That’s a wrap, now onto the next……..
2017 was quite the turbulent, up and down year in all areas. Politically, economically, and artistically, and it all truly comes down to who you talk too. For me, politically, personally and economically, I had quite the down year. Politically I hate my country and all that it appears to stand for now, economically I’m currently broke (although that is looking better each day) and personally, with the exception of my family, I have very little to show in the way of a personal life (I’m woefully single and all the friends I have that I would actually enjoy spending time with live 45 minutes or better from me and with my schedule…that sucks). So what’s left? The answer is simple, it’s music. And even that had an odd up and down sense to it this year.
For me, music is life. It’s my best friend when I’m lonely, my therapist when I’m perplexed, and my guidance when I’m lost, and this year, it was the beaming light in an otherwise darkened sky.
Huge losses were felt throughout the music world in 2017, so let’s start there to get it out of the way. The suicide deaths of two monster vocalists in the metal/rock world cast huge shadows over spring and summer with the losses of Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington. I’m not going to dwell on it too much because it’s been talked about ad-nauseum, especially from a negative perspective, so what I will say is Cornell’s death, coming the day before the start of the Rock on the Range music festival in Columbus, Ohio, gave the music community a chance to come together and pause a moment and unite in grief…and we did. In that stadium, throughout the weekend, there were moments of great unity, when voices were raised, and tears were shed for the loss of a legend and a musical hero. Most notably for me was when Myles Kennedy sang “Say Hello to Heaven” during his band’s set. It was hands down the most inspired and mind boggling single performance I’ve seen in 2017.
Now onto all the good 2017 produced and that was the music. Now before I launch into my top 5 albums list, I want to give a public apology to Nothing More. I preemptively trashed their new release before hearing the whole thing, and even after hearing the whole thing, I maintained that although it was an OK release, it paled in comparison to their prior releases. As you’ll see in a little bit, I’ve since changed my opinion on this release. So, to the guys in Nothing More, here’s admitting I jumped the gun a bit, and broke my own rules, and didn’t give Stories We Tell Ourselves the fair shake I should’ve from the beginning; great, great album guys.
So, without further ado, here are my personal, TOP 5 albums of 2017 (although I can easily do 20).
5 – Styx – “The Mission” (June 16th) This album was a triumphant return to form from a legendary band. How Styx is not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ranks right up there with Bigfoot and the Lochness monsters when it comes to great mysteries of the world. Years of relentless touring and 13 years out of the studio produced their best piece of work since the 70’s. This album is wonderfully Styx.
4 – Foo Fighters – “Concrete and Gold” (September 15th) Dave Grohl can do no wrong. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, he’s the guy we’ll all talk about for decades to come as THE guy in music from this generation. From the very first growl of the first single “Run” I knew this album was going to be one of the best of the year.
3- Nothing More – “The Stories We Tell Ourselves” (September 15th) 9/15 was the best day of the year when it came to music. This album surprised me when it shouldn’t have (see apology above), but then even after I’ve accepted it as a great album…it still surprises me. The depth of this album lyrically and musically is truly understated while it remains accessible to the commercial listener. Three Grammy nominations can’t be wrong.
2- Steven Wilson – “To the Bone” (August 18th) Steven Wilson continues to be the torch bearer of Prog Rock and album oriented music and yet he produced a piece of work that allows you to listen to individual tunes in one sitting. This is SW’s attempt at a “radio friendly” record without compromising his preferences, and his style. At times I hear influences from Peter Gabriel and Prince. It is truly a wonderfully constructed release.
Before we get to my favorite album of the year, here’s what 6- 10 would’ve looked like:
6- Galactic Cowboys – “Long Way Back to the Moon” (November 14th)
7- Dreamcar – “Dreamcar” (May 12th)
8- Glassjaw – “Material Control” (December 1st)
9- Butcher Babies– “Lilith” (October 27th)
10- Queens of the Stone Age – “Villains” (August 25th)
And now for #1
1-Pain of Salvation– “Passing Light of Day” (January 13th) It’s shocking to me that with all of the amazing releases that came out this year, it was the first one on my radar in 2017 that left the longest lasting impact. This album has everything, heaviness (both lyrically and musically), the technicality you’d expect from a Prog metal act and emotion, which may seem like an odd positive from a metal release, but it proves to be the strongest part of this album. Daniel Gildenlow, the vocalist and main song writer and guitarist, nearly died of a bacterial infection a few years back that took him out of the music making game for a bit. I hate to say this, but I’m thankful for that illness, because his writing and performance on this album is nothing short of amazing. Heart wringing emotion, to the type of anger you’d see from someone throwing their hands up and exclaiming “WHY!” This release not only stood the test of time when it came to 2017, but it is on my list at the end of the decade, and may even crack my all time list when it’s all said and done.
Written by Chris “The Progtologist” Elio for Bloodrock Media on December 26, 2017