New

Happy new year everyone! Continuing a tradition I started in 2016, here is my favorite music from 2017 in no particular order:

Migration by Bonobo — This was the first Bonobo album I listened to and I instantly fell in love with his take on electronic music.

Lykaia by Soen — On Soen’s first album they sounded almost exactly like TOOL, but they have since then evolved and created their own unique sound. 2017’s Lykaia is a progressive metal tour de force.

Emperor of Sand by Mastodon — Metal titans Mastodon released another spectacular album this year. The album revolves around cancer and death, and the result is a powerful, emotionally evocative record.

Mesmer by Northlane — Mesmer is Northlane’s second album with vocalist Marcus Bridge and is less heavier than their previous records. 2015’s Node is my favorite Northlane album, with Mesmer being a close second.

The Optimist by Anathema — Another stellar progressive rock album from Anathema. 2017 was also the year I discovered this awesome band.

Planetarium by James McAlister, Bryce Dessner, Sufjan Stevens, and Nico Muhly — Planetarium is a masterpiece. Each of the four artists lend their unique touch to this beautiful record.

Flying Microtonal Banana by King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard — King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard promised the world that they would release five albums in 2017. And they did! This is an incredible feat, especially when you consider that each of those five albums sound completely different from the others, and they are all great albums. Flying Microtonal Banana was the first album they released in 2017. It features microtonal instruments, resulting in a very unique sound quite unlike anything I’ve heard before.

Murder Of The Universe by King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard — King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard’s second album of 2017 was heavier than Flying Microtonal Banana, sounding similar to 2016’s Nonagon Infinity. 

Polygondwanaland by King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard — King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard’s fourth album of 2017 ditches the heaviness of Murder Of The Universe, and instead embraces a more mellow rock sound.

Gumboot Soup by King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard — King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard’s last album of 2017 features their distinctive rock sound, along with vocals unlike anything they’ve done before.

Homey by CHON — This album features CHON’s characteristic happy guitars, with a tiny bit of electronic music.

RARE by Hundredth — Hundredth abandon their heavy music and harsh vocals on RARE, and instead opt for a more ethereal, shoegaze sound resulting in a excellent album.

Add Violence by Nine Inch Nails — 2017 was the year I really started listening to Nine Inch Nails, and this EP was where I began.

Zia by aswekeepsearching — A sublime post-rock album from an incredibly talented band from India.

The Sin And The Sentence by Trivium — This is Trivium’s first album with drummer Alex Bent, and they sound better (and heavier) than ever.

Doom Side of The Moon by Doom Side of The Moon — a re-imagining of one of my favorite albums of all time.

Clairvoyant by The Contortionist — My favorite album of 2017. I wrote a review about it a few months ago.

To The Bone by Steven Wilson — Steven Wilson made an awesome pop rock album!

Mareridt by Myrkur — A hauntingly beautiful album.

False Idol by Veil of Maya — An extremely enjoyable and catchy modern progressive metal album featuring some incredible (and highly technical) guitar work.

The Almanac by Kardashev — Kardashev combine unique and highly technical guitar playing with harsh and clean vocals to craft a unique, ethereal sound.

Forever by Code Orange — Hardcore punk rock + heavy metal + industrial metal = Forever.

The Weather by Pond — An extremely fun rock album from these musical geniuses from Perth.

Malina by Leprous — A gorgeous album (though not as good as 2015’s The Congregation in my opinion) by progressive metal/rock titans Leprous.

What did you listen to in 2017?

Fortune

I’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of The Contortionist’s Clairvoyant ever since they released the first single of the album. Each subsequent single got me even more excited, and September 15th (the album’s release date) couldn’t arrive fast enough.

After about a month of listening to Clairvoyant an (almost) infinite number times I’m happy to say that the album has lived up to all my expectations, and it is staggeringly beautiful.

Clairvoyant eschews The Contortionist’s earlier heavy progressive metal sound and instead forges ahead on the journey that they began with Language in 2014 – this album is what I would describe as “minimalist progressive metal” (why yes, I do believe I just invented that term), with some songs being almost progressive rock. This album is even less heavy than Language, and features only a tiny amount of screaming (only one song as far as I can tell).

What this album does feature in abundance though is the musical complexity that makes The Contortionist such a delight to the ears. The guitars are simple, layered, and not too heavy; the drums are complicated yet (somehow) subtle; the bass powerful and perfect; and the vocals are haunting. Mike Lessard’s vocals on this album are nothing short of incredible, and bring a lot of emotional depth (you can read more about the background of the album here) to all the songs. His vocals are perhaps my favorite part of the album, with the guitars being a close second.

Clairvoyant is easily one of favorite albums of all time. With this album I believe that The Contortionist have created their own unique sound, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for this immensely talented band.

Challenge

I leave for my vacation to Thailand in about a month. Before I go I’ve decided to challenge myself and learn at least 50% of “Under Different Welkins” by Novelists. This is by far the hardest song I’ve attempted to learn and I’m looking forward to this challenge. I’ve been playing my seven string guitar more and more lately and this song feels like it would be a lot of fun to play.