Do you know someone a huge music fan who knows artists and bands that most people would not know? That person you go to for new music advice or has a vinyl collection that overwhelms yours? How do you impress this person? We’re here to help you, offering Thirty 2017 Albums Not to Be Overlooked. You’re sure to find something below that will be completely unknown to your dear friend, sibling, or partner. This list, as always, is in alphabetical order.
Arrows of Love (England) – Product: Your Soundtrack To The Impending Societal Collapse
If you’re looking for an album that is dark, grueling, harsh, and reflects these dangerous times, look no further than Product: Your Soundtrack To The Impending Societal Collapse from post-punk/goth-rock trio Arrows of Love. This record is fearless and unabashedly political, diving headfirst into the unraveling abyss that has become our world. Although this place is stark and harrowing, the LP is an awesome depiction of what is and could be.
Bee Bee Sea (Italy) – Sonic Boomerang
For psychedelic rock fans, Bee Bee Sea are, as we like to call them, Italy’s answer to King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. Their sophomore album, Sonic Boomerang, is fun, wacky, and an absolute riot, and it must be heard with the volume at full blast.
Cold Beat (USA) – Chaos by Invitation
Hannah Lew, the mastermind behind Cold Beat, is always evolving. Name the genre and she’s likely done it. On Chaos By Invitation, Lew adopts the sounds of the ’70s and ’80s, specifically New Wave, darkwave, and synth-pop. The result is a compilation of songs that is often hallow yet hypnotic, and daunting yet immersive. This starker soundscape, however, is used for a particular reason – to provide the backdrop to Lew’s intimate, heart-ripping songwriting.
Desperate Journalist (England) – Grow Up
Desperate Journalist may not be a household name at this moment, but the quartet are fast becoming one of the UK’s great post-punk bands. Their second LP, Grow Up, exhibits their enormous potential, as it offers a reminder that post-punk can be fierce, intense, and unrelenting in its approach without sacrificing the thoughtfulness in each song’s message. It recalls a time when the genre represented the angst, suffering, and hopes of a generation while taking on the establishment and its entrenched values.
Faith Healer (Canada) – Try
The project of Jessica Jalbert and Remy Wilson, Faith Healer‘s sophomore record, Try 😉 (yes, the wink emoji is intentional) is a throwback, recalling a time when music was honest, meaningful, and personal. Albums then were adventures, when songs moved listeners in multiple ways and elicited various responses. When you think about these records, one word comes to mind: classic.
Fever High (USA) – FHNY
Combining ’80s synth-pop with some ’70s disco and New Wave, Reni Lane and Anna Noreen’s – a.k.a. Fever High – debut album, FHNY, is a dancefloor banger. The actor Jeff Goldblum even makes a cameo on “Good Advice”, and anything with the guy who was the Fly, Ian Malcolm, and the Grandmaster is worth the price of admission.
Frederick the Younger (USA) – Human Child
Look out My Morning Jacket: Louisville has another great band to get excited about, and their name is Frederick the Younger. As reveal on their debut album, Human Child, FtY cannot be pigeonholed within a single genre. They are eclectic, ambitious, and dynamic, throwing out blistering, southern-rock jams; unfurl some psych-rock or blues-rock; or pluck at the emotional heartstrings with tender ballads. It’s the type of record that will bring together multiple generations of music fans.
Gordi (Australia) – Reservoir
After much buzz in Australia, Sophie Payten – a.k.a. Gordi – finally released her long-awaited debut album, Reservoir. It is warm and intimate during its most tender moments, and sheer bliss at its most symphonic peaks. It’s the type of album that you can escape within to get away from the chaos, pain, and turmoil around you. In less than an hour, our deepest wounds are healed. Not many records have such therapeutic qualities.
Great Profile (Netherlands) – Stress Relief
With a tongue as sharp and witty as Courtney Barnett, Frankie Cosmos, and Colleen Green and a rambunctious, no-frills guitar-pop that bellows of the great Liz Phair and Amber Arcades, Lisa van Kampen, through her project Great Profile, released an eye-opening debut album with Stress Release. The music is contagious and her songwriting is prolific, a combination that should lead to future stardom. As such, get to know her now before she reaches the levels of Barnett or Phair.
INHEAVEN (England) – INHEAVEN
A full-bore rock record that feels like an edge-of-the-seat concert crammed into a compact, 40-minute package – that is INHEAVEN‘s eponymous debut LP. It’s not just an engrossing piece of entertainment; the album is a massive political and social statement. It is loud, hard, and extremely relevant for the times we live in. This album in its 40 minutes articulates the chaos of the past 12 months.
Kane Strang (New Zealand) – Two Hearts and No Brain
With the release of his sophomore album (his first with Dead Oceans), Two Hearts and No Brain, New Zealander Kane Strang validates that he is this generation’s Stephen Malkmus. The LP is reminiscent of the indie and college-radio rock of the ’80s and ’90s while his songwriting is witty, sharp, and concise. And much like Malkmus’ work with Pavement and his own band The Jicks, Strang has left us with a timeless record.
Leif Vollebekk (Canada) – Twin Solitude
Leif Vollebekk often gets overshadowed by his more famous Montreal peers like Patrick Watson and Arcade Fire, but he’s an incredibly gifted singer-songwriter. His third album, Twin Solitude, which is unquestionably his most outstanding collection to date, does the unthinkable. It makes us feel like we are sitting next to Vollebekk on one of his intra-continental tours while hearing him reflect on his life experiences and his thoughts of the future. It’s a deeply personal and introspective record but delivered in a beautiful and thoughtful way that only Vollebekk could achieve.
Love X Stereo (South Korea) – 37B
While most still associate Korean music with Psy, people should pay attention to Love X Stereo, whose latest album, 37B, is reminiscent of the scintillating synth-pop of CHVRHCES. It is a wonderfully blissful record that will have you reflect on the momentous times of your life and the new memories created this holiday season. If you need a soundtrack for opening gifts, this is our pick. Another reason to pick up this album – expect to hear more about Love X Stereo during the Olympics, as they’ll be releasing music during the Games.
Makthaverskan (Sweden) – III
Propulsive post-punk-pop that is frenetic, energizing, and exhilarating? If that sounds like your cup of tea, then get Makthaverskan‘s album, III. It will leave you in a state of bliss while rocking your world. It’s the ideal album to spin once the presents have been opened and you need relief from all the egg nog.
Mammút (Iceland) – Kinder Versions
While most equate Iceland’s music scene with Björk and Sigur Rós, Mammút add their own tantalizing recipes to the country’s post-rock landscape. With their fourth album, Kinder Versions, they add darkness, suspense, and ominous tones that captivate our minds. They also make us delve deep into our psyches and, thus, discover and reveal who we are.
Masasolo (Denmark) – At Sixes and Sevens
Australia has Tame Impala and Kevin Parker. Denmark has Masasolo and Morten Søgaard, and seriously this band is making psychedelic disco-pop that is equivalent to their more famous cousins on the other side of the world. Their debut album, At Sixes and Sevens, is the perfect sonic escapade that takes you to faraway places without ever leaving home.
Mermaidens (New Zealand) – Perfect Body
Like the Twilight Zone set to music, Wellington, New Zealand, band Mermaidens‘ fascinating album, Perfect Body, is a brilliant piece of sociological, anthropological, and psycho-analysis of people living in a changing world. Beneath the veneer of their methodical mix of post-punk, psychedelic, and witch rock, they discuss how privacy has become a forgotten ideal and pleasure can be achieved more readily through impulse. It’s creepy, dark, and frighteningly accurate.
Midnight Sister (USA) – Saturn Over Sunset
Midnight Sister‘s debut album, Saturn Over Sunset, is unconventional, and we say this as an endearing compliment. It’s theatrical and even carnival-like at times, as Juliana Giraffe and Ari Balouzian masterfully blend pop, jazz, folk, noir-pop, and whatever they could find in their proverbial music box. There are many layers to peel back on the record, but this unique experience is an unforgettable ride.
Molly Burch (USA) – Please Be Mine
There is an intoxicating allure to Molly Burch and her debut album, Please Be Mine. It begins with her voice, which is like a chameleon as Burch transforms her voice to fit the mood and song, whether it is doo wop, classic country-folk, or ’60s bubble gum pop. It can be smoky à la Patti Smith, have a warble akin to Patsy Cline, take on the charm of Angel Olsen, or soar with a beautiful radiance like Neko Case. Second, her love stories are that of a modern age, often with an unexpected ending. When it comes to an end, you might be like us and hollering, “Molly, please be mine!”
Otherkin (Ireland) – OK
A fast, furious, raucous party awaits you on Otherkin‘s debut album, OK. This record is made for one purpose: to ensure everyone has a great time. If you’re hosting a New Year’s Eve party, make sure this is on rotation and everyone will be a-o.k.
Pale Honey (Sweden) – Devotion
Dark and cool. Sinister and sultry. Introspective and psychological. Pale Honey‘s sophomore LP, Devotion, is full of contradictions, but Tuva Lodmark (guitar/vocals/songwriter) and Nelly Daltrey’s (drums/principal songwriter) approach is spellbinding. When you hear it for the first time, you won’t be able to get them out of your head, which is the mark of a truly fantastic album.
Prom Queen (USA) – Doom Wop
Leeni Ramadan is an artistic tour de force, and her talents are best illustrated through her musical project Prom Queen. Her sophomore record, Doom Wop, takes the classic doo wop and turns it upside down. It’s not so much how it sounds – the music resonates of the ’50s and ’60s – but rather what she writes about. This isn’t a lovey, gushy, girl-meets-boy album, but one that highlights the many contradictions and uncertainties in today’s world. Like we said, she’s a genius.
The Regrettes (USA) – Feel Your Feelings Fool!
The Regrettes aren’t old enough to vote and barely eligible to drive, yet they delivered one of the most engaging, smart, and thoughtful albums of the year with Feel Your Feelings Fool! It’s also immensely fun, akin to the rollicking rock ‘n roll The Runaways created four decades ago with the occasional doo wop and post-punk song thrown in for good measure. With just one LP under the belt, it is safe to say The Regrettes’ potential is limitless.
Ron Gallo (USA) – Heavy Meta
If you like classic rock with personality (i.e., witty songwriting), then Ron Gallo‘s Heavy Meta should be in your library. His debut is highly influenced by the likes of Led Zeppelin, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Neil Young, T. Rex The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, and John Lennon. At the same time, the Nashville resident has taken a page from Ty Segall’s playbook by creating an album that is unrelenting in its energy and filled with delightful surprises. If there was one album in 2017 that made us constantly utter the phrases “Rock on!” and “Fuck yeah!”, it was this one.
Stillwave (Netherlands) – Sell Another Soul
Is it possible for a band to match The National in making the brooding beautiful? Dutch band Stillwave definitely make a strong case with their sensational debut album, Sell Another Soul, which enters ever gloomier waters than the famous indie band. Band members Joris Keizer (drums), Michaël van Putten (guitar), and Marcel Jongejan (vocals) released a record of Goth, film-noir, post-punk, and indie rock that is incredibly enrapturing and unforgettable.
Strange Hellos (Norway) – Chromatic
Everyone loves ’80s coming-of-age movies because their soundtracks were awesome. Now imagine bringing those films to 2017, and the soundtrack likely would sound something like Chromatic from Norway’s Strange Hellos. The album spans multiple genres, but each song is exhilarating, optimistic, and relatable. By the end of it, you want to keep it on repeat, just like the classics.
Tired Lion (Australia) – Dumb Days
If you really want to impress the devout music fan, then introduce her/him to Tired Lion, the next immovable force on the Aussie music scene. In 2015, they were named Triple J Unearthed’s Artists of the Year; their debut album, Dumb Days, validates the recognition. They’re one of the rare bands who are resurrecting grunge and alt-rock and blowing everyone’s mind in the process.
Trevor Sensor (USA) – Andy Warhol’s Dream
Trevor Sensor is one of the most gifted singer-songwriters on the planet, and he’s just 23 years old. While he still has his whole future in front of him, he unveiled his first of many masterpieces in a complex but brilliantly written record titled Andy Warhol’s Dream. Clean guitar riffs, tantalizing steel guitars, groovy rhythm sections, and uplifting keys fill the air. It is all classic. But like the great artist Warhol, Sensor’s songs are filled with hidden meanings and messages. Can you unravel all of them?
Vita and The Woolf (USA) – TUNNELS
Close your eyes and imagine Florence Welch collaborating with M83 or Purity Ring and the magic they would create. Well, you don’t need to imagine this anymore because Jen Pague (vocals/keyboards/synths) and Adam Shumski (drums) have cast the spell with their project Vita and The Woolf. Long a favorite of ours, their album, TUNNELS , is a sensational, post-rock / synth-rock, operatic spectacle. It is one of the most engrossing, beautiful, and cinematic LPs of the year.
Weaves (Canada) – Wide Open
For nearly a decade, Toronto’s Weaves have been overcoming the odds to have their unique blend of indie rock and pop-rock heard. Their sophomore album, Wide Open, is a reflection of their long journey, where they deliver one emphatic number after another in one of the year’s best “fuck off” albums of the year. Heck, it’s the album to spin as we thankfully bid adieu to 2017.
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