2017 is almost over and it’s time to look back at the music, both good and bad. Before we get to best and worst, I wanted to look back at some albums that left the biggest impressions on me. This is based on what I sought out and listened to this year, so my list will most likely be different from yours.
Album I Enjoyed Way More Than I Thought I Would:
Dreamcar – Dreamcar
When it was revealed that the members of No Doubt who aren’t Gwen Stefani and Davey Havock were working together I was intrigued and confused. What kind of music would they make together? Turns out 80s new wave. While I wasn’t impressed with the first single, when I listened to Dreamcar it took me by surprise how much fun it was. It’s not a great album and it doesn’t give us anything we haven’t heard before, but some of the songs are irresistible. Tracks like “After I Confessed,” “All the Dead Girls,” and “Do Nothing” are so catchy you can’t help but sing and dance along. The album is a blatant homage to the 80s, but at least the band had fun with it. The energy and spirit are so infectious. It seems like Havok put more effort into recording this LP than he did for AFI. Dreamcar doesn’t do anything new, but it’s great for letting loose and having fun.
Album I Had Low Expectations For But Fucking Loved:
Heaven Upside Down – Marilyn Manson
When Marilyn Manson announced Say10 last year, I was ecstatic. His last two efforts were solid and I couldn’t wait to hear what he had in store for us next. But with a big delay and a lead single that left me unimpressed, my expectations began to shrink. Every time he mentioned how the album goes back to the days of Antichrist Superstar I rolled my eyes. We heard this before with High End of Low and that album is pretty bad. I didn’t think I’d like Heaven Upside Down, but man, I fucking love it.
This is hardcore, aggressive, brutal Manson that scared us back in 1996. The songs are violent and dark in the best ways possible. And for once, he was actually right. The album does have traces of Antichrist Superstar and Mechanical Animals, but it never feels like he’s ripping himself off. He just manages to recapture the feeling of those albums.
After hearing the single “We Know Where You Fucking Live” I was worried he was trying too hard to be edgy. Luckily, this isn’t the case (at least not with every song). Instead, he sounds genuine, like he has a fire lit under him once again. This is classic Manson and the music grabs you by the throat waiting to rip out your lungs until it’s over. Heaven Upside Down is a stellar album that reminds me why I became a fan in the first place. This is the finest album Manson’s later career and proves he’s still has a lot to say.
Disappointing Album of 2017:
AFI (The Blood Album) – AFI
AFI was one of the few releases I was pumped for when the year kicked off. Not only did their cryptic teasing get me excited, but I loved what I heard with singles like “White Offerings” and “Snow Cats.” These songs felt like a return to form and I couldn’t wait to hear the new album. But once I finally got my hands on it, it was a letdown. Most of the songs aren’t exciting or memorable. Tracks like “Still a Stranger,” “Hidden Knives,” and “So Beneath You” aren’t awful. But there’s very little about them that grabs you like great AFI songs are supposed to do. Everything I love about AFI, like their charm, melancholy, and their in your face nature are missing from this album. Even almost a year later I struggle to remember these songs aside from the singles.
For me, it has nothing to do with their new, lighter sound. I actually don’t mind it. While I do miss the days of Sing the Sorrow, I like that they constantly evolve and experiment with new sounds. But this album just didn’t do it for me. Rather than being something that sticks with you, it’s a pretty unremarkable experience. These are just decent generic rock songs and we expect better from AFI at this point. Unfortunately, it’s some of their weakest material in years making for an album that’s tolerable, yet kind of dull. While I don’t mind listening to the album, it’s just overwhelmingly okay and since I was so excited to hear what AFI had in store after Burials, it was the album that disappointed me the most this year.
Underrated Release of 2017:
<shutdown.exe> – 3Teeth
This is the result if Ministry and Nine Inch Nails had a baby. 3Teeth take you back to the old days of industrial metal that’s brutal, violent, and just a bit scary. Not for the faint of heart.
If you want to know which album is on my shit list this year, check back later this week when I reveal what my worst album of 2017 is.