So Indie rock is a category I am throwing anything too aloof to be rock and not loud enough to be punk. So this is where some of the post-punk that is not exceptionally dark is going, along with shoe-gaze. Music is going in a weird place and circling the 90s without admitting their is a 90 retro thing going on cus they want to be too cool for Gen X. It was a weird year for indie rock, and one key thing to note is there had to be band to rock it, many blogs like Noisy threw all kinds of other things into their indie rock lists, like hip hop or electronica. I say fuck that there has to be some sort of band dynamic going on. Like many of these lists I am finding that the veterans are beating out their younger competition. To help ease the debate, despite the fact you can't argue about what I listened to the most since I have the numbers on it, I also added why each album beat the one ranked lower than it.
10- Cloakroom- Time
Well Even with the burly guitar tone there is no denying that the opener of Cloakroom's new album is shoe-gaze. The drumming is very tasteful and the guitar tone shifts with fluid grace. I guess it could be grunge tinged at times if we are calling early Smashing Pumpkins grunge. The vocals sound like they are very depressed stoned and falling asleep. But that works for the mood they have created.
While I like these guys, I think before you are quick to throw the post-punk label on them and start comparing them to The Smiths or Joy Division, know that they have much more in common with Silversun Pickups. The cooed androgynous yawn of the vocals begin to start sounding the same come the second song. This also reminds me of many of the post Pumpkins bands that came out of Britain in the late 90s - early 00s. They some times pack a little more of a metallic punch. Word on the street is these guys used to be a hard core band. They stay in the middle of the road shoe-gaze inspired flavor of alternative rock .
Why they beat out Cloakroom ? ...more interesting and infectious guitar work.
8-Cherry Glazerr- "Apocalypstick"
Here is a wacky indie rock band that works best off best clever, though they can build into a more punk infused punch on the opener "Told You I'd Be With the Guys".Overall this album is sonic and compelling indie rock that's familiar in some ways , but they are very much their own person. Why they beat out Hundredth ? There was a wide margin between 8 and 9, truth be told "Told You I'd Be With the Guys" could have beat out Hundredth's entire album by itself.
7- Bully- "Losing"
Found the first song off this album during my research for the top 50 songs of the year list Treblezine was doing. The second song is noisy and not as hooky as the first song, but over all they cruise along the kind of detached indie rock that bands like Sebadoh made popular in the 90s. More organic and less focused on the atmosphere created by bands like Sonic Youth. The guitar parts are more interesting and melodic than punk.
Mackenzie Scott's third album finds her going in a more experimental direction. Not in terms of arrangements in song structure or instrumentation used , but how she forms her melodies against the web of electronics woven beneath her voice. It takes a minute for song to click with me. There is an angular and almost atonal aspect that keeps you on guard. The further you get into the song it becomes apparent this album is going to be much more layered and nuance than her last, "Skim" even rattles my ear bud. It bumps in a more restrained manner than say a new Taylor Swift song. Guitar is used in a manner that has more common with St. Vincent.
Why it beat out Bully? ...a more unique sound and marginally darker.
5- Gold -"Optimist"
This Dutch band is back, this time with more introspection to their gloom.They kick the shadow fest off with "You Too Must Die" which carries more of a Chelsea Wolfe flavored drone than what I remember these guys having.The emphasis is more on rock than indie as it has balls and is not just space jangle.
Why it beat out Torres- see above "more balls less space jangle"
4- Morrissey - "Low In High school"
I am sure it's surprising that Moz did not rank higher. This album has grown on me. He doesn't give a shit and makes the music he feels like now. Sometimes this free reign allows him to take too many chances and experiment to the point of certain things being weird for him. But this is Morrissey and he still has his song writing chops even if his voice is not in it's prime.
Why he beat out Gold...this is Morrissey we are talking about.
3- Nadine Shah- "Holiday Destination"
Well it's clear writing for a few different blogs makes me not always remember who I reviewed for what as it was not until right now that I realized I had not covered this one for Abysmal Hymns ( in case you forgot what site you are on as well). This album is not as dark as the previous , but finds her covering a wider range of sound. This is perhaps a little more of a rock album as the guitar goes more places. Why she beat out Morrissey...This album came out before "Low In High School" which factored into why I listened to it more, but it is also the case of two artists at different places in their career and Nadine has a clearer vision of what she set out to do here.
2 -Minus the Bear- "Voids"
Glad to have these guys back in fine form as I felt with "Planet of Ice" that the song writing was not as focused as the first album. Things have changed and there is a better balance. The opening song sets the tone for the rest of the albums with one of the albums most lyrically powerfully songs while retaining their normal cool, calm and collected detachment. It's a apathetic take on a break up song and most of the other songs fall in line as being hard looks at the human condition with a upbeat and sometimes electronically tinged backdrop.
Why it beat out Nadine Shah? More upbeat and catchy while giving me lyrics that smoothed over the sting of 2017.
1- Ride- "Weather Diaries "
Robert Smith once refused to play a festival unless this band was added to the bill, so that has to factor into why they took the number one spot. I mean lets face it they are one of the forefathers of shoe gaze, they proved to be more versatile than other bands in the genre.The guitar tones on this album are incredible. The breathy vocals you are used to hearing on shoe gaze albums, come in but stronger than some of the breathy moans as they are able to harmonize and ride the groove with confidence. While it might seem patronizing for them to take the number one spot, they did earn more repeat listens to they put themselves here and why they beat out everyone else.