Beau Brady's Top 10 Albums of 2017
Beau Brady of Excuse Me shares his 10 favorite albums of 2017:
10. Black Lips - Satan's Graffiti or God's Art?
I would not have believed you back in January if you told me Black Lips would make one of my favorite albums this year. I casually enjoyed certain songs on their 2007 breakout record Good Bad Not Evil and then vastly ignored their two follow-up albums. But something was different about Satan's Graffiti or God's Art? that had me returning to it well after its May release. The band underwent a slight line-up change as well as paired up with Sean Lennon to help produce this highly conceptual outing. Lennon's addition to this album seems important, as the multiple album interludes, overture/finale and of course Sean's mother Yoko "starring" on "Occidental Front" add to the entire album's appeal. Even with those nice flourishes, the songs here are undeniable and Black Lips come off sounding as good as their band's age would lead you to believe. There are catchy hooks everywhere on this album and it only makes the seamless transitions between songs all the more impressive.
9. LCD Soundsystem - american dream
Given my vocal distaste of This Is Happening, it should come as no surprise that I welcomed this album with open arms. Only one song in and I was already happier that I had discovered one of my favorite songs of the year. I played "oh baby" more than any other track on this album. Though I'd be remiss to not point out album centerpiece "how can you sleep?" and the "blank screen" grand finale. The former a tempestuous dismissal of James Murphy's estranged DFA label mate Tim Goldsworthy. The latter ranking amongst the best David Bowie homages from a man who made his name on David Bowie homages. How could I hate this album?
8. Kendrick Lamar - DAMN.
Ever since good kid, m.A.A.d city, I've awaited the day that Kendrick Lamar would realize what Kanye West realized 10 years ago: ditch the skits. Aside from the introduction "BLOOD.", DAMN. is all hits through "DUCKWORTH." Kung Fu Kenny somehow topped "Alright" as his best single when the "HUMBLE." music video dropped like a message from God on March 31. Speaking of God, penultimate sensation "GOD." ended up being one of my most celebrated songs all year. To see him come back on stage and close out his concert with "GOD." is one of my favorite 2017 moments.
7. Migos - C U L T U R E
I may be overstepping my knowledge, but it seems that three rappers took the "Best Rapper of the Year" award in 2017. Quavo, Offset and Takeoff already had 2017 in the bag after Donald Glover declared "Bad & Boujee" the "best song ever" in his Golden Globes acceptance speech. Soon afterwards, the "T-Shirt" music video proved just how larger than life these three family members were on screen. Rapping on a snowy mountain, riding snow mobiles and sipping hot cocoa, Migos personified January 2017. They slammed the hammer down hard when C U L T U R E dropped at the end of the month, leaving seismic rumbles rippling throughout the rest of the year. Coachella quickly identified they screwed up not having booked Migos, but rebounded by having them guest three times throughout the April festival. Migos played on Ellen. Migos played at the Met Gala. Their songs were everywhere all year long and they've been teasing a C U L T U R E 2 perhaps before this year even ends. It's something to see when a rising rap group declares themselves as the culture and then proves it.
6. White Reaper - The World's Best American Band
Apologies in advance if you missed White Reaper's misty Norman Music Festival set in April. What looked like awful conditions proved to be a challenge for these Louisville, Kentucky road warriors. They later said it was one of their favorite shows because of the adverse conditions. White Reaper have been touring quite literally all year since their album was released in early April. They've graced the main stages of Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza and are preparing to open for Spoon for the second time. The album name is not posturing; it's a defensible argument. Here at the end of 2017, these gentlemen don't need more live practice. Give us one or two more albums as potent as The World's Best American Band and the rest of the world may just start believing the bold claim to be the honest truth.
5. The Horrors - V
Only the utmost respect to my former radio co-host Kellen McGugan for showing me Primary Colours in 2009. Following The Horrors career since then has been rewarding, but this year I felt I discovered pure gold. V refers to the fact this is The Horrors fifth album, but it is an important distinction given how often they change up their style. The Horrors are diehard music nerds and are never afraid to venture into unknown territory. It felt like they may have been spinning their wheels on their previous outing Luminous, but V found them in the studio with all-star producer Paul Epworth (production credits on Bloc Party's Silent Alarm, The Futureheads, and lots with Adele) who seemingly pushed them to play the best music of their lives. Every song sounds like a polished gem glimmering in the sun. It's a sound the band has been exploring for years and it finally sounds pristine. Released in late September, I still haven't stopped listening to V on a regular basis.
4. King Krule - The OOZ
Wherein the album's creator, Archy Marshall, finally creates the definitive album we expected this young musical prodigy to produce. The OOZ ebbs and flows musically with seamless song transitions and lyrically around Archy's consistent references to the vast blue ocean. Every song is an outlier as the only trick Archy repeats across these 19 tracks is the unassuming introduction of each track that builds to an unexpected climax of raw emotion. Archy bears it all out as he eventually pleads for alignment with anybody on the album's title track. The OOZ isn't an album that you listen to so much as it's an album you live inside. It's so dense and expansive that you have to dive all the way in to appreciate its massive depth.
3. GAS - Narkopop
Ever since I discovered Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works: 85-92, I've always enjoyed falling asleep to ambient music. I always have my eyes peeled for newer albums to explore, but they are few and far between. GAS' previous LP Pop was released all the way back in 2000 and has long been considered one of the most essential ambient albums of our time. So it was big news that GAS was finally releasing a follow-up 17 years later, especially when the results are as impressive as they are on Narkopop. As the title would imply, it's a darker take on his previous record that was always appreciated for its sunniness. Yet the master craftsmen Wolfgang Voigt applies the same meticulous creation as he did on his previous albums, stitching together ten movements and presenting it as a unified whole. This album wasn't included on my Excuse Me list because listening to this album on CD is the only way to truly appreciate it. There, every track is blended flawlessly to the point you don't realize a track has changed until a minute after the fact. Even though I spent most of 2017 (as with every year) sleeping, I got to do so this year to a very special album that helped instill a sense of tranquility into me every day. Of course, it wouldn't be this high if it was only a sleep album. I've reached for this album when I've needed focus, such as writing this very blurb about this album right now. It's got multiple uses.
2. The War on Drugs - A Deeper Understanding
It sure seemed like The War on Drugs had 2017 on lock when "Thinking of a Place" was released on Record Store Day back in April. The 11-minute track was instantly one of the biggest songs the band had ever recorded and it sounded more polished than ever. With band mastermind Adam Granduciel taking over the production reins, The War on Drugs sounded all too prepared to top their highly acclaimed previous LP Lost in the Dream. The singles kept coming as "Holding On" and "Strangest Thing" proved this album was going to be huge. Yet nothing could prepare us for how all these individual songs sound so at home on the album proper. "Thinking of a Place" is lifted to new heights surrounded by "Nothing To Find" and "In Chains". With a two-song comedown to take us away, it's fair to say they managed to top Lost in the Dream, which was probably the best album of 2014. Granduciel continues to prove himself to be an immense talent in the studio and on stage. Thank goodness he's given us another album that should keep us busy for another three years.
1. Slowdive - Slowdive
What can I say: I love shoegaze. When My Bloody Valentine finally followed up 1991's Loveless 22 years later with m b v, it quickly became my favorite album of 2013. This year, one of MBV's most closest comparisons released their eponymous return after 22 years (you can't make up these coincidences) and may have just topped the rankings of shoegaze royalty. When you return from a two decade plus absence, you expect to hear at least one song so good it could convince you it was as old as the band you were hearing. "Star Roving" is most assuredly that song, but they also may have given seven other examples on this eight song album. It's one of those rare occasions where a band who has already been written into the annals of music history releases another album and the answer to the question, "Why?" is laced within the songs themselves. Slowdive released a new album because it would be a crime to withhold these songs from the world. They're that beautiful.