Albums of the year
- The Horrors – V (Wolf Tone)
When I listened to this record for the first time I initially thought that it might take some time to grow on me. But it was already after the second listen that it stroke its roots in whatever place it is in your brain that makes you feel and appreciate music.
No one writes songs like The Horrors do. They manage to cover every element that is vital for an album to be outstanding and that’s due to their talent but also due to their craftsmanship that shows not only in their brilliant songwriting, but also in the deep knowledge of their (partly self-built) instruments and amps.
They have a very intelligent and intense approach to music and with that created a recipe that can be found on every album since Primary Colours (that will, by the way, always be my favourite of theirs) up to this one: Like a pendulum that swings from one pole to the other, from one spectrum to the other, it becomes dark and gloomy and obscure only to get bright and scintillating again on the next song, with uplifting synths and positive life-guiding lyrics.
There are only very few bands who maintain an excitement throughout more than 2 albums and even fewer who manage to evolve with every new record they release. The Horrors are one of those. Let’s hope this continues.
2. The Drums – Abysmal Thoughts (ANTI-Records)
The Drums, too, are one of those bands that have been around for a while now, not disappointing the ones that labeled them “The Next Big Thing” when they started out and constantly excel in becoming a better band each year than they were the year before.
And even though most fans appreciate growth and evolvement they sometimes, just sometimes, wish for a band to release an album that is like their first one again. It just never happens (sometimes bands try to, but most of the time that attempt ends in an uninspired and lifeless record).
The Drums are the first exception to that phenomenon (or at least the first I could think of.)
They made a record that is so reminiscent of their beginnings (the Coney Island vibes that „Make it Mine“ had can be heard on „Heart Basel“ and „Rich Kids“ is so „Let’s Go Surfing“, one could think it’s 2010 all over again), while still creating something new and exciting and continue to do what they do best, which is writing innocent heart-shattering love songs like “If All We Share”.
3. Ariel Pink – Dedicated to Bobby Jameson (Mexican Summer)
You can think of Ariel Pink as a person whatever you want (personally, I don’t hold him in high regards anymore, mostly because of his constant sexist remarks that you could attribute to him being an eccentric, but also to him being a dickhead), the music he puts out is always bathing in greatness.
“Dedicated to Bobby Jameson” (which would make the top of my “favourite album covers of 2017”-list if I had one) is a wonderfully equally mellow and exhilarated piece of art that deserves to be found in every Top 10 list of this year’s best.
4. Oh Sees – Orc
There are only very few modifications left for the next name change of John Dwyers band OCS formerly known as Oh Sees formerly known as Thee Oh Sees formerly known as The Oh Sees.
But as long as you always recognize it’s them – instantly with the first drum beat of their always amazing albums – it doesn’t really matter what they’re called as long as they make the music that they do. (And if you ever get the chance to see them life, take it! They’re by far the best live band there is out there!)
5. together PANGEA –Bulls and Roosters (Nettwerk)
together PANGEA are a band that stands out a little from the mass of beachy Burger Records bands even though they’re probably also the prime example for exactly THAT kind of sound.
They are one of the bands that are just plain fun to listen to, with incredibly good hooks and so Californian that there seems to be beams of sunshine coming out of your record player every time you put them on.
6. Ty Segall – Ty Segall (Drag City)
7. Alex Cameron – Forced Witness (Secretly Canadian)
8. Laura Marling – Semper Femina (More Alarming Records)
9. Moonlandingz – Interplanetary Class Classics (Transgressive)
10. METZ – Strange Peace (Sub Pop)
Gigs of the year
- YAK // 27.05.17 // Sound City Festival, Liverpool
Liverpool’s greatest feature is also one of its weaknesses. The Irish sea that is sprawling on the shores of this charming pearl of a town makes it the picturesque place that it is, but it also brings a windy, damp climate with it, that makes it sometimes unbearable to stay outside.
When YAK began their set at Liverpool Sound City with a delay of about 20 minutes, only their most die-hard fans – who wouldn’t mind pneumonia as long as they had seen the band play – remained in front of the stage.
I was one of them and endured rain & storm for a short-cut set that ended in the weirdest stage invasion I ever witnessed and a flooded stage on which every band member barely escaped electrocution.
Despite all that, I walked to my hostel after the gig knowing that I just witnessed musical greatness. YAK are destined to become big!
2. The Growlers // 31.05.17 // University Stylus, Leeds
The Growlers are a band that soundtracked so many stages and phases of my life that they became an almost intangible thing for me, forever morphing into different shapes and silhouettes.
This show was actually meant to take place at the Brudenell, which would have been a perfect venue for their delightful lo-fi sound, but got upgraded to University Stylus.
My disappointment about that vanished as soon as they started their brilliant set with “Big Toe.” Throughout the evening it felt like a party that just got slightly out of hand, with everyone dancing and singing and moshing, handing booze and spliffs around and celebrating everyone’s favourite band.
3. Back Rebel Motorcycle Club // 03.12.2017 // Arena, Wien
With my love for Black Rebel I was always quite alone amongst the people I know who – for the most parts – share my taste in music.
I remember reading articles about them in the NME (back when it was still a real, notable magazine and not an online publication that dedicated its whole purpose to launch yet another top 10 list about things Alex Turner said/did/likes/doesn’t like) that slated their albums, calling them try-hards and their songs clichés, but I can’t help but really really like them.
Maybe it’s because I have this fondness for Americana-esque Folk-Rock, the one they played on “Howl” that simply NEEDS pathos to work (maybe that’s what the NME didn’t understand) or it’s the fact that I can appreciate a song that doesn’t try to be sophisticated but is just a simple, good rock song. Or maybe it’s their live shows. They’re so vibrant, so cool and burst with so many thought out technical details (their light show!!) that everyone who sees them live sort of kind of has to admit that they are a fantastic band.
4. The Horrors // 04.12.17 // Flex, Wien
Even though there were massive issues with the (vocal-) sound throughout the whole gig, the incredibly good setlist and the euphoric haze I walked in for days after the gig, proofed why they’re my favourite band: they do not only offer you their perfect songs, but also a universe you find shelter in, a place where you belong, a sphere where you need nothing but music.
5. John Cale & Guests // 26.05.17 // Clarence Dock, Liverpool
It was probably because of the high ticket price and the fact that The Velvet Underground’s last record came out about 23423 years ago, that John Cale’s performance at the Clarence Dock, down by the seaside of Liverpool, was full of rather elderly couples who were way past the days when they would still actually move when they saw a band on stage.
And although it was a bit disappointing to be surrounded by people who didn’t really GET Fat White Family’s performance (to be honest, I’m still not sure if it was irony or not that made Lias Saoudi behave like he was the musical legend of tonight and John Cale just some dude who plays the piano at the side of the stage) I managed to zone out during the gig and watch some seagulls descend into the sunset while the hypnotic sound of “Venus in Furs” was brought to my ears by a salty breeze coming from the Mersey river. Quite magical.
6. Triptides // 15.06.17 // Bunker, Graz
7. Mac deMarco // 15.08.17 // Arena, Wien
8. The Garden // 09.03.17 // das Werk, Wien
9. together PANGEA // 28.11.17 // Arena, Wien
10. The Garden // 16.03.17 // Point Ephémère, Paris