SDE’s Best New Albums of 2017

This blog, as many of you will have noticed, is largely about reissues and box sets. However that doesn’t mean that there isn’t still plenty of great NEW music being released each year, sometimes from ‘classic’ artists (who like U2 might even be reissuing old material at the same time) or sometimes from new acts who may not be on everyone’s radar. Anyway, because it’s the end of the year and just for the fun of it, SDE presents our list of the best new albums issued in 2017, as selected by Editor Paul Sinclair. In terms of managing expectations, this is a personal choice from the new albums that have entered SDE’s orbit (in other words Paul hasn’t listened to 500 new albums and is picking the best). With that proviso, have a read. These are in no particular order – although one is labelled as ‘album of the year’ – and of course, feel free to leave your own thoughts in the comments…

Waaktaar & Zoe / World Of Trouble

Pål Waaktaar Savoy – guitarist and writer of most of a-ha‘s big hits, seems to be one of those songwriters who needs to keep writing and finding outlets for his songs. Frustrated, perhaps, with the politics and the slow, long-distance writing/recording practises of a-ha, he turned to young New York singer Zoe Gnecco (her dad Jimmy is in the rock band Ours) to record some songs. Talking to SDE earlier this year, Waaktaar described the album as a “happy accident” and revealed that the recordings overlapped a little bit with a-ha’s 2015 album Cast In Steel and that Open Face from this Waaktaar & Zoe record nearly made it as an a-ha song. In fact, Zoe recorded versions of a-ha’s Under The Makeup and Cast In Steel before Morten got to grips with them. Pål has written and produced all the songs on this album (not really possible these days on the more ‘democratic’ a-ha records) and it’s a superb collection. There’s quite a lot of styles on offer; Beautiful Burnout has a fine ’60s vibe, Tearful Girl is driving regret-pop (“here we are hamsters in a wheel“) and there’s nothing about Laundromat, I don’t like – great title, great beat, great melody. With break-up song They To Me And I To You Pal finally finds a home for a very old composition and The Sequoia Has Fallen brings closes the album in fine style. Waaktaar & Zoe is the very definition of grown-up pop music (or pop music for grown-ups) and – a couple of notable highs aside, such as the title track and Under The Makeup – it is better than a-ha’s own Cast In Steel. I  hope this album proves to be more than a one-off collaboration.

Read more about Waaktaar & Zoe

Tori Amos / Native Invader

I’ve been a fan since I bought the CD single of Me and A Gun in 1992, but frankly, getting into a new Tori Amos album can be quite hard work. The relatively simple arrangements and easy-to-digest melodies of the early era are largely gone and Tori’s songs these days can be dense, epic and spin off in randomly in all sorts of directions. Also, because of the way she records and delivers her vocals, it’s not always clear what’s she’s going on about. What does come through strongly is the emotion, and if there’s one thing you want in songs – and music in general – it is an emotional commitment. Tori always means what she’s singing, even if it takes a while to work it all out. Native Invader‘s opener Reindeer King is a good example. It runs for seven minutes, and is something of an evocative mystery… but very beautiful. There’s quite a variety in soundscapes and production too. Cloud Riders has a echoey guitar intro leading to organ-heavy verses. It’s a wonderful song, with more a traditional vocal melody; almost Beatlesque in places.

All the songs are full of little vocal hooks and memorable musical motifs, but you look at the track listing (not an easy task thanks to stupid packaging) and struggle to remember which great ‘bits’ are in which songs! Chocolate Song is a good example of this – it’s crazy and goes all over the place and has not the slightest interest in formal pop song structures – verse, verse, chorus etc. Bang is similar – just when you think Tori can’t squeeze any more melodies and ideas into one track, four and a half minutes into the six minute running time, she comes up with a brilliant outro section (“All I wanna be, is the very best machine I can be..”). The album is over an hour long in standard form and if you buy the deluxe you get two more songs (Upside Down 2 and Russia) which bring it close to 70 minutes. In summary, Native Invader is highly challenging in many ways, but also utterly addictive. It’s like some kind of puzzle; lyrical and musical clues dropped into your brain that rattle around and require more listening to (try to) solve and untangle. If you’re new to Tori, Native Invader probably isn’t where you come in, but she’s a truly unique talent and this album is highly rewarding and one I’ve found myself constantly returning to this year.

Read more about Native Invader

Not the 1979 Kenny Loggins ‘yacht rock’ record of the same name…. rather the fourth album from Canadian singer-songwriter Gabrielle Papillon. Less than two months ago I knew nothing about her, but thanks to a chance invitation to a party in Shoreditch hosted by her label State51, I saw her and her band perform live (along with a few other acts) early in November. I almost always enjoy live music, no matter how good/bad/indifferent acts are but given the situation – there weren’t that many people there and it was fairly much an ‘industry’ event –  my expectations from this band I’d never heard of weren’t exactly high. I guess it shows the age old power of great songs, beautifully sung and thoughtfully arranged, that I became rather transfixed watching the show. It wasn’t an easy crowd; they were basically playing at a party and there was a lot of noise and a lot of chatting while bands played, so it wasn’t like everyone was totally focussed on what was happening on stage. But I was. “I’m loving this” I kept telling my friend, Mike, who was with me that night. I couldn’t understand why people weren’t more into it.

I sought out Gabrielle after the show had a quick chat and bought a CD of Keep The Fire (officially released in October), which she signed for me. I played it after a few days, wondering if my mind had been playing tricks on me – it surely isn’t as good as I remembered? Wrong! It’s fantastic. It’s a deeply moving, intimate record but Papillon doesn’t forget her craft by neglecting melody, structure and choruses. These are accessible pop songs but there’s always appears to be an undertow of heartbreak, accentuated by the superb string arrangements. This collection of songs will surely connect to anyone who is struggling or has loved and lost, or has dealt with bereavement, although thankfully not required for enjoyment! The band is brilliant, and the arrangements are always empathetic to the songwriting – Jordi Comstock’s drumming in particular stands out (one of the things that struck me when seeing them live). Papillon is a great lyricist and there’s some brilliant turns of phrases in virtually every song. There really isn’t a weak song on the 11-track album (opener Overture For The Fire Keeper is an instrumental). The piano-led Hold On, I Will I – which is surely destined to soundtrack a tragic/emotional scene in a major film –  spends nearly three minutes building up to very satisfying resolution. I love reissues and box sets but this was a visceral reminder of how powerful and affecting great new music can be. Trust me. Buy this record. You won’t be disappointed.

When I was much younger, listening to Pink Floyd as a teenager, I could never understand why they ‘let’ Roger Waters sing some of their songs, when David Gilmour was clearly a much better singer. Of course, once Roger started taking over and dominating the songwriting, that pretty much dictated itself, but I guess such subtleties must have been lost on me! I’ve come to enjoy his performances over the years and most of his solo albums have at least one or two things on them worth the price of entry, and 1992’s Amused to Death, significantly more so. One of the highlights of Is This The Life We Really Want, the follow-up (25 years later) to that album, is the the way producer Nigel Godrich has recorded and produced Waters’ vocals. He sounds great. Really great. I don’t know whether it’s the keys the songs are written in, or whether Godrich (famously confrontational, when required – ask Paul McCartney) made Roger ‘reign it in’ a bit, but the tone is spot on, moving from semi-spoken and intimate on Deja Vu and The Last Refugee to angry and passionate on the sweary Picture That and somewhere in between, on album highlight Smell The Roses. It works really well and when Roger does occasionally let rip, and goes for what I call the ‘strangled cat’ – for example on the line “…to find someone home” on Deja Vu –  it’s all the more powerful. This record is really about the quality of the songwriting, so while it does include Waters’ signature sound effects (ticking clocks, radio broadcasts, the speaking clock, seagulls… and yes, the odd explosion) in the past you’ve sometimes felt that these whizz-bang sound effects became the star of the show, whereas here they definitely play more of a supporting role. Previously, on a Waters’ solo album, you tended to excuse the dearth of great songs because it was an interesting concept, or it sounded great in Q Sound, or whatever… but not with this. I really do think this is his best work since his Pink Floyd heyday, for me just shading Amused to Death, an album that’s probably more ‘cinematic’, but as the title suggests Is This The Life We Really Want? has an appealing world-weary endearing quality to it. The album has a wonderfully warm ‘analogue’ production, noticeable especially on the vinyl pressing, and that’s such a pleasure. I don’t know if art mirrors reality, but on this album Roger comes across like one of those relatives who you can’t stand (who perhaps like the sound of their own voice, a bit too much), but you warm to over time and actually quite like in the end!

Read more about Is This The Life We Really Want?

Sheryl Crow herself wasn’t hiding her inspiration for Be Myself, shortly before it came out – put simply, she wanted to recapture the aural heart and soul of her second and third albums;  “I wanted to revisit that sound and that feeling. It was a complete blast and the most effortless thing I’ve ever done,” she said. In this respect, Be Myself was a complete triumph – it really does sound just like those records. It’s probably not as easy as we think, recapturing the sound of a previous era, but she had the right team on board; it’s co-written with Crow’s longtime writing partner Jeff Trott and she welcomed Tchad Blake back into the fold to mix the record (he worked on both 1996’s Sheryl Crow and 1998’s The Globe Sessions). So a big tick for ‘sound’, but are the songs any good? In short, yes. They don’t benefit from the constant radio play her singles in the mid-nineties would have enjoyed and there’s no out and out classic like If It Makes You Happy, but for me Crow writes really great pop songs, her lyrics are never banal and on this album they often pithily reference modern concerns, in particular the attention-sucking presence of social media and mobile phones. Roller Stake is a witty and catchy tune about a ‘buzzkill’ boyfriend who won’t put his phone away denying Sheryl a little ‘face-to-face’, while Grow Up and Woo Woo are both great fun and end the album in some style. Despite this, the standout track might be the thoughtful Strangers Again, which eloquently examines the roles of ex-lovers. I saw Crow live in 2017 and the tracks from this album more than held there own. Be Myself is a total blast.

Read more about Be Myself.

When I interviewed Steven Wilson earlier this year about To The Bone he perceptively noted that “the album where you fell in love with that artist for the first time…will always be closest to your heart” and that “the artist in some ways is doomed never to be able to satisfy that kind of need, to repeat that experience of discovery”. To The Bone suffers in this respect for me, because I first properly discovered Steven’s work with 2014’s Hand.Cannot.Erase. and I’m still semi-obsessed with that record, especially in deluxe form. So while I don’t think that To The Bone is ‘better’ than its predecessor, it’s still one of my favourite releases of 2017, packed with intelligent rock/pop songs like the title track (co-written by XTC‘s Andy Partridge), Pariah and The Same Asylum As Before. The tone of the plaintive Blank Tapes is actually similar to some of Hand.Cannot.Erase. and the feeling of deja vu is further strengthened because the fantastic Israeli singer Ninet Tayeb duets on that track (she sang on a couple of tracks on the 2014 album, notably Routine). Permanating was supposedly controversial amongst Wilson diehards, apparently because it was so commercially appealing, but I just thought it was great pop song. Bonus points scored for a brilliant deluxe package (the notes are very, very interesting), underscoring the fact that Steven Wilson inherently understands the fan-artist relationship and the value of physical music sets. SDE doesn’t have such an award, but if you factor in this new album and his contributions to reissues from the likes of Jethro Tull, XTC and others, Steven Wilson would be our  man of the year for 2017. Already looking forward to next year’s live shows.

Read more about To The Bone

Effectively a Fleetwood Mac album minus Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie‘s 2017 long-player is a delightful return to the form and effortlessness of Tango in the Night. No, it’s not as good as the 1987 album, but tracks like Feel About You, In My World and Red Sun are catchy as hell and have a production that doesn’t consider ‘pop’ to be a dirty word. Buckingham’s creative force has been long acknowledged, but McVie’s contribution here is enormous and arguably her two solo compositions Game of Pretend and in particular Carnival Begin are album highlights. A lifetime of writing and performing hasn’t been wasted and this is pure songwriting craft at its very best. The album also clocks in at an old-school 40 minutes – no bonus tracks, no deluxe edition just great music. The packaging is rubbish, and they could have given it a proper name… but this comes highly recommended.

Read more about Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie

Natalie Rose Findlay’s band Findlay have been releasing EPs and gigging around the UK and Europe for three years or so, but only launched their debut album Forgotten Pleasures in February this year (with a free gig at Hackney’s Moth Club). London-based Natalie (originally from Stockport) is a brilliant singer and live performer (cleverly using two microphones with different EQ and effects on each) and I suppose you’d describe the music broadly as indie-pop although Natalie clearly has a great record collection and is influenced by classic ’70a artists like David Bowie and T.Rex. Indeed, early song Your Sister (which didn’t make the album) is a clear tip-of-the-hat to Jean Genie. Back to the album though, Waste My Time is brilliant, with a cool EDM-style intro and a very strong hooky chorus, while Greasy Love has a wild, passionate distorted vocal and is a stompy tour-force. Monomania (which like Waste My Time was a single) is a piano-driven track and has a very soulful chorus line (of “Nobody Loves You Like I Do“) and Sunday Morning In The Afternoon is a suitably spaced out comedown track. Choosing to be in a small but tight band – guitar/bass/drums and occasional keyboard – and not a solo artist is a harder gig these days and while Findlay are constantly touring around Europe, it’s a shame that this fine record doesn’t appear to have connected with a wider audience. To quote Stuck In Your Shadow, I want to get to you – I don’t know how.

U2 / Songs of Experience front cover

I don’t really have time for the Bono-bashers and the U2 haters. When you think that the band was formed in 1976 and here we are almost 42 years later and all four members are all still with us and in my opinion still producing great music – it’s an incredible feat. They have undoubtedly released some landmark albums (The Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby come to mind) and while those records are always going to be hard, if not impossible, to match, it doesn’t mean that new ones should be dismissed as second rate. Fair enough, stunts like the giving away previous album Songs Of Innocence via iTunes, didn’t really do them any favours (and somewhat distracted from the fact that it was a very good album) but some of the reactions felt way out of proportion. Similarly, Bono’s politics and all the suggestions of hypocrisy can be debated, but let’s focus on the music here. Songs of Experience is full of superb, often exhilarating pop. Lights of Home (“shouldn’t be here ‘cos I should be dead”) refers to Bono’s still mysterious near-death experience, and features some great backing vocals, ending with a singalong-style outro section. The very beginning of Get Out Of Your Own Way cheekily references Where The Streets Have No Name and that poppy track segues into American Soul via a Kendrick Lamar spoken piece (“Blessed are the bullies, for one day they will have to stand up to themselves…“). American Soul is a good old pumping rocker and benefits from a great turn behind the kit from Larry Mullen Jr. Listen to this track on headphones, walking down the street and you’ll soon have a swagger in your step and will be glancing into shop windows and will be starring in your own imaginary pop video (or do only I do that?). Summer Of Love has an irresistible looping guitar figure and The Showman‘s ‘Little More Better’ chorus is surely more addictive than crack. The whole album continues like this and is rather moving when the final track, 13, in true ‘reprise’ style links this album to its predecessor by way of the melody and lyrics of Song For Someone. Both Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience are, by any yardstick, good albums, but I think the new record is the better of the two. But together, they are a formidable achievement, so late into a band’s career. The deluxe of Experience is recommended, since it includes the Mandela tribute Ordinary Love. The downside is you have to put up with the “U2 Vs Kygo” mix of Your The Best Thing About Me.

Read more about Songs of Experience.

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[…] To mark Roger Waters‘ Us and Them Tour, Sony are issuing a special numbered and limited green vinyl edition of Is This The Life We Really Want? – one of SDE’s favourite album of 2017. […]


Albums of Slowdive and St Vincent are really GREAT in 2017 for me !!!


I’ve been a Johnny Come Lately to the Chris Robinson Brotherhood and have been working my way through their back catalogue. I’ve now reached the 2017 album Barefoot In The Head. It’s pretty damn good!

Matt Thurston

My Top 30, listening from Los Angeles:

1.) Slowdive – Slowdive
2.) Jesus & Mary Chain, The – Damage and Joy
3.) St. Vincent – Masseducation
4.) Waxahatchee – Out in the Storm
5.) Afghan Whigs – In Spades
6.) Ride – Weather Diaries
7.) LCD Soundsystem – American Dream
8.) New Pornographers, The – Whiteout Conditions
9.) Alvvays – Antisocialites
10.) Adams, Ryan – Prisoner

20 Honorable Mentions, listed alphabetically:

*Beck – Colors
*Charley Bliss – Guppy
*Charlatans, The – Different Days
*Cherry Glazerr – Apocalypstick
*Del Rey, Lana – Lust for Life
*Depeche Mode – Spirit
*Fleet Foxes – Crack Up
*Gainsbourg, Charlotte – Ruins
*Gallagher, Liam – As You Were
*Grizzly Bear – Painted Ruins
*Japandroids – Near to the Wild Heart
*Lamar, Kendrick – Damn
*Middle Kids – Middle Kids EP
*National, The – Sleep Well Beast
*Phoenix – Ti Amo
*Queens of the Stone Age – Villains
*Shins, The – Heartworms
*Swift, Taylor – Reputation
*War on Drugs, The – A Deeper Understanding
*U2 – Songs of Experience

Jimmy t

Has anybody listened to the latest Wolf Alice album? If you did, it would be on your list.


If the current single is anything to go by, I think not.

Mike O.

Return To Ommadawn by Mike Oldfield. Quality Music!

wesley mc dowell

don,t forget great return for cousteaux .debut solo for alison pierce and new bands of the year for me tiny magnetic pets and empathy test[all omd fans check out these two quick!!]

Jesper J.

Thanks for the Gabrielle Papillon and Waaktaar & Zoe suggestions. I like what I hear.


Enjoyed the list Paul. Definitely agree about the Waaktaar & Zoe album – so much better than Cast in Steel. Also agree on Buckingham & McVie. I was surprised the War on Drugs “A Deeper Understanding” didn’t make the list. I also thought The National’s “Sleep Well Beast” was excellent.


Cats in Space – ‘Scarecrow’, an album chock full of massive songs, hooks and melodies. Should be heard by every Queen, Sweet, ELO, 10cc,Jellyfish etc fan. Nothing else came remotely close for me.

Duncan Day

Anybody got their Heroes replacements yet ?
Was hoping the Bowie box was going to be reissue of the year but sadly not :(

Alan Blevin

Not yet.A few people on Steve Hoffman have said they have received their replacements so the process has begun.If I don’t have it by February I will contact them again.


Thanks for the review of the Gabrielle Papillon show and album. I’d never heard of her, and I’m Canadian! After reading about her here, I went to her website and purchased a download of Keep the Fire. (It’s available in WAV format, for those who care about such things). It’s lovely album – one that I’m sure will be in heavy rotation here for quite awhile.

Thanks for SDE, and Happy New Year!

Mike the Fish

It’s been another year of mainly back catalogue for me. The most significant older musical find for me of 2017 was All Over This Town by The Upper Room. Amazing song, and discovered as I found the album in a charity shop and it was cheap enough and interesting looking enough to take a punt on.


British Sea Power’s new 2017 album, “Let the Dancers inherit the party”, is superb – check it out if you like emotionally-intelligent rock music laced with strong melodies…


I enjoyed reading your Top 10 List Paul.
I am still getting around to listening to the new album by Tori Amos.
I have it, just havent had a chance to listen to it yet.

Here is my Top 10 List of greatest albums of 2017:

1. The Jesus And Mary Chain – Damage And Joy (2017)

*This is by far my favorite album this year. What a Return! And so sexy. I am often drawn to electronic music, but this album had me doing that thing you described Paul, walking through the streets, looking at reflection in windows, pretending I am in a music video. This album rocks, and I like the little touches of electronic bits, and the duets with the chicks are a great addition. I really enjoy this album. I like that the Reid Brothers went back to their industrial, electronic-trash-alternative-punk sleezy sexy sound. It’s so dirty. Great lyrics. This album sounds like it could have been released back in 1989, in that attitude yet with obvious modern technology. Stand out tracks are: “Amputation”, “All Things Pass”, “Get On Home”,…. but the entire album is great and catchy as hell, for a Jesus and Mary Chain album.

2. Beck – Colors (2017)
* Funnest, summer-time, Dance-Pop album of the year. Excellent from beginning to the end. Stand out tracks: “Wow”, “Dreams”, “Colors”. But entire album is great.

3. Marilyn Manson – Heaven Upside Down (2017)

* This is his come-back album. And it rocks. The electronic elements really work for him, and this album reminds me of 1997’s “Mechanical Animals” to some degree. Perhaps more darker. But I love that the songs get stuck in your head, the clever lyrics, the sinister vibe. This album was a surprise when I first heard it. Stand-out tracks: “Tattooed In Reverse”, “Say10”, “Saturnalia”… but the entire album is excellent.

4. The New Division – Precision (2017)

* Been following these guys. This (EP) is not actually a full length-album but worth noting. There are only six tracks on this EP. Has elements of “The Bravery”, The Presets”, “The Faint”, “Depeche Mode”… … perhaps some “New Order”. Great stuff! Stand-out tracks: “Pressure (In Decay)”, ” Precision”, “Walk”.

5. Depeche Mode – Spirit (2017)

* My favorite band has delivered again! Albums flows nicely, great from beginning to end. Surprised at some of the evolved style in sounds and style, yet remaining true to their classic sound. Love that this album is written well and has more of an edge. The Political message weaved throughout gives this album more of a purpose than their last album did. Stand-out tracks: “So Much Love”, “Scum”, Poison Heart”, “Where’s The Revolution”, “Cover Me”. But the entire album is great IMO.

6. OMD (Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark) – The Punishment Of Luxury (2017)

* Wow! They keep getting better and better in their new era of music recording’s. Some stuff here is very Kraftwerk-esque. Some tracks seem experimental. But what I love is their very clean, sleek, santized electronic sound they are going for. This is what I wish Depeche Mode would get back to. This type of electronic music. Honestly, this album seems to be the one I am still playing often (along with Jesus and Mary Chain) so maybe this should be closer up to the top. I also love they are still releasing Singles and Remixes. Like Depeche continue to do. But this album is fun, I enjoy exploring this electronic landscape and for me the entire album is excellent, but stand-out tracks are: “Isotype”, “Kiss Kiss Kiss Bang Bang Bang”, “The Punishment Of Luxury”, “One More Time”. The entire album is great.

7. Vitalic – Voyage (2017)

* Great album. “Strange Experimental electro-punk-clash-y electronic dance Music” is a great description for this. Stand-out tracks: “Waiting For The Stars (Feat. David Shaw)”, “Use It Or Lose It (Feat. Mark Kerr)”, “Hans Is Driving (Feat. Miss Kittin)”. They have some great artists featured on some tracks.

8. Erasure – World Be Gone (2017)

* Another surprise album that I didn’t see coming. I found some of these songs are really beautiful in their arrangements. Erasure has a way of moving me emotionally, but set to a drum machine and often aimed at the Clubs. It’s the slower, more mellow tracks that are the most beautiful and memorable this time around. And I can name four of them that really grab me as classics. Stand-out tracks are: “Still It’s Not Over”, “World Be Gone”, “Lousy Sum Of Nothing”.

9. Blancmange – Unfurnished Rooms (2017)

* Like OMD, these guys have been releasing new music again over the recent years. They surprise me with the past few quality albums. Love their adventurous and experimental touches, like OMD has adopted on their last few albums. Stand-out tracks are: “We Are the Chemicals”, “Anna Dine”, “Old Friends”.

10. LCD Soundsystem – American Dream (2017)

* Another surprise to hear. Glad to have them back. Pretty damn good stuff. Stand-out tracks: “Change Yr Mind”, “Tonite”, “Call The Police”. Great album (“Tonite” is fu*#ing weird, LOL”)

I have to say, 2017 was a great year for music, and I look forward to exploring Tori Amos’s new album and U2’s new album among others. Thanks for your top 10 list Paul, now I have more music to explore.


No order but my top 10 for 2017 would look as follows.

OMD – Punishment of Luxury (Like the last album this returns then to more experimental sound)
Tim Bowness – Lost In The Ghost Light (Steven Wilson’s band mate from N0-Man has put out some great solo records)
Depeche Mode – Spirit (Great to see them live this year as well, typical good album from DM)
Steven Wilson – To the Bone (nice slight departure from his last few albums)
Paul Weller – A Kind Revolution (busy year for Weller, nice to see him live in Toronto as well)
U2 – Songs of Experience (didn’t see liking this as much as I did)
Lindsey Buckingham/Christine McVie (not Fleetwood Mac but really good)
Ray Davies – Americana (grew on me after a few listens)
Neil Finn – Out of Silence (Fantastic!)
Brian Blade & The Fellowship Band – Body And Shadow (always outing out great albums, this one is no exception)


My top 3 new releases from 2017
1. Elbow – Little Fictions
2. Aimee Mann – Mental Illness
3. Mike & the Mechanics – Let Me Fly

And 20 other faves from 2017 (in alpha order)
Beck – Colors
Andrew Belle – Dive Deep
Lindsey Buckingham Christine McVie – Buckingham McVie
Justin Currie – This Is My Kingdom Now
Neil Finn – Out Of Silence
Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott – Crooked Calypso
Nick Heyward – Woodland Echoes
Iron And Wine – Beast Epic
LCD Soundsystem – American Dream
Maroon 5 – Red Pill Blues
John Mayer – The Search For Everything
The National – Sleep Well Beast
OMD – The Punishment Of Luxury
Ron Sexsmith – The Last Rider
Sam Smith – The Thrill Of It All
Wesley Stace – John Wesley Harding
Stars – There Is No Love In Fluorescent Light
Starsailor – All This Life
U2 – Songs Of Experience
War On Drugs – A Deeper Understanding


@DiscoDave2000, Iron and Wine’s Beast Epic was nearly in my top ten. Great album.

Marshall Gooch

Hardly bought any “new” releases this year (Robyn Hitchcock’s eponymous comes to mind), but did just slip in the Steven Wilson “Transience” compilation (thanks to SDE’s sale alert), which arrived last week and is growing on me. It’s likely to get me to buy more of Wilson’s stuff. Speaking of him, my copy of XTC “Black Sea” deluxe STILL hasn’t arrived (shipped 11/20 from UK) and I’m getting real antsy! Now I’ll probably miss out on the signed (by Terry Chambers) postcard I was to receive for ordering early. Anyway, as ever, SDE remains my favorite music blog… Besides my own. Shameless plug for non-competing with SDE music blog: NuDisc.wordpress.com


Here are my favourites of 2017:
1 Roger Waters – Is this the life… Paul has said it all above
2 Future Islands – The Far Field. Better than Singles, this ones had heavy rotation.
3 Flo Morrissey and Matthew E White – Gentlewoman Ruby Man (its all covers but the way they are done is sublime)
4 Buckingham McVie. Knew this would be great from its announcement
5 Procol Harum – Novum. The first third is classic solo Brooker and the last two thirds are classic Procol Harum.
6 Pere Ubu – Twenty Years in a Montana Missle Silo. Brilliant, leaves you wondering how do they still do it? Also the best produced SQ wise on the list.
7 Lee Renaldo – Electric Trim. Just beats his old team mate Thurston. Different to Sonic Youth in a great way.
8 Thurston Moore – Rock and Roll Consciousness. His best stuff since Goo.
9 The National – Sleep Well Beast. Great solid album as we’ve come to expect from them.
10 Neil Young – The Visitor. As usual the reviews are split on a new NY product, but it must be me, but I really have enjoyed most of his latter albums and this is no exception.

Enrico G.

I’d pick The Waterboys’ and Morrissey’s ones.
Happy New Year to everybody from Bologna, Italy.


Thanks for these Paul and all your work for us throughout the year. Here’s your list on a Spotify playlist For anyone that wants it.


Hi Paul. Just wanna say Happy New Year to you, your family and all of your readers. Your work is inspiring for me and i hope you will be able to continue for many many years

CJ Feeney

5. Is this the life we really want. Roger Waters.

This, to me, completes a trilogy with The Final Cut and Amused to Death. So glad he made a new record.

4. A Deeper Understanding. The War on Drugs.

It just soothes me. It took a while to get past the cextremely Dylaesque vocals, but only two weeks after buying it it is in my top 5.

3. Return to Ommadawn. Mike Oldfield

The best thing he’s done since Guitars. I love this from start to finish. Much more original than the TB retreats but tied to the arrangements and feel if the original. A lot of guitawork on side 2 demonstrates his debt to Hank Marvin.

2. Every Valley. Public Service Broadcasting

Some days this is no 1. Lovely Dena by moment when Richard Burton talks of miners watching the posh people “with hostile eyes.
You would expect Roger Waters to take the prize for Bitter Irony in any year he released an album, but the track “People Will Always Need Coal” using a 1973 recruiting ad is one of the best archive steals from this band yet.

1. Little Fictions. Elbow

This just edges it for me because in the year of Brecit and Trump turning social media into a toxic dumping ground, Guy Garvey’s hopeful and positive lyrics are a welcome respite. Even the oblique reference to Brexit on K2 has a positive spin.

This also contains my Song of the Year “Magnificent, She Says” which is beautifully illustrated in the album artwork.

Michel D.

A great year for new music!
My favourites:
Wolf Alice
Liam Gallagher
Paul Draper
Gary Numan
The Horrors

And my favourite album of the year:
Pale Seas

Tony Cannings

Not sure if you’ll allow this as it was actually released in December 2016, but Oxygene 3 by Jean Michel Jarre has become my favourite album of all time, replacing Mike Oldfield’s The Songs Of Distant Earth which had held the top spot since it’s release in 1994.

Steen Hansen

I wanted to put Oxygene 3 on my list too, since it is the album I listened most to in 2017. Btw The Songs Of Distant Earth is an amazing album as well – one of my absolute favourites.


1. Wolf Alice – Visions of a Life
2. Ryan Adams – The Prisoner
3. Bully – Losing
4. Psychedelic Witchcraft – Sound of the Wind
5. Gary Numan – Savage
6. Ginger Wildheart – Ghost in the Tanglewood
7. Chelsea Wolfe – Hiss Spun
8. William Patrick Corgan – Oglilala
9. Royal Blood – How Did We Get So Dark
10. Brix & The Extracated – Part 2


My choice for album of the year is by a Belgian jazz singer

Meleanie De Biasio – Lillies

This was playing in my local record shop and I was hooked immediately. Never would have crossed paths with this otherwise so big thumbs up to Tallbird Records in Chesterfield.

Happy New Year


Barely no-one on that list under the age of 40 or indeed 50….

Steen Hansen

Music is about the ability to make good music – not about age

Steen Hansen

1. Dan Auerbach – Waiting On A Song
2. Dave Rawlings – Poor David’s Almanack
3. Kraftwerk – 3-D
4. Depeche Mode – Spirit
5. John Mayer – The Search For Everything
6. Lindsey Buckingham/Christine McVie
7. OMD – The Punishment Of Luxury
8. Jack Johnson – All The Light Above It Too
9. Alison Krauss – Windy City
10.Penguin Cafe – The Imperfect Sea

1. The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
2. Ry Cooder – Boomer’s Story
3. Gerry Rafferty – Can I Have My Money Back?
4. Nick Lowe – The Rose Of England
5. Marillion – Misplaced Childhood


I don’t remember another year when so many good albums were released!! Of course #1 has to go to the triumphant return of SLOWDIVE!! Then Ride, Charlatans, Eyelids, Jesus and Mary Chain, Sparks, Cigarettes After Sex, Airiel, Saint Etienne, OMD, Starsailor…and that’s not even going into the excellent reissues!! It’s been an expensive year!!


My favourites:

LCD Soundsystem
The Magnetic Fields
Thurston Moore

Mark Rutherford

Thanks for the “heads up” re Gabrielle Pappilon -Not come across her before but loving what I’m hearing…

Charles Cooper

I can’t believe Grandaddy’s amazing comeback album ‘last place’ isn’t getting any love. No fans?


My albums of the year, listed in chronological order:

The xx – I See You
(January 2017)
Building on Jamie xx’s accomplished solo debut In Colour, The xx successfully extend their musical palette to include four-to-the-floor beats and judicious sampling (including Hall & Oates’s I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)), justifiably bagging a 2017 Mercury Prize nomination in the process.
Key track: On Hold

Vagabon – Infinite Worlds
(February 2017)
A major new talent, Lætitia Tamko, is introduced to the world on this diverse but focused eight track debut.
Key track: The Embers

Magnetic Fields – 50 Song Memoir
(March 2017)
Stephin Merritt’s autobiographical epic – one song for each of the first fifty years of his life – is a songwriting masterclass, best listened to in a single (two-and-a-half hour) sitting.
Key track: ‘14: I Wish I Had Pictures

The Shins – Heartworms
(March 2017)
A bravura display of infectious indie-pop songcraft courtesy of James Mercer on The Shin’s fifth album.
Key track: Mildenhall

Mount Eerie – A Crow Looked At Me
(March 2017)
Phil Elverum’s stark meditation on the memory of his wife, who recently died of pancreatic cancer a year and a half after the birth of their daughter, is also an acutely observed account of the grieving process and a deeply affecting celebration of life.
Key track: Real Death

Charly Bliss – Guppy
(April 2017)
This urgent debut album positively brims with youthful energy and recalls Kim Deal in her early 90’s Breeders pomp.
Key track: Percolator

Father John Misty – Pure Comedy
(April 2017)
This brilliant, if often over-ambitious, treatise of humanity and its inexorable decline as seen through the twisted prism of Josh Tillman’s alter ego, features some of the most gorgeous piano ballads since Elton John’s early 70’s heyday.
Key track: Ballad Of The Dying Man

Mac DeMarco – This Old Dog
(May 2017)
DeMarco’s seemingly effortless ability to craft a collection of deceptively simple melodic songs remains gloriously intact on this, his third long-player.
Key track: My Old Man

Paul Weller – A Kind Revolution
(May 2017)
Weller’s late-period purple patch continues apace with this latest ten song collection featuring guest appearances from Robert Wyatt, Boy George and P. P. Arnold.
Key track: The Cranes Are Back

Fleet Foxes – Crack Up
(June 2017)
Almost taking the form of a continuous musical suite, this difficult and complex multi-layered third album from Robin Pecknold generously repays successive listens.
Key track: Third Of May/Ōdaigahara

Saint Etienne – Home Counties
(June 2017)
This nostalgic nineteen-track love letter to London’s surrounding commuter towns is laden with polished pop hooks and knowing references.
Key track: Whyteleafe

Waxahatchee – Out In The Storm
(July 2017)
Katie Crutchfield moves away from the low-fi folk stylings of her first three albums to embrace a full band and John Angello production with exhilarating electric results.
Key track: Silver

Public Service Broadcasting – Every Valley
(July 2017)
J. Willgoose, Esq.’s inspired wheeze of marrying samples from archive footage and public information films to progressive electronica and krautrock soundscapes continues to generate pleasing musical dividends; in this instance, a paean to the decline of the Welsh coal mining industry.
Key track: Progress

Susanne Sundfør – Music For People In Trouble
(September 2017)
This stripped-back sixth album provides the perfect opportunity for Sundfør’s striking voice to shine and features a guest appearance from the ever-reliable John Grant.
Key track: Undercover

LCD Soundsystem – American Dream
(September 2017)
James Murphy pulls off the comeback of the year with this virtuosic tour de force. Berlin-era Bowie, Talking Heads and New Order influences are all pleasingly present and correct.
Key track: Call The Police

(October 2017)
Annie Clark delivers a fully-realised art-pop masterpiece.
Key track: New York

Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile – Lotta Sea Lice
(October 2017)
This cosy collaboration between two musical kindred spirits proves to be an easy and satisfying listen, mixing original songs with well-chosen covers including the Tanya Donelly deep cut Untogether.
Key track: Over Everything

Billy Bragg – Bridges Not Walls
(November 2017)
Armed with his trusty buzzsaw guitar, a reinvigorated Bragg’s attempt to make sense of these post-truth times reveals itself as his finest album for at least twenty years.
Key track: The Sleep Of Reason

Duncan Day

Father John Misty for me. Pure Comedy

Thought Wolf Alice and Weller were ok.

The Depeche Mode one disappointed me more than Exciter and could be my least liked album of theirs. Most of the songs sounded either unfinished or unfocused.

The Golden Age Of Happiness.

I agree with only one of Paul`s selections (Roger Waters), I have and enjoy some of the others. But to proclaim in an editorial `The Best Albums Of 2017` is, well Paul`s favorite albums of 2017.

We all have our own choices and to proclaim that any album is the best of 2017, or any year or ever is subjective.

Most important what we all have here is a great love of music, whether it`s old or new and long may that reign.

Peace, Love and Good Health in 2018 to you all. X

The Golden Age Of Happiness.

Fair comment Paul.

Long Live Great Music!!!

martin farnworth

Very little in the way of new music personally this year. I tend to sit back on new stuff and wait for best albums lists for info. I tend to think these days with a new album will I still be listening to it in a few years time before I buy it. Unless its a PSB, Depeche or Steven Wilson album or a few others I won’t rush out and buy it. I’d actually class a new album as one released in the last 2 or three years- it feels that way.

The latest Dutch Uncles album from this year was an exception- it’s still a bit of a revelation to discover something new and open the door to an artists back catalogue.

Despite saying all that I hate all those comments under old vids were people slag off “the music of these days” or state the charts these days are shit- when they usually always had plenty of shit in them. Great new stuff is out there- hardly in the singles chart of course- sometimes you have to filter out the other stuff to find it

I’m by no means a U2 hater. Although not sure about the comment about not having time for U2 haters with regard to how long they’ve existed and sticking together all that time. Impressive for sure but if I was a hater then all the reason to hate them more surely? i.e. the old familiarity breeds contempt scenario.


Best album of the year for me has been Skyscraper Souls by Downes Braide Association. Check out the title track 18 minutes of pure bliss.


Keep meaning to pick this up along with Steve howes nexus…both next on my list I think


Nice list, Paul. Will pick up on some of those I haven’t heard. My top 10 of the year:
1. U2
2. Steven Wilson
3. The War On Drugs
4. Benny Andersson
5. Max Richter
6. The National
7. Loney Dear
8. Lana Del Rey
9. Arcade Fire
10. Noel Gallaghers High Flying Birds


Firstly, a Happy New Year to You Paul! Your website is a daily “must visit” for Me, actually probably a “2 or 3 times a day” to be honest!

Happy New Year to everybody out there too !

I think I’ve probably bought more new music this year than the last 5 years put together!

My favourite new album of 2017 is “Modern Ruin” by Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes.

I first heard it when My Son bought up an album to try out on some new hi-fi gear. We sat talking (catching up, he’s at Uni) with the music on in the background, & after 10 minutes or so I found myself saying “Hey, this is really good! ……Who is it ?” The conversation stopped, the volume went up, & that was me hooked !

Other faves this year are
Father John Misty “Pure Comedy”
London Grammar “Truth is a Beautiful Thing”,
Loyle Carner “Yesterday’s Gone”
Royal Blood “How Did We Get So Dark”,
Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile “Lotta Sea Lice”
Rag n’ Bone Man “Human”
& Liam Gallagher’s “As You Were”. The Jury’s still out on Noel’s LP. I haven’t really given that enough spins yet, same case with Van Morrison’s “Versatile” but enjoying that one a lot. Also still not sure about Morrissey’s album yet

Also, old favourites who I think have made really good new albums this year are Depeche Mode, Goldfrapp, Beck, Gary Numan, Roger Waters & Foo Fighters

And the live album sets by David Gilmour & Kraftwerk are a joy !

sandman slim

The new U2 is indeed fantastic. Also loved Beck & LCD Soundsystem. Album of the year for me is Dua Lipa’s debut. Had it on repeat for weeks now, not a bad track on the disc.

Brian Stanley

Thanks for doing these year-end lists.
I realize you don’t have a crystal ball and post news as you have it, but should we also expect a preview of what is/might/should be coming in 2018 ?


For me, OMD’s Punishment of Luxury made me a huge fan of their’s now. So that is my album of the year. There probably are not any other 2017 albums close to that for me. But I dod enjoy Sophia Kennedy’s debut and the new Depeche Mode.


Did, not dod.


Paul, you can relax, you’re not the only one who stars in their own imaginary pop video with earphones on while walking around town. But let’s just keep that between you and me, ok?

Really looking forward to hearing your thoughts on Alison Moyet’s Other. The Minutes was great, too, but easier to listen to. Other is a piece of art.

Thanks to you I’m looking into Gabriell Papillon now, maybe my New Year pleasure?

Happy New Year to you and everyone else


Goldfrapp – Silver Eye
Bjork – Utopia
Kelela – Take Me Apart
Grizzly Bear – Painted Ruins
Saint Etienne – Home Counties
The National – Sleep Well Beast
Barry Adamson – Love Sick Dick
Loney Dear
Purple Disco Machine – Soulmatic
Blade Runner 2049 O.S.R.
Thelonious Monk – Les Liaisons Dangereuses
But hands down, the album of the year for me (and one I’ve yet to see on any end-of-year list) is UNKLE – The Road: Part 1. Just incredible!!




Loved Neil Young’s the visitor,
stills, Collins everybody knows
David Crosby – sky trails
Ringo – give more love
World trade – unify
Ray Wilson – time and distance
Both Gallagher albums were great… probably Liam’s slightly better for me
Gorillaz – humanz
Steve Hackett – night siren
Bucking ham/ mcvie
Rick wakeman- piano portraits

I’m sure I could think of some cooler ones..but since I’ve hit 40 I seem to care less what people think about my music choices!!!


Oh missed

Dylan’s triplicate
Cast – kicking up dust

Both of those were great too!!

Jeff G.

Guided by Voices – How Do You Spell Heaven?
Bash & Pop – Anything Could Happen
Robyn Hitchcock – s/t
Jesus & Mary Chain – Damage and Joy
Squeeze – The Knowledge
David Crosby – Sky Trails
Todd Rundgren – White Knight
Paul Draper – Spooky Action
Sweet Apple – Sing the Night in Sorrow
Dream Syndicate – How Did I Find Myself Here?


Having only listened to it on spotify all year, I picked up Buckingham McVie on vinyl while out Christmas shopping. The album sounds lovely and it really is all killer, no filler. It’s Fleetwood Mac without the angst and friction, which isn’t a bad thing because it makes it a different thing. Such a great album. And a new Lindsey album is coming in April apparently.

(Oh and the LCD Soundsystem & Spoon album’s are great too! Happy New Year, Paul!)


Blade Runner 2049 ost
Glaare(new shoegaze band)
Depeche Mode(don’t have the album yet but like all the new singles)
Kraftwerk(in 5.1 yes!)

Many thanks to Paul/SDE for a great site/blog always something cool to read. cheers