It’s tradition, we suppose. We’ll be launching the #BoL50 on Christmas Day – our 50 favourite tracks of the year – but before we get to that, let’s have a look at our albums that have dominated the office record player throughout 2017.
So in no particular order, apart from the top one being the best, here are our top 31 LPs of the year.
Vukovar – Puritan
Gothic, dark and brooding. Of lead single, The Clockwork Dance, we said “All their hallmarks lie within – apocalyptic krautrock and post-punk – as they mull with anarchic melancholy the sprint towards end times.” If this is what gets played as society crumbles around us, count us in.
Vukovar – Fornication
Released on the stroke of midnight at the end of last year, this is an album of covers done in the band’s stripped-down style. Only 20 cassettes were made, though you can still get it digitally. We recommend that you do. The version of Laurie Anderson’s O Superman is haunting.
Cuban Boys – Machines
A concept album – no, no, wait, come back – the way that only the Cuban Boys could deliver. Individually, a lot of these tracks make sense, but pieced all together with motifs running through and the repeated use of samples from I’m Alright Jack tie it up as a whole. It’s a work of art.
Eight Rounds Rapid – Objet d’Art
A hotly anticipated follow-up to the debut album Lossleader. More old school garage rock from the Essex boys.
In the Teenage Fanclub bracket, but the very edges thereof.
Outside Your House – Gallant Encounters
A first album following a couple of EPs, and the increased length and scope for invention does not disappoint.
Heavyball – When Can You Start?
Another follow-up we’ve been looking forward to for a while. A document of a day in the life of the average Joe, but with all the songs standing up on their own as well.
Super Besse – La Nuit
Everyone’s favourite Belarusian post-punkers with a new long player that dominated the office in late spring. Like Joy Division would sound were they a) still a thing and b) from Minsk.
Andrew Weatherall – Qualia
Very much picking up where Convenanza left off. Similar motifs proliferate on yet another high-class record from the EDM guru.
The Immediate – Manbuoy
Sounding more Julian Cope than the Archdrude does himself these days – with a bit of Tom Robinson thrown in – this is an accomplished debut album. Then again, they’ve been honing their craft for ages, so approach that first hurdle with more experience under their collective belt than many.
Four Tet – New Energy
In which Kieran Hebden goes down-tempo and the world is better for it.
Jister & The Lion Ranger – JTLR
It seems the north-east is the new hotbed of UK hip-hop. With Leeds producer The Lion Ranger at the helm, Jister provides the chat on a highly accomplished record.
Loyle Carner – Yesterday’s Gone
Would have won the Mercury if we’d had anything to do with it.
Kelly Lee Owens
Gnod – JUST SAY NO TO THE PSYCHO RIGHT-WING CAPITALIST FASCIST INDUSTRIAL DEATH MACHINE
Comfortably album title of the year. And it’s backed up with anger-filled thrash. And frankly, if you ain’t angry right now, you ain’t paying attention.
Mik Artistik’s Ego Trip – Sound
Probably the most well put together LP from the Ego Trip. Modern classics abound, from Plastic Fox to the tear-inducing David Bowie Was A Funny Man to the story of urban decay that is The Zumba Sign’s Come Down.
Sleaford Mods – English Tapas
You can’t ignore them, can you? Not that we’d want to.
Autobahn – The Moral Crossing
An altogether more ambitious second album from the Leeds post-punkers, showing off their capabilities on a far grander scale. Magnificent.
Boobs Of Doom – Expre$$ion
“Scottish morbid misanthropes soundtracking the end of the world with stoopid-computers, rusty guitars and an ageing wonky TB-303 called Muta.” We were in from the start.
Ceiling Demons – Nil
As these lads get older, their increasing maturity manifests itself in their song-writing while their musical appropriations continues to widen. Good friends of ours, their success is overdue and well-earned.
Equinox – It’s Hard To Be Happy When Your Head Is Full Of Sin
Spoken word with music beneath from a variety of contributors including old friends Nat Lyon, Pulco and Ceiling Demons to stellar names like Vince Clarke.
The Fall – New Facts Emerge
It’s a Fall album. It might not be our favourite ever Fall album, but it’s every bit as vital as all the others.
Godflesh – Post Self
As good as they ever were.
I, Ludicrous – Songs From The Sides Of Lorries
More nuggets from the documentors of the minutiae of life. There has possibly never been a better closing album track than Epitaph.
Joss Cope – Unrequited Lullabies
It’s tempting to cite his older brother and the use of the mellotron invites that, but we shan’t. This is a top level pop record in it’s own right without recourse to crude comparisons.
Feature – Banishing Ritual
A bittersweet entry. A terrific record, but by a band who’d called it a day before it even came out. Ten short, punchy tracks – the album weighs in at 29 minutes – in the old-fashioned sense. Always leave them wanting more? Well we do.
Not a bad way to come back after 22 years away. A comfort blanket of an LP.
Oh Sees – Orc
A full-on sensory assault.
The Salient Braves – Delusions Of Grandeur
A debut album from Barnsley’s Braves with lyricist Matt Bailey at his acerbic, dry and occasionally melancholic best.
Steve Cobby – Hemidemisemiquaver
A collection of laid-back club beats from the master.
A compilation from the good folk at Come Play With Me. Two discs packed with great stuff from Leeds and surrounding areas that really showcases what it is they do. And long may they continue so to do. It’s packed and it’s a bargain.
We’ve probably missed some out and there are loads of EPs that warrant mentioning, but starting on that would lead down a rabbit hole of such proportions that we wouldn’t be out in time to have a think about what’s new in 2018. 30 seemed a sensible place to stop.
Suffice to say that we’ve featured a lot of bands this year. Our philosophy is and will continue to be that if we like it, we’ll stick it up, so rest assured that if it’s been on here, we’re fans.