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Scene Alba 20 Albums of the Year

posted 8 Jan 2018, 04:16 by Scene Alba Magazine   [ updated 8 Jan 2018, 04:56 ]

20. Beck - Colors

Beck generally does two types of albums: slow moping laments to loss, sad tearful but beautiful and bright, breezy inventive attacks on the senses, ‘Colors’ is in the latter group. Chirpy modern pop reflecting the world as seen through Beck’s eyes. Joyful.


19. Mogwai - Every Country’s Sun

Mogwai continue to dazzle with ‘Every Country’s Sun’ one of their most accomplished albums yet. Solid with the unmistakable Mogwai post rock sound they have even produced what surely must be one of the best indie songs of the year with ‘Party in the Dark’.


18. Oh- Sees

Another name change, another album for the San Franciscans and a heavy, robust psych-rock album it is too. Packed with more ideas than most bands have in an entire career ‘Orc’ is a delicious mind fuck of a record made to melt down your mental boundaries and shake your reality to bits.


17. Charlotte Gainsbourg - Rest

Modern electro and musings on death go surprisingly well on Gainsbourg’s fifth album. Stark and confessional in places, upbeat and punchy in others this is an album of broad scope and class.


16. Jesus and Mary Chain - Damage and Joy

Just one of the many unlikely comebacks of 2017 and a record that really shouldn’t work but does due to the sheer tenacity and talent of the battling Reid brothers. More howling, ripping guitars over racing beats coupled with Jim Reid’s sneering vocals.

We never knew how much we’d missed them until they returned.


15. Spoon - Hot Thoughts

More dashing art/indie/dance vibes coming from the super-cool Texans. Just odd enough to be cool and good enough to write great songs,’Hot Thoughts’ was a welcome blast of upbeat indie joy.


14. Granddaddy - Last Place

Another revival, ‘Last Place’ was Grandaddy’s first album in eleven years showed that while they had matured the music was still as relevant as ever, in fact possibly better. Many of the songs focussed on lead singer Jason Lytle’s divorce imbuing the album with a sense of loss and regret but never self-pity.

13. Max Richter - Three Worlds

A masterpiece, once again Richter shows his command over the movement of his compositions at times intimate and dark and others huge and swelling out into the night at the heart of the human condition. Based on the works of Virginia Wolfe, ‘Three Worlds’ is a fitting tribute to a troubled genius.


12. The National - Sleep Well Beast

Unhurried and deliberate in its intentions ‘Sleep Well Beast’ is a gentleman of an album. Once more Matt Beringer walks us through the darker recesses of humanity with an elegance and self-awareness that other bands simply can’t match, a terrible beauty written in dark poetry.


11. Gorillaz - Humanz

An album 2017 desperately needed ‘Humanz’ was a fierce message to the powers that be from Damon Albarn and his eclectic mix of colourful collaborators. Possibly the Gorillaz’ darkest entry to date this album reflected the helplessness most people were feeling when faced with some of the worst leaders the world has ever seen but as usual Albarn delivers the message in a vibrant style and with a cheeky wink.


10. The Charlatans - Different Days

Pushing their sound forward with the momentum gathered from previous album ‘Modern Nature’, ‘Different Days’ finds The Charlatans focused and experimental. With guest vocals and the feel of a concept album Tim Burgess and co show that no matter what, they will take any experience and forge gold from it. This may not be the best Charlatans album but it certainly their most startling.


9. The Shins - Heartworms

With so many artists exploring their dark sides and the world holding its breath due to the sheer scale of political ineptitude it was wonderful to find the Shins displaying a fun, upbeat sound to soundtrack 2017. A shining pop album absolutely bursting at the seams with frothy sing along tunes to heartily counter the miseries of modern life.


8. Elbow - Little Fictions

Once more Guy Garvey bestows his poetic worldview with us on Elbow’s most unashamedly romantic album yet. ‘Little Fictions’ equipped us with gentle laments to big busty anthems with a looser funkier sound without jettisoning any of the charm and intelligence that we’ve come to expect from Elbow.


7. Arcade Fire - Everything Now

Dressed in the sounds of the eighties ‘Everything Now’ is Arcade Fire’s most poppy album yet. Drenched in neon and chrome this record funnels the synth heavy music from pop’s golden age and shoots it through with the oblique edginess that has come to define Win Butler’s quirky bunch of misfits. Themes of modern life and the stresses that come with it form the core of the album but the reluctance to be overwhelmed by it makes this an optimistic record and surprisingly good for parties.


6. Ride - Weather Diaries

More resuscitations, this time for the Oxford quartet and their best album since their debut ‘Nowhere’ back in 1990. ‘Weather Diaries’ takes Ride’s initial shoegazing sound and gives it a sleek modern make over courtesy of producer Erol Alkan. Driven and in places, ferocious this truly is the sound of a band reborn and re-energized and realising their potential at last.


5. Slowdive - Slowdive

And again a rebirth, Slowdive were essential ridiculed out of the business back in the nineties when music press hacks had voices louder than they really should’ve been but now they are back and with a stunning continuation of their previous works. This eponymously titled album is a perfect distillation of all that was beautiful about Slowdive and has an added depth and clarity. A superb record from start to finish.


4. The XX - I See You

In the five years since their last album ‘Coexist’ there’s been an evolution in the group with Jamie XX pushing the band’s sound into a fuller feel without jettisoning their innate coolness and ‘I See You’ is testament to this and shows that they have the talent, inventiveness and courage to push their boundaries and create even bigger and bolder music.


3. Perfume Genius - No Shape

‘No Shape’ is Perfume Genius’ most fully realised album thus far, it’s bolder yet still has the experimentation of previous albums if less vulnerable sounding. The blossoming of a songwriter knowing what he wants and being able to produce the results, it’s a marvellous collection that gets better with each listen.


2. LCD Soundsystem - American Dream

Early Cure/P.I.L get a look in on ‘American Dream’ it’s very much in that early eighties minimalist vibe while you can still dance yer arse off with songs like ‘Tonite’ all big electronica and big beats even if James is lamenting the ever advancing lacerations of age whilst you’re making moves. ‘American Dream’ is a solid, worthwhile return to activity from a much loved band who have decided to just stay at the party, after all, it’s later than you think.  


Album of the Year


Alison Moyet - Other

The unmistakable voice of Alison Moyet is a true treasure, there’s no one like her. Her career has also been a most interesting one too, from the synth pleasure of Yazoo, through her early pop career to here now, there’s a feeling of uncompromised steeliness. With ‘Other’ Moyet has created another dark jewel, first track ‘I Germinate’, dank and surreptitious, it crawls along the verses until exploding on the chorus, it feels dangerous. ‘Other’ is driven by dystopian synth sounds that could’ve been unearthed from a dusty grave in the year 2178. Apart from the suitably titled ‘Happy Giddy’ this is a very dark album, futuristic yet reflective of now, a startlingly relevant record, not bad for an artist three decades into her career.

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