Remember 2016, when things were simple? We've got bad news for you: we're almost halfway to 2018. Or midway through 2017 if you're that kind of person. Either way, once you've gotten over the shock of the year being 50% through, you can relax: SPB has you covered. Rejoice as our staff clue you in on the best albums released this year, plus a few juicy bonus lists (best metal EPs, "ampersand rap" records and more). Read on to find out what you may have missed during the year thus far.
Andy's top 5 albums of 2017 so far
Swear I'm Good at This
Their live show warmed me up to this band's singular energy, but their debut album takes tried-and-true indie pop trappings and spices things up with a healthy dose of punk rock attitude. Full of fun and catchy tunes, as well as some thought-provoking lyrical exchanges. Official site.
The less is more philosophy strikes again: this is another duo punching well above their weight class. This debut full length packs in rhythmic and powerful grunge punk alongside almost shoegazey stretches and riot grrrl aggressiveness. Though the record has its hopeful, genuinely beautiful, even profound moments, I kinda dig that Seaform often reflects a weighty gloominess that doesn't seem all that out of place in contemporary times. Official site.
With alternating male/female vocals and a maximum of snarling and noisy guitar tone, this Austin, TX band carries on the proud punk tradition of a city that often seems overwhelmed by the hype band mentality. Their sophomore record continually latches onto thick grooves, rollicking in a way that's somehow approachable despite its sheer ferocity. Official site.
Carrying on with the clinically creepy vibe of vintage Swans, Psychic Drift defies characterization and strikes me as perhaps being psychologically damaging on some level. Nevertheless, it methodically wormed its way under my skin, fascinating to behold for its mesmerizing layering of sound. A soundtrack for the best kind of nightmare. Official site.
Cheryl's top 5 albums of 2017 so far
Punk boys all grown up. Full review here.
The Eternal Path to Nothingness
Funeral doom at its most crushing.
Light of the Morning Star
Nocta (Iron Bonehead Productions)
Goth rock drenched in death.
Heartless (Profound Lore Records / Nuclear Blast Records)
An exquisite journey through darkness and hope. Full review here.
The Assassination of Julius Caesar (House of Mythology)
Political nuances hidden under new wave beats.
Cheryl's top 5 Metal EPs of 2017 so far
German blackened crust that never takes a breath. Official site.
Ascension to a Higher Plane of Existence
Gorgeous and heartbreaking and deeply depressing doom. Official site.
Cosmic black metal from the most prolific band in Australia. Official site.
Chimaerian Offspring (Extremely Rotten Records)
Danish death metal that precedes an even better full length. Official site.
The Maldoror Chants: Hermaphrodite (Prosthetic Records)
Avant-garde to the highest possible extent. Official site.
Dennis's top 5 albums of 2017 so far
Until We Hit The Shore (White Russian Records)
I just keep coming back to this record. It's so catchy and so much fun! This is the summer album of 2017 already. Amazing comeback from these surf-punk veterans. Full review here.
Endure And Survive (Infinite Entanglement - Part II) (Blaze Bayley Recordings)
Why this band (or man) doesn't get more love is beyond me. To me this is one of the best and most interesting bands out there. And he never forgets who he owes everything to: his fans. I was a bit surprised with this album so soon after their previous album. Luckily the quality of the music didn't suffer from it. I'm looking forward to the third part of this trilogy.
Berdreyminn (Season Of Mist Records)
Loads of people will argue this album is a step back for the band. Metal bands that become less and less metal over time were rarely praised for that by the metal community, so that shouldn't come as a shock. I like where this band is going though and fully appreciate them taking their sound one step further again.
Eternal Rituals Of The Accretion Of Light (Prosthetic Records)
I almost forgot about this band and then stumbled over a new record that blew me of my feet as if it was the first time I heard about this band. What's not to like about that? I've seen it described as new-wavy post-metal and that could be about right.
Three Worlds: Music From Woolf Works (Deutsche Grammophon)
Sleep is the musical adventure that got Max Richter on my radar. I only checked it because it ended up on the yearlist of a sludge and hardcore connoisseur. Not quite what I expected, but I was hooked immediately. And this new album has that same effect again. Amazing neo-classical music with some electronical influences. Do yourself a favor and go listen to something (way) outside your comfortzone: this. Full review here.
Dennis's top EPs of 2017 so far
Nionde Plågan / The World That Summer
Split (Zegema Beach Records, Through Love Records, Dingleberry Records, Laserlife Records, Longrail Records, Dead Punx Records, Pundonor Records, Suspended Soul Records, Stack Your Roster)
Modern screamo all the way. I prefer Nionde Plågan side on this 10'' as I like the heavy production and equally heavy song-writing more.
Covek Od Staklo EP (Balkan Veliki)
A digital only EP by one of my favorite Macedonian bands: Fonija. The band was adding new wave influences to their sound and they added it in spades for this EP. I was expecting a second EP (perhaps it's on it's way still) and expect a new album soon. I do hope the punk influences will get a bit more focus in the future again, but this is still a nice new EP with one new song and two covers (one remake from an older song of their own and one cover from Xaxaxa)
II EP (Coin Toss Records)
At first I didn't really know what to think of Blessed. I grew to like them. A lot. And this second EP shows a lot of growth. Here's a post-punk band that keeps the genre interesting. Looking forward to that full album. Read full review.
No Generation EP (Adagio830, Echo Canyon)
Warm and inviting shoegaze. Who doesn't need that from time to time?
Kevin's top 5 albums of 2017 so far
Emperor of Sand
For everyone that hasn't heard Mastodon, buy this album.
For everyone that doesn't like Mastodon, buy this album.
For everyone that's said Mastodon aren't heavy enough, buy this album.
For everyone that's said Mastodon are too heavy, buy this album.
Everyone buy this album. Read full review.
Brutal and vicious like all great hardcore. Mike Patton and Dave Lombardo have created an album for the ages.
You know that picture of Sean Connery from Zardoz where he has a big ol' Freddy Mercury mustache, bandolier and a red diaper-thong? This album is what will always play in your head when you see it. Synth-core brilliance. Read full review.
Denver's Flobots make a most welcome return with a hip-hoppy dose of truthiness when the world needs it most. A healing salve for a hurting world. Read full review.
Supergroup is a term thrown around like funny hats at a U.K. Festival, but I think when said group contains Teri Gender-Bender, Buzz Osborne, Dale Crover, and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, it's absolutely applicable. Exciting and fresh. It's like giving your ears the ice-bucket challenge. Read full review.
Loren's top 5 albums of 2017 so far
Machine Response (Deranged)
This January release is holding up well on repeated listens. It recalls an era when punk was a term on its own, without needing another 50 subsets to describe a band. Full review here.
Dream Gig (No Idea Records)
After a handful of EPs, the Seattle band finally has a full-length that continues their take on the DIY punk life of a 30-something. Full review here.
Tales of Interest (Rad Girlfriend Records)
The Dopamines return and it’s as beer-can-in-the-air as ever. Sounds like: pop-punk with projectiles. Full review here.
Posi (Specialist Subject Records/Lame-O Records)
More quirky melodies from this London group. It’s hard to pin down their sound, other than it’s catchy, unpredictable and rooted in the DIY scene even if the songwriting doesn’t fit the power chord model. Full review here.
The Bob’s Burgers Musical Album
(Sub Pop Records)
What’s there to say about an album that finally releases “Taffy Butt,” “Electric Love,” and “The Fart Song” to the world? I still wasn’t crazy enough to drop over $50 on a triple LP of cartoon songs though.
Nathan's top 5 (six) albums of 2017 so far
Fly or Die (International Anthem Recording Company)
Call it art damage. Call it avant-garde. Call it improvised psychedelia. You'd be correct on all fronts. It's genre-less, yes, but it's also jazz, ya'know? Jazz born from and for urbanites. Aiken to Wildfires: The New York Loft Sessions, but modernized, and, well, better.
Mystic 100's (Dom America)
Fuzzed-out vibes that work well alongside the morning cup of coffee, the sunny bike ride to work, the happy hour beers, the party in the park, and the bike ride back home down darkened streets. Or ya'know, whatever you do with your day.
Nothing Feels Natural (Sister Polygon)
Priests somehow manage to offer an escape from this messed-up world by making the listener revel in it. That's called punk, I think.
Near to the Wild Heart of Life (Anti)
Each Japandroids record is a look into both the past and future of Japandroids records.
Why Love Now (Sub Pop)
Take it from me, it's weird being a narcissist that also hates himself. Being a Pissed Jeans fan has both helped and made it worse. Thanks for everything/nothing, assholes.
Freak Out Orgasm! (Riot Season)
Sometimes punks will hang out with hippies if the drugs are good and the guitars are loud enough.
Nathan's top 5 Ampersand Rap Records of 2017 so far
Oh, what's that, you're looking for some new rap duo recommendations? Well, please allow me to enlighten you. And lest you question the validity, know that they are coming from someone who has not one but two bucket hats...
Insight & Damu the Fudgemunk
Ears Hears Spears (Redefinition Records)
Out of nowhere with that conscious boom-bap throwback to rule my earbuds.
Gensu Dean & Wise Intelligent
Game of Death (Mello Music Group)
Y'all remember Poor Righteous Teachers? Nah, I didn't think so. Start here, work your way backward.
Tristate & Oh No
3 Dimensional Prescriptions (Hieroglyphics Imporium)
You can print them shits right at home now.
DJ Format & Abdominal
Still Hungry (AFF)
A look into the life of of indie hip-hop veterans still on the grind. It aint all glamorous, fam.
Awon & Dephlow
Sleep is the Cousin of Death (Don't Sleep / Dusty Platter)
Phoniks lays the jazzy boom-bap. Awon and Dephlow spill the reality rhymes from a life you've never had to live, homie.
Spyros's top 5 albums of 2017 so far
The Assassination of Julius Caesar
When you think you have heard it all from Ulver, they just surprise you again. Retreating into a post-punk, dream pop '80s aesthetic they release a melodic, dark, soulful record.
The constants morphings of Zu make it hard to follow the movements of this experimental group. The drone realms that they expand in Jhator finds them at their best, opening up new abstract spaces of spiritual free-jazz. Read full review.
The Australian giants of free-jazz craft an unusual record, exploring four different movements instead of their usual hour long investigations. Filled with an unconventional perspective, Unfold features all the different facades of a band that knows no boundaries. Read full review.
Thin Black Duke
Staying true to their holistic perspective, Oxbow moulds together classical, punk and notions of avantgarde to create their own interpretations of rock music. Or what rock should really be about. Read full review.