Although many would concur that 2017 was a horrible year, this certainly had no negative impact on the music released while surreal and dystopian events unfolded around us. Perhaps there is something to the theory that the Thatcher and Reagan era’s oppression gestated the right kind of environment for the artistic creativity expressed during the 80s, and seemingly once again now.
2017 has been a year of comebacks and rising stars, with musical output full of refreshing surprises. So much good music had been released last year, spanning various post-punk, goth, and industrial genres, that it took some time to recall all the records that came out between January and December—certainly more great output than what you average listener would be able to stack their playlists with.
So let’s not waste anymore time and get to it…
The envelope please… (kidding)
Post-Punk Album of the Year
Drab Majesty’s second full length LP The Demonstration is our pick for post-punk album of the year. It’s a spellbinding concept record continuing the esoteric cult UFO explorations of Deb Demure and Mona D.
The album’s interdimensional melancholy is highlighted in these fantastic tracks and more:
- Cold Souls
- Not Just A Name
- Dot In The Sky
- Too Soon To Tell
- 39 By Design
Shoegaze Album of the Year
Greatest comeback record of all time from Shoegaze legends Slowdive, who are now set to open for The Cure during that band’s 40th anniversary gig in London. This album’s intro track Slomo will send warm shivers down your spin, and the single Sugar For The Pill has become an instant classic, and quite possibly one of the best songs ever written.
Best New Wave Album
Sally Dige | Holding On
Sally Dige’s DIY masterpiece Holding On is the most sincere work to come out in 2017, and despite it’s poppy melodies, will cut to the quick if you pay attention to the record’s overall themes.
Best Contemporary Post-Punk Album
London’s The Horror’s have not grown stale in a decade of existence, releasing a fantastic new-wave inspired concept album channeling Cronenbergian body horrors.
Most Genre Transcending Album (Or most refreshing)
Post-punk and soulful Gospel from singer/guitarist Franklin James Fisher ? Yes please! Atlanta Georgia’s Algiers are doing something new with the sound only touched upon by The Birthday Party and The Gun Club.
Algiers’s sophomore LP The Underside Of Power is touches ideas often neglected, but integral to the history of post-punk.
Indie Album of the Year
Desperate Journalist’s second LP Grow Up is a perfect indie pop record that demands your attention, with every single reinforcing the necessity for these four masterful musicians to echo against the cavernous walls of every angsty teenage bedroom.
Named after a Cure song, with a tendency to sound like The Smiths, Jo, Rob Caz, and Simon are formidable musicians that with captivate you with tracks such as:
- Be Kind
- Why Are You So Boring
Best Post-Punk Debut LP
Second Still is comprised of amazingly talented musicians, and their self titled debut LP sounds like it could have come out on 4AD during the early 80s, but carves out its own path with a distinct sound of its own.
Songs like Recover and Try Not To Hide are already classics to our ears.
Best Deathrock Albums (tie)
Sometime before the moniker of goth was imposed on UK punks who were summoning darker sounds through scythe-like guitar riffs, the kind music was ironically called Positive-punk. Across the Atlantic 35 years later Brooklyn goth-punks Pawns, definitely meets the criteria of this humorous label—and their debut LP, The Gallows certainly puts the Punk back into Goth.
Los Angeles’ Egrets On Ergot are one of those inexplicable incarnations of chaotic and avant-garde artistic expression that are perhaps aptly conveyed by the imagery of birds suffering from the effects analogous to LSD brought on by consuming Ergot spores. Their debut LP Surfeit of Gemütlich came out last October and it’s Californian Deathrock at it’s finest.
Best Collaborative Work
A long time in the making, Amanda Palmer—and her musical hero and friend Edward Ka-spel of The Legendary Pink Dots released the fantastic surreal dreamscape I Can Spin A Rainbow, which can be considered some of the best material from both artists illustrious and prolific careers.
The music on I Can Spin A Rainbow could be described as lullabies from another dimension—something you could imagine Jeanet and Caro including in soundscapes of the film City of Lost Children.
Speaking of film—there are two glorious videos from the LP, that we urge you to watch if you have not done so yet.
Check out one of them—Beyond the Beach below:
Best EP and Sexiest Release of 2017
The dark electronic music duo of Boy Harsher are without a doubt making the sexisiest music of 2017. The slow and viscous to sharp and piercing vocals of Jae Matthews overlayed by the pulsing danceable rhythms of Augustus Muller featured in the Country Girl EP is the hypnotic soundtrack to make the feeling dancing alone in your room equitable to being in the largest nightclub with the bass humming through a function one.
Honorable Mention for Best EP
This is a must have if you are like me, and storm the dancefloor everytime you here Jimmy Somerville’s stratospheric range belt out his band Bronski Beat’s hit single Smalltown Boy.
More Best of 2017
Problem with Best Of List’s is their subjectivity. The albums below are all fantastic, but span different genres and styles, some being newcomers and some being legacy acts.
Regardless, we fell the albums below are essential editions to your record collection, and are some of the best of 2017.
Death Bells | Standing at the Edge of the World
Glaare | To Deaf a Day
Bootblacks | Fragments
Azar Swan | Savage Exile
Die Selektion | Deine Stimme Ist Der Ursprung Jeglicher Gewalt
Odonis Odonis | No Pop
Martial Canterel | Lost At Sea
The Iron Oak | Dune Messiah
Veil of Light | Front Teeth
Sextile | Albeit Living
Best Concert of 2017
Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds
Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds have been touring extensively in support of their 16th studio album Skeleton Tree, and the show we attended in Berlin, the former homebase of the band during the 80s, saw frontman Nick Cave command the audience like the congregation of a southern preacher in a small intimate church.
Only Cave can command a room of 5000 plus people, and make you feel like he is singing directly into the soul of each audience member.
Best Festival of 2017
Wave Gotik Treffen
The world’s largest Goth, Industrial, and Post-Punk festival Wave Gotik Treffen in Leipzig Germany celebrated its 26th year with a fantastic lineup of bands and subevents, that we once again too much for one person to take in, leaving attendees wishing they had that time turner from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
During the Pentecost four day holiday weekend, beautiful Goth fashion covered the main venue Agra Hall in a sea of black flowing into the 10,000 people plus airplane hanger that also hosts vendors from around the world is just a small part of the overall package that is WGT, which spanned accross the entire city of Leipzig.
It is the best place for DJ’s, promoters, and bands to meet and plan new collaborations, and for music fans to connect with scenes around the world in Europe, North and South America, Asia and more!
With each year the issue with scheduling have become more difficult to manage as a fan/journalist, as the quality of music curated at the festival has been increasing exponentially—especially since genres and subsections of the goth, industrial, and post-punk have been overlapping more and more in recent years.
In terms of big headliners for 2017, Skinny Puppy were the act everyone was eagerly anticipating, returning to the Europe for the first time since 2010. Nivek Ogre looked like some sort of post-apocalyptic messiah, pierced by swords and needles, as he sang like a witch in a set heavy with political undertones (as always!)
At one the Leipzig’s many parks— the day after their stunning collaborative performance, we were able to sit down and the friendship of Amanda Palmer—and her musical hero and friend Edward Ka-spel of The Legendary Pink Dots.
The pair recently released the fantastic surreal dreamscape LP that is I Can Spin A Rainbow, and gave of of the best live performances we had ever seen at WGT.
Sex Gang Children’s set was a return to form for Andy Sex Gang, being the best show many fans had seen in over a decade. The Mission also did not disappoint, living up to their legacy as being of the the most important bands in gothic rock.
Newer post-punk acts certainly dominated the weekend, with Whispering Sons festival debut at the Volkspalast blowing away all those who were able to catch the performance, or fit into the crowded hall.
Soft Kill also had a warm reception, as did Ritual Howls and Desperate Journalist, the later of which who played in the Cantine at the Volkspalast compensated for the dirtier sound of the PA with one of the most raw, passionate, and sincere sets this editor has even seen, gracefully continuing the complicated riff their trademark song “Control” even with a broken string.
Other highlights we enjoyed at the festival were Drab Majesty, Azar Swan, She Past Away, classic post-punk band BFG, and more.
Here is the the full list of Artists our team saw (or tried to see) at Wave Gotik Treffen 2017
- Amanda Palmer and Edward Ka-Spel
- Skinny Puppy
- The Mission
- Esben and the Witch
- Cabaret Voltaire
- Revolting Cocks
- Suicide Commando
- Lebanon Hanover
- Soviet Soviet
- She Past Away
- Drab Majesty
- Sex Gang Children
- Desperate Journalist
- Spiritual Front
- Sixth June
- Ritual Howls
- Bloody Dead and Sexy
- Whispering Sons
- Whispers In the Shadow
- Azar Swan
- The Agnes Circle
- Codex Empire
- The Devil and the Universe
- Die Selektion
Don’t forget to make your plans to attend 2018’s edition of Wave Gotik Treffen, which occurs the May 18th until May 21st.