As we approach the half-way mark of 2017 we thought we’d take a look at some of the long-playing musical highlights we’ve already got our ears around and we’ve pulled together this list of fifty great albums of the year so far.
Our list is by no means exhaustive but maybe you’ll see something you’ve already fallen in love with or find something that you’ve missed in the last six months when you take a skim through. We know there has been even more brilliant new releases worthy of inclusion here that we will have missed.
Fifty great albums from the first half of 2017
These fifty releases are in no particular order – we loved them all and highly recommend you check them out as we go into the second half of 2017.
Ulver – The Assassination of Julius Caesar
The first studio album since 2011 for the highly acclaimed experimental band renowned for rock and electronic soundscapes. Read Editor In Chief John Robb’s interview with Ulver here.
Mark Lanegan Band – Gargoyle
“an album that rewards the more you listen to it. If you haven’t experienced the Mark Lanegan Band yet, then Gargoyle is as good a place to start as anywhere”. Read Mark Ray’s review here.
Stormzy – Gang Signs And Prayer
“a breathtaking swerve with an emotional backdrop and darkness that sees vulnerability that adds to the power of his music with stark sensitivity threaded into the grooves like a 21st century version of what Joy Division did to rock music with an album that deals with personal loss over a brilliantly thought out series of grooves and music backdrops”. Read John Robb’s review here.
Mario Batkovic – self-titled
“Batkovic has created an album that is not niche or esoteric. It is global and unifying. It deserves to be heard by everyone. It is music distilled to its very essence and is an album that will stay with you a very very long time”. Read Simon Tucker’s review here.
Dan O’Farrell and the Difference Engine – self-titled
One of England’s best ‘undiscovered’ songwriters. Former C86 contender makes album which fans of Gedge, Stipe and Bragg would adore… Said Ged Babey. Dan O’Farrell comes across as the perennial nice bloke, the voice of reason, rather than the radical rabble-rouser. Articulate and persuasive, but with a streak of black, mischievous humour and a core belief in romance, The Just prevailing and The Meek doing good things with their inheritance.
Dropkick Murphys – 11 Short Stories Of Pain And Glory
“it kind of FEELS like a resurgence weirdly. Yeah we’re very proud of the album and happy with the response” – read the rest of our in-conversation with Matt Kelly of the band here.
Diet Cig – Swear I’m Good At This
“Diet Cig have made the modern punk album – where admissions of weakness, where accepting the sadness and showing up anyway, and softness are as radical as any snarl and spit have ever been – and wrapped it in perfect twinkling, distorted, pop melody to make you dance and sing along”. Read Features Editor Sarah Lay’s review here.
Creeper: Eternity, In Your Arms
“elegantly stacked harmonies alongside lyrical articulation and emotion-stimulating theatrics which gift new significance with multiple listens. A debut that could easy have been weighed down with too much baggage and felt overly laboured Eternity, In Your Arms escapes being over produced, arriving feeling immediate and passionate with a captivating nervous energy that goes far beyond the emospective boundaries many expected”. Read Katie Clare’s review here.
Equinox – It’s Hard To Be Happy When Your Head Is Full Of Sin
“a wonderful debut that serves as a reminder that music in the end is about community. The album may shine a light on the more unsettling sides of human nature but you leave the album feeling rather uplifted and eager to listen again.” Read Simon Tucker’s review here.
Ty Segall – Ty Segall
“Segall has built up a sizable following and accrued an impressive back catalogue over the last decade, but there’s a sense that this new album might just reach a wider, more mainstream audience. Segall on daytime mainstream radio? Stranger things have happened”. Read Gus Ironside’s review here.
The Red Eyes – Man And Boy
“the startling thing about this record is that it’s not particularly punk-y in the accepted sense of the term, nowadays. There’s a real pop sensibility to much of it and it avoids the metal riffs beloved of many local bands”. Read Joe Whyte’s review here.
Blanck Mass – World Eater
“The scattergun noises and effects build and build almost organically. And the mixture of male and female vocals intermingle to create a track that is very danceable and one of the best electronic records I have heard this year. Just brilliant stuff”. Read Ioan Humphrey’s review of track Please here.
Grey Hairs – Serious Business
“Taking in various influences, from rock n’ roll, old surf records, to Sub Pop on the late 80s and early 90s, while turning their amps up to 11, they probably sound like different things to different people. They’re a bit punky, but definitely not a punk band. They’re a bit grungy, but certainly aren’t pretending they’re the next Tad or Nirvana. But as we all know, genres and pigeonholing is pointless anyway”. Read Paul Klotschkow’s interview with the band here.
Ifriqiyya Electrique – Rûwâhîne
“Rûwâhîne is one of the most amazing pieces of work you will ever witness, maybe never heard before and never to be heard again. An album catching a feeling, an emotion, a moment in a lifetime. Improvisation between tradition and technology. Quite literally blood, sweat and tears. Fantastic”. Read Paul Scott-Bates’s review here.
Lorde – Melodrama
The second album from Lorde and its an incisively written, dark pop record which doesn’t shy away from the vulnerability and first-time brutality and brilliance of her age.
The Charlatans – Different Days
Thirteen studio albums into a near-thirty year career and The Charlatans have released another forward-looking album, infused with their classic sound. Plenty of guests on this one too – from Paul Weller, Johnny Marr, and Stephen Morris through Nik Void, actress Sharon Horgan, and writer Ian Rankin. Read an interview with the band in issue 10 of Louder Than War magazine – order online here.
Green Peppers – Retrospectively Yours
“The eleven selections here will steal into your heart and nestle in your soul; take the time to explore these songs and they will stay with you forever”. Read Gus Ironside’s review here.
Dystopian Future Movies – Time
“far from wallowing it conjures image after image of things that are both melancholic and at the same time harrowingly beautiful. The human condition in a nutshell”. Read Pete Darrington’s review here.
HiFi Sean – Ft.Excursions
“With Ft. Excursions Hifi Sean has fulfilled a lifelong ambition of deconstructing one of his own albums, and in doing so has produced some pristine underground sounds just perfect for the late night/early morning scene”. Read Paul Grace’s review here.
Desperate Journalist – Grow Up
“a modern masterpiece. With every inch of their influences, not so much strapped to the mast but interwoven between words and melody, with their own indomitable mark stamped all over it. Musically it’s euphoric, lyrically it’s self deprecating and stinging”. Read James Auton’s review here.
The Fallen Leaves – What We’ve All Been Waiting For
Fourth LP from Purveyors of refined Punk Rock For Gentlemen. The Fallen Leaves keep it simple. Simple Music for Complex People. The Fallen Leaves ask you to remember …… Simple and easy are not the same thing. Ged Babey agrees.
Menace Beach – Lemon Memory
Scuzz guitar and distorted synth, boy/girl vocals and hidden hooks; Lemon Memory is the sound of a band more sure of themselves, and comfortable with the challenge of realising their vision as much as a cleansing and transition. Brilliant grunge-infused garage pop.
Clark – Death Peak
“a landmark album in the genre of electronic music. It is an intense and intensely beautiful listen that strikes exactly the right balance between the head, the heart, the stomach, and the feet. Buy it, use it, learn from it. Stunning.” Read Simon Tucker’s review here.
Anathema – The Optimist
“An album not just to marvel at, but one to explore and dissect. Anathema return to fulfil hopes.” Read Reviews Editor Mike Ainscoe’s review here.
Pet Crow – A Simple Guide To Small And Medium Pond Life
“Appearing to embody the punk ethic and taking their cue from Poly Styrene, Viv Albertine and Ari Up, but they bring it crashing through the previous three decades, picking up some new wave and Britpop on the way”. Read James Auton’s review here.
Kamikaze Girls – Seafoam
“Unapologetically raw, both emotionally and sonically, Kamikaze Girls have crafted an album that offers a voice for the voiceless and a glimmer of hope for the despondent and downtrodden”. Read Dave Beech’s review here.
Wire – Silver/Lead
“There is no way that a band can still sound so urgent and creative this far down the line but Wire just get on with it, releasing brilliant albums just below the radar, honing their craft, restlessly creative and thrillingly bored easily.” Read John Robb’s review here.
GospelbeacH – Another Summer Of Love
“Whether you call it power pop, folk rock or alt-country (at times all of these terms apply) GospelbeacH are bursting with melody, with terrific harmonies to boot”. Read Arash Torabi’s review here.
Biscuit Mouth – Hot Change
“blasts of prose are punctuated with corrosive mutated guitar that two thirds of the way through slow down to a dramatic stop… only to start up again”. Read Ioan Humphreys’ review here.
Ride – Weather Diaries
There is much in the long-awaited new album for fans of their early work, and even the straightforward indie rock of their latter two. But there is also enough to move this band forward – brilliantly produced by Erol Alkan Ride has delivered some perfect shoegaze moments of circling melody, but some more playful and broadly influenced tracks to boot. Read an interview with the band about the album in issue 10 of Louder Than War magazine – order online here.
Chastity Belt – I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone
The third studio album from Seattle-based post-punks is consistent in its cautious mood and warm but crunchy post punk guitars. Often with a downbeat feel to the delivery the vulnerability and introspection are striking making this a record that opens up its true beauty over time, rewarding loyalty.
Slowdive – Slowdive
A beautifully realised album drawn from their classic sound but without becoming a repeating cliche grown bloated on the current nostalgic penchant from all things shoegaze.
Idles – Brutalism
“Bristol’s Idles may just have become the most vital band around with the release of their magnificent Brutalism. There is something of the Sleaford Mods humour and a nod to the vocal stylings but the quality control of a band who have waited a long time to record their album is one of the things that distinguishes them. That and loud guitars.” Read Steve John’s live review here.
Jlin – Black Origami
The second studio album from producer Jlin is an intricately layered but immediately energetic and at times overwhelming record, moving her sound and relationship with production forward.
Moonlandingz – Interplanetary Class Classics
Since they emerged onto the scene last year, the loose-knit London collective have gradually evolved into one of the most mind-expanding live experiences around, a thrilling fusion of power drill punk and brown acid psych, with their recently released debut album Interplanetary Class Classics receiving critical acclaim.
Hateful – Noize From The Streets
Career defining punk/rock classicism. Songs about fallen comrades, broken lives and political turmoil wrapped in furious punk songs with orchestral and acoustic interludes. Indispensable. in the opinion of Joe Whyte.
Quim Reaper – self-titled
Vile, evil garage band from the Isle of Wight. They sound like being punched by a train whilst the voices in your head sing the chorus and your demons chew on your nerve endings. They are killing rock’n’roll, one song at a time. Says resident exaggerator Ged Babey.
British Sea Power – Let The Dancer’s Inherit The Party
“an album which subtly reflects the wider world – the post-fact era where doublespeak is the order of the day, and distraction and doubt are political tools of choice – it’s one which brings a glimmer of brighter days by being anchored in the individual, in the tales of life going on.” Read an interview with the band about the album in issue 9 of Louder Than War magazine – order online here.
Jane Weaver – Modern Kosmology
A rare example of a passionate and resilient artist who re-creates, re-invents and refreshes where many others come and go. Her synth-pop psych and conceptual pop LPs have earned her a faithful fan base which has extended to a long discography of collaborations. Modern Kosmology is the first time Weaver has taken uninterrupted recording time to finish an album start-to-finish and was recorded using all-analogue vintage machinery.
Forest Swords – Compassion
Second studio album from the electronic artist, following on from 2013’s Engravings, creating using a mix of analog and digital instruments and around a central theme. An arresting album of stunning soundscapes.
Paul Weller – A Kind Revolution
The thirteenth studio album from the Modfather and one which hears him at ease with his legacy, and confident with his continuing creativity. Classic songsmithery underpinning wide-ranging influences and reflections born from the wisdom of age.
Tinarewen – Elwan
A seventh long-player from the band and one which includes guest spots from Mark Lanegan and Kurt Vile among others. Pure rock delivered on a vital album.
Pissed Jeans – Why Love Now
The perfect music for out-of-control times the latest record from Pissed Jeans was co-produced with Lydia Lunch and hears them finesse their take-down of American manhood.
Hawkwind – Into The Woods
Only Dave Brock remains from the original line-up but this latest album from the long-standing band proves there is more to them than membership, as with Into The Woods they create a mystical and musical journey through nature – as experimental as they ever were.
Gorrilaz – Humanz
The first new album in eight years from the Damon Albarn / Jamie Hewlett created cartoon-fronted band and it’s one which is packed with influences, and guest spots – including those from Grace Jones, De La Soul and Savages’ Jehnny Beth. This is an album as unsettling as the times it is released into and one which jarringly shifts the listener between varied and deeply layered, but party-grooved, soundscapes.
Perfume Genius – No Shape
A coming of age for the artist as his sound continues to develop and on this fourth studio album is more fully realised.
Modern English – Take Me To The Trees
The first new album in three decades for the new wave / post punk band returning to the studio with four fifths of their original line up, a renaissance of their early sound, and support from a Pledge campaign.
Pumarosa – The Witch
The debut album from the London band is packed with varied influences but slips effortlessly between genres to give spun out space rock to grungy Britpop sounds a run out.
Ibibio Sound Machine – Uyai
A second album from previous Dead Albatross Music Prize winners Ibibio Sound Machine and they’re pushing their global dance sound into more frenetic and groundbreaking territory.
Depeche Mode – Spirit
Fourteenth studio album from the band and working with producer James Ford (of Simian Mobile Disco) they have hit a high watermark again, with this dark record that is evolution rather than revolution of their sound.