Mid-Year Verdicts: TOP TEN ROCK ALBUMS IN 2017

This is the third half-of-the-year list published in the blog after those about Electronic music and Jazz. The Top Ten chart features quite a wide family of sub-genres spanning from indie rock to post-punk, passing through alternative rock and celtic punk. The top positions of the list are almost stationary since a few months, while there are a few interesting movements in the lower positions. Enjoy!

 

#1) Modern Ruin by Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes

Readers of this blog have seen myself explaining many times about how good is the last album by Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, Modern Ruin. This is the second LP produced by the British band and it arrived on the shelves a year and a half after the sensational debut album, Blossom. Frank Carter, the leader of the band, became however famous first as the frontman of the English hardcore punk outfit Gallows, then as the leader of the American-British rock band Pure.

Compared to Carter’s previous works, Modern Ruin may seem more inclined to melody and somehow less visceral, but this didn’t affect the overall energy of the pieces. An instant classic, a must have album for 2017 and beyond.

 

#2) Near to the Wild Heart of Life by Japandroids

Near to the Wild Heart of Life is the long awaited third studio album by the Canadian rock duo Japandroids consisting of Brian King (guitar, vocals) and David Prowse (drums). The album fills a gap of five years since their previous beautiful Celebration Rock, the album which gained a widespread acclaim from both critics and fans, and it also interrupts a long time span in which the band has been also totally silent.

Musically speaking the album is still characterized by the raw and garage-style rock sound that has marked all their previous works. The band, however, has somehow eased the most aggressive tones maintaining in any case a good emotional tension in all the tracks of the LP. A very nice characteristic of their music is given by the perfect way in which the different sounds and instruments fit one on the other, adding incremental layers as the song develops. A confirmation from a great indie rock band.

 

#3) Life Without Sound by Cloud Nothings

Life Without Sound, the fourth studio album by the American indie rockers Cloud Nothings, finally shows the most serene and enjoyable face of this fantastic band. Although always influenced by the dirty and scratchy guitar of Dylan Baldi, the ecletic singer, musicians and lead songwriter of the band, the songs of the album seem to manifest a happy point of arrival in the articulated musical path the band went through in their 8-years career.

This album is also relevant since it features the official new entry of a second guitarist in the band, which has now become a quartet. Chris Brown, who had joined the band earlier in the year only as a touring member, is now a full-time element of the indie rock group together with Baldi, drummer Jayson Gerycz, and bassist TJ Duke.

After a few moments of frequent listens, I can say that a very positive element of this work is the longevity of the songs. The positive opinion Ihad initially of the album has been not only consolidated but further improved with time, and some of the songs which didn’t capture my attention at first are now among the songs I appreciate the most. Solid modern rock, definitely recommended.

 

#4) Laune der Natur by Die Toten Hosen

I was honestly surprised when I first heard Laune der Nature (Freak of Nature), the new album from German punk rock veterans Die Toten Hosen, which is the seventeenth studio album from the band. I was fascinated by the freshness and immediacy of the songs, and it’s clear that the guys from Dusseldorf still have a lot to say after so many years of playing together.

The band became famous for their heavy political approach to punk. Their last album, however, seems less involved with politics and more focused on the music itself. Maybe this won’t be remembered as the best release of their long discography, but it remains a very good and refreshing album and it’s a recommended listen in particular for those that are not familiar with these German punkers. Combat rock from Germany, sehr gut!

 

#5) 11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory by Dropkick Murphys

Hardcore Celtic-Punkers Dropkick Murphys shoudn’t require too much introduction since these guys from Massachussets have been rocking the scene for over twenty years and their last album, 11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory, is the ninth of their long career. Musically speaking, this work presents their signature irish-inspired rock sound, without to much innovation or diversion from the successful recipe that they have been perfectioning through time. Catchy anthems, celtic rocking melodies, fast and fun energetic song.

Beyond the purely musical aspect, most of the songs are inspired from the work that the band did in support of the “The Claddagh Fund”, a charity organization which the band established since 2009 for actively helping the drug recovery community and other children’s and veteran’s organizations. As a result, most of the tracks are permeated with a sense of positive energy, a sort of encouragement to go beyond the little or big failures that we may encounter in our lives. This is not going to be the best album ever released by the band, anyway it’s a solid and valuable work which contains quite a good number of very high quality songs. If you want blood…. we’ll give you some!!

 

#6) Damage and Joy by The Jesus and Mary Chain

The Reid brothers are back. After about twenty years of silence (their previous LP dates back to 1998) the two belligerents Scottish rockers have put aside differences and incompatibilities and eventually found the inspiration and motivation to get back into the studio and produce a new album. Damage and Joy is the seventh album in the career of The Jesus and Mary Chain, and it is almost unbelievable to recognize how this record seems in every respect the natural evolution of their earlier works, despite all the time that has passed in the meantime.

The album collects together a few tracks written by the band during the last ten years, basically since they started again to play music together, and some newer songs composed specifically for this record. Their music is always very interesting to listen: they have a special gift in balancing immediacy with inspiration and, as a matter of fact, their melodies never transcend into banality or the pure replica of an established pattern. The songs of Damage and Joy are less energetic and raw with respect to their previous works and the songwriting has evidently matured towards a more calm and introspective approach.

 

#7) Night People by You Me At Six

Night People is the new album from the English alternative rockers You Me At Six and it arrives three years after the previous succesful album Cavaler Youth, which topped the UK chart on the same week of its release. The reception from critics and fans for Night People, however, hasn’t been the same as the previous LP, and many reviews pointed oud that the new album is less coherent and homogeneous than the previous works, and that aside a few songs of clear value there are a number of tracks of much lower level.

If I can agree that not all the songs of the album have the same enjoyability I typically like to focus on the best tracks of each LP and Night People, despite the highs and lows, contains a good number of pretty damn catchy rock songs. Certainly their sound has taken a more commercial and “pop” direction, but the final result is definitely not to be overlooked.

 

#8) American Beauty by CJ Ramone

CJ Ramone was the “young guy” within the Ramones – and the last one to join the band – when the punk rock masters were playing their punk songs in the last ten years of their influential career. After the American punkers retired, CJ kept on playing and singing in a Ramones’ cover band and he eventually started a solo career which has already generated a few albums. American Beauty is the last release of CJ Ramone’s solo production and the third album of his studio discography.

As you might expect, CJ has kept the Ramones in his heart and the music he plays is basically what his fans want to hear: simple and straight punk rock. It would be really a complete madness to compare CJ’s songs to those of Ramones: there is honestly an abyss that he couldn’t fill even by calling the support from a few punk veterans as his backings. Anyway, it’s not crazy to say that American Beauty, judged as a stand-alone product, doesn’t look bad when compared to today’s rock scene, where it rather brings a breath of freshness and immediacy.

 

#9) For Crying Out Loud by Kasabian

Fun and easy. This has always been the motto for the four rockers from Leicester. And in an era where too often we’re provided with over-conceptual albums, such a relaxed approach to music sometimes is just what we need. For Crying Out Loud is the the fifth album from Kasabian, and it topped the UK music chart in the same week of its release. The album contains 12 new tracks and the deluxe version contains a second disc with a live performance recorded last year at the King Power Stadium.

The musical formula of the album remains essentially the same of Kasabian’s last works, the disc is packed with easy to listen rock grooves and melodic anthems. These are songs which don’t pretend to bring any particular message or to represent any form of innovation but which manage to stay away from trivial mechanism for the mere research of the commercial success. To some extent we see here that the process of simplification has reached a further level and this is combined also with a sense of urgency that emerges from many of the tracks of the album. As a matter of fact, all the songs have been  recorded in only a few weeks and this further contributed to preserve the spirit of immediacy of the entire album.

 

#10) Mosaic by 311

Long time alternative rockers three-eleven came back after three years since their last LP with another excellent release. Their last album, named Mosaic, is the twelfth studio album of their long career and in the few weeks that have now passed from the date of release, it has already received very good reviews from both music critics and fans.

The band has achieved a very good recognition in the alternative rock scene for their smooth but energetic rock anthems, most often featuring very nice and enjoyable influences from reggae and ska. And their last production definitely confirms their unique skill in mastering so many different genres into a captivating and coherent package of songs. Possibly one of the most complete rock albums of the last few months, Mosaic keeps the band’s unique rap/rock/reggae mix alive and at same time introduces a few additional elements in their palette of sounds which make the album somehow new and refreshing.

Contemporary Punk Rock, the Best Albums of 2017 (so far!)

Edit: if you arrived to this page via a search engine, please be aware that there are updated charts about Rock for the year 2017. Check them out from the home page, yuo can jump easily into the the Rock section from the website menu. 


Today the punk scene is definitely different (and less influential) than 40 years ago. Nevertheless, there are still a number of good releases that appear periodically on the shelves and the genre is characterized by a varied number of influences and different sub-styles. There are a few punk veterans who continue to publish very good albums, but also new groups entering the scene with nice and energetic punk songs. We have selected here the best punk rock albums that have been released since the beginning of the year, presented in strict alphabetical order. Did you miss anyone of these?

CJ Ramone: American Beauty

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American Beauty is the third solo album by CJ Ramone, the American rocker best known for working from 1989 to 1996 as bassist and vocalist of the legendary Ramones (and today one of the three surviving members of group)

Cloud Nothings: Life Without Sound

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Life Without Sound is the fourth studio album by the American indie rock trio, which managed to balance a punk rock approach with hardcore and power pop sonorities.

Danko Jones: Wild Cat

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Wild Cat is the eighteth album by the Canadian rock trio from Toronto, which features an impressive selection of mainstream-ready hard rock and garage punk Tunes.

Die Toten Hosen: Laune der Natur

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Laune der Nature (Freak of Nature) is the seventeenth studio album from the German punk rock veterans, which confirms their consolidated recipe of punk metal and hardcore punk.

Dropkick Murphys: 11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory

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11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory is the ninth studio album by American celtic punk band from Boston, which have nowadays accumulated more than 20 years of honest and good punk music.

Dune Rats: The Kids Will Know It’s Bullshit

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The Kids Will Know It’s Bullshit is the second album released by the Australian three-piece punk rock band from Brisbane, which are among the youngest representatives of the contemporary international punk rock scene.

Flatfoot56: Odd Boat

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Odd Boat is the seventh album by the American celtic punkers from Chicago, and it’s probably one of the best they released so far.

Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes: Modern Ruin

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Modern Ruin is the second studio album by the English punk rock band led by singer Frank Carter. Here in this blog it still maintains the top position in the overall rock chart for 2017.

Japandroids: Near to the Wild Heart of Life

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Near to the Wild Heart of Life is the third studio album by the Canadian rock duo, which features a more polished version of the garage punk style that made them gain a well-deserved public success in their 10 years career.

Nothington: In The End

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In the End is the new studio release by San Francisco alternative-punk rockers. The album interrupts a period of silence of almost five years since their last studio release and it arrives when the band is celebrating ten years of activity.

Rejected: Suicide Hotline

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Suicide Hotline is the new album from the Finnish punkers. The  band is active since the end of 90’s and their music combines catchy choruses with typical bitterness and irreverence of street punk.

True Sound of Liberty: The Trigger  Complex

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The Trigger Complex is the eleventh album released by T.S.O.L., the hardcore punk veterans from California which are active since 1978. The album is their first release since 2009.

Best of Rock in 2017, the Top Ten of Indie, Alternative and Punk Rock (updated May 2017)

Edit: if you arrived to this page via a search engine, please be aware that there are updated charts about Rock for the year 2017. Check them out from the home page, you can jump easily into the the Rock section from the website menu.


Despite the fact that in the last weeks there have been a few nice and interesting new releases for the rock category, the highest ranks in our rock chart remain basically untouched. In the bottom part of the list, of the contrary, we had a number of changes with groups leaving the chart (such as AFI and TSOL) and some other entering the Top Ten (Kasabian and  Nothington). In view of this changes, let’s see the updated chart for rock music in the moment we enter the second third of 2017.

 

#10) For Crying Out Loud by Kasabian (NEW ENTRY)

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Fun and easy. This has always been the motto for the four rockers from Leicester. And in an era where too often we’re provided with over-conceptual albums, such a relaxed approach to music sometimes is just what we need. For Crying Out Loud is the the fifth album from Kasabian, and it topped the UK music chart in the same week of its release. The album contains 12 new tracks and the deluxe version contains a second disc with a live performance recorded last year at the King Power Stadium.

The musical formula of the album remains essentially the same of Kasabian’s last works, the disc is packed with easy to listen rock grooves and melodic anthems. These are songs which don’t pretend to bring any particular message or to represent any form of innovation but which manage to stay always far from those trivial mechanism for the mere research of the commercial success. To some extent we see here that the process of simplification has reached a further level and this is combined also with a sense of urgency that emerges from many of the tracks on the album. As a matter of fact, all the songs have been  recorded in only a few weeks and this helped to preserve the spirit of the immediacy of the entire album.

Overall this is an album of simple celebration, not mindful reflection. (The National)

 

#9) In The End by Nothington (NEW ENTRY)

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In the End is the new studio release by San Francisco alternative-punk rockers Nothington. The album interrupts a period of silence of almost five years since their last studio release and it arrives when the band is celebrating ten years of activity. Born on the ashes of their former band Tsunami Bomb, Nothington’s founders Gabe Lindeman and  Jay Northington have developed through the years a special and successful mix of catchy end energetic punk rock, which allowed them to gain a relatively high commercial success and made them as one of the most important rock groups from the Bay Area.

In their last work, the guys from California repeat their successful musical recipe without any particolar innovation: radio-friendly catchy rock and melodic punk-rock anthems. There are a few moments where the tones are a bit more thoughful and introspective, but the essence of the album is definitely on the energy side. Sometimes we don’t need at any cost musical innovations or masterpieces, but just nice and good rock songs to put in our musical playlists.

This is an album full of triumph and tenacity, turmoil and turbulence. Just the way you like it. Even better yet is that now that the band has awakened from hibernation, they’re going to be active with tours and festival plays. Welcome back, gents. (Bandcamp)

 

#8) Wild Cat by Danko Jones (=)

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Wild Cat is the eighth studio album by Danko Jones, which is the Canadian rock trio led by vocalist and guitarist Danko Jones, supported by John ‘JC’ Calabrese on bass guitar amd Rich Knox on drums. The band is active since almost 20 years, and this is one of those groups that didn’t reach the attention of their fans thorugh changes and innovations. And this last album is no exception. Wild Cat gives us in fact just another bunch of furious and totally enjoyable “macho” rock-party anthems. These guys draw on an inexhaustible source of catchy rock melodies and they just keep doing what they can do best, without too many frills or ambitions for musical evolution.

The album is crammed with groovy, sleazy riffs and hooky choruses, all delivered with a surge of raw energy from Danko himself, whose enthusiasm for his craft clearly hasn’t dipped after eight albums. (Team Rock)

In addition to this successful and field-proven recipe, the Canadians have understood very well how important may be an excellent production, in particular if you’re going to the easy listening way to rock. Wild Cat benefits from a perfect recording which is consistent with their style and which gives an furhter element of enjoyability to their work.

 

#7) American Beauty by CJ Ramone (=)

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CJ Ramone was the “young guy” within the Ramones – and the last one to join the band – when the punk rock masters were playing their tunes in the last ten years of their influential career. After the American punkers retired, CJ kept on playing and singing in Ramones’ cover band and he eventually started a solo career which has already generated a few albums. American Beauty is the last release of CJ Ramone’s solo production and the third album of his studio discography.

As you might expect, CJ has kept the Ramones in his heart and the music he plays is basically what his fans want to hear: simple and straight punk rock. It would be really a complete madness to compare CJ’s songs to those of Ramones: there is honestly an abyss that can’t be filled even by calling the support from a few punk veterans as his backings. Anyway, it’s not crazy to say that American Beauty, judged as a stand-alone product, doesn’t look bad when compared to today’s rock scene, where it rather brings a breath of freshness and immediacy.

Once again CJ Ramone managed to record an album that not only pays great tribute to the band he helped continue until 1996, while also keeping the Ramones sound fresh. His song-writing and vocals get better and better with each release and American Beauty is no exception. Fans of the Ramones and CJ’s past solo work will be extremely happy with this album. I’m sure Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee and Tommy are looking down and totally rocking out to it. (PunkNews)

 

#6) Night People by You Me At Six (↓)

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Night People is the new album from the English alternative rockers You Me At Six and it arrives three years after the previous succesful album Cavaler Youth, which topped the UK chart on the same week of its release. The reception from critics and fans for Night People, however, hasn’t been the same as the previous job, and many reviews pointed oud that the new album is less coherent and homogeneous than the previous works since aside a few songs of clear value there are a number of tracks of much lower level.

If we can agree to some extent that not all the songs of the album have the same enjoyability, here in this blog we prefer to focus on those bunch of tracks that gave a very positive vibe. Despite the highs and lows, in fact, Night People still contains a good number of pretty damn catchy rock songs which are today regular guests of our rock playlists. Certainly their sound has taken a more commercial and “pop” direction, but the final result is definitely not to be overlooked.

Upon first listen to the opening track of You Me At Six’s new album, it’s easy to see its potential for polarising opinion. The euphoric sheen of their last record ‘Cavalier Youth’ has been swapped for something altogether darker, groovier, and it sounds like nothing they’ve ever dared to try before. Yet, by the end of ‘Night People’s succinct ten tracks, it’s clear they’ve navigated their new musical direction very well. (DIY)

 

#5) Damage and Joy by The Jesus and Mary Chain (↑)

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The Reid brothers are back. After about twenty years of silence (their previous LP dates back to 1998) the two belligerents Scottish rockers have put aside differences and incompatibilities and eventually found the inspiration and motivation to get back into the studio and produce a new album. Damage and Joy is the seventh album in the career of The Jesus and Mary Chain, and it is almost unbelievable to recognize how this record seems in every respect the natural evolution of their earlier works, despite all the time that has passed in the meantime.

Damage and Joy is a keen reminder of what the Jesus and Mary Chain naturally possess that too many newer bands lack: a strong and inimitable personality, one that cannot be separated from their music and how it works, and one that is still largely intact.  (Pop Matters)

The album collects together a few tracks written by the band during the last ten years, basically since they started again to play music together, and some newer songs composed specifically for this record. Their music is always very interesting to listen: they have a special gift in balancing immediacy with inspiration and, as a matter of fact, their melodies never transcends into banality or the pure replica of an established pattern. The songs of Damage and Joy are less energetic and raw with respect to their previous works and the songwriting has evidently matured towards a more calm and introspective approach.

 

#4) 11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory by Dropkick Murphys (=)

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Hardcore Celtic-Punkers Dropkick Murphys shoudn’t require too much introduction since these guys from Massachussets have been rocking the scene for over twenty years and their last album, 11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory, is the ninth of their long career. Musically speaking, this work presents their signature irish-inspired rock sound, without to much innovation or diversion from the successful recipe that they have been perfectioning through time. Catchy anthems, celtic rocking melodies, fast and fun energetic song.

Beyond the purely musical aspect, most of the songs are inspired from the work that the band did in support of the “The Claddagh Fund”, a charity organization which the band established since 2009 for actively helping the drug recovery community and other children’s and veteran’s organizations. As a result, most of the tracks are permeated with a sense of positive energy, a sort of encouragement to go beyond the little or big failures that we may encounter in our lives. This is not going to be the best album ever released by the band, anyway it’s a solid and valuable work which contains quite a good number of very high quality songs.

Loss and the possibility of redemption represent the twin themes of pain and glory fueling the Celtic-punk band’s ninth album, a collection of songs by turns bleak and triumphant, and sometimes both at once. (Paste Magazine)

 

#3) Life Without Sound by Cloud Nothings (=)

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Life Without Sound, the fourth studio album by the American indie rockers Cloud Nothings, finally shows the most serene and enjoyable face of this fantastic band. Although always influenced by the dirty and scratchy guitar of Dylan Baldi, the ecletic singer, musicians and lead songwriter of the band, the songs of the album seem to manifest a happy point of arrival in the articulated musical path the band went through in their 8-years long career.

“Generally, it seems like my work has been about finding my place in the world,” Baldi says. “But there was a point in which I realized that you can be missing something important in your life, a part you didn’t realize you were missing until it’s there—hence the title. This record is like my version of new age music,” he adds. “It’s supposed to be inspiring.” (Bandcamp)

This album is also relevant since it features the official new entry of a second guitarist in the band, which has now become a quartet. Chris Brown, who had joined the band earlier in the year as a touring member, is now a full-time member of the indie rock group together with Baldi, drummer Jayson Gerycz, and bassist TJ Duke.

A very positive element of this work is that the quality of the songs improves with time. The positive opinion we had initially of the album has been not only consolidated but further improved with subsequent listening, and some of the songs which didn’t caputre our attention at first are now among the songs we appreciate the most. This fact, for our experience, is a typical characteristic of the great albums.

 

#2) Near to the Wild Heart of Life by Japandroids (=)

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Near to the Wild Heart of Life is the long awaited third studio album by the Canadian rock duo Japandroids consisting of Brian King (guitar, vocals) and David Prowse (drums). The album fills a gap of five years since their previous beautiful Celebration Rock, the album which gained a widespread acclaim from both critics and fans, and it also interrupts a long time span in which the band has been also totally silent.

Musically speaking the album is still characterized by the raw and garage-style rock sound that has marked all their previous works. The band, however, has somehow eased the most aggressive tones maintaining in any case a good emotional tension in all the tracks of the LP. A very nice characteristic of their music is given by the perfect way in which the different sounds and instruments fit one on the other, adding incremental layers as the song develops.

The duo have nailed the art of the crunching, life-affirming crescendo. The title track has rousing get-in-a-moshpit-and-hug-your-mates choruses but it’s also pleasantly grown-up: emo-rock for those who still wear plaid shirts and skate shoes but who also now brew their own craft ale. (The Guardian)

 

#1) Modern Ruin by Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes (=)

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As soon as we started playing the new album by Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes we knew that we were in front of a great work. Modern Ruin, in fact, not only does contain quite a good number of good songs, but it is graced as a whole by a positive energy that emanates from every one of the 12 tracks included in the disc.

Don’t come to Modern Ruin looking to be cheered up then, but if it’s catharsis you’re after, there’s nothing more fitting. (NME)

This is the second LP produced by the British band and it arrives on the shelves a year and a half after the sensational debut album, Blossom. Frank Carter, the leader of the band, became however famous first as the frontman of the English hardcore punk outfit Gallows, then as the leader of the American-British rock band Pure.

Compared to Carter’s previous works, Modern Ruin may seem more inclined to melody and somehow less visceral, but this didn’t affect the pleasantness of the songs and indeed the album has gained fluidity and longevity.

 

 

 

 

 

The Sound of My City, Best of Indie, Alternative and Punk Rock in 2017

You will find in this compilation the best rock music of 2017 (so far!), selected and mixed into a single explosive playlist. With artists such as Frank Carter, Japandroids, Cloud Nothings. Dropkick Murphys, The Jesus and Mary Chain, CJ Ramone, Danko Jones, Nothington, Kasabian, AFI (and many others), this is the definitive playlist for the first 4 months of the year. Enjoy!!

 

Best of Indie & Punk Rock in 2017 (so far!) – The Playlist

Edit: there is a new playlist for Indie & Punk Rock which can be accessed from the home page!

We’ve selected and mixed the best songs from the Top Ten Indie & Punk Rock Albums in 2017. This playlist features tracks by The Menzingers, CJ Ramone, Rejected, Danko Jones, AFI, You Me At Six, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Cloud Nothings, The Sounds of Liberty, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes and Japandroids.