Spend Matters Albums of the Year 2017 – the “Next 25”

Next week (from Wednesday) we’ll be running down our top 30 albums of the year. We thought we would do it a week before Christmas to give you a chance to rush out and buy them for your family, friends and lovers before the big day.

But while it has not been an outstanding year, I’ve enjoyed many albums, and my list started with around 60. And to be honest, there wasn’t much difference in rating between number 60 and number 20. So today, we’ll have just a very quick rundown of the 25 that I enjoyed but didn’t quite make the top 30.

In many cases, they were albums by established artists who I like a lot - but I felt their latest work just wasn’t quite up to their very best. So maybe a bit harsh not making the 30, but I’d rather include some new names than having London Grammar, Plant, the XX and the Shins again. But here are a round dozen – not in any order - by artists who we’ve previously enjoyed, with their very acceptable 2017 releases.

Queens of the Stone AgeVillainsMore heavy rock but with a bit more swing thanks to producer Mark Ronson
Fleet FoxesCrack-UpVery strange, clever, rambling album, some beautiful harmony but also some rather odd moments!
The DistrictsPopular ManipulationsBlues tinged rock, more complex but a bit less energy than their debut (see video below)
Ryan AdamsPrisonerStraight ahead rock rather than Americana – strong tunes
Robert PlantCarry FireThat amazing voice with a range of folk, blues and soul influenced tunes
The Shins    HeartwormsSmart indie rock from US veterans
Future islands  The Far FieldEmotional vocals and electronic indie pop
The XX          I See YouMore upbeat than their previous work, but not a big change in direction
London Grammar                    Truth is a Beautiful ThingPretty, chilled, dance-pop. Maybe a little polite at times but that amazing voice makes it worthwhile
Deaf Havana              All These Countless nightsPop-punk-rock but with more tunes than previously
You Me At Six            Night PeopleRock/punk but more tuneful than before, some electronics, as the Surrey band mature to stadium fillers
The New Pornographers       Whiteout ConditionsNorth American Indie collective including the amazing Neko Case

I do like my female singer songwriters – here are a few that just didn’t quite make the top 30 (quite a few did, as you will see next week).

Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile               

 

Lotta Sea LiceI’d prefer Barnett on her own to be honest … smart low-fi chilled duets
Tift Merritt                                  

 

Stitch of the WorldVeteran country / Americana artists  with another good, tuneful album
Julie Byrne                                 

 

Not Even Happiness                Beautiful folk and new age influenced  songs
Rose Elinor Dougall                       

 

Stellular Ex-Pipettes singer with quirky pop-rock songs, tuneful and varied album
Karen Elson                               

 

Double RosesModel and Jack White’s ex wife shows she has real talent, excellent voice and good pop/folk/electronic songs
Katie Von Schleicher                     

 

Shitty HitsBrooklyn singer songwriter, memorable but melancholic, dream-like songs (see below)
Kacy Hill                                     

 

Like a WomanYoung Kanye protégé, model/singer/ writer, this dance pop is fine but we suspect she’s still looking for her identity

Finally, half a dozen quirky artists who didn’t quite fall into any obvious categories!

Dan Auerbach Waiting on a Song Black Keys frontman comes over all Bacharach / Glen Campbell / James Taylor. Timeless pop tunes.
Public Service Broadcasting

 

Every ValleyA song cycle about the Welsh coal industry, using various vintage vocal recordings and a mix of newly recorded  music
Jay Som                                                                               

 

Everybody Works Young Californian woman, ultimate bedroom-produced low-fi album, but melodic witty and surprisinglu sophisticated
Mount Eerie                                      A Crow Looked At Me After his wife died of cancer last year,  Phil Elverum wrote this heart-wrenching album, mainly  simple guitar and vocal songs , celebrating her life, death and their time together
Slowdive                                    

 

SlowdiveAfter 20 years away, UK shoe-gaze band back with surprisingly good album (see video below)
Father John Misty                   

 

Pure ComedyBiting, clever lyrics and “mock-AOR” music, critics fave

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