Hello Gentle Reader, wherever you are. To make up for lost time never regained, we have exploded the top albums list this year to include WTMFA (way too many fucking albums). To prevent the reader from slipping into a catatonic state, descriptions for many of these albums in the lower ranks has been left brief, leaning heavily on the somewhat lazy “sounds like band X.” Every one of these albums came out in 2017, and they are ranked in order of goodness. Wellness? No, goodness. The lower numbers are gooderer. You get the picture. Album.
Here is my optimal musical yoga routine for you. Destress, click on a few videos, chill, and see if anything strikes your fancy within the WTMFA. Synthetic Error will be back with part 2 and the annual “rock is/isn’t dead” yearly summary quite soon.
- Laura Marling – Semper Femina
Down beat mellow update to the singer songwriter jam, Laura Marling reminds me of a more folky Tori Amos (who also made the list this year).
- All Them Witches – Sleep Through The War
Hey 90s kids, remember when everything sounded like this? Some radio grunge on tap.
- Tera Melos – Trash Generator
Digital DIY rock ala modern day Brad Sucks, Tera Melos generates some curious sounding hooks and riffs.
- Father John Misty – Pure Comedy
A bit of a bore on balance, a bit unusual from the folk pop master, but there’s some good cuts that wander through our stupid helpless world.
- John Maus – Screen Memories
A glitchy depressed dirge, like Joy Division on (more) barbiturates.
- Karen Elson – Double Roses
Gotta keep some singer songwriters around to make up for all the rocking going on at the bottom of this list. You’ll miss them when they’re gone, reader!
- Cloud Nothings – Life Without Sound
This anemic 5th album from a favorite band of mine still has a few good moments.
- The Weather Station- – The Weather Station
Mellow singer songwriter, a non-ironic Aimee Mann (who herself also had that album Mental Illness this year so this doubles as a recommendation for that).
- Rainer Maria – S/T
Some relaxed rocking, not unlike Ex Hex.
- Tori Amos – Native Invader
A nice mellow showcase for her voice, she’s still cracking away after 20 years.
- EMA – Exile to the Outer Ring
While not as spooking as her Ghost Ship, her unique ghost in the radio style is still the showcase here.
- Deerhoof – Mountain Moves
A strange compilation of unique rock sounds sort of like a distilled Flaming Lips.
- Bully – Losing
Mellow grungy suburban rock, sort of that early 00’s thing indified. Shades of Courtney Barnett.
- Sheer Mag – Need to Feel Your Love
A punchy funky riffing album powered by the singer’s distinctive taut and distorted voice.
- Pumerosa – The Witch
Some crunchy pop, voice is dissimilar but the power synth pop construction reminds me of Chairlift.
- Algiers – Underside of Power
A crowd pleasing album with hooks that echoes TV On The Radio to me, although with more of an urban feeling.
- Baxter Dury – Prince of Tears
Another of those brits who slings spoken words over some odd beats, Baxter Dury has picked some nice words and some nice beats.
- LA Witch – LA Witch
Retro garage rock with a focus on messy jamming.
- Quicksand – Interiors
Soaring power riffs and angsty minor tone singing, a nicer version of the Deftones.
- Daniele Luppi and Parquet Courts – Milano
Parquet Courts are perennial favorites here at Synthetic Error so I couldn’t help liking this slightly lighter poppy aside.
30.The Big Moon – Love in the 4th Dimension
Some Londoners who probably grew up listening to Oasis and Pavement in equal measure, this is a clever album.
- Fever Ray – Plunge
Acid fried pop, as if Saint Vincent fell into that vat of Joker chemicals and could suddenly make good music after.
- Protomartyr – Relatives In Descent
Protomartyr has reached down to touch their inner Nick Cave on this album. Careful he bites.
- The Side Eyes – So Sick
Okay we’re in the bottom 27, time to get it your heart rate going a big faster with some pop punk.
- Big Thief – Capacity
Okay time to slow down again, get yourself weaved into the cabin wall by the slight drawl of this storyteller.
- The New Pornographers – Whiteout Conditions
That title track is a banger, they have that full band sound like Arcade Fire.
- Marika Hackman- Not Your Man
Pop rock that also has mellow reflectiveness.
- Ron Gallo – Heavy Metal
Grungified singer songwriter, sort of an angry Dylan aesthetic.
- Com Truise – Iteration
A synthetic glitch delight. True to its name, a bit repetitive but you just wanted to dance around and look at neon anyway right?
- Mastodon – Emporer of Sand
Sometimes you just want to listen to a band that titles one of their songs ‘Scorpion Breath’, and Mastodon will always, always be there for you. I don’t think they have moved very far on this album but it is still tight, fun metal.
We end with the highest charting band out of the entire 50, Mastodon. The best is yet to come though. Come back soon for the top 20 albums from 2017 that should have a place in your permanent rotation.
Originally published on Synthetic Error September 6, 2019