As we approach the end of the year, it's time to take a look back at my favorite albums released this past year. This year, we saw a tremendous wealth of diversity from a plethora of artists including the debut solo album from Harry Styles, British bred pop-punkers As It Is avoiding the sophomore slump on their new release, early 00's emo legends Brand New going off into the sunset with their swan song, "Science Fiction", and Neck Deep releasing probably their greatest album to date, "The Peace and The Panic". Here are in no particular order, my picks for the top albums of 2017:
Harry Styles - Harry Styles
On hiatus from his group One Direction, Harry Styles emerged on his own with his incredible and breathtaking self-titled effort released this year. The album surprised a lot of people, including yours truly who immediately began to realize the sheer talent and power that he exudes at any given time, including the spectacular first single off the LP, "Sign of The Times" that saw him flying through the air in the music video for the song. As you listen to each song off the record, you fall even more in love with Harry than ever before with songs like "Sweet Creature", "Carolina", "Meet Me In The Hallway", and "Two Ghosts" encapsulating the musical diversity that is displayed at any given time. A hallmark effort that is only the beginning for this British heartthrob.
As It Is - Okay
Brighton, UK based As It Is avoided any pitfalls of the dreaded sophomore slump, and released an album that is light years ahead of their debut LP "Never Happy, Ever After" released back in 2015. On their latest, "Okay", the album trudges the line between optimism, and dark, eerie melodies that give the group a double edged sword and make the group even more emotionally effective than ever before. With melodic outbursts such as "Pretty Little Distance", the title track, "Hey Rachael", "Curtains Close", and "No Way Out", frontman Patty Walters and the gang have found their calling and purpose in life that has touched the lives of fans from all over the world, and has helped bring some clarity to the troubles plaguing the youth of today right now.
Brand New - Science Fiction
Early 00's emo pioneers Brand New released their eagerly anticipated final studio album earlier this year titled "Science Fiction". A fitting end for Jesse Lacey and Co., who have defined the emo-wave of music that permeated throughout people's high school years along with their contemporaries Taking Back Sunday who they most famously had a feud with that only escalated their careers further. It's fitting that this album takes in elements from their previous work, while still maintaining that emotional charge that made the group such a fan favorite to begin with. With standout tracks like "Lit Me Up", "Can't Get It Out", "Could Never Be Heaven", and "Waste", the group head off into the sunset on top, culminating in the band's first #1 album on the Billboard 200 album chart upon its release in September, which speaks for itself and is a fitting end to the group's illustrious 17 year career.
Hippo Campus - Landmark
St. Paul, MN's youthful and handsome indie rockers Hippo Campus released their much anticipated debut album this year to much fanfare called "Landmark". The group have been gaining in indie circles for quite some time now, with their "Bashful Creatures" and "South" EP's further cementing the group's stature as a force to be reckoned with in the indie scene. With transcendent melodies and a need to further expand upon their musical horizons, Hippo Campus have created an effort that speaks about the group's creative resolve and sheer beauty that is best exemplified at their live shows. With songs like "Way It Goes", "Boyish", "Epitaph", and "Simple Season", the group have broadened their sound to reach an audience whom didn't know that they liked them in the first place.
The Avett Brothers - True Sadness
Concord, NC's finest The Avett Brothers returned big with their latest effort this year called "True Sadness". The effort pairs Seth and Scott with Rick Rubin who contributes his musical wisdom into the group's most easily accessible effort to date. The group's last effort "Magpie and The Dandelion", felt rushed and didn't quite encapsulate the magic that was present on the group's earlier material. This effort represents the group's highest potential, and it really shows how hard they worked on the effort and how much of their own personality is poured throughout the effort. Songs like the potent first single "Ain't No Man", "No Hard Feelings", the title track, and "Smithsonian" represent the group's most spirited and polished effort that puts the brothers in their comfort zone.
Spoon - Hot Thoughts
Austin, TX's finest Spoon were back at it with their latest effort "Hot Thoughts". Frontman Britt Daniel and the guys continue to hone and tweak their sound to adapt as their career rolls along. With this new opus, the guys add a deep R&B laden groove that was best evident on their 2007 LP "Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga", along with some varied rhythms and a strong musicality that continues to add up to the band's legend. There's no telling where these will go moving forward as their sound covers so many genres, but one thing's for sure the guys won't be going away anytime soon on such brilliant cuts as the title track, "Can I Sit Next To You", and "Do I Have To Talk You Into It".
Neck Deep - The Peace and The Panic
If you thought UK's Neck Deep couldn't get any better than they were on their previous 2 LP's, you are definitely mistaken as they have released their finest collection of material that they ever recorded to date, "The Peace and The Panic. The U.K. rockers have already been well known in the British pop-punk scene for quite some time now, and are considered mainstays of the scene with their previous LP's "Life's Not Out To Get You" and "Wishful Thinking" elevating the band's status as one of the U.K's most premiere and cherished acts. But on their latest, the band hit stratospheric heights never before seen with explosive rhythms, and an unrelenting style that really makes your heart grow fonder for these talented gents that are on the cusp of superstardom. Highlights of the effort include "Parachute", "In Bloom", "Happy Judgement Day", and "The Grand Delusion". Required listening!
Hippo Campus - Warm Glow EP
The aforementioned Hippo Campus has 2 entries on this year end countdown, and their brilliant EP "Warm Glow" released back in October features cuts that were too awesome to feature on "Landmark", and stand out eloquently on their own. The insatiable "Baseball" is probably one of the most catchiest songs I've heard from the group. equaling their previous number "Suicide Saturday" that set these guys in motion right away. The other tracks "Traveler" and the title track cement the group's status as a band that will be making plenty of waves for years to come.
Fleet Foxes - Crack Up
Seattle based Fleet Foxes made their triumphant return this year with their brand new studio effort "Crack Up:. The mellow and inviting vocals of Robin Pecknold bring in a bevy of emotions, bringing in the cruel reality of the cold and winter from their upbringing to give listeners an unfiltered and unflinching view of their music as a whole. With standout tracks such as "Cassius", "Kept Woman", and "I Am All That I Need/Arroyo Seco/Thumbprint Scar", this album reintroduces the band to their listeners who have missed their perspective on life and all things associated with it.
The War on Drugs - A Deeper Understanding
Philly based The War on Drugs made their return this year with their brand new one, "A Deeper Understanding". The indie rockers have a unique blend of Americana and psychedelia interwoven throughout their sound to give a complex hybrid that is equal parts brilliant and incendiary. What these guys do best is bounce musical ideas off one another, and in some way shape or form, they juxtaposed themselves well onto the musical palette where the listener immediately begins to find some common ground with the tunes. Songs such as "Up All Night", "Holding On", and "Knocked Down" do an adequate job of articulating the band's story to a captive audience.