You know how 2016 was the year it all went wrong? Well, 2017 was the year when it all really went wrong. The Orangutan is actually in the White House, and our beef with the Europeans has been written into law. Monsieur Macron’s dazzling smile aside, the political world hasn’t had much good to offer us this past year.
Luckily, there’s a way to stick it to the man – it’s called rock’n’roll. And 2017 was full of plenty of cool, pure and awesome music to help you plug in and switch off. Whether you wanted to do the funky chicken with Portugal. The Man, shout mysterious prophecies with The National or weep into your tea with London Grammar, 2017 had your back. Guitar music served up Childhood’s soulful return and new offerings from old favourites Kasabian and Noel Gallagher. Stormzy took the nation by…erm…storm and Lorde continued her crusade for Madonna’s Queen of Pop crown. Dan Auerbach and Barns Courtney gave roots music a twin boot up the backside and Capital FM poppers like The Vamps, Demi Lovato and Everything Everything kept the good times a-comin’ all year round.
Here’s our list of the best of 2017. You probably have your own – let us know in the comments what you’d have included…
London Grammar – Truth Is A Beautiful ThingLondon Grammar’s much-anticipated return was well worth the wait. 2017 saw the trip-hop trio release their first album since 2013’s clairvoyantly-titled If You Wait, and it’s a thing of beauty. They haven’t messed with the floaty formula of piano, synth and staccato guitar beneath Hannah Reid’s otherworldly vocals, but the songs are fresh and powerful, with the incredible melodies of ‘Rooting For You’ lifting the album onto higher planes right from the outset. The notorious Difficult Second Album Syndrome has been the downfall of many lesser acts, but London Grammar’s sophomore release is a rich, sweeping work of art, affirming their place in the upper echelons of modern British music. They aren’t just soundscape artists: they’re damn good songwriters too. No wonder Truth Is A Beautiful Thing made it to Number 1 on the UK charts. – Josh Hinton
The National – Sleep Well BeastFrom the opening piano of ‘Nobody Else Will Be There’ to the closing of the eponymous ‘Sleep Well Beast’, The National’s seventh album is a memoir of a marriage, confession of the narrator’s shortcoming and commentary on the tumultuous political and social climate we have found ourselves in since their last album in 2013. Instrumentally it’s their most creative work yet with influences drawn from various side projects leading to electronic sounds, spoken word and guitar solos all rarely seen, while it’s all tied together with lead singer Matt Berninger’s baratone voice and sombre, melancholic words. Arguably the best current band at making engaging “adult”, it has cemented them as one of the most important bands of today. – Steven Riley
Portugal. The Man – WoodstockPortugal. The Man’s eighth studio album can best be described using two words: effortless cool. True to its name, Woodstock has a distinctly summer festival feel, blending groovy beats, catchy riffs and lead singer John Gourley’s smooth vocals. Featuring collaborations with actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Son Little, this is a band who’ve hit their stride, but that doesn’t mean they’ve stopped experimenting. Gourley said he wanted to “write music that would help people feel they’re not alone, even if they’re angry or feeling lost.” In Woodstock they succeed with just that. – Natalie Xenos
Ghostpoet – Dark Days + CanapésGhostpoet didn’t have a good 2016. That is if Dark Days + Canapés is anything to go by. It’s a bleak landscape of an album with sombre reflections on the events of 2016. Everything from the immigration crisis to Tinder is covered in this bleak, beguiling album that marks something of a shift for Obaro Ejimiwe. This time around, the singer/rapper has gone deeper into his own psyche and conjured up his darkest work to date. The trip-hop, electronic sounds of his previous three albums are still abundant but they’re blended with stronger alt-rock guitars and riffs. This slight shift allows for more attention to be cast on the lyrics. Where once Obaro’s spoken word musings were drowned out by the electronic sounds, here the lyrics are at the forefront creating an outwardly introspective soundscape. Let’s hope Ghostpoet has had a better 2017. – Saul Masters
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Who Built The MoonThe third studio album from Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds saw the frontman take a different approach, resulting in one of his best musical offerings yet. From the psychedelic and eerie instrumental opener ‘Fort Knox’ to the more poppy Vaccines inspired ‘Holy Mountains’ – this album introduced listeners to a softer, more subtle sound from Gallagher, taking away the hard persona fans have grown accustomed to. Who Built The Moon is Gallagher’s most ambitious solo record and it’s one that gets better with every listen. – Chloe Dobinson
Childhood – Universal HighA strong contender for ‘most unexpected transformation of 2017’, Childhood’s second album took them from jangly indie-pop to synth-fuelled R&B grooves, heavy with Motown and Stax references. Vocalist Ben Romans-Hopcraft breaks out a deliciously smooth falsetto for lead single ‘California Light’ and opener ‘A.M.D.’, while ‘Monitor’ closes the album in a sparkling haze of lazy, graceful funk. It’s mature, starry-eyed stuff, full of class and dreamy harmonies. Although it clearly has one eye on the 1970s, Universal High sounds delightfully new, an accomplished mixture of vintage stylings and modern sensibility, all with a distinctively ‘London’ tinge. The choppy guitars are still there,