ctoverdrive's Top Five Records of 2017 Friday December 22, 2017

I’m not going to lie, after an almost three-year hiatus on this thing, I’m kinda blown away that it still works.

So let’s start off with a rambling story. See when I was a young man in my early 20s, I was always astonished that “middle aged” people (those old fossils in their mid 30s) didn’t know what was going on in the pop-culture world. I found it offensive that people a mere ten years older than I, didn’t listen to the newest bands and records or were unable to list off, by memory, the current listings for places like the Uptown or Plaza theatre. What was wrong with these people? How could they become so uncool? Like honestly, how does everyone not know that Andrew W.K. is playing the Back Alley on a Tuesday evening in the middle of February!

Anyways, fast-forward fifteen odd years, and I as I sit here as one of those mid-30s fossils, I fully realize how much of a pretentious twerp I was back in the day.

What does that have to do with my top five records of 2017? Pretty much nothing. I’m just old and love stories. Actually, that’s a bit of a lie. I shared that story to give people a heads up that this list isn’t going to mimic Pitchfork’s list of bands that nobody has actually heard and to justify not waxing philosophically about every chord arrangement on each track of my top five albums.

So without further delay, here are my favourite records of 2017. Hope you enjoy’em and find some new music to listen to over the holidays.

1. Run The Jewels – III

Technically this doesn’t count as a 2017 release, as it came out on Boxing Day of ’16, but it’s impossible to overlook RTJ’s third album. In my opinion, there isn’t a more interesting or important act out there than El-P and rapper Killer Mike (sorry Kendrick Lamar fans). RTJ3 is brash, aggressive, unapologetic, and frankly the record that 2017’s endless string of chaos needed.

Throw a double finger with a fist
Here at the abyss
I will be your tour guide
It is war time, check your wrists (Ready, kids?)
Over to your right, shine a light
Got a bevy ready for the fight
I just wanna live, I don’t wanna ever have to load a clip
Only hunt bliss
I am still a kid in my heart.
(From 2100)

2. The xx – I see you

Over the past decade, London’s The xx (and to an extent Jamie xx) have quietly become one of my favourite bands. While the overall themes from record to record can sometimes blur together, their emotional and mesmerizing sound easily makes up for the lack of extreme diversity on each new record. There are elements of I see you which seem to be recycled from previous albums, but at the end of the day I see you sees this amazing trio with a far more upbeat and, dare I say, happy sound. Tracks such as Say Something, On Hold and I Dare You are some of their best work.

3. Beck – Colors

I’ve always been an unapologetic fan of Beck’s more up-tempo tracks and releases. I know everyone loves the mopey and critically acclaimed drivel of Sea Change and Morning Phase, but I’ve always had a soft spot for the less critically heralded additions to his catalogue. Records like Odelay and Midnight Vultures are regularly rescued from the depths of my CD collection for an occasional spin. So I was pleasantly surprised to see Colors as an upbeat change in musical direction. Sure it has the vintage signature tracks such as Wow and _ Seventh Heaven_, but tracks like Colors, Up All Night, and my favourite No Distraction are some of the best pop music to come out in 2017.

4. Queens of the Stone Age – Villains

Villains may never be as perfect as the quintessential Songs for the Deaf, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a really good album. The swinging The Way You Used To Do is probably one of the songs of the year (and also the most accessible track on the album), but that doesn’t take away from other songs such as Un-Reborn Again and The Evil has Landed. The true gem of the Villains is Head Like a Haunted House. Lasting all of three and a quarter minutes, Head Like a Haunted House takes you on a psychobilly rollercoaster through five different songs structures. Honestly, try listening to it on a good set of headphones and track the musical deviations and then contemplate how in hell someone could play this live. It’s an incredible achievement.

5. The Beaches – Late Show

The Beaches flew completely under the radar in 2017, but these four kick-ass women from Toronto are destined for rock n’ roll stardom. If you enjoy some of the best brit rock of the early 2000s, Luscious Jackson, or even the rockier elements of Tegan and Sara then Late Show is a record you should pick-up. Every track on their debut is a shout-a-long joyride; but Keeper is by far the best two and a half minutes of rock you’ve heard in a few years.

The also rans…

Portugal The Man – Woodstock

Woodstock probably deserves to be on my top five, but it got squeezed out due to stringent Canadian content regulations (which for my American records dictates I find away to promote Canadian culture in every blog post). You’ve all heard their infectious single Feel It Still. I know this because it because the defacto soundtrack to a mid-summer road trip to Denver (The Windy City) that I took this summer. But even with all the hallmarks of a one-hit wonder, Woodstock is a pretty complete record from beginning to end. Live in The Moment and Easy Tiger are just as joyous as the more popular Feel It Still.

Categories: The-Music, The-Pop-Culture,

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