2017 has been more than a ‘best albums’ type of year. Not that there has been a dearth of great new releas­es, with Jane Weaver and The BJM amongst sev­er­al faves, but this has been a diverse year with sin­gle releas­es and emerg­ing artists. There’s a notice­able North­ern flavour to the list too.

Best new artists: W H Lung

This some­what mys­ti­fy­ing and lowkey Man­ches­ter col­lec­tive (named after a Chi­nese restau­rant) popped up on the sum­mer fes­ti­val cir­cuit after form­ing in 2016. A fog of moody inten­si­ty sur­rounds their live per­for­mance, their dense and slight­ly sin­is­ter mus­cu­lar psy­chy num­bers. Live, this band should only be wit­nessed through a haze of smoke machine. They’ve put a raft of norther­ly gigs on their agen­da with new offer­ing WANT recent­ly appear­ing on Spo­ti­fy. Their fes­ti­val appear­ances indi­cate W H Lung already have a wealth of mate­r­i­al so let’s hope there’s an album on the way soon. Look out for W H Lung in 2018.

Best festival set: Rogue Emperor

Ex Elbow drum­mer Richard Jupp, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with ex Doves Mar­tin Rebel­s­ki plus Mike TV and Ollie Collins played a cou­ple of gigs as Rogue Emper­or before clos­ing Blue­dot fes­ti­val in a small tent while Alt J com­man­deered the main stage. They start­ed late with sound prob­lems, while the band looked tense and grumpy before unveil­ing one of the most uplift­ing per­for­mances which left the crowd in a swoon­ing mass. One part Hacien­da, one part the smokey, yearn­ing wist­ful­ness of Doves. And since fes­ti­val sea­son has drawn to a close, sad­ly there’s not a peep from the col­lec­tive. Mar­tin Rebel­s­ki has played key­boards with Peter Hook on his most recent tour so no doubt band mem­bers are busy else­where. So I’d rec­om­mend you enjoy what lit­tle there is out there and, just, well, keep fin­gers crossed for more in the future.

Best single: The Orielles Sugar Tastes Like Salt

I’ve been a fan of The Orielles’ surfy garagey sound and shim­mery vocals for a while, and now they’ve signed to Heav­en­ly Records there’s a new con­fi­dence and will­ing­ness to exper­i­ment, wit­nessed in their lat­est raft of mate­r­i­al. They appeared as part of Heav­en­ly week­ender at The Trades, Heb­den Bridge, back in Jan­u­ary and closed the set with the pow­er­ful, prog­gy and play­ful Sug­ar Tastes like Salt which fair­ly blew me away, a fine­ly struc­tured eight min­utes of groove. Let Your Dog­tooth Grow is the new sin­gle and album Sil­ver Dol­lar Moment comes out shortly.

Best new albums: The Brian Jonestown Massacre: Don’t Get Lost

If The Bri­an Jon­estown Mas­sacre are your thing, this is exact­ly what you can’t get enough of: deep, dirty, hyp­not­ic grooves with a Krautrock feel: the band are now record­ing in their Berlin stu­dio. The divine open­er Open Minds Now Close pos­i­tive­ly shim­mers, over eight min­utes to get utter­ly lost in. Deep vocals over what sounds like a cuck­oo – and no I’m not under the influ­ence of any sub­stances. Tess Parks on Throb­bing Gris­tle sounds like Nico – monot­o­ne men­ace over a thick sludge of gui­tars. There’s an occa­sion­al num­ber on Don’t Get Lost that I con­fess to skip­ping over such as the turgid Charmed I’m Sure.

Jane Weaver: Modern Kosmology

Weaver’s new album Mod­ern Kos­mol­o­gy is an intel­li­gent and thought­ful explo­ration of ideas; Krautrock influ­ence as on Slow Motion and The Archi­tect and a touch of Son­ic Youth on the beau­ti­ful Did You see But­ter­flies. There’s a shift from 2014’s The Sil­ver Globe, although it’s still spacey with those lush, ethe­re­al vocals, this is a more exper­i­men­tal album and less imme­di­ate but once you’ve heard it a few times, Mod­ern Kos­mol­o­gy gets under your skin. This is a per­fect album for soli­tary moments in con­tem­pla­tion, but it fair­ly rocks along when you see Weaver per­form live.

Also loved:

Drahla: When I saw this Leeds out­fit accom­pa­ny­ing Amber Arcades last year I was knocked out by their ball­sy retro sound, there’s more than a touch of Son­ic Youth about them too.

Ian Felice: In The Kingdom of Dreams

Rich­ly gor­geous plain­tive poet­ry from a Felice broth­er on a solo album. Exquis­ite and deeply evoca­tive lan­guage, this album express­es those anx­i­eties of what it is to be an Amer­i­can, espe­cial­ly as a new father in these chal­leng­ing times.

Thiev­ery Cor­po­ra­tion: The Tem­ple of I & I. The col­lec­tive appeared at The Round­house ear­li­er this year for a knock­out per­for­mance, this new dub reg­gae col­lec­tion does­n’t exact­ly push the bound­aries but dis­plays TC’s superb tal­ent for glob­al influ­ence over a par­tic­u­lar genre.

British Sea Pow­er: Let the Dancers Inher­it the Par­ty con­tains those uplift­ing moments that BSP can inspire, in spades. Bad Bohemi­an is lush and pop­py, like­wise Inter­na­tion­al Space Sta­tion with its “to the moon and the stars” refrain. Only one dud track: the clunky Sechs Fre­unde. There are plen­ty of num­bers on Let the Dancers that already feel like BSP classics.

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