Best Releases of 2017 with Mike McCarthy
10. PVRIS - All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell
Alt-rock pop act Pvris finally followed up their breakout debut "White Noise" with another set of catchy tunes centering around Lynn Gunn's powerful singing and emotional lyrics. The band's second album doesn't seem to have set the world on fire, but if this is their sophomore slump, it's a damn good one.
9. A Lot Like Birds - DIVISI
Another long awaited follow-up, A Lot Like Birds parted ways with clean vocalist Kurt Travis (formerly of Dance Gavin Dance) and made the somewhat controversial decision to change their sound from a chaotic mix and heavy soft to go for an exclusively softer sound. (Formerly unclean vocalist Cory Lockwood and bassist Matt Coate share clean vocal duties). The result is an album that feels safe, but no doubt shows off the band's songwriting ability, and that they is more to them than the ability to erratically switch between heavy and soft.
8. Icarus the Owl - Rearm Circuits
ItO continues to lead the charge when it comes to progressive pop-punk, with a whirlwind of time changes, guitar sweeps, drum fills, and mind blowing harmonies and melodies. Fans of the band won't find anything surprising here, but it's a great addition to their catalogue, and a stronger entry than 2015's Pilot Waves, in my opinion.
7. Hail the Sun - Secret Wars
Hail the Sun's surprise EP sees the band returning to the more avant-garde style of their earlier work as oppose to the more standard songwriting approach the band took with most of 2016's Culture Scars. The result is sone of the best songs Hail the Sun has ever created. Singer/drummer Donovan Melero gets a lot of attention for his skills on the kit and the microphone, but really the whole band should be commended for their playing and songwriting.
6. Wolf & Bear - Everything is Going Grey
The second band on my list from Blue Swan Records, Wolf & Bear manages to mix shout-like unclean vocals with soulful cleans that work perfectly with the band's amazing guitars and eccentric time changes. Every song on this album manages to be catchy and listenable.
5. Stolas - Stolas
Stolas lost their unclean vocalist, Jason Welche, causing drummer Carlo Marquez to take on full time clean vocal duties. Stolas' self-titled record is their strongest album to date, with incredible instrumentation and vocals reminiscent of early Closure in Moscow. The band has said they're already about to head back on the studio, and I can't wait to see what comes next.
4. Time King - Frontierland EP
One of the most promising acts of the Long Island local music scene. Time King's follow up to their 2015 album shows the band applying a concept to their funk-leaning progressive rock. Each song manages to be fun and bouncy while maintaining an impressive technicallity. Any fan of progressive or mainstream rock shouls be checking these guys out.
3. Eidola - To Speak, To Listen
In a year filled with great albums from musically technical bands, Eidola managed to impress me the most this year with their latest release when it comes to dedicating themselves to a concept and technical prowess and still making great music. This is in no small part thanks to vocalist Andrew Wells, who shows a vocal range rarely seen in any genre. The rest of the band holds their own to make an impressive progressive-hardcore package.
2. Paramore - After Laughter
Paramore didn't just reinvent themselves with their 80s-inflienced pop album. They created their best work to date. How Hayley Williams' somber lyrics works so well with album completely upbeat instrumentals is hard to explain, but it makes an album that can touch you in the best and worst of emotional states. A band that can change up their style this much and still find success this far after their initial peak is something very special.
1. I The Mighty - Where the Mind Wants to Go/ Where You Let It Go
The San Francisco based post-hardcore outfit took a lot of modern pop Influence and explored new territory in their third LP, and it works greatly to the bands benefit. The bands seems just as comfortable with the radio-friendly Pet Names as they do with the heavy hitting Where the Mind Wants to Go. Other highlights include the playful anthem Degenerates, the catchy horror story 111 Winchester and the mesmerizing chants found in Where You Let It Go. I the Mighty shows just how creative and accomplished they are as musicians, and with releases like this, they're destined for greatness.
- Mike McCarthy