RJ music writer’s 10 favorite albums of 2017

These are not the best albums of 2017.

But they are my favorites.

Here are the 10 albums I dug the most over the past year, in no particular order:

“Woodstock,” Portugal. The Man

An album full of insurrectionist anthems camouflaged as alt-pop party starters, “Woodstock” overtly nods to the notion of music as vehicle for social change that flower-powered the ’60s, from the record’s breakout hit, “Feeling It Still,” right down to its title. Considering how they’ve evolved, it’s hard to believe these Alaska natives emerged a decade ago on the far-out fringes of the jam band scene. Here, they incorporate hip-hop production flourishes into their increasingly dance-floor-friendly repertoire, landing on mainstream airwaves for the first time. If the revolution won’t be televised, perhaps it’ll be broadcast instead.

“Trumpeting Ecstasy,” Full of Hell

In these divisive times, when everybody hates everybody hates everybody hates everybody, these noise-lusting extremists scoff and have a “hold my beer” moment here. How fitting that “Ecstasy” starts with a sample from cinematic sad panda Werner Herzog, Full of Hell’s directorial analog, who ushers in 23 shrieking minutes of grindcore scream therapy, where 40-second-long tantrums bludgeon next to doomsday dirges. How does Full of Hell defang the ugliness all around them? By one-upping it.

“Sorry Is Gone,” Jessica Lea Mayfield

“Any tips on how to feel more human?” the eager loner asks on this most human of records. Mayfield’s the kind of girl who doesn’t want to be invited to the party, content to lose herself in the liberty of loneliness. If Mayfield’s lyrics betray a certain emotional numbness, her music follows suit: The 28-year-old’s delicate, lulling voice has an anesthetizing quality to it, a sensation enhanced by slurring guitars. On this, her fourth record, Mayfield makes solitude sound inviting while dispensing the year’s best relationship advice. “It’s nice to have a guy around / For lifting heavy things and opening jars,” she observes on the title track. “Should we really let them in our beds? / Chain ’em to a little house outside.”

“Big Fish Theory,” Vince Staples

The fraught pursuit of good vibes amid bad habits informs the latest album from one of hip-hop’s most promising young talents. “Please don’t look at me in my face / Everybody might see my pain,” Staples rhymes on “Party People,” his voice pistoning hard into a clattering beat, like a jackhammer digging into concrete. The track’s indicative of much of “Big Fish Theory”: It sounds like a club banger buoyed by an arms-in-the-air chorus, but lyrically, the song contemplates suicide, racial injustice and the pursuit of pleasure as a way of masking pain. Staples offers no easy answers to the many questions he poses here, nor is this record an easy listen, with its abstract electronic backdrop. It all makes this the rare album equally well-suited for starting or ruining the party.

“Deer Tick Vol. 1 and Vol. 2,” Deer Tick

Speaking of parties, Deer Tick frontman John McCauley was the life of many of them until it was almost the death of him. He’s since gotten sober, which is the connective tissue linking these two records, the first of which is largely acoustic, the latter electric. “Can you believe what he did to himself? Spent tiny fortunes on powders and pills,” McCauley sings on a galloping “Tiny Fortunes” from “Vol. 2.,” where he acknowledges the fun of his wild years while also winking at their conclusion (“Look at How Clean I Am”). Deer Tick’s roots rock has always had heart and soul to spare, and from the Springsteen-esque sax roar of “Mr. Nothing Gets Worse” to the resigned waltz that is “Hope Is Big,” that’s remained unchanged, even if the same can’t be said of the man who provides their voice.

“The Dusk in Us,” Converge

Rare is the progressive hardcore troupe that bludgeons the heart as much as the body. On its ninth album, Converge continues to set the bar for duck-and-cover metallic chaos. But whether singer Jacob Bannon’s testifying to love’s redemptive powers or pondering the echo chamber of anger that is the world outside his window, “Dusk” hits as hard emotionally as it does physically.

“Hiss Spun,” Chelsea Wolfe

The fifth record from this doom-gaze witchy woman is the sound of empowered surrender, of giving in to the darkest of impulses as a means of exorcising them. “Ire retrained / I’m ready to let it go,” Wolfe sings on “Static Hum,” her voice angelic, her desires devilish. Wolfe’s delivery is as sweet as her words are stinging, embedded in a cocoon of distortion weaved by her amp-exploding guitar playing. Eventually, Wolfe finds the light. “My regret will never consume me,” she promises on final track “Scrape,” closing an album that consumes fully.

“Flying Microtonal Banana,” King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard

On “Open Water,” these tireless Aussies sing of being lost at sea, a sensation not unlike immersing yourself in the Wizard’s ever-growing discography. The first of four (!) albums the band released this year (and they say another one’s coming before the calendar flips), “Banana” is the best of the bunch. This is psychedelia at its most prismatic and uninhibited. From helium-voiced piano-pop (“Billabong Valley”) to fang-sprouting lullabies (“Sleep Drifter”) to radioactive, slow-strutting funk (“Nuclear Fusion”), it’s all here in a songbook expanding faster than the universe itself.

“Kingdoms Disdained,” Morbid Angel

Not since Tom G. Warrior poofed up his hair and started rocking L.A. Guns gear for Celtic Frost’s stillborn “Cold Lake” fiasco back in ’88 have headbangers been as roundly cheesed off as they were upon the release of Morbid Angel’s 2011 “Illud Divinum Insanus.” They atone for that beat-heavy dud by parting ways with singer-bassist-leather-cowboy-hat-aficionado David Vincent, bringing back the Orc-voiced Steve Tucker and delivering this dense, demanding return to form.

“The Spirit of Memphis (1962-1976),” Isaac Hayes

This four-disc set spans Hayes’ work as bandleader, songwriter and producer for numerous artists on the Stax Records label, from the serrated guitar skronk of Booker T. and the M.G’s “Boot Leg” to Sam & Dave’s exultant R&B standard “Hold On, I’m Coming.” It also encompasses a treasure trove of Hayes’ consistently adventurous solo work. Start with album-closing epic “Do Your Thing — Extended Jam,” a 30-minute soul sweat bath, and work your way backward to the future of funk.

Contact Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476. Follow @JasonBracelin on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Entertainment
The Octopus On The Las Vegas Strip Predicted The Winner Of The World Cup
The Octopus On The Las Vegas Strip Predicted The Winner Of The World Cup. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-journal)
TLC by the Numbers
Watch Ruthless! at Las Vegas Little Theatre
The musical Ruthless! will be playing at Las Vegas Little Theatre from July 13-29. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
How to feel like a kid again in Las Vegas
How to feel like a kid again in Las Vegas
People Lined Up For Over 5 Hours For Build-a-bear's "Pay Your Age" Promotion At Galleria Mall
People Lined Up For Over 5 Hours For Build-a-bear's "Pay Your Age" Promotion At Galleria Mall. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Cadaver art and sword swallowing at The Dark Arts Market
Curator Erin Emrie talks about her inspiration for The Dark Arts Market at Cornish Pasty Co. in Las Vegas Tuesday, July 10, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Over 40,000 People Attend The 4th Of July Parade In Summerlin In Las Vegas
Over 40,000 People Attend The 4th Of July Parade In Summerlin In Las Vegas. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
What to expect at Station Casinos' Fourth of July celebration
Station Casinos' is hosting its annual 4th of July celebration with Fireworks by Grucci. Fireworks scheduled to go off on Wednesday, July 4 around 9 p.m. at Green Valley Ranch Resort, Red Rock Resort, Fiesta Rancho and Texas Station. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Pawn Stars' Richard Harrison honored at memorial service
A memorial service was conducted for Richard "Old Man" Harrison at Palm Mortuary in Las Vegas on Sunday, July 1, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Tourists and locals enjoy Independence Day fireworks at Caesars Palace
Hundreds of tourists and locals gaze at the Independence Day fireworks show at Caesars Palace on Saturday, June 30, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
5 must-see bands at Warped Tour 2018
Five must-see bands at Warped Tour 2018
This Banana Split In Las Vegas Is Made With Fire And Liquid Nitrogen Right At Your Table.
This Banana Split In Las Vegas Is Made With Fire And Liquid Nitrogen Right At Your Table. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pixar Pier At Disneyland Is Open With New Food And A New Roller Coaster
Pixar Pier At Disneyland Is Open With New Food And A New Roller Coaster (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Here's What It's Like To Ride The New Incredicoaster At Disneyland
Here's What It's Like To Ride The New Incredicoaster At Disneyland (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
"Pawn Stars" fans visit Richard Harrison's memorial at Gold & Silver Pawn
"Pawn Stars" fans from around the world visit the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas following the passing of Richard "Old Man" Harrison on Monday, June 25, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Get a sneak peek at Palace Station's newest renovations
Station Casinos spokesperson Lori Nelson gives a first look at what Palace Station's $192 million renovation will bring. Some areas will begin opening to the public next week according to Nelson. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
You Can Only Get The 11-pound 8-person Burger In Las Vegas
You Can Only Get The 11-pound 8-person Burger In Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Paul McCartney is worth over $1 billion
Sir Paul McCartney is one of the most celebrated and accomplished musicians in history. He just turned 76 on June 18. McCartney grew to international fame with the Beatles and went on to become a wildly successful solo musician. Paul McCartney’s net worth is estimated at $1.2 billion, according to Celebrity Net Worth. In 2017, McCartney landed the No. 13 spot on Forbes’ list of the world’s highest-paid musicians, earning $54 million for the year. On Thursday, June 20, McCartney will release a double A-side single featuring two new songs, "I Don't Know" and "Come On to Me." McCartney has yet to announce a title of his new album or when it will be released. Th album is expected to be released before he headlines the Austin City Limits Music fest in October.
Bellagio's New Conservatory Brings Italian Summer To Las Vegas
Bellagio's New Conservatory Brings Italian Summer To Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Kari Curletto of Las Vegas put over 500 hours into making her toilet paper wedding dress. (Courtesy Kari Curletto)
Kari Curletto of Las Vegas put over 500 hours into making her toilet paper wedding dress. (Courtesy Kari Curletto)
The Real Crepe In Las Vegas Serves Authentic Crepes In The Style Of Brittany, France
The Real Crepe In Las Vegas Serves Authentic Crepes In The Style Of Brittany, France. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-journal)
New Marilyn Musical Brings Screen Icons Life To Strip
Paris Las Vegas hosts musical bio featuring new, old tunes. (Carol Cling Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas' hottest concerts of the summer
Vegas' hottest concerts of the summer
We Taste-tested The Best Doughnut Shops In Las Vegas
We Taste-tested The Best Doughnut Shops In Las Vegas. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
5 must-see bands at Punk Rock Bowling 2018
5 must-see bands at Punk Rock Bowling 2018
Gabi Coffee & Bakery Is Like A Korean Speakeasy From The 1920s
Gabi Coffee & Bakery Is Like A Korean Speakeasy From The 1920s (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Five must-see acts at the Electric Daisy Carnival 2018
Five must-see acts at the Electric Daisy Carnival 2018
The "13 Reasons Why" mustang cruises down the Las Vegas Strip (Courtesy Netflix)
4 fun and fascinating museums in Las Vegas
U2 in Vegas through the years
U2 in Vegas through the years
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like