40. Four Tet – ‘New Energy’
Even if you might lose track with Kieran Hebden’s output you really need to worship the producer’s latest full-length. As the title implies it marks a fresh start for the restless producer, delivering his most confident and cohesive album so far, one that binds all strengths of his versatile electronic sound to an adventurous unit.
39. Wy – ‘Okay’
The music of Swedish newcomers Wy is soft, slow and grand, built around big, echoing guitar lines and singer Ebba Ågren’s raw vocal, loaded with emotional weight which she also explained to us. Sharply-written, shimmering alt-rock: Okay is the statement that lifts Wy from a buzz-band to something much, much more.
38. Run The Jewels – ‘RTJ3’
RTJ3 is both – introspective and aggressive – as Killer Mike and El-P mix their crafted flow with crisp oldschool beats and a natural maturity they gained over the past years. The album is directly infected by the rise of right-wing activism in the US and therefor Run The Jewels are exactly the band America and the rest of the world need right now.
37. Sleaford Mods – ‘English Tapas’
It’s pretty much ‘What you see is what you get’ with the Sleaford Mods and that’s actually a good thing as they continue to fight ignorance and stupidity wherever they can. Andrew Fern and his shouting partner Jason Williamson avoid any commercial approach and stick to their ‘fok off’-formula while slightly perfecting their own musical legacy.
36. Fleet Foxes – ‘Crack-Up’
The first new Fleet Foxes record record in six years might appear quite similar to their previous two albums, but repeated listens expose the dark undertones that surround the album. Crack-Up pulls off the contradiction of sounding both pastoral and grandiose, intimate and epic, with the music taking unexpected turns as Robin Pecknold passes through different viewpoints and perspectives.
35. Grizzly Bear – ‘Painted Ruins’
Ed Droste and the gang remain restless and unfold the microcosm of Grizzly Bear as progressive as never before on Painted Ruins. Driven by a familiar feeling this one adds a braver and more complex aspect to the group’s musical playground. That might make it a bit less easy going but fare more exciting for all those who’d like to explore an album.
34. Bonobo – ‘Migration’
Most of it, Migration is a wonderful soulful journey. Not one that might aim to discover ideas or structures you’ve never seen – yet a journey perfectly mastered that offers a cocoon for emotions. The songs of Bonobo take their time to breath, to allow themselves to be airy, to be living-full as he builds his story around both meditative moments and groovier ones.
33. Alt-J – ‘RELAXER’
Every album by these guys is an adventure but also a certain challenge. Relaxer is a testament of strength and self-confidence, one that shows that Alt-J remain a unique phenomenon in their own little world. It needs a bit time to unfold its special magic but the result is pretty rewarding.
32. Julien Baker – ‘Turn Out The Lights’
Thank god, Julien Baker still refuses to use a proper rhythm section and lets her voice and the sparse instrumentation, mostly her guitar, all the space they need to unfold their magic. The result is an honest album that wears its heart on its sleeve, just like the main protagonist. It’s the perfect soundtrack for those bumpy paths we all have to cross every now and then.
31. Feist – ‘Pleasure’
Pleasure is a study of both human emotions and self-awareness, and as the title track and opener suggests, it is a rough journey both sonically and thematically. Apart from that, Feist excels at reinvigorating a genre plagued by dullness and a lack of sonic variety, crafting not only songs, but many-faceted compositions, imbuing them with a grace foreign to most of today’s folk music.
30. Ten Fé – ‘Hit The Light’
Hit The Light is highly satisfying and one of these debut albums that really manage to impress the listener due to the sheer amount of professionalism. Ten Fé know how to write a proper hook, think and aim big and that’s something you sense in every note on this fascinating pop/rock gem.
29. Der Ringer – ‘Soft Kill’
Der Ringer’s modus operandi might be ‘music first’, still, their textual message rarely fails to come across. The cryptic yet fascinating German newcomers delivers spaced-out indie music delicacies, disguised as twisted little edgy pop anthems. Soft Kill is an adventurous affair that should also excite you if you’re not specifically fluent in German.
28. The xx – ‘I See You’
As loved as their first two records are, there was a distinct sense that their sound had run out of road. Moving forward while retaining the DNA that made you special in the first place is a tricky task, but The xx have pulled it off on I See You. It’s vital and more uplifting step forward, away from the bleak past and into a more confindent zone.
27. Future Islands – ‘The Far Field’
The Far Field continues the game-changing direction of its predecessor without any pretentious detours towards mainstream territory. This record is a testament of gained skills, personal strength and a certain stubbornness the band has always been famous for. There’s less doubt than ever that Future Islands will continue to walk this path, designed by their own rules. Thank god!
26. Liima – ‘1982’
Driven by a hypnotic vibe and sparkling percussion Liima continue to deliver gentle pop songs disguised as partly cinematic dream sequences. The Efterklang side/ follow up-project spread a warm feeling of home and futuristic nostalgia on their second album, reminding us of a simpler time while also hinting on a potential way to guide us out of the temporary misery.
25. Elbow – ‘Little Fictions’
A new light-hearted flow dominates the vibe of the seventh Elbow album; one that is clearly driven by a new loop-based rhythm concept. The symphonic approach of the group feels less forced this time, instead they reduce the ingredients of the familiar recipe to a certain minimum, delivering everything you’ve come to love about these guys over the past twenty years.
24. Susanne Sundfør – ‘Music For People In Trouble’
It takes a lot of guts to break with your musial surroundings and embrace a new philosophy when it comes to your art. Of course, Susanne Sundfør is still pretty much herself on her fifth full-length but she’s stripping down the whole electronic pop aspect, delivering reduced and raw songs about love, loss and the overall desperation of these days. It’s a brave album from a resltess character.
23. Arcade Fire – ‘Everything Now’
There’s no better way to sum up the benefit and burden of modern day life than with those two simple words: Everything Now! Indeed, we got all information, all possibilities and also what appears to be the knowledge of the entire human species. And still, we fuck things up. Arcade Fire celebrate the contradiction with their most accessible album so far, packed with enjoyable pop melodies and more or less subtle messages that we could actually do better than this whole mess implies.
22. Mura Masa – ‘Mura Masa’
Walking the tender tightrope between mainstream pop sounds and something more eclectic, young British producer Alex Crossan is definitely a man of the here and now. His exciting and contemporary approach towards beats and sounds is as interesting as the guestlist on the Mura Masa debut album. We really love his adventurous approach towards that whole genre-bending thing.
21. Adna – ‘Closure’
In many ways, Adna seems to be more of a musical purist. An unadulterated, honest voice can be heard with all its beauty and imperfection. Simple instrumental lines created by the multi-instrumentalist dot the background without ever really asserting themselves. Closure seems to offer a further step towards simplicity and raw emotion while also perfecting her trademark sound.
20. Woman – ‘Happy Freedom’
Not only does the music on Happy Freedom give a nod to the heydays of the album format, the songs themselves do their best to reinforce the impression of making the most out of their limited recording possibilities, with designated album openers and closers, subtle crossfades between tracks and a pronounced focus on warm, organic sounds. Woman are one of 2017’s truly positive surprises.
19. Kraków Loves Adana – ‘Call Yourself New’
The bleak, guitar-driven pop of Kraków Loves Adana resembled The xx‘s minimalism, whilst Deniz Cicek’s voice added the kind of unpredictable, German NICOness to it. A strong signature sound that, of course, had to be carried by good songs, or else it won’t function at all. And Call Yourself New, their first new LP in five years, is full with great songs and feels like a true fresh start for this talented duo.
18. Aldous Harding – ‘Party’
Party is an introspective collection of often cryptic musings from the young artist from New Zealand. The album as a whole feels extremely well-organized as it delivers not much of a stylistic diversity, but rather worsks a continued flow of dreamy self-reflection that feels improvisatory at time. Aldous Harding straddles the line between fantasy and reality in one of this year’s most underrated releases.
17. The Drums – ‘Abysmal Thoughts’
For the first time ever Johnny Pierce is running The Drums alone, on his own terms without any compromises. For him that meant could totally express himself – and talk about personal subjects like being gay, sex or personal memories on childhood. Abysmal Thoughts turned out to be an honest record that connects positive vibes with thoughtful lyrics and might easily his most confindent record so far.
16. Björk – ‘Utopia’
Opening up again towards the world and its people around Björk, Utopia serves as the perfect counterpart to the grief and scars that shaped the previous dark, eclectic and moving aesthetic of the predecessor Vulnicura. The blossoming character of the record is far from a happy-go-lucky ideal of love, but it’s nice to see that all this weight has finally been lifted from her shoulders.
15. Mac DeMarco – ‘This Old Dog’
Welcome back to Mac’s world. Where the carefree attitude rules, goofy behaviour appears on the agenda and feel-good vibes let you daydream until something dares to pull you back into reality. While not being a full grown-up by now, Mac DeMarco surely celebrates the wisdom of age to a certain charming degrees. The level of self-reflection as well as vulnerability is incredibly high which makes This Old Dog so remarkable.
14. Lana Del Rey – ‘Lust For Life’
Life is still miserable way to often in the cinematic world of Lana Del Rey. Still, it’s not as black and white as her aesthetics might imply. Lust For Life sees the singer showcasing her full spectrum of pop, from futuristic Frank Ocean-like beats to traditional Phil Spector sounds. Still, the artist embraces a new simplicity while celebrating her well-deserved own glory in the self-created niche
13. Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile – ‘Lotta Sea Lice’
Lotta Sea Lice is not an innovative record and actually not as good as the last two solo albums by these two but it’s an overdose of charm and playfulness that it’s kind of hard to not fall for this little dusty diamond. Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile are the indie music dream couple we never wished we were hoping for until they show up in such tremendous form.
12. Cigarettes After Sex – ‘Cigarettes After Sex’
The success story of Greg Gonzalez and his band Cigarettes After Sex is also of music’s true power, aside from any forced marketing strategies. Cigarettes After Sex is an album for lovers but also for those who desperately long for love, delivered with a bittersweet but also somehow relieving spirit. It’s a mesmerizing and hypnotic affair from start to finish, to say the least.
11. Sampha – ‘Process’
Sampha may not be the voice of our generation, but everyone of us has heard his voice in some way – be it as a collaborator (SBTRKT, Kanye, Solange etc.) or as a solo artist. Despite his shy nature there’s something to his voice that is brutally honest yet quite distant. Process is the fascinating document of a man whose best days are probably ahead of him. He couldn’t have picked a better way to launch his career.
10. Wolf Alice – ‘Visions Of A Life’
If labour party’s leading man Jeremy Corbyn campaigns for your band to make it to the country’s number one spot you’ve done a lot of things pretty right. Wolf Alice continue to become a highly important voice of their generation, one that can be both – pissed and pleasant. Just like in life, love and anger exist right next to each other as Ellie Rowsell shows all facets of human emotion. Still one of Britain’s biggest contemporary music treasures.
09. LCD Soundsystem – ‘American Dream’
James Murphy’s long planned second coming turned out to be quite a pleasant affair, delivering the best from LCD Soundsystem‘s vital past as well as few new aspects like an even more dedicated love for Bowie-inspired glam rock. Dancing between youthful excitement and a certain wisdom of age, American Dream is a mixtape-like full entertainment package for all music nerds out there.
08. Fever Ray – ‘Plunge’
Plunge is looking for the limelight while the Fever Ray debut album preferred the darkness, it’s got a raw and adventurous appeal and is not interested in quick and predictable pleasing. Karin Dreijer’s second full-length is a tender call to arms, tempting, raw, sensual and full of reasons to simply discover it again and again in various forms and states. Pop is not easy affair for the Swede and that is something you can’t worship enough with her.
07. Algiers – ‘The Underside Of Power’
The artistic form of protest music is not outdated. At least not when you have a band like Algiers that is pouring their heart and soul into songs that are meant to stir up your consciousness and perception of things. The four-piece from Atlanta has bundled their pain and anger about what is going on around them and generally in the world into a fierce and vigorous collection of twelve furious songs. And they manage to sound pretty unique after all.
06. The National – ‘Sleep Well Beast’
Matt Berninger and his band surely get better with age, or at least more stubborn regarding their musical vision. The seventh full-length of The National is another moody bliss, an ode to failed love and wrong-gone marriages, delivered in the familiar grumpy and tender way you’ve come to love by them. The more progressive and electronic sound just underlines the willingness of The National to not just play safe here.
05. The War On Drugs – ‘A Deeper Understanding’
Adam Granduciel is ready for the next step with The War On Drugs. While the pedecessor Lost In The Dream was already a spectacular piece of work, A Deeper Understanding further sharpens the Americana-infected shoegaze rock of the maestro and his band, climbing spectacular new heights. Despite a slicker approach Granduciel still delivers a cohesive listening experience that continues to seek for perfection in the most fascinating way.
04. Lorde – ‘Melodrama’
Euphoria and despair are close companions on Lorde‘s journey through the night as she rides on tender ballads and pumping dance beats. Melodrama unfolds itself as a reflective but also euphoric pop diamond, that tells the story of a drunken party night, packed with all the crazy chaos a woman in her age has to experience on a regular basis. The level of serenity and cleverness this young lady shows never fails to amaze us.
03. Father John Misty – ‘Pure Comedy’
The comedy of it all lies within its great tragedy. Josh Tillman clearly addresses much bigger issues this time than on his previous two Father John Misty albums: Mankind, religion, politics and a belief system that is so deeply broken, it even made him write a whole essay about humanity before the album got released. The result is a modern opus, a 75-minute-observation that is both lyrically sharp as one could expect from the eloquent and outspoken musician as well as sonically beautiful and rich.
02. Kendrick Lamar – ‘DAMN.’
Spirituality dominates the long awaited new Kendrick LP, turning DAMN into a scream rather than a whisper. Still, the new leading man of American Hip Hop is willing to fight the current movement of reactionary hate by delivering honesty and determination from start to finish. It’s a record we can all agree on… or at least we all should. It spreads furious hope and leaves no doubt to whom the streets of America belong. Lamar’s in for the long run, anyway so no matter if you immediately jump on the bandwagon of the hype or not, it’s getting harder and harder to ignore one of contemporary music’s most influential voices.
01. Slowdive – ‘Slowdive’
22 years after their last album, dream rock legends Slowdive are thankfully still too big to fail. It’s a simple as that and their outstanding self-titled comeback LP is a testament of strength that returns with all things you’ve come to love: The gentle dream pop surface, the menacing wideness, the complete utter feeling of dissolving within the tunes of this band. The songs are just too good, the band is in the form of their life and the whole package is just too tempting in the end. It’s obviously not gonna become a popcultural game-changer like Souvlaki but it is probably the most destilled Slowdive we ever had.