Resurrection Songs’ Top 10 of 2017

A much delayed ‘year end list’.  So delayed, in fact, that if I left it any longer I really shouldn’t bother (which wouldn’t be the first time).  However, just as you’re all settled into 2018 and looking forward to a whole bunch of new releases, ol’ Jim here is reviewing 2017.

It was a pretty great year for releases from some of my favourite artists.  The year kicked off with a new album from The Flaming Lips and a remastered and remixed Texas Jerusalem Crossroads.  Then releases from The Afghan Whigs, Lanegan, Danny & The Champions of the World, Beck, and Queens of the Stone Age left me thinking that it couldn’t get any better… then Causa Sui dropped their second release of the year.

Anyhoo, here are my favourite releases of 2017.

#1 The Afghan Whigs – In Spades

The return of The Afghan Whigs a few years back was the best news I could have imagined. That they would release two inspired albums was more than I would have expected, but that’s what they’ve done.

In Spades is a dark, but lifting album. The loss of Dave Rosser has made the listening experience even more emotive. It’s weighty. It’s bittersweet. Most of all, though, it’s just pretty brilliant… that’s why it’s hard to look beyond it as my favourite of the year.

#2 The Flaming Lips – Oczy Mlody

It was a tough call, but The Flaming Lips’ album is only pipped by The Afghan Whigs to top spot. Seriously close.

Oczy Mlody is a success on all levels. Less intense than The Terror, The Flaming Lips deliver an album that sits comfortably in the space between the heady ramshackle feel of their pre-Soft Bulletin material and the lush, sense exploding stuff that came afterward. This is an album to celebrate.

It’s also worth mentioning that the standard LP doesn’t include Listening To Frogs With Demon Eyes. Although on the digital version, I believe the track kinda pulls me out of the bliss state that the song cycle had me in. I’ll need to ask Wayne & Co. what they think.

#3 Causa Sui – Vibraciones Doradas

A surprise release from those Danish desert rockers, but easily one of the year’s top releases.  This is just as accessible as 2016’s Return To Sky, but this time out there’s a whole lot of dust and grit in those amps. Almost as if they left them outside to be battered by a sandstorm.

#4 Queens of the Stone Age – Villains

There hasn’t been an outpouring of love for this one. It’s been more a lukewarm “yeah, I kinda like it” response and I know some have been reaching for Songs For The Deaf and longing for days when Oliveri was weilding his bass axe and covering microphones in drool and a coating of spit and venom.  Which is fine, but Queens of the Stone Age are more than that and have been for quite some time.  In my opinion, their best albums don’t even feature the big guy.

Sure, it’d be nice to hear Lanegan on a Queens record again (cause who doesn’t want to hear Lanegan), but Villains finds Homme & Co. in great form.  It may not be as powerful or weighty as …Like Clockwork, but here they channel Led Zeppelin via Gary Numan with some ZZ boogie thrown in for good measure. It’s fun, dark, sinister, infectious. This is the sound of a band really having a great time in the studio.  This isn’t just a year’s best, this is top 3 Queens of the Stone Age stuff right here.

#5 Spoon – Hot Thoughts

First Spoon album I ever heard, this. Can you believe that?  Not quite sure why, as they’ve been on my radar a while and I’ve kinda assumed that I might like them.  Maybe that’s the reason why.

Anyhoo, I’ve listened to this album a whole lot and got to know it pretty well.  There has a whole bunch of great catchy tunes, angular guitar, thrown shapes, sing-a-long choruses, and, deep grooves.  Ultimately, there are enough hooks here to ensure the songs are in your head and you’re still whistling, humming, or singing long after it’s done.

#6 Mark Lanegan Band – Gargoyle

I know a few folks who have been fairly underwhelmed by Lanegan’s post-Blues Funeral output and, well, I guess I can understand that.  Phantom Radio’s quieter moments and 2015’s Houston: Publishing Demos had me longing for a return to the sound of Lanegan’s pre-Bubblegum work, but instead we got Gargoyle… and that’s fine.

This is hypnotic and there’s a shift in tone and pace.  Across the album’s 10 tracks, it seems that Lanegan’s either finally found redemption or forgiveness.  Maybe both.  Or maybe he’s just recognised that the scars he wears, or is responsible for, are part of what makes him who he is.

#7 Danny & The Champions of the world – Brilliant Light

One of my all-time favourite bands released one of their finest albums last year. This one is a sprawling 18-track double LP and it really does fit the format perfectly, with Side B ending with the brilliant Gotta Get Things Right In My Life, and Side C starting like a whole new song cycle with Waiting For The Wheels To Come Off.  The focus here isn’t solely on Danny Wilson’s knack for writing a tune, but on collaboration… and they also welcome a new member into the fold.

There is a limited 3LP release, with the third slice of vinyl acting as a bonus instrumental album.  I should have snapped that up, but the fool in me thought I’d be happy with just the two slices of vinyl.  Drats.

#8 Beck – Colors

Although the whole thing about Beck has always been that you should expect the unexpected, as he shifted style from one release to the other.  However, Colors is unlike anything he’s released so far.  It’s a joyous, slick pop record full of beats, melodies, and sing-a-long moments that will genuinely make you smile.

Better still, it features Dreams and Wow – both exceptional songs that have been around long enough to drill straight into that substrate.

#9 Duke Garwood – Garden of Ashes

2015’s Heavy Love was a bit of a lighter affair, but this is a deep dark album. A saunter through the remains of the pending apocalypse.  Confronting and coming to terms with the end of days. Consumerism, smart phones, the fear and loathing that’s come with the rise of the right and the effects of the likes of Brexit and Making ‘Mericu Great Again. Or maybe that’s just what I take from it.

Again, Alain Johannes and Mark Lanegan ensure that Garwood’s words aren’t lost to the rhythms and intricate mournful blues of his guitar.

#10 Deep Purple – Infinite

I’m not an expert when it comes to this band and, to be honest, it’s only been over the last couple of years that I have gotten to like some of their stuff. I’m aware that there’s a rich catalogue and a complex history that has yielded some of the greatest rock albums ever recorded.

I know that this one may not live up to those albums of the past, but you know what?  I dig it.  A whole lot.  Even if there’s an unnecessary reading of Roadhouse Blues included.  And you know what else?  The album cover is great.  So there.

And best live album goes to:

Causa Sui – Live In Copenhagen

I’m not often crazy for live releases and this may be the first time I’ve ever considered a live album to be among my favourite releases of whatever year I’m talking about, but Live In Copenhagen is really, really special.

Comprised of two shows – launch nights for Euporie Tide and Return To Sky – the whole thing sounds urgent and heavy and… well, just so bloody good.  Even the material from Euporie Tide sounds heavier and so much more likely to explode. 

Also, there’s a quite incredible version of A Love Supreme.

There are a few other albums that I only heard towards the tail end of the year that I know would have made it here if I had been more familiar with them.  So, notable mentions go to:

The National – Sleep Well Beast, Colter Wall’s self-titled album, Mastodon – Emporer of Sand, Don Antonio, Deadly Avenger – Everyday Is Kill, Mogwai – Every Country’s Sun, The Secret Sisters’ – You Don’t Own Me Anymore, Dave Catching – Shared Hallucinations…, Protomartyr – Relatives In Descent, Van Hunt – Popular.

Next time, I’m gonna pull my favourite new additions from the shelf and take some pictures… there’ll be some words about why they’re my favourite additions of 2017, but it’s really all about pictures, innit.

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31 Comments Add yours

  1. 1537 says:

    Didn’t the Afghan Whigs do a video with boobs in last year? I vaguely remember it, or did I dream it? ladies in floaty dresses, that type of thing. In a convent?

    Great Top 10, of which I own none (I have a download of the ‘Purple one tho)! I do want the Casui Sui (studio) one a lot though – I’ll order that and the Mythic Starship one at the same time (thanks for that!).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. J. says:

      Thanks, there were some great releases last year; I just hope this year is equally great.

      I can’t recommend the Causa Sui and Mythic Sunship LPs highly enough. Enjoy them!

      And yeah, the me Whigs video you’re thinking of is for Oriole… Great tune.

      Like

  2. I’ve got none of these… especially not the Homme! I’ve given up on Purple now too, still not even heard the latest one. Hmm… And what’s that noise I’m hearing?… it sounds like an aggrieved Glenn Danzig heading over to your house for a punch up!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. J. says:

      What!? I can’t believe you haven’t bought Villains yet. Shocker! There’s still time, though… don’t fret. As for Infinite, I reckon it’s worth a listen at least.

      Aw man… do you think aggrieved Danzig will consider walking away if I told him I need to spend some time with his latest album?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think the thing with Infinite was how much everyone liked the last one… and I didn’t. So this seems like the same story. The songs I heard just sound like the last one.

        Dunno about Danzig. Once he’s decided there’s a father that wants to bang heads with him, it’s hard to talk him down.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. J. says:

        That’s fair enough; I haven’t heard the last one, so cannae comment. I like it, though. So there.

        I’m waiting for ol’ Glenn to show his chops. I’m gonna great him with a version Twist of Cain that me and the kiddo prepared on the keyboard.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Jay says:

    You always include enough of my favourites that I can confidently just buy the rest Your recommendations are so good, I treasure them so much.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. J. says:

      Cheers, Jay. Hopefully you find something worthwhile in the stuff you don’t know here.

      Like

      1. Jay says:

        Oh yes, already have thanks!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Mr. Bobinsky says:

    Curious list, I’ll check out many if them. How do you like Lips’ older albums?

    Like

    1. J. says:

      I’m a fan of pretty much everything they’ve done, but the fourth album onwards are essential. In A Priest Driven Ambulance, Clouds Taste Metallic, Soft Bulletin, and Yoshimi… and At War With The Mystics are masterpieces.

      Like

  5. Chris says:

    Hey, don’t worry about posting your list now. I don’t consider Jan to be late. I’m doing a top 50 songs of 2017 at the moment. I’d rather take my time than rush it out in December.

    Fun to hear Wayne Coyne whistle on One Night While Hunting! Didn’t enjoy the first half dozen tracks on Oczy Mlody. The second half of the album I felt was stronger for production choices and atmosphere.

    I love Deep Purple’s Machine Head (1972), One of my favorite discoveries last year. They must be getting on a bit if still making albums! I like The Surprising you shared

    Liked by 1 person

    1. J. says:

      It’s a good chance to get to know those later in the year releases, eh?

      I’d agree that the second half of Oczy Mlody is particularly interesting sonically. There’s a really nice shift when the Morricone-esque vibes kick in. A very strong album overall, though.

      Although I have a few Deep Purple albums here, I don’t have Machine Head. Just haven’t gotten to it yet (so much music and so little time to digest it all!). Like any band that’s been on the go that long, Infinite has its critics, but I really like it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Chris says:

        I remember Black Messiah by D’Angelo was released December 15 and most of the music magazines had already published year-end lists! I’m glad i waited as it was in my top 10 album of 2014. Sometimes it’s better to be patient.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. J. says:

        Yeah… a lot of those tail end of the year releases get forgotten.

        Like

  6. That’s some solid list-making James. Full of solid albums, too, from your comments.
    Only overlap for me is with your #2, which I didn’t exactly swoon to. But perhaps more listens during 2018 will change my mind.
    I’m still coming to terms with Causa Sui – a work in progress as they say – but began to like what’s happening when I realised it was quasi-shambolic psychedelic heavy space rock as distinct from ‘prog’.

    And don’t you hate it when you take the moderate path (2LP) and then pine for the 3 disc version.

    Like

    1. J. says:

      Oczy Mlody certainly revealed itself more in each listen, so worth spending a bit more time with it. I found it very inviting… like one of those dreams you start slipping into before you’re fully asleep.

      I’m sure Causa Sui will get their hooks into you. It was Return To Sky that really got me… and that live set, if you can find it, is incredible.

      … yeah, I really should have got the 3LP set. I’m a fool, Bruce… a fool.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. keepsmealive says:

    Holy mackerel, I’ve only heard one of these. But you’ve sold me on all of them! You and Mr. Hubner have some crossover in tastes, too… Man, this is great. GREAT! Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. J. says:

      I hope you explore the 9 you haven’t heard (I reckon there’s a whole bunch you’d enjoy). Out of interest, what’s the one you’ve heard?

      Like

      1. keepsmealive says:

        I own the Deep Puplre (and a couple of the singles from it as well). 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      2. J. says:

        You definitely need to get some of the other stuffs.

        By the way, I see there’s a Sloan album due in March or April!

        Like

      3. keepsmealive says:

        Yessir I am ALL over the Sloan. No tour dates near us on this leg, though James and Deke will get to go on this first batch of dates!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. J. says:

        I thought you would be! Here’s hoping they get a suitable date announced so you can go and shout SLLLLOOOOOOOAAAAAAANNNNNNN! YYYYEEEEEAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

        Like

      5. keepsmealive says:

        You bet. Last time I did that I got a head-nod and a smile from Chris Murphy. 🙂 \m/

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Really good stuff (D) J. I would tune into your station if you were spinning tunes. I’m going to delve further into these. This is how CB collects more music for his already over loaded head. Familiar with most of these artists but a few new ones. Digging the Danes. Again all good!
    Watched a real good program the other night ‘The American Epic Sessions” Beck was one of the artists along with what was probably Merle’s last appearance. Well worth a watch. I think you will get a lot out of it. I was glued.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. J. says:

      Cheers, CB. Glad you dig the Danes… they’re currently a ‘go-to’ band when I need a bit of a reset. I’d encourage you to delve right in to their stuff – particularly their last two albums and that live set.

      I’ll have a look online for this American Epic Sessions. Beck and Merle? Darn tootin’ I’ll get a lot out of that!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah I’ve been listening to the live stuff.

        So many good people on the ‘Epic session’ some new . some old but all worth a listen. Cool idea.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. J. says:

        I’ll be sure to check it out!

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Aphoristical says:

    I always assumed Spoon were an experimental post-rock band, based on their name. But they’re pretty much a cool pop/rock band with an amazing drummer.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. J. says:

      Yeah. I Kinda thought the same thing until last year, really. A band I kept meaning to check out, but it was JHubner that really sold them to me.

      Liked by 1 person

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