Best Albums of 2017
Image credit: Instagram
2017 was a great year for music and an even better year for debuts. With albums from some big names going solo and a clutch of much anticipated LPs both local and abroad, it’s time to wrap up our picks for the best debut albums of 2017.
Ali Barter - A Suitable Girl
Combining catchy hooks and soaring choruses with laid back cool and 90s grunge aesthetic, Ali Barter’s highly anticipated debut album is equal parts emotional and edgy, capturing a sound that’s been sorely missing on the Aussie music scene for a while now. Standouts include Girlie Bits, the toe tapping Cigarette and indie film-esque Please Stay, Ali’s first foray into a full length album is a catchy, determined effort from the rising Aussie star.
Check it out if you’ve been missing the sharp feel of 90s rock or just need some good road tripping music for the summer.
Sampha - Process
The long-time collaborator already has a list of credits to his name. Everyone from Drake, and Kanye to Jessie Ware and SBTRKT have worked with Sampha at some point. But after years working as a guest star, 2017 is the year the South London songwriter stepped into the limelight.
Process is a debut album of rare honesty from a reluctant star. Drawing from wells of emotion every track feels real, powerful and crafted in some magical place.
(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano is a tear jerker. Blood on Me will leave you floored on every listen, and Plastic 100°C is one of the top tunes on 2017. Great headphone music, slip on a pair of headphones and dissolve for a half hour or so with Sampha’s first debut album.
Syd - Fin
A slick, sensual debut solo album from the lead singer of The Internet, Sydney Bennett blends trap beats with influences from her childhood (Think Brandy and R. Kelly) to bring confidence and class to the R&B game.
The singer might only be 24, but coming up with Odd Future and Tyler the Creator has given the Los Angeles born performer a sense of purpose that shines through the entirety of Fin. Stand out tracks include All About Me, Body and Know. Probably one of the most interesting solo projects of 2017, Fin might just be a stepping stone to bigger things for the rising star.
Polish Club - Alright Already
Guitar and drums duo Novak and John-Henry take the listener through a punchy 14 track debut LP that starts with garage and punk rhythms and end with more stripped back ballads and experiments in 60s era covers.
It’s this commitment to showcasing such a broad range of styles that make Polish Club’s big sound unique and worth playing again and again. Equally listenable at home and in the car, Alright Already really shines as a summer party soundtrack. Top tracks include Beat Up and Come Party. Check it out if you need to kick things up a notch.
Cable Ties - Cable Ties
Cable Ties sound like how you remember bands like the Strokes, but the comparisons end when the lyrics sink in. Uniquely Australian, there’s more meaning and craft Jenny McKechnie’s vocals than your average New York indie band. Cable Ties are punk to the core, with lyrics that take a stab at everything from corporate agendas to sleazy music producers. Relevant, topical and crafty, Cable Ties have bottled the energy and verve of their live shows and released it into a suitably self-titled debut album.
Check it out if you love The Strokes and Yeah Yeah Yeahs in their early years.
SZA - Ctrl
SZA a.k.a. Solána Rowe's debut album feels like a response to the music industry’s desire to pigeonhole our favourite artists. It’s a strong, direct album with a big nod to growing up in the 1990s. Inspiration coming from the strangest places, like the nostalgically titled Drew Barrymore.
This might be an R&B album, with cameos from artists like Kendrick Lamar and Travis Scott, but there’s more here than good beats and silky vocals. Ctrl is more broadly about the artist herself. Everything from the anxiety of creating a debut LP to growing up Muslim in the USA.
Top tracks include Drew Barrymore, Love Galore and Doves in the Wind, the latter featuring vocals from Kendrick Lamar. Check it out if you’re digging a more organic RnB sound.
Diet Cig - Swear I’m Good at This
“It’s hard to be a punk while wearing a skirt” - Tummy Ache
Fast, bold and yet remarkably indie, Diet Cig’s intimately crafted debut album of fuzzy pop hooks and sardonically self-aware lyrics is a drum-tight addition to the maturing indie pop scene. While sometimes it feels a little like the Brooklyn duo is ticking as many boxes as they can, Swear I’m Good At This is a welcome follow up to 2015’s Over Easy EP and proof that the hype is real. Standout tracks include Tummy Ache, Link in Bio and Barf Day.
Check out Diet Cig if you like Girlpool and Sleater-Kinney.
Sarah Shook and the Disarmers - Sidelong
Probably the best name for a country band ever, it doesn’t hurt that this is an honest and humble debut album from the breakout country vocalist.
Backed by the craftsmanship of a four piece band Shook’s confident drawl is smooth and hot as whisky. Drawing from an endless well of love, loss and heartbreak, Sarah Shook and The Disarmers takes country music into the 21st Century.
Top tracks include Dwight Yoakam, and Keep the Home Fires Burning, both of which will delight fans of country music and maybe even convert a few that are one the fence. Check it out if you love country singers like Maren Morris and Cam.
Harry Styles - Harry Styles
Perhaps the most anticipated album of 2017, the self-titled debut album from the One Direction star drops the glitzy Brit pop for mellow, melancholy ballads with richer instrumentation. Following in the footsteps of Adele, this is pop that is lyrically sensitive with big rock sensibilities. Serious and strong, Styles is a performer breaking out of the boy band mould with an ease that pulls the listener along with him.
Top tracks include Sign of the Times, Sweet Creature and Carolina. Check it out if you love your Britpop with a bit of classic rock and roll.