As we get to the last of our end of year countdowns, it’s time to present the Top Twenty albums of 2017. Among this list you’ll find rock, metal, hip hop and many other configurations of genres. All these records were awesome and while many worthy records didn’t make the cut, these twenty five do a great job of showcasing the best sounds of the year. Enjoy!
BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE: HUG OF THUNDER
PORTUGAL. THE MAN: WOODSTOCK
MOSES SUMNEY: AROMANTICISM
THE XX: I SEE YOU
20. WOLF PARADE: CRY CRY CRY
After a lengthy hiatus, the foursome of Krug, Boeckner, DeCaro, and Thompson, released a record that’s just as good, if not better than what they delivered before taking time away from the industry. The album is at moments sinister, upbeat and eclectic, and further elevates their craft to a very interesting level. Hopefully they’ll stick around for more, because “Cry Cry Cry” is a record old and new fans alike can get behind.
19. PHOEBE BRIDGES: STRANGER IN THE ALPS
One of the loneliest sounding albums on the list finds us out the gate at number nineteen. Bridges sulks hazardously and openly about her struggles with depression and anxiety for our future using nothing more than her soft voice and eloquent guitar. It’s a tough album to get into and it forces you to examine your life in a different rear view. A remarkable record great for just you and your thoughts.
18. THE NATIONAL: SLEEP WELL BEAST
After so long, a total of seven albums now under their belt, the National are changing. However, some things stay the same. Matt Berninger in the vocal role maintains his sullen depression and agony while the brothers Dessner still maintain a tight sync with each other. New elements such a more synth heavy sound, and more speedy songs like “Day I Died” alongside the velocity of “Turtleneck” all add this new exciting energy to the band. The last record wasn’t anything remarkable, but I think on this one the National are back to the core and have accelerated into entirely new terrain.
17. JAPANESE BREAKFAST: SOFT SOUNDS FROM ANOTHER PLANET
Michelle Zauner as Japanese Breakfast is able to get sensual, and sexual with minimal effort, and it never seems like it’s being forced. From early on during her second album in two years, you can sense her lyrics and instrumentation are open to new routes of exploration. I haven’t heard the first record yet, but that’s mostly because of the aroma “Soft Sounds” gives off. It’s great for a lazy day at the house, or for a easy bike ride through the park, with only you and the energy of the day. If you haven’t dove in, you should, it’s some good stuff.
16. THE WAR ON DRUGS: A DEEPER UNDERSTANDING.
While the Adam Granduciel led War on Drugs has been gradually getting more and more traction with each release, on “A Deeper Understanding” the band ventures beyond their comfort zone. The result? A strong fourth album that is sure to lead to bigger pay days and more acclaim and acknowledgement. Listened to in a single listen, the ten songs join to make a cohesive album that’s filled with intricate musical arrangements and honest, personal lyrics that shine a light even more on the depth of the band.
15. GRIZZLY BEAR: PAINTED RUINS
It seems like every few years, another chapter in the vastly organic Grizzly Bear albums comes out, and Ed Droste, along with Dan Rossen, Chris Taylor, and Christopher Bear have somehow refined their sound even more than in the past. Songs like “Morning Sound,” perfectly paint a picture of the depth that the foursome are capable of. There’s not a bad song on the record, which helps to clear the way in a more cohesive style. They keep doing it, and I’m sure in a few years, they will have grown even more. For now, the Bear is hibernating, and touring.
14. NINE INCH NAILS: ADD VIOLENCE
This time last year, Reznor and Ross as nine inch nails released part one of a trilogy of Ep’s. This year we got this excellent new breath of fresh air with “Add Violence.” From the opening moments of “Less Than,” Reznor delves into experimentation after experimentation. “This isn’t the Place” is a unique beauty of eeriness, but the complex, descending nature of “The Background World” showcases Reznor’s rang as a vocalist, but also some of the craziest beats and noise he’s ever concocted.
13. SPOON: HOT THOUGHTS
I first heard this band over a decade ago, when they appeared on the Conan O’Brien show, and honestly I wasn’t impressed at all. However, the moment finally came for my understanding during the exciting, and varied sounds of “Hot Thoughts.” I’ve heard from longtime fans that they didn’t enjoy the album, so maybe everything got flipped on its head in terms of how far they pushed themselves. Lead single and title track has, for good reason been all over the radio for the last months, and other songs like “WhisperI’lllistentohearit” are minimally gothically inspired, with a dark undertone trying to get through the more beats driven sections of the song. This is repeated multiple times on the record and ultimately adds to the individuality of the Austin Texas based band.
12. FEIST: PLEASURE
When Leslie Feist releases an album you’re never quite sure which Feist will be showing herself to the world. Her first solo album “The Reminder” was an elegant, emotionally vulnerable but upbeat album, while “Metals’ fell flat with hard edges and a certain incoherent nature. However, with her amazing “Pleasure,” it seems as though she’s going back to her softly sung variance of folk rock. Even a song like “Any Party” has a down home ho-hum to it that makes it exciting, like something you’d hear in a western drama in the 60’s. “Century” featuring Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker is rustic in all the best ways a Feist song can be, joining another great track in the form of “Pleasure,” which for my money steals the entire album, which lands at number twelve on the Top Twenty Albums of 2017.
11.CONVERGE: THE DUSK IN US
It’s reassuring when a band of twenty plus years is still capable of making some of the best aggressive music around. Massachusetts natives Converge seem delighted and exposed as they venture through their ninth record. Openers like”A Single Tear,” tear open your awareness, while slow burning, cathartic tracks like the title track show just how much thought and emotion Bannon and Ballou and company have in their engine, ready to spew forth. Bannon’s voice is the driving force, but the storm enveloping everything else only adds to his deliberate moment of truth.
10. LCD SOUNDSYSTEM: AMERICAN DREAM
When a band comes back from a breakup, or whatever it was that LCD did a few years ago, you never quite know what the end result will be. In this case, we got a record that easily matches the eclectic wave that James Murphy and company found early in their career. All of the songs featured on “American Dream” weave and wind like before, but there’s a far amount of experimentation happening for the NYC Electro Punk pioneers. “I used to” rolls through a jungle cautiously yet focused on its end point, while “how do you sleep?” shines bright like a fire in a far off country, isolated by darkness and joy. After each album I wonder where this band can go, and each time they surprise but never disappoint. Let the second phase of LCD Soundsystem continue, and get excited for whatever result we’re treated with.
9. SAMPHA: PROCESS
This has been quite the year for the silky smooth voice and piano murmurings of Sampha Sisay, or just Sampha for short. From the early moments of his excellent “Process,” Sampha narrates a beautifully downtrodden song, but it doesn’t end with opener “Plastic 100* C.” in fact the emotional intensity only gets harder to work through, but it’s in those moments where his beauty soars through turmoil. The record to me harkens back to the distinct sounds of Joanna Newsom, Bjork or other musicians who have embraced the harp in recent years. It’s wonderfully pretty, and makes you want to share your emotional energy with the world after you get through a listen of the entirety of the record. If this is his high note, then later albums might suffer, but if this is Sampha just getting started, heart flutters and excitement be damned, because this could get very interesting.
8. FLEET FOXES: CRACK UP
I’ve been a fan since the early days, the “Sun Giant Ep” days, and it’s remarkable how much Robin Pecknold and company have grown into a beautiful, majestic creature that only shows it’s face for small amounts of time. “Crack Up” is no exception. From the early moments of the unisonally song “I am All That I Need…” you’re welcomed into the arms of a soothing voice and harmonic hymns that it’s impossible not to get swept up in the mess of things. Over the course of the eleven song record, you watch in awe as Pecknold and the rest of his Fleet Foxes spread their wings and build a world of music jumbled into something tangible and gorgeously layered. At this point, I’m happy with the amount of output these guys have, because every album has been immaculate, and i expect that trend to continue.
7. QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE: VILLAINS
Can this band make a bad album? The short answer, no. The long answer has to do with the gestation, growing period. Once again joining forces with Van Leuvan and welcoming John Theodore on his first record playing drums with the band, Queens take a chance and succeeds with producer Mark Ronson, and with this fresh air coming through, Homme and the other Queens are able to make it lighter to handle in some areas, while turning up the aggression and volume, sometimes during the same song, like what they accomplish on “The Evil has Landed.” It’s another reminder of how truly wonderful this band is, and why they’re still very much at the top of the rock n roll heap. If you think I’m wrong, just listen to “Head Like a Haunted House,” and tell me this isn’t classic QOTSA mixed with a little something extra.
6. FEVER RAY: PLUNGE
After nearly nine years, Karin Dreijer Andersson has returned to her Knife alter ego Fever Ray. This album, simply, is astounding and astonishing, much different form the first, but still pushing the boundaries of overt sexually that she so vehemently defends. This is a Pro- Woman Pro-Sex type albums, and Karin eats the narrative up, all sensual like. It’s refreshing that in this day and age, with all the sexual turmoil happening over and over again in various sections of the world that a woman can make a record as unapologetically overt in it’s sexuality. Upbeat tracks like “IDK About You” only add to the casual vibe prevalent through the record. It’s fun, sexy, graphic, and it only adds to the allure of one half of the Knife, Karin.
5. KENDRICK LAMAR: DAMN
Simply put, this shit is fire. Raised in the house of Dre and Snoop and gradually elevating himself to form a beast of his own creation, Kendrick Lamar is the without a doubt the most important solo rapper currently releasing music. If the also excellent “To Pimp a Butterfly” was Lamar’s presenting his ideas in a powerful, anti-authority warning shot, then “Damn” is the back up to that which sees Lamar signaling how far he’s willing to push his ideas to get what he wants, while opening the eyes of naysayers who simply dismiss rap as bullshit music not worthy of the bright lights of the best musicians unafraid to display their beliefs. It’s both booty bouncing music and protest music in a singular “fuck you” to all the enemies who are trying to destroy everything they see as unfit. With Kanye still doing something somewhere, and Jay Z having drifted even further from authentic rapper to “Look at how awesome it is to be Mr. Beyonce,” Lamar is the truth teller we all need.
4. LORDE: MELODRAMA
It’s rare for a major breakout star to have two albums as authentic and awesome as Lorde’s first two records have been. From the dimly light but gradually brightening opening of “Green Light,” you accept that not only has she grown as person, but her art has turned a corner to an intersection of brave honesty and smarts, and someone with a good enough x-factor that she somehow is big in circles ranging from indie to electronic fans to teenie boppers. A song like “Writer in the Dark” has all the brutal honesty to tackle a subject that we’ve all struggled with. It’s a song about life’s challenges and the difficulty of family. But it’s in that song that her true potential is burning to come out even more. Dave Grohl is right I think, when he mentioned Lorde as the future of alternative music. “Melodrama” has everything you’ll love, and more you'll grow to love with repeated listens.
3. RUN THE JEWELS: RTJ3
Ok so first things first. RTJ3 was suddenly released on everyone the day after Christmas last year, but it makes it onto this list mostly because of how close it was to 2017, but also because of the physical release, which was actually this year. Anyway onto the music, and well it’s another home run for the supergroup featuring Killer Mike and El-P, and they spare no expense to give us another near perfect record. It tackles quite a few tough lingering issues, including corruption of the highest order, the propensity of white police officers killing black people of various shapes and sizes, and the loss of friends and complacency in this hazardous world and country we’re currently living in. After all that though, this is still a record that allows you to have fun some of the time and dance your conflicted brain away. “Talk to Me,” is a siren for awareness, while “Panther like a Panther” is a filthy song with dirty, highly sexual lyrics(after all it’s still hip hop.) It’s a perfect record all around, and as the album closes with the one two punch of guests like Kamasi Washington Zack de la Rocha, it’s hard to brush this collection aside. All hail RTJ, they are the future storm of the rap world. My prediction: we haven’t seen anything yet.
2. BLACK ANGELS: DEATH SONG
This one for me is a long time coming in terms of getting around to. I’ve seen them three times, but never got into their studio albums. Until this year, when my roommate had them on and i was transfixed. “Death Song” is their fifth albums, and it’s as slow, doomladen and methodical as all the other ones, judging by what i’ve heard live. “Currency” brings the album to a heavy stepped opening, but from there they have many songs that captivate you. Songs like “I’d Kill for her,” “Estimate,” and the album closing explosion that is “Life Song” all tie into one messy but calm record that is sure to make you think about your past, present and future. It’s just one of those albums that can be enjoyed with one or two people around, but you all need to listen closely, or all the most interesting parts will blend into the background.
1. ST. VINCENT: MASSEDUCTION
From the early moments of this years number one, you get the distinct impression that Annie Clark is defying space and time. Her rock hard guitar has melted into a electro-rock aroma that is now fully filling her cup. It’s seductive in a “I won’t be ignored” way, but it’s very provocative in its delivery, which only helps to put even more ideas and music and concept in the brain of the listener. It’s a difficult listen at first, mostly due to how different it is compared to previous albums, but on listen after lister it installs itself as a powerful, evocative listen. Once you get to “Masseduction” the song, you’re already well aware of how different and energizing this neo-pop renaissance is. It’s a dangerous record for a world that needs to have different experiences shoved in faces, but it never worries you that it might go off the rail. With each album Clark is able to create a different scenario than anything else in alternative music. She’s a guitar god with a beautifully willful voice. She periodically changes her persona and adds another shimmering example of what a challenging artist pushing different views of morality, secuality, power, and the hunger to succeed. Think of her a Madonna type, able to contort and show different sides of herself with each new interpretation, except here Clark is actually writing the lyrics and music, which is something I doubt Madonna has done in a very long time. The Best album of 2017, “MASSEDUCTION,” by St. Vincent. Thanks for reading!
As we begin our second installment for the end of the year, we delve into the top ten songs that made life a little easier to enjoy. Some of these artist will show up again for our Top Twenty albums, but all of these songs are memorable for their own reasons. This list is filled with anthems, ballads about walking through darkness and various other emotions that all help to provoke the listener in a positive way. Without adding anything further, here we go with the ten best tracks of the year. Enjoy!
10. QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE, THE EVIL HAS LANDED, VILLIANS
Homme and company has always been known as a thinking man's rock band, intent with pushing the limits of their sound, but on “The Evil has Landed,” we get a little mix of the funky new Queens, intertwined with the chunky, thumpy guitar elements of their early tracks. The delivery is spot on and full of gusto, and only sees that raw attitude and swagger grow and exceed it’s space by the end of the song. It’s a slow, guitar filled ride, but as the song concludes it implodes in a flurry of drums, guitar, and pure swagger that only QOTSA is capable of delivering.
9. ST. VINCENT, SUGARBOY, MASSEDUCTION
Like a dangerous synth and knife party, Annie Clark, aka St. vincent, delivers a in your face, frantic track called “Sugarboy” in the early moments of her excellent new album, “Masseduction.” Many of the songs are top notch, but this track stands out so much because of how different it is compared to anything else she’s produced on her previous records. It’s scary and intimidating, and reaffirms the belief that Clarke is without a doubt one of the most exciting acts of recent years, and if she keeps releasing challenging albums and tracks like this, there’s no limit to how important and popular she can become.
8. NINE INCH NAILS, THIS ISN’T THE PLACE, ADD VIOLENCE
Over the last thirteen months as Nine Inch Nails, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross have slowly delivered two EPs, each similar in theme but different in musical attributes, they’ce delivered one of the best tracks not only of the year, but one of the most consistently good songs they’ve released. “This isn’t the Place” is a dark road, ominous with overhead lights and fog during the evening hours. Reznor’s voice creeps in, and in that moments he’s apprehensive, but sure of himself in a way only he can deliver. It’s really shiver inducing in that way. Both EPs (“Not the Actual Events,” and “Add Violence”) are solid and enjoying, but this track shines over all the other parts.
7. THE KILLERS, TYSON VS DOUGLAS, WONDERFUL, WONDERFUL
A song you may have missed on this album, but a song that also happens to elicit an amazing response once it envelops you. It’s fast paced, eye opening, and soaring in a way that only the Killers from Las Vegas are capable of doing with very little issue. The chorus is in your face, and sees Brandon Flowers letting his voice reach even the darkest corners. It all revolves around the faithful night “Iron” Mike was dethroned, but beyond that you get a song full of energy and regret. It’s one of the band’s best songs in years, and for it lands on the top half of the countdown.
6. PORTUGAL.THE MAN, FEEL IT STILL, WOODSTOCK
For the longest time I didn’t get these guys. Finally at Shaky Knees, upon realizing that this song was them?!, I was hooked. This track is a more hip hop infused track than they’ve been known for, but it’s awesome so it doesn’t really matter. It’s fun, and it’s varied appeal across multiple types of radio stations has shown that people still love a track with a good beat and high energy vocals. It still gets played in my car or house pretty often, which always helps to brighten a mood. It’s a great one if you haven’t heard.
5. KESHA, PRAYING, RAINBOW
Not that I was ever a fan of her before this record and song, but you simply can’t ignore a track this important, especially at a time like this. I won’t go into details that we likely all know at this point, but for the first time Kesha is actually using her voice for powerful, inciteful comments on her struggles to prove she had more to showcase than the typical dumb pop music she was known for before this song rightfully flooded the airwaves. For her anguish, and her treatment, and her resentment at how she’s been treated, she deserves this one.
4. KENDRICK LAMAR, HUMBLE, DAMN
Has any solo rapper had as much success in terms of brilliant song writing in the last five years as Lamar has? I’m not sure of that, but if Kendrick keeps making blistering tracks like “Humble,” then he’s already cemented his place in modern rap history. The rhymes elicited are fire to your ears, and the beat it grimey and gangster enough to make people of various colors join in while the enjoy top level rap music. Every track on the album is killer, but for the purposes of this countdown, “Humble” is here to represent the continued brilliance and excitement that Lamar delivers routinely.
3. LORDE,WRITER IN THE DARK, MELODRAMA
One of the most sorrowful songs of the year finds the list at number three. In “Writer in the Dark,” Lorde give a narrative that’s not only tragic song in terms of its theme, but it also seems to be Lorde’s lament about how insane this current climate is. It’s more poignant and introspective than nearly any other song on her still excellent “Melodrama,” but it sit nestled nicely along with the other highs she reaches. When she bellows “I find a way to be without you babe,” you feel her pain and anger over everything that’s happened in her life, while still not going into graphic personal detail. That metaphorical passion is one that pushes the song to excellence.
2. THE BLACK ANGELS, I'D KILL FOR HER, DEATH SONG
I‘m not sure what about this song drew me in, but I’m happy it did. It’s spooky from the opening drums beats, and as soon and the vocals of Christian Bland meld into the atmosphere, this song takes off in a haze of nighttime glory. The guitars glisten and portray dark intentions throughout the duration, but the real treasures are the lyrics. Being seduced by a witch of sorts, or maybe just an evil person, is always a great basis for a song, but the way the angels do it, your excitement is standing right near to your fear about what awaits you. It’s a big moment early in the album, and it finds its spot as the second best song of the year. Great for an evening bike riding.
1. RUN THE JEWELS, A REPORT TO THE SHAREHOLDERS/ KILL YOUR MASTERS, RUN THE JEWELS 3
Honestly, take your pick at your favorite track from this album and it would still stand a chance at landing on this year’s list. For me though, the finale of their nearly perfect “RTJ3” stands as the best song of the year. It’s eye opening in a way that makes your resent that fact that songs like this have to be created in the first place. It’s a track full of resentment in regards to our lopsided thought process, our issues with the little guy still fighting for his increasingly small cut. At its heart though, it’s a call to arms for everyone to stand up and be heard. The song is essentially two independent pieces out together to make one lengthy, sobering track, but they sync together in a way that makes it fluid and invigorating. The lyrics delivered from Mike, El, and special guest Zack De la Rocha all make “A Report to the Shareholders/ Kill Your Masters” my top rated song of the year. Listen, learn, and most importantly enjoy. These guys are hopefully just getting started.
Welcome back! Sorry it’s been so long since a post, but a lot has been going on. Anyway today we start the year end pieces. First up are the ten best shows I’ve witnessed in the last calendar year. These ten picks cover the bases from experimental to good ole' rock n roll, to giant productions and hip hop. in other words, there's something here for everyone. Hope you enjoy.
10. Japandroids, Republic Nola
From the moment the band emerged from the backstage area, they presented the crowd with a chaotically jubilant sixty minutes show with fan favorites and new hits all together. “Younger Us,” “Night of Wine and Roses” and various others brought the crowd into the game as their voices bellowed into one. The band manages to stay ahead of the curb in terms of emotional, heartfelt anthem based on the trials and joys of youthfulness, and its in that essence that the twosome thrives.
9. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, One Eyed Jacks, Nola
As far as longevity goes, it remains uncertain just how prolific this band will be, but this year has been unreal for King Gizzard and company. Releasing five albums since January, the 7 piece mostly stuck to one of their recent sets,”Murder of the Universe,” but every note hit harder than the last, complete with psychedelic images and loud, chunky vibrations through the packed and sold out club. Those are some of the best shows at OEJ, and it helps to make the crowd feel as one as the band pummels on.
8. Zola Jesus, Gasa Gasa, Nola
About 18 months ago I saw Jesus midday at Houston’s Free Press Summer Fest. While the FPSF show was solid, this night at a tiny dive in New Orleans truly showcased Zola Jesus and her enigmatic, ominous endeavors in an intimate enough venue that enabled her to literally be among the crowd, face to face. In a moment where the crowd watched her get personal and mention her recent cold, she came off as brilliant and open, hoping for a precious moment. She delivered well and strong, and judging by the emotions of the crowd, most left satisfied. For that reason, Zola Jesus pops in at number eight on the best shows of 2017.
7. Sigur Ros, Saenger, Nola
Having seen Jonsi and company three times prior, I knew what to expect, but somehow this was as different and as mesmerizing compared to the other times. Playing two unique sets full of memorable tracks such as “Saegloupur,” “Festival,” and many others from their extensive catalogue, the attendees on this night sat in profound beauty as they went on a visceral, awe inspiring ride with the Icelandic trio. Note after note provoked joy, and the haunting lights and stage show only added to the opulents of the evening.
6. Grizzly Bear, Civic Theater, Nola
On a dreary night a few weeks ago, the Civic hosted one of the most reliable alternative bands of the last decade, and unsurprisingly the show was as top notch as their discography. Picking from songs from their recent “Painted Ruins,” all the way back to classics like “Two Weeks,” the Ed Droste, Daniel Rossen and company perfectly complimented the intimacy of the venue with a haunting, light on theatrics and stage visuals show that showcased their intricately wound rhythms. Highlights included new song “Morning Sound,” and the insane build up and winding road nature of what’s maybe the band’s best song, “Sun In Your Eyes.”
5. LCD Soundsystem, Orpheum Theater, Nola
A performance by NYC punk disco stalwarts LCD Soundsystem might not be as special as it was when they announced their reunion, but that in no way means they’ve lost their eagerness to perform. Each show still delivers with the type of energy that the band has been known for, for as long as they’ve been delivering classic albums. On this night, as part of the Voodoo Fest after show series, the band sold out the Orpheum in under two weeks, and played well past two a.m. on a busy saturday night in Nola. All their best tracks were presented to a capacity crowd. Showcasing tracks like the frantic “Movement” alongside others like the gradual swell of “Us V Them,” and the classic “Dance Yrself Clean,” meant that everyone got to shout, dance, and rock out to the stellar band, which includes James Murphy, Nancy Whang, Pat Mahoney and others.
4. Run the Jewels, Joy Theater, Nola
El-P and Killer Mike have, in just a few short years, skyrocketed from a club band to an act that is prepared to start filling up high profile spots on major festivals lineups, and it’s with good reason. Just ask any person who’s seen them, especially if it happened on the current tour. When you successfully have produced three albums that are all better than the previous one, you have a ton of room to make every show hit as hard as possible, and RTJ doesn’t miss that moments. Crowd interaction and excitement was high, and from the moment Uncle El and Mike launched into “Legend Has It,” we all knew this would be a fun, thrilling show. It’s likely that they don’t plan on going anywhere anytime soon, so be sure to jump in for your chance to see the single best rap group of the last ten years.
3. Phoenix, Shaky Knees Festival, Atlanta
During the final night of this amazing festival, something happened that has never happened during my two years of attending: a band was late. The sad part was that it was Phoenix, who were scheduled to close out the three day festival. While this was lame and an unhappy conclusion to a well organized festival, once the foursome from Paris presented themselves on stage, all of that frustration was quickly forgotten. They delivered exactly what you’d expect, on all fronts. A huge mirror positioned behind the band was able to make lights seem as though they had multiplied, and songs like “1901,” the eye opening transition of “Love like a Sunset,” and the powerful in your face energy of “Entertainment” all crushed the tired yet excited crowd in the middle of downtown Atlanta. It was the best show of the entire three day weekend, and for that, it shows up at number three on the year end best shows list.
2. Radiohead, Smoothie King Center, Nola
A Radiohead show is always an insanely special thing, but on this night, seeing the band for the fourth time was made even more excited by the woman, and other people I shared it with. Every note hits perfectly and precisely, just like it does on every album the band has constructed in their history. From the emotional release of “Fake Plastic Trees,” to the upbeat, more dancey rendition of “Burn the Witch,” it was clear that Thom, Ed, Johnny, Colin and Phil hadn’t lost any of their proficiency when it comes to staging concerts that will inspire you to look deep in your own body and soul, and to be just close enough to five geniuses that even if it’s only for two hours, all is right and everything's in its right place.
1. Roger Waters, American Airlines Center, Dallas
For years I’d been trying to see Waters. Afterall, his work with the other members of seminal prog rock, experimental band Pink Floyd still stand as some of the best overall music of well, forever. Finally on a hot ass night in Dallas in July, I got my chance, and what the sold out crowd was exposed to easily (in my opinion at least) stands as what is likely the best show I’ve ever seen in my life, even surpassing McCartney and Daft Punk. While many of the songs you’d expect to hear were presented, and enjoyed, for me it honestly didn’t matter. This was a unicorn that I was finally able to set my eyes on for well over two hours. Each note poured perfection out into the arena, and the massive stage show (complete with a set of screens that divided the audience in two for a brief portion of the show) only added to the theatricality of the evening. No opening act, minimal chatter with the crowd, and a very clear anti-Trump section of the show only reinforced the idea that art of any kind can be an act of resistance, and that Waters still has a lot to say about how he views the world at large. A once in a lifetime experience, and one that I’ll be remembering for as long as I’ll remember his rendition “Time,” “Wish you Were Here,” and countless other perfect songs that Waters helped to create. Thanks for reading!
Landon Murray is a New Orleans native, who thrives on painting the world he interprets through the useful forms of all types of art he feels connected to. He's seen over 1000 bands, and had loved mostly every minute of it. He has an amazing 10 year old dog, and is loving life.
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