A year ago I said that 2016 wasn’t the best year for new music, but it was considerably better than 2017 in my opinion. There haven’t been many new albums that have stood out, but the following are my favourites from the year.
Beck – Colors
At the top of my list sits Colors by Beck. This is an album I had been looking forward to for months before it was released, and even though I wasn’t completely sold with his more pop orientated direction, the album had me hooked from the get go. Beck has long been one of my favourite artists and songwriters and I found this album extremely enjoyable for many reasons.
First off, the songwriting. Classic Beck. Even though his sound on this album took a new direction the songs themselves couldn’t have been written by anyone else. The familiar hooks are there that cement this as a superb album and my favourite of 2017. It’s also just a really good and enjoyable album, something that was lacking this past year in my opinion. I don’t think I could have any other album at the top of this list.
Gorillaz – Humanz
This is an album that has left me torn in the second half of this year. When the album came out I really loved it, but it turned out it was only infatuation. As the year has gone on I don’t rate it as highly as I once did. I can’t believe that I said in my review that it was up their with the best music Gorillaz have ever released. That was a mistake, and I definitely take that statement back. However I still find the album enjoyable to listen to, just not as much as I did when it came out.
The album also has a number of great memories attached to it. I remember listening to the album in the car with my wife as we drove down to New York. I had the album playing non-stop in the house during that time too, and I have fond memories of it. I hate that my love for it has soured in recent months but I think that’s because of how un-Gorillaz sounding it is. As as album of music, it’s pretty good, but it doesn’t sound like Gorillaz apart from one or two songs. I had a hard time debating whether or not I should even include the album on this list or not but in the end I wanted to, because I do still enjoy it. I just find it hard comparing it to previous Gorillaz album releases.
John Mayer – The Search For Everything
John Mayer released his new album in waves earlier this year, with each wave containing four tracks. I personally would have preferred having the album as a whole in one go but if you think about it releasing it in waves was an interesting touch. It certainly kept the excitement going.
Mayer’s last two studio albums have been very country based so it was great to hear him go back to his Continuum sound that put his name on the map. It’s a gorgeous sounding album and the songwriting is exquisite. Mayer has spent a lot of the last few years playing with Dead & Company so the fact that he found any time to write, record and release this album is to be admired. It may not have received the same reaction as Continuum 11 years ago but for me it has a firm place on my favourite albums of 2017 list.
Chuck Berry – Chuck
This album was announced last year and when it was I was extremely excited. The last time Chuck Berry released a new album with new material was in 1979, a full decade before I was born. So getting to hear new music for the first time being a huge Chuck Berry, I was ecstatic. Sadly Berry passed away before the album came out but what we are left with is the final chapter of a legacy that spanned numerous decades and cemented his playing and his name as one of the true kings of rock and roll.
The music on this album contains a lot of what Chuck Berry was all about, starting with this infectious guitar riffs he opened his songs with. And as a singer Berry blows it out the part on this album which is particular impressive given his age at the time of recording. Just goes to show that the man was timeless, a true rock and roll legend.
The Rolling Stones – On Air
It seems every year I have a reissue on my list and this year the honour goes to On Air by The Rolling Stones. It’s a superb record consisting of early live recordings the band performed on various radio and TV shows between 1963 and 1965.
This is an album I actually stumbled across while putting this list together and when I listened to it I knew I couldn’t leave it off. The Brian Jones era of The Rolling Stones are almost like a completely different band to what followed after his death. Every incarnation of the band really set the pace for rock and roll at the time, and while their classic songwriting riffs like Brown Sugar, Tumbling Dice and Start Me Up didn’t happen until after his death, the original incarnation led by the founding member were an incredible unit. This album really is a must have.
So, these are my favourite albums of the year. I struggled to put a list together if I’m honest but these five stood out the most to me. I look forward to more, better, new music in 2018.
What are your favourite albums of the year?