2017 Albums of the Year

img_20171203_112204_682.jpgTrying to avoid all the boxing day madness I figured I’d get on this annual tradition of mine. What a great year this has been for music! I listened to well over 250 albums and dwindling these down to my top 50 was hard, then my top 25 was crazy hard, and then, finally, my top 10 was super duper crazy hard, hence I’ll have a list of “honourable mentions.”

Let’s get right to it. First up are my honourable mentions (in no particular order)

  • Skydiggers, Warmth of the Sun
  • Lowest of the Low, Do the Right Now
  • The New Pornographers, Whiteout Conditions
  • Gord Downie, Introduce Yerself
  • The Wilderness of Manitoba, Across the Dark & The Tin Shop
  • Gov’t Mule, Revolution Come…Revolution Go
  • Amelia Curran, Watershed
  • Alan Doyle, A Week at the Warehouse
  • Arcade Fire, Everything Now
  • The Rural Alberta Advantage, Beacon Hill
  • Queens of the Stone Age, Villains

All of the above albums were just fantastic (and there were even more fantastic 2017 albums I cut from the list above). Trying to stay true to a top 10 and I already feel I’ve failed…ha. But seriously, all of the above albums – check ’em out! Now for my top 10. These 10 albums were in constant rotation throughout the year.

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10. Mastodon, Emperor of Sand. Another fantastic album from these fine metal lads.  Just prog metal at its finest! Favs include Show Yourself, Roots Remain, Sultan’s Curse, Steambreather, and Word to the Wise. Truly a solid album!

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09. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Murder of the Universe. What can I say about these fine folks? Truly one of the more ambitious bands I’ve come across lately. They also know how to write some epic albums to boot! Releasing 4 albums in 2017, all of which were/are fantastic, and the last of which they freely released! …as in free beer *and* freedom. As with all of their records, songs bleed into each other making an opus of a record! Enjoy the whole record, start to finish, as I do!

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08. Bill & Joel Plaskett, Solidarity. Joel Plaskett is, what I would consider, one of Canada’s gems. On this excellent record, Joel hooks up with his dad and the two of them make beautiful music together. What a treat! Favs include Next Blue Sky, Up in the Air, Jim Jones, The New California, and the title track, Solidarity.

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07. Roger Waters, Is This The Life We Really Want? Having been a Pink Floyd fan for as long as I can recall this album was such a treat! So politically charged with the current state of what we’re all living through, every song on this album resembles a story for the ages. Truly a remarkable artistic piece meant to be listened to in its entirety. I love it all but stand outs include Deja Vu, Picture That (“Picture a leader with no fucking brains”),  Wait for Her, and the title track Is This the Life We Really Want?

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06. Sepultura, Machine Messiah. I was hooked right from the opening track of this masterpiece of an album. This band takes me way back to when I first began playing the guitar. An inspiration indeed. This record was a constant joy throughout 2017, with thick juicy guitar rifts and lyrics that, as with Roger Waters’s album, speak to the current state of the world. Here, on this record, specifically how we’re all so tied/strongly coupled to our technological devices of the day. Favs include the title track Machine Messiah, as well as I am the Enemy, Sworn Oath, Phantom Self, Vandals Nest, Cyber God, and Chosen Skin.

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05. Chad VanGaalen, Light Information. Another fantastic album from Chad and Co. Although I’ve never been a fan of his live game, this dude sure knows how to write and create beautiful records. This record is no different. Such a treat! Favs include Mind Hijacker’s Curse, Pine Clover, Mystery Elementals, Old Heads, Locked…actually, I love every song on this record!

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04. Rancid, Trouble Maker. “…And Out Come the Wolves” – Rancid’s last album I truly thought was especially great. Well no more. What a great record by this most excellent band! This one was on constant rotation since it came out earlier in the year. Although loving every song I can still pick a few stand outs, including Ghost of a Chance, Telegraph Avenue, Where I’m Going, Make It Out Alive, Molly Make Up Your Mind, Cold Cold Blood, and We Arrived Right On Time.

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03. The Black Angels, Death Song. So melodic, so wonderful. What a great great record! I simply love it all, from the opening track Currency, to the closing Life Song. All of it, fantastic! Picking a few others for the sake of it, Half Believing, Estimate, and Comanche Moon.

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02. Unleash the Archers, Apex. Wowza. What a spectacular record here from these fine Canadian folks! My brother Joey introduced me to this super excellent band a while back, even dragging me out to their show at the Exchange when they were last in town (they are also fantastic live!). Although releasing a few gems in the past, this album is particularly excellent. A musical masterpiece, start to finish. Like with the last few on this list, I love every song. Some standouts though include False Walls, Ten Thousand Against One, Awakening, Shadow Guide, Cleanse the Bloodlines, and Earth and Ashes. What a damn fine record indeed!

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01. LCD Soundsystem, American Dream. And here we are, my fav album of the year by one of my favourite musical groups of all time. Upon hearing that James Murphy was resurrecting the band from retirement ashes I was super excited to hear what he’d have in store for all of us. He did not disappoint. Releasing a couple gems early on with american dream and call the police I knew I would love the rest. Although I love it all, favs include change yr mind, I used to (my personal fav on the album), other voices, tonite, emotional haircut, and black screen. Start to finish, a masterpiece!

and one more for good measure

There you have it. What a great year for music 2017 was. So many musical treats to dwindle it down to just 10 was rather folly. Here’s hoping 2018 bring more wonderful treats for the ears! -tMac

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