Top Albums of 2017

Lists are arbitrary and burdensome, but why not join the fun everyone else is having? We gathered our lists, separate lists for all of us, then combined them into one that had 50 albums. What you get here are the four writers/contributors of ATH, giving you their meaningless opinions on what we thought was the jam in 2017. It’s alphabetical, and we put the initials next to it so you could track down your enemy!

 

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This Is the Drums

I’m going out on a limb to say I was one of the first followers of the Drums…really really way back. They had this undeniable catchy deliver that you use couldn’t ignore; you wanted to play it all day long. Since then, the band has faded a little bit, though I still find the early hits sneaking back into my life. Now, as we near the delivery of Abysmal Thoughts it seems that Johnny Pierce has the group right back on track; you’ll tap you toes as Pierce delivers his airy pop. Sometimes you find a band and you just can’t pull away…I fully expect this album to be as such; it hits on June 16th via Anti.

Dream Pop from Vansire

vansireIt only took a matter of seconds for me to get hooked on this song from Vansire; it was the hanging jangle hook of the guitars sitting atop a carefully picked additional guitar. When the vocals entered, it took a slightly warmer turn, though the bubbling groove and steadying drums left me with a sense of longing. I hear bits of the sunny dream pop that The Drums kicked out, though this song has a more calming feel to it, which I think anyone will find appealing whilst sipping on a cold drink during the summer. As of yet, no word on a full album or EP, but you can enjoy this song as many times as you like.

Day Wave Return Already

11337002_401226620061420_3011181159598881531_oTalk about an explosion! It’s been a banner year for Day Wave who burst onto the scene earlier this year with his Headcase EP. And, without even taking a breath, he’s back with a new track for your pop ears. This one has a little bit of a hook that reminds me of early stuff from the Drums; it’s got a jangling surfy guitar sound with a driving beat…pretty infectious. Honestly, I should have posted this yesterday, but I wanted to save it for Friday, as it’s a pure Friday pop hit for you. I’m sure he’ll flood us with more new tunes in the near future as he readies a full length.

Why Not Post This Day Wave Tune

daysSome artists get all the love, which seems to be the case for Day Wave, the project of Jackson Phillips.  We posted on him earlier this year, probably way before anyone else because we’re that cool, so we’re delighted his new song is doing so well. It has all the bright moments we loved from his first single, with deep toned ringing guitars and precision programmed percussive moments; it reminds me of the frivolous joy we all got when we first started listening to the Drums.  We’re still waiting to hear news of a full-length album, but for now, this project is hitting all the right notes for us.

Lo-Fi Pop Jam From Day Wave

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Apparently I’m big on the California sound this week, as Day Wave is a DIY artist from Oakland who has me dreaming of summer days with this track, “Total Zombie.” As soon as you hit play on the track below, you’ll note the Drums-esque vibe that Jackson Phillips, the man behind Day Wave has picked up on and made his own through this track. There’s a certain amount of surfy goodness that just makes you want to be strutting around on a boardwalk somewhere near the ocean without a care in the world. Hopefully we’ll have more smooth jams from Day Wave on his debut EP to be released in the near future. Expect big things.

Show Review: The Drums @ The Parish 10/19

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This weekend in Austin lived up to its title of “live music capital of the world” to the extreme; each night we were given not just a taste of sweet jams, but whole menus to choose from. Sunday night at The Parish had New York’s The Drums on their last U.S tour stop, providing us with a night filled with dancing and singing along to the band’s hits, new and old. Brooklyn’s Beverly served as the openers for the evening, offering up their jangly no-nonsense rock to amp up the crowd. Read more about how the night unfolded after the jump.

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Sat/Sun Austin Weekend Show Spotlight

austinAs I said yesterday, there’s tons of places you can find yourself this weekend for a good old fashioned music concert.  But, maybe you need a suggestion or two as to where you wanna go? Well, I’m here to point you in the right direction, based on my extremely biased opinion.  Feel free to ignore these options, or play everyone’s favorite game of Where’s Norman Wanklord? Here’s the list. Read more

Enjoy This Latest Single from Johnny Aries

johnnOkay. Johnny Aries plays with the Drums.  But, don’t let that impact your listening.  He’s actually better known, to me, of this role in UK outfit Two Wounded Birds.  The UK songwriter has a touch of that spritely bounce you’ll get in his current act, but there’s more of a traditional indiepop sound coming from his songs; I can even hear a bit of that Moz croon hanging on the tip of his delivery.  It’ll be interesting to hear how his whole record, Unbloomed, shapes up. It’s going to be released by Frenchkiss on August 26th.

Minks – Tides End

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Rating: ★★★½ ·

Those of you who reveled in the shadowy electronic pop of the first release by Minks might find this hard to swallow, but for all intents and purposes, Tides End is a pretty straightforward pop record.  Gone are the hazy vocals and coats of atmospherics, though the lyrical material still maintains a bit of darkness.  While some of the winter layering of the previous effort might have been shed, the core aesthetic remains the same, leaving listeners with a shimmering album for any time of day.

It’s hard not to notice the immediacy of the beats and the glittery touch as soon as you press play on Tides End.  “Romans” bursts forth with a beat built to pick up the feet on the dance floor, before Sonny Kilfoyle gently croons his way into the mix.  By the time you make it to the chorus, you’ll definitely notice similarities to surf-pop wunderkind The Drums (just my opinion). Still, this album succeeds in its ability to completely depart into a more accessible pop spectrum, such as you’ll hear on “Everything’s Fine.”  Ringing bits of guitar accentuate the beats, and you’ll find it hard not to get stuck with the simple chorus in your head. Personally, I like the slight bit of restraint, as the beats aren’t pounding down your door; they’re airy, yet full of merriment.

Really, you could write about any of the new songs from Minks in the same manner, praising their thoughtful approach to songwriting, allowing for the hooks to bloom, rather than be buried beneath over-processed studio touches. There are, however, a few songs that step outside the boundaries set forth by Kilfoyle on this release, such as “Painted Indians.”  It playfully drifted in, as many of the songs do, but then the forceful entry of the lyrics were surprising, in a good way.  It provided a touch of variation, even as the verses received the calm smoothing vocal Sonny seems to prefer on this go round.

My first go round, I definitely gravitated towards “Margot” as my favorite hit on Tides End, but the more I listen, and the more I notice the care in every twist and turn, the more often my favorite tends to change. Right now, I’m really digging the oddly exuberant “Doomed and Cool.”  Sure, there’s an obvious nostalgic bent, even with the guitar tones, but I’m not going to knock anyone for loving old school pop music.  You should probably listen to “Ark of Life” as well, just in case you’re looking for your favorite new love song.

I think a lot of people are going to be on the fence with Minks after this listen.  Their first album was dark, yet enchanting.  Tides End, well, it’s simply enchanting.  There’s no mystery to the pop sensibility, and in many ways, that makes it much more enduring, and endearing. And, if you’re looking to get snobby, one can go through the whole record twice, and not feel like you’ve listened to the same thing…such are the careful touches that were put into the production and writing of this record.  I assure you, given time, you’ll find yourself really enjoying the listen from start to finish.

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Download: Minks – Everything’s Fine [MP3]

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