Best Albums of 2017 - Editor's Picks
hmv.com editor James Forryan picks his favourite albums of 2017...
10. Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds: Who Built the Moon?
Who Built The Moon? is hands-down the album that surprised me the most this year. There's no question that Noel Gallagher is a great songwriter, but I've often found his stuff to be a bit formulaic. David Holmes has brought the best out of him on this album and as infuriatingly catchy as 'Holy Mountain' is, it's the deep cuts like 'Interlude (Wednesday Part 1)' that I keep coming back to.
9. Lindstrøm - It's Alright Between Us As It Is
Norwegian producer Hans-Peter Lindstrøm has been one of my favourite dance music producers for a long time now and this year's album, It's Alright Between Us As It Is, is probably the best I've heard since his 2005 collaboration with Prins Thomas. At just nine tracks long, this is a fairly condensed offering as Lindstrøm's albums often tend to be, but I've played it more than most this year and every track is great.
8. The War On Drugs: A Deeper Understanding
I can't really explain how or why The War On Drugs' fifth album has gradually become of the records I've listened to most this year; their earlier albums have never really grabbed me for whatever reason, but I've found myself listening to A Deeper Understanding more and more as the weeks have gone by. 'Holding On' is a particular highlight, it reminds me of Bruce Springsteen in a way that I can't quite nail down and, even though I've never really been a Springsteen fan either, it's still become one of my favourite tracks of 2017.
7. Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings: Soul of a Woman
Nobody needs me to point out what a terrible year 2016 was in terms of losing so many talented musicians, especially David Bowie and Leonard Cohen, but Sharon Jones was another who finally succumbed to a long battle with cancer in 2016 and this year saw the release of her final album with her band The Dap Kings. Gloriously retro in both its songwriting and production, Jones is a singular talent that I'll miss more than most and this album has been one of my absolute favourites of 2017.
6. Songhoy Blues: Résistance
Malian desert blues outfit Songhoy Blues delivered one of my favourite albums in 2015 with their debut Music in Exile and they've repeated that feat with its follow-up, which I've played to death since it was released in June. One of the most uplifting records I've heard this year, and the guest appearance from Iggy Pop is an added bonus.
5. Father John Misty: Pure Comedy
Bella Union Records
Josh Tillman's alter-ego has been gradually creeping up on me with each new album and I think this might be his best yet. Pure Comedy contains several candidates for best lyric of the year and it's hard to pick a stand-out track because it's so consistent, but if you put a gun to my head I'd probably have to say 'Total Entertainment Forever', if only for the opening line “Bedding Taylor Swift / Every night inside the Oculus Rift.” Sublime.
4. Kendrick Lamar: DAMN
Aside from perhaps Tyler, the Creator, I don't think there's anyone in hip-hop doing anything as progressive and appealing as Kendrick right now and, just like the superb To Pimp A Butterfly, DAMN is a record I just can't stop playing. 'DNA' and 'HUMBLE' are highlights on a consistently strong album, I'm excited to see what he does next.
3. Bonobo: Migration
Simon Green's albums have been an ever-present fixture in my record collection since his debut and Migration is as good as any of them, probably my favourite since 2010's Black Sands. If you've missed out on his stunning live shows this year I can only urge you to go see him at the earliest opportunity, the new album includes some great additions to an already excellent live show and I don't think there's a single weak track on his new LP.
2. Beck: Colors
Virgin EMI Records
'Dreams' from Beck's latest album is, by some distance, the song I have played the most this year and as much as I enjoyed the dreamy, mellow soundscapes of his last album Morning Phase, I still feel Beck is at his best when he raises the tempo and Colors is packed with songs that fit that description. The partnership between him and producer Greg Kurstin has proved to be a winning one and there are several stand-out moments on Colors, including 'Dear Life', 'Up All Night' and the title track.
1. Thundercat: Drunk
I've been a fan of Stephen Bruner's unique talents ever since his 2011 debut The Golden Age of Apocalypse, but this year's offering Drunk has seen him starting to receive the recognition he deserves and is probably his best album yet. The whole thing is excellent, but if I had to choose one highlight it'd probably have to be Show You the Way, which not only features both Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins and manages to make them cool again, but also packs in a sample from Sonic the Hedgehog.