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Album Of The Year 2017

   
Album of the Year
 
Welcome to the Album of the Year article for the year 2017!

As always, this list is a collection of records that moved ME - records that left an impression on ME. I am a big believer in the fact that music is a personal experience, and we all have different tastes - different likes and dislikes. My only purpose for compiling this list is to, perhaps, point you in the direction of something that might move you, and also to give you a glimpse at what moved my life musically during the twelve months we called 2017. This is not about debating which albums are "better," this is simply about the music. It's always about the music here at Dr. Music.
 
I know I say this every year but I honestly find it to be the case - a wealth of incredibly great music is available to us. It's all around us, all we have to do is look for it. The things that are spoon-fed to us by media sources such as radio and TV are probably not the greatest representation of the talent that is out there. Gone are the days of being reliant on radio to lead us in the right direction. In this digital age of streaming music, you have to let sources like Spotify and Pandora take you by the hand, or let great print publications (of which there are few) like Classic Rock or Prog deliver the goods. There are also many online sources to steer you in the right direction, but it's something you have to work at a bit. If you consider it a modern day excursion similar to panning for gold, you could find yourself in musical bliss.

The following list is a culmination of what I found throughout 2017. Now please remember, the reason you don't see a lot of the great things that you may have encountered on my list is not because the material was not worthy of mention, it is simply because I never found them or got a chance to sit down and absorb them. It is always a struggle to find enough time to take in as many artists as I possibly can. But, I think it's the same situation for all of us. There are some things that just work their way into the fabric of your life. In the coming months, there will be certain music that will define 2018 for you. Sometimes it's the same music that touches millions, and other times it's music that only a few come to know. But, it's that personal journey that is so very special to each of us, and I'd like to share my personal journey through 2017 with you....

Honorable Mention:
From The Fires - Greta Van Fleet, Redemption - Jeff Scott Soto, Feed The Machine - Nickelback, Heaven Upside Down - Marilyn Manson, The Brotherhood - Lynch Mob

The Honorable Mention list is always difficult because any of the selections here are more than worthy of a spot on the list. Again, I would stress that this list is very personal and the things you see before you are the things that were painted onto my musical canvas throughout the year. They each represent a piece of the puzzle that was my musical life in 2017.

One of the most controversial items on the Honorable Mention list has to be Greta Van Fleet's From The Fires double EP. I have made it a rule not to include EP's on this list, but this is a compilation of two EP's (which were both released in 2017) with a total of 8 songs. It amounts to a longplayer when together, and that is how they were released. But that's not why it's controversial. The fact that they sound almost exactly like an early 70's Led Zeppelin is what might cause discussion and conflict. Are they good musicians? Oh yes. They can play and get the job done. Are they original? Not even close. They are a clone of Zeppelin, but for me that was okay. They do it better than anyone I've ever heard, and they write songs that fit the style perfectly. Other than the fact that they're copping Zep's style, what's not to like?
The other controversial album on the Honorable Mention list is Nickelback's Feed The Machine, of course. Nickelback's love/hate relationship with the world is something I completely ignore. Who they marry, their lifestyle, the way they look.... all of it makes no difference to me. It's all about the music and what goes into my ears from the album. Yes, they're too pretty for metal. So what. Yes, they "sell out" and write formulaic, catchy pop radio hits only to boost sales. Again I say, so what. They can also write a killer heavy rock song, and they do that more than naught on Feed The Machine. And, the production quality, albeit a little too slick at times, is always top notch. They have the delicate balance of hard rock and pop down to a science and nobody does it better. You know the world is changing when Marilyn Manson isn't one of the controversial choices on a list. Manson's Heaven Upside Down had more than its fair share of shock and awe, but it was simply another return to form for the modern king of shock rock. 2012's Born Villain started it, 2015's The Pale Emperor continued it, now 2017's Heaven Upside Down has completed the full return of classic Manson music. If you're a fan of the first few Manson albums, you should rejoice at what he did this past year.

The last two albums I want to mention have two of the best singers out there today. Jeff Scott Soto is always a force to be reckoned with, no matter what he is involved with. As Yngwie Malmsteen's singer he astonished me back in 1985 with the Marching Out album. As Journey's singer he shocked audiences with his strength and range. And even when he sings on stage with Trans-Siberian Orchestra he is a wonderment of diversity and immense power. His Redemption release for Frontiers Records this year gave us a piece of every quality that Soto still has in his arsenal, and there are many. Another man with a deadly arsenal of singing talents is Oni Logan of Lynch Mob. On the band's 2017 release The Brotherhood, Logan shows off all of those talents and fits them into the band's music perfectly. And when you got a guy like George Lynch behind you laying down riffs and solos, what could possibly go wrong?



THE TOP 10


 
10.    The Dark Element - The Dark Element
When ex-Nightwish singer Anette Olzon decided to join former Sonata Arctica guitarist and songwriter Jani Liimatainen for this project, it was pretty automatic that it would make the list. Olzon sounds a bit more comfortable here than she did in Nightwish, and Liimatainen writes some excellent songs for her to shine. 

To read the full review and an interview with Annette Olzon CLICK HERE.

To watch the video for "My Sweet Mystery" from The Dark Element album, CLICK HERE.


9.     III - Shokker
Hard to believe, but in my 15 years of doing this a local band has never made it into the Top 10 year end list.... until now.
Shokker is a traditional heavy metal outfit from the blue collar alleyways of Chicago. With their roots deeply buried in traditional metal, this band has all the tools to single-handedly recreate a New Wave Of Traditional Heavy Metal. Putting one of the best female metal singers I've ever heard in front of some pretty impressive players gives Shokker a great shot at getting some national exposure.

To read the full review CLICK HERE.

To watch the video for "Midnight Sun" CLICK HERE.



8.     Light In The Dark - Revolution Saints
If you're unfamiliar with Revolution Saints, it is a supergroup with Jack Blades (bass), Doug Aldrich (guitar), and former Ozzy and Journey drummer Deen Castronovo (drums/vocals). It's impressive talent with even more impressive writing and production. Everyone knows Castronovo is a master behind his kit, but he astounds as a vocalist here as well. If you are a fan of Journey and classic melodic rock, this is a necessary addition to your music rotation.

To read the full review and watch the video for "Light In The Dark" CLICK HERE.


7.     We're Not In Kansas Anymore - Bobby Kimball
Bobby Kimball, known for lending his voice to Toto hits like "Hold The Line," "Rosanna," and "Make Believe," puts forth the same kind of soul and passion with this solo release. If Kimball's instantly identifiable voice is one that makes you warm and fuzzy inside, this record will live with you like a cozy blanket for quite some time.

To read the full review and watch an album preview video CLICK HERE.



6.     To The Bone - Steven Wilson
The leader of progressive rock giant Porcupine Tree continues to produce high quality prog rock that offers no apologies. This one may not be as progressive and edgy, but it is still a set of songs that hasn't been done before. Everything is uniquely original and filled with memorable moments, in both prog and classic rock capacities.

To watch the video for "Permanating" CLICK HERE.


5.     27861 - Parmalee
I find something to like in all genres of music, but country has always been difficult for me to fully appreciate. Stereotypical tales of pickups and barstools has always seemed boring and musically flat for me. Enter Parmalee....
I have been doing this for 15 years and have never had a country music release in my Top 10 for the year. Parmalee is a whole different kind of country band. I've never heard a band in the genre that is so lyrically strong and crafty, but at the same time instrumentally perfect in their approach. These songs are all fun and interesting to listen to, and singer Matt Thomas turns a phrase as good as anyone out there, country music or otherwise.

To watch the video for "Sunday Morning" CLICK HERE.
 


4.     Dreamcar - Dreamcar
Oh man. If you are a kid from the 80's, and loved music like Duran Duran, The Fixx, Depeche Mode and so many of the others of that New Wave era, this will blow your leg warmers off. I've never heard a band sound like they were directly plucked from an era quite like Dreamcar sounds. The great part about this band is their songwriting, though. They seem to totally nail the vibe of the 80's writer in their delivery. New Wave 80's music had a specific structure to it, and this band has studied it and applied the science perfectly. Totally 80's. Totally tubular.

To watch the video for "Kill For Candy" CLICK HERE.
 
3rd Place

The Mission - Styx
The classic rock giants put out new music and were once again reborn. This is definitely one of the best albums in the Styx catalog, and that's saying something. After a long drought, they deliver a new set of songs that highlights everything that is great about this band. Singer/keyboardist Lawrence Gowan shines brighter than ever before, and Tommy Shaw continues to prove his worth time and time again. One of the most talented bands out there has finally released new music that shows of all their wares.

To read the full review and watch the video for "Gone Gone Gone" CLICK HERE.
 
2nd Place

Psychotic Symphony - Sons Of Apollo
What happens when you get some of the top musicians in the world together in a room and ask them to make an album? Well, one of two things can happen. You either get an ego-fest that ends in everyone jockeying for the spotlight and the record sounding unbalanced, or you get a masterpiece. The latter happened in the case of Sons Of Apollo.
With drummer Mike Portnoy and keyboardist Derek Sherinian leading the way, the rounded out lineup of guitarist Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal, bassist Billy Sheehan, and singer Jeff Scott Soto made this explode out of the atmosphere. The writing is adventurous enough to showcase the talent, but still tame enough to make it accessible for the average listener. This is greatness personified.

To read the full review and watch the video for "Coming Home" CLICK HERE.

 Album of the Year

Hard To Kill - Heaven & Earth
The fact that there are people looking at this right now asking who Heaven & Earth is, is a crime against music. This band has it all and does it all. They just might have the best vocalist in the world. They just might have the most passionate and accomplished guitarist in the world. I could continue this for every position in the band, but I will just tell you to hear it for yourself. One thing I can definitely tell you is that Hard To Kill was the best thing I heard in 2017.
Hard To Kill is a classic rock phoenix rising from the ashes of bands like Rainbow, Bad Company, Led Zeppelin, and Deep Purple. If you are someone that loves classic rock and thinks there are no great new bands left in the world, and the music that you love no longer exists -- you haven't heard this band. It's time to change your ways and experience Hard To Kill.

To read the full review and watch the video for "The Game Has Changed" CLICK HERE.


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Here are a few lists from other publications:


ASSOCIATED PRESS
1.       CTRL by SZA
2.       DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar
3.       Freudian by Daniel Caesar
4.       4:44 by Jay-Z
5.       Reputation by Taylor Swift
6.       The Thrill of It All by Sam Smith
7.       Masseduction by St. Vincent
8.       War & Leisure by Miguel
9.       H.E.R. by H.E.R.
10.     Something to Tell You by HAIM

BILLBOARD

1.       DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar
2.       CTRL by SZA
3.       Melodrama by Lorde
4.       4:44 by Jay-Z
5.       American Teen by Khalid
6.       Reputation by Taylor Swift
7.       Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1 by Calvin Harris
8.       Culture by Migos
9.       Process by Sampha
10.     Harry Styles by Harry Styles

CLASSIC ROCK


1.       Villains by Queens of the Stone Age
2.       BCCTV by Black Country Communion
3.       Concrete and Gold by Foo Fighters
4.       Carry Fire by Robert Plant
5.       The Optimist by Anathema
6.       Anything Could Happen by Bash & Pop
7.       WICK by Royal Thunder
8.       Heavy Fire by Black Star Riders
9.       Sleeping Through the War by All Them Witches
10.     Into the Great Unknown by H.E.A.T.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

1.       Melodrama by Lorde
2.       DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar
3.       CTRL by SZA
4.       Masseduction by St. Vincent
5.       All American Made by Margo Price
6.       American Dream by LCD Soundsystem
7.       Big Fish Theory by Vince Staples
8.       What Now by Sylvan Esso
9.       From a Room Vol. 1 and 2 by Chris Stapleton
10.     Life Will See You Now by Jens Lekman

KERRANG!

1.       The Warmth of a Dying Sun by Employed to Serve
2.       The Spark by Enter Shikari
3.       Forever by Code Orange
4.       Emperor of Sand by Mastodon
5.       The Dusk in Us by Converge
6.       Concrete and Gold by Foo Fighters
7.       The Peace and the Panic by Neck Deep
8.       Wolves by Rise Against
9.       After the Party by The Menzingers
10.     All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell by PVRIS

LOUDWIRE

1.       Nightmare Logic by Power Trip
2.       Emperor of Sand by Mastodon
3.       Forever by Code Orange
4.       Wrong One to Fuck With by Dying Fetus
5.       Heartless by Pallbearer
6.       Devil Is Fine by Zeal & Ardor
7.       E by Enslaved
8.       Red Before Black by Cannibal Corpse
9.       The Dusk in Us by Converge
10.     Mirror Reaper by Bell Witch

METAL HAMMER

1.       Emperor of Sand by Mastodon
2.       Mareridt by Myrkur
3.       Forever by Code Orange
4.       E by Enslaved
5.       Devil Is Fine by Zeal & Ardor
6.       Motherblood by Grave Pleasures
7.       Hiss Spun by Chelsea Wolfe
8.       You Are We by While She Sleeps
9.       Medusa by Paradise Lost
10.     The Dusk in Us by Converge

MOJO

1.       American Dream by LCD Soundsystem
2.       Preservation by Nadia Reid
3.       Villains by Queens Of The Stone Age
4.       We Got It from Here... Thank You 4 Your Service by A Tribe Called Quest
5.       Modern Kosmology by Jane Weaver
6.       Masseduction by St. Vincent
7.       DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar
8.       The Navigator by Hurray for the Riff Raff
9.       English Tapas by Sleaford Mods
10.     Party by Aldous Harding

NME

1.       Melodrama by Lorde
2.       Visions of a Life by Wolf Alice
3.       DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar
4.       Pure Comedy by Father John Misty
5.       American Dream by LCD Soundsystem
6.       Common Sense by J Hus
7.       CTRL by SZA
8.       Lust for Life by Lana Del Rey
9.       Godfather by Wiley
10.     As You Were by Liam Gallagher

PEOPLE

1.       Reputation by Taylor Swift
2.       DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar
3.       Melodrama by Lorde
4.       Rainbow by Kesha
5.       4:44 by Jay-Z
6.       Tell Me You Love Me by Demi Lovato
7.       ÷ by Ed Sheeran
8.       Beautiful Trauma by Pink
9.       The Breaker by Little Big Town
10.     CTRL by SZA

POP MATTERS

1.       DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar
2.       Melodrama by Lorde
3.       The Plunge by Fever Ray
4.       Okovi by Zola Jesus
5.       American Dream by LCD Soundsystem
6.       Process by Sampha
7.       I See You by The xx
8.       Take Me Apart by Kelela
9.       New Energy by Four Tet
10.     Black Origami by Jlin

PROG

1.       To the Bone by Steven Wilson
2.       The Optimist by Anathema
3.       Every Valley by Public Service Broadcasting
4.       Is This the Life We Really Want? by Roger Waters
5.       From the Trees by Peter Hammill
6.       Emperor of Sand by Mastodon
7.       Grimspound by Big Big Train
8.       The Night Siren by Steve Hackett
9.       Malina by Leprous
10.     The Tower by Motorpsycho

Q

1.       DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar
2.       American Dream by LCD Soundsystem
3.       Visions of a Life by Wolf Alice
4.       Melodrama by Lorde
5.       Humanz by Gorillaz
6.       Masseduction by St. Vincent
7.       Pure Comedy by Father John Misty
8.       Prince of Tears by Baxter Dury
9.       Villains by Queens Of The Stone Age
10.     Sleep Well Beast by The National

REVOLVER

1.       Forever by Code Orange
2.       Nightmare Logic by Power Trip
3.       Emperor of Sand by Mastodon
4.       Hiss Spun by Chelsea Wolfe
5.       The Dusk in Us by Converge
6.       Post Self by Godflesh
7.       Modern Ruin by Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes
8.       Mass VI by Amenra
9.       Motherblood by Grave Pleasures
10.     Soul Structure by Higher Power


ROLLING STONE

1.       DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar
2.       Melodrama by Lorde
3.       Songs of Experience by U2
4.       Rainbow by Kesha
5.       American Dream by LCD Soundsystem
6.       American Teen by Khalid
7.       Reputation by Taylor Swift
8.       Villains by Queens of the Stone Age
9.       Culture by Migos
10.     The Thrill of It All by Sam Smith


SPIN

1.       DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar
2.       Capacity by Big Thief
3.       CTRL by SZA
4.       Melodrama by Lorde
5.       A Deeper Understanding by The War on Drugs
6.       Black Origami by Jlin
7.       World Spirituality Classics 1: The Ecstatic Music of Alice Coltrane                              Turiyasangitananda by Alice Coltrane
8.       After Laughter by Paramore
9.       Not Even Happiness by Julie Byrne
10.     Aromanticism by Moses Sumney

STEREOGUM

1.       Melodrama by Lorde
2.       DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar
3.       Nothing Feels Natural by Priests
4.       No Shape by Perfume Genius
5.       CTRL by SZA
6.       A Deeper Understanding by The War on Drugs
7.       Guppy by Charly Bliss
8.       Out in the Storm by Waxahatchee
9.       American Dream by LCD Soundsystem
10.     A Crow Looked at Me by Mount Eerie

ULTIMATE CLASSIC ROCK

1.       Carry Fire by Robert Plant
2.       Is This the Life We Really Want? by Roger Waters
3.       Southern Blood by Gregg Allman
4.       Buckingham/McVie by Lindsey Buckingham & Christine McVie
5.       Hitchhiker by Neil Young
6.       Chuck by Chuck Berry
7.       The Mission by Styx
8.       Dark Matter by Randy Newman
9.       Americana by Ray Davies
10.     Paranormal by Alice Cooper

USA TODAY

1.       Melodrama by Lorde
2.       Painted Ruins by Grizzly Bear
3.       DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar
4.       Something to Tell You by HAIM
5.       CTRL by SZA
6.       Pure Comedy by Father John Misty
7.       Masseduction by St. Vincent
8.       Big Fish Theory by Vince Staples
9.       Out in the Storm by Waxahatchee
10.     Sleep Well Beast by The National

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Prisoner by Ryan Adams
Fake Sugar by Beth Ditto
Reflections of a Floating World by Elder
Painted Ruins by Grizzly Bear
Black Origami by Jlin
The Iceberg by Oddisee
Slowdive by Slowdive
Hot Thoughts by Spoon
Aromanticism by Moses Sumney
The Temple of I & I by Thievery Corporation
The Lonely, the Lonesome & the Gone by Lee Ann Womack
I See You by The xx

WBEZ/SOUND OPINIONS

Jim DeRogatis
1.     Feel Your Feelings Fool! by The Regrettes
2.     Cost of Living by Downtown Boys
3.     DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar
4.     Nothing Feels Natural by Priests
5.     Rips by Rips
6.     Mental Illness by Aimee Mann
7.     The Autobiography by Vic Mensa
8.     In Between by The Feelies
9.     Silver/Lead by Wire
10.   Lotta Sea Lice by Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile

Greg Kot
1.     RTJ3 by Run the Jewels
2.     The Hanged Man by Ted Leo
3.     DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar
4.     Saint or Sinner by Sir the Baptist
5.     Cost of Living by Downtown Boys
6.     Relatives in Descent by Protomartyr
7.     The Autobiography by Vic Mensa
8.     If All I Was Was Black by Mavis Staples
9.     Aromanticism by Moses Sumney
10.   Nothing Feels Natural by Priests

THE WIRE

1.       Paradiso by Chino Amobi
2.       Peasant by Richard Dawson
3.       Tommy by Klein
4.       Black Origami by Jlin
5.       The Kid by Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith
6.       Pariah by Jana Rush
7.       Simultonality by Joshua Abrams
8.       Lack by Pan Daijing
9.       Fly or Die by Jaimie Branch
10.     Reaching for Indigo by Circuit Des Yeux

YAHOO MUSIC

1.       DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar
2.       Sleep Well Beast by The National
3.       Slowdive by Slowdive
4.       Masseduction by St. Vincent
5.       Melodrama by Lorde
6.       4:44 by Jay-Z
7.       Harry Styles by Harry Styles
8.       A Deeper Understanding by The War on Drugs
9.       Rainbow by Kesha
10.     Mental Illness by Aimee Mann












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