We count down the 51 greatest musical offerings of 2017

17:00 8th December 2017

The albums of the year list is here. With countless releases coming in every day, our team of writers have listened far and wide to bring forth what are the most exciting sounds of 2017, irrespective of popularity in mind only of sincere enjoyment of the record.

Have a flick through the big hitters and the lesser known gems and use the Spotify links to listen to the albums in full and see if you find as much enjoyment in these as we have.

Again, many thanks to all the fans, publicists, managers, labels, promoters, and musicians who contribute to keep our industry has exciting as it can possibly be. 

51. Kevin Morby – City Music

Like watching four decades of American underground music drift by through the window of a slow-moving train, Kevin Morby’s fourth solo album took a louche trip through the rolling territory of The Velvets, The Ramones, Pitchfolk and alt-country on his way back to New York, there to document the hum of the sleepless city from a measured, maudlin distance. A sleepy celebration of Americana, ‘City Music’ was a portrait of a pre-Trump USA imbued with the romanticism of Mark Twain or William Faulkner, had they rocked. Gently, mind. (Steven Kline)

50. Bicep – Bicep

Following a series of small-scale releases and teasers, this debut album from Belfast’s Bicep has proved as successful as it was anticipated. Providing a post-peak, levelling-out and late-night vibe, this is gloriously meditative deep house music that makes frequent nods to its ambient and breakbeat antecedents whilst finding its own distinctive voice. (Julian Marszalek)

49. The Duke Spirit ­ – Sky Is Mine

The juxtaposition between the adrenaline-fuelled, muscular psych-rock gusto of some tracks and the sugar-coated, ethereal melodies of others is what makes this album so special and is made immediately clear with the first two songs. Album opener ‘Magenta’ is a high-octane call to arms that fans of Wolf Alice or The Kills will fall in love with – complete with enchanting almost-howling vocals and a scuzzy, throbbing bassline that propels the song mercilessly from start to finish. They take a step back with second track ‘Bones Of Proof’ – a beautifully sublime slow-burner where heavenly reverb-soaked vocals and shimmering guitars slowly build into a seriously impressive cacophony of screeching guitar feedback and horns akin to those last few minutes of Spiritualized’s ’Shine A Light’. (Jack Palfrey)

48. Songhoy Blues ‑ Résistance

The Malian's take up a much more charged electric feel to the preceding work which saw them pigeonholed in the desert blues bracket. On Résistance they embrace the likes of Hendrix and John Lee Hooker that they grew up with whilst simultaneously layering modern guitar effects to give it a lavish, colourfully psychedelic feel. And frontman Aliou Touré is an energetic, charismatic band leader. It's no wonder Iggy Pop was up for guesting on this excellent record. (Cai Trefor)

47. Benjamin Booker ‑ Witness

Amalgamating a plethora of sounds from the second you press play, Benjamin Booker’s sophomore effort Witness has been crafted with outstanding care. On opener ‘Right On You’ Benjamin growls, “It's like everything I touch is gold,” and it’s hard not to believe the singer after reaching the end of the album. Veering between rollicking rock ’n’ roll, subtle acoustic odes and vocals that can be soulful or snarling, the diversity displayed is admirable, and makes digesting the record much more of an experience. (Shannon Cotton)

46. Girl Ray – Earl Gray

Girl Ray’s slacker teen pop debut has been released with envious maturity and natural born talent. Somehow these perhaps unlikely musical elements fit together in a band that I believe are writing some of the best British Americana inspired tracks I’ve heard. And they’re from London. The quality is undercut by an absurdist image and three teenage friends actually having a great time making music together. Reminiscent of Big Star’s melodic prowess and the early Foo Fighters knack for producing memorable geek-opuses in their videos, they are nailing the race straight out of the gates. Hats off to them. Looking forward to seeing what they do next. (James Carroll)

45. Aimee Mann – Mental Illness

“Life is good, you look around and think you’re in the right neighborhood...” Singing those upbeat lyrics from the song “Patient Zero,” one of many outstanding tracks on Mental Illness, clearly belies the album’s otherwise ominous title. Mann’s first release in five years, it finds her taking a quieter approach to her craft. These songs are brewed with softer sentiments, a quiet charm and reserve that reflect a deft touch. Strings and acoustic accoutrements contribute to the tone and texture, suggesting that this is indeed Mann’s masterpiece, an emotional touchstone in a career that’s had no shortage of mesmerising moments. (Lee Zimmerman)

44. LIFE ‑ Popular Music

Hailing from Hull, this year’s City Of Culture, perhaps it was perfect timing that the city’s most ramshackle and rallying export chose 2017 to release their debut album. Popular Music is a commanding example of honest and frank social commentary covering a range of topics including, but not limited to, Donald Trump on ‘Euromillions’, footwear on ‘Rare Boots’ and popular music on, er, ‘Popular Music’. The often serious lyrical undertones are balanced out with short, sharp bursts of jagged guitars and injections of punk sensibilities which barely stretch past the three minute mark. (Shannon Cotton)

43. Jim Jones & The Righteous Mind – Super Natural

Calling time on the rock’n’roll ramalama of the Jim Jones Revue at the height of their success may have been viewed as an act of madness, but their dissolution had allowed Jim Jones to explore wider musical territories. Though still a rock’n’roller in its truest sense, Jones and his new cohorts bring elements of psychedelia, country and added darkness to their sound to create what he describes as “heavy lounge”. (Julian Marzsalek)

42. The Barr Brothers ‑ Queens Of The Breakers

Cosmic country band The Barr Brothers have made a name for themselves in Montreal – they’re know by practically everyone in their adopted city. Their steps towards more global acclaim are gathering momentum now, though, thanks to this – their best record. The band fronted by the Tom Petty-esque singer and buoyed by the harp convey the vast skies of the Americas. They holed up in a remote cabin in Quebec to reach this new creative height and the stark beauty evidently a reflection of the power they felt in the wilderness. The Besnard Lake achieved similar things with their rumble out in the wild last year. (Cai Trefor)

41. Colin Stetson – All This I Do For Glory

You have to see Colin Stetson live to truly understand just how magnificent of an accomplishment this album is. With circular breathing he manages to create whole symphonies without any digital trickery. He can keep whole auditorium in awe. The album doesn't veer too far from what his live show is like. It's music that for sheer ability ought to be admired and there's something darkly spiritual about the execution of the sound which is haunting, tense, and paranoid - in a good way. (Cai Trefor)

40. Portico Quartet ‑ Art in the Age of Automation

The remarkable thing about Art in the Age of Automation is, on the surface, everything feels simple the 2-D, but after repeat listens you realise there is an exquisite complexity to them, and they take on a lurid 3-D vibe. It shows hang drum connoisseurs have moved away from their twee beginnings towards a more inspired sense of musicality that weaves digital and analogue processes in stunning fashion. Being inventive in their songwriting and clearly enjoying this new found vigour for their craft should ensure Portico Quartet are around for years to come. (Nick Roseblade)

39. Sonic Jesus ‑ Grace

Hailing from Doganella di Ninfa suburb of Lazio, Sonic Jesus are one of the most inventive bands to emerge in recent years from the ever growing psych rock scene. While elements of their music can be traced back to people like The Black Angels during their 'Passover' phase, there's also a distinguished post-punk sheen to their wares as ably demonstrated on this year's 'Grace', the follow-up to 2015's debut 'Neither Virtue Nor Anger'. From the brooding menace of 'I'm In Grace' which conjures up images of the Sisters Of Mercy in their heyday through to The Cure like 'Space Heels' and industrial 'Funeral Party' which could be the finest song The Chameleons never wrote, they've returned with an album even better than its predecessor. (Dom Gourlay)

38. Tony Allen ‑ The Source

Tony Allen, has usurped expectations of another Afrobeat album in favour of his first pure Jazz LP. He teased us with his tribute to Art Blakey EP - which was phenomenal - and followed it up a few months later with this album. His own inimitable groove mean it's a record that despite treading along well-worn styles can’t help but feel distinct and unique, because there is quite simply only one Tony Allen. It's more breath-taking than most instrumental albums you’ll get your hands on this year. Look out for it on Blue Note Records. (Cai Trefor)

37. Sundara Karma ‑ Youth Is Only Ever Fun In Retrospect

Proving that 2017 has been a stellar year for debut albums, one of the first came in January when Reading quartet Sundara Karma delivered Youth Is Only Ever Fun In Retrospect. The title comes from a lyric in ‘Deep Relief’, a track which showcases that the band can nail a woozy, transcendent indie sound as well as ramping up the intensity on the likes of ‘Loveblood’ and ‘She Said’, while lyrical themes nodding to Plato and Shakespeare make them the figureheads of a traditional indie rock sound which digs a little deeper. (Shannon Cotton)

36. The Black Angels – Death Song

Though it’s taken these Texan psychdelicists five albums to make their long-expected Velvet Underground pun, the contents contained within are no laughing matter. Tackling the malaise of late-period capitalism, oppression and nationalism through the prism of the third eye, The Black Angels delivered a psychedelic highlight that eschews hectoring in favour of hallucinatory imagery and the best music of their career. (Julian Marzsalek)

35. James Holden & The Animal Spirits – The Animal Spirits

Described as ‘folk-trance’ by James himself, the sound of his latest full length effort couldn’t be placed anywhere near his last opus The Inheritors in terms of the electronic landscape, it’s a dizzying effort that contrary to previous releases in which he sought to bring life to the machines sounds as if he’s now trying to bring a bit of programming to the world outside the box.

Recorded live in one room at Holden’s Sacred Walls studio in London in single takes with no overdubs and no edits , The Animal Spirits serves as a stunning example of what can be achieved electronically within a free form environment as self-described rebel Holden provides us with yet another chapter of his disruptive anti-conservative dancefloor manifesto. (Reiss De Brune)

34. Ride ‑ Weather Diaries

Another band to make a successful comeback after being away for two decades were Ride. Having reformed initially to play a series of shows to commemorate the 25th anniversary of esteemed debut 'Nowhere', it was clear the band had unfinished business to attend to and with the bite firmly back between their teeth, 'Weather Diaries' emerged this summer. Representing their first collection of new material since 1996, 'Weather Diaries' uses the template defined by the Ride's earlier releases as a starting point while sounding unmistakably like a record that was made in the 21st Century. The decision to work with DJ-cum-producer Erol Alkan proved a masterstroke, and on tracks like 'Home Is A Feeling', 'Impermanence' and 'Lannoy Point' they've delivered some of the finest songs in the band's already distinguished canon. (Dom Gourlay)

33. Oh Sees – Orc

Though trying to keep up with their various name changes is a challenge in itself, Oh Sees’ 19th album in as many years is one of the rock’n’roll highlights of the year. At once thrilling, obnoxious and hair-raising, Orc serves as a reminder of rock’n’roll’s enduring power that aims as much for the head as it does the hips and feet. (Julian Marszalek)

32. Alvvays ‑ Antisocialites

Like a mescaline flashback to the mid-90s in which you somehow get Ride and The Cardigans mixed up, Toronto’s Alvvays are a breath of dream-pop fresh air, part The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, part Radio Dept and every bit the swan that the C86 duckling dreamed of transforming into. Second album ‘Antisocialites’ delivers ten more reasons for Archie to marry them, from the sublime sonic cloudsurfers like ‘Dreams Tonight’ and ‘Not My Baby’ to bits that sound like Wire going doe-eyed after overdosing on rom-coms. The band of all our dreams. (Steven Kline)

31. Noel Gallagher ‑ Who Built The Moon?

Liam Gallagher told The Evening Standard earlier this week that he hopes Noel will come around to reforming Oasis. Some poor solo album sales and review will help he said. Well, there have been poor reviews, not least the hilarious one in the Irish Times that was used in the TV advert. But - in all honesty - this "cosmic pop" album has far outweighed expectations. There are myriad sounds outside of what we've come to expect from Noel in the past. There are nods to Primal Scream, The Vaccines, Bowie and Spiritualized. And as he guided the sounds to be effervescent and representative of what excite him now as opposed to what worked for him in the past - he sounds all the better for it. (Cai Trefor)

30. Visionist ‑ Value

Value could be the most important electronic album released this year. It throbs and bristles with visceral clout, but there is also subtle texture and delicate motifs floating just below the surface. Visionist’s deft touch is flawless and terrifying. In just thirty five minutes ‘Value’ manages to redefine what an electronic album can, and more importantly, should be in 2017. At times this is a hard listen, and maybe not to everyone’s taste, but it is a man who is not only pushing the listener to what they find enjoyable, but a man who is pushing himself and the genre. (Nick Roseblade)

29. Daniel Caesar ‑ Freudian

Sometimes you just want to sit back and put something on that washes over you and sooths. This smooth soul/R&B album debut from Toronto’s rising star is free from overly hectic percussion, and leads with elegant piano, clean yet sultry vocals, and some obscure beats that fit neatly with the vocals. This 22-year-old, who mostly pens love songs, just picked up two Grammy’s unexpectedly and had to rearrange his European tour. And such is the magnetism of his album Freudian, he’s sold out two dates in London having never been here before. He's doing all the things right to become a global star. (Cai Trefor)

28. Blaenavon ‑ That's Your Lot

After years of being on our radar, 2017 was the year we finally got our hands on That’s Your Lot, the debut album from Hampshire trio Blaenavon, and what an accomplished piece of work it is. Singer Ben Gregory’s wistful vocal delivery paired with swooning guitars and diligent percussion captivate from opener ‘Take Care’ as themes of life and death and everything in between bleed into the lyrics. ‘Orthodox Man’ is one of the most prominent highlights on the LP with an effervescent sonic trajectory which threatens to make it the indie anthem of the year. (Shannon Cotton)

27. Bjork ‑ Utopia

At a whopping 72-minutes long, it’s going to take some time before the true impact and cultural worth of Björk’s tenth solo album becomes apparent. But what is immediately obvious is that the Icelandic artist’s desire to keep pushing at musical and lyrical boundaries remains firmly in place. With so much information to process, Utopia is far from a passive experience and is one of those rare albums that require just as much effort from the listener as it does the artist. (Julian Marszalek)

26. Algiers ‑ The Underside of Power

An immediately enjoyable concoction of gospel, soul and industrial beats and post-punk. Top that with gripping, soul-bearing vocals and you'll find fans of Killing Joke and Gary Numan and Charles Bradley will find much to enjoy here. Algiers are a band ill-afraid to confront injustice from the state making them a refreshing contrast to the all too familiar rise of apolitical pop and rock. This album is – as their press release states – "a defiant musical response to the looming rise of fascism, police brutality, dystopia, institutionalised racism and the hegemonic power structure." Disinterested in politics? You’ll love it anyway. (Cai Trefor)

25. Trevor Sensor ‑ Andy Warhol's Dream

This Mid-Western singer/songwriter has a cracking voice – and it’s thanks to Dave Keuning of The Killers’ for spotting him in a bar and helping him on his path to get signed. But - to him - fame is the most toxic aspect of his journey as a musician. Sensor despises the Hollywood glamour circles and his album questions the integrity of much of popular culture whilst also pouring some of his deepest personal troubles into song. He also benefits hugely for having Whitney as a back band as their psych pop touch and strong technique bring what's deserved to one of America's most promising songwriters. (Cai Trefor)

24. Mark Lanegan Band ‑ Gargoyle

Though still operating within a gothic-blues idiom, Mark Lanegan’s exploratory spirit has led him into the field of electronica. Working alongside the likes of Duke Garwood, Josh Homme, songwriter Rob Marshall and long-time collaborator Alain Johannes, Lanegan’s seductive reading of the dark is still propelled by that whiskey-soaked baritone growl and completed by a healthy musical curiosity to make some of the best music of his career. (Julian Marzsalek)

23. Princess Nokia ‑ 1992 Deluxe

Subversive rapper Princess Nokia takes the blueprint of hip-hop and transforms it into something entirely her own. Using her album as an opportunity to be vocal about issues she takes a critical stance and spits playful bars that question dominant ideology towards women, resist gentrification, and try to empower the listener's self confidence. She as a nerd, outsider - hiding nothing about who she is - is a strong role model. The artist's eclectic upbringing with punk rock as well as hip hop perhaps helps to create a technicolour soundscape that reaps you into the hold. She spent a month on each of these tracks and that care has certainly paid off. (Cai Trefor)

22. Gas – Narkopop

Ambient music often gets a bad press. Not from critics who so often fall head over heels for the lush soundscapes so expertly crafted by its most celebrated practitioners but by a general public who seem to have a very distinct – if in this writer’s opinion unfair – idea of what the genre is about and who it is aimed at. So if you are one of the people who associates ambient music with people looking for a musical distraction after frying their synapses with several days of intense partying, might I challenge you to listen to Kompakt Records founder Wolfgang Voigt’s latest album under his Gas moniker.

Titled Narkopop – stick with me – the 11 numbered passages offer a genuinely immersive if subjective experience that I’ve personally seen win over a number of the genre’s most ardent critics. Stern but beautiful in its own hard to outright define way – a bit like Berlin – there hasn’t been anything quite as epic in scale as Narkopop in a good. number of years. (Reiss De Brune)

21. Jane Weaver ‑ Modern Kosmologyr

Moving from the area of cult concern, Jane Weaver’s sixth album effortlessly weaves analogue electronics with pastoral psychedelia, sharp songwriting and an unabashed pop sensibility that’s impossible to resists. Her most fully realised collection to date, this is an album that reveals new pearls with each subsequent listen. (Julian Marzsalek)

20. Robert Plant ‑ Carry Fire

Plant has come a long way from the days of fury and bombast that characterised his work welding the hammer of the gods with Led Zeppelin. Nevertheless, Carry Fire retains all the essential elements he’s acquired since - a mystical reverence that combines unusual rhythms, an intriguing aura and the passion and purpose that’s characterised his music since the beginning. Elusive at times, but hypnotic overall, it’s the kind of album that may take repeated listens to fully appreciate, and yet finds due diligence paying off. Both memorable and melodic, this is Plant’s most satisfying and sublime effort yet. (Lee Zimmerman)

19. Queens Of The Stone Age - Villains

A motley crew of villains inhabited QOTSA latest opus - acid-faced clubland hedonists, horror movie ghouls, political despots and gutter-drinking ne’er-do-wells. But the over-riding presence is that of David Bowie - Josh Homme channels the Late White Duke throughout, from the art-crank Berlin synths of ‘Feet Don’t Fail Me Now’ to the Diamond Dogs glam strut of ‘The Way You Used To Do’. Which made for his most rounded and complete album yet, a disco-flecked jive through modern politics, the aftermath of the Bataclan terrorist attack and a caricatured portrait of the wild world Homme inhabits. Another magnificent load blown over the status quo. (Steven Kline)

18. Laurel Halo - Dust

Eerie yet oddly danceable, the Berlin based American’s experimental long player for Hyperdub was 2017’s great musical oxymoron, juxtaposing organic and digital tropes within her own framework to create one cohesive body of work wherein given enough listens, what on first glance appears chaotic shifts into a frighteningly clear focus.  Featuring a number of well thought out collaborations, it’s an album you’re sure to keep coming back to well throughout 2018 and beyond. (Reiss De Brune)

17. Parson Redheads ‑ Blurred Harmony

The Parsons Red Heads seem well positioned to gain favour as Americana’s foremost retro revivalists, one reason why even a single listen to this or any of their albums ends up as a game of name that musical reference. Blurred Harmony is no exception, and with ample jangle and a hint of psych, they not only recall the Byrds, but also Teenage Fanclub, the Chills and other outfits given to ‘60s suggestion. Billowy harmonies, spiralling riffing and celestial trappings mark the latest in a line of exceptional outings, a combination that clearly qualifies the Parsons Red Heads as ones to watch, now and in years to come. (Lee Zimmerman)

16. Arcade Fire - Everything Now

Let’s quietly forget about all that dress code and corporate rock satire nonsense, shall we, and concentrate instead on Arcade Fire recovering from the sprawling dancefloor splurge of 2013’s Reflektor - a scattergun glitterball of a record - with this more focused but still eminently danceable collection. Jiving in on the orchestral disco sweep of the title track and the Funkadelic ‘Signs Of Life’, it sounded like a band rediscovering its groove, perfected on the synthpop twinkle of ‘Creature Comfort’. And come on, you’d happily dress like a ballerina Iron Man to see it live. (Steven Kline)

15. LCD Soundsystem ‑ American Dream

Leaving aside any issues concerning the status of LCD Soundsystem’s return so soon after their supposed demise, James Murphy and his cohorts delivered an album that surpassed expectations and quashed any prejudices. And while their modus operandi still finds them blending their record collection into one, cohesive whole, Murphy’s vulnerability and meditations on aging and mortality is what ices this particularly satisfying confection. (Julian Marszalek)

14. Saagara ­‑ 2

On paper, the combination of Polish jazz and Indian raga music may smack of worthy-but-dull tokenism, but the truth is wildly different. This is an album of daring vision and breath-taking beauty helmed by Polish composer and musician Wacław Zimpel. With neither musical tradition taking complete dominance, the result is music that genuinely pushes boundaries whilst being simultaneously welcoming and entirely accessible. (Julian Marszalek)

13. Moonlandingz - Interplanetary Class Classics

The Moonlandingz are an offshoot of the Fat White Family, London's premiere freakoid garage rock troupe, that have, with the release of their debut album, Interplanetary Class Classics, seemingly excelled their parent band's studio output. Whizzing sci fi synths, stomping drum marches and fearless, peerless vocal delivery from Lias Saoudi make this album a jilted rock 'n' roll opus not to be messed with, as this album truly has everything you could ever want. Soft ballad? Listen to 'Strangle of Anna'. Song to make ugly, sleazy love to? Listen to 'Glory Hole'. Something to beat up Tories to? Listen to 'IDS' on repeat. Interplanetary Class Classics is an album that touches cloth with perfection. (Cal Cashin)

12. Baxter Dury ‑ Prince of Tears

The son of infamous singer Ian is as far away from talentless kids of the greats as James McCartney is to Paul McCartney. These wizardrous sleaze spoken word numbers are the height of his work. Powerfully modern and original. ‘Miami’ is the sound of characters up all night on drugs and looking for sex. Dury has long written from a narrative and character driven perspective. This line from ‘Love in the Garden’ gets me every time: “And so we sprinkled the coins of romance frugally... and had a cuddle”. These slick anti-ballads are accompanied by shadow filled videos. Dury has embraced his darkest material to date with a poetic confidence unseen by the majority of singers and poets. (James Carroll)

11. Kendrick Lamar ‑ DAMN

It’s a signifier of DAMN’s precocious claim to “classic” status that I’m quite unsure how I could add to what has already been written in the frenzy following its release. The writing of James Baldwin was once described as a “meeting of Henry James, the Bible, and Harlem”; like Baldwin, Kendrick Lamar’s words throughout DAMN seem to have resounded universally, tackling political issues suppressed by the mainstream media with the clarity and urgency of the most commercial LPS – it is this defying of artistic and social boundaries, perhaps, which ensure that beyond the enthusiasm of its immediate response, Lamar’s fourth studio album will be emblazoned in the eyes of all posterity. (Olly Telling)

10. Richard Dawson ‑ Peasant

At the beginning of the song ‘Shapeshifter’, Richard Dawson sings of “leaving the path, lured by an emerald.” His sixth album - which invites us to contemplate the triumphs and travails of the citizens of the Northern kingdom of Bryneich, sometime in the Middle Ages – keeps leading you off the beaten track. However, unlike the aforementioned song’s narrator, we are rewarded for following. This is ostensibly Dawson’s most approachable album since back in his (slightly) more conventional singer-songwritery days, with a band including harpist Rhodri Davies framing Dawson’s cheesewire guitar, his sweet keening and bellowing, but these are songs which, in their lyrical and harmonic density, still take time to get the measure of. It’s an album to dwell in, and as you do you find the strange becoming familiar, and the familiar ever more strange. (David McKenna)

9. St. Vincent ‑ Masseducation

As with all things St Vincent, you never do truly quite know and that’s what makes it interesting. It is at once her most personal and most oblique record to date combining gut-wrenching break up ballads with up-beat art pop. The ballads shatter emotionally with the most delicate, gossamer accompaniments; the art pop thrills as it channels David Bowie, 80’s Georgio Moroda, and art-pop pioneers, LCD Soundsystem. 

Masseduction is a work of genius light years ahead of its indie, rock and pop counterparts. St Vincent’s unashamed move into pop is a Bowie-like masterstroke with hit after hit emerging: teaming up with Bleacher’s frontman and Lorde producer Jack Antonoff has proven a powerful move. (Liz Aubrey)

8. The Horrors ‑ V

The London-based Kraut and synth pop, and psych inspired band are much more used to scrutinising over production themselves in their home studio. This time they brought in studio heavyweight Paul Epworth (Adele, Stone Roses) and cut a masterful record in the ambient, creative surrounds of Church studios. The room itself lends itself superbly to creating a fantastic sound on all the instruments whilst the processors they laid on top add a kaleidoscopic veneer that allures you into each song's hold. The songwriting is the best the band have ever mustered - a mighty leap forward in the Horrors’ trajectory. (Cai Trefor)

7. The Magnetic Fields ‑ 50 Song Memoir

Back in 1999 The Magnetic Fields’ Stephin Merritt released ‘69 Love Songs’, a three-disc smorgasbord of romance of all tones and timbres and, to these ears, the second best album ever made (‘Revolver’, obviously). To mark his fiftieth birthday Merritt returned to the magnum opus form, with a five-part collection of fifty songs - one about each year of his life - and while it’s not quite as mind-blowing as ‘69 Love Songs’ its wild array of alt-folk, indie pop, 80s electro, cranky sound collages and gorgeous balladry - about mad cats, hippy mothers, wasted disco youths and maudlin middle-age - is of infinitely wider of scope than any album of the decade so far. (Steven Kline)

6. Nadine Shah ‑ Holiday Destination

As albums that provide a political commentary on our times, few were as powerful in 2017 as Nadine Shah’s Holiday Destination. Exploring the re-emergence of Nationalism, the global refugee crisis and the division Brexit has caused in local communities, Shah placed an unflinching gaze on divisive immigration politics both here and abroad. Channelling Let England Shake era PJ Harvey and Siouxsie and the Banshees in style, Shah’s theatrical voice emotively conveyed both anger and sorrow as she explored immigration issues from various points of view. There is the mother fighting for her right to live with her children safely away from war, the right-wing media who peddle hate, the communities sucked in by the Nationalist rhetoric. Combining the anger of punk with the disorientation of Kraut rock drones and motorik beats, the music often unsettles and alienates as Shah encourages her listeners to empathise with the otherness many feel through the current toxicity of global politics. (Liz Aubrey)

5. Idles ‑ Brutalism

IDLES’ cross-Atlantic ballsy punk has been an unexpected success over the last 6 months. Which all made sense when Gigwise saw them live in Berlin this summer. A gig that surpassed the expectations of the hype built around them. Songs from their debut Brutalism such as ‘Mother’ are seething portraits of working class life with biting lyrics such as ‘my mother worked 17 hours 7 day’s a week.’ Lead singer Joe Talbot’s mother passed away and her ashes were pressed into some of their vinyls. A beautiful act. Everyone feels proud of these boys and their angry attacks on Tory Britain with an underlying humanity, respect and love. There are ironic calls from the track ‘White Privilege’; ‘always poor, never bored.’ They sold out Heaven in London in April. And seem to have their audiences eating out of the palm of their hands. Listen to what these boys have to say. (James Carroll)

4. Slowdive ‑ S/T

While it was never in doubt Slowdive would release new music after reforming in 2014, no one could have predicted that in 2017 we'd be talking about them releasing what's arguably their most accomplished collection to date. The band may have taken 22 years to surface after its predecessor 'Pygmalion' signaled their untimely departure back in 1995, yet its eloquent beauty proved well worth the wait. From the glistening melodic chimes of opener 'Slomo' through the orgasmic headrush of 'Star Roving' and 'Don't Know Why' culminating in the stripped down elegance of closer 'Falling Ashes', Slowdive have hit upon musical perfection with a record that not only justifies their return, but hints at even greater possibilities going forwards. (Dom Gourlay)

3. Ryan Adams ‑ Prisoner

A timeless rock sound that distills the essence of a fully amped stadium band with such realism you drift away into its every bar. Teeming with a sense of urgency and adrenaline, these beautifully crafted songs are full of conviction. Rarely will you feel a deeply personal album as powerful as this. The revelatory nature of the tracks reflect the emotional trauma he was going through. But there’s a balance of light and shade: there’s a defiant undertone that offsets the tracks to make them feel far from a sob story. Coming out of listening to Prisoner you feel set free and want to punch the sky whilst wailing along to his emphatic lyrics. (Cai Trefor)

2. Wolf Alice ‑ Visions of a Life

Few bands in a generation manage to follow-up a widely acclaimed debut with a sophomore effort that heightens their cultural standing, so this is increasingly starting to look like Generation Wolf. Twisting and squirming from any grip you tried to get on it, ‘Visions…’ ricocheted from punkoid vitriol (‘Yuk Foo’) to wistful open love letter (‘Don’t Delete The Kisses’) and semi-goth epic (the title track) while documenting singer Ellie Rowsell’s many fundamental conflictions - grief and hedonism, friendship and insecurity, a youthful grab at life and a cloying fear of death. Visionary stuff. (Steven Kline)

1. Grandaddy ‑ Last Place

How reassuring it was to find that, eleven years and one divorce after the fourth Grandaddy album, Jason Lytle’s frail electropop genius was still firmly in place. Detailing a period when he was struggling through a marital split and the subsequent depression, ‘Last Place’ is something of a synth-country ‘Blood On The Tracks’, perfectly suiting Lytle’s fragile pop delivery on ‘Way We Won’t’ and ‘Evermore’. Incorporating the euphoric rush of their 90’s heyday and the softer, wearier slumps of Lytle’s solo albums, it was as much career as marriage retrospective, and hopefully not the last we hear of Grandaddy. (Steven Kline)

Our thoughts rest with the band after the passing of co-founder and bassist Kevin Garcia who tragically passed away shortly after the release of this album.

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