My 10 favorite albums of 2017

For the past few years I´ve held a tradition to write a post about my favourite albums. This will be the first one I do in English, but you can see lists from past years here. Although they are in Icelandic, the names of the bands and albums should be very readable and in fact I encourage you, dear reader, to give them a read through – you might discover something new!

I am not a music critic so it´s not a collection of the year´s BEST albums, I´ll leave that judgement to the people at Pitchfork. However, these are my FAVORITE albums of the year. If you disagree, I don´t really care… it´s my list.

So without further ado, here are Hjalti’s favourite albums of 2017.

10. Formation – Look at the Powerful People

Powerful synth-rock-pop. I like their energy and enthusiasm.

I went to a release show with Formation at Rough Trade last spring. I had a little chat with them after the show, they´re a bunch of nice lads.

9. Vök – Figures

Only Icelandic band to hit the top 10 this year. I´ve been a fan of Vök for a long time now, ever since their EP album hit back in 2013. Their debut album, Figures, was a bit of a surprise to me. Dreamy pop music that signals a bit of a change in direction for the band, but at the same time shows the depth of their creative potential.

If you have the chance to see them live I highly encourage you to do so!

8. London O´Connor – O∆

Slacker pop, is that a thing?

This guy popped up on my Discover Weekly sometime last spring and was played on repeat while I was writing my master´s dissertation. Thanks man, you helped me through some hard times!

7. Sampha – Process

Sampha had been a peripheral figure for me over the last year or so, popping up in collaborations and various music blogs here and there. Process is his solo debut. Very fresh, ranging from soulful tunes like ‘Incomplete Kisses’ to a heartfelt piano melody ‘(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano’.

Great stuff from one of the most exciting talents in British music.

6. Kendrick Lamar – DAMN

What can I say about Kendrick Lamar that hasn´t been said before? While his talent, flow and lyricism is probably the best in today´s music (!), I´ve always found him a bit hard to digest.

Hard hitting beats and lyrics and an all-star cast. DAMN is a sick album. There are no more words needed about that.

5. Loyle Carner – Yesterday´s Gone

This album totally owned the first months of 2017 for me. This easy listening hip-hop is a slam dunk with the words flowing effortlessly. Chill-hop as someone described it.

One of the highlights of the British music year, not just for me but many others!

4. Sundara Karma – Youth is Only Ever Fun in Retrospect

Another album that came out of nowhere. I had never heard of Sundara Karma until I saw someone tweeting about their album release concert in September.

FUN! There’s no way to describe Youth is Only Ever Fun in Retrospect. They are rolling in the new wave of Britpop, taking the torch from the likes of the Vaccines, Arctic Monkeys and The Wombats. Just give it a listen, it´ll lighten your mood.

3. LCD Soundsystem – American Dream

Full disclosure: LCD Soundsystem is my all-time favourite band.

I´m not going to say that American Dream was worth the wait because honestly I was writhing in agony after the band announced their retirement ON MY BIRTHDAY in 2011. But thankfully, James Murphy came to his senses and delivered us another album. It´s full of typical LCD hits – ‘Oh baby’, ‘American dream’, ‘Call the Police’.

I´m so excited for All Points East next summer, who´s with me?

2. Rat Boy – SCUM

Although placed second, I have to say that SCUM is my favourite album of the year. I´ve been watching this kid intently since I saw him play at The Great Escape back in 2015 and after a handful of singles the LP finally hit the stores.

Genre-wise, the album is all over the place. Reggae-SKA (‘TURN AROUND M8’), guitar rock (‘SCUM’), synth-pop (‘MOVE’) – borrowing from influences such as Primal Scream, Supergrass and Oasis, as well as owning their own sound. It´s just so fun! They glide between songs and genres so effortlessly, telling stories about British youth. I can always listen to this album.

1. The xx – I see you

This was the album I listened to the most this year. I´ve always been a fan of The xx, but never a die-hard one. I´ve always felt them as a low beat band that you would play while relaxing.

I See You in my view is where they really come into their own. They mix the best of Jamie xx’s producing skills as well as playing perfectly on the dynamic and contrast between the two vocalists. This album has everything, up-beat dance tunes like ‘Dangerous’ solemn heart break tunes like ‘Say Something Loving’ and then ‘I Dare You’, the song that cuts right down the middle between the two.

Another band who will be headlining at All Points East next summer (seriously who´s with me??).

I wish you all a happy new year and may 2018 bring us some more ear candy so that I´ll have something to write about in a year!

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