Top Five of 2017 and for more music The GTC listened to in 2017, check out our archives.
by Walter Price
Perhaps 2017 it was that kind of year that most of my Top Five releases have a rootsy vibe. Although I truly loved a dozen or more stellar darkwave, pop, dance and rock albums this past year, it was the country, folk, and singer-songwriters that struck a chord with me and, according to my various music platforms, the genres most played.
On behalf of all The GTC contributors and the world as a whole, I would like to sincerely thank all the artists out there still making true to the soul music. Making music in an era when the music business continues to evolve into confusing landscapes. Making money in music has always been difficult, and it is even harder these days. And for musicians and songwriters to push forward and release music, the world owes you all a debt of gratitude.
Here are my Top Five releases of 2017.
FIVE: Billy Momo – ‘Umbrellas, Wings And Magic Things’ EP
Sweden’s Billy Momo are a GTC fave and for a multitude of reasons. A word I most often associate with the music I dig is honesty. And Billy Momo is that word and beyond with there roots and folk-based pop. And this year’s release ‘Umbrella’s, Wings, and Magic Things’ is no exception.
Tackling the world’s current heaviness-es in ways only Billy Momo could, this album is a must for any music purist.
Introducing the band’s recent video for ‘We Need Another Shovel’ I wrote, “The world and its political mouthpieces have been running amok, creating topsy-turvy landscapes. Billy Momo, in their time-tested bucolic way of approaching music, has delivered a potent and timely message with ” “We Need Another Shovel”. Only further solidified with the aesthetics rich video for the single. The Kola Productions produced film finds the band going back to ‘simpler’ time, working the land and being rewarded with the results.
“The era we’re all living in, surviving in, could use a little bit of hope and if that call comes from a track like “We Need Another Shovel”…I think, or I would love to believe, confident days are just around the bend.”
FOUR: Saints Eleven – Coming Back Around LP
Back in January I started a review of Saints Elevens ‘Coming Back Around’ by writing, “Couple fast facts; Saints Eleven’s Jeff Grossman’s voice couldn’t be mistaken for another’s and If you had it in your mind that the band’s new and third full length Coming Back Around would be more of what you’ve come to know them for, you’d be somewhat wrong and you’d be amazed. Sure, the raw and raucous elements of the Texas Red Dirt (and tastes of The Bakersfield sound) is there, check out their take on Buck Owen’s “Cryin’ Time”. What is different this time around is the concentration on letting stories unfold and linger. Like long nights in dusty barrooms listening to timeless barstool tales. This is something the band started to perfect on tracks from 2015’s I Told You and something must have clicked.”
What I didn’t fully understand at the time I published that review is how large a part this album would play in my world in 2017. Many days, drives, and moments soundtracked by pure Texas sounds. And, yes, linger with open arms these tracks have done.
THREE: Dan Auerbach – Waiting on a Song
Surprises coming from a rock n roll artist you have admiration for seems more acceptable if that artist is ‘indie’. Major label performers aren’t normally encouraged to branch out and test and explore influences or genres. But then again, Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney’s The Black Keys haven’t really been the stereotypical top-tier rock band. Forging their own path and subsequently rising to the top of the charts and a major concert draw. All the while maintaining relationships with popular radio fans and indie admirers alike.
Dan Auerbach continues this tradition with his new solo album Waiting On A Song (Easy Eye Sound Records). Case in point is the title track, a surprise in sound and refreshing in the blend of old and new. Retro music styling can be irritating when done without the passion and/or understanding of the history. Auerbach is a noted music geek with a true affection for the artists and sounds that came before him and this new track is a testament. A little Buddy Holly, Sam Cook, Flying Burrito Brothers, and a whole lot of classic AM radio summertime peaceful easy feeling rock n roll.
The laid-back tones and life’s laments have kept this album on heavy rotation throughout 2017. Most notably the before mention single, but the entire release is a something to behold.
TWO: Black Swift – See Me Human
When I was contemplating my Top Five albums of 2017 I was perplexed at the realization I hadn’t fully reviewed this amazing release. A confident vast array of sounds and lyrical landscapes that are full of pure DIY passions.
The band’s Sally Grayson wears many artistic hats, and it is obvious she cares for and thrives in her voice being heard. She doesn’t shy away from political and personal thoughts. Putting her soul, activism, and heart into her music. Its real, its rock n’ roll.
Although I did not write a proper review of ‘See Me Human’, I did have this to say about single “Called to Love”, “Poems and/or songs that have a ‘call to action’ message per se, can easily be cliché heavy. Black Swift have bypassed the clichés, and replaced them with collage for their brilliant and powerful new video/single “Called to Love”.
“See Me Human is their follow-up to the captivating 2014 release, The World Howls. This time around, the band and its lead vocalist and, dare I say, “mastermind”, Sally Grayson is at her most confident. Perhaps her stint on The Voice Germany, or her growing fan-base, or could it be she (and her band: Zar Monta Cola, Bertram Oeler, and David Arzt ) have simply found their groove. Yes, and undoubtedly much more.
“The before mentioned video for the new single “Called to Love” is a timely and important call for positivity and hope. Much needed thoughts wrapped in blazing and crisp blues and punk-tinged rock n roll. Sally Grayson wrote in a Facebook post, “I wrote this song to remind myself of what I am for rather than what I am against.To be called to love is a very hard calling. It’s a call to non-violence and creative problem solving fueled by strength and wisdom. Part of the text is from one of Dr. King’s beautiful and poetic speeches. I tested this song out at the Women’s March on Washington (in Heidelberg) and had the crowd singing along – you hear it and see it in the song!”
ONE: Lindsay White – Lights Out
You know that feeling you get when you hear a song and you get those creeping little chills? What about hearing an entire album and instantly feeling the songwriter’s complexities in struggle, love, yearning for acceptance and a bit of redemption?
Indie singer-songwriter Lindsay White hasn’t held back, she has told her stories on her new album ‘Lights Out’. An album chronicling loss, anxiety, death, acknowledging her true identity, and love to select just a few lyrical subjects of thought.
The passing of White’s mother and grandfather, her divorce from her husband, the songwriter came out as gay., and subsequently and beautifully, she remarried a woman. As her bio puts it, “to the religious dismay of loved ones, the songs kept coming for White, and the result is a powerful selection of lyrical lamentations.”
This album had me from the get-go. It is as pure, honest, heartbreaking, and hopeful as an album, of any era. Lindsay White is an artist, a songwriter that the world needs and I hope more folks have the privilege of discovering.
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