My Top 10 Albums of 2017
Music is a big love in my life and truthfully, I'd say even more so than beauty. I have a (mostly) beauty blog because I'm one of those people who's super passionate about all their hobbies and interests, though I don't really do dedicated music posts because it isn't the easiest subject to write about and there are only so many times I can describe my music taste as "'80s-inspired", "synthpop" and "dreamy"! In saying that, I've been putting together my Top 10 Albums posts since 2015 and I've come to really love the challenge of writing about topics other than beauty. 2017 was an incredible year in music; two of my all-time favourite bands released stellar albums, I went to some really fun gigs, I got my first record player and where 2016's releases didn't live up to my expectations, I ended up discovering all of last year's great music this year. My favourite beauty products of the year will follow suit soon, but for now, this is the music that has made my heart soar over the last 12 months.
10. Phoenix - Ti Amo
Phoenix have been one of my favourite bands since I first heard their music in the Sofia Coppola film, Lost in Translation (Sofia Coppola's movies have introduced me to many wonderful bands). Their infectious, sugary sweet indie pop makes for perfect summer listening and their sixth album, Ti Amo, was one of my most anticipated releases of the year. While the record doesn't live up to their previous work (Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix is just too good), the more I listened to it, the more it grew on me and it nevertheless managed to make the cut into my top 10. An album about their "European, Latin roots and a fantasised version of Italy" (in their words, think "pistachio gelato, jukeboxes on the beach and antique marble statues"), Ti Amo brings back the French quartet's fun, playful pop, and now that it's finally summer in here Australia, I'm going to be listening to this record a whole lot more.
9. Pond - The Weather
Considering Pond share the same band members as Tame Impala, I'm not sure why it took me so long to listen to them, but when I read that their new album was being produced by Kevin Parker (frontman of Tame Impala), I finally decided to check them out. Unsurprisingly, I fell in love with the first single off the album, Sweep Me Off My Feet, and the mark that Kevin Parker has made on The Weather is unmistakable. Although Pond are of the psychedelic rock genre at their core, there are some lush synth sounds on this album and Colder Than Ice is cheesy '80s-inspired pop at its best (the saxophone at the end!). The theme of the album is political and ponders the potential doom and gloom of the world, while it also feels close to home given that Pond are from Perth. Being from a small, far away city (the most isolated in the world, in fact!), it's always nice to see bands from your hometown doing well and if you're a fan of Tame Impala, Pond are well worth the listen too. They're playing at St. Jerome's Laneway Festival next year and I'm looking forward to catching these guys live for the first time.
8. Alvvays - Antisocialites
I had seen the name "Alvvays" floating around the music blogosphere for quite some time and was even recommended by my old housemate to check them out for sounding similar to Best Coast. However, it was only when the Toronto-based quintet released their sophomore album, Antisocialites, this year did I finally get around to listening to them and to no surprise, I fell in love. Alvvays are indeed reminiscent of Best Coast - I totally get those beach vibes listening to their music - though I'd say they're a little more synthpop and '60s-inspired. Behind the '80s and '90s, I love the '60s aesthetic and their music videos are a mesmerising combination of the colourful decade and vintage dream-like imagery. Relatable to any person experiencing the trials and tribulations of being in their twenties (me, and probably a lot of you too), Antisocialities is the kind of album you'd listen to while strolling along the beach with a strawberry milkshake in hand contemplating life. The perfect summer album.
7. HAIM - Something to Tell You
From the moment HAIM released their debut album, Days are Gone, back in 2013, I was instantly captured by the LA trio of sisters' music and it's no surprise how popular they've become in such a short amount of time. Their sophomore release, Something to Tell You, is about love and betrayal, and their sound taking influence from many decades including '70s and '80s soft sock, and '90s pop. Given my love for '80s and '90s music, it's no surprise how much I love this album and the fact that they collaborated with some pretty cool people in music including Dev Hynes of Blood Orange and George Lewis Jr. of Twin Shadow plays a part in that too. The music video for Want You Back is easily my favourite of 2017 (check out the video for If I Could Change Your Mind for more awesome HAIM dance moves) and their take on Shania Twain's That Don't Impress Me Much for Triple J's Like a Version is my favourite cover of the year. A sweet, sentimental and fun work of music, I also recommend watching the short film, Valentine, which takes us behind the scenes of the three sisters recording their solid second album.
6. Broken Social Scene - Hug of Thunder
My introduction to Broken Social Scene was through the 2006 film Half Nelson, starring Ryan Gosling (watch it if you haven't, it's the movie that ignited my celeb crush on him!). I fell in love with their two songs featured on the soundtrack, Stars and Sons and Da Da Da Da (one of my favourite songs of all time), and not before long, I had listened to their entire discography. Although I'm more into their older work from the early 2000s, 2017 saw the Canadian indie rock band make a really great comeback and it's hard to believe this is their first album in seven years. With 17 official members in Broken Social Scene, Hug of Thunder is a reunion of old friends and feels like a catch up where no matter how much time has passed, nothing has changed and they're all still just as close. There are both soaring anthems and songs that are little more moodier on this album (I prefer their downtempo stuff), so there's really something for everyone here too.
5. The War on Drugs - A Deeper Understanding
A Deeper Understanding is The War on Drugs' fourth album and as soon as I heard the second single from it, Up All Night, I knew I was going love this record before it had even been released. My favourite song from A Deeper Understanding, Up All Night is the most beautiful blend between dancey and chill, and as a whole, it's an album that will have you getting lost in your thoughts. Similarly to HAIM, The War on Drugs' music is inspired by '70s and '80s rock, but taken with a more shimmering, hazy and drawn out approach. Hailing from Philadelphia, Adam Granduciel's music tends to be on the lengthier side (the longest song on the album, Thinking of a Place, clocks in at 11 minutes and 14 seconds), but it's beautifully dreamy and textured, and I can't wait to sway about to their songs when I see them live for the second time at Laneway next year.
4. The Preatures - Girlhood
The Preatures second album, Girlhood, is a beautiful coming-of-age story as it sees the band exploring themes of entering womanhood and growing up as a girl in Australia. Like all the music I listen to, there's a lot of '80s-inspired synth and glistening rock coming from the Sydney-based band, and there are also both slow ballads to chill out to and kick arse girl power anthems that'll make you want to get up and dance. Favouring the more upbeat tracks on Girlhood, Yanada is a particularly catchy song, which has frontwoman, Isabella Manfredi, singing in the Indigenous Dharug language of Sydney ("yanada" translates to "moon" in Dharug), while in Something New, she sings in Italian to connect with her Italian heritage. The music video for Girlhood is really cute and fun, and whenever you find yourself needing music to uplift and empower you, look no further than this album.
3. Yumi Zouma - Willowbank
Since first discovering them back in 2014, Yumi Zouma are a band I've come to hold in such high regard that when their sophomore album, Willowbank, was released, I was a little bit disappointed, to be honest. It didn't immediately grab my attention the way their previous work did, but like Phoenix's album, the more I listened to it, the more it grew on me. It lacks the energy that their debut album, Yoncalla, has, but in saying that, it makes room for dreamily wistful tunes such as Carnation and my favourite, Ostra. I didn't expect the Kiwi quartet's album to make it this high in my top 10, but given that their first record was my number one album of last year, it's a true testament to how much I love them and the dream pop genre. Yumi Zouma make music that sounds like your head is stuck in the clouds; it's breezy, chilled out and atmospheric. With two EPs and two full-lengths now under their belt, this band are yet to do any wrong.
2. Cut Copy - Haiku from Zero
Cut Copy are one of my favourite bands of all time and when it was announced in the middle of the year that they would be releasing a new album, I knew 2017 was going to be one of the best years in music. The Melbourne band's fifth studio album, Haiku from Zero is about the over-saturation and overload of information we experience in today's world, and how even though it can all get a little bit overwhelming, there's still beauty to found amongst the chaos. Having loved them for well over ten years now and having seen them live the same amount, it's not my favourite record from my beloved band (Bright Like Neon Love is, for obvious reasons!), but it was nevertheless an album I fell in love with on first listen and if there's one band that gets dance music right, it's Cut Copy. It's '80s synthpop meets disco funk and combined with those incredible build ups, some of the best times of my life have been spent with my friends dancing drunk at festivals to Cut Copy. I'm really sad I never got to see them live in their hometown while I was living there myself, but Melbourne or Perth, hopefully it's not too long before I see them on stage again. I miss them so much and my heart is full of love for my favourite band.
1. Slowdive - Slowdive
I'm feeling a little pang of guilt because I was adamant Cut Copy would make it to number one, but truthfully, this is the album that made my heart explode and it was this album that saw one of the most triumphant musical comebacks ever. Forming in the late '80s in Reading and later disbanding during the mid-'90s, Slowdive are finally together again and back with their first record in 22 years. I really didn't go into their self-titled LP with any expectations - I didn't think anything could ever top 1993's Souvlaki - but from the moment I pressed play on album-opener, Slomo (my favourite song of the year and one of the most beautiful pieces of music I've ever heard), I was immediately blown away. Rachel Goswell's airy, atmospheric voice is a beautiful juxtaposition against Neil Halstead's deep, moody vocals and Slowdive very much feels like a journey through the stars, the clouds and the sky; it's dreamy, ethereal and otherworldly. The new album isn't Souvlaki - no shoegaze album ever will be - but it's fresh, true to Slowdive and 22 years later, they prove on this record that they're still one of the most prominent bands of the genre. Along with Pond and The War on Drugs, Slowdive are also playing at Laneway and I honestly think I will have an out-of-body experience when I see this band live.
Ariel Pink - Dedicated to Bobby Jameson, Beach House - B-Sides and Rarities, The Horrors - V, LCD Soundsystem - American Dream, Lorde - Melodrama, Nite Jewel - Real High, Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein - Stranger Things 2 (A Netflix Original Series Soundtrack), Toro y Moi - Boo Boo
What music did you enjoy in 2017?