Excellent 2017 Albums We Missed First Time Around!

We’ll save the January new album review for next weekend and focus today on a bit of an update on 2017. Firstly, on reflection, and because I only listened to St Vincent’s Masseduction a few times before my best of 2017 countdown was written, I under-rated it as number 13 in my list. This is a fine album and probably should have been in my top ten, possibly even top five.

Then three albums I missed during 2017 but got for Christmas – or to be precise, I bought them "for my wife" for Xmas (so I could listen to them...)

Will Joseph Cook’s debut is Sweet Dreamer. He is a talented young British singer-songwriter, with a locker full of tuneful, energetic indie-pop songs. There’s a lot of competition around in that genre currently – headed by Mr Sheeran – but Cook deserves to make it based on this engaging debut. There’s a good mix of acoustic, electric guitar and synth driven songs and while there is nothing totally original, it is very enjoyable. 8/10

Even more deserving perhaps is Betsy, a striking young Welsh woman, brought up on a goose farm apparently, who has legitimate aspirations to be a fashion icon and belts out big dance pop “bangers” (as the young people say) on her eponymous debut Betsy in the style of Cher or Pat Benatar at their best. She has a big, soulful voice and it is all a bit retro, but songs like Little White Lies are just brilliant and classic pop/dance classics. Towards the end of the album it starts to get a little same-y but in a logical world she would have had three top ten hits by now.  8/10

Both Betsy and Cook would have been somewhere in my top 30 for 2017 had I heard them earlier, I suspect, but finally for today an album that would have been top ten, maybe top five, maybe even … I don’t know, but it is a classic rock record that I will listen to many, many times over coming years. Brand New have not released an album for 8 years and this has been positioned as their farewell. They are in that genre usually called “emo” – emotionally charged indie-rock with meaningful lyrics and touches of heavier rock at times.

With Science Fiction, the band and main singer /songwriter have gone further, with many of the tracks based on almost folk-like acoustic guitar (often with a Nirvana Unplugged vibe), some touches of something close to Moody Blues tuneful prog-folk, yet a couple of tracks that could be Queens of the Stone Age – tough bluesy rock. There are several samples of what sound like old psychiatric interviews interspersed, and you get the impression the lyrics are probably important too (but I haven’t analysed this aspect in detail). Whatever the style of the songs, hooks and tunes aren’t forgotten, and it is a compelling, varied yet coherent album – if it is their last, it is a fitting way to go out. 9/10 at least ….

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