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Top Ten Albums of 2017 (According to Me)

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So 2017 was kinda a rough year for most people not named Taylor Swift, eh? (Jeez, Taylor. Way to have a good time. That’s not allowed, or something.) American politics are shit, everyone hates each other, and people seem barely capable of not hitting each other over the heads with bike locks, or ramming their cars into each other.

Personally, I drifted further into burnt out/not-giving-a-fuck territory this year, even though this is arguably the easiest year I’ve lived, this decade. I didn’t work at all (although I wanted to) I got mostly A’s or A-‘s for the classes I took, and one B, because I was too lazy to get an A in that class. I put shit off until the last minute, practically went without reading entire books that were required reading for my classes, and, by the end of the year, have spent many days entirely without getting dressed or taking a shower. It’s been easy, but I feel like shit for being this way, because just last year, I was in the Air Force and actually putting effort into life. It doesn’t help that I’m also now the fattest I’ve ever been. It could be that my medication is too high and making me too lethargic, I dunno, but something needs to change this year.

So what about music? Music was pretty alright. There have been a handful of tracks I’ve really enjoyed, and some albums I’ve thought were rather good. Will I remember them with the same fondness I remember tracks and albums from, say, 2011 or 2013? We’ll see. In any case, the following is a list of the UNDISPUTED, BEST TEN ALBUMS OF 2017… according to me. Right now. Some time, next year? I can’t promise I will feel the same. But RIGHT. NOW…

Number 10. The Menzingers – After the Party

I was aware of the Menzingers for a bit before I paid them any mind. I got their fourth album, “Rented World,” when it came out in 2014, and thought it was pretty solid, a good album for a Summer day. However, for whatever reason, I wasn’t super in to any of the songs, though I distinctly remember “Where Your Heartache Exists.” I really liked that song at first, but then decided I didn’t by the end of the year, and I’m not really sure why. I guess I’m just a fickle piece of shit.

This year’s album, “After the Party,” I decided I was getting when I heard the first single, “Bad Catholics.” I’m a Catholic. I’m often amused when comedians, musicians, or anyone else talks about being Catholic. However, that song kinda wore out on me. The rest of the album had staying power for me, though. I realized that a friend of mine would really like this album, so I played it for him, and he bought it. We’re not always big on the same music—there’s usually just an occasional crossover, and the rest of the time, we’re like, “eh, that’s alright,” about the other’s preferred tracks—so this is kinda a big deal as far as our tastes go.

Standout Track: “Lookers”

Number 9. William Patrick Corgan – Ogilala

A few years ago, Billy Corgan had announced that, from now on, he wanted to be referred to as “William Patrick Corgan.” Shortly after this album was released, however, I read that he’s once again referring to himself as “Billy Corgan.” Perhaps that makes more sense, as it’s the name he became famous with, along side his band “The Smashing Pumpkins.” Not a lot about Corgan always makes sense to me, however. When one reads one of his blogs, one might ask oneself, “…wut?” When one hears about one of his many rantings over the years, one might again ask oneself, “…wut?” Corgan is very much this generation’s exemplar “eccentric artiste,” but not just because of his eccentricities: he is also a brilliant musician. Maybe not the best singer, but a great musician. So pretty much, I had decided, “whatever crazy shit he does, whatever obnoxious, egotistical thing he says, I will always like Corgan.” And then he went on the Joe Rogan show and said that a lot of it was an act.

…I don’t even, any more.

This solo album seems to be a continuation of what he was doing last year, when he was playing stripped down, acoustic versions of his songs, Smashing Pumpkins or otherwise. I got to see his show the last weekend that I was in the Air Force, down in Little Rock, AR, because he gave a special deal to members of the Armed Forces. It was an amazing show, both musically and visually, as he performed in front of these painted backdrops with moving lights and such. That show was the reason I realized that “Soma” is a pretty awesome song, in fact, and I had first heard that song about sixteen years beforehand, when I first got in to the Pumpkins—right before they broke up.

I’m not sure what to say about this album, though. I like it, but not a lot of it stands out to me. There’s an acoustic version of “The Spaniards” on this, which is a pretty awesome song. Really, the album is a bit of a mesmerizing, acoustic soundscape, in which Corgan’s musicianship really shines (if that nonsense I just typed really means anything, and isn’t just cliché). Again, Corgan is the exemplar of our generation’s “eccentric artiste.”

Standout Track: “Aeronaut”

Number 8. Mastodon – Emperor of Sand

I didn’t listen to this one until half a year after it came out. Even then, I haven’t listened to it much at all. That’s somewhat similar, for me, for Mastodon as a whole. When I first saw them perform on some late show or another, I didn’t think I liked them. It didn’t help that one of the biggest douchebags I’ve ever interacted with online also gave them high praises. However, for some reason, I decided to buy “Once More ‘Round the Sun,” their 2014 album. It was pretty awesome, although I’m not sure that I listened to it in its entirety, either; I just really liked their single, “The Motherload.” They tend to have some longish songs, so maybe that rubs me the wrong way.

I might have totally forgotten about this album, but I decided to listen to it again, tonight… and I cannot deny that it’s a well-constructed, great-sounding album. The guys in Mastodon are obviously very talented musicians, and I love that one of their band members got kicked out of the 2014 Grammys, because I cannot stand the Grammys. I feel like the Grammys are not a celebration of the best music of the year, but rather a celebration of the music that most benefited from payola and the “artists’” good looks. So that dude getting himself kicked out forever makes him awesome in my book.

Standout Track: “Precious Stones” (I guess… I’m not really sure)

Number 7. Gwar – The Blood of Gods

Back in the 90s, when I was a little kid, and my brother was going to college and living in the dorms, he borrowed my copy of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. His roommate had a file in which he obliterated the game, and he had named it “Gwar.” I asked my brother, “What is ‘Gwar?’” I don’t exactly recall his answer, but I seem to remember thinking they were some crazy rock band or another. Years later, I saw their video for “Fucking an Animal,” and thought they seemed pretty fun, but for some reason, I never got into them (and given what I was listening to at the time, I probably would’ve really liked the album “Fucking an Animal” came from). In the back of my head, though, I’m pretty sure I always thought “Gwar is probably pretty cool.”

Eventually, I did decide to start listening to them, due to their cover of “Carry On, My Wayward Son,” because obviously, there was a strong sense of humor to them. I got “Scumdogs of the Universe,” and was like, “this alright,” but what really hooked me was the album that came out later that year, “Battle Maximus.” It was far more brutal than anything else I had heard by them up until that point, and it just totally kicked ass. From there, I went back and listened to more of their older stuff, including “We Kill Everything” (the one “Fucking an Animal” was off of, and the one a lot of their fans apparently don’t like). …and then Dave Brockie (aka “Oderus Urungus,” the lead singer and sole remaining founding member, at that point) died of an overdose. Not only had the band just gone through an unexpected, tragic death of Cory Smoot, the final performer of “Flattus Maximus,” but they had lost the central, driving force of the band, up until that point. Most people thought they were done. Even when Michael Bishop (aka “Blowthar,” and the original “Beefcake the Mighty”) filled in for Brockie, I didn’t think they’d do another album, and wasn’t sure how much longer they would last.

However, in October, they came out with “The Blood of Gods.” Is it as good as “Battle Maximus,” or the album before that, “Bloody Pit of Horror?” …eh, I dunno. It’s very different from those two albums, and seems closer to what they were doing around the time of “We Kill Everything.” Also, a few of the songs ended up irritating me, upon repeated listenings. I still like it, however (or else it wouldn’t be on here, I suppose.) It gets bonus points for featuring MC Chris, too. Also bonus points for being a Gwar album, when I wasn’t sure if we’d ever get another Gwar album.

Standout Track: "Viking Death Machine"

Number 6. Flatfoot 56 – Odd Boat

Flatfoot 56 were the opening act for one of my more recent favorite bands, “Larry and His Flask,” in March this year. I had never heard of them, much less heard them, before I saw them at that show, and that show was the first time I ever saw Larry and His Flask live (I had bought tickets for a show in November of last year, but hadn’t been able to go). I’m actually not sure if I even knew that there was going to be an opening act, so I wasn’t exactly excited to see them. Furthermore, their van broke down, so they were like a few hours late, which in turn caused the show to start an hour and a half or so later than expected. So I was a little annoyed, as were the rest of the people waiting.

They made up for it with an awesome show. It turned out they were a folk punk band with bagpipes on several of their songs (and some other folk instrument I forget on their other songs). The dude with the bagpipes fascinated me, with the faces he made and his dancing, or whatever it was. The lead singer also had a unique voice; deep and gravelly, though consistently on key. They impressed me enough that I bought their newest CD, and I don’t normally buy CDs anymore, I just get mp3 albums, or whatever. Very fun album, and I don’t think it has any swearing, even on the opening track, in which they tell about one of the meanest baseball players ever (which was almost my choice for standout track, but…)

Standout Track: “Stutter”

Number 5. Pet Symmetry – Vision

Pet Symmetry started as a collaboration between members of the band “Dowsing” (whom I’ve never heard) and solo act “Into It. Over It.” (which I have one album of, but wasn’t super crazy about). I got their initial single on Asian Man Records (and usually, you won’t go wrong with a band signed by Mike Park) and thought their two songs with obnoxiously long titles were pretty alright. I was excited for their first album, “Pets Hounds,” although upon going back and comparing it with this year’s offering, I feel it’s quite a bit weaker. There were only four tracks that really stand out to me anymore (and even back then, the rest of the album bled together, to me). What’s more, some songs seemed to abruptly end.

“Vision” is their most rockin’ album to date. Furthermore, each track more or less has a distinct sound to it, and none of it blends together at all, really. The first three tracks are very energetic and catchy, the fourth is slow, but still amusing, and the fifth is energetic and catchy again. Really, this could contend for the four albums that follow it for “number 1 album of 2017, according to me,” except that, although it doesn’t bleed together like the last album, not even my pick for “standout track” particularly stands out from the rest of the tracks as being a song I will remember years later. Though it’s still pretty catchy and fun.

Standout Track: “Stare Collection”

Number 4. Dead Cross – (Self-Titled)

Growing up, my eldest brother was always a fan of Faith No More. One of my earliest memories is of the music video for “Epic,” and the goldfish flipping around out of its water bowl. I was highly concerned about that goldfish, so my brother told me it got back in the water after the video was finished filming. Later, my brother had a poster for their album, “King for a Day,” and it was scary to me. I didn’t decide I wanted to listen to them until years later, when my brother made me a mixed CD, with “Surprise! You’re Dead!” on it. By that time, the band had long since broken up, and Mike Patton was doing his numerous projects and/or collaborating with other bands.

I guess Dead Cross is some kind of super band that Patton was gonna release on his label, and then the singer dropped out, so he did the vocals for them, too. The other members are Dave Lombardo—former drummer of Slayer, and also current drummer of Suicidal Tendencies and the Misfits, apparently—and two guys from a band I’ve never heard of before, “Retox.” The album’s songs sound as if they were originally written with Patton on the vocals, but Patton arrived after they were all written. Perhaps it’s because Patton has such a distinct voice. Also, he seems to never age. He looks almost exactly like he did in the 90s. Regardless, yeah, pretty awesome album.

Standout Track: “Divine Filth”

Number 3. Goldfinger – The Knife

Goldfinger were at the Warped Tour this year, and they were fuckin’ awesome. Definitely one of the highlights of the day, along with Gwar and Save Ferris. My bro and I totally did NOT know that MxPx front man Mike Herrera is in the band now, so that was quite a surprise to see him up there with them (actually, it sounded like the only remaining original member was John Feldmann, their front man). In any case, I’m not sure that I’ve ever actually owned one of their albums before this new one, “The Knife.” I have a Best of somewhere, and possibly their first one, the self-titled album. My brother had like their first four albums, so I think I heard all of those, but really, they kinda fell off the map for me after that.

This new album is really good, though. It’s a lot of fun, and a throwback to the Summer of Ska in the late 90’s (which to me was like three years: 96-98). Even though they don’t have a horn section (they borrowed Save Ferris’s for one song on their set at Warped) there’s a lot of horns on this album. It’s just a catchy, poppy, ska-punk album. I’ve read some comments that it was over-produced, but whatevs; I don’t get that at all from it.

Standout Track: “Don’t Let Me Go”

Number 2. The Dreadnoughts – Foreign Skies

The Dreadnoughts have been around for a minute. You may have heard them in some video game. I haven’t, but a coworker claimed they were. I cannot find any evidence of this online. Whatevs!

I first discovered them via their album “Polka’s Not Dead.” The concept of a polka-punk sound intrigued me, so I bought it. They only seem to have a few polka-esque songs, however; they’re mostly a folk-punk band. “Polka Never Dies” is still my favorite songs by them, and one of my favorites of the decade thus far (yeah, yeah, “the decade didn’t actually start until 2011, and the album that song was on came out in 2010.” I hear that, but I offer this argument: shut up.) I’ve never gone back to anything they did before then, but I probably should. Also, they claimed they were breaking up the year I discovered them, apparently, but then they didn’t, and I didn’t know about that until I read it on Wikipedia just now. So yeah.

This new album is quite a departure from “Polka’s Not Dead,” or even the 2011 EP “Uncle Touchy Goes to College” that followed it. It’s a much more seriously-toned album than either of those—especially “Polka’s Not Dead.” It’s a bit slower, a bit more thematic, and a bit more traditional than those were. Because of this, I wasn’t sure how I felt about it at first. The album did grow on me quite a bit, however, after successive listens. My favorite track, “Anna Maria,” stood out to my in particular, as it had such an epic feel. The sentimental part of me also quite liked “Black Letters,” but yeah; “Anna Maria” is where it’s at.

Standout Track: “Anna Maria”

Number 1. Authority Zero – Broadcasting to the Nations

The first album I’d ever heard by Authority Zero was previous album, “The Tipping Point.” I had heard them before, I realized, however. They did that “One More Minute” song, way back in 2005, that got a bit of radio time. Hadn’t caught my attention back then, but sampling “The Tipping Point,” they struck me as the type of 90’s Skate Punk music I wanted to listen to. They also have some ska elements to their sound, as well as some kind of Southwestern Border feel, particularly in the aforementioned “One More Minute.” (they’re from Mesa, Arizona). Not salsa, but somewhat Latin.

“Broadcasting to the Nations” seems a bit more melancholic than “The Tipping Point,” which had a lot of punk tracks that seemed to say “let’s go get ‘em!” I’m particularly thinking of tracks like “Creepers,” “One Way Track Kid,” and “No Guts No Glory,” which are 3 of 4 tracks that end the album. Mind you, these tracks are still a lot of fun, as is the rest of the album. It just seems that in this album, Authority Zero has a bit less faith that “this is our time to take a stand,” or whatever. I do think that I like this album a bit better than the last one, too (although I feel like there was more competition for my attention in 2013).

Standout Track: “No Guts No Glory”

Honorable Mentions:
Chuck Berry – Chuck (also probably the best you will hear a 90-year-old sing/perform);
Municipal Waste – Slime and Punishment (also at Warped Tour, wherein the lead singer requested some drugs, because Oregon);
Jonathan Coulton – Solid State (writer of "Still Alive" and "Want You Gone" does a concept album);
Foo Fighters – Concrete and Gold (not as good as "Wasting Light," but alright. Lotsa Beatles-sounding songs)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alpha
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