December 27, 2017 CrypticRock Presents: The Best Albums Of 2017
Who ever said there is no good music being made anymore are probably not paying attention. In fact, there is plenty of great music being made, and the year of 2017 was no different. The year included long awaited returns from beloved artists, the introduction of a slew of new artists, and steps to the next level for others. Whatever the genre may be, there was plenty to remember in the form of new albums throughout the year. Take a look back at some of the best albums in their respective genre with CrypticRock.
(Click album cover for full review)
Top 5 Alternative Rock Albums:
DREAMCAR- DREAMCAR: Considering the incredible talent making up DREAMCAR, it is no surprise that the band’s debut album managed to be packed with catchy and charming hits. The vocals of Davey Havok (AFI, Blaqk Audio) are superb, as always, and it is exciting to hear him taking on the ’80s-inspired Pop/New Wave sounds. Tracks like “Kill for Candy” and “On the Charts” will have you dancing for days, so do not hesitate to check out DREAMCAR’S self-titled debut if you have not already!
Eisley – I’m Only Dreaming: Marking their fifth overall studio album, and their first without several core members, the band known as Eisley strike gold yet again. Their highest charted album to date, I’m Only Dreaming is a different direction for the band but still is everything that embodies their style. There is no doubt cousins Sherri DuPree-Bemis and Garron DuPree have plenty to offer fans of Eisley.
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The National – Sleep Well Beast: The National have a wealth of incredible albums making up their catalogue, but Sleep Well Beast just might be their best yet. Poignant, thoughtful, and off-kilter bangers like “The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness” and “Turtleneck” balance out the album’s softer moments like “Nobody Else Will Be There.” Combine it all together and out comes magic that only The National can conjure.
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PVRIS – All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell: Massachusetts Electro Rock trio PVRIS tangoed with poet Emily Dickinson on their sophomore album, All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell. With captivating vocals from Lynn Gun throughout, the collection runs the gamut from danceable to haunting discussions of morbidity, with many tracks following the theme of doomed or tragic relationships. In short, PVRIS have turned their art into therapy, creating an album that is beautiful and honest.
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Steven Wilson – To The Bone: One of the most underrated musicians and producers of the past thirty years, Steven Wilson may avoid the limelight, but he delivers an exciting, musically diverse, and brilliant fifth album, To The Bone. A very British offering with lashings of innovation, uplifting and emotional songs that will wow the listener from start to finish, this album is further proof why you should never pigeonhole a great musician.
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Top 5 Hard Rock Albums:
Asking Alexandria – Asking Alexandria: Reunited with Vocalist Danny Worsnop, the Brits in Asking Alexandria returned to reclaim their throne with their self-titled, fifth disc. Crossing genres with ease, confusing the categorizations and sounding like a sonic wet dream, Asking Alexandria is the comeback without a departure: the personally candid, open and honest offering from a band who have forged their self-certainty amidst travels through the inferno.
In This Moment – Ritual: In This Moment have been taking names since 2005 and their sixth release, Ritual, weaves a unique spell that combines bluesy grit alongside bewitching tales of spirituality to create something that is bigger than any black widow’s web. For the album, the band stepped left-of-center to experiment beyond their Metal roots, though their sound remains fully massive, in truth, it is a gorgeous evolution.
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Nothing More – The Stories We Tell Ourselves: Released in September to massive fanfare, Nothing More’s fifth studio offering is already nominated for three Grammys and why the hell not? Chock-full of stellar musicianship and soaring releases from powerhouse Vocalist Jonny Hawkins, this is a collection that addresses social and personal issues candidly and openly. So promise to never drink the Kool Aid, to never buy into the falsities inherent in the lies we tell ourselves to survive, but to always rock out with Nothing More!
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Red – Gone: Returning with their sixth studio offering, the Grammy-nominated Red continue to probe heavy life questions with an always keenly intelligent sense. Varying between 1990s Alt-Rock grunginess and soaring, melodic Hard Rock circa 2017, the trio rock, stomp and crunch their way through Gone; where there’s talk of the legacy of love, some melancholia, anthemic rockers, power ballads, and always that reflective sense of sincerity. Hopeful, positive, soaring but never proselytizing, Red continue their always stellar legacy with Gone.
10 Years – (how to live) AS GHOSTS: Welcoming back key members, (how to live) AS GHOSTS acts as a rebirth of sorts for 10 Years. Executed flawlessly, their eighth studio album is driven with honesty and strength. (how to live) AS GHOSTS is gritty and bold, heavy and passionate, asserting why 10 Years are one of Hard Rock’s best acts.
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Top 5 Hip Hop Albums:
Kendrick Lamar – DAMN.: The fourth studio album from the Hip Hop megastar is a winner. Containing some of Lamar’s best writing, production and rhythms. Music with substance, it is a marriage of old school and new school bound to please Hip Hop lovers of all ages.
MC Eiht – Which Way Iz West: Which Way Iz West is a swagger-filled album that will have Hip Hop fans hitting rewind over and over thanks to MC Eiht. Loaded with funky Hip Hop grooves from producers such as DJ Premier and Bumpy Knuckles, this album leaves nothing to the imagination and puts it all on the table for fans to devour.
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Prodigy – The Hegelian Dialectic (The Book of Revelation): Fans of Mobb Deep are treated to a great Hip Hop album from classic MC Prodigy. With its great production, great beats, as well as its more political and social content, The Hegelian Dialectic is a great listen from start to finish for any Hip Hop fan. Unfortunately, with Prodigy’s untimely death in June of 2017, fans are only given a taste of what lied beneath the surface for the talented MC.
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Raekwon – The Wild: Wu-Tang Clan hero Raekwon has been pumping out great solo material for years now and The Wild is no different. His seventh overall studio record, The Wild is forty plus minutes of classic sounding Hip Hop that will have fans cheering for more. It is proof positive that there are still some killer beats and meaningful lyrics to be heard in modern Hip Hop.
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Run The Jewels – Run the Jewels 3: Dubbed a supergroup, Run the Jewels are not afraid to say what they want to say. Physically releasing the album in January of 2017, they use every opportunity they can to make a stand and fight for what they believe in with their third album. The best part about it all, they never sounded better as they remain champions of Alternative Hip Hop.
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Top 5 Metal Albums:
Enslaved – E: The boys from Bergen, Norway conjure up a new platter of effortless majesty on their 14th studio album, entitled simply E. Enslaved is a well-oiled machine, and here they craft yet another batch of material that rings familiar even as it charts new sonic waters.
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Moonspell – 1755: A conceptual ground shaking album. The creativity in the guitar and drum solos are beyond making for a very technically masterful album. Furthermore, some simplicity arises only quickly to be layered with heavy, dark, and eerie vocal stylings. The greatest attribute of Moonspell is their ability to be extremely diverse in their vocal ranges, stylings, and instrumentation as well. From album to album Moonspell always have something completely unique and different to offer and such is the case with 1755.
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Motionless in White – Graveyard Shift: Bringing a dash of Horror Metal to stereos this past May, Pennsylvania’s Motionless In White returned with their fourth full-length and first offering for Roadrunner Records, Graveyard Shift. Dancing on your grave while spitting lyrical references to everyone from Cypress Hill to Gotye to The Buggles to Leslie Gore to, well, themselves, these hard-working boys unleashed a cataclysm of headbanging greatness that ran the gamut from brutal catharsis to Punk Rock anthems to sexual taunts to cinematic Horror romps. Blistering, bloody and deviously heavy, Motionless In White are at their finest with Graveyard Shift and it is so deliciously Metal.
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Myrkur – Mareridt: The vision of Amalie Bruun, every time a mention of her is aired publicly new fans immediately jump on board with it. As far as Black Metal is concerned, Mareridt is a hybrid of such where she mixes her beautiful clean ambient vocals and serene Folk type instrumentation with Gothic splashes of harsh guitar as well as blackened screams. The mysticism of it all creates an eerie mood that is breathtakingly beautiful, dark, deep, and shocking all at once.
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Paradise Lost – Medusa: Call them Gothic Metal, call them Doom Metal, Paradise Lost are a band that defy genres. Never sounding the same from album to album, Medusa is a mix of classic Paradise Lost Doom and Death Metal with their more modern styles. Simply put, it is a quintessential Paradise Lost record. An album that comes as a pleasant surprise to fans who were not expecting new Paradise Lost material for at least another year, it also deserves best of 2017 honoring!
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Top 5 New Wave/Synthpop Albums:
The Birthday Massacre – Under Your Spell: Canadian Goth Rockers The Birthday Massacre returned this June with their seventh full-length album, Under Your Spell. An eleven-song collection that is emotionally tumultuous, poetically downcast, and beautifully haunting, the album melds 1980’s Electronica with aggressive guitars and dark, cinematic atmospheres while the band delve into intimate relationships and leave no heart-tugging avenue unexplored. Under Your Spell is a mesmerizingly macabre, beautifully atmospheric, and dangerously explosive dichotomy from some of today’s greatest Gothic Synthpop-sters.
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Gene Loves Jezebel – Dance Underwater: There are bands whose disappearance from the limelight causes them to recharge and to reignite their old flame for words and melodies, enabling them to combine all these with their time-wrought experience and current musical state of mind, producing majestic results. The English band Gene Loves Jezebel, with its new album, Dance Underwater, is an epitome of this.
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IAMX – Unfall: In a time of repetition and formula, IAMX delivers a release of pure original brilliance. Unfall is the first release from Chris Corner that is an instrumental, yet still addictive, influential and unmatched. Corner yet again challenges his fans’ and delivers an unforgettable masterpiece.
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Morrissey – Low in High School: Only two years fresh from the success of his well-crafted tenth album, Morrissey—the equally loved and loathed vocalist and lyricist of the long-defunct English band The Smiths—is all ready to axe again the Monarchy and other issues that disgust him. His new manifesto, Low in High School, is another impressive set of provocative proclamations draped in golden red and brilliant blue tin foils of catchy melodies and choruses as well as intricate arrangements and instrumentation.
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Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – The Punishment of Luxury: Both fresh and familiar, OMD’s new album, The Punishment of Luxury, showcases a perfect blend of the English band’s old, classic Synthpop sound and its contemporary Electronic Dance Music experimentation heard best in its latter works.
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Top 5 Pop Punk Albums:
All Time Low – Last Young Renegade: When you are lost in a sea of strangers and unable to find yourself anymore, All Time Low are here to show you the way toward maturity with their infectious seventh full-length release, Last Young Renegade: ten wonderfully-crafted, infectious Power Pop/Pop Punk tracks that stand as a solid testament to the continuing evolution of this Maryland band. There’s “Drugs & Candy,” “Dirty Laundry,” and, of course, “Good Times.” For a band that know all too well what it’s like to be the “Life Of The Party,” at fourteen years into their career, All Time Low show an impressive evolution in their sound that makes them taste kind of like cotton candy: sticky sweet, deliciously addictive spun-sugar that is required for proper summertime happiness.
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Falling In Reverse – Coming Home: Keeping his feet on native soil but exploring the galaxy of the human psyche, as well as that never-ending abyss that is the human heart, former Escape The Fate vocalist Ronnie Radke returned in 2017, under the guise of Falling In Reverse, with his fourth studio offering, Coming Home. With a track for his daughter, a Rock-n-Roll anthem for the broken, Pop Rock, Punk and Glam influences, as well as synth-driven, atmospheric genius alongside bloody honesty and infectious hope, Coming Home offers up a little something for everyone.
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Goldfinger – The Knife: Goldfinger are known for their brand of Punk Rock that fuses Ska elements along with Pop sensibilities and creates a wholly infectious, superbly catchy sound that begs you to listen. On their first album in nine years, The Knife, John “Feldy” Feldmann continues his lengthy legacy of stellar musicianship and witty, intelligent and sarcastically fun lyrics. The end result is an album that contains Warped Tour-worthy sing-alongs, sharp objects, Ska hooks and horns, a lover’s quarrel, some Jose Cuervo, an orthodontist’s girl, and all of it deliciously infectious and exactly what fans have come to know and love about Goldfinger.
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The Menzingers – After The Party: Purely passionate and emotionally energized, there is only one word that comes to mind when thinking about The Menzingers and that is zeal. A little over a decade into their career, Scranton, Pennsylvania’s very own Punk quartet have crafted one of the best Punk Rock albums to be released in some time, absolutely hitting the mark with After the Party. Taking life and creating their own true meaning to adulthood, the guys have poured their hearts into making the fun times last. With a record that stops hearts and hits closer to home than one can imagine, After the Party will become a staple in many fans’ collections.
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Story Of The Year – Wolves: Seventeen years strong, Story Of The Year returned this December with Wolves, their self-released, fifth studio offering, and first album in seven years. A collection that evaporates time and harkens back to 2002’s Page Avenue debut, this album is, in fact, a SOTY fan’s sonic wet dream full of ear-wolves. There are gritty punches, infectious rockers, candid confessionals, siren’s songs and an always infectious sound that beautifully pays homage to the band’s past while fully embracing their very sunny future.
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Top 5 Pop Rock Albums:
Grace VanderWaal – Just the Beginning: The perfectly imperfect little teen sensation known as Grace VanderWaal arrived on the musical scene this November with her debut release, following her America’s Got Talent Season eleven win. An album that is chock full of wonderfully raw vocals and amazingly insightful lyrics, the twelve-song collection sees VanderWaal strumming her trusty ukulele while offering up sincere and heartfelt lyrical meanderings and a flowery positivity that absolutely warms the heart. While this might be Just the Beginning for the infectious, young Indie Pop starlet, it’s an impressive awakening of some truly delightful talent. And, oh yeah, she is just thirteen!
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Harry Styles – Harry Styles: Harry Styles, the album, debuted at number one in the US charts as well as the UK, Australia, Ireland, The Netherlands and also reached the top spot in Belgium, Canada, The Czech Republic, Scotland as well as other territories in the Middle East and Asia. This rockstar, once from the world’s biggest Pop group One Direction, has proven he is a genuine singer and songwriter displaying a range of sound and styles of his own. Styles’ irreverent willingness to dress his own part and venture out as a man with his heart and soul on his sleeve through such diverse styles as Folk, Britpop, and Rock, gave us one of the most tenderly reflective yet edgiest and biggest recordings of the year.
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Lights – Skin&Earth: A bit different than her popular 2014 album Little Machines, Canada’s Lights shines bright with Skin&Earth. A concept piece accompanied by a graphic novel series, this is such a fun and eccentric album. A mix of Synthpop with Rock, Skin&Earth is great from beginning to end while being filled with mounds of conviction and emotion.
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Misterwives – Connect the Dots: MisterWives’ Connect the Dots is one of those records that flew under the Pop radar this year, but really this album is jammed pack with soaring, bombastic tracks that should be garnering all sorts of attention. The band have taken their sound to a new level with Connect the Dots, and you will be hard-pressed to get jangly tracks like “Machine” and “Chasing This” out of your head.
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St. Vincent – Masseduction: For her fifth studio album Masseduction, singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist St. Vincent is an eargasmtic experience. The thirteen track release is an Indie Rock romp that begs listeners to go for the ride into a wonderful piece of sound art. This is the best lay listeners could ask for from a Pop Rock album in 2017.
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Top 5 Progressive Rock/Metal Albums:
Anathema – The Optimist: Like a fine wine, England’s Anathema seem to get better with age. Once considered the pinnacle of European Doom Metal, Anathema has successfully grown into one of the most diverse Rock bands around. On The Optimist, they revisit the concept of 2001’s A Fine Day To Exit, but without repeating themselves, craft a magical album. Full of melody, engaging lyrics, and splendid production, Anathema has done it yet again.
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The Contortionist – Clairvoyant: A bold move, Clairvoyant is not like anything that The Contortionist has ever released before. If 2014’s Language was a step forward in The Contortionist’s evolution, Clairvoyant is a giant leap into new dimensions. In enough words, Clairvoyant is a journey that cannot and should not be missed by anyone.
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Daniel Cavanagh – Monochrome: A long overdue solo effort from Anathema’s lead songwriter Daniel Cavanagh, Monochrome is a dream-like effort. Entrancing, these songs are powerful, sincere, and naturally majestic in style. Anyone who is a fan of Ambient Rock needs to pick up Monochrome today!
Steve Hackett – The Night Siren: Another smorgasbord of different musical instruments from various parts of the world and diverse sonic styles that will surely satisfy enthusiasts of classic Progressive Rock, Glam/Power Metal, Psychedelic Folk, and World music, The Night Siren is an additional testament to the iconic English songwriter-musician Steve Hackett’s prolific discography and multiculturally oriented songwriting and guitar wizardry.
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Styx – The Mission: Many of its fellow veterans tend to choose the presumed safe musical direction upon reaching the so-called twilight of their respective careers by releasing commercially oriented albums. The new release of Styx, The Mission, is both a homage to and a reassertion of the American band’s Progressive Rock roots.
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Top 5 Rock Albums:
Alice Cooper – Paranormal: The Godfather of Shock Rock and Horror celebrates his 27th studio album and his 48th year in music by returning to his original band with Paranormal. An album which features great new classics that delve into the darkness, it also showcases the origins with some live favorites from the early days of Alice. Simply put, Alice Cooper is still a force to be reckoned with, and has the energy of a man half his age.
Greta Van Fleet – From the Fires: A fresh and exciting reinterpretation on the 1960s Classic Rock with a Blues twist. One of the hottest young bands around, Greta Van Fleet have successfully created a modern day classic, deeply rooted in tradition. Currently selling out shows on their headlining tour, sky’s the limit for these Rock-n-Roll saviors.
Liam Gallagher – As You Were: Fans who were eagerly awaiting for the Mancunian legends first solo album finally were treated to this musical genius’ Rock-n-Roll solo album entitled As You Were. An 8 year wait following the breakup of Oasis, As You Were is full of Rock-n-Roll riffs, loud guitars, thunderous drums, and finished off with that distinctive raspy snarl Liam is known for. All in all, As You Were is everything fans would want and more.
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Lindsey Buckingham/ Christine McVie – Lindsey Buckingham/ Christine McVie: Fleetwood Mac are without question one of those special Rock-n-Roll bands. Blessed with amazing musicians/songwriters, how would it be if Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie teamed up for an album all their own? Wish granted with their 2017 self-titled album which possesses 10 beautifully crafted tracks. Not a nostalgic look at the past, but a eye toward the future, Buckingham and McVie show how talented of songwriters they truly are.
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Royal Blood – How Did We Get So Dark?: The sophomore jinx need not apply to British Rock duo Royal Blood. The next step after their 2014 self-titled debut album, How Did We Get So Dark? is a balance of Classic Rock with a modern approach. Most of all, the song compositions are so engaging you will want to listen to it over and over again.
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