Thursday, 28 December 2017

Even The Stars Top Albums of 2017 - 20 to 16


Our Top 25 albums of 2017 countdown continues today with the albums that make up numbers 20 to 16 of our favourite records of the year. Feel free to tweet us your favourites and why you think our list is great / predictable / preposterous.

25 : Reverend And The Makers - The Death Of A King
24 : Puppet Rebellion - Chemical Friends
23 : Desperate Journalist - Give Up
22 : Jessica Boudreaux - No Fury
21 : Phoebe Bridgers - Stranger In The Alps



20 : KELLY LEE OWENS - KELLY LEE OWENS

It's been quite a year for Kelly Lee Owens with this self-titled debut capturing the prestigious number one slot in the Piccadilly Records end of year chart. After having quietly gathered an underground following with the release of a couple of limited white label 12"s of singles Lucid and Arthur (both included on the record), the album was universally well-received on its release in April, flitting effortlessly between the dancefloor and quiet introspective moments of almost silence. It makes clever use of layering and Kelly's half-spoken, half-sung words to create effects that put the listener in the centre of the music so it can envelop them.



Our review of the album concluded : "Kelly Lee Owens is genuinely beautiful and engaging record, best listened to late at night in the dark in this form where it can work its intoxicating magic on you, but ripe with opportunities to take these pieces of music and craft something very different for other times and places. It’s an understated record that captures a mood and an atmosphere to perfection."

Kelly Lee Owens is on Facebook and Twitter.


19 : ARCADE FIRE - EVERYTHING NOW

When the album's lead single and title track was released the anticipation levels for this album were raised through the roof. Everything Now was a song that you just hit the repeat button the second it finished, uplifting and celebratory in its nature. It set the bar exceptionally high for an album that probably could never live up to its introductory billing.



That's not to say that there aren't moments here that match up to the most stellar parts of Arcade Fire's back catalogue. Creature Comforts, Put Your Money On Me and two contrasting sub two minute versions of Infinite Content are highlights of the rest of the record, but it's the title track's absolute supremacy that makes this feel like a slightly uneven record.

Arcade Fire's official site can be found here and they are on Facebook and Twitter.


18 : WOLF ALICE - VISIONS OF A LIFE

Wolf Alice's second album is a record of contrasts that is mirrored in the early singles that came from it. There's the channeled anger of the two minutes thirteen seconds of Yuk Foo, where Ellie declares she doesn't give a shit whilst holy hell breaks out around her. It contrasts with the magnificent Don't Delete The Kisses, one of the singles of the year, where Ellie muses on being unable to express her love for one of her friends.



It's a theme of contrasts that replicates itself throughout the record, making it a challenging listen in one sitting but one that's ultimately rewarding. They say second albums are always difficult for a band, particularly one that has expectations weighing heavily on it to create something that matches their first. With Visions Of A Life, Wolf Alice simply turned their nose up at them and made a record that matched their head space and it's all the better for it.

Wolf Alice's official site can be found here and they are on Facebook and Twitter.


17 : REWS - PYRO

Having performed one of our gigs of the year as early as February at The Castle, Rews (aka Shauna and Collette) were quickly snapped up by Marshall Records and sent to Abbey Road to record their debut album Pyro. With just drums, guitar and voice at their disposal, and don't call them the female Royal Blood because it'll make you look silly, they create an unholy racket on songs like Miss You In The Dark, Shake Shake and the album's lead single Shine whilst creating more melodic moments on the album's closing track Running Against The Wall and Violin.



They keep the momentum going across the ten songs that make up Pyro, leaving the listener breathless by the end as they did the crowd on that Monday night in Manchester, thus avoiding the pitfall that many bands with such an approach fall into, namely not being able to recreate the visceral energy of their live show on record.

Rews' official site can be found here and they are on Facebook and Twitter.  We interviewed them about the album here.


16 : FINDLAY - FORGOTTEN PLEASURES

Nearly a decade ago Natalie Findlay was being championed around Manchester as an acoustic singer-songwriter who could be set to go places. Reality has happened very differently, a image change led to a series of high-energy powerful singles including Your Sister and On And On and a record deal then led to high expectations of Findlay becoming a household name. That never happened for reasons undocumented, but having wrestled herself free and releasing a series of singles - Junk Food, Electric Bones, Greasy Love, Monomania, Waste My Time (all included here) - Forgotten Pleasures was finally released this year, criminally unheralded and overlooked.



Our review of the album concluded : "Forgotten Pleasures is an astonishing record under any circumstances. When you consider its difficult birth and the way it's sort of sneaked out in the UK, it's an even more impressive achievement. It's a record that should be coming out to a huge fanfare for one of the country's most diverse talented and exciting artists because that's the level Forgotten Pleasures operates at."

Findlay's official site can be found here.   She is also on Facebook and Twitter.
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