For our first ever "Top Ten" end of year entry for 2017 we reached out to Aponym, Cork/Waterford's finest purveyors of Progressive Post Metal and asked their Stellar Six stringer Dave Longan to let us know what releases struck a major chord with him last year.
Aponym themselves have had a phenomenal 2017 with the release of their acclaimed debut E.P 'Deus Incognitus', along with a slew of high profile gigs and shows throughout the country including the highly coveted 'Siege Of Limerick' Festival.
Aponym have just released the Live E.P '24.11.17' which documents their debut headline gig at Fred Zeppelin's Cork on November 24th last year.
The E.P. is highly recommend and available on the following sites:
10. Post-Punk Podge & the Technohippies - Kick Against The Pricks
(Released November 24th)
A strong release from the ever inspiring and inventive Limerick music scene. Moving from genre to genre like an otter swimming through an oil slick while also hitting on topics such as political corruption, the mental abrasion of modern society, and defiance.
The quality of the production is far better than most people unfamiliar with the Irish music scene outside of Dublin will expect. The wave of energy in ‘Mass Deception’ around 3 mins in completely caught me off-guard and the EP only continues to impressive from there.
9. Mastodon - Emperor of Sand
(Released March 31th)
A hotly anticipated release from what are undoubtedly the most interesting mainstream metal bands around today. In the interest of honesty, Mastodon are one of my all-time favourite bands and any release from them that lives up to the standards of their previous releases would easily find itself on this list. But the reason it isn’t higher is because that’s exactly what it is, another Mastodon album. While, in the trilogy of albums they’ve released in the 2010s, this would be my favourite, it merely meets expectations. It fails to properly make
itself stand out within the band’s discography.
But as I said, another Mastodon album is still an enjoyable listen and it certainly earns it’s spot on this list.
8. Thundercat - Drunk
(Released February 24th)
Most solo albums from artists mostly known for their work as a session musician tend to be self-affirming ego boosters. 40-60 mins of them showing off all the licks they didn’t get to use over the course of the last few years. Thundercat, rather than falling into that pit (As someone as talented as him would have every right to), has instead come out with an album of short, sweet tunes that mask his virtuosic playing behind a cloak of hooks and funk grooves. But dig a little deeper than the surface of soothing flows, you’ll find a complexity to his playing that will leave you relistening over and over.
7. The Crawling - Anatomy of Loss
(Released April 7th)
I was lucky enough to catch these lads at Autumn Siege Of Limerick last year and there were unquestionably my highlight of the day. Their blend of Black. Death and Doom Metal had me eagerly awaiting their next release, and I certainly wasn’t disappointed.
With a sound and intensity that reminds me of early Gojira, the band has pulled off with an album mostly recorded in a home office, what many of their mainstream contemporaries have failed to do. Create an album that truly pulls the listener into their world.
One of Ireland’s most ambitious metal bands has certainly proved they’ve earned their place.
6. Van Panther - Hark!
(Released June 1st)
From the mind of multi-instrumentalist and producer Kieran Ralph, I found myself reaching for this EP over and over on the long drives home this summer. The infectiously catchy hooks and vivid lyrics paint an image that perfectly relates to the feeling of being 20-something in Ireland in 2017. Songs like ‘A Pantomime’ shift from an almost lullaby feeling to chaotic and powerful choruses. While songs like ‘Taking Pills in the Basement’ seem to revel in their dry and punchy grooves.
5. Chelsea Wolfe - Hiss Spun
(Released September 22nd)
After the release of her 2015 album Abyss, I genuinely wondered if Chelsea Wolfe could pull off another phenomenal album. For most artists in her field, reinventing your sound while creating acclaimed albums gets pretty damn difficult after the 3rd album, yet Wolfe is now 5 albums in and shows no sign of stopping. Although Hiss Spun follows on from the sound on her previous album, there seems to be a more personal approach to the song writing on this album. Each song easily finds it’s own sound on the album, while constantly maintaining an intense, deep punch.
4. Run The Jewels - Run The Jewels 3
(Released January 13th)
Before I start talking about this album, yes, I know it was released digitally on December 24th 2016. But at the time of writing it’s been out for less than a year. Therefore, I’m including it.
Bar the album at the top of this list, this album was by far the most fun I had listening to an album this year. Not only is the production top-notch, as always, but this album’s lyrics excel in both sincerity and hilarity. Ranging from songs packed to the brim with one liners like Legend Has It, to politically and personally charged tracks like A Report to the Shareholders / Kill Your Masters, it’s an album where the El-P and Killer Mike seem to revel in their ability to perfectly crafted tracks over and over. This album was easily one of my most listened-to albums of the year.
3. And So I Watch You From Afar - The Endless Shimmering
(Released October 20th)
ASIWYFA are easily my favourite Irish band. Over the last 10 years, they have revived an entire genre and injected a condensed shot of fun into a scene that was painfully devoid of it. Over the last few years, as the band has brought in more instrumentation and implemented more vocals to their songs, I began to wonder if the band didn’t feel confident in their ability to pull off the riff-y energy of their first two albums, and instead chose to focus on crafting dense, traditionally structured songs. However, on The Endless Shimmering, the band has not only proved that suspicion wrong, but blasted it into the stratosphere with the power of riffs and friendship.
While still maintaining the expanded sense of melody the band has developed over the year, this purely instrumental album oozes energy and conviction. Dying Giants in particular stands as the unignorable centrepiece to this album. On the production side of things, the album maintains a very lively sound. Two guitars hard-panned, pumping drums and thick bass down the middle. It’s an album that wants you to hear every fibre and feel the communication going on between the members of a band that over a decade later, is still kicking arses and taking names. If you’re in need of a good riffin’, get some ASIWYFA into you.
2. Converge - The Dusk In Us
(Released November 3rd)
In the past year, as a production nerd, I’ve had a (Not so) mild obsession with Kurt Ballou, producer and guitarist of Converge. His unique production sound has found it’s way on most of my favourite albums of the past few years. I had been a bit reluctant to check our the band he made his name with though. Years of associating the term ‘Metalcore’ with emo fringes and songs about how much your Dad sucks for not letting you get your nose pierced made we wary of Converge. But with a new Converge album coming out, I said I’d actually check them out.
Simply put, I have listened to this album every single day for the past 2 weeks and have no intention of stopping. The balance of emotion and relentless intensity makes this a must-listen for 2017. Although I would’ve preferred the B-side ‘Eve’ to the track ‘Trigger’, I still can’t honestly fault this album. Another perfect Converge album.
1. Neil Cicierega - Mouth Moods
(Released January 23rd)
I honestly have no idea how to start describing this album. But I must say, this album has been such a source of joy and entertainment for me this year that to put anything else at the top of this list would be me lying to myself and to everyone else.
The 3rd album in a series of Mashup albums by internet renaissance man, Neil Cicierega, this album will quite simply warp the way you look at music forever. I am very consciously avoiding talking about the contents of this album as, in a surreal way that is only too fitting for this album, there are spoilers for each song, but the payoff for coming into this album blind is honestly worth it.
I feel that all too often, we can get sucked into the mystic or darkness around music. I’m guilty of this myself, most of my list is stuff that can be described as ‘emotional and intense’. But we all need some levity in our lives, and what I feel this album brings in truckloads is the ability to show the listener what music really is, a punch of hairless apes shaking the air and reacting to it. So come into this album with an open mind, a desire to be entertained and a willingness to have fun. If you do, will be rewarded to no end by this absolute masterpiece.