Happy new year, dear readers! I’m a little late with my annual best albums post seeing as it’s already 2018 but that’s ok. When you have a toddler, things don’t always get done on schedule! Anyway, 2017 was a great year for rock music, my favorite genre, but you might be surprised to find which album made my choice for best album of the year. So without further ado, here are my picks for the best albums of 2017.
11. Madness by All That Remains: As some of you may know, I’m a huge fan of Phil Labonte, the lead singer of ATR. He’s an outspoken Libertarian which is not something you find too often in the rock world (or in the music/celebrity world in general actually). You can hear some of his political views in this album including in the title song Madness (those themes are more apparent if you watch the music video). Actually you can see a hint of political themes just by looking at the picture on the album! Other highlights on this disc include the band’s unexpected cover of Garth Brooks’s classic The Thunder Rolls & If I’m Honest.
10. From the Fires by Greta Van Fleet: I just discovered this band a few weeks ago after getting curious about them since I kept seeing their name on lists of best albums/songs of the year. It turns out these guys range from just 18-21 years old but their music sounds like something from the 70s- in a good way! I was truly shocked after listening to their music to find out how young they are. Lead singer Josh Kiszka has an amazing voice & the band is rounded out by his twin brother on guitar, their other brother on bass, & a friend on drums. Safari Song is the first song I heard by the band & it immediately captured my attention, as I think it will yours too. Also check out Highway Tune.
9. Heaven Upside Down by Marilyn Manson: With this album Manson has fused the industrial sound of his older albums with the more bluesy sound of his 2015 album The Pale Emperor, which makes for a truly unique sound. My favorites include Say10, Tattooed in Reverse, & title track Heaven Upside Down.
8. Graveyard Shift by Motionless in White: I’m such a huge fan of MIW’s 2014 album Reincarnate that I’m not sure they’ll ever top that one for me. But this album is still a great one. There a few tracks where I feel the lyrics are a bit wanting but the other tracks are so well written that they make up for it. Don’t miss the haunting but gorgeous Eternally Yours, the music video for which features lead singer Chris Motionless’s gorgeous girlfriend, & 570, an ode to the band’s decade of hard work which gives homage to their hometown of Scranton, PA (570 is the area code there). With lyrics like “And when I’m facing a wall, I do not quit/Cause if you mean it, you will make it” the latter is an excellent song for the gym or any time you need a little encouragement to keep working toward your goals. Other highlights include Queen for Queen & Hourglass.
7. Crooked Teeth by Papa Roach: This is actually the first Papa Roach album I’ve ever owned & I find myself spinning it again & again. I was inspired to buy it when I saw several of my favorite rock stars including Chris Kael, the bassist from FFDP, posting about how great it was on Instagram. From title track Crooked Teeth to None of the Above to American Dreams this album is one great song after another. A surprising ballad that you absolutely must not miss is Periscope featuring pop singer Skylar Grey.
6. Hydrograd by Stone Sour: As I discussed with MIW, Stone Sour’s previous album (the double album House of Gold & Bones from 2012-2013) is one of my all time favorite albums so I’m not sure if it’s even possible for the band to ever top that one for me. However, their most recent effort, which won Hard Rock Album of the Year at the Loudwire Music Awards, is epic nonetheless. My favorite track also happens to be the heaviest track on the record Taipei Person/Allah Tea. Other great tracks include singles Fabuless & Song #3, the former of which attacks the shallow nature of fame & the latter of which is a love song which is intended to fuse both the sappy & lusty natures of love, thus making it the third option for love songs, hence the title. Also don’t miss Knieval Has Landed.
5. Asking Alexandria by Asking Alexandria: I have a whole blog post dedicated to AA’s previous album The Black, that’s how much I love it. I actually wasn’t familiar with the band until that album so I was quite disappointed when I found out that Ukranian singer Denis Stoff was leaving the band. To be perfectly honest, when original singer Danny Worsnop rejoined the band I was afraid they would go back to songs about nothing more than drinking & sex. However, once I heard a few songs from this disc, I realized that it is without a doubt the band’s best work to date. Lyrically & musically the band has truly matured & found their groove, as evidenced by lead single Into the Fire which will quickly get stuck in your head. My other favorite tracks include Hopelessly Hopeful, Alone in a Room, Rise Up, & the surprising acoustic piece Vultures which was recorded in just one take in the studio. Check out this excellent article about the stories behind each song on the album.
4. The Stories We Tell Ourselves by Nothing More: The Grammys actually got something right this year when they nominated this disc for multiple awards. Nothing More’s previous album was amazing but this one is equally awesome. Once again the band finds a way to combine catchy melodies with phenomenal lyrics. Check out Do You Really Want It? & Go to War for great examples of the heavier songs on the album. However, my absolute favorite tracks on the album are two ballads, Still in Love & Just Say When, which were both clearly inspired by lead singer Jonny Hawkins’s divorce. Both songs are heartbreaking but beautiful. I could listen to a whole album of just ballads like these two.
3. The Sin & the Sentence by Trivium Trivium have been releasing albums & touring the world since they were barely of legal age, but they have truly outdone themselves with their most recent album. As soon as I heard the title song I knew this was going to be a phenomenal album. Check out this article for an excellent look at the inspiration behind the songs from lead singer Matt Heafy & bassist Paolo Gregoletto. There isn’t a single bad song on this album so it’s hard to choose favorites but be sure not to miss heavy-hitter The Wretchedness Inside as well as the more radio friendly The Heart From Your Hate & Endless Night.
2. Ritual by In This Moment: I fell in love with ITM after 2012’s Blood but it seems like every disc the band releases just gets better & better. This year’s effort shows off a more bluesy side of Maria Brink which is best showcased on lead single Oh Lord. My absolute favorite track from this album is Black Wedding featuring Rob Halford from Judas Priest. It’s one of those songs I fell in love with the first time I heard it, & I think you will too. Other favorites of of mine include Joan of Arc & Half God Half Devil.
1. Slowheart by Kip Moore: After 10 rock/metal albums, you probably weren’t expecting a country album to make my choice for best album of the year, but Kip Moore’s third album is just that good. Besides which, he is often noted for having rock elements in his music. Anyway, there is no doubt that I’ve listened to Slowheart more than any other album this year. I fell in love with Kip’s music after his previous album Wild Ones when I realized what a great songwriter he is. But this album is even more amazing. If you really want an inside look at the stories behind the thirteen amazing songs on this album, check out this documentary about the making of the album. My absolute favorite on this disc is album closer Guitar Man. It reminds me of Billy Joel’s classic Piano Man (one of my all time favorite songs) as it is an ode to the power of music. Listen to it & fall in love. Other stand-out tracks (there are so many, it’s hard to choose!) include Last Shot, Plead the Fifth, I’ve Been Around, & Bittersweet Company. Slowheart is one of those albums that makes me want to listen to it all over again the moment it ends. It’s so obvious that Kip put his heart & soul into writing these songs which is what really separates him from most modern country singers. And that is what makes Slowheart my choice for 2017 album of the year.
As I always do with these posts, I’m going to conclude this with my choices for most anticipated albums for this year.
Most anticipated albums for 2018
- Vale by Black Veil Brides (just 10 more days- out Jan 12!!)
- Pop Evil by Pop Evil (Feb 16)
- Godsmack’s as yet untitled seventh album
- Black Stone Cherry’s as yet untitled seventh album
- Halestorm’s as yet untitled fourth album