2017 has been a strong year for music, the sheer wealth of exciting artists working today may not always be represented in the mainstream but under the surface, I think there’s such a diversity, eclecticism at play that there is something for every taste if you are willing to seek it out. Hopefully, here at GIITTV we go a small way to helping you with that. To that effect alongside our albums poll, I have collected my highlights of the year including a 2017 playlist on mixcloud and a longer one on Spotify, my top 40 albums, my favourite EPs and live shows. I hope you enjoy.
Top 40 albums of 2017
1. Perfume genius – No Shape
Elegant, graceful yet constantly gripping throughout. Another step up for Mike Hadreas and his brand of grand, shape-shifting pop songwriting that possesses a transformative power.
2. Japanese Breakfast – Soft sounds from another planet
A longplayer of exquisite quality and dynamism, from subtle midnight electro sounds to evocative dream pop, this record has it all.Let it blanket you.
3. Kelly Lee Owens- S/T
She crafts evocative soundscapes with subtle beats and deft-handed use of layered synths and samples, each one contains an intriguing sense of space, like small caverns being carved into your subconsciousness and your soul; modern, innovative, and bold.
4. Phoebe Bridgers- Stranger in the Alps
Teaming up with Mike Mogis(Bright Eyes), Bridgers has crafted one of the most emotive, affecting, and well-realised albums of 2017. This is songwriting with a real personal, poetic, and heartfelt touch. Phoebe’s crumpled tone and cutting poetic couplets have the ability to stop you in your tracks.
5. Run the Jewels – RJ3
El-P and Killer Mike return for the third unmissable instalment of Run The Jewels. Trump, police brutality, yawning inequality, and America’s descent into darkness are all topics that they take on with visceral lustre. Each one is laced with wit, brutal lines, a range of guests, and futuristic beats.
6. The Moonlandingz – Interplanetary Class Classics
A riot fiendish psych dappled space-pop and outsider sounds that rummage in the wreckage of post-punk and obscure outsider music and crafts sounds that are genuinely gleeful. Each song rattling with taboos, rubbing the face of an increasingly ugly humanity into the dirt.
7. Desperate Journalist- Grow up
Bold, brave and heart-bursting, marrying powerful post-punk rhythms and wide-screen guitars to Jo’s astounding vocals giving voice to intensely personal couplets. A cracking grower.
8. Fazerdaze – Morningside
New Zealander Amelia Murray aka Fazerdaze, crafts a delectable sound that elicits these memories and feelings of yore.Written in her bedroom this is one of the most delightful surprises of the year, dreamy, hazy, wistful a wonderful record that vividly details her growing pains.
9. Rose Elinor Dougall – Stellular
Former Pipette returns with perhaps her strongest solo album yet, wonderfully subtle production of undulating synths and choppy guitars give her license to cast her withering gaze across pop culture.
10. Lowly – Heba
Bella Union comes up trumps again with this gorgeous longer player from a Danish collective that fuses socially conscious melodies to an expansive backdrop of spiralling electronic sounds and alt-pop.
11. Charly bliss- Guppy
Addictive, infectious and fist pumping. Bittersweet power pop hasn’t sounded this good in AGES!
12. Kendrick Lamar- DAMN
One of the best artists on the planet expands his palette with another quality instalment in his socially and personally conscious document of our times.
13. Xenoula- S/T
Created alongside producer La Priest. This is a vivid document of an unusual, exotic and unique artist, one of the most interesting pieces of pop production you’ll this year.
14. Baio- Man of the World
Electronic pop with a charm and whimsy at the world.From a sometime member of Vampire Weekend.
15. Siobhan Wilson- There Are no Saints
With a voice that could melt even the hardest hearts, Scotland’s Siobhan Wilson, delights and casts us under her spell with a record crammed with quality songwriting.
16. Thundercat – Drunk
Jazz and soul-flecked adventures of the mind. An imaginative sonic odyssey.
17. Gallops – Bronze Mystic
The North Walian groups immensely cinematic sounds mash up math rock into an electronic tapestry.
18. St Vincent -Masseducation
St Vincent goes mainstream with her impressively diverse palette of art- pop songwriting, Pills and New York are the highlights here.
19. Breakfast Muff- Eurgh
A late entrant to my chart, charming DIY pop from a Scottish band with several faces.
20. Goldfrapp – Silver Eye
One of the most consistent bands of the 2000s return with another masterclass in electronic pop.
21. Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith- The Kid
Evocative vocals, and glacial electronic sounds. Enveloping majesty.
22 Wild Ones- Mirror Touch
Goergous shuddering electro-pop from the Toronto group laced with attitude and an unmissable melodic sensibility.
23. Slowdive- S/T
Early 90s noise pop pioneers return with a quality album. ‘Star Roving’ being the undoubted towering highlight.
24. Cotton Wolf – Life in Analogue
South Walian duo with excellently textured electronica. A sound built for movie soundtracks.
25. Christian Fitness- Slap bass Hunks
Future of the Left frontman steps into a brutal side project with his trademark wit, absurdity and ferocity.
26 Manu Delago -Spaceful
Wonderful selection of percussive instrumentation, guest vocals and samples from the world renowned Austrian Hang player.
27. Tender prey- Falling Off Chairs
Welcome to the wonderful, disorientingly dark world of Tender Prey(Laura E Bryon) frolick in this record’s absurd realities, luxuriate in Bryon’s talent for unsettling left of centre pop for the afternoon because quite frankly it’s marvellous, for my money she’s up there with her contemporaries Gwenno and Cate Le Bon.
28 Martin Carr- New Shapes of Life
Excellent songwriting from the Boo Radley’s guitarist. Personal and political songs that delve deeper into his music collection for influences.
29. Yumi Zouma- Willowbank
New Zealand group craft deliciously tender dream pop flecked songs. December is a highlight.
30. Jane Weaver – Modern Kosmology
31. Lorde -Melodrama
32. Hannah Peel- Mary Casio: Journey to Cassiopeia
33. Vince Staples – Big fish theory
34. The National – Sleep well beast
35. Bicep – S/T
36. Farmhand – International Dreams
37. RIDE – Weather Diaries
38. Meursault – I will Kill Again
39. Vessels – The Great Distraction
40. Lone Taxidermist – Trifle
EPs of the year
1. Peaness – Are you sure?
More of a mini album from girl gang Peaness it showed they have the chops, tunes and attitude to capture hearts.
2. The Darling Buds – Evergreen
Newport’s 4AD stalwarts return with a mighty fine EP on Oddbox records, wistful, breezy and bittersweet. Quality bra.
3. The Moonlandingz – Black Hanz
Filthy and fun The Moonlandingz teaser of what was to come.
4. O’Flynn – Pluto’s Beating Heart/ Eleven
Ninja Tune producer crafts a kaleidoscope of sound on this bleeping and blips electronic journey for fans of Orbital.
5. Art School Girlfriend- Measures
A very special debut release from Polly Mackey’s new project. Hitting the sweet spot between subtle production, emotive vocals and sophisticated songwriting. For fans of Everything but the Girl.
Gigs of the year
1. Manu Delago – St John’s Church Cardiff
On this evidence, Manu Delagu’s Handmade are one of the most mind-expanding, incredible live experiences that I have ever witnessed. My heart swells and my mind is stretched by such a unique performance, something that I have never ever seen before. It is little wonder that the evening ends with the entire crowd on its feet thunderously clapping its appreciation to tonight’s three performers. It is the kind of rhythm they would appreciate; the rhythms of our lives.
2. The Future is Female 2017, Chapter arts centre Cardiff
Offering a much-needed redressing of the balance in what is still a male dominated music industry rife with sexism, The Future Is Female is a forward thinking event that champions unique female artists and brings them together for a communally supportive gathering, brimming with energy, fun and inspiration. If the future is female and looks and sounds anything like this then I say bring it on!
3. Billy Bragg – The Tramshed Cardiff
Rounding off the night with perhaps his trademark song ‘A New England’ its chiming guitars decorated with a longing for a promise unfulfilled, it comes with the extra verse dedicated to and written for Kirsty MacColl (who also had a hit with her excellent version of the song) is greeted with a sing-a-long of its heart-bursting chorus. And with that its all over and we spill out into the winter’s November night our hearts swelling with song and our souls stirred with hope. Billy Bragg is now in his sixtieth year, he’s one of us, he keeps the faith as an enduring songwriter and activist, and whilst he can sure talk for (a new) England, most of all he’s a bloody good bloke.
4. The Spacelady – Transport club, Cardiff
Cosmic hippy busker with a Casio keyboard transports us to a different time and place with a disarming charm.
5. Wales Goes Pop 2017, The Gate Cardiff
Another cavalcade of noise pop delighted attendees of the Gate in Cardiff this year.
6. Jeffrey Lewis, Clwb Ifor bach Cardiff
Anti folk legend leaves us grinning from ear to ear with his amusing adventures in lo-fi.