1. Roger Waters – Is This the Life We Really Want?
Roger Waters’ Is This the Life We Really Want? to me not only is the Album of the Year, but an absolute masterpiece! It took Waters 25 years to finally publish a new album and the timing was absolutely right: in these particularly complicated times from a social, cultural and political point of view, where music makes no exception, Pink Floyd bassist has just produced some of the finest music in recent music history, only two years after former band colleague David Gilmour’s excellent Rattle That Lock.
Yet, while the latter admittedly just collected songs on a record that simply have his voice and unique guitar playing as trait d’union, Roger Waters is a concept album of the finest kind. With this recent work, once again he displays an incredible sensibility and a much lacked humanity, which seems to be a rare commodity these days. Outstanding lyrics and songwriting, beautiful arrangements and clever sound effects, which are a well known feature for Waters’ and Pink Floyd fans, make this album a miracle that shines and stands out from everything else.
Dancing on a layer of well architected, pleasant harmonies, the lyrics are like beautifully inflicted wounds, with Waters’ voice being the stabber. Listening to this album from the beginning to the end is like expiating your guilt, while learning everything you have ever known from scratch, as well as helping you organize your thoughts and feelings, and you cannot help from going the walk again and again.
2. Radiohead – OKNOTOK 1997 – 2017
Not a fan of reissues, I definitely was not expecting to include this in my year’s favorites at all. I did in 1997 actually, but never would have thought it could make the cut in 2017 again. Well, what made me change my mind? The three previously unreleased singles! Straight and simple, these 3 songs are absolutely mind blowing and, although they might have been already known to the fan community – just like the other 8 B-sides – thanks to live performances they did in the past, some even dating even before the original release of OK Computer, to me they were completely new and fresh sounding!
Unbelievable how prolific this band was already by then that they could simply leave out songs of the likes of I Promise from what became THE groundbreaking album of the nineteen-nineties that inspired nearly every music genre from that point on…
3. Liam Gallagher – As You Were
Also, I never would have thought to put anything related to the Gallagher brothers on my list, but then came by Liam Gallagher with some straight, in your face British rock and roll… Even the more Oasis-recalling ballads sound quite good on this record and I pretty much like the album’s vintage vinyl design, too. I guess that is exactly what everybody wanted, and to say it more or less like he would: “He f#@kin’ did it!”
4. The War On Drugs – A Deeper Understanding
Pretty much on the same wavelength as its predecessor Lost in the Dream, this album melts beautiful sounding melodies and guitar solos with nineteen-eighties interstate highway rock tempos. A Deeper Understanding for sure is an interesting find for Dire Straits-fans like myself, but definitely worth listening to every once in a while both in your car and at home!
5. Tricky – ununiform
This is a great album for everybody who likes the classic Massive Attack sound, which Tricky strongly contributed to forge back in the days.
You might have noticed that most of these are pretty well known names, but I am not getting younger and I often struggle finding new artists that hit me and this is definitely not the place where you would find Kendrik Lamar and stuff like that. But as I heared someone say recently: “They don’t have to speak to me…”
Well, however, here comes a list of a few other familiar bands and musicians who have published new material this year. Some of them did not make it onto this list, others I did not listen to much, or not at all, so I leave any judgment to you. These artists include the likes of Connor Oberst (Bright Eyes) with his melancholic folk and his fairly good 2017 album Salutations, and folk-God Bob Dylan with Triplicate. Furthermore, Jamiroquai with Automaton, The Cranberries – Something Else, Gorillaz – Humanz, Arcade Fire – Everything Now, Jack Johnson – All the Light Above It Too, the to me not convincing, new Foo Fighters album Concrete and Gold, Beck with his much praised Colors, Noel Gallagher‘s Who Built the Moon?, The Fall – New Facts Emerge, The Script – Freedom Child, The National – Sleep Well Beast, Angus & Julia Stone – Snow, Sufjan Stevens – Greatest Gift, Mark Lanegan Band – Gargoyle, Mogwai – Every Country’s Sun, Nine Inch Nails – Add Violence, and Thurston Moore, the man behind Sonic Youth’s guitars, with Rock N Roll Consciousness.
And for my countrymen, stay tuned for my Italian Top 5 Albums of the Year 2017, there has been some interesting stuff going on in the Bel paese…
Listen to the Best Albums of 2017 on Spotify