full of encouragements to fight the system and punch up big brother’s offer to experiment hatred of others and artificial cleverness, 2017 was a vindictive year indeed. and yet, our favourite albums of the year were made, again, of both tender and raging shades with, at the uppermost point, Algiers and their remarkable The Underside Of Power. apart from this latter, the following albums are our favourite ones and their order of appearance doesn’t suggest any position in class. enjoy this yearly review!
our favourite albums
— Algiers, The Underside Of Power
in 2015, when the band released their first eponym album, the pond was not ready yet to lend a favourable ear to gospel or soul resonances. we enjoyed quite a lot the sonority and complexity of it, but we simply left it aside, unjustly forgetting about it. in 2017, Cry Of The Martyr hooked us by surprise on the radio, and since then, the pond’s record deck has been passionately glued to The Underside Of Power. Algiers’ somophore remarkable album is a noisy, convincing invitation to struggle. the lyrics and stage performance of Franklin James Fisher compel respect due to the soundness of the words he writes. together with the rest of the band, Algiers demonstrate an indestructible cohesion and deliver a timeless and wondrous record at a breathless pace. Power To The People!
breathtaking: Cleveland + MME Rieux
— Idles, Brutalism
the title of Idles‘ first album tells everything about the hot-blooded music condensed by this exciting/excited band from bristol. Brutalism will provide any vegans with all the necessary proteins to smash the face of greedy carnivores, thanks to singularly catchy refrains that are supported by sumptuous stinging guitars, an amazing incisive bass and a thrilling sense of humour. Idles are edgy, resolute blokes; the band’s lyrics stick utterly to the gloomy british way of life (the best way to scare a Tory is to read and get rich, taken from Mother), and echo perfectly the bite and the frenzy of their music. the band deploys an abrasive punk that makes passes at noise and post punk without failing. the wildness of the record springs clearly from an understandable emergency state. na na na na na na, nothing ever happens, nothing but one of the best records of the year.
bombastic: Divide and Conquer + 1049 Gotho
— Slowdive, Slowdive
strolling at the record shop in late may, our hearts respectively exulted and crumbled at hearing both Star Roving and Sugar For The Pill. still uncertain to recognize Neil Halstead‘s voice, the frog’s eyes frowned at identifying Rachel Goswell’s, whose voice never really convinced its hard-to-please ears (until today). bloody hell, is this Slowdive? on the british shoegazing riviera, this shoegaze legendary band never really appealed to us as much as My Bloody Valentine, but with this unexpected comeback 22 years later, we were more than enthusiast at discovering this really enchanting new album soberly entitled Slowdive. the opening title Slomo sets the tone immediately, with the thick bed of guitars specific to shoegaze and an aerial, dreamy singing, which elevates with magnificence. alone the delicate looping piano notes, and the unison between Goswell and Halstead on Falling Ashing is a pure bliss. spleen, tenderness and goose-pimples are at their most with the aforementioned songs, and No Longer Making Time, the jewel of the crown, illustrates the renaissance of terrific high arpeggiated guitars. what a revival splendour.
dreamlike gazing: Star Roving + No Longer Making Time
— Run The Jewels, RTJ3
at the very beginning of 2017, El-P and Killer Mike aka Run The Jewels dropped a genuine bomb – a defiant reckoning, a riot manifesto, another invitation to resist against the oppression and regain the powers (Hey Kids feat. Danny Brown or Don’t get Captured). since RTJ1, their first album (2013), Run The Jewels have been addressing a powerful message to surrender, but this new record is by far the most (vindictively) fiery-tempered, and maybe also the best produced record. the production is in turns coldly dispassionate (Call Ticketron, Legend Has It Is), incredibly generous (Thursday In The Danger Room, feat. Kamasi Washington or the amazing A Report To The Shareholders: Kill Your Masters feat. Zach de la Rocha) and warmly beastie rocky (2100, Oh Mama), and it emphasizes with éclat the lyrics spouted in a round. on RTJ3, the band rejoined again the forces with BOOTS (2100) who already illuminated RTJ2 with his soothing soft voice that contrasts happily with the belligerent rapping flow. oh well, it may be easy to define this golden nugget as another jewel from RTJ, but this is another essential, meaningful album of the year.
killing: Call Ticketron + 2100
— Autism, Film Noir
concocted by a young-blood band called Autism, our favourite post-rock/post-metal album of the year comes from lithuania. Film Noir draws its melancholic/tempestuous inspiration from films (noirs), which dialogues accompany the band occasionally to unveil a clear necessity to rampage. Autism’s second album is a collection of brilliantly produced instrumental songs that explores contrasting emotional states, ranging from ominous pessimist temper to spleenful reflection. even if the band’s ill-tempered guitars may sometimes attempt to sooth the most profound despair, these guitars, precisely, tempt more to expel a fury de rigueur than indulging in melancholy. originally a one-man-band studio project headed by Tomhetas Hobitukas, the today four-headed line-up has a very bright future ahead, and it was not easy to classify Film Noir in our yearly review: best new comer, best album or best artwork (the LP includes superb pictures and a layout supervised by Eric Sageby). Autism is evidently one of our very favourite albums of the year.
mind-blowing: Humanity – Crescendo + Brittle Bones
— Mogwai, Every Country’s Sun
to the grumpy fellas who criticize the glasgow post-rock kings for their would-be repeating tunes, Mogwai gave in 2017 a substantial evidence of their knack for biting rock melodies – with a brilliant ninth studio album. alone the opening song Coolverine is a mordant introduction to one of the greatest records of the band. Martin Bulloch’s prevailing, amazing drums seem to be the guiding force as the album unfurls, alternating between musing landscapes and blisteringly rock parts. surprisingly, Mogwai also try their hands at shoegazing pop melodies with Party In The Dark – a genuine hit song. if Every Country’s Sun doesn’t turn away from the spacey atmosphere provided widely over the past years thanks to Barry Burns’ keyboards (through Les Revenants‘s soundtrack, among others), guitars are joyfully back in force (Battled At A Scramble, Don’t Believe The Fife, along with the eponym final title). this is probably the most unexpected album of the year – and a grandiose one.
monumental: Old Poisons + Every Country’s Sun
— Fleet Foxes, Crack-Up
considering the pretty brutal songs which helped us to withstand and refuse to accept the society that is coming apart at the seams, we were a little shaken up to be stirred immediately by Fleet Foxes’ complex yet magnificent third album. most specifically by the devastating emotional six-minute opening, which title is an enigmatic incantation and resembles no other song written by Fleet Foxes to date. as Robin Pecknold’s muffled voice whispers I am all I need, and I’ll be, till I’m through, never before were his lyrics that movingly inward-looking, even if this emotion is swiftly contained as the guitars and the established, beloved, choral singing follows close behind. yet, the song reserves graceful surprises, delightful cracks up, when Pecknold’s voice interrupts the untroubled hymn flow to state a message admittedly personal but needful, a message that is also perceivable in the superb Cassius,- or –Naiads, Cassadies. deeply beautiful and very poignant at times (irresistible If You Need To, Keep Time On Me and the breathtaking closing Crack-Up), luminous and pastoral (Mearcstapa, Kept Woman), Fleet Foxes show once again their virtuosity.
amazingly inspiring: I Am All That I Need / Arroyo Seco / Thumbprint Scar
— GrandBrothers, Open
the years have taught us to wait until the very end of december before wrapping up our best-of, because there is always an unexpected (fantastic) record that turns the whole ranking upside down. and this year, it took GrandBrothers only one song (Bloodlfow) to pick us up. it may be too easy to draw a parallel between GrandBrothers and the numerous piano projects that come from the pond (Hauschka or Nils Frahm, to mention just a few of them). however, the music of Lucas Voget (electronics) and Erol Sarp (piano) intertwines with perfection the notes of a prepared piano and captivating electronic loops. second album of the band, Open is an enlightening and happy-go-lucky album. Sarp and Voget are delicate magicians who know how to captivate the audience, oscillating between medidative melodies and downtempo constructions. fanciful, wholehearted but also surprisingly innovative, Open is a magnificent, paramount record.
mind-blowing: Sonic Riots + Bloodflow
— Do Make Say Think, Stubborn Persistent Illusions
any releases by Do Make Say Think (DMST) is an event en-soi. pretty skilled at making themselves scarce, the band is not a talkative one, nor a band who organises worldwide tours to promote their outstanding music – the perfect synthesis between post-rock, electronic, jazz and many other things. however, seeing Do Make Say Think in concert or discovering a new album is always comparable to a sacred or, at least, unforgettable experience. eight (everlasting) years separate Stubborn Persistent Illusions from Other Truths, their impeccable previous album which gave us a raging fever that is still manifest today. Stubborn Persistent Illusions preserves the role played by the band’s singular flair and aesthetic without never parroting itself. it is at once as beautifully familiar and uncommon (Horripilation) as anything DMST has produced to date. this new record offers no revolution, but a bucolic, shaking interlude of sixty minutes of artistry and blissfulness. another sensational album from one of our favourite bands.
outstanding: Bound / And Boundless
among the best songs
the most thrilling songs of the year were compiled with great care and passion in nothing more, our sampler of the year that also includes amazing songs by the none-less amazing Sleaford Mods, Amenra, Oneohtrix Point Never, Broken Social Scene and The National. remember that a simple click on any of the aforementioned bands/musicians will redirect you to their bandcamp page or website, where their music may be streamed freely. as usual, we dearly encourage you to purchase the songs and albums that you enjoyed the most to support the bands’ stunning work.
Avec Le Soleil Sortant De Sa Bouche @ Monarch, february 2017
Nyos @ Überraschung, april 2017
Arab Strap @ POP-Kultur Festival, august 2017
James Wellburn + Moe + Dead @ Acud, october 2017
Algiers + HOPE @ Lido, november 2017
the killing surprise of the year
as we attended feverishly Nothing’s concert in late august at Cassiopeia, two belgian bands opened this fantastic evening: the contagiously overjoyed Cocaine Piss and the enjoyably noisy Kapitan Korsakov that captivated us at once. the band released this year a very handsome third album (produced by Steve Albini) entitled Physical Violence Is The Least Of My Priorities, which we warmly recommend. headed by Pieter-Paul Devos (voice and guitar), the band also includes Pieter Van Mullem (bass) and Bert Minnaert (drums), and the three of them compose both serious noisy bombs and very seductive melodies.
when opening for Algiers in late november, HOPE spellbound the audience with their intense musical performance, which dragged us towards the bottom of the deepest whirring waters. HOPE’s music was a perfect introduction to Algier’s and disseminated a thunderous and pleasantly disquieting atmosphere. the band’s lyrics are written and performed as a proclamation by Christine Börsch-Supan, whose feverish and athletic gestures first amused us smirkily before we finally succumbed to her voice, at the very moment when howling guitars and a mesmerising synthesizer invited us to close our eyes. soberly entitled HOPE, the band’s first album is as shadowy as bewitching – a certain kind of paragon.
best album artwork
the deluxe double vinyl edition of DMST’s Stubborn Persistent Illusions features 2×180 gram audiophile pressing from Optimal (germany) in a gatefold jacket with printed inner dust sleeves, 12″x12″ art/credit insert, 12″x24″ art print poster and side four vinyl etching, all printed on uncoated boards and papers. the record featured original commissioned artwork by Marianne Collins. the CD edition featured hereafter comes in a custom mini-gatefold jacket printed on 100% recycled textured paperboard with a printed inner dust sleeve and 5″x15″ fold-out credit insert.
the cherry on the cake
in 2017, Festsaal Kreuzberg, one of the frog’s favourite gig venues rose from the ashes, after being nullified by a destructive inferno in 2013. the old charming wooden venue is now a gorgeous industrial concert hall, including a fireplace, where we saw GY!BE in november. the word HOPE, which appeared behind Godspeed as the band opened the show was of great significance. a possible well-hearted invitation to carry on.