Favourite albums of 2017 (Part 1)
Last year (2016) I stupidly didn’t make a list of albums I thought were great of that year.
I listen to A LOT of music, at least 9 hours a day, practically every day. It helps me work and it keeps me sane. So with a lot going on I don’t always track my favourite music releases of the year.
So this year I made a conscious decision to note down any release I REALLY enjoyed in 2017.
16 releases made my list. I’m going to share with you these releases over the forthcoming weeks, just before Christmas hits and we’re engulfed in Slade, Cliff Richard and Mariah Carey on repeat!
1. Donna Dunne & The Mystery Men – Voodoo.
Irish Donna Dunne has been on the music scene since about 2012. With a few solo releases that have slipped under the radar, I think this years release was definitely one that hit the ears of many, especially those of us who enjoy the dirtier louder side of Rockabilly.
First, I have to get out the name “Imelda May“. I’d imagine EVERY review of this album online and in print has featured the words “Imelda May”… Irish – yes, rockabilly – yes, outstanding voice – yes.
This is the year that Imelda May hung up her “quiff” in favour of more of a bluesy sound. Maybe this is why Donna Dunne & The Mystery Men got pretty heavy marketing behind them on this release (well as much as an independent label could muster). I think maybe if Donna Dunne was on a major label and came out a few months after the new Imelda May stuff, Donna would be performing at this year’s Jools Holland Hootenanny.
OK – on to the album.
Predominantly a rockabilly album, there’s also moments of Psychobilly, Mariachi, Celtic, Gypsy and Blues vibes.
The production on this thing is GREAT. Probably one of the best produced rockabilly albums of the year. The whole album hits like a punch in the face.
The recorded mystery men version features some legendary faces of the 80s Neo Rockabilly scene. Philip Doyle on guitar ( Demented Are Go, Klingonz, Guitar Slingers and Owner of Diablo Records), Phil Bloomberg on Double Bass (The Polecats). With folks like this lending their talents to an album, it was going to be hard to produce anything less than amazing.
Opener “Voodoo” really sets the theme of the album. Dark Rockabilly with mariachi edge, powerful vocals drowned in reverb. Following this is a selection of mariachi rockabilly inspired tracks, with buzzsaw surf guitars, hammering acoustic guitars, driving snares and traditional Celtic instrumentation.
Favourite track: Huffed & Puffed.
2. Blood Like Honey – Haunt Me / Love Me.
Blood Like Honey are a three piece Alternative Rock / Post-“whatever” band from the fine city of Norwich.
The band combine the best bits of Biffy Clyro with anthemic and atmospheric feels.
I heard the E.P opener “100ml” before the E.P was released. If there was an award for most catchy riff of 2017 from a band based in Norwich, then BLH would win hands down.
The riff is MASSIVE. I was dubious they could pull it off live being a three piece… But holy shit, when these guys record a riff that makes your insides bleed on record… you better be wearing two pairs of underpants when you see them live.
“Foil” comes in balls deep. Just as you’re ready to join in with some gang shouts you’re knocked off your feet by silver medallist in “most catchy riff of 2017 from a band based in Norwich” riff. Get ready to have “Blood Thinner, Saints or Sinner” stuck in your head for the rest of the day.
I won’t spoil the other tracks as they will knock you off guard. Tracks range from epic builders, math inspired rhythms that would make Steven Hawkins reboot and phone torch in the air moments.
Favourite Track: 100ml
3. Dave Hause – Bury Me In Philly
Yes, it’s one of those punk rock singers turned singer/songwriter. If you’re my age (32) you’ll find many of your punk rock heroes releasing country tinged acoustic albums (Greg Graffin, Chuck Ragan, etc). Maybe some of these musicians are just trying to make an easy buck. I mean most musicians can put three chords together and write songs about love or drinking… But I think you need to be special to make it stick.
Dave Hause has been about for YEARS. I first came across him in The Loved Ones. A great pop punk band that didn’t have that..”sheen” so many did around the same time (06).
Dave has been in and out of loads of projects (The All-Brights being one of my favourites), but unlike many of the “quick buck punkers turned singer song writers” out there, Hause has always done this kind of thing. He has an unbelievable knack in writing catchy songs in ANY project he’s part of.
Bury Me In Philly is a driving Americana Rock album with catchy, dirty songs that wouldn’t be out of a place as your soundtrack travelling down Route 66.
These are heartfelt Americana songs but with a punk rocker laying his heart on the table.
If I had to make a comparison… I guess you could twist my arm and say this sometimes falls into Gaslight Anthem territory…but that’s a pretty twisty twist. I guess a modern punk rock version of something from Bruce Springsteen…..though I suppose that kind of sums up Gaslight Anthem….
Dave Hause has a way of writing songs that will get you singing along from the second play. There is NO bad tracks on this album.
Favourite track: Dirty Fucker
4. Kepi Ghoulie – Lost and Lovin’ It!
Kepi Ghoulie is probably more known for being part of the punk band “Groovie Ghoulies“. Kepi has a pretty monotone, nasally punk rock voice. What made the Groovie Ghoulies popular is they had that kinda Cramps / Psychobilly mind set of writing / covering songs that were rooted in rock n roll and usually about B-Movies, Sci Fi and Horror. It’s probably what made them stand out during the ‘ 96 Green Day pop punk mainstream, Lookout Records explosion.
Kepi (the vocalist of the Groovie Ghoulies) has had quite a few records out since GGs demise in 2007. From teaming up with Garage Punk Band The Accelerators to releasing Kids albums. The guys seems to always be gigging, recording and taking pictures of goats (see his instagram).
One of my favourite albums of Kepi’s is called “Kepi Goes Country“. Which is country album featuring country versions of Groovie Ghoulie songs, his own and a some covers.
He has a very distinct voice, with not a lot of range…but for some reason…it works with most genres.
“Lost and Lovin’ it” is kind of a mixture of ideas from country folky vibes of “Heroes” to more punk vibes such as “Lone Wolf.
The massive 13 songs on this cross-genre album is everything that Kepi is . Catchy, fun, inspiring songs that’ll have you singing along and bashing out the songs on an acoustic song the next time you’re sitting at a camp fire or house party.
Favourite Track: Lost & Lovin’ It
5. The Sewer Rats – Heartbreaks and Milkshakes
The Sewer Rats are a Punkabilly band from Germany. I’m quite into Punkabilly / Rockabilly, it’s one of the main genres I listen to, but the band kind of passed me by since their formation in 2005 – which is crazy as they’d done a split with The Peacocks (which I love).
They’ve dropped the slap double bass and have released more of a “standard” pop punk album…. Now I realise that this sentence makes it sound bad… well it’s not.. after all it’s in my favourite releases of 2017.
The Pop Punk they’re spitting out here is like a cross between Home Grown and Social Distortion.
Catchy, harmonic chorus’ and a punk rock version of 50s Rock N Roll.
I’m not sure why they dropped the slap double bass as I think having that added to this album would make it even better.
If you want to feel 2006 pop punk nostalgia without feeling embarrassed then Heartbreaks and Milkshakes is worth a spin.
Favourite track: I Don’t Like You (When Your Girls Around).