Top 10 Albums of 2017

10. Turnover - Good Nature

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As someone who fell in love with Turnover's previous effort Peripheral Vision, I was highly anticipating what direction the band would take on their follow up. On Good Nature, Turnover delve further into the lush, shoegaze/dream pop-infused atmosphere that they had just recently established with Peripheral Vision. Turnover does a brilliant job of implementing tasteful and simplistic guitar melodies that perfectly compliment the primary vocal lines, working together in harmony without one detracting from the other. The vibrant, chorus-drenched guitars and infectious, straightforward pop song structures are further developed to make this a strong follow up to a breakthrough record. 

Favorite Track: "Curiosity"

9. Enter Shikari - The Spark

I got to delve into this album for my review of it in when it dropped in September, and I was blown away by how beautifully Enter Shikari streamlined their distinct brand of zany electronic rock/post-hardcore into some of the most cohesive, catchy and tightly composed tracks of their career. On The Spark, while Shikari strays from their chaotic dubstep-infused metalcore roots in favor of more straightforward electronic rock tracks, while still retaining the energetic and adventurous spirit that made them so lovable in the first place. From atmospheric ballads like "Airfield" to supercharged politically-conscious jams like "Take My Country Back", The Spark serves to be the band's most diverse and witty records, both lyrically and musically.

Favorite Track: "Take My Country Back"

8. Converge - The Dusk in us

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With The Dusk In Us, Converge demonstrate an impressively long-standing consistency and relevance that few bands are able to achieve. Nine albums deep into their career, Converge are at the very top of their game, delivering an explosive and groundbreaking performance on this record. They continue to explore their chaotic, experimental and uncompromising offering of metalcore/post-hardcore with some of their most pummeling guitar work and dizzying rhythms. Tracks such as "Reptilian" and "Under Duress" feature some of the most massive riffs in their catalog within a dynamic and doomy atmosphere, while mathcore-eqsue bangers such as "I Can Tell You About Pain" showcase their ability to hold down absolutely insane polyrhythms and meter changes without taking their foot off the gas pedal.

Favorite Track: "Reptillian" 

7. MUNa - About u 

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One of my favorite debut records of the year, pop trio Muna's About U is a dark yet hopeful collection of emotionally charged dance pop tracks. I first discovered this up and coming band when I caught them supporting Grouplove at Warsaw last year, and it was one of the few instances where I had the band's songs stuck in my head just first hearing them in a live setting. About U is filled with swirling synths, silky guitar lines and some of the catchiest hooks I've heard all year. The record touches themes of LGBTQ empowerment, heartbreak, and finding solace in such a divisive and hate-filled political climate, such as the inspiring single "I Know A Place". This record is a necessary and powerful statement of tolerance, love, acceptance, and finding light in a world that is crumbling around us. 

Favorite Track: "I Know A Place"

6. Glassjaw - Material Control

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Comeback albums are always tricky for bands to truly pull off, and when you haven't released an official full length in 15 years, you're going to be under a lot of scrutinies and be pressured with massive expectations. With their highly anticipated third full-length Material Control, Long Island post-hardcore legends Glassjaw deliver an incredibly satisfying and brilliantly put together return. Everything fans have come to love about Glassjaw is abundant throughout this record, from intense vocal performances to dissonant and pummeling riffs, to unorthodox and funky grooves. This record perfectly balances both the abrasive, harsh and noisy instrumentation with melodic and passionate vocals without in a strange but unique marriage that is distinct to Glassjaw's classic sound. It's unapologetically weird and somewhat nostalgic, and it felt amazing to finally have this record in my hands and dive into it.

Favorite Track: "New White Extremity" 

5. Code Orange - Forever

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Years ago, I would never have anticipated that a band as visceral and dark as Code Orange would be playing on NXT, earning Grammy nominations and boast billboards in Time Square. On their third full length Forever, Code Orange intelligently integrate fresh new elements to their sound by incorporating aspects of alt-metal/rock and industrial metal. These changes have allowed them to permeate the mainstream without compromising or abandoning their original pummeling and ominous brand of metallic hardcore. While continuing delivering crushingly heavy riffs and breakdowns, such as in tracks like "Real" and "The New Reality", the band's use of dark industrial synths and chilling atmospheres throughout the record (such as in tracks like "The Mud") create a unique heaviness in a degree non traditional to their hardcore background, and really help make this a standout record in its genre. However, the band's strongest feat is evident in the track "Bleeding In The Blur", which brilliantly packages the noisy, visceral yet haunting signature sound of Code Orange into an evil yet infectiously catchy alt metal track, a key element in their crossover out of the metal realm and ever-growing world takeover.

Favorite Track: "Bleeding In The Blur"

4. Bent Knee - Land Animal

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When I first reviewed Land Animal upon its release, I knew for sure it would end up cemented in my Album of the Year list. The fourth record from the wildly talented progressive rock outfit Bent Knee, Land Animal proves to be incredibly complex and experimental while still being very digestible. The way they achieve the most masterful sense of pop sensibility within these dense and wild compositions is something few of their progressive contemporaries are able to achieve. Filled with beautiful melodies, brilliant dynamics, seamless time changes, mind-blowing performances from each member, and an intelligent sense of composition, Bent Knee offers their best work yet and set out to prove themselves as one of the most impressive groups in prog rock game.

Favorite Track: "Land Animal"

3. Cryptodira - The Devil's Despair

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Watching Cryptodira's growth since their inception has been truly inspiring, and The Devil's Despair, the band's first official full length, is the ultimate culmination of this growth. Their signature blend of post-metal, progressive metal, death metal and hardcore is finely tuned and honed to perfection. They manage to offer insanely technical and densely layered compositions while still showing an aspect of accessibility and digestibility to the listener. With tracks ranging from chaotic and crushing (such as "Constituted: I. Constitutum) to beautiful, melodic and atmospheric (such as "Longing Belonging"), and a wide palette of influences from Converge to Cynic, The Devil's Despair is an effort that has plenty to offer to a vast array of heavy music fans.

Favorite Track: "Constituted: II. Constituens"

 

2. Being As An Ocean - Waiting For Morning To Come

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While I had not truly given Being As An Ocean a chance until this year when I saw them open for Enter Shikari (and months later at this year's Warped Tour), hearing the cuts off this album had me heavily anticipating this release. Straying away from heavier melodic hardcore sound their former outputs, Waiting For Morning to Come offers a truly emotional and haunting atmosphere that gives you goosebumps throughout the entire record. The band's use of dark synths, lush pads, experimental samples and an incredible production applied to their melodic hardcore background create a unique and captivating listening experience. BAAO's dynamic songwriting and brilliant melodies shine throughout Waiting For Morning to Come, which are beautifully paired with guitarist/clean vocalist Michael McGough's soulful and passionate vocal delivery, making each chorus absolutely massive and powerful. Even though BAOO is relatively new to me, this daring and emotional record had me immediately hooked enough to shoot up toward the top of my Album of The Year list. 

Favorite Track: "Black & Blue" 

1. Paramore - After Laughter

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Paramore took a lot of big risks and bold stylistic changes on their fifth full length After Laughter, all translated perfectly, as it was my absolute favorite record of 2017. The band abandons their pop-punk/emo roots and further delves into the bright, poppy, and danceable rock they had established with their previous record, while boldly introducing heavy elements of funk, new wave, rocksteady, pop and electronic music. The production on this album is some of the best I've ever heard, with countless layers of guitars, synths, beats, and bass grooves beautifully interwoven in a way where none are distracting from one another. Paramore brings some of the strongest hooks and melodies of their entire career, with the incredibly crafted choruses and wildly good vocal performances. One of the most brilliant aspects of After Laughter, however, is the way vocalist Hayley Williams presents her dark, confessional accounts of poor mental health with the upbeat and vibrant instrumentation of the album. Tracks such as "Rose Colored Boy" and "Fake Happy" balance vulnerable lyrics regarding of depression with colorful, fun dance rock-esque jams, almost illustrating the difficulty of creating a facade of happiness while hurting deep inside.

Favorite Track: "Fake Happy"


HONORABLE MENTIONS: 

The Menzingers - After The Party

Los Campesinos! - Sick Scenes

A Lot Like Birds - Divisi

The Dear Hunter - All Is As All Should Be EP

Time King - Frontierland EP

 

- Michael DiGiulio