation

EERA: Reflection of Youth
File Under: extraordinary songwriting

Madeline Kenny: Night Night At The First Landing
File Under: indie-singer-songwriter

Nerftoss: Prospect Endless
File under: electronic

Guerilla Toss: GT Ultra
File Under: art rock, NY no core, wave

Elegi Bansull
File under: experimental, dark, ambient

Greg Fox: Gradual Progressions
File Under: experimental, avant-garde drumming

Kamancello: S/T
File Under: sublime improvisational frequencies

Power Trip: Nightmare Logic
File Under: hardcore, old school, feral rock

High Plains: Cinderland
File Under: ambient, classical, electronic

Dadub: Way to Moksha
File Under: hardcore ambient, electronic, wardub

Kelly Lee Owens: S/T
File Under: Beguiling electronic debut

Baths: Romaplasm
File Under: electronic, wunderkind songwriter

Spartan Jet-Plex: My Time
File Under: DIY singer songwriter

Roberto Musci: The Loa Of Music (The Complete Sessions)
File Under: fourth world, field recordings, electronics, world

El Mahdy Jr: Time to Sell the Golden Teeth
File Under: middle-eastern dub, electronica

Eli Keszler: Last Signs of Speed
File under: jazz, classical, composition

Deaf Center: Pale Ravine
File Under: ambient electronica, contemporary post-classical

It It Anita: Agaain
File Under: New Weird Belgium, rock

King Krule: The Ooz
File Under: boy wonder rides the Krule rocket across the sky

MJ Guider: Precious Systems
File Under: meditative, ambient, popgaze

Waxahatche: Out In The Storm
File under: singer songwriter

Aquarelle: Leave Corners
File Under: experimental, ambient, post-classical, composition

Pill: Convenience
File Under: no core, rock, no wave, free jazz

M. Sage: Data in the Details
File Under: alien transmissions from a Fourth World planet, a sort of DNA as morse code-unknown, a polyrhythmic, deep space cargo cult, if you will.

Nick Photinos: Petits Artéfacts
File Under: new music composition

Bjork: Utopia
File Under: experimental, innovative, Bjorkishness

Nadia Sirota/Liam Byrne: Tessellatum
File Under: new classical

Shitkid: Fish
File Under: swedish grrl, punk rock

Hans Zimmer, Benjamin Wallfisch Blade Runner 2049 (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
File Under: except for the Elvis and Sinatra this is just an amazing piece of music that stands on its own.

James Holden & The Animal Spirits: The Animal Spirits
File Under: gnawa-inspired, jazz, Kraut-prog, psych-trance

King Gizzard an the Lizard Wizard: Polygondwanaland
File Under: capital P reinvention of prog. They finished their goal of putting out five albums this year and this is the best.

Colon Stetson: All This I Do For Glory
File Under: some sort of voodoo involving a saxophone
As if that wasn’t enough then let me say it again: some sort of spell a saxophone makes when it plays voodoo. It’s that instantly benign sensation you get when a whole bunch of details suddenly coaelesce into a series of connections that form a bit of lucidity. Recorded live without overdubs or loops.

Sampha: Process
File Under: soul, R+B, futurist
Here’s a guy who’s remained in the background until recently coming in as a producer and contributor on a whole host of hip hop albums. Sampha is not one to back away from the beautiful and try on cynical guises, or to follow incremental tropes. This is an entire album, by which I mean it is a whole thing and it is a true thing of originality and yes, beauty.

Daniel O’ Sullivan: VELD
File Under: Grumbling Fur alum, experimental, post-rock
This is the second album on this list by Grumbling Fur alum Daniel O’ Sullivan , as he also co-created Laniakea: A Pot of Powdered Nettles. Excellent stuff that sounds at times like early vocal Brian Eno only with a transcendent 21st Century twist. An epic hour and ten minute long journey you will be glad that you’ve taken.

Nicole Mitchell: Andorla Awakening II: Emerging Worlds
File Under: afrofuturist, visionary jazz-illbient
An experimental energy that goes to that place of voodoo as did Miles with Tribute to Jack Johnson, from lunging rage to off-beat gongs and melodic interludes where a lot of different African American sub-cultures intermingle and coalesce, layer upon layer, sometimes with electric guitar at the front and other times the flute but through it all is an concatenate set of vibrations that seem intent on reaching out toward and exploring new territories. This also clocks in at well over an hour. If I were asked to describe Afrofuturism this would be the first thing I’d pull out and play.

FNU Clone Inc.: Binary Or Die LP
File Under: post-punk, experimental
Listening to this genre called punk or hardcore generally seems as irritating and predictable as the process of buying a new car, meaning that so much stuff within this endless genre barely evolves and or rarely ventures into any territory that feels new. There are so many tropes, and you can’t really critique whether or not anyone simply has no talent or is just faking it for effect. With FNU Clone Inc.’s Binary Or Die LP none of those concerns seem to matter. You don’t immediately think to yourself “Oh, yeah, punk music.” But it’s all there and done in spades, including the fact that the digital download price on Bandcamp is $1000.00 dollars, which I think is hilarious. There are vinyl versions available though I would just go to Bc and listen to it there. A real funhouse of grotesquery and without a hint of fake ineptitude.

Chloe + Halle: The Two of Us
File Under: teenaged sisters making beautiful and memorable music. Discovered by Bey herself.

Les Amazones d'Afrique: Republique Amazone
File Under: sublime female West African supergroup
This is a stunning record from beginning to end, a message of love and support from some of the most prominent women in the African musical community, here joining forces against the oppression and violence they face on a daily basis in their homes and the outside world that devalues their voices. The proceeds of this recording will all be donated to the Panzi Foundation, a Congolese hospital that treats abused women. The production and mixing are top notch and I’m not usually prone to liking this sort of thing and just the word “supergroup” might be enough to scare away some readers, but whether you are someone who seeks out other voices from throughout the world or not I think this album will resonate.

miguelito's picture

Would be awesome if you put these albums in a TIDAL playlist that you can share! :)