We here at CinemAbysmal value art of all kinds, so it felt right to have our members produce a Best of Music list. While we were only able to coax three of them to produce lists, there’s enough here to keep your Spotify busy for an entire weekend – oh yeah, there’s also links at the end of each list to our members’ Best Of 2017 playlists. Party on!
Eric Scot Lemons (Ed Wood Jesus Do? co-host, CinemAbysmal: The Podcast co-host, CinemAbysmal Managing Editor)
10. Twin Peaks: The Return Soundtrack
Jam packed with bands like The Chromatics, The Chromatics, and the Nine Inch Nails, David Lynch reaffirms himself as the mixtape messiah. Kick sand, QT. Boasting lyrics and sounds that highlight the dark brooding nature of the series, this album is an essential for anyone still combing over the fragments of TP:TR.
Favorite Track: Wild West (Roadhouse Mix) by Lissie
9. Fever Ray – Plunge
There perhaps isn’t a better artist than Karin Dreijer when it comes to conveying such an esoteric mood as eloquently as possible. This follow-up to The Knife vocalist’s 2009 Self-Titled album brings forth the same raw energy, poetic hypnotism, and kickass beats, with a refreshed element of clean and seductive wrath.
Favorite Track: To the Moon and Back
8. Fleet Foxes – Crack-Up
This year’s nomination for best slow fuck album. Just lay out on a bear skin rug with a crackling fire roaring, and let your lover see your soul. With a meandering sound, Fleet Foxes return with a sonic depth to accompany Robin Pecknold’s autumnal voice. Its looser song structure lends itself to vinyl play, feeling almost ambient yet folktastically proggy.
Favorite Track: Third of May / Odaigahara
7. Open Mike Eagle – Brick Body Kids Still Daydream
Mike Eagle is an indie underground hip-hop poet avant gardist comedian. BBKSD is a glorious mix of spoken-word-esque flow and vocal backings that simultaneously feel timeless and fresh. There is no other album this year that enveloped me so thoroughly in its perspective.
Favorite Track: Hymnal (Featuring Sammus)
6. IDLES – Brutalism
IDLES was my surprise new favorite band for much of 2017. The album is dirty and angry, and the vocals sound so raspy and untethered to anything but rage. Vocalist Joe Talbot sounds like some mad man plucked from ranting on the street corner to front the band. And while there is a certain stream-of-consciousness outsider art element to the vocals, the music production is so fucking tight that the whole production makes you want to roll in the mud and punch your dad.
Favorite Track: 1049 Gotho
5. Future Islands – The Far Field
Truth be told, this is easily the album to which I listened the most in 2017. While not venturing too far stylistically from 2014’s Singles, TFF captures so much more angst and longing to go along with the band’s pop rock sensibilities. It is fun and dancy, and layered with enough melancholia to enrapture a reformed emo fan like me.
Favorite Track: Ran
4. Perfume Genius – No Shape
For years, Perfume Genius has sort of just existed in my periphery, and I never really attached myself to Mike Hadreas’ music. No Shape changed everything. Rife with a resolute bombasity, Perfume Genius brings the big guns with introspective power ballads and a heightened beauty in the production of this album. This is one I could see being my favorite album of 2017 ten years from now.
Favorite Track: Wreath
3. Brand New – Science Fiction
I have been a Brand New fan since I was in high school and singing Jude Law and the Summer Abroad in my head, as I looked over to the girl I had a crush on with her boyfriend. I am now 33 and happily married, but the lachrymose drenched lyrics of Brand New still hits me right in the sweet spot. Science Fiction is a subtle exploration in intentions versus actions, and the disillusionment that your thirties bring.
Favorite Track: Can’t Get It Out
2. Blanck Mass – World Eater
For much of 2017, I was resigned to the fact that World Eater was one of the greatest things I have ever heard. It is dark, dirty, and complex. It is an industrial EDM album from one half of EDM kingpins, Fuck Buttons, Benjamin John Power. It is an album I know inside and out thoroughly, and I find it consistently revelatory and refreshing. Put on some fucking headphones, light up the rankest of indicas, and see whatever deity presents itself in the meantime.
Favorite Track: Rhesus Negative
1. Mister Heavenly, Boxing the Moonlight
Full disclosure: For years, I have been a raging Nick Thorburn fan. From The Unicorns to the Serial theme, I just dig his style. That being said, I kinda shrugged of the release of the latest album by Mister Heavenly, one of Thorburn’s many side bands. The second album from the band, Boxing the Moonlight is just one of those albums in which every fucking song is a winner. Whether it be a meditation on physical stimuli versus internal living, or finding excuses not to dance, BtM is a vastly underrated indie pop album from indie pop all-stars. It is fun, light, and heavy all at the same time.
Favorite Track: Beat Down
Eric’s Best of 2017 Spotify Playlist: Eric didn’t make one, so here’s a link to his entire Spotify. He’d probably want you to pore over everything he’s listening to anyway… https://open.spotify.com/user/ericsubpar?si=Ed2KW3yCSySToZcW8_-Mfg
Ian Miles (Ed Wood Jesus Do? co-host, CinemAbysmal: The Podcast guest)
10. Slothrust – Everyone Else
The only reason this album is at the bottom of the list is because it actually was released at the end of 2016, but I didn’t hear it until this year and I have spent so many hours listening to this on repeat, that can’t let it slip out of my top albums of the year.
Favorite Track: Horseshoe Crab might be my favorite song of the year.
9. Full of Hell – Trumpeting Ecstasy
I’ve been pretty into Full of Hell for a while, but they truly outdid themselves with this album. If this were a book, you could open it to any random page and point to any passage, and you would always find the perfect aural description of anger. This album is blindingly pissed.
Favorite Track: My favorite track is Crawling Back to God.
8. Feral Anthem – Empire & Plain
If young Bruce Springsteen was imbued with the spirit of later-in-life Joe Strummer, you not only would come up with the sagest and most handsome songwriting mixture of all time, but you would also come up short in finding a good comparison for Feral Anthem. Just as not only is Jeremy Rouse a friend of mine, his music is colorful, inspiring, warm and undeniably American.
Favorite Track: White Swan Church is the goddamn jam!!!
7. Uniform – Wake in Fright
Deathwave? The child of Alien Sex Fiend and Dark Throne? Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails and Throbbing Gristle in a blender? I don’t know what to say about this album! It’s not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure. It’s dancy and industrial, but produced like a middle finger to your ears.
Favorite Track: My favorite tracks are Habit and The Lost.
6. Fever Ray – Plunge
My love affair with Karin Dreijer-Andersson is no secret! It was impossible for me to not put this on my top ten as I have a portrait of her tattooed on my arm. Fever Ray’s self-titled album was a game changer in my life. I began to hear music differently after its release, and I want to put this album higher on the list, but I have to admit that isn’t my favorite KDA release. Don’t get me wrong, I love it but it feels like leftovers from the last The Knife release. It seems to me rather impersonal, which drives the wedge between myself and this one, but I also know that this isn’t an album for me. I’m a heterosexual white male, and the primary function feels to be an act of sexual liberation for anyone marginalized by the members of my particular gender and station. I can appreciate and support it until I’m blue in the face, but like I said, this album was not made with regard for me. It does have some bangers, though!!!!
Favorite Track: Falling is sexy and empowering, and This Country is an anthem and a half!
5. King Krule – The Ooz
This jazzy, no-wave opiate of an album recalls Portishead and Suicide. Really interesting sonically and lyrically. It feels like a memory from a blacked-out pub crawl, but you can’t figure where or what part of the night it took place.
Favorite Track: I kind of like all the songs on the record equally but special mention should go to Biscuit Town and The Locomotive.
4. Alex Cameron – Forced Witness
This is the sophomore release from Australia’s king of sleaze. When I first heard this album, I was so put off by its shiny pop production but just like his first album, Jumping the Shark, his poignant lyrics began to paint undeniable portraits of such dirtbags and windows into despair, that I couldn’t help but invest more and more. Alex’s characters and tales are so dirty and charming, you can’t help but feel something for them.
Favorite Track: Choice gems are True Lies, Stranger’s Kiss, and Country Figs.
3. King Woman – Created in the Image of Suffering
This was one of those big game changing albums for me. I know there are other folksy metallic gothic Americana out there, but I think King Woman has really defined this doom folk for me. This whole album exists on this untouchable plain where sadness and crushing power meet Kristina Esfandiari’s vocals. Ethereal and iconoclastic at times, she is a howling crone and at other times, she’s a child-like angel frosting the cold and beautiful landscapes of guitar and drums and space.
Favorite Track: Hierophant is my favorite.
2. White Wine – Killer Brilliance
Another musical hero of mine, Joe Haege. I’ve been following this guy’s music for years through 31Knots and Menomena, but I think he’s more than found his ultimate form with White Wine, a project it seems that has gone from an experimental bedroom project with samplers and acoustic guitars, to a full-grown-force of a band of whose grooves are dark, and laden with worldly insight. This album is full of personal philosophies in regards to our technological and human climate, and wild mid-tempo aural textures that are frenetic, nervous, and jam-packed with vaudevillian drama. The sounds are reminiscent of the post-modern masterpieces of the Akira and Blade Runner soundtracks; there are live drums, woodwinds and brutalist synthesizers, as well as orchestral samples. As a whole, the album is scary but approachable like a handsome cyborg in a dark alley?
Favorite Track: Don’t skip a track.
1. Corbin – Mourn
Originally 14 year-old Corbin Smidzik released music under the name Spooky Black, which I lumped into a group with artists like Yung Lean and other sad boi shit-hop, and I’ll admit that when this new album started appearing on different Spotify radio stations, I found myself immediately skipping the songs as soon as they came on. Then I heard Revenge Song and was floored. I decided to give this album a not so passive listen and I’m so glad I did. This kid has got some soul! The music is fantastically simple, lo-fi and tasteful, and the vocals are not just your run of the mill R&B or Vaporwave – meandering but candid, full-throated, and earnest.
Favorite Track: Prime cuts are All Out, Ice Boy, Mourn, No Title, Give Up, Hunker Down… all of them! Every song on this album is a banger!!!!!
Ian’s Best of 2017 Spotify Playlist: https://open.spotify.com/user/seriouslyian/playlist/2MrmurqWk7uctzIPMgeidq?si=w4ZBzChWSXa1_aT3MlyDxQ
Nick Spanjer (CinemAbysmal Editor, Ed Wood Jesus Do? co-host, CinemAbysmal: The Podcast co-host)
I’m a huge metalhead, and normally I need to supplement my year-end list with non-metal releases. Not this year. Brutalists’ brims have boiled over with incredible releases in 2017 and I’ve never had a more difficult time putting together a top ten. I had over 20 albums ready to go as potential contenders, so here’s my agonizingly difficult top ten in metal for 2017.
Just Missed the Cut:
- All Pigs Must Die – Hostage Animal
- Black Anvil – As Was
- Nova Collective – The Further Side
10. The Faceless – In Becoming a Ghost
I’ve been a fan of these guys since their beginning. Their evolution is crazy, and the leader and only consistent member, Michael Keene, is a bit of a self-obsessed douchebag, but he lets it all out on this new one. The time signatures are insane, when it’s heavy, it’s really heavy, and there are some ridiculously pretty jams on here. Check it out.
Favorite Track: Cup of Mephistopholes
9. Woe – Hope Attrition
If you want some Trump-era anger, crush your speakers with this one. It’s a black metal-soaked aggrofest that is turned up to 11 from beginning to end. Only one album felt angrier this year, but it’s like comparing Bill O’Reilly screaming We’ll Do It Live! to Bobby Knight throwing a chair at referees. Smash everything in sight with this one blaring. Then start it over when it ends.
Favorite Track: Drown Us with Greatness
8. Rings of Saturn – Ultu Ulla
What hasn’t been said about these guys? Since their mind-blowing debut back in 2011, I haven’t really seen a band catch more shit from purist elitists. I don’t care, though. This album slays. From beginning to end, it’s brain-bending banger after banger with enough otherworldly technicality to make Stephen Hawking jump out of his chair and start a circle pit. Even if you’ve written these guys off, check this album out. It’s so damn good.
Favorite Track: The Macrocosm
7. Full of Hell – Trumpeting Ecstasy
Remember above when I said one album was angrier this year? This is it. 11 tracks clock in at a mere 23 minutes, but it’s some of the most furious music I’ve ever heard in my life. It’s cool to see Ian felt the same way about this one, and it’s turning up on most year-end metal lists I’ve seen. Well deserved. This is grind at its best.
Favorite Track: The Cosmic Vein
6. The Great Old Ones – EOD: A Tale of Dark Legacy
Anyone that knows me well will tell you how much I love H.P. Lovecraft’s writing. It’s dark, unforgiving, but unthinkably beautiful. This is what The Great Old Ones have given us with their new one. Epic would be the right word to use to describe this album, but it’s deserving of a much more grandiose adjective that probably hasn’t been invented yet. Every song feels like it’s caught on a storm-soaked beachfront being attacked by some indescribable, towering monster from another dimension. This is a deathy black metal masterpiece that will surely gain more loving attention with each passing year.
Favorite Track: The Shadow Over Innsmouth
5. Entheos – Dark Future
There are not many frontmen that have a more commanding presence over songs than Chaney Crabb. Which is confounding, since she fronts a band that includes ex-members of Animosity, Animals as Leaders, and The Faceless. Holy hell, is this lineup amazing. The time signatures are incredibly challenging, almost taunting jazz musicians, and each song feels more intense and melts your brain more than the last. I’m excited to see where this band goes in the future, but for now, we may have to view this band as the future. Also, Chaney Crabb rules. I hope this gets more kick-ass women to partake in extreme music.
Favorite Track: Inverted Earth (I)
4. Inanimate Existence – Underneath a Melting Sky
Now begins the part where my brain turned to mush and poured out of my ears trying to figure out the top spot of the year. Honestly, it could have been any of these next four. We’ll start with this one. WOW comes to mind with Underneath a Melting Sky. I’ve really enjoyed Inanimate Existence for a few years, but thought their last album was a bit of a misstep, with some clean vocal sections in areas that just didn’t feel right. But this one. Oh man, is this a cool album. Not since Fallujah have I heard a band blend technicality and all-out beauty so well. They were just kicked off the tour with The Faceless, so I might catch some flak for including both one the same list, but who gives a shit? This is an incredibly well-done record, and I catch something new from it every time I listen.
Favorite Track: Old Man In the Meadow
3. Power Trip – Nightmare Logic
I’ve seen this one on almost every year-end list, and it’s more than well-deserved. I’m not really much of a thrash guy, and usually need some real extremity out of the frontman if I’m going to dig it, ala Black Fast or Skeletonwitch. Well, here it is. The perfect blend of thrash brutality and hardcore energy. I’ve heard their shows are a blast, and this becomes extremely evident with every single track on Nightmare Logic. Whether you’re looking for a fist-pumping chorus or a Repo Man-era solo, this album has enough raw energy and fun packed into it to turn your grandma’s backyard into a scene at the end of a Motley Crue video. This one has endless replayability. Party on.
Favorite Track: Nightmare Logic
2. The Black Dahlia Murder – Nightbringers
No surprise here. Being a ‘Blast Fiend,’ TBDM shows up on my annual list every other year like clockwork, and this one may be at the top of their eight release catalog for me. They have been my favorite band since their initial full length back in 2003, and almost fifteen years later, that has not changed a bit. Singer Trevor Strnad has never written more extreme lyrics, and may be becoming one of America’s best horror writers in any format. I love new member Brandon Ellis’ lead guitar work, his 80’s squeals working extremely well with the mind-numbingly fast riffing all over Nightbringers. This might be the best lineup the Detroit fiends have ever had, and if this next album on my list had not come out this year, it probably would have been my number one with a silver bullet.
Favorite Track: Of God and Serpent, Of Spectre and Snake
1. Archspire – Relentless Mutation
There is so much to say about this album. I really have liked Archspire for a while, digging deep into what Spotify has to offer in the Technical Death Metal arena. They show up often on playlists and similar artists’ radios, but this release really puts them in a class all their own. The riffing and drumwork is almost robotic, making you wonder how human beings are even capable of producing the sounds and speeds that are coming through your speakers or headphones. Oliver Rae Aleron’s vocals are unimaginably spit out at speeds that are beyond human comprehension, making rappers like Twista look silly (Aleron also recently started a GoFundMe to get The Faceless singer/guitarist Michael Keene singing lessons, in response to kicking Inanimate Existence off their tour – which I find hilarious). Really though, nothing beats this album this year, and may even be the historical crowning achievement for the world of Technical Death Metal. If you spend 30 minutes listening to any metal album this year, make it this one.
Favorite Track: A Dark Horizontal
Nick’s Best of 2017 Playlist: https://open.spotify.com/user/1213386057/playlist/6b7WwpsBMxaxnhdyxrSrzB?si=-P0-pqNTRsGKFX1FWsv4FQ