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Albums of the Year 2017

It’s that time again.

Top Albums Top Reissues Bestsellers Top Stiffers Near Misses

Bestseller of the Year 2017

>Radiohead - OK Computer - OKNOTOK 1997-2017

Radiohead - OK Computer - OKNOTOK 1997-2017

The annual Keeping Phil In (Vegan) Crisps Award goes for the second successive year to Radiohead.

I'm not sure any of us can be bothered discussing 'OK Computer' for the billionth time, so let's just say thanks to Thom for helping us to subsidise the hundreds of much more interesting, brand-new records that came out this year...that no-one bought.

Buy it now Or, maybe buy one of these these instead?
2.

Godspeed You! Black Emperor
Luciferian Towers

I can’t believe I’m doing this but I am. This, in the grand scheme of things, is just another Godspeed humdinger. forty minutes instead of a cinematic hour plus. Plain rock music with no political self-sabotage -- no all-seeing preacherman, no devastating conspiracy. What Godspeed have been, from Allelujah to the now, is a steady ban...view item »
3.

Goat
Fuzzed In Europe

Masked myth-makers Goat have pulled all of the psych rock fables, playing its light pop version as paying tribute to its noisy, distorted hellscape. Fuzzed In Europe is a collection of six tracks pulled from endless recordings of their continental tour, deciding upon the ones that sounded estranged f...view item »
4.

Hood
The Cycle of Days and Seasons

Hood's fourth full-length album and their second for Domino Records. This one sees them deconstructing their songwriting with a dub-inflected sound incorporating decaying tape loops, found samples and half-speed beats alongside their usual gentle guitars and hushed vocals. Co-produced by Matt Elliott (Third Eye Foundatio...view item »
5.

Mount Eerie
A Crow Looked At Me

Phil Elverum’s newest record is heavy with tragedy. What else can I say? I don’t want to over-analyse or examine, partly because Elverum himself has closed this record off from lessons and parables. Whether or not you’ve read the interviews and features detailing ‘A Crow Looked At Me Me’ and its story -- how El...view item »
6.

Hood
Rustic Houses, Forlorn Valleys

'Rustic Houses, Forlorn Valleys' was Hood's first album for Domino following on from their two earlier lo-fi albums for Slumberland. It announced a drastic departure in their sound from the previous inventive indie to a less noisy, more tranquil approach that haunted the edges of post-rock. These six lengthy songs sprea...view item »
7.

Dalham
Waves

You know that time you are looking out of a window and want something to soundtrack it perfectly? Try Dalham. The UK producer blends a kind of slo-mo tape saturated 'tronica that would go well with concrete/beautiful countryside equally. This is a thick soup of sci-fi influenced synth sounds mangled into varying textures that seem t...view item »
8.

Pye Corner Audio & Faten Kanaan
The Darkest Wave

Right then here is a biggie. A 7" collaboration between label mates Pye Corner Audio and Faten Kanaan on the increasingly collectible and high profile Polytechnic Youth imprint. The A side features Kanaan's New York narrative over some ice cool synths with a John Carpenter/Umbe...view item »
9.

Vic Mars
The Consumer Programme

Previously releasing on the excellent Clay Pipe records, this is Vic Mars second LP which playfully builds on earlier acclaim utilising influences from early synth experimenters, children’s tv shows, BBC Radiophonic Workshop and indeed all the things that make you buy records in 2017. Unlike a l...view item »
10.

Burial
Subtemple / Beachfires

It must be so hard being Will Bevan, having to deal with people’s mismanaged expectations on you to release an LP or the closest possible thing every time you drop two humble tunes. If people are ever gonna be enraged about a Burial 12”, it’ll be this one, a mumbled slab of musique concrete disquiet that suggests his contributi...view item »
11.

Strawberry Switchblade
1982 4-Piece Demo

I’ve been looking forward to this. So much so that I’ve bothered to get off my chair and stagger to the record player....a first.    We all remember Strawberry Switchblade for when they used up the worlds supply of hair miming along to ’Since Yesterday’ on Top of the Pops in 1985 but be...view item »
12.

Coil
Time Machines

Originally issued back in 1998 on Coil’s own Eskaton label and credited to Time Machines, this stone cold classic album has now been credited to Coil and remastered and reissued on DAIS Records. Jhon Balance, Peter Christopherson and Drew McDowall ripped a hole through the fabr...view item »
13.

Memory Drawings
The Nearest Exit

Memory Drawings are such a wonderful conundrum. A band of grayscale shadow-makers, they’re complemented with colourful musical timbres, their sound something like a heavy fall of snow coating itself over green grass. Their two previous records were melodic meditations that never got too grandiose, instead ruminating on compact post-rock me...view item »
14.

Philip Glass
Buddha Machine

The latest model of the Buddha Machine is an especially exciting one: it comes loaded with loops of the music of Philip Glass, original minimalist. Glass’s works are hypnotic and beautiful enough even before they are Buddha-looped, so this is a crucial little device. Available in red or b...view item »
15.

Sleaford Mods
Austerity Dogs

Months ago, back when I first started seeing this album on this site, I had it judged by its cover, title and band name. "Brilliant," I thought, "more wannabe 'Mod' twats selling that line about how important it is in working class culture to wear a sharp coat." Fully expecting it to contain the latest forgettable rehash of crappy Mod nostalgia,...view item »
16.

Mogwai
Every Country's Sun

Like a mostly instrumental version of Runrig that you could bring home to meet your ma, Mogwai have been pleasantly creating soundscapes for so many years now that each album is like a freshly poured dram of whiskey to warm you as you return to Scotland after a long time away on bleak European roads. Opener 'Coolveri...view item »
17.

Bark Psychosis
Hex

It’s hard to be objective about an album that was the soundtrack some of the grimmest times of my life. Early ‘90s, lost in an attic of a shared house in darkest Leeds, forever autumn and it seemed this album was rarely out of earshot. Strange thing is, I've barely played it since. At the time I was obsessed by ...view item »
18.

Godflesh
Post Self

Godflesh are known as an industrial metal band, but their 8th album, Post-Self, sees them move away from metal and experiment with industrial and post-punk sounds, exploring what inspired them in the first place. Lyrically the album deals with anxiety and depression, fear, mortality and paternal a...view item »
19.

Richard Dawson
Peasant

“A dank and dreary song”. This is how Richard Dawson describes “Hob”, a tail-end track on new record ‘Peasant’, and he isn’t totally wrong. Picks meet strums like someone shaking at their shackles, the song eventually marrying a droning string morgue to a misty, never-ending verse of shimmering gloom. It...view item »
20.


A Harbinger Sound Sampler

The fearsome Harbinger Sound label put together a compilation that captures the diversity and intensity of their current roster. A Harbinger Sound Sampler contains unheard tracks from Sleaford Mods, Consumer Electronics and Pain Jerk, as well as an astonishing array of angry, noisy and political ...view item »
21.

The National
Sleep Well Beast

Half awake, the National stumble into a new record. It might sound delicate, at points, and long may they rage -- but the dense sound and pounding heart of previous records has been all but sublimated on ‘Sleep Well Beast’, a record of muttered sleeptalk and crooked, downbeat experiments. Who would’ve thought the National would...view item »
22.

Ride
Weather Diaries

Well I never thought I’d be sitting here in 2017 writing about a new Ride album because to say that they have been my favourite band for a long long time is an understatement really, back in my teen years my walls were strewn with posters of the boys in various pouting poses and I saw them live a few times back then and more since their re...view item »
23.

Public Service Broadcasting
Every Valley

It's not often we completely fall out with our customers but with Public Service Broadcasting we seem to have reached an impasse. We think they are terrible, you like them...as do a lot of people. But let's be friends eh? I am sorry if I offended any of you when I suggested that their fan base was cloth eared. In my defence I've hated Public Ser...view item »
24.

Jane Weaver
Modern Kosmology

In which Jane Weaver does everything she should do to make a popular album in 2017. Let's run through the checklist. Neu like metronomic drumming? Check. Wibbly wobbly synths? Check. Vocals that recall Stereolab/Broadcast? Check. A cosmic/kosmiche feel...view item »
25.

Angelo Badalamenti
Twin Peaks

Twin Peaks is an all-time television masterpiece. The best reason to own a TV during the early 90s, it was a game-changer that brought weekly instalments of cinema-level quality entertainment into homes long before The Wire and Breaking Bad. The world hadn't seen anything like it before or and hasn't really seen anything like it since....view item »
26.

The Hardy Tree
Through Passages of Time

You know that big important work conference where they announced that the hauntology department and the violin department would have to share offices from now on? Yeah, I know. Clay Pipe are really doubling down. The label of a myriad vintages here shares us a gorgeous record under the name of the Hardy Tree, a wo...view item »
27.

Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile
Lotta Sea Lice

Honestly, if I need a breezy rock record of half-hearted energy that sounds like the steam floating out of a cup of coffee… I’ll listen to the Grateful Dead. It’s no offense to the rest of you, that’s just how I feel; that’s just how I’ll meander. This week I have to grant some slackers my attention, though, ...view item »
28.

Angelo Badalamenti
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me

Following on from the extremely popular Twin Peaks re-issue we now have a re-cut of Angelo Badalamenti's brooding soundtrack for 'Fire Walk With Me'. This 51 minute 2LP repress has been sourced from the original Warner Brothers archives and includes sleeve notes by Mark Kermode. Comes on 'cherry pie' coloured vinyl (natch). All audio and artwork...view item »
29.

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Skeleton Tree

When I was young I would buy old Nick Cave albums on CD, put them on my primitive musical shelf and then never listen to them. I did this with a Converge CD too, once, as if staving off the scary music was a greater achievement than actually confronting it. I assumed Cave’s music was too dour and that maybe o...view item »
30.

Slowdive
Slowdive

Well here I am again, resident Norman Records shoegaze expert settling myself down for a once every twenty odd years review of the new (yes new) Slowdive album. I slammed my name down on the desk to review this for two reasons, 1) I'm obviously a huge fan and 2) the rest of the whiny know-it-alls in the office (whom I love dearly of course) prob...view item »
31.

Angelo Badalamenti
Blue Velvet (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

The soundtrack to David Lynch’s 1986 movie ‘Blue Velvet’ perfectly suits the edgy film noir feel of the now classic film. It mixes original compositions from long term Lynch collaborator Angelo Badalamenti with the sort of originals that would suit the jukebox of any any shadowy dive ba...view item »
32.

Children Of Alice
Children Of Alice

Previously to be found on Folklore Tapes, the fables of Children of Alice are what remains of [revered… hushed tones..] Broadcast, with James Cargill and Roj Stevens inviting Ghost Box co-founder and designer Julian House along for the wobbly ride. Named in tribute to the late Trish Keenan after her affecti...view item »
33.

Mac DeMarco
This Old Dog

Whoever makes Mac DeMarco’s decisions for him certainly knew what they were doing when they teased the opening brace of songs from this album before letting anything else slip out. And it’s not just because I’ve had a couple of months to listen to these two but they are the best thing here by a gap the size of the ho...view item »
34.

Oh Sees
Orc

It was extremely important that they changed their name from Thee Oh Sees to Oh Sees, for you see… it… the… introducing Oh Sees, everybody! If I learned one thing from this week’s press release about the new Oh Sees album, it’s that they&...view item »
35.

Burial
Young Death / Nightmarket

It's awhile since I've heard anything from Burial that I've enjoyed as much as 'Untrue' and personally I'm not that excited over the Christmas EP format he's been utilising for the last few years but 'Young Death' comes as close to shivering the same bones that made his first two records so groundbreaking. If you've had half an eye on the intern...view item »
36.

Queens Of The Stone Age
Villains

Josh Homme and his cohorts return from their latest trip in the desert with their follow up to 2013’s ...Like Clockwork. This time round bringing in Mark Ronson on producer duties. Bringing their sound into new territories whilst still being unmistakably Queens Of The Stone age, i...view item »
37.

Morrissey
Low In High School

Following his gruesome comments regarding UKIP's leadership contest, I re-read  Morrissey's 2013 autobiography  - a book which perfectly mirrors his musical career. It begins as a fascinatingly literate, darkly comic tomb full of kitchen sink dramas, it ends a bloated, deluded, endless gripe about chart positions and perceived injustic...view item »
38.

Demdike Stare
Wonderland

In the four years that have elapsed since Demdike Stare’s last album ‘Elements’, the Lancastrian duo of Miles Whittaker and Sean Canty released a series of seven vinyl only ‘Testpressing’ 12”s which have been gathered onto two CD’s that accompany the first edition of their latest full length ‘Wonde...view item »
39.

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith
EARS

The sounds Kaitlyn has produced for "Ears", her second album, are an intriguing and compelling synthesis of electronics, woodwind and her own shimmering voice. Smith recorded and studied bird calls prior to the composition of these pieces; this shows in her music's sense of lightness and momentum, layers of looped woodwind frequently popping up ...view item »
40.

Sleaford Mods
English Tapas

Being the miserable sods that we are here at the towers, with every new Sleaford Mods album the only office concern seems to be when will their bubble burst? Well it's not going to happen any time soon. Initially I wasn't massively enamoured with last years 'TCR' single but then I realised I loved all the B sides..... much to my annoyance actual...view item »
41.

The xx
I See You

I remember watching an interview with the XX just after they won the Mercury Prize where some foolish interviewer suggested that they beef up their sound for their second record. You could see the trio visibly recoil and thankfully on 'Co-Exist' they only subtly tweaked their sound rather than add the bells and knobs that actual knobs at record ...view item »
42.

GAS
Narkopop

So why does Wolfgang Voigt bring his GAS project back after twenty years? Did he need a new bathroom suite installing? Or did the recent slavering appetite for that box set make him decide to give the people more of the thing he'd been studiously avoiding over the past couple of decades? Well here it is anyway and a quick j...view item »
43.

John Carpenter
Anthology: Movie Themes 1974-1998

Thy lord cometh. John Carpenter’s themes to his genre spanning and defining films are defining in themselves, with countless contemporary artists taking influence from them. This collection takes basically all of his biggest themes from his films including Halloween, Big Trouble In Little China, Assau...view item »
44.

Memory Drawings
Music For Another Loss.

Mike's original review circa 2012.  Here at Norman Towers, Hood are a band close to all our hearts, a beacon of the finest in northern miserablism and forward-thinking musicality, we're always more than curious when any of their number drops som...view item »
45.

Plinth
Collected Machine Music

Phil's original review of the original CD pressing from way back in 2012.... Ooh, a new Plinth album. Only heard a bit by this chap but whenever I do hear something by him it pricks my ears up. The music is created using old Victorian music boxes, calliopes, wheezing mechanisms ...view item »
46.

Danny Brown
Atrocity Exhibition

On ‘Atrocity Exhibition’, Danny Brown’s a fucking mess. “Kubrick with two bricks”, he says, and his album makes it so: his tunes are shot through an existentialism so plain you could hear Tony Soprano listening to it as his whole world cuts to black, so real Ballard should come back to life and name his nov...view item »
47.

Leonard Cohen
You Want It Darker

Released prior to his recent and extremely sad death, this is novelist-gone-songwriter Leonard Cohen's 14th studio album. You Want It Darker is not a question, and that is made very clear with the minimal title track having a low ominous choir and an imposing Cohen sounding closer to ...view item »
48.

Coil
Astral Disaster (Prescription Edition)

Originally released on Gary Ramon of Sun Dial’s short run label Prescription, and later on Coil’s own Threshold House, what we have here are the original masters from the former. Reproduced with the same artwork also, so a real treat for people who can’t afford the price tag of...view item »
49.

The Rolling Stones
Blue & Lonesome

Blue and Lonesome sees The Rolling Stones, in the sixth decade of their recording career, going back to their roots and playing the blues. The album features versions of songs by Howlin’ Wolf, Willie Dixon and Jimmy Reed It was recorded live in the studio in just three days. ...view item »
50.

David Bowie
No Plan EP

When 'Blackstar' came out you have to remember that this was before he died. In no way am I trying to justify my 7/10 review of an album I later got rather obsessed about. How was I to know he'd die and it would gain about 50 million extra layers and I would get used to the saxophones? Improbably all those three things happened and so it now goe...view item »

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