Julien Baker followed up her poignant first album with a record of even more emotional proportions. While Sprained Ankle thrived off its earthy musical approach, Turn Out The Lights provides more layers — both instrumentally and lyrically. Yet, Julien still sticks to her core elements: an echoing guitar and her haunting voice, with her impassioned approach helping “Shadowboxing” float and the title track demolish. No other album in 2017 hits with this amount of honesty, beauty, and all-around goodness.
If American Candy was The Maine’s attempt at a breezy summer album, then Lovely Little Lonely is its dark foil. It’s catchy nonetheless, with the gliding “Don’t Come Down” and bouncy “Bad Behavior” specifically responsible. The band brings heavy ‘90s rock influence throughout, brilliantly nodding to Third Eye Blind on the endearing ballad “Taxi.” The Arizona natives have truly come into their own with this record, a collection of pop-rock tracks that are equally catchy as they are striking.
With their debut, Wage War was one of the more promising new metalcore bands in a long time. They didn’t suffer from a sophomore slump with Deadweight, either, blending together technical riffage, crushing breakdowns, big choruses, and heartfelt lyrics into one tight mix. With every song, the band fires on all cylinders, flaunting their musical skills and drilling home the themes of perseverance and hope. Deadweight is one of the most impressive (and addictive) metal releases I’ve heard in a long time.
It’s obvious why they were left off most people’s end-of-the-year lists, but I couldn’t help but include Brand New’s Science Fiction on mine because of the closure it provided to me as a longtime fan of the band. The reasoning for recognizing the record is not about making excuses for Jesse Lacey, nor is it about separating the art from the artist. Rather, it’s about being honest about the way this album has affected me (which it has deeply and uniquely), and that’s not something anyone can take away.
After more than two decades without any activity from legendary shoegazers Slowdive, we got a new album from them this year. The wait was worth it, too, as the group offers the combination of thick instrumentation and mesmerizing ambience for which they’ve long been known. “Star Roving” is one of 2017’s most momentous tracks, and “Sugar For The Pill” lets its atmosphere take full control. With their sensational self-titled effort, Slowdive is back and better than ever–and so is the genre of shoegaze.
Most-Anticipated for 2018: Pianos Become The Teeth