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My Best Albums of 2017 - Sophie McEvoy

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Personally, 2017 has been a time warp. The Killers returned from the grave, Paramore released a synth-pop album and Lana Del Rey produced a happy record. Insanity is best when it comes to music, and this year has not failed to surprise and entice me. 

From girl power to my old favourites, there has been a deluge of new music occupying the majority of my Spotify playlists, making me an extremely happy fangirl. 2017 has reminded me how much I adore music, and that trying to listen to as many genres as you can really do aid your musical experience. Who would have thought that Camila Cabello's 'Havana' would become one of my favourite tracks of this year? 

Sadly, her debut record doesn't come out until 2018, so I'm making it an honorary addition to the list below. I know I'm gonna love it. 

The Killers - Wonderful, Wonderful

'Mr. Brightside'? Pfft. More like 'The Man'.

The throwback of 2017 was supplied by The Killers fifth album, Wonderful, Wonderful. The band hadn't released a record since 2012's Battle Born, subjecting fans and music lovers across the globe to five years of torment. What we received this September was a gift from on high, reminding us all why The Killers are to be loved and cherished.

A blend of alternative, heartland, and synth-rock with twinges of indie and new wave, Wonderful, Wonderful takes all the aspects that give the band their unmistakeable vibe and sound and amplifies them x10, making for one of their most unforgettable records. 'The Man' and 'Run for Cover' are obviously staples of the album, but the hidden gems that coast beneath such as the dreamy 'Some Kind of Love' and the opening number 'Wonderful, Wonderful'. 

Judging by my last.fm scrobbles, it's safe to say that 'The Man' will probably end up topping my most-played song of this year. It's just too killer (ayy), man. 

Royal Blood - How Did We Get So Dark?

My boys, my sweet, sweet boys. I've never had the pleasure to watch musicians grow from inception, so I'm glad my first experience has been with a band such as Royal Blood. 

I became excited about this record when they first played 'Hook, Line & Sinker' at Reading Festival in 2015. After that, a long wait ensued with the hope that they would include it on their second record. Lo and behold, it became the beautiful track number eight on How Did We Get So Dark? (a question I too ask myself daily). 

There's no question that their second foray is similar to the first, but Mike Kerr and Ben Thatcher certainly expand their noise into the guttural depths of hell that they and play with call/response between their instruments and Kerr's vocals which is just so damn addictive.

I can't wait to see where they go from here;hopefully,they branch out from the confines of what they've produced so far -- only because I know that they have so much up their sleeves. 

Paramore - After Laughter

2017 must have been my lucky year. So many bands hopped aboard the 80s' synth train, one of them surprisingly being Paramore. Y'know, that once 'emo' band that made all of us want to dye our hair orange during 2007? (Let's be real, it was only ever going to be Hayley that could pull that look off). 

After Laughter is a complete departure from Paramore's original sound, but not so much lyrically. Williams has always had a penchant to write lyrics that strike a chord emotionally. She steps over boundaries that many musicians tip-toe around, consistently highlighting the effects of depression and anxiety amongst young adults. 

These aspects are the main narrative on this record, accompanied by a fantastic juxtaposition with an upbeat, new-wave audiosphere that is admirable and brave for both a band that has such a well-known sound and aesthetic, and a frontwoman that wears her personal battles on her sleeve to aid those who are scared to reach out and help themselves. After Laughter is 2017's most important record by far, screaming that its okay to be this way, that you're not alone. 

Kasabian - For Crying Out Loud

Similar to The Killers, Kasabian were a band of my youth. I may be 21, but the early 2000s were so long ago. The release of their self-titled debut gave me the soundtrack to my youth -- namely 'Reason Is Treason' due its stellar appearance on the Gran Turismo 4 soundtrack.

After that, I didn't really listen to anything else from Kasabian other than their most popular singles via the radio. But 2017 marked the year that I -- now an old woman -- delved into their discography, just in time for them to release a new record. 

Again, much like The Killers 'The Man', I became addicted to Kasabian's 'You're In Love with a Psycho', along with 'Bless This Acid House'. 

For Crying Out Loud has marked a strangely upbeat era for Kasabian. I mean, their records have always lifted my spirits, but there's something with Crying Out Loud's instrumentation that's eerily cheerier than I'm used to Kasabian being. 

Queens of the Stone Age - Villains

When it comes to my favourite bands, I need preparation before they drop an entire album out. Recently, it seems bands like to announce an album is due for release a few months before rather than a year. This has happened four times this year (of course, all of them are on this list), and I really do not know how I survived. 

Queens of the Stone Age's seventh album Villains was certainly one of them. Announced two months before its release in the summer, Villains became my lover, my friend, and ultimate savior. With their 'don't give a fuck' attitude, Queens stole my heart for the dozenth time and made me fall head over heels in love with this record. 

The sheer balls the band had to work with a pop producer on a rock record sealed the deal for me, but its the sheer dancy-ness of this record that truly captivated me. I mean, Queens have always had a suave, sexy groove to their heavy stoner rock, but Villians is something else entirely. 

Foo Fighters - Concrete and Gold

Foo Fighters followed a similar trajectory as QOTSA did in terms of choosing a pop producer, but went about it in their own, distinctive way. The challenge that was presented before Greg Kurstin and the band was that neither had worked within the others respective genres. It was that clash of worlds that led to one of 2017's surprises, opening up a whole new side of Foo Fighters that they had not explored before. 

The band has always been known for their loud, abrasive belters. But with Concrete and Gold, melody and composition took to the forefront courtesy of Kurstin. When the band wanted something big and almost operatic, Kurstin would produce a song like 'Concrete and Gold'. When they wanted to up the amps to eleven and go balls to the wall, a song like 'La Dee Dah' or 'Make it Right' would appear. 

Foo Fighters prove themselves with each record (to those that don't just hear the repeated radio 'hits'), flawing expectations with each release due to a frontman,writer, and composer that just cannot keep still or turn his mind off. Each album has a story, and Concrete and Gold is one of experimentation and triumph. 

Haim - Something to Tell You

There are some musicians that I wish I'd been following from the beginning. To be there when their debut hit, to follow them throughout their career to see their growth and journey. There are exceptions to that wish, however, and Haim are one of them. 

I'd vaguely listened to their first record Days Are Gone due to friends and their playlists, but it wasn't until my intrigue got the better of me when the video for 'Want You Back' was released. From there, I eagerly waited for the release of Something To Tell You, and I was not disappointed. 

The trio offers a melting pot of their 70s soft rock and 90s pop influences with a sound that is completely their own, creating an eclectic mix of songs that only they could produce. Their sound is so distinct to themselves; from the vocals, guitar hooks, and insanely complex drum beats, sisters Este, Danielle and Alana breathe and bleed their craft, and it is certainly evident throughout Something to Tell You

Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds - Who Built the Moon?

The most recent addition to my best albums of 2017, Noel Gallagher's latest release with his High Flying Birds is probably some of the best material he has released since the 90s. And I'm not talking his work with Oasis, more so his solo and collaborative works as I mentioned in my review of the record. 

Another tale of musician and producer working hand in hand, Noel and producer David Holmes worked on Who Built The Moon? for almost four years, and it certainly tells. The record is intricately built around Gallagher's knack for captivating songwriting, whilst paying homage to Noel's ambient/acid house experimentations in the 90s; a sound that was perfect for Holmes to harness and transfer onto a record. 

Who Built the Moon? balances Gallagher's famous talent in creating memorable, addictive melodies and hooks with a combined knowledge of experimentation and how far a song or idea can be stretched before it becomes something completely new and unheard of. Gallagher has never been afraid to be outside of the box, and Who Built the Moon? is far from anything mundane. 

Lana Del Rey - Lust for Life

My ultimate goddess Lana Del Rey released her fifth album this year, and even though Ultraviolence (2014) will forever be my favourite piece of work by Lana, Lust for Life has certainly become my second favourite. 

Her fourth album Honeymoon (2015) forayed into the aspect of happiness in Lana's work, whilst still retaining her dark, gloomy aesthetic that has been present throughout her entire discography and image. It was clear to see that Lana struggled with aspects of depression through her work and subsequent interviews, and she never tried to hide it. But through her discography, we've been able to follow her journey through these struggles to witness a turning point in herself with Lust for Life. I mean, the album cover alone opens up a completely new side to the singer, revealing a heartfelt smile that was rare to see from Lana in her previous work. 

Every single song on the record tackles these previous feelings. Much like Paramore's After Laughter, Lana does not sugar coat the fact that she dealt with these issues. It allows listeners to feel comfortable in their sadness, and to allow themselves to open up to the idea that we all have a future that we can change for the better in the present. 

Wolf Alice - Visions of a Life

A band that I had never heard of until the release of their second album Visions of a Life this year, Wolf Alice have become a personal favourite of mine pretty quickly. The entirely of October led to me consistently streaming playlists of their discography, becoming increasingly intertwined with the majesty surrounded their alternative -- sometimes hard rock -- sound.

And that's the beauty that I found with them, especially on Visions of a Life. They somehow manage to traverse from a hard rock/punk-esce song like 'Yuk Foo' to immediately flipping the switch to the poppy 'Beautifully Unconventional'. Their debut album My Love Is Cool was similar; Wolf Alice is not afraid to stick to a formula with a record. They have their sound, and they run with experimentation within the realms of the alternative genre without it being too mix-matched. 

I'm gonna be honest. If I had to pick my favourite album of this year, it would be this. Finding new music is something I inherently struggle with, as I always stick to my favourite bands. But finding Wolf Alice this year has reminded me that there are so many musicians out there that I have yet to hear, musicians that I might love but just haven't heard them yet. 

 
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