Feature Opinion

Top 20 Albums & EPs Of 2017

Out of the ashes of a year most of us would rather forget, have risen several debut offerings that are quite simply, sublime.

But what each release mentioned here has in common is that they are spearheaded by the risk-takers and rule-breakers, those not afraid to wear their lyrical hearts on their sleeves or go full D.I.Y. in the hopes of maintaining their independence. So, in no particular order, enjoy our best picks for this year’s top notch albums and EPs.

1. Hellcats: A Coffin Full Of Hellcats Vol. 4. The last in the four-part release from this powerhouse duo is perhaps their most diverse. Displaying various tempos and degrees of face-melting shreds, these three songs are as electrically resonating recorded as they are live. Listen here. Tecla Ciolfi

2. Lo Ghost: There’s Blood In My Body And It Sounds Like This: Encompassing a uniquely visceral live electro niche they have carved out for themselves, Lo Ghost released a collection of powerful, trap-tinged tracks fleshed out with equally coercive live vocals, as they navigate the human condition with cognitive eloquence. Listen here. Skye Mallac

3. Langa Mavusa: Home EP. I redefine my concept of home constantly, I’ve recently settled upon the idea that is more of a feeling than a place. There is a sense of nostalgia, comfort and heartbreak in Langa’s voice that speaks to a depth within me that I’ve been hard-pressed to articulate. Speak to me in 5 years and I’ll undoubtedly recall this EP with ardour. Listen here. Angela Weickl

4. Runaway Nuns: Do The Resistor. It’s been a pleasure to watch this five-piece grow from strength to strength, the culmination of this being their debut EP which draws heavily from a summery ‘60s surf rock aesthetic. Listen here. Tecla Ciolfi

5. One Eight Seven: Dragon’s Blood. Hardcore punk at its finest, this release is all anarchic fire and flare, with new addition Morgan O’Kennedy adding a degree of furiousness behind the kit and Kyle Lucky’s experimentation with different vocal phrasings and tones a welcome addition. Listen here. Tecla Ciolfi

6. Yellow House: A Carnival of Fears. Emile Van Dango’s (The Plastics) solo project’s debut collection exhibits an introspective character drenched in beautifully-intricate, reverb-drenched melodies accompanied by dreamy, mature lyricism embodying the malaise of young adulthood. Listen here. Timothy Kohler

7. Rose Bonica: Rosy Disposition. There is an inherent rhythm and complete badassery in Rose Bonica’s production style that has defined her fresh, raw and challenging sound amongst her peers. Her debut EP release is a showcase of the chaos within, and the outward depiction of the dark and unrelenting grit we haven’t all admitted we need in our lives. Listen here. Angela Weickl

8. Southern Wild: Lead In A Classic Horror. From the raw vulnerability of ‘Time Eraser’ to the heart-rending loss of ‘Feels Like The Ocean’ this rock band has delivered one of the most powerful, genre-spanning debuts in recent years. Listen here. Stian Maritz

9. Ben Dey and the Concrete Lions: Rise. This five-track debut EP tackles socialism and environmentalism at its core, while fleshing out the hard-hitting themes with synth underpinnings and heady drums-lines which pivot their acoustic tendencies into wonderfully dance-off territory. Listen here. Skye Mallac

10. Johnny Cradle: Johnny Cradle. This album chronicles the challenges of living as a young black man in South Africa and faces those challenges head-on with deeply personal lyrics. At times their debut album is danceable and at others almost troubling in its honesty. Either way, it’s an absolute must. Listen here. Stian Maritz

11. Dane Woods: Parts of a Whole. An incredibly diverse album full of unusual time signatures and varying in an array of temperaments, from melancholic Bon Iver to thunderous Incubus-esque timbres, the singer-songwriter’s simultaneous dirty and gentle authenticity serves as a notable highlight. Listen here. Timothy Kohler

12. Dangerfields: Ashes. It’s been a long year, turbulent year for Dangerfields and despite Lucas Swart’s health issues they still managed to execute one of the best sets at Endless Daze 2017 and fashion a follow-up EP that’s melancholically moving and rooted in Swart’s bold baritone delivery. Listen here. Tecla Ciolfi

13. Roxton Met Herki: Slightly Ajar. Josh Roxton and Herman Vercuiel delivered carefully textured vocal layers, guitar foundations and lyrical intricacies paired with African-esque percussion and produced a deeply palatable offering brimming in local flavours and subtle themes of life, loss and love uncovered. Listen here. Skye Mallac

14. Shortstraw: Those Meddling Kids. With a project that spanned over a year and saw them collaborating with a different artists for each single’s cover and team for each individual video, Shortstraw has created one of the most thoughtfully constructed albums I’ve seen in the last 5 years. Listen here. Tecla Ciolfi

15. Bye Beneco: Ghetto Disko. Deliciously synth-driven, innovative and intriguing this group continue to create a path all their own courtesy of a bold aesthetic that extends to the lush visuals of their videos. Listen here. Elmarie Kruger

16. The Valley: Obelisk. Guitars stab and stun like the lazers from an ‘80s video game while a hypnotic voice guides you on a moody journey straight out of the ‘70s on this album. Props to The Valley for managing to find new territory in the saturated psych scene with this release. Listen here. Stian Maritz

17. KAY FAITH: In Good Faith. Hip hop is a culture that prides itself on bragging rights, tumult and hyperbole. Kay Faith is the antithesis of all these things and yet managed to produce one of the most exciting and professional hip hop albums to come out of Cape Town, and South Africa this year. Look out for the silent killer, she’s coming to steal your steez. Listen here. Angela Weickl

18. Aidan Martin: Refugee. Aidan Martin’s latest album is a masterclass in authentic blues and rock. The trio of Martin, Pienaar and van der Merwe possesses a rare chemistry that is as much heard as felt. Listen here. Stian Maritz

19. Leeu: Wishbone EP. A gentle and warm soul who feeds every emotion into the music he makes. The Wishbone EP encompasses every beautiful, alarming and inspiring element that has formed the distinct sound Leeu presents to the the world. This is emotionally intelligent electronica, nourishing and deeply moving. Listen here. Angela Weickl

20. Retro Dizzy: Just Relax. This album, saddled in psychedelic stylings and fondly reminiscent to the late ’60s, is a refreshingly old-school offering. Polished, chiseled psych rock is generously served up on a platter which pays homage to their rougher, formative years as well as their newfound current rock aesthetic. Listen here. Skye Mallac