Friday, December 22, 2017

Sweeping The Nation's Top 50 Albums Of 2017: 20-11

20 Laura Marling - Semper Femina
Touted as Marling's exploration of femininity, it necessarily lets some light in on her previous self-questioning and folky fingerpicking world, all still present but Atlantic-skipping in tone, garlanded with jazzy production and ever more personal and barbed in its approach.

19 Fleet Foxes - Crack-Up
In its own way Crack-Up is a companion piece to Bon Iver's album of last year, wooded folkies taking great strides to find a way out. Proggish melody and structural about-turns and dissolves, multi-part songs, complex lyrical allusions, yet ultimately still their trademark harmonic gorgeousness.

18 Hurray For The Riff Raff - The Navigator
In which Alynda Segarra shifts her country-folk basis into its own sphere, a narrative piece that takes influence from her native Puerto Rico and 1930s dustbowl recordings alike, delivering a stridently powerful story of opposition, identity and personal pride.

17 Run The Jewels - Run The Jewels 3
Ah, indie boy's picked his obligatory single black culture album for the year, has he. Actually, yeah, because Killer Mike's no holds barred theorising lyrics and El-P's hammer blow beats feel as urgent and defiantfor the time in their own way as PE and NWA did two decades ago.

16 Out Lines - Conflats
The work of the Twilight Sad's James Graham, Kathryn Joseph and producer Marcus Mackay, seven tracks lasting less than half an hour total make an immense impact, an intensely oppressive and forthright statement that like the best of recent Scottish music finds a defiance in foreboding.

15 Friendship - Shock Out Of Season
The popular drift away from weird Americana means Friendship have drifted below the radar where once Dan Wriggins' conversational narratives and the way Bill Callahan-esque arrangements are underpinned by electronic patterns would have been celebrated. There's time yet to adjust that.

14 Torres - Three Futures
Mackenzie Scott's great leap forward is one where she endlessly self-examines, as a woman as much as the self, and plays with perspectives in senses both predatory and honest, sounding raw even as the music heads towards dark, almost industrial electro tones.

13 The National - Sleep Well Beast
Album seven has the feel of a band who know the world and time alike has caught up on them, often much lower-key than previous roars, Matt Berninger occasionally down to a defeated croak. Not so much learning to let go as hoping against hope for it.

12 Big Thief - Capacity
Folk rock with real bite, both in the way the guitars barge their way in and in the use of Adrianne Lenker's honeyed vocal and excavatory lyrics unflinchingly uncovering personal vulnerabilities, the whole package pieced together with uncommon care and constant revelation.

11 Christian Fitness - Slap Bass Hunks
So here's this year's shouting-into-the-void Andrew Falkous high entry place, the fourth of his self-released albums similar to the others - distorted bass, trademark extraordinary lyrical touch, post-hardcore distillation into something entirely singular.

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