December 29, 2017

HCTF's best of 2017 (15-11)

HCTF's annual list of the 20 albums that will be in regular rotation for many years to come. The long list of memorable releases boasted about 50 albums. Tough decisions were made narrowing it down. As per usual it's a mixed bag of genres: rock in its various incarnations (garage, hard, post, prog), avant-garde, jazz, pop, folk, funk. Also of note: four live albums made the cut.

Today: countdown from number 15 to 11.

Please keep in mind to shop at your local record store, buy directly from the artist, attend live shows. And shut the fuck up while the band is playing.

15 Scotch Hollow: Little Tortuga

Folk that doesn't take itself too seriously. It can be fun, sexy even.

Scotch Hollow make roots music catchy and sexy again. Nowadays the latter element is often missing, with musicians overthinking things too much. Keeping it deceptively simple is an artform. Making it swing is even harder. They got it right on both counts.

» Full review

14 King Sigh: One Might Wonder

Two men playing up a perfect progressive post-rock storm.

Belgian instrumental post-rock duo consisting of Peter Laermans and Zowie Vangeel, dipped their compositions in a mix of alternative Nineties rock guitar and Eighties new wave synths. Rest assured, they don't snub the progressive time signatures that will frustrate the dance crowd. Their new album One Might Wonder focuses on valleys of harmonics and occasional mountains of controlled mayhem. They throw in a couple of borderline martial drum fills to make it even more scary.

» Full review

13 The Right Now: Starlight

Soul, funk, ace vocals, politics, Good time music that makes you think.

They are a band that believes in the American Dream, not the distorted version polluted by alternative facts. They are not afraid to make a stand and go political in Everything Is Broken, pointing fingers at rampant consumerism and cheap labour. The Right Now have been in the game since 2007, when they were still known as Eli Jones. and with a decade of experience under they belts, they push all the right buttons, with all pistons gleaming and working effortlessly.

» Full review

12 Kaki King with the Porta Girevole Chamber Orchestra: Live at Berklee

Stoic soloist sharing the spotlight with a 12-piece. Everybody wins.

King's tone is unique - just a few notes will suffice to identify her signature sound and she can show it in full during Night After Sidewalk and The Surface Changes. The team effort really paid off when both parties take turns at leading the way, like they do in Neanderthal, Hababout and the album's closer Magazine. By taking two acts out of their comfort zone Live at Berklee is a memoir of a memorable concert, showing the possibilities of 21st Century modern classical collaboration.

» Full review

11 Lost Bear: Donkey Shot

Laughing at musical genre limitations. The last hurrah (for now) of a truly eclectic band.

On Donkey Shot they switch between shoegaze (Bull Drool), post-rock (Back In Reverse) and Captain Beefheart-inspired all out weirdness (the monolithic Little Big Adventure). Creepy New Wave comes to fore during Starlings in which they manage to sound like a very frightened Soft Cell. When they name a track Rap Song. you can be sure it doesn't sound like one.

» Full review

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