’s Top 20 Albums of 2017

20. Honeysuckle: Catacombs

Buy @ Amazon

19. Amanda Palmer & Edward Ka-Spel: I Can Spin a Rainbow

Buy @ Amazon

18. Arum Rae: Sub Rosa

Buy @ Amazon

17. Offa Rex: The Queen of Hearts

Buy @ Amazon

16. Zola Jesus: Okovi

Buy @ Amazon

15. Sevdaliza: Ison

Buy @ Amazon

14. Fanny & the Atta Boys: Peck of Dirt

Buy @ Amazon

13. Overcoats: Young

Buy @ Amazon

12. The Company Stores: Little Lights

Buy @ Amazon

11. Bishopp Briggs: self-titled EP

Buy @ Amazon

10. Rhiannon Giddens: Freedom Highway

Buy @ Amazon

9. Chelsea Wolfe: Hiss Spun

Buy @ Amazon

8. Lung: Bottom of the Barrel

Buy @ Amazon

7. Blackfoot Gypsies: To the Top

Buy @ Amazon

6. Ibeyi: Ash

Buy @ Amazon

5. Kasey Chambers: Dragonfly

Buy @ Amazon

4. Björk: Utopia

Buy @ Amazon

3. Sonya Cotton: When I Go Home

Buy @ Amazon

2. Karen Elson: Double Roses

Buy @ Amazon

1. Deap Vally: Femejism

Buy @ Amazon

Various Artists: Just Tell Me That You Want Me – Tribute to Fleetwood Mac

If any band deserves one of these ever popular tribute albums, it’s Fleetwood Mac. Just Tell Me That You Want Me is a mostly solid collection of classic Fleetwood Mac songs as covered by a diverse selection of modern bands. Among them are Antony (of the Johnsons), Lykke Li, Bonnie Prince Billy, Marianne Faithfull, The Kills, St. Vincent, The New Pornographers and The Crystal Ark. You can stream the entire album below.

“Albatross” by Lee Ranaldo Band featuring J Mascis is a disappointingly bland instrumental intro, but the album soon gets off to a proper start with Antony‘s lovely and unexpectedly understated cover of “Landslide.”

Trixie Whitley gives a soulful, gut-rumbling blues rendition of “Before The Beginning.”

Billy Gibbons & Co.’s “Oh Well” is a clanging, thumping, thunderous piece of blues-rock machinery.

Best Coast’s peppy “Rhiannon” is a painful example of lost potential. Their claphappy retro girl pop rendition strips the song completely of all its magic and drama.

If only Lykke Li had been granted that cover in addition to her spectacular, ghostly rendering of “Silver Springs.” Now this is an artist who knows how to interpret a song in a fresh and enchanting way without sacrificing the substance of the original.

The Kills’s dark-rock “Dreams” is equally mesmeric.

Karen Elson also does a surprisingly worthy cover of “Gold Dust Woman.” She made a smart choice by going for something in between the rocked up definitive cover by Hole and the haunting, more acoustic style of Fleetwood Mac’s original. Elson was also a highlight on last year’s Rave On Buddy Holly tribute.

Gardens & Villa’s languid take of “Gypsy” isn’t quite as atmospheric as the original, but it’s still good.

The Crystal Ark are one of the few here who successfully alter the integral arrangement of a Fleetwood Mac song. Their futuristic, electro-funk retooling of “Tusk” works amazingly well.

MGMT, however, failed to do the same with their annoying computerized “Future Games.” It’s almost funny how I can consistently dislike a band even when I don’t realize it’s them I’m listening to.

The remaining tracks aren’t interesting enough to warrant either praise or criticism. All in all, it’s definitely one of the better tribute albums to be released in the past decade. But there are some glaring omissions – most notably “The Chain” and “Go Your Own Way.” And, like most modern compilations, its long-term appeal may suffer from too many forgettable of-the-moment bands.


Various Artists: Rave On Buddy Holly

Rave On Buddy Holly will be released on June 28th and you can stream the album in its entirety below. With a cast of superstar singers like Florence + The Machine, Fiona Apple, Patti Smith, She & Him and Lou Reed, I’m not at all surprised that I love this new tribute to rock ‘n’ roll pioneer Buddy Holly.

First, the spectacular: I would’ve written this review much sooner had I not been listening to Florence + The Machine‘s cover of “Not Fade Away” on repeat. The Machine saves Buddy Holly’s trademark quirks for their clanging, banging-industrial-sized-pots-and-pans arrangement, allowing lead singer Florence Welch to unleash all the unearthly wails and gorgeous vibratto of her magnificent voice.

Fiona Apple and Jon Brion opt for a simpler, splendidly tinkling, truer-to-original rendition of “Everyday.” Who knew Fiona Apple was a folk singer?

Nevermind that, who knew that Kid Rock was a soul singer? I do now thanks to his wonderfully brassed up cover of “Well…All Right.” He needs to drop the country-rap stuff and collaborate with Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears.

Julian Casanblancas’ moody “Rave On,” Jenny O.’s cooing “I’m Gonna Love You, Too,” She & Him’s retro dance party “Oh Boy!,” and the legendary Patti Smith’s soulful rendering of “Words of Love” are also stand outs.

Elsewhere, Cee Lo Green reminds me why I loved Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy,” but couldn’t stomach his tepid new solo pop album. Cee Lo’s unusual pipes can be so powerful, but he requires an interesting and solid arrangement to bring out the best in his voice. The Caribbean chimes and percussion of “(You’re So Square) Baby, I Don’t Care” is the perfect song for him.

Other highlights on the tribute include Karen Elson’s “Crying, Waiting, Hoping” (featuring Elson’s husband Jack White), Nick Lowe’s “Changing All The Changes,” My Morning Jacket’s “True Love Ways” and The Detroit Cobras’ “Heartbeat.”

But, ugh, Modest Mouse’s dreary, deadpan “That’ll Be The Day” reminds me why I always referred to that surge of irksome, post-Death Cab “indie-rock” boy bands as “mouse rock.” It’s the only track on the album I skip every time.

Rave On Buddy Holly gives a solid finish, however, with a trio of covers by Lou Reed, John Doe and Graham Nash.

Rave On Buddy Holly by concordmusicgroup

*SoundCloud Album Stream Uploaded by Concord Music Group & Posted w/ Permission of Label’s PR Rep

Pre-order @ Amazon

Rave On Tribute Official Site