As a long, often painful, 2017 draws to a close, we celebrate the things that have made it bearable, from King Krule to Liam Gallagher, and the things we want to leave behind…
Steve Aston, Founder – Ride’s Weather Diaries. A fantastic comeback album and lets hope it’s the start of many more.
Melissa Svensen, Editor – There’ve been so many, from Declan McKenna’s to Cribs’, but I’m going to have to go for Wolf Alice Visions of a Life. I was expecting it to disappoint, and it ended up being incredible.
Becky Rogers, Assistant Editor – King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Polygondwanaland. Four albums in one year with a fifth on the way? King Gizz amaze me. Until Spotify told me four out of five of my most listened to songs were the Aussie seven-piece, it didn’t kick in that they’re all I listen to. They released the album for free, and are helping people out to learn how to press vinyl. It’s the perfect situation.
Ella Scott, Assistant Editor – First previewed by the heartbreaking ‘New York’, MASSEDUCTION by St. Vincent is an embodiment of the sublime. Tracks such as ‘Happy Birthday, Johnny’ and record opener ‘Hang On Me’ win the crown for the most heart-wrenching tracks of the year. Nothing St. Vincent does is ever anything less than spectacular.
Sam Wright, News Editor – The Big One. Best Album. For a while I was trying to separate Sleaford Mods’ latest effort English Tapas and Laura Marling’s Semper Femina. In the end I’ve gone for none of those, and at the risk of sounding like your dad, I’m choosing Elbow – Little Fictions. Their best album since Seldom Seen Kid (2008), Little Fictions went undeservedly somewhat under the radar, despite tracks such as Magnificent and Gentle Storm, for me two of the best singles all year. This LP was modern but kept all of their melodic mastery, and I am more than happy to call it my album of the year.
Favourite live music event:
SA – Got to be the Shiiine On Weekender. Those who know, know!
MS – Cribs can have this one. I saw them at Festival No. 6 in September which was fantastic, but it’s Cribsmas that wins it. They treated fans to a completely unique setlist every single date of the tour, having rehearsed the entire back catalogue, and proved themselves (as if anyone doubted it) as on of the best live bands around.
BR – Harry Styles @ Manc O2 Apollo. I saw it coming. I always said Harry Styles was going to be a huge indie god after One Direction’s hiatus started, and look what we have now. He was decked out in a beautiful red Gucci flared suit, and made me cry with Fleetwood Mac and 1D covers. Seeing such a big star in such a smaller venue, it was worth it. His album is amazing, but live, it’s another story.
ES – Isle of Wight Festival 2017. Easily the live and festival highlight of the year, IOW festival 2017 was a stunning showcase of both brand new and well-loved music. From Arcade Fire to Elle Exxe, to No Hot Ashes, The Shimmer Band and The Luka State – I’d put my money on IOW being the best weekend of 2017 – period.
SW – I can’t help but be a bit biased with this one, and I am choosing the festival I have fallen in love with whilst covering over the last two years; Kendal Calling. From the beautiful rolling hillside you gaze over from the fields of Lowther Deer Farm to the light carnivals at night, this really is the most picturesque home for music I have ever experienced, and that’s before we come to the ever improving line up. This year Happy Mondays, Stereophonics, Franz Ferdinand, Frank Turner to name but a drop in the ocean took to the stage in Penrith, but also with the likes of The Shimmer Band, Blaenavon, and Cabbage; it is also becoming a major advocate of supporting new music. Not bad for a festival that 10 years ago had a capacity of just 900.
Favourite solo artists:
SA – Got to be Liam Gallagher. Although the album is patchy to say the least, he’s the last of a dying breed and music a better place for having him about.
MS – While part of me wants to go with the ever-unpopular choice of Frank Turner, I’m going to give this one to Declan McKenna. His debut album is hugely exciting, as are his live shows, and he’s still so young. I’m excited about Declan.
BR – It’s hard not to remember your embarrassing teen self when listening to King Krule, but The OOZ has brought our Archie back for good. Finally seeing him live and play ‘Out Getting Ribs’ made me cry, and his album nearly tops his debut. It may just be me living out my youth again, but Zoo Kid is doing us proud.
ES – Geordie boy Sam Fender is ticking all the right boxes as he makes his defined route in the music industry. A place on the Sound Of 2018 longlist, being billed beside Catfish & The Bottlemen – Fender has had an undeniably mighty 2017, and the rise is only going to continue.
SW – For me, this is the hardest category to choose a winner. Honourable mentions go out to Billy Bragg who produced his best new music in years, and Laura Marling whose Semper Femina cannot be talked about enough if I wrote all day. However, all considered, I have to go for King Krule purely for the depth and quality of his album The OOZ. He took four years to come up with a second instalment following 6FBTM, but this NINETEEN track album was well worth the wait. As well as releasing this LP that swoops between muted mutterings and violent thrashing he has also established himself as one of the most exciting live acts touring today, as displayed on Later… as well as the Mercury Music Award show. Its compelling to think where he’ll go next, but for now, just enjoy the innovations he is bringing.
SA – DMA’s. Love these lads and looking forward to new music sooner rather than later. Their live shows this year cemented their place for me as the best band about…
MS – Superfood. I could’ve carried on rambling about The Cribs, but Superfood have absolutely killed it this year and definitely deserve a mention here. Bambino’s an insanely good album, they brought the sun out at Festival No. 6, and I can only see them getting bigger and better.
BR – King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. I’m one of those. I saw them four times in one week, but this is what made me love them. They headlined Manchester’s Albert Hall and I couldn’t believe what I was watching. Two drummers facing each other playing in time perfectly; an additional percussionist acing the harmonica and just so many things going on at once. Then it came to Glastonbury. Three sets over two days, and all with completely different setlists to cover. If you’ve hiked up to the Crow’s Nest. Imagine a seven-piece fitting on that stage.
ES – 2017 belongs to the dominant driving force of YONAKA. They’ve recently unleashed their HEAVY EP and have been bobbing around the country, tearing apart your local music venues non-stop. If you haven’t heard of this innovative band then really, where have you been hiding?
SW – To anyone that has read much I’ve written over the last two years, it will come as no surprise I am choosing Manchester punk rockers Cabbage. Despite much of their recorded work actually coming out in 2016, their tireless touring and work behind the scenes too which has earned them this title. After they came into the public eye through controversy at a Kasabian gig, instead of hiding, they worked with Safe Gigs for Women to ensure the truth came out and avoid and uncomfortable situations recurring. July EP Celebration of a Disease was a step back into the limelight, and provided the best satirical piece of the year through ‘Network Betrayal’. Defiant, proud and musically improving all the time, just expect a huge 2018 for them.
Please don’t follow us into 2018…:
SA – I’m going to say Noel Gallagher. Although I love his music, he’s arrogance is becoming tedious and no longer carries the humour it once did.
MS – The breed of bands/musicians who think it’s okay to take advantage of their fans. And dickheads in crowds who think it’s okay to take advantage of perfectly harmless people in crowds. Stay put.
BR – Josh Homme. Earlier this year, I got asked to write a listicle showing ’25 times Josh Homme has looked the coolest ever’ for a music magazine we all know. I didn’t manage it then and it’d be even harder now. His recent outbursts are nothing. Back in 2008, he blamed a homophobic outburst on having the flu, and is currently being sued for battery against an autograph seller. All I can ask is that as if like clockwork on January 1, we hear no more from him.
ES – Can we stop with the all-male festival announcements? There’s a whole load of women in this music industry that equally deserve to be on festival line-ups. Can we stop ‘forgetting’ about them please?
SW – Whether it be Viagogo, Get Me In, or any other offspring of these soulless sell on sites, the mass touting of tickets is killing live music, and it’s only got worse in 2017. So many examples have surfaced this year, no longer is the struggle to get in before the touts a problem confined to the biggest one-off gigs, it’s now an epidemic reaching almost every tour of note across the country. The Streets, Liam Gallagher, Courteeners and more all had tickets floating about on these site in excess of £150 before tickets had officially gone on sale, only for the public sales to last little over a minute before sell out. I don’t know how we stop this problem, because the sad truth is if you’re desperate enough you will pay through the nose to get in, and as long as there is love for music people will exploit this. Is it right that people make a career though, selling extortionate tickets to fans who have worked for that money? No. Fuck off touts, music is about love and passion, and you’re making it an exclusive club for those who can afford it.
See you in 2018 (minus Josh Homme and ticket touts…)