[sic] Magazine

2017: The Half-Term Report

Call us old-fashioned, but you can’t do an annual write-up until December at the earliest (what’s with those lists that come out in September?!) and, by extension, you can’t do a half-yearly summary until June is over. How’s this year shaping up no matter? Quite tidily, thank you very much. We say the same each year, but if you’re of the opinion that music just isn’t as good as it used to be, you’re simply looking in the wrong place. You’ll no doubt have your favourites all the same. Mine are below.

Pleasingly consistent, a number of former favourites lead the charge. Pissed Jeans need no introduction to regular readers of these pages and their latest super-charged blast of sludgecore is just as acerbic, just as essential as it ever was. Equally perennial, Moon Duo have actually tabled two LPs already this year and it’s the first of their Occult Architecture series that catches the ear most, a resolutely skywards selection of psych-rock a shade more attractive than their sunnier second. Keeping the electronic end up, both the new Arca and Forest Swords records are out of this world – the former a delicate career best, the latter channelling some irresistibly dubbed-out DJ Shadow vibes. At the other end of the musical spectrum, [sic] 2015 Top 10 album of the year recipients Sonic Jesus appear to have hung up their psych-rock gloves in favour of some bombastic post-punk, but are still more impressive than most as they go about it.

Less well known, but surely not for much longer, Ethan Miller of Comets On Fire’s blistering Feral Ohms have revved up a bit of a proto-punk, biker-fuzz classic with their debut S/T and, keeping it noisy, thrash/noise overlords Uniform are on terrifying good form for their new album Wake In Fright. Aussies White Dog know where the volume knobs are too, their brand of bruising hardcore aimed squarely at that of the greats. An altogether more calming proposition, Bing & Ruth’s on-going and outstanding adventures in post/avant-classical really need to be heard to be believed. And, last but far from least, producer Akranes continues to dazzle at the contemporary edges of trip-hop, neo-soul and R&B.

While few real stinkers are yet to cross my path this year, the less said about sub-par rock of The Fake Boys‘ new LP the better, and so too parts of that iffy Future Islands album. Also in this camp, there was slight disappointment too in Sufjan Stevens, Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhly and James McAlister’s middling indie-kraut prog-opera, as well as with Cloud Nothings’s ho-hum latest. Nevertheless, and with a teetering stack yet to appraise, it’s no surprise to report that 2017 is yet another year coming up Milhouse.

That list in full (no particular order – linked where reviewed):

Sonic JesusGrace (Post-Punk/New Wave) [Fuzz Club]

Forest SwordsCompassion (Electronica/Dub/Beats) [Ninja Tune]

ArcaArca (Electronica/Singer-Songwriter) [XL Recordings]

Moon DuoOccult Architecture Vol. 1 (Psych-Rock) [Sacred Bones]

Feral OhmsFeral Ohms (Proto-Punk/Biker-Psych) [Silver Current]

Bing & RuthNo Home Of The Mind (Post/Avant-Classical) [4AD]

AkranesTakeover Me EP (Electronica/Neo-Soul/R&B) [Ramber Records]

Pissed JeansWhy Love Now (Sludgecore) [Sub Pop]

UniformWake In Fright (Thrash/Noise) [Sacred Bones]

White DogSydney Limits (Hardcore Punk) [Agitated]

No longer a fan of the album format? Hear some of our tracks of the year so far too:

What’s been floating your boat? Let us know below.