Albums of the Year – 2017 – Part 1 (The Bottom)


Some would see this as the bottom of the list. Mostly, these albums are here because I don’t see them as albums I’ll go back to time after time. Others have parts that don’t fit or moods that just drag them down. Some are just fine and nothing more.  Oh, and there’s at least one total mess.

Sting ‎– Live At The Bataclan
An emotional concert which opened the club after the tragic terrorist attack. Nothing ground breaking here save for a super talented artist who seems to have rediscovered his muse and who decides to use that to help Paris heal after a horrific mass murder.

Craig Finn – We All Want the Same Things
Finn could have penned “God in Chicago” and just stopped there. His peers would have had to compete with one of the most gut-wrenching spoken songs of the year. It’s poignant and sleazy all in the same breath. The fact that Finn can put out the songs that he puts out at the pace he puts them out is nothing short of incredible. This album probably deserves to be in a higher tier. But it’s a deep, dark listen despite some sunny melodies. Maybe it just leaves me unsettled and scratching my head. Undoubtedly, Craig Finn would approve.

David Bowie – No Plan EP
The context of this EP is wrong. It feels like a cash grab in the wake of Bowie’s death. It’s hard to evaluate the songs on their merits without the heavy clouds of this death and “Blackstar” hovering not far away. Also, something I usually pull out late at night when I’m up later than I should be.  It’s not obvious that these songs needed to be released.

Husker Du – Savage Young Du
For being a showcase of Husker Du’s punk roots, there sure is a heck of a lot of melody. This band was truly amazing and this set leaves the listener wanting a second set focusing on the latter SST years as well as a deeper dig into the Warner catalog. Not something I’ll go back to for repeated listens but it does put to rest my sneaking suspicions that they were a molten lava-laced pop band all along.

Kurt Vile and Courtney Barnett – Lotta Sea Lice
I wonder how much THC was ingested during the making of this album. Probably the two most laid back people in the music business making flirty, easy going, slice ‘o life songs. If you let it be what it is, it works just fine.

Liam Gallagher – As You Were
A solid Liam Gallagher solo album. Also his first. He had help writing some of the songs and as a result nothing as awful as “Little James” rears its head here. It’s not going to set the world on fire but the nutter has to be happy to have scored a number one album. It’s fine. Not great. Not terrible. Just what I expected, in fact.

Old 97’s – Graveyard Whistling
This might have rated higher if my vinyl copy was not horribly off center making the band sound really out of tune and fairly drunk – or seasick. But the songwriting chops are there. A little glib, a little self-satisfied but still a decent 97’s record.

Ryan Adams – Prisoner
Another “twang” artist in the lower reaches of the list here. Maybe I’m just tired of the genre. Maybe it’s out of gas. But it’s a long way from kicking people out of your concerts for mentioning Bryan Adams to making an album that sounds like him. Not bad but not great in any way, shape or form.

Jeff Tweedy – Together at Last
Serviceable renditions of previously released material in a largely acoustic setting. There’s nothing bad about it but Tweedy probably does this on a weekly basis as practice. Nothing like a phone-in but nothing ground breaking, either.

Gorillaz – Humanz
I’m so frustrated with this album. There’s so much profanity that I can’t listen to it with my kids in the room or in the car. And there is so little Damon Albarn that the whole thing just barely holds together. There are some good tracks on it but nothing that approaches “Demon Days” heights and after seeing them live, it’s clear that the 20 year old Gorillaz concept is showing its age.  I prefer “Think Tank” and “Modern Robots” to this mess any day.

Reissues:
Lou Reed ‎– Perfect Night Live In London
Sounds like diamonds.  Seriously, it does.

The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
Quite possibly the best piece of vinyl I have ever heard.  Great new stereo mix, too.

Pink Floyd – The Final Cut
An almost perfect pressing.  Most days, my 1st, 2nd or 3rd favorite Floyd album.

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