Last week we rattled off fifteen albums that have been filling our playlists for the past year and now we’re at it again with fifteen more gems. Last year’s winner was How To Be A Human Being by Glass Animals, now take a look below to find out who our writer’s have voted for as the Best Albums of 2017.

blaenavon

15. Blaenavon – ‘That’s Your Lot’

That’s Your Lot may sound like the final album from a band bowing out on their career but Blaenavon are far from it. What the twelve-track album does consist of is cuts from early 2013 EPs (‘Prague ’99’ and ‘Swans’) to radio friendly indie-pop bangers fresh from the start of the year (‘Orthodox Man’). It’s a body of work that showcases the Hampshire trio thus far and the potential they have to push on to that dreaded album number two.

Key Track: ‘Lonely Side

Where will they be in 2018?
Kicking off the year by supporting The Wombats in the US before taking a break to write their next record. They assure us they’ll be back playing gigs by the end of 2018 though.

 

mr-jukes

14. Mr Jukes – ‘God First’

After nearly a decade of success with Bombay Bicycle Club, the pressure was on when Jack Steadman announced his new project as Mr Jukes. His debut track ‘Angels / Your Love’ set the stage for one of the most interesting sounds of 2017. God First comes from the headspace of Steadman on Bombay Bicycle Club’s final album and while the right amount of that influence is allowed to seep through, it’s the soul and jazz production which carries the multi-talented Steadman into new territories.

Key Track: ‘Angels / Your Love (feat. BJ the Chicago Kid)

Where will they be in 2018?
Steadman released a new version of ‘From Golden Stars Come Silver Dew’ featuring rapper Barney Artist so expect him to be in the studio trying out more new stuff in 2018.

 

alt-j-relaxer

13. Alt-J – ‘RELAXER’

With two critically acclaimed albums under their belt, Alt-J went for the hat trick this year with RELAXER – their third album in five years. The trio have gone for a more gentle approach with the Ellie Rowsell inspired lead single ‘3WW’, as well as the blossoming ‘House Of The Rising Sun’ and ‘Adeline’. It’s moments at the core of the eight tracks though like the thumping hip-hop infused ‘Deadcrush’ or frantic ‘Hit Me Like That Snare’ that bring RELAXER to life.

Key Track: ‘Deadcrush

Where will they be in 2018?
Where their first two albums were given no rest in the live arena, RELAXER is at a different pace altogether. With epic tracks that are veering more and more towards soundtracks for films, we wouldn’t be surprised if they put pen to paper for the big screen in the new year.

 

bonobo-migration

12. Bonobo – ‘Migration’

Like our higher entry, Four Tet, Simon Green, aka Bonobo, has mastered sophisticated electronica this year with his sixth studio album Migration. Lead single ‘Kerala’ crackles and blossoms with every listen and shows off Green’s multi-instrumental talents. Elsewhere global sounds are explored particularly in Moroccan influenced ‘Bambro Koyo Ganda’ which has no less been nominated for Best Dance Recording at the Grammys. Migration really comes to life though in its natural live habitat where Green ropes in full band and instrumentalists to piece together this multi-textured project.

Key Track: ‘Kerala’

Where will they be in 2018?
Bonobo plays two massive London dates at Alexandra Palace at the start of summer, but be quick, with his live show becoming increasingly popular, only one date still has tickets left.

 

everything-everything

11. Everything Everything – ‘A Fever Dream’

Everything Everything are churning out music at an impressive rate. Four albums in seven years ‘A Fever Dream’ is perhaps their most well thought out. Dramatic from the outset, the Manchester four piece really let their theatrical side take over with frontman Jonathan Higgs wailing more uncontrollably than ever before and hefty synths driving them from oddball alt-pop songs to epic bangers; ‘Can’t Do’ is one of the most infectious tracks of the year and ‘A Fever Dream’ a euphoric masterpiece.

Key Track: ‘A Fever Dream

Where will they be in 2018?
Having supported heavyweight indie bands like Foals in the past couple of years it’s now time for Everything Everything to take centre stage. They’re playing Alexandra Palace in March and will be higher up than ever on festival line-ups come summer.

 

father-john

10. Father John Misty – ‘Pure Comedy’

Josh Tillman’s third album under the Father John Misty alias is an introspective look at the human psyche in 2017. It takes what you came to love about FJM and throws it out of the window, ditching the romance and making his political views loud for all to hear whether you like it or not. Only he would write a thirteen minute song about L.A. hipsters and not care who he alienates in the process. All the songs here sound like a sad man at a piano. But, his ambition for this project with it’s lavish production and verbose lyrics makes you realise how grounded he is as a song writer and that nobody is free of critique, even himself.

Key Track: ‘Ballad Of The Dying Man’

Where will they be in 2018?
Expect a quiet year with sparse festival appearances in the summer, but there will be outrageous interviews with an out of context quote used as a clickbait title all while insisting the new album is ‘almost done’. How soon that’ll be? I don’t think even he knows.

 

wolf-alice

9. Wolf Alice  – ‘Visions of a Life’

After becoming 2015’s success story with debut album My Love Is Cool, second album syndrome was always going to surround Wolf Alice. Any doubts were soon given a jab to the face with punchy return track ‘Yuk Foo’, where lead singer Ellie Rowsell lets the sassy side to her go full on fierce. Grimes-esque ‘Sky Musings’ sees her get even darker but it’s not all weird on this record. Snappy ‘Beautifully Unconventional’ is the ear-worm of the pack whereas ‘Heavenward’ and ‘Don’t Delete The Kisses’ see the band unfurl long, weighty tracks built on nostalgia and destined for stadiums.

Key Track: ‘Don’t Delete The Kisses’

Where will they be in 2018?
After this summer it’s time for them to take a long-awaited break before making album three, which could be the one that ensures them festival headline status. They’re dangerously close.

 

saturation-ii

8. Brockhampton – ‘Saturation II’

Hip hop collective Brockhampton are the only artist with two albums in this year’s list, and that’s forgetting their third record which was released after votes were counted. Fast becoming a force to be reckoned with, where Saturation was all about getting to know the group at a gentle pace, Saturation II goes straight in with wonky hooks, bonkers vocals and pop belters in the form of ‘TOKYO’ and ‘SWEET’. Fans of Outkast and N.E.R.D’s ears will prick up multiple times on this fifteen track project.

Key Track: ‘TOKYO

Where will they be in 2018?
As mentioned, Saturation III completes the trinity of Brockhampton albums but don’t expect the group to go anywhere too soon, with critical acclaim growing from the likes of Zane Lowe.

lcd-soundsystem

7. LCD Soundsystem – ‘American Dream’

After the most unsubtle of festival appearances in 2016, headlining Glastonbury’s Other Stage being one of them, New York’s LCD Soundsystem were sure to be back with new music soon. Roll on September 2017 when the group released their first album after seven years away. The return was typical LCD with glitchy noughties synths in ‘tonite’, whirling riffs in ’emotional haircut’ and stretched out anthems like ‘call the police’ and nine minute epic ‘how do you sleep?’. It has all the elements of past LCD success without ever getting boring.

Key Track: ‘how do you sleep?’

Where will they be in 2018?
LCD fans stretch far and wide but the band don’t like to saturate their diaries with too many dates. UK residents your best bet is to head North to Glasgow or South to London where the band will play May dates.

 

the-national

6. The National – ‘Sleep Well Beast’

Seven albums in and the National threw a curveball. Sleep Well Beast is a vibrant tapestry of mathy-electronics pitted against explosions of prog guitar, straining to cover new ground as far as it can imagine. Sleep Well Beast frequents the dark, dwelling on fractured relationships and revisiting old ghosts. Matt Berninger’s fear of the future drives the saddest moments and biggest choruses of his career- no one does gloom better.

Key Track: ‘Carin at the Liquor Store

Where will they be in 2018?
Summer is going to be huge for the National, hosting their own festivals and curating a day at London’s shiny new All Points East, inviting War on Drugs and Future Islands to join them. Being underdog for 18 years has moulded them into a humble yet ferocious live act, not to be missed.

 

sampha-process

5. Sampha – ‘Process’

What felt like work in progress finally came to fruition for Sampha in 2017. The South London singer, who lent his vocals to Drake and SBTRKT over the past five years, proved his worth with this tightly crafted debut. From thumping pop hit ‘Blood On Me’ to the sentimental delicacy of ‘(No One Knows Me) Like The Piano’, it was a worthy winner of this year’s Mercury Music Prize and an easy pick in our top albums.

Key Track: ‘Blood On Me’

Where will they be in 2018?
After the biggest year of his career, it’s probably rest time for Sampha with the odd festival here and there including the all new All Points East three-dayer in London.

 

tyler-the-creator

4. Tyler, The Creator – ‘Sunflower Boy’

Tyler’s fourth solo album is his most beautiful and well crafted album as a rapper, producer and lyricist to date. Never before has a Tyler album felt this jazzy with the softer moments on the album hitting you right in the feels, to songs like ‘Who Dat Boy’ delivering the punch and aggression that audiences and fans expect to hear from a Tyler project. Usual collaborator Frank Ocean and relative newcomer Rex Orange County are stand out features on the album, which despite the number of features, doesn’t leave the album feeling crowded one bit. Tyler has blossomed as an artist on this project coming way out of left field and surprising everyone, including the industry, with what he’s really been capable of all along.

Key Track: ‘See You Again (feat. Kali Uchis)’

Where will they be in 2018?
With his ban on entering the UK being lifted soon, hopefully when the time comes he’ll jump across the pond to celebrate with a long overdue tour.

 

lorde-melodrama

3. Lorde – ‘Melodrama’

On paper, Lorde’s second album should be awful. 21 year-old Ella Yelich-O’Connor says Melodrama’s is built around a house party, each song a different stage or stolen moment. This is a distraction from what really drives Melodrama. When those Hollywood pingers wear off, in a strange house doubting who your friends are, the album always comes back to what’s really making you sad, underneath all the distraction. For Lorde, the answer is the end of teenage love. The supposed story of a small-town girl struggling to survive fame is just the backdrop; at it’s heart, Melodrama is a break-up album of devastating excellence.

Key Track: ‘Writer In The Dark’

Where will they be in 2018?
For now it’s an endless slog of North American dates, where Melodrama’s elevated her to pop-queen status. London’s All Points East strikes again, having Lorde sub the XX on the 26th of May.

 

loyle-carner

2. Loyle Carner – ‘Yesterday’s Gone’

If any album has worn its heart on its album sleeve this year it’s Loyle Carner’s Yesterday’s Gone. Fourteen tracks of personal anecdotes, family tributes and personal samples; it’s a poignant masterpiece from the young British rapper. While bassy riffs on ‘Stars and Shards’ and ‘NO CD’ grab instant attention, it’s the skits and features between that piece it altogether; from Carner moaning about his Mum’s swearing to appearances from Tom Misch and Jehst, not to forget the allegiance of his right hand man and DJ, Rebel Kleff.

Key Track: ‘No Worries (ft. Rebel Kleff & Jehst)’

Where will they be in 2018?
Carner has been touring for the majority of 2017 so it’s time to reflect. Other projects are likely to come his way though; cookery school chef, inspirational speaker and the face of Yves Saint Laurent are just a few jobs he can add to his CV. Rebel Kleff on the other hand has announced he’ll be working on new production projects in 2018.

 

kendrick-lamar

1. Kendrick Lamar – ‘DAMN’

After a 2017 dominated by the genre, it’s only fitting that our number one is a hip-hop album. DAMN. is Kendrick Lamar’s most introspective effort that provided a window into the mind of the Compton rapper. The difficulty in displaying such personable emotion cannot but understated, but K-dot does it with ease, swagger and conviction. The LP guides you through his own soaring highs; ‘Element’, a bragadious head-bopper, leading into the pitiful lows of songs like ‘Fear’ which has Kendrick brooding along to a somber beat. More than a worthy winner of our albums of the year, DAMN. was further proof that Mr Lamar is a very special artist.

Key Track: ‘DNA’

Where will they be in 2018?
Firstly, possibly with multiple grammy’s in hand, Kung Fu Kenny will be touring Europe during February and March. Beyond that it’s unlikely we’ll see another full length release from him but another tape similar to Untitled Unmastered is possible.

Thank you to our team of writers at The VLM and Rory Brown for the whack sketches. 2017 over n out.

About The Author

Josh Shreeve

Director of VLM and radio man at Forge Radio. Studies journalism at the University of Sheffield.

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