10. Rabbit in the Snare – The Lulls in Traffic
Being a huge fan of Copeland, I was really excited to hear vocalist Aaron Marsh’s side project. The Lulls in Traffic features Marsh on vocals and production and lyricist/spoken-word artist Ivan Ives, and a really creative mix of hip-hop/spoken-word and indie.
9. Phantom Anthem – August Burns Red
August Burns Red has refined their craft to near perfection on Phantom Anthem. There’s really not much more to say.
8. Sleep Well Beast – The National
Like August Burns Red, The National have created a formula that works great and have been refining it over their past few albums. It seems to have come fully to fruition on Sleep Well Beast.
7. Turn Out the Lights – Julien Baker
I didn’t really listen to Julien Baker until this year so I got to enjoy both her new album and 2015’s Sprained Ankle. Both feature fairly simple songs instrumentally that put Julien’s voice front and centre – along with her lyrics. And it’s the lyrics that are the high point of these records, as she lays bare her struggles with depression, addiction and faith.
6. Die With Your Tongue Out – Tigerwine
Tigerwine’s debut album is another emotionally heavy-hitting album from this year. I found myself continually coming back to this album when sitting in traffic or needing to vent – finding comfort in the heavy, soaring guitars, dual screaming/shouting vocals and sing-along-able melodies.
5. After Laughter – Paramore
I’ll admit I sort of lost interest in Paramore in recent years, despite having been a huge fan during their Riot! days – which set me up to go into After Laughter with little to no expectations. I wasn’t expecting an album full of such catchy, 80s-influenced tracks that there were days I literally couldn’t stop listening to it. It’s nice to have Paramore back in my recently played and I hope they continue this new sound for their next album.
4. All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell – Pvris
This one definitely grew on me. Pvris has been one of those bands that’s always been on my radar but never in my recently played – but they were there for most of the summer and fall. The band’s second full-length has a consistent vibe that balances heavy vs. calm and brooding vs. hopeful, with really impressive vocals from frontwoman Lynn Gunn.
3. Life After Youth – Land of Talk
Earlier this year I saw an article on CBC Music about indie band Land of Talk’s vocalist and songwriter, Elizabeth Powell, talking about writing her new album in my hometown of Orillia. This immediately caught my attention and I gave the album a shot – and have been listening to it weekly ever since. Her mesmerizing vocals soar over punchy rhythms throughout this short-but-sweet album, and, in the track Inner Lover, repeat possibly my favourite lyric of the year: “You light it slowly / Your light is lonely.”
2. Waiting for Morning to Come – Being as an Ocean
It’s always cool to see bands who’ve found success in the metalcore/hardcore scenes experiment with new (and usually slower) sounds. Sometimes it’s hit or miss, as they risk both losing fans and losing the emotion found in their heavier music. But this new experimental album by Being as an Ocean is definitely a hit – and despite an overall slowler sound, it’s an even more emotional album than their previous work.
1. Dissolve – Tusks
If you missed my review of this album, let me sum it up for you: London singer/songwriter/producer Emily Underhill (aka Tusks) has put together a cinematic and chilling album, with simply beautiful vocals, creative instrumentation/production and my most listened-to tracks of 2017.
Honorable mentions: A Deeper Understanding – The War on Drugs, Truth is a Beautiful Thing – London Grammar, Fool’s Paradise – Cold Specks, Young Mopes – Louise Burns, The Love You Let Too Close – Thousand Below