LFM Albums of the year – 2017

2017. Twenty-seventeen. The year a man from Islington called Jeremy upset a majority that is no longer a majority. A year in which Pep edged away from Jose and a year in which Liam called Noel a potato, a lot – again.  A year in which thousands donned their adidas gazelles, Dad’s anoraks and clutched a can of dark fruits cider stolen from their Mum’s fridges to scream ‘EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YERS’ in messy fields. But, more importantly it was a year personified by really, really good music.

Last year we dared to whisper that we could be in-line for one of the most exciting years in music for arguably a decade. From Stormzy using his GQ acceptance speech to call Theresa May ‘a paigon’ to Manchester rising up against hate with the power of love and music, 2017 was everything we hoped for and more.

Gemma Collins falling down holes and Love Island contestants promoting suspiciously packaged protein powder may have dominated our screens, but all of the madness was set to a phenomenal soundtrack. Lorde, Kendrick Lamar, J Hus, SZA, Lana Del Ray, Wiley and more gave us the gift of near-perfect albums (and, none of those incredible talents even made the cut in our top twenty).

Below is the list of LFM albums of the year. Our top twenty in ascending order to a number one album of the year. There are of-course some shocking omissions, we will never satisfy everyone. However, we have whittled it down to twenty and despite someone’s best efforts to have Harry Styles included because “portraying a Robbie Williams tribute act to Fleetwood Mac is actually quite appealing” we believe the top twenty we have assembled takes some beating.

Enjoy our list and when we have inevitably left out all of your favourite albums please feel more than free to send us some abuse over at twitter.com/LFMmag.

It goes without saying that your endless support (and hate) is the one thing that continues to fuel LFM, thank you.

Here’s to 2018, who knows what the next twelve months could hold (dare we whisper the letters AM?).

20. Steve Pilgrim – Morning Skies

Nominated by Tony Allen.

Liverpudlian Pilgrim’s fourth solo album was recorded with Paul Weller and double bass legend Danny Thompson (Kate Bush, Nick Drake, John Martyn). The most notable contributions, however, are in fact from Rachael Jean Harris whose beautiful backing vocals light up Put Them in a Box and the string section on standout track Love On Your Side. See It When You Look Away is Pilgrim’s best lyric ever, not a claim that can be made lightly.

19. The Granite Shore – Suspended Second

Nominated by Tony Allen.

Someone needed to try and deal with Brexit through an album, and so it fell to Nick Halliwell and band, comprising new recruit John Howard alongside members of The Distractions and The June Brides. They expertly avoid political diatribe in favour of metaphor. The standouts are the angry Buyer Beware, the melancholic Someone Else, the lively Where Does the Sadness Come From? and the Britpop-infused So It Begins.

18. The Rifles – Unplugged

Nominated by Jordan Scott.

The Rifles captured the magic of Abbey Road Studio’s when recording their acoustic album ‘The Rifles Unplugged’ which saw the band re-work their finest songs from a career spanning five albums. The band sound better than ever with singer Joel Stoker’s immaculate vocals and the masterful guitar playing of Luke Crowther, accompanied by Dean Mumford on keys and a string quartet. The album see’s The Rifles breathe new life into classics such as ‘Local Boy’ ‘Minute Mile’ and ‘The Hardest Place To Find Me’.

17. Jay Z – 4:44

Nominated by Billy Hodder.

“I’m tryin’ to give you a million dollars worth of game for $9.99” is certainly a statement capable of turning any head from Jay Z during the album’s track ‘The Story of O.J.’ However, throughout the album you begin to feel as though you have accidentally stumbled upon a million dollars. Jay Z offers you a stripped back insight into his unprecedented life. From references to his affair to lyrics so provocative you cannot pull yourself away from start to finish – Jay Z crafts a masterclass. The album features old school hip-hop production styles but it is armed with a lyricist that offers a scathing and explosive portrayal of life as a black American in the United States. This is quite simply an album you cannot ignore and kudos to Shawn Carter for once again raising the stakes.  Kanye, it’s over to you in 2018 and a benchmark has been quite clearly set.

16. Logic – Everybody

Nominated by Zurraq Kahn.

Taking a step into the limelight, Logic has become somewhat of a commercial music megastar this past year and for good reason. From seeing his early material, before Under Pressure and now during Everybody, Logic has come on leaps and bounds in the music industry. His latest album covers deep social issues such as suicide and racism and does so with a complete professional outlook on all subjects. The overall appeal with this album is that it creates a sense of unity within society, which is what most people strive for; therefore this album speaks to the masses and sends a message of love and peace to the world.

15. Brockhampton – Saturation Trilogy

Nominated by Laura Whitters.

Other than the albums themselves, what I find incredible about the work of Brockhampton is their dedicated work ethic. Within 2017 alone, Brockhampton have released three full albums, each one full of brilliant material, discussing true and important issues relevant today. The rap collective, or in fact boyband as they prefer to be called have shown great talent and personality and are certainly a group to watch out for in the future.

 

14. Paul Weller – A Kind Revolution

Nominated by Tony Allen.

A Kind Revolution contains some of the best songwriting of The Modfather’s 40-year career. Aided by his house band of The Moons pair Ben Gordelier and Andy Crofts with a few notable guest appearances by the likes of Boy George and Robert Wyatt, this is Weller’s most impressive effort since Wake Up the Nation. Weller’s voice gets a good workout on rocking Woo See Mama and rolling Long Long Road, while The Impossible Idea is an almighty experience live. Later, genres are transcended through Hopper’s swinging waltz and New York’s funky, bass-led burst of soul.

13. Cigarettes After Sex – Cigarettes After Sex

Nominated by Zurraq Khan.

Lie down, dim the lights and pour yourself a sweet-tasting drink because what entails with this album is a rollercoaster of intimacy, joy, sadness and serenity. After a flurry of encapsulating singles, this debut self-titled album from the American music outfit, Cigarettes After Sex, is a testament to the unification of broken couples, the stories of forbidden relationships and the overall enigma of the thing we call love. Soothing vocals and easy sounds are the foundation for this triumph of a debut album.

 

12. Superfood – Bambino

Nominated by Craig Pool.

Three years on from the Birmingham group’s debut LP, Don’t Say That, Superfood have shed two members and signed for esteemed indie label Dirty Hit. Bambino was released in september after a long and difficult process, but the situation certainly didn’t affect the quality of the output. The two piece produced a fun and funky album full of samples and a wide array of styles and inspirations. Lead single Double Dutch is perfect for introducing this new sound and the second release I Can’t See has a ska inspired sound which you can’t help but dance along to. Overall, Bambino is a wonderfully crafted album that takes the group to new place which will have you moving and singing-along involuntarily.

11. Pictures – Promise

Nominated by Tony Allen.

The debut album from Pictures, a band comprising four veterans of the German indie scene, segues from audacious mission statements (Here I Come) to refreshing acoustic ballads (Emily) to raw confessions (Save My Heart) to the album’s core: sun-drenched slices of evocative indie (Down Under the Hill; Promise). In 2018 LFM will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of enigmatic frontman Maze Exler’s first album with his former band Jonas. More than ten years since his last LP with Union Youth, Promise proves he’s back and better than ever.

10. Sampha – Process

Nominated by Billy Hodder.

A mercury prize winner and a man capable of descending the nation to tears with his chart-domianting single ‘(No One Knows Me) Like The Piano.” Sampha has already worked with Jessie Ware, Drake, Kanye West, Solange and others but we feel this is still just the beginning. The songwriting ability of this artist is refreshingly traditional and Process offers just a keyhole sized glimmer into the future.

9. Mac DeMarco – This Old Dog

Nominated by Zurraq Kahn.

Another installment of psychedelic, laid-back rock from everyone’s favourite goofy multi-instrumentalist, Mac DeMarco succeeds in delivering yet another impeccable addition to his library of sound. Steady notes, heartfelt lyrics and a melodic symphony that takes you to outer space are the three ingredients that warrant this album to be an instant classic, a staple album in my music collection for decades to come and all round work of genius.

8. King Krule – The Ooz

Nominated by Billy Hodder.

Archy Marshall has established himself as one the most exciting talents within the music industry and his album ‘The Ooz‘ offers everything we dreamed of and more. Marshall has cast a intangible atmosphere over himself in the last twelve months establishing himself as that cool kid that everyone wants a piece of. He’s accomplished the near-impossible task of holding onto his underground outsider sound and brand while still emerging into the mainstream. The Ooz is experimental, fresh and wonderful.

7. Kasabian – For Crying Out Loud

Nominated by Jordan Scott.

Kasabian aren’t afraid of taking their sound into new territories, but they also won’t shy away from taking things back to basics. ‘For Crying Out Loud’ is an out and out guitar record with a monstrous anthem around every corner. Written in just 6 weeks by Serge Pizzorno, the album is designed to hit you directly and is devoid of anything cryptic. Highlights include ‘Bless This Acid House’ ‘Good Fight’ & ‘You’re In Love With A Psycho’.

6. Wolf Alice – Visions Of A Life

Nominated by Craig Pool.

Wolf Alice returned at the end of September to bring us their highly anticipated second installment. Visions of a LIfe is both rip-roaring and heartfelt. You’ll go from a ferocious headbanger to a hopeless romantic in a matter of minutes. The heavy contrasts within opening four tracks make it clear that Wolf Alice take inspiration from a wide variety of musical styles, and hit the mark with each and every track. Visions Of A Life is an example of a band at the height of their power and reached number two in the UK album chart. Standout tracks include the clean cut third single Beautifully Unconventional, the menacing Formidable Cool and a contender for track of the year – Don’t Delete The Kisses. 2017 has seen Wolf Alice move away from new kids on the block and cement their place as one of the best bands around, and there is nothing stopping them going even further.

5. Tyler, The Creator – Flower Boy

Nominated by Zurraq Khan and Billy Hodder.

Unapologetic is one way to describe the master that is Tyler, The Creator. Tyler Okonma has established himself as a standout star in the last twelve months and is the hot property that every billboard just can’t get enough of. The latest chapter of raw and explicit rhymes from this cult rapper are a little different from what everyone’s been used to. The journey from Goblin to Flower Boy has been an interesting one for sure and as fans of both styles, we must say that this latest album still boasts the genius and talent that Tyler has always been known for. Tracks like ‘November’ and ‘911/Mr. Lonely’ show the more relaxed side of Tyler’s work, as do the collaboration, features from Rex Orange County and Estelle to name two, showing the variety of sound in this album.

4. Loyle Carner – Yesterday’s Gone

Nominated by Zurraq Kahn and Billy Hodder.

What a debut from one of the nation’s favourite young MCs, Benjamin Coyle-Larner. Making music and releasing singles for a few years, Loyle Carner’s rise to stardom has been nothing but satisfying. From supporting MF Doom and Joey Badass to selling out a huge UK headline tour, Loyle Carner’s talents have spread the nation like a virus and tell the tale of a career that is finally coming into the limelight after years of true and hard work. Further, how can we ignore a man who trades vintage football shirts with his fans and possesses the characteristics of being vogue-like-cool while still acting as if he’s everybody’s best mate?

The album itself speaks a story of Benjamin and his family life, struggles and general queries on the confusing paradox we call life in a socio-cultural narrative format which we have all become familiar with this past year, this being a true masterpiece in the category.

3. Liam Gallagher – As you were

Nominated by Laura Whitters and Jack Williams.

It came as no shock that the debut album of Liam Gallagher caused quite the storm, some might even say of of biblical proportions. The album was long awaited and a great hype surrounded it (mostly stirred up by LG himself taking to twitter every other day to call his brother Noel ‘a potato’) but as soon as the album was released this hype was most certainly validated. With songs such as Greedy Soul and Wall of Glass delivered with great confidence, leading to  an impressive performance of each of his gigs. A personal favourite of mine would have to be Chinatown, with Liam showing a much more tender side to his music, quite frankly leaving me shocked. A brilliant album, with amazing live presence.

‘As You Were’ delivered something totally unexpected yet brilliant. Wall Of Glass, Greedy Soul and For What It’s Worth to name a few soon put Liam in the headlines again, but for the right reasons!

2. Stormzy – Gang signs and prayer 

Nominated by Billy Hodder and Jack Williams.

Your sister wants to kiss him, your dad wants to be his best mate, your brother buys all his tracksuits and even your Nan thinks he’s charming. Gangs signs and prayer delivers not only the familiar heavy bass beat of Stormzy, but also an acoustic bit of brilliance, most noted on both ‘Blinded By Your Grace’ tracks. Stormzy could easily have had any artist in the world feature on his debut album but stayed true to his roots giving space to the immensely talented MNEK, Raleigh Ritchie and more. GS&P is one of the few albums that has such an array of versatility that tracks could be used for Church gatherings, chicken shop fights, baby-making and much more. The albums features tributes to Stormzy’s Mum alongside references to the infamous and iconic ‘Ask Carlos’ battle.

Anthony Joshua has come to dominate British sport in 2017 and with him his best-mate Stormzy has come to dominate British music. Further, we have a very keen suspicion that both are well on their way to dominating the world.

1. Declan McKenna – What do you think about the car?

Nominated by Craig Pool, Laura Whitters and Tony Allen.

At the young age of 18, Declan McKenna released his long awaited debut album, managing to exceed even the highest of expectations. Thousands of fans had been waiting for What Do You Think About The Car since Mckenna released his debut single Brazil in 2015, and he wasn’t about to disappoint them. The album is clearly politically charged and brilliantly portrays, at times, life as a teenager in these days of political madness and uncertainty.

Pop infused Indie track Why do you feel so down? summed up the energetic tendencies of McKenna’s music and the stripped back Make me your Queen carried great lyrical prowess, making them stand out songs of the album. Old favourites Paracetamol and Brazil made appearances; serving as loyal fan favourites and when performed live highlight the talent of McKenna as a performer. The album as a whole doesn’t dip, making it a highly enjoyable listen. Declan Mckenna made us wait for his first LP, but in the end, it seems it was worth the wait.

 

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