It's been a good year and it's been a pretty diverse one as well. Rather than compiling a list I have a few, *cough cough*.
MOST IMPORTANT ALBUM OF 2017
Mount Eerie - A Crow Looked at Me
2017 was filled with great albums but if I really were to pick a standout, standalone, groundbreaking album, one for the books - that is certainly A Crow Looked at Me. Sufjan Stevens, Nick Cave, Touché Amoré have all written (beautifully) about death in the past couple of years, but Phil Elverum writes death. The pain of the album is in its rawest form - not filtered, metabolised or reimagined, just presented as a fact, sometimes taking the shape of an intimate conversation overheard in a room you've just stepped in, uninvited. There is no room for complex music - that's beside the point; "death is real" and the point is just that, and it's revolutionary. More of a literary work than just a record, I believe this album is going to change the way we think about writing and writing lyrics, as well as the act of writing itself.
GENERAL TOP 3
INTERNATIONAL ALBUMS - Top 50
1. Perfume Genius - No Shape
When I first reviewed this album I felt like I had to list all the reasons why I was giving this album the much-abused label of a masterpiece. Months later, the reasons still hold true - beautifully written, composed and produced, heartbreaking but fierce, incredibly fragile but defiant nonetheless, No Shape's scope encompasses romance, politics, pain and the darkest places of the human experience. And Mike Hadreas's voice will break your heart.
2. Grizzly Bear - Painted Ruins
Grizzly Bear are my favourite band, so their presence shouldn't really come as a surprise. Nevertheless, Painted Ruins really is an amazing work, definite proof that you can stay true to self while making more and more room for innovation. It's one of those records you'll happily go back to time and again and each time you'll discover something new - that said, the music is still accessible at all 'levels'. It's really hard to sound so, so good.
3. Brand New - Science Fiction
I have a special relationship with Brand New so hearing about the fucked up shit Jesse did was a huge disappointment that felt almost personal; I had to take a step back from this album (and from their music) for a while, as I cannot and will not separate the art from the artist. That said, I'll stand by my words in saying that Science Fiction is a spectacular farewell from a band whose ability to draw from different genres automatically positions them as the fathers of the emo revival wave of the past few years.
4. Protomartyr - Relatives in Descent
It's fairly easy to mistake Protomartyr's past work as decent 2010s post-punk, maybe nothing outstanding (you're wrong, btw). Not Relatives in Descent. This album is one hell of a ride: it's got the music, it's got the feelings and the rage, it's got the persona of Joe Casey dissecting the abandoned dream of civilisation in the sharpest and angriest way possible. One of the best political albums of the year.
5. Arca - Arca
Pretty sure this album fucking broke me.
6. Mount Eerie - A Crow Looked at Me
Yep, this one definitely broke me.
7. Fleet Foxes - Crack-up
This album sounds. so. fucking. good. From start to finish. It's deep, it's layered, it's dynamic, it's so smooth it glides like scissors on paper. If you don't get it then you don't deserve love. Bye.
8. The National - Sleep Well Beast
Is a description even necessary?
9. (Sandy) Alex G - Rocket
I've been eyeing Alex G for some time and since Car Seat Headrest's 2016 breakthrough I'd been waiting for Sandy's time to shine. Rocket is one of the most unpredictable albums of the year, spans hundreds of genres and still manages to sound like (a crazier, better developed) Alex G - how do you do that?
10. Priests - Nothing Feels Natural
The best debut album of the year is also one of the best punk albums of the decade. A powerful and articulate work in which music and lyrics really work with and for one another, it even grows on you like the good kind of pop music. Also, amazing live act!
11. Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Luciferian Towers [short review]
12. Dirty Projectors - Dirty Projectors [full review]
13. Cloud Nothings - Life Without Sound
14. Tim Darcy - Saturday Night [full review]
15. Los Campesinos! - Sick Scenes [full review]
16. Girlpool - Powerplant
17. Vagabon - Infinite Worlds
18. Pile - A Hairshirt of Purpose
19. Manchester Orchestra - A Black Mile to the Surface
20. Jay Som - Everybody Works
21. Grandaddy - Last Place [full review]
22. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - The Tourist
23. Slowdive - Slowdive
24. Julien Baker - Turn Out the Lights [short review]
25. Paramore - After Laughter [short review]
26. Japanese Breakfast - Soft Sounds from Another Planet
27. Tyler, the Creator - Flower Boy
28. Aldous Harding - Party
29. Big Thief - Capacity
30. King Krule - The Ooz
33. Out Lines - Conflats
34. Waxahatchee - Out in the Storm
35. Bjork - Utopia
36. Pissed Jeans - Why Love Now
37. Future Islands - The Far Field
38. Forest Swords - Compassion
39. Kendrick Lamar - DAMN.
40. Remo Drive - Greatest Hits
41. Sampha - Process
42. Zola Jesus - Okovi
43. Sorority Noise - You're Not As _____ As You Think
44. Kelly Lee Owens - Kelly Lee Owens
45. Torres - Three Futures [short review]
46. Ryuichi Sakamoto - async
47. EMA - Exile in the Outer Ring
48. Tomberlin - At Weddings
49. Planning for Burial - Below the House
50. Converge - The Dusk in Us
ITALIAN ALBUMS - Top 20
1. Fine Before You Came - Il Numero Sette
2. All My Teenage Feelings - Endings
3. Gomma - Toska
4. Giorgio Poi - Fa Niente
5. Colombre - Pulviscolo
6. Kairo - Medioemo
7. Edda - Graziosa Utopia
8. Øjne - Prima Che Tutto Bruci
9. Populous - Azulejos
10. Black Tail - One Day We Drove Out of Town [short review]
11. Marcovaldo - Ripetizioni
12. Parking Lots - Parking Wizards [short review]
13. Halfalib - Malamocco
14. Mood - Out Loud
15. Regarde - Leavers [short review]
16. V R C V S - V R C V S
17. Girless - I Have a Call
18. Montauk - Vacanza/Gabbia
19. Valerian Swing - Nights [short review]
20. Julie's Haircut - Invocation and Ritual Dance of My Demon Twin
[Top 3, in no particular order:
Fleet Foxes - Third Of May / Ōdaigahara
Perfume Genius - Alan
Dirty Projectors - Keep Your Name]
EPS, B-SIDES, COMPILATIONS AND STUFF
- Half Waif - form/a
- yaeji - EP2
- Autunno - Caderiva
- Sufjan Stevens - The Greatest Gift
- Angel Olsen - Phases
- Ohio Kid - Everyone Was Sleeping As If the Universe Were a Mistake
- Vv.Aa. - It's Only Thrill and It's Tomorrow (V4V compilation)
- Vv. Aa. - Nothing I can't handle by running away (Nervi Cani compilation)
- ANOHNI - Paradise
- Beach House - B-sides and Rarities
Mount Eerie - A Crow Looked at Me
Probably the saddest album ever written.
I reject nature, I disagree
I don't want to learn anything from this
I love you
Priests - Nothing Feels Natural
Cynical, extremely articulate, accelerationist.
All of the science and evolution and progress
I mean sure, it looks good from a distance but when you’re really inside of it you realize it’s fucking terrifying […]
Suddenly I realize the rocket is just a prison
A small contained space with no real food, no companionship, no time passing, no gravity
Just the weight of my own insignificance, my foolishness, and my hubris thrust into the glaring light that is the sun but much much closer than it was before, and all I want is to die
Big Thief - CapacityAdrianne Lenker's lyrics are beautiful and extremely vivid portrayals of her own personal history, and her flow is incredibly smooth. Heartbreaking.
There’s only so much letting go you can ask someone to do
So I keep you by my side
Protomartyr - Relatives in DescentAbsurdist, more catastrophic and darker than Priests' album, Relatives in Descent also finds room for some spark of beauty:
In my own head
Near the hole where hope drains out
And fear is branded deep
Amid the death of all things
Not under law or the thoughts I had before
Only in darkness does the flower take hold
It blooms at night; it blooms at night
Fine Before You Came - Il Numero Sette
Mature, disillusioned, an album about getting comfortable with your own mistakes, inhabiting them, finding peace in them.
abbiamo studiato infiniti modi per addormentarci e svegliarci ancora accanto
tu solo sai quanto poco valgoeppure mi tieni così
Dirty Projectors - Dirty Projectors
Heartbreaking breakup album: goes from sad to bitter, from nostalgic and regretful to harshly resentful.
What I want from art is truth, what you want is fameNow we'll keep 'em separate and you keep your name
Arca - Arca
I still haven't fully processed this album. I'm still broken.
Hay un abismo dentro de mí
Perfume Genius - No ShapeThe concept of the album follows from its title; Mike Hadreas takes pride in finding his own shape in the absence of it, and the music and lyrics unravel - take shape - as we listen. A beautiful album about accepting your own nature and reshaping your own identity.
They'll never break the shape we take
Julien Baker - Turn Out the Lights
Julien's songwriting and depiction of her issues with mental health are simple, yet incredibly powerful and sincere.
Nothing turns out like I pictured it
Maybe the emptiness is just a lesson in canvases
Father John Misty - Pure ComedyTillman is fucking with us. It's the age of constant distractions and he comes out with a 75-minute album with 13-minute songs. He can do self-referential (and self-deprecatory) like no other. We don't deserve his incredible songwriting.
So I never learned to play the lead guitar
I always more preferred the speaking parts
Besides there's always someone willing to
Fill up the spaces that I couldn't use
Nonetheless, I've been practicing my whole life
Washing dishes, playing drums, and getting by
Until I figured, if I'm here then I just might
Conceal my lack of skill here in the spotlight
BEST LIVE SHOWS
- Bon Iver - Primavera Sound, Barcelona
- Grizzly Bear - London O2 Brixton
- Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Brighton Dome
- Mitski - The Haunt, Brighton
- Solange - Primavera Sound, Barcelona
- Arab Strap - Primavera Sound, Barcelona
- Slowdive - Unaltrofestival, Milan
- Priests - Primavera Sound, Barcelona
- Aldous Harding - Ypsigrock, Castelbuono
- Beach House - Ypsigrock, Castelbuono
- Future Islands - Brighton Dome
- Magnetic Fields - Primavera Sound, Barcelona
- Los Campesinos! - Koko, London
- Angel Olsen - Roundhouse, London
- Cap'n Jazz - Electric Ballroom, London
- Cymbals Eat Guitars - Circolo Magnolia, Milan
- Pinegrove - Primavera Sound, Barcelona (twice in a day!)
Favourite film (I watched about four though...):
Favourite tv show: Master of None
Also best episode: 2x06 (New York, I Love You)
Also saddest scene:
Me painfully going through The OA, possibly the worst tv show I've ever watched:
Best books I've read this year:
David Markson - Wittgenstein's Mistress
Alison Bechdel - Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic
Final (music-related) side notes:
- Stop calling shitty trap 'emo' and stop making abusers famous
- Stop buying into the whole 'anti-capitalist/feminist pop' narrative because that's exactly the opposite of what's going on (Arcade Fire and St. Vincent, I'm looking at you)
- I've had to leave something out (Vince Staples and LCD Soundsystem didn't make the cut unfortunately) but if some big names are missing, that's because I didn't like their albums. And fuck The XX in particular. Happy 2018.