The past year in music has been puzzling to say the least. We’ve seen memes become international stars (looking at you Big Shaq and Bhad Bhabie), pop icons like Katy Perry, T-Swift and Calvin Harris restructure their sound and yep… another year dominated by Ed Sheeran – not to mention his 3 different version of ‘Perfect’ taking the top 3 spots on iTunes at the back end of the year.
On the Australian front, new albums from Angus & Julia Stone, PNAU, Vera Blue, Gang of Youths and Meg Mac capped off a phenomenal year for Australian music, and a international fan favourites such as N.E.R.D, Phoenix, Beck, Bjork and Fever Ray all made gracious returns.
It’s easy to turn a new page and start 2018 with a bunch of new music in hand, and the music of yesteryear already forgotten. Join us as we run take a look back at some of our favourite records and the ones that shouldn’t be forgotten about in 2018.
Gang of Youths – Go Farther In Lightness
Undoubtedly the hottest Australian act to come out of 2017 are Gang of Youths. The Sydney based band have served Rock and Roll a great justice with their second album Go Farther In Lightness and after cleaning up at the ARIA awards this year, the band have received acclaim from tastemakers around the globe, even nabbing a 5 Star review on Rolling Stone.
With Australia well in the palm of their hand, the album has plenty of life to give as they prepare to take on the world. Borrowing words from our review back in September, the album “features a ton of powerful slow burners and journeying tracks, led by the incredible human that is front man Dave Le’aupepe. The thing that makes ‘Go Farther In Lightness’ so incredible is the overall journey and listenability from front to back, and over and over again”. This album has a lot more to offer, and will go down as one of the most incredible Australian albums of the decade.
The XX – I See You
You could argue that they’re one of the most loved and respected indie bands in the world, and despite their single ‘On Hold’ becoming an international pop hit, their album was a crowd pleaser for fans old and new. There’s always a new element or sequence to discover with each and every listen, and you’ll be quickly sold that each track pulls their own weight on the record. The chemistry between Romy and Oliver’s voices will hit a heartstring every time. May the sounds of The xx never grow tiresome.
SZA – Ctrl
SZA’s return was a long awaited one, and the superstar in the making delivered on her debut studio album ‘Ctrl’. Currently Top Dawg Entertainment’s (Kendrick Lamar and Schoolboy Q) only female artist, she perfectly finds a balance between neo-soul, RnB and rap with her soothing, flowey vocals and a DGAF attitude.
Since her album was released in July, pop-stars have come calling featuring on records with Lorde, Maroon 5 and more recently Calvin Harris who has stepped up to put his Funk Wav remix on her own single ‘The Weekend’. If you’re only discovering her through her pop-crossover collaborations, it’s time to dig into her solo album. SZA was the RnB superstar we needed in 2017.
The War on Drugs – A Deeper Understanding
Despite being well established in their own right, The War on Drugs are an example of a band that deserves a lot more attention than they receive. Their album ‘A Deeper Understanding’ reinforces their mesmerising sound that they’ve been crafting for over a decade.
The mould is changing for how people consume music, and that doesn’t seem to phase The War on Drugs who have done what they do best, and once again they’ve pleased fans, tastemakers and general appreciators of quality music, no matter the genre or the 11-minute slow-burner tracks like ‘Thinking of A Place’.
Khalid – American Teen
It wasn’t long ago when people were labelling Khalid as a pop music prodigy. Now it seems he went from pop prodigy to one of the biggest artists in the world, and rightly so. The 19-year old has one of the most standout voices we’ve heard in recent years and it’s no surprise that his album ‘American Teen’ is nominated for 5 Grammy’s. ‘American Teen’ showcases his soothing leathery voice across different tempos and moods, all captivating the emotion and passion in his voice as he tells stories of youth, love and heartbreak. The young singer/songwriter has a bright career ahead of him, and ‘American Teen’ has set the bar on his fruitful career.
Winston Surfshirt – Sponge Cake
Winston Surfshirt have risen by leaps and bounds in Australia over the past 12 months. The sun-kissed psychedelic debut album ‘Sponge Cake’ is made for sunny afternoons and laid back drinking sessions. Following no formula but their own, Winston Surfshirt have left a remarkable impression on their debut record, made up of mellow beats, soothing harmonies and the trademark voice and rhythm of Winston himself. Employing live instrumentation of trumpets, trombones and everything brass, there is a lot to unpack and deconstruct throughout this beautiful record.
ODESZA – A Moment Apart
There’s no denying that ODESZA are one of the hottest electronic acts in the world right now. Since their 2014 album ‘In Return’, they’ve gone from indie-electronic production duo to stadium filling live shows, finding the balance between melodic, spacious electronic beats and big-beat pop. They’ve kept their cool, and that general epic-ness that has always translated through their records and onto the stage. To fully appreciate the record and understand it’s true place, ‘A Moment Apart’ is best listened to from front-to-back. ODESZA are notable for converting their grand soundscape from recordings, and onto the main stage with an element of euphoria and beauty.
Sampha – Process
A powerful voice of 2017 came from the South London Singer, Songwriter and Record Producer Sampha. Prior to his debut studio album ‘Process’ which dropped in February, Sampha had less than a handful of solo releases under his name. However, he’s been a powerhouse recruitment, featuring on a number of records from the likes of Beyonce, Drake, Solange, Kanye West, Frank Ocean, Jessie Ware and recognisably SBTRKT.
Powerfully soulful in it’s entirety, the record is covered in Sampha’s luscious, husky and harmonious voice. The most upbeat affair comes in the form of arguably the most popular song on the record ‘Blood On Me’. No points for guessing which artist took out the UK’s prestigious Mercury Prize in 2017. ‘Process’ is simply calming, and beneficial for the soul.
Lorde – Melodrama
One of the most highly anticipated albums of 2017 came from our friend from across the ditch, Lorde. The 21 year-old successfully backed up the global phenomenon ‘Pure Heroin’ debut record with an absolute masterpiece. Her unconventional pop sound has changed the whole dynamic that pop music is perceived and sold on. In simple terms, Melodrama bangs! But it’s the complexity, the emotional drive and the journey that makes this a record that will stand the test of time.
Majid Jordan – The Space Between
Making their big break as co-writers on Drake’s ‘Hold On We’re Going Home’, Electronic R&B Duo Majid Jordan have become a household name in their home city of Toronto. A member of Drake’s OVO label, the guys have pleased their die-hard fans in 2017 after dropping their second album in as many years.
With their production reminiscent of some of Drake’s best, Majid Jordan have their own exciting sound to showcase, made up through strikingly clean production and silky vocals. If you are a fan of the popular OVO sound, then you’ll find ‘The Space Between’ a refreshing take on the production that is so recognisable. ‘The Space Between’ features some pop-friendly R&B jams, but you won’t be getting that massive crossover hit on this record, as they stay in their own lane of good vibes and cool tones.