Ok, the results are in, based on a slightly hazy combination of customer votes, sales and staff favourites.
We couldn't restrict it to 10 in the end, so we have a Top 25!
1 Mogwai: Every Country’s Sun
A stunning return to form, after the sombre piano-laden “Atomic”. This features everything that Mogwai do best: quiet/loud dynamics, gentle builds, noisy guitars, moments of indie-pop greatness. All round essential.
2 The National: Sleep Well Beast
Quietly majestically beautiful. Classy and restrained, but capturing some of the rock elements that make their live shows so awesome, yet are often not represented on their albums. Side 2 in particular with “The System only dreams in Total Darkness” and “Turtleneck” bookending “Born to Beg” is possibly the greatest 12 minutes of music made by anyone in 2017.
3 Ride: Weather Diaries.
Such a massive relief when the return (after 21 years!) of a band you love, simply isn’t a bit shit. It’s an even greater pleasure that it’s a fabulous triumph of a return, and brilliant from beginning to end. Eschewing (mostly) the shoegaze sound of their classic debut LP an early EPs, it has more in common with the equally classic “Going Blank Again” from 1992. Great songs, beautifully produced.
4 LCD Soundsystem - American Dream
Another surprise return, and arguably their finest album yet. Once they get their groove going, they are irresistible and, with most of the songs clocking well in excess of 6 minutes, they have plenty of time to get going. “How do you sleep?” and “Call the Police” would both be contenders for song of the year!
5 Queens of the Stone Age: Villains
Many were concerned at Mark Ronson being at the helm, fearing a horn-laden pop beast of an album. But instead, it’s sexy swaggering rock and roll album! Hurrah!
6 Arcade Fire: Everything Now
Arcade Fire release their most commercial album to date. The marketing may have been kind of annoying, but the album is a full-blown shiny pop monster. And lurking beneath the pop veneer is a social commentary on modern society that hits the mark consistently. Listen on repeat, and the opening and closing “Everything Now” create “Infinite Content”, which is precisely the theme of the album.
7 Elder: Reflections of a Floating World
A shop favourite from the day we first heard it! Certainly in no way restrained or subtle, this is an album of epic stoner rock, modern prog, endless guitar solos, post-metal vocals, ever-shifting tempos and psychedelic moments, all underlined by some really amazing musical virtuosity. Entirely fabulous.
8 Father John Misty: Pure Comedy
Yes, OK, it sounds a bit like Elton John in places. It’s a beautiful, funny, dark, political album of Vegas piano tunes, all played with an arched eyebrow. Lyrically, it’s genius. Listen closely.
9 Godspeed You! Black Emperor: Luciferian Towers
In many ways, this is the usual oppressively ominous slab of drone from Godspeed. But it’s also oddly beautiful with the sun often poking out from beyond the ever-present clouds of gloom. The accompanying press release had the following inspirational call to arms: “An end to foreign invasions. An end to borders. The total dismantling of the prison-industrial complex. Healthcare, housing, food and water acknowledged as an inalienable human right. The expert fuckers who broke this world never get to speak again”, which would suggest it’s all rather politically infused too….
10 Exquirla: Para Quienes Aun Viven
OMG, Where to start? Spanish post-rock band Toundra (think a Spanish Mogwai) teamed up with a Flamenco singer to create one of the most extraordinary and unexpected treats of the year. Most of the songs start in standard post-rock tradition, with some gentle guitar motifs before building (generally over 8+ minutes) into howling walls of noise as a backdrop to the most impassioned vocals of the year. Singer Nino del Elche sounds like he means EVERY word. It’s hard to describe, except to say it is truly like nothing else. Where to start? Maybe watch this if you have a spare 10 minutes: https://youtu.be/yqxZRSmkrc4
11 Ty Segall: Ty Segall
Possibly his most consistently great (and most accessible) album yet, which is quite a bold statement given how prolific he is. It’s got classic noisy garage rock songs, breaking toilets, an actual love song (!) and a 10 minute epic fuzz rocker!
12 Mac Demarco: This Old Dog
In which Mac chills out even further, and delivers a feel-good, relaxed, quite chilled-out set of mid-paced gently classic songs. It’s NICE and seems tailor-made for sunny afternoon festival sets…
13 Beck: Colors
Beck’s most obviously commercial, dayglo pop album since 1999’s Midnite Vultures, and there’s nothing wrong with that!
14 Grizzly Bear: Painted Ruins
A beautiful, complex, cinematic, chamber-pop album that easily stands alongside their 2 previous “Modern Classic Indie” LPs “Shields” and “Veckatimest”. Very classy indeed.
15 Run The Jewels: RTJ 3
As with most recent good rap albums, there is strong undercurrent of political disenchantment going on here. And while it is sometimes pretty angry stuff, Killer Mike and El-P still sound like they are having way more FUN with it than any other rap outfit going…
16 The War on Drugs: A Deeper Understanding
More Classic American Rock from Adam Granduciel’s War on Drugs with the usual influences of Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen still firmly in place. And while it may have fewer standout moments than the two previous albums, it compensates with glorious production, a few synths here and there, and more of the gloriously epic guitar play-outs that we have come to love. The 11 minute “Thinking of a Place” takes up most of Side 3 and is quite sublime.
17 Bonobo: Migration
More downbeat but beautiful electronica from Bonobo, but with greater depth and variety. There are guest vocalists, up-tempo bangers, generally more everything, really….
18 Inevitable Daydream: I will get to the sky on these strong legs
This year’s Vinylstore Jr Kentish Album of the Year (Syd Arthur took the prize last year). It’s so good, we have waived our usual vinyl-only requirements, as it fully deserves a place on our End of Year List. It’s basically epic stoner rock with proggy influences. The songs are loud and long. The musicianship is awesome. The riffs are massive. It’s just a fabulous album regardless of where it hails from…
19 Thundercat: Drunk
Certainly the FUNKIEST album on our list. Comprising 23 short (mostly about 2 minute) songs, and featuring a whole bunch of guest vocalists (Kendrick, Pharrell etc) it is simply very very funky.
20 Gorillaz: Humanz
Gorillaz gained a lot of points this year for visiting sunny Margate. The album is manic, relentless, diverse (thanks to the massive array of guest singers), but the sheer ENERGY never lets up.
21 IDLES: Brutalism
If you love the modern punk sound of Sleaford Mods and Slaves, then this is for you. It’s lyrically clever, funny, angry, snarling, awesome stuff from Bristol’s mighty IDLES.
22 Jane Weaver: Modern Kosmology
After the excellent “The Silver Globe”, Jane continues to sound like nobody else really, with her unique fusion of great alt-pop songs and Krautrock backing. Glorious.
23 Kendrick Lamar: DAMN.
Angrier and swearier than his previous outings, it’s a veritable State of the Nation address for America from the World’s top rapper.
24 Slowdive: Slowdive
It’s definitely been the year for welcome returns from classic shoegaze bands. And this sounds very much like Slowdive! Hurrah!
25 Public Service Broadcasting: Every Valley
While the previous PSB albums tackled The Space Race, this comes right down to Earth with a beautifully human concept album about the Welsh Coal Mining Industry, It’s very lovely indeed….