The top five albums of 2017

It's almost tradition on this blog to post my album round-up unacceptably late...but I might be pushing it a little too far this time round.

Anyway, another year has been and gone! Plenty of stuff happened, good and bad, but more importantly some artists put out some pretty incredible bodies of work. So before we get into February comes around (when this whole thing would look more worrying than lazy) lets have a peruse through my top five albums of the year!

Starting with...

5.  Death From Above 1979 - Outrage! Is Now

Death From Above 1979 Outrage is Now

Having rejoined the alternate rock roster back in 2014 with the release of The Physical World, the death disco duo from Toronto Death From Above 1979 were quiet for around 12 months, and with the gap between their first and second records being 10 years, no one was really sure when we were going to hear some new music from them.

Luckily for us, the band weren't interested in radio silence for anything like the same amount of time and so Outrage! Is Now was born. Filled with melody, vicious riffs and alt rock bangers, it's pretty much wall to wall quality.

4. Vince Staples - Big Fish Theory

Vince Staples Big Fish Theory

Vince Staples marked 2017 with a record which defined him as one of the leading lights in US hip hop. Never short of a word to say or an opinion to share, Big Fish Theory takes Staples razor sharp commentary and layers it on top of an EDM/electronica enthused soundtrack.

Whilst on first listen, this record could be mistaken for a collection of club bangers, it's much more than that. To quote Pitchfork this album is like an art installation installed in a night club. Bleak lyrics and often dark themes are explored in an up tempo environment, which come together to create an incredibly effective and very enjoyable listen.

Come for the party, stay for the beauty.

3. Enter Shikari - The Spark

Enter Shikari The Spark

Enter Shikari
 have a certain formula to how they do things. When word came from the grapevine that this album was more "poppy" than the last, it was almost redundant, because this band operate on a different level.

Softer melodies and extended ideas are present, but in a format which will have rock and pop fans alike appreciating the craft behind these nine tracks. The Spark is arguably Shikari's finest work to date and is a gamble which has paid off in spades.

 The band have taken their fans into new and exciting waters, and instead of sinking under the expectations founded by their previous output, are succesfully surfing on a new wave creativity.

2. Sorority Noise - You're Not As _ As You Think

Sorority Noise You're not as as you think

The topic of mental health and depression has been discussed a lot this past year. The idea that as a society we may not be giving enough credence to the struggle these afflictions put people through seems to be finally sinking in, although we still have a long way to go.

Sorority Noise have never shied away from confronting the realities of living with mental health issues, lead singer Cameron Boucher lives with manic depression and is honest and open about the condition and what it can do.

You're Not As _ As You Think is the bands most open and candid record yet, detailing stories of death and addiction in a very raw way. Musically, the emo-alt sensibilities are still present, and whilst the overall tone of the record is understandably sad, the melodies and twin guitars inspire hope and remind the listener that no matter how tough things get, there is always a way forward.

1. Kendrick Lamar - Damn

Kendrick Lamar Damn

What do you do after releasing one of the most definitive hip hop records of all time? Not many people face a question like this, but Kendrick Lamar did after his seminal record To Pimp A Butterfly. His answer came in the form of Damn, an album which stripped away the funk/jazz sensibilities of its predecessor and installed his brand of social commentary across a more straight laced 2017 rap soundtrack.

Lamar doesn't waste any time getting down to business and, in the first three minutes confronts his own death, attacks the right wing drivel of Fox News and plays homage to his genetic heritage, proudly exclaiming "I've got loyalty, got royalty inside my DNA".

If TPAB was Kendrick's rallying cry, Damn is his statement of intent. He's still here and it doesn't matter what tools you give him, the importance and intensity of his message will not be silenced. He already made an important record, and now he's made one which is radio friendly.