Almanac Music – Best Albums and EPs of 2017

My top albums and EPs for 2017. As with anyone’s list, it’s all about my opinions and my favourites. Add in my preference and greater interest in Australian (and some Kiwi) artists. This year was a brilliant year for Australasian music. Look forward to hearing other Almanacker’s 2017 favourites.

 

Top Albums of 2017

 

Catherine Traicos – Luminaire

 

 

The 7th album from Catherine Traicos, and her first full band album since 2013, “Luminaire” took three years to come to fruition and was nearly not made. A wonderfully coherent, hauntingly beautiful at times album that showcases her incredible voice and songwriting skill as well as any record in her back catalogue. Her awesome band, regular guitarist Darren Nuttall, bassist Sam Worrand and Cec Condon on drums are joined by Paul McKercher on glockenspiel and omnichord, and Gareth Skinner, who’s cello work is incredible and profound, on tracks such as “Tide” and lead single “Crashing”.

Songs to add to your playlist- Crashing, Tide, Bitter Bones, Edge of the World
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Flying Microtonal Banana

 

 

The first of four (!!!) albums released so far in 2017 by King Gizzard, “Flying Microtonal Banana” sees the band using custom made microtonal guitars, allowing for smaller intervals than semitones. While I have no idea what this means, the end result is another brilliant album by the 7 piece Melbourne band. Psychedelic rock as good as it’s been done in this country. Slightly more laid back than their rollicking 2016 masterpiece “Nonagon Infinty”, this is an album that nonetheless grabs you straight away and sticks in your head.

Songs to add to your playlist- Rattlesnake, Billabong Valley, Open Water


Alex Lahey – I Love You Like A Brother

 

How would Alex Lahey follow up her wonderful 2016 debut EP? With 10 all new punchy rock tracks on this cracking album debut, that’s how. Tales of the tribulations of being an early twenty something. “Perth Traumatic Stress Disorder” could well be 2017’s best song title. While nobody going around does better or funnier video clips than A.Lahey. I was lucky enough to be one of 10 competition winners to win an opportunity to listen to this album prior to it’s release with Alex in attendance, she was great company, loves a good beer and I’ve been hooked on this album ever since.

Songs to add to your playlist- Lotto In Reverse, I Haven’t Been Taking Care of Myself, Every Day’s the Weekend, Backpack

 

The author with Alex Lahey prior to her album release

 


The Harlots – Satellite

Another debut album, Melbourne’s The Harlots deliver a cool, sophisticated, soulful rock sound.
Frontman Tom Pitts sings wonderfully, whether the band are rockin’ or playing a slower tune, but the highlight is “High Roller”, with Kate Monger’s voice dominating a grooving, escalating wonderful rock tune. If you haven’t done so, give this album a listen. It will hook you in straight away.

 

Songs to add to your playlist- High Roller, Satellite, Umma Gunna, Chopin

 

 

Helen Shanahan – Every Little Sting

 

 

Another great voice emerging from Perth is Helen Shanahan. The fragility, honesty and anxiousness in her lyrics is counteracted by incredibly beautiful vocals and a sound that inspires and lifts. This is a star on the rise.

Songs to add to your playlist- I Only Hide, Camouflaged, Every Little Sting, Smoke

 


Ali Barter – A Suitable Girl

Strong, feminist lyrics and a catchy rock sound make “A Suitable Girl” one of the most listenable albums of 2017. A fantastic band behind her, Barter’s powerful but sweet vocals highlight a serious, but fun at the same time album.

 


The Smith Street Band – More Scared Of You Than You Are Of Me

The 4th, and best, album by Melbourne band The Smith Street Band, this is full of great rock anthems. If you’re a fan of Wil Wagner’s distinctive vocal style, which can be an acquired taste for some, you’ll love this collection of songs. Very Australian in style and lyrics. These guys are already touring overseas and ready to make their mark on the world stage.

 

Songs to add to your playlist- Death To The Lads, Birthdays, Forrest, Shine

 

 

Broads – Vacancy

 

Broads released their first full album in 2017 and boy did it deliver. Kelly Day and Jane Hendry combine for some of the best harmonising heard in this part of the world outside of a Finn Brothers release. “Nod Off, Dream” is one of my favourite songs of any year, while “I Can’t Stop Thinking” features a ‘mouth trumpet’ solo to rival Greg Champion’s best ‘mouth trumpet’ work.

 

Songs to add to your playlist- Nod Off Dream, I Can’t Stop Thinking, Dear John, Kerosene Dream

 

 


Gang Of Youths – Go Farther In Lightness

 

You’d think this was a band ten albums in. Mature sound, mature lyrics on this second Gang Of Youths album. You can hear the influences of the likes of Springsteen, but not enough for Gang Of Youths to not have their own distinctive sound. Truly magnificent, worldly album by this Aussie band. The ARIA awards are most certainly deserved.

Songs to add to your playlist- The Heart Is a Muscle, The Deepest Sighs The Frankest Shadows, Keep Me In The Open

 


Neil Finn – Out Of Silence

 

 

An absolute privilege to watch this album being made. The great man Neil Finn live streamed the recording of “Out Of Silence” over a three week period. As a big fan this was such an engaging experience. The result is a typical, slow burn Neil Finn masterpiece.

 

Songse to add to your playlist- Alone (with Tim Finn), Second Nature, Love Is Emotional


Gretta Ziller – Queen Of Boomtown

 

Gretta Ziller delivers a delightful mix of alt-country and Americana on this accomplished follow up to her 2014 EP “Hell’s Half Acre”. Always an interesting and diverse record, the straight out rock of “Let It Go” and Henry Wagons joining Ziller on the hauntingly beautiful ballad “Round and Round” are just some of the pleasant surprises to be found on this captivating album.

 

Songs to add to your playlist- Slaughterhouse Blues, Let It Go, Round and Round, Queen of Boomtown

 

 

Raised By Eagles – I Must Be Somewhere

 

Raised By Eagles delivered their third album in 2017, highlighted by fabulous guitar and vocals and a tight sound all round. Despite being labelled an alt-country/Americana band, there’s very much an Australian sound on this album, much more than their previous two albums, that invokes memories of bands like Gangajang. Could Australiana be a more accurate term for this recording? This is an album that will move you and stay with you once you let it seep in.

 

Songs to add to your playlist- Gold Rush Blues, Shape & Line, Night Wheels

 

Jen Cloher – Jen Cloher

 

“There’s only so much you can say in a text, reading between the lines is hazardous”, is one of many brilliant lines on Jen Cloher’s self titled album deservedly lauded by Double J. Themes of jealously and being left behind while trying to make her own mark, this is a quality album full of fantastic guitar licks and sharp lyrics.

 

Songs to add to your playlist- Forgot Myself, Shoegazers, Strong Woman

 


Paul Kelly – Life Is Fine

 

Not only is this Paul Kelly’s finest release in years, it’s right up there with his best career work. As always, the songwriting is top notch, while the songs themselves stand alongside any of his best known hits. Getting others to sing some of his songs could be a masterstroke going forward, Vika Bull absolutely shines singing Paul Kelly’s lyrics on “My Man’s Got A Cold”, an ode to the totally debilitating condition of the ‘Man cold.’

Songs to add to your playlist- My Man’s Got a Cold, Firewood & Candles, I Smell Trouble

Tex, Don & Charlie- You Don’t Know Lonely

 

Sombre, thoughtful, cool bluesy folk tunes. You just know if Don Walker wrote it, and Tex Perkins sings it, it’s going to be good. Walker sings well on this himself. Tex, Don & Charlie albums are rare, this is their third in 24 years, thus need to be savoured. “You Don’t Know Lonely” was worth the wait.

 

Songs to add to your playlist- Here’s As Good As Anywhere, Summer, The Hitcher

 

Top EPs of 2017-

 

Daniel Trakell – Paradise

 

Daniel Trakell has a magnificent voice, his range showcased brilliantly on this superb debut EP. Full of lush guitar, these well written tunes grab you immediately. There’s a little bit of Neil Finn about D.Trakell. There’s no higher compliment than that. Look out for his debut album in 2018.

 

Songs to add to your playlist- Paradise, Wasted Light, Skeleton Key

 

Also, check out this Daniel Trakell clip, featuring Almanacker Andrew Gigacz….

 

 

Baby Blue – In My Mind

 

Baby Blue were the support act at a gig I attended in 2016. I hadn’t heard of them, was totally hooked after their brilliant performance. Eagerly awaited this EP and it doesn’t disappoint. Sunny, groovy, garage rock. Rhea Caldwell is the leader of Baby Blue, her lyrics and voice ramping up the cool, fun factor. Also releasing an album in 2018, so can’t wait to see what they come up with.

 

Songs to add to your playlist- Soccer Ball, New Girlfriend, Bit Slow

Alex The Astronaut – To Whom It May Concern

 

The debut EP from Alex the Astronaut, released early in 2017, this is a strong collection of songs. Immediately announcing herself as a strong lyricist with this release, “Already Home” leads this EP, an ascending groove with biting lyrics. “And there’s billionaires for president, and parking fines at hospitals”. “Rockstar City” is the highlight, the tale in song about Alex’s first gig in New York while attending University in the big apple.

 

Songs to add to your playlist- Already Home, Rockstar City

 

 

Alex The Astronaut – See You Soon


The Astronaut released a second EP in 2017. The coming out anthem “Not Worth Hiding” gained worldwide airplay, deservedly so. The storytelling continues to impress from Alex on this release. Look out for Alexandra Lynn when the AFLW season starts, lining up for the GWS Giants. Wouldn’t it be great to be so talented….

 

Songs to add to your playlist- Not Worth Hiding, What Sydney Looks Like In June

Click here to re-visit Luke Reynolds’ best albums of 2016

About Luke Reynolds

Cricket and Collingwood tragic.

Twitter: @crackers134

Comments

  1. Malcolm Ashwood says:

    Great photo of you with Alex huge respect for how much work you put in to these articles

  2. Excellent stuff, Luke.
    I’ll be referring back to this piece throughout the summer.
    Mighty effort to compile all of that.

    Tex, Don & Charlie were a highlight of the year for me.
    Looking forward to diving in to these.

  3. Luke Reynolds says:

    Thanks Rulebook. Must admit find writing about music much harder than writing about sport.

    Cheers ER. So much talent in this country. Was hard to narrow it down to 15 albums, plenty of great recordings in 2017.

  4. Jesus Luke that’s a lot for a young bloke to take in, but I’ll get started. Thanks. Now for a Xmas treat go on to Youtube and watch Beth Hart and Jeff Beck do I’d Rather Go Blind in tribute to Buddy Guy. About half way through the song Pres Obama just closes his eyes to let the sound be all.
    Then watch Beth and Joe Bonamassa do a longer version of the same song live in Amsterdam. Damn. Where has this woman been hiding? Why didn’t I know about her? A cross between Janice and Nina. Loving Beth Hart.

  5. This is an excellent review, Crackers. Well played, old mate.
    For some reason I get the feeling that you are a big fan of female vocalists?

    Love the fact that you have included the Smithies on your list. I saw them at a sold-out show at the Forum in June, and they were awesome. It is just a fabulous album.
    I’m also getting into Alex the Astronaut, even though I get the feeling she will eventually revert to her real name.
    “I’m a man in conflict with nature” off the Tex Don & Charlie album is wonderful. Given his post-Chisel career, it is difficult to reconcile the fact that Walker never once sang on a Chisel track.
    British India’s album “Forgetting the Future” is worthy of mention – it’s a real grower.
    A band to keep on eye on are the Teskey Brothers – I reckon they have a big future.
    And yes, that Gang of Youths album (which was introduced to me by my 18 y-o son) is excellent.

  6. And yes, Life Is Fine is a welcome return to form by P Kelly

  7. Luke Reynolds says:

    Ajc- will check that out

    Smokie, the Tesky Brothers are really good, not far off making my list.
    It is amazing to think Walker never sang on a Chisel track.
    And yes, The Smithies album is a cracker, gets played at work often.

  8. Luke
    You always struck me as a Mariah Carey Christmas album type of guy. Great write up mate and all the best to the family for Xmas
    cheers
    TR

  9. Luke Reynolds says:

    Tony, the worst part of Christmas is having to hear that bloody Mariah Carey Christmas song each year!

    Merry Christmas to the Robb family too.

  10. Great list Luke, and I’m with you on those female singer/songwriters. I’d add Meg Mac to the list because of her great, soulful voice.

    And we’ve only got twelve years to the next Tex, Don and Charlie album!

  11. Andrew Fithall says:

    I haven’t read the lot yet Luke, and will do so. I noted your comment regarding Alex The Astronaut playing AFLW. I did not know that. She has just come off her collegiate soccer stint having been in the US the last few years. She is certainly talented. If I get around to doing my list this year there will be possibly be one or two in common. Jen Cloher’s album is an absolute stand-out.

  12. Luke Reynolds says:

    Mickey, Meg Mac is very talented, plenty of great singer/songwriter talent in this country, female and male.Tex, Don and Charlie sure make you wait don’t they!

    Andrew, will try and get to the Holden Centre when Collingwood play GWS to see the Astronaut play. Jen Cloher’s album is a beauty. Look forward to your list.

  13. Andrew Fithall says:

    Similar to you Luke I do like female vocalists. If I do a list it will be Aus/NZ so these 2 artists won’t be on it. Knew nothing about either until listed on the Meredith lineup so I chased them down. I recommend Japanese Breakfast from Philadelphia and Big Thief from Brooklyn. Familiarised myself with their music before seeing them live. Both were great.

  14. Punxsa-and-the-rest-of-it Pete says:

    I haven’t come across any these artists on the few times I’ve tuned into Triple J this year, so I’ll have to youtube / itunes em.

    My faves this year have been Beck’s ‘Colors’, The Killers ‘Wonderful Wonderful’ and Arcade Fires ‘Everything Now.’

  15. Luke Reynolds says:

    Andrew- will check them both out

    PP- really enjoyed The Killers album, did have a listen to Beck, will give it another run and wil check out Arcade Fires. Don’t listen to Triple J all that often these days, we regularly listen to Double J at work, I get most of my music from there and the Wednesday night music hour on Lindy Burns’ evenings show on 774.

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