For Your Disapproval ’17 Style

I cannot believe this is my first post in 3 years. Hope to do this a little more often. Alright, let’s get down to it! The Synaptic Empire’s favorite 20 records on 2017!

  1. U2 – Songs of Experience
  2. St Vincent – Masseduction
  3. Moon Duo – Occult Architecture Vols 1 & 2
  4. Pallbearer – Heartless
  5. Melvins – A Walk With Love and Death
  6. The Angelus – There Will Be No Peace
  7. The New Year – Snow
  8. Power Trip – Nightmare Logic
  9. The Mavericks – Brand New Day
  10. Kreator – Gods of Violence
  11. The National – Sleep Well Beast
  12. Dead Cross – Dead Cross
  13. Crystal Fairly – Crystal Fairy
  14. Electric Wizard – Wizard Bloody Wizard
  15. Blondie – Pollinator
  16. Mastodon – Emperor of Sand
  17. Dead Register – Fiber
  18. Temples – Volcano
  19. Queens of the Stone Age – Villains
  20. Bell Witch – Mirror Reaper

Well 2017, not terribly heartbroken to see you ushered out, but we got a decent amount of solid records and great shows out of you, so I guess you weren’t ALL bad. Above is a rough list of my favorite 20 records of the year. No real surprises, I honestly didn’t get to listen to as many newer bands as I should’ve this past year. That doesn’t mean they aren’t out there, I was busier with work and booking shows etc than I was in getting to explore as much as usual. Also, I’m not a huge streamer, I’ll use Spotify for a release until I can get a real copy in my hands but try as I do, I really don’t seem to connect with music in that fashion. It feels too disposable to me, just my opinion. There were some things I didn’t get around to this year like 2 new Guided By Voices records, Robert Pollard released the 101st full length of his career. Insane. The new Depeche Mode was surprisingly good, just sequenced oddly in my opinion. Not sure how I’d redo it, so don’t ask. Arcade Fire released a dreck of a record, I mean awful. In this day, there’s no excuse for that in my opinion, too many artists are firing on all cylinders to just shove something out there. Enjoyed the new Mogwai a bit as well, as I did the first Chris Stapleton release of the year, and the new Bjork continues in her fine tradition as well. The new Toadies record Lower Side of Uptown had some good moments on it, and I liked the new Foo Fighters well more than Sonic Highways or St Cecilia EP. Other notable releases included Flaming Lips Oczy Mllody and Black Joe Lewis’ Backlash records.

From the official list, St Vincent had another fantastic record with Masseduction, even if not as adventurous as her past output. Which isn’t really saying much, as she’s made incredibly interesting records her whole career. Mastodon’s Emperor of Sand was another fine outing from them, no new ground really from Once More Around The Sun, while both Moon Duo records complemented one another perfectly. Kreator, Pallbearer, Power Trip, Dead Cross and Bell Witch kept the metal torches alive (whatever Dead Cross actually is, not truly sure, ha) and Queens of the Stone Age put out Villains, their first since 2005’s Lullabies To Paralyze I truly enjoyed. Temples and The National kept the indie fires burning along with The New Year and an incredibly difficult to categorize record by The Angelus, who I saw this year for only the second time. Truly a standout effort from them, There Will Be No Peace. The Melvins were busy this year, touring and releasing the sprawling double offering A Walk With Love And Death and a side project Crystal Fairy with Omar Rodriguez Lopez from At The Drive-In and Terry Genderbender of Les Butcherettes fleshing out the band. The Mavericks continued their path to their own unique sound, and we got a surprisingly strong Blondie album, Pollinator. Also made some new friends in Atlanta’s Dead Register, whose Fiber EP is terribly good.


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But at the end of the day the new U2 record, even with a production misstep or two, wound up at the top. Polarizing as they are for the digital torch and pitchfork crowd, they released their finest recording since 2004’s How To Dismantle AN Atomic Bomb. Songs of Experience, for me, helped wash away what I didn’t care for in Songs of Innocence and get them back on track. At this juncture, mid 50’s looking at their 60’s, they’re making exactly the music they should be making. Pleasant Adult Alternative songs that aren’t probably going to win over any new fans at this point, but they have their stripes already. Bono had his best vocal performance in years, lyrically and phrasing wise too. If you’re interested in more, there is a two part podcast where fellow U2 aficionado Chris Logan joins me to discuss track by track, The Synaptic Empire podcast episodes 104/105.


Show-wise this year, I had the Eagle Claw boys up a couple of times from shredmelting good times, and launched the Wayhomer Wednesday series at Main at South Side. I also saw a few good shows as well…

  1. Iron Maiden 6/23/17 American Airlines Center
  2. The Damned 5/18/17 House of Blues
  3. U2 5/26/17 AT&T Stadium
  4. Rod Stewart 8/11/17 Verizon Theater
  5. Wilco 10/3/17 Toyota Pavillion
  6. Melvins 9/9/17 Trees
  7. PJ Harvey 4/28/17 Bomb Factory
  8. Sleep/Pinkish Black 1/30/2017 Granada
  9. Bryan Ferry 3/19/17 Verizon Theater
  10. Pallbearer 5/12/17 Curtain Club

Also caught stellar sets from The Angelus, MC 900 Ft Jesus, True Widow, The Cush (JUST GET BETTER!!), Tripping Daisy, Sub Oslo, Fogg, Rei Clone, Huffer and Sam Lao.

Big disappointment this year from the Tears For Fears/Hall & Oates show, as the “opener” only play about 15 minutes, grabbed his stuff and walked off, setting Tears For Fears onstage about 15 minutes before we got there, work makes us hoof it to shows sometimes, and kinda thought the special guest denotation was misleading. Missed their first 3 songs, including Sowing The Seeds of Love and Leah’s favorite, the OPENING SONG Everybody Wants To Rule The World. She was crushed and I was crushed for her. Otherwise they put on an incredible show, even if Head Over Heels sent me reeling into a deep nostalgia trip that was difficult to shake for the rest of the night. Was a good show overall, but a damper was put on the night from the onset.

Speaking of the podcast, went out to Nashville in August for the first Nashville Rock N Podcast Expo with my producer and Rock Strikes Ten host Joey Haynie. Was a really great event and met all sorts of likeminded podcasters and LOTS of KISS podcasters, lol and realized some podcasters have incredible egos! (Riiiiight, should’ve known that already). It was a great time mostly put together by Decibel Geek’s Chris Czynszak and Rock and or Roll’s Brian Kramp. Got to catch Nashville’s The Tip at the pre party, nice sorta sleazy rock n roll that’s either missing or overlooked today. I got a few cool interviews and did what I could to press the flesh and further The Synaptic Empire, maybe I got three more listeners out of it, ha! Good stuff, looking forward to Rock N Pod 2 for sure!

All in all, 2017 was a fun year musically for me, and I hope our year starts off great with the Moody Blues on 1/22, one of Leah’s absolute favorites and I’m finally taking her to see them after kidnapping her for so many shows over the years! That’s just a couple of days after the release of the Motorcade record, the early front runner to top next year’s list, January is already hot!



~ by thesynaptic on January 21, 2018.

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