The year is still young, but we have already had some great music released. Here at signalwave// we have only heard a fraction of what there is on offer, but here are our TOPTEN albums of January 2017.
10. Minor Victories – Orchestral Variations
The supergroup formed of members of Mogwai, Slowdive, Editors and Hand Held Cine, released their debut self titled album in 2016 and it quickly became one of my favourite albums of the year. So when I heard that there was an instrumental, orchestral version of the album coming I knew I had to listen.
While this may not get the play time that the original did, I am sure this will be a firm favourite and is a great album to work to.
9. John Mayer – The Search for Everything Wave One
I am a HUGE John Mayer fan. So when this EP appeared on my Apple Music account, I was excited. It has everything that we have come to expect from Mayer, the smooth vocal, catchy hooks and THAT guitar tone.
There are also great songs with ‘Changing’ being a personal favourite. The one downside is that there isn’t more of it.
8. Bonobo – Migration
Electronic music can often be hit or miss. But once again Bonobo (Simon Green) has got a hit. Releasing albums since 2001, it is clear that Bonobo has perfected the art of downtempo, ambient, electronic sounds. With a number of guest vocal appearances this album is one of his most complete albums and hopefully we will be hearing more music from Green soon.
7. The xx – I See You
It is hard to believe that it has been over four years since The xx released their previous record. They got over the second album slump with ‘Coexist’ and continue the upward trend with album number three. I See You brings a lot of the same elements that have made the band so successful, but also incorporated elements of the solo work and individual talents of each band member.
6. SOHN – Rennen
In 2014 SOHN released one of my favourite albums, probably of the last 10 years. It was one of those albums that I picked up randomly on the recommendation of a friend and I am so glad that I did.
Now on the difficult second album, I am pleased to say that Christopher Taylor has managed to come out fairly unscathed. I probably have not listened to this record to appreciate it as much as Tremors but it certainly does have some great songs, notably, second single ‘Conrad’. I am hoping this continues to grow on me.
5. Will Reagan & United Pursuit – Tell All My Friends
Alot of Christian worship music can get stick for sounding dull or sound a bit to much like Coldplay & U2. But in ‘Tell All My Friends’, Will Reagan continues to do his own thing. Yes this album has more of a polished feel to previous offers, but holds on to enough of the raw energy of the live albums and combines it with the production values.
4. Courtney Marie Andrews – Honest Life
Andrews is completely new to me, but the 26 year old has been releasing music since 2010, performing live since the age of 15 and provided vocals for Jimmy Eat World on their album ‘Invented’. When I first heard the opening track of ‘Honest Life’ it was the vocal style that drew me in, with a very classical country quality, it instantly felt refreshing compared to a lot of produce vocal performances that we hear today.
The next step for me is to get into her back catalogue and see what else I have been missing out on.
3. Rose Elinor Dougall – Stellular
The second solo album from former Pipettes front-woman, Rose Elinor Douglal, is another female singer with a unique voice & while the voice is brilliant, it is the songs that catch me. This album shows off what a great songwriter she is (& why Mark Ronson co-wrote with her on The Night Last Night) with songs like the title track and ‘Colour of Water’ showing off what she does best.
2. Vikingur Olafsson – Philip Glass: Piano Works
Now, I think I might get some stick for including this one; what is more hipster that an Icelandic pianist covering a legendary composer. But this album is so much more than just covers; Vikingur is completely reimagining these songs with a modern twist. He is definitely a musician on the rise and this album will win him a lot of new fans. Hopefully we get the chance to hear him rework some more classics as well as getting original music.
1. Julie Byrne – Not Even Happiness
Julie Byrne has such an interesting sound to her music. With mostly just a guitar to accompany her, it is her voice that grabs you. Not big and powerful, but a low, gentle sound. You could compare her to other folk singers, but to do so would be unfair as while being similar, she is completely unique. It as she sings over the sparse music landscape that is provided, that I start to think I am (already) listening to an album of the year contender