This is a collection of some of my faves from the 2017 year. Between iTunes, Spotify, and other services, I played these albums/songs the most. Remember, like always, these albums are not all profanity-free so if you are uncomfortable with albums like that, just skip over them. I have included a Spotify Playlist at the bottom of list featuring all these albums and more. Thanks for the support everyone and here is to an even greater 2018! Merry Christmas everyone :)
*Disclaimer: Just like EVERY “Best of List” I’ve posted on IVM since 2009, this one is filled with music that may not be so family friendly. I like to mix things up and my tastes vary in styles, genre wise. You may like some, you may hate some, you may be indifferent to it all. Hopefully you’ll find some 2017 releases to call your own. Enjoy and don’t hesitate to post your opinions in the comments section. Oh, and there will be no IVM releases in my best of list this year. It’s not fair to the bands to pick favorites and plus it looks super biased, am I right?
1. Stavesacre – MCMXCV
A decade has passed since the band last released the full length “How To Live With A Curse” and their Ep “Against The Silence” which released right before the hiatus. Their comeback has been well received and this album is a perfect example of how a comeback record should be written. Crunchy guitar tones, thunderous pounding percussion, heavy bass, and Mark’s unmistakable voice. I’ve heard a lot of “reunion” albums over the past 10 years with quite a few being underwhelming but with Stavesacre that is certainly NOT the case. As we all await our vinyl copies of this album, we have a fine digital copy to remind us of just how powerful this band is and has become. Don’t miss your opportunity to discover the music of Stavesacre. Favorite songs: “The Dead Rejoice”, “One Hand Clapping”, “Sleepyhead”, “On Being Human”, “Sideways”, and “Breath Me” (Sia ‘cover’). Oh and that beautiful ballad “Moonstone”, wow. The only drawback I can think of is the fact that none of the physical copies, mine being “vinyl”, have been shipped out to contributors. I believe I even contributed at two different levels, snagging both vinyl offered and a couple tshirts. I understand the logistical nightmare it must have been considering their fulfillment company went under. I am holding out hope for 2018 though.
2. Andrew McMahon and the Wilderness – Zombies On Broadway
I just love Andrew’s voice and music skill. Ever since I heard him in the band Something Corporate years ago right here in Orange County, CA., I’ve been a fan. From Something Corproate to Jack’s Mannequin, and now solo, his music has been nothing short of extraordinary. Starting off with the brilliant “Brooklyn, You’re Killing Me” to the dance pop inspired anthem “So Close” and ambient feel of “Don’t Speak for Me (True)” leads into my favorite song on the record “Fire Escape”. Fire Escape was actually released as a single like a year prior and I am so glad he included it on the full length. Full of nostalgia and a fun anthem inspired by the stories, which Andrew is so good at doing, an ultimate storyteller. “Dead Man’s Dollar” is a strong leading track as well, in fact the entire album is full of “hits” which is quite rare for an album these days. This album remains a favorite of the year and although I only have a digital copy at this time, vinyl is to be purchased soon. Heck, I have the last full length on vinyl so hit me over the head for not jumping at the opportunity to own this fine piece of work on physical media.
3. Less Than Jake – Sound The Alarm
The Florida based punk/ska band Less Than Jake have been churning out one hit record after another since the early 90’s when they first got their start. LTJ fails to disappoint with “Sound The Alarm”, their newest release on Pure Noise Records. The 7 tracks on this album (ep?) blow me away and further cement my love for the band. I don’t think i’ve ever been let down by the band since I first discovered “Losing Streak” 20 years ago. Songs like the fast paced punk rock songs “Call to Arms” and “Good Sign”, the ska upbeats of “Whatever the Weather”, “Welcome to My Life”, “Years of Living Dangerously”, to the straight up punk rockers like “Bomb Drop”, and “Things Change”, are all signs that this band deserves all the heaps of praise they continue to generate this many years later.
4. Little Hurricane – Same Sun Same Moon
I talk about this duo so much that my face turns blue. If you’ve never heard Anthony and CC under the moniker “Little Hurricane” then you are doing it all wrong. Quality indie-blues-pop from San Diego, CA. Fun fact, Anthony (Lead singer/guitarist) once led IVM band Next In Line and mastered some of the early albums by IVM. Now back to this album. The quality has increased steadily with each subsequent release. This is the group’s 3rd full length release and finest by far. They expand upon the bluesy-indie rock like delivery found on earlier releases and get a bit more poppy. The quality from the music videos, to packaging, music production, and song writing is clearly evident on this new album. It’s so cool to learn that Anthony and CC are now a married couple making their Duo much more than just a casual collaboration. To top it off, they just had their first child, talk about a family affair! For some reason the first 4 songs really strike me hard in the heart and draw me in. That’s not to say the other songs are no good, they are without a doubt all solid, it’s just that the first 4 really resonate with me and draw the listener in to keep them captivated throughout the entire record. Imagine a combo of The Black Keys, The White Stripes, Matt & Kim, The Civil Wars, and Mumford & Sons, then you’ll sort of get a feel for this band. If you don’t own this yet, head over to their facebook page for a link to buy their albums on Vinyl. I believe even Amazon sells their vinyl records.
5. Eleventyseven – Rad Science
This album kind of came out of nowhere for me. I remember loving “Sugarfist” back in 2011 and “Adventures in Eville” a few years prior (Myspace baby!). For whatever reason I never really got into their first two Flicker Records albums and not sure why. Maybe it was the childish feel of it but I just didn’t dig Eleventyseven until the end of the last decade and leading into Sugarfist. I loved that combo of well produced pop-punk and electronic pop influence. We had Family Force 5 and other groups experimenting with pop/punk/electro but I never really got into those other bands (especially 30H3). Eleventyseven however had quite a unique sound and this new album further proves why they deserve recognition. I know some people took them to task for mixing a few naughty words in there and I probably sounded like a hypocrite for hating on The Classic Crime while lifting of Eleventyseven but there was just something different about this band and their fun vibe that I guess I overlooked the language part. Every song on this record is built for radio (what remains of it) and streaming channels. So much quality electro-pop(punk) that I can’t help but sing along. Matt’s witty lyric writing and tongue in cheek humor cements this band as one of the best unheard gems of the new millennium. I am so glad I contributed to the campaign and I adore the record I just received. Did I mention how much I love the colors, layout, and artistic delivery of that Unicorn design album cover? Unicorn pride!
6. The Fast Feeling – Pulses
Holy crap is this genius songwriting or what? Taking members of Five Iron Frenzy (hi Leanor on vocals) and Eleventyseven to make this super group playing a furious blend of electro-pop/rock songs. It’s like 80’s new wave meets Daft Punk, The Sounds, and Metric. This album is so dang cool and I feel bad for not listening to it more but there were just so many dare I say, “AWESOME”, albums this year. The musicianship is without a doubt the best you can get in the independent music scene. It’s obvious because Five Iron Frenzy are just so darn talented. This is more about the rock and less about the humor that FIF are known for, and I am quite comfortable to in liking both bands as uniquely different individual bands. Check out The Fast Feeling and see one of our scene’s best kept secrets.
7. Flatfoot 56 – Odd Boat
Nearly 5 years have passed since their strong past effort “Toil” and 7 years since the game changer “Black Thorn”. A lot of heavy expectations were placed on this band in anticipation for their “next album”. “Odd Boat” surely defies all expectations and smashes those sly, cynical looks from unimpressed hipsters, to the wall! This album further delivers upon this band’s penchant for writing solid, gut punching punk rock with a “from the streets” appeal. These guys are real and that’s important in and of itself. No manufactured boy band adoring children who have dollar signs in the eyes and a heart of instant stardom. This working class band from Chicago continues their fast paced, melodic, celtic inspired street punk on “Odd Boat”. “Penny” is a definite highlight with mandolin, fast punk beats, female BGVs. The title track is another favorite of mine. I strongly recommend this record and encourage to support these guys.
8. Acceptance – Colliding By Design
It was so good to have this band back on the map after more than a decade in hiatus mode. Jason’s unmistakable voice is front and center and really leads this solid new effort by the Washington state band. It has top notch production ala Aaron Sprinkle and has a similar vibe to Anberlin’s most recent offerings. It’s amazing that these guys have remained so likeable in people’s minds considering they only released 2 full lengths and 1 ep. This release is more upbeat than “Phantoms” (2005) and much catchier. I dig the electronic, poppy new wave type elements to the songs and think really adds to the many layers each song consists of. I don’t have just 1 favorite song from this record but rather an entire album full of one hit song after another.
9. Phinehas – Dark Flag
Wow, this band came back stronger than ever and this new album is further proof of the staying power in this so cal metalcore band. To be honest I didn’t really dig “Till The End” as much as prior material. Those two eps and the 2 full lengths on Red Cord were incredible so when they came out with their next full length, I felt disappointed. Or maybe it was the fact that IVM was coming to an end in 2015 and didn’t pay much attention to that album? Either way it doesn’t really matter because “Dark Flag” is an absolute monster of an album. I love the perfect balance between guttural throat punching vocals, to fast paced pounding drums, guitar solos, and even the perfectly placed singing parts all add balance to a perfect metal album for our time. Phinehas and Solid State Records should be commended on making one of the finest metal albums of the past few years. Also, are we over the term “Metalcore” yet? This is just straight up METAL so let’s call it that. “Burning Bright” rules, and so does the track featuring the great Jimmy Ryan (Haste the Day/Trenches). The rest? Well if you see it in the top 10 on here that means I love every part of these songs. Also, Phinehas fills the void left by the absence of As I Lay Dying and Tim’s fall from grace. Get this album now because once you listen to it you’ll realize why this band deserves to be in everyone’s stereo and stream list.
10. Goldfinger – The Knife
So much awesome in this new Goldfinger album. Perfect melodic punk rock and ska-punk. You know what’s weird? Since John Feldman is producer and singer/guitarist of his band and the fact that he produced the recent Blink-182 album, I hear such similarities between the Blink and Goldfinger albums. It must be in the way he produced the BGVs and sing-a-long parts. Either way, this freakin’ rules. I love the ska-punk vibes, the horn parts, and perfectly placed melodies. There are some choice words here that might turn away some IVM readers but this is just something I have listened to in 2017. Since Goldfinger is mainly just John Feldman’s band now he has picked up a Story of the Year member and Mike from Mxpx to fill out the band. It all sounds incredible. You can’t deny that John is a talented songwriter/producer and delivers catchy music at every turn.
11. Demon Hunter– Outlive
This is another band that I helped crowd fund their new album and I am so glad I did. I contributed at the Vinyl level and I love both the album as well as the physical product. Demon Hunter continue to build upon their impressive catalog of music, furthering proving why they are one of the finest metal bands around. Ryan’s mix of aggressive vocals and singing parts are the perfect balance. This band has so many influences (HIM being a strong one) but they completely take their music and make it their own. “Outlive” is different yet their is a certain sameness in regards to past material. The familiarity one might have to the Demon Hunter discography is left in tact with Outlive and I think that’s what makes Demon Hunter so great. You’ve got the heavy “Jesus Wept”, “Cold Blood” to the more ballad-Esq tracks, “Died In My Sleep”, “One Step Behind”, and everything in between. I love the guitar solos on several of the songs and fullness in production.
12. AFI – AFI (The Blood Album)
I’ve loved AFI’s music since the turn of the last decade (sorry old school fans). “Sing The Sorrow” may have been a departure from their more hard edged punk rock sound of past material but it ranks as one of my favorite albums. “December Underground” and “Crash Love” each had some great songs (radio friendly) but “Burials” was not something I really dig now. However, this new album is a return to the sound they’ve pioneered for the past 17 years. There are so many great moments to be found on this self titled record. I think it mostly slipped under the radar because it was released at the beginning of 2017 (January) and a lot of people just skipped over it. “Hidden Knives”, “Dark Snow”, “Get Hurt”, “Snow Cats” are solid tracks. In fact, of 14 songs on this album there isn’t really a negative thing to say about the songs. Although a lot of them tend to blend together almost as a concept of sorts, I find a lot of things to enjoy. This is AFI for me. It’s really weird to get TWO AFI albums in one year, DREAMCAR essentially being a continuation in sound although a bit 80’s new wave. Yeah, weird.
13. Seeker and Servant – Exiles
This group of musicians creates stunning, moving, emotional worship music meant to get you contemplating life and decisions. I know a lot of people knock “worship” music but I find great joy in this band’s art. It’s quite well done, everything from the production to the songwriting and emotions conveyed. “Exiles” is one of those special albums that will impress for years to come. If you haven’t heard this band before then please consider looking them up and give a listen to their new album. Oh and the Vinyl version rules! Favorite tracks: All of them
14. Signum Regis – Decennium Primum
How often do you get a Christian power metal band on people’s year end lists? Yeah I bet on a site like IVM it’s a rarity. The excellent musicianship and production quality is top notch, above the norm. These guys and Theocracy rank as my favorites in their particular power metal genres and it’s because they take quality to a whole other level. Drop your preconceived notions and give this album a listen, you’ll find something to enjoy. Favorites: Damnatio Ad Bestias, Unfold The Mystery, Kingdom of Light, Well Deserved, Thunder and Rain.
15. Spoken – IX
After all these years Matt Baird and company continue to churn out one hit after another. Whether those “hits” fall on deaf ears and go unnoticed by the general music buying audience is another story in itself. For us fans though, it doesn’t really matter as we have all taken a liking to his music. While I still hold their 3 Tooth & Nail albums dear to my heart, there was a heavy dose of great songs on “Illusion” and “Breathe Again”. This album continues the influences and continuation of sounds started with “Illusion”. It has that unmistakable “Spoken” sound, being that Matt’s voice is front and center carrying this band on his shoulders. After more than 20 years as a “band”, it impresses me to see them diversify their sound and continue to churn out great songs. You know this might sound really weird but if the members of Linkin Park were to regroup under a new name they should definitely get Matt on vocals, it would sound perfect. “Dying Without You”, “Silence”, “I Will Not Fade”, “The Light”, and the ballads “Remember The Memories” and “Sleepless Nights” are all favorites.
16. Stephen Christian – Wildfires
I’m sorry but you can’t be an Anberlin fan and not love this solo release. I know some people just aren’t “worship” fans but this album is just so well done that you can’t help but be drawn in. I would much rather sing these songs on a Sunday morning than half the crap they churn out and regurgitate on Church audiences every week. “Wildfires” is that perfect balance of electro-pop and rock mixed with a strong spiritual center and led by Stephen’s legendary voice. It’s that heavy dose of familiarity with his soothing voice that makes people discover and rediscover his music over the past 15 years. “Gloria” is a definite favorite of mine along with “Light Rise Up”, “Hope Has a Name”, “Atmosphere”, “One More Moment”, and “Trust”.
17. Story of the Year – Wolves
This album was not a total surprise unlike other albums on my “list” that came unexpectedly, going above and beyond in impressing me. With Story Of The Year you know exactly what you’re going to get and that is quality, explosive dynamics, solid singing and screaming parts. This is total 00’s post-hardcore/punk that fits right in there with all those great bands like Funeral For a Friend, The Used, Taking Back Sunday, early Thrice, My Chemical Romance, From First to Last, etc. Listening to this new album instantly transports me back to the band’s first 2 albums and I love them for doing that as well as experimenting slightly with some electronic elements/synths which is partly due to production by Aaron Sprinkle (not a bad thing). I hear a lot of influence here from their 2005 album “In The Wake Of Determination” and that’s a good thing.
18. The OC Supertones – LIVE 2
I’ve got to just throw this on my list even though it wasn’t a “new” album but rather a new LIVE album featuring a collection of classics and newer songs plus that one unreleased jam which absolutely rules. This band has always been a personal favorite of mine. Closing out 2017 I just want to say farewell to these great men of God and wish them the best on their journeys through life and experiences. The OC Supertones left an enormous impact on my heart and this LIVE album is one of the better live albums to be released (next to Mxpx ‘Left Coast Live’). Farewell guys and thanks for leaving us with a fine parting gift. By the way, you can all purchase this album right here.
19. Mxpx – Left Coast Live
Another SOLID LIVE ALBUM from this Bremerton, Washington 3 piece who have been making music now for over 25 years. Can you believe that longetivity, that consistent output of fast paced, explosive punk rock that has gone somewhat unheard the past few decades yet continues to entertain us loyal and devoted fans? This independent band and Mike especially, continue to prove you can go out on your own, attract a fanbase both old and new, and continue to fill venue after venue across the U.S. all the while slamming people against the wall with energetic pop-punk. You wouldn’t guess these are guys in their 40’s from listening to these tunes and seeing them live. By the way, this was released a year earlier yet was put out on Vinyl and Digital this year which is why it makes my 2017 list. Did I mention the double colored vinyl absolutely rules? Well it does!
20. Rise Against – Wolves
Uh oh, another “Wolves” album title (Story of the Year & Least Of These being the others bands using that album name in 2017) but that’s ok because Rise Against bring the explosive and abrasive punk rock home for an album that will blow most people away. Although I disagree with some of this band’s politics I still enjoy the music and the way they write songs. You don’t always have to agree with everything you listen to, to enjoy it. Know what I mean? “Wolves” finds Rise Against at their absolute best. Some people will say “whoa this sounds like [insert old album] or [insert older album] but I say this band sounds like themselves and continue to churn out punk rock hits for years. I don’t think there is a single song I dislike other than maybe “Bullshit” just because I don’t like singing that in my head all day lol.
21. Save Ferris – Checkered Past
This much welcomed return that no one expected was certainly a big step. The traditional ska sounds on this album bring you instantly back to the 90’s and that’s not a bad thing. There is some choice language on this release, something I wasn’t expecting from these So. Cal. SKA kings (and queen). As you saw No Doubt drift into the more pop/dance sounds of their past few albums, you can count on Save Ferris to deliver this two ton brick of solid SKA tunes to get your feet dancing (well some people) and your bodies swaying.
22. Death Therapy – The Calm Before The Storm
This duo has more in common with the electro-industrial rock sounds of bands completely different from Jason’s other band (Becoming The Archetype) and it’s a welcome change of pace. “The Calm Before The Storm” sees this powerful duo experimenting with a variety of sounds to make a really full sounding album complete with diverse experimentation. In fact listening to this album you can’t tell that it’s a duo. They have a full band sound and even in live videos, it sounds much this way. I know that is due to the combined talent of both these gentlemen. Death Therapy will appeal to fans of White Zombie, Marilyn Manson, Project 86, Demon Hunter, and Training For Utopia. Pretty much imagine all those bands thrown into a giant blender and tossed out on stage (or in studio) to create this masterpiece. It’s just so different than most of the stuff out there.
23. Hot Water Music – Light It Up
This band continues to impress, showcasing Chuck Ragan’s gritty yet full and leading voice. I love everything about this record from the bold colorful artwork to the punk rock songwriting on all 12 tracks from this well seasoned band. After more than two decades together and releasing albums Hot Water Music have really come into their own. Favorites consist of “Complicated”, “Show Your Face”, “Never Going Back”, and “Take You Away”.
24. Pleading Guilty – Defacto
A pleasant surprise from a somewhat new band. Hailing from Denver, Colorado, this band hits you hard in the gut with positive, hopeful punk rock not heard in ages. That style of music seemed to have passed with the hiatus of Dogwood last decade. “Defacto” is one of those special albums that goes above and beyond with regards to quality and punk rock songwriting. There is something special about their sound and I am so excited to heard bands like them making a comeback especially through Thumper Punk Records. If you dig bands like Pennywise, Good Riddance, Dogwood, Bad Religion, Pulley, and No Use For a Name then you’ll totally love this band.
25. Hearts Like Lions – If I Never Speak Again
This was a solid full length from Tooth & Nail. As much as people want to dismiss all the new T&N stuff from the past decade, you can’t help but be entraced by a band like Hearts Like Lions. They create catchy yet well written indie rock that would appeal to the common radio fan as well as the underground hipsters. There is enough here to satisfy everyone’s tastes and goes to show how much good music was released in 2017. This is the band’s first official full length on T&N and a follow up to the fantastic “These Hands Ep” from back in 2014. Imagine the sounds of bands like Manchester Orchestra, Brand New, Emery, Anberlin, and Further Seems Forever, all rolled up into one fine blanket of Rock n’ Roll. This music will please both the masses as well as please the underground aesthetic of the new generation hipster. Check out songs like: “It’s Not Gonna Be This Way”, “Pretty Little Phase”, “Get This Through”, “Make Your Move”.
26. Fleshkiller – Awaken
This was a solid metal release from Facedown Records. So different, so unique, and it isn’t a surprise considering the Extol connection. I’m not as familiar with European metal as I am with other genres so it’s tough for me to draw comparisons but I really haven’t heard too many bands with their considerable amount of talent, especially for a newer band. I’d encourage to give “Awaken” a fresh listen and go in with an open mind, I know it’ll change your perceptions on quality heavy metal.
27. Young Poet – Thrive In a Modern Era
This independent pop-punk/easycore band from Baltimore, MD. was a total surprise for me this year. It really came out of nowhere. I remember doing research for the IVM sampler and checking out Hostile Array page only to find this band (they share a member or two). Then I find out they had released this debut full length titled “Thrive In A Modern Era”. Somehow listening to this album I am transported to an early time back in the last decade. The nostalgia runs deep. It’s like that perfect combo of those early Drive Thru albums like New Found Glory, Starting Line, Fenix TX, Midtown along with sounds like Over It, Yellowcard, etc. Then throw in bands like A Day To Remember, Chunk! No, Captain Chunk!, and old Fall Out Boy, then you’ve got one heck of a powerhouse pop-punk album. The cool thing about these guys is they don’t sacrifice quality for their independence. You know how some of those “independent” albums have a crappy sound, yeah I’d like to forget them too. Download this album right here
28. Eaves – As Deeply As You Do
This ambient, post-grunge, alternative band was a real surprise for me in 2017. I first heard them with the release of the song “Windows” a year prior and was pumped to give this new album a listen. It’s like this careful balance through a few different genres and influences. I hear everything from Incubus, Balance and Composure, Make Do and Mend, Citizen, and My Epic, giving this album a uniquely individual take. You can download this album off bandcamp right here.
29. American Arson – Waymaker Ep
American Arson create punk rock for the new generation. This is really well done in terms of production and songwriting. Going from Good Luck Varsity to American Arson has been the greatest thing ever for Evan. This 6 song ep is a continuation of some of the themes found on the prior 3 eps released over the past few years. I encourage you to give the music of American Arson especially if you’re a fan of bands like A Wilhelm Scream, Dogwood, Hot Water Music, Good Riddance, and Make Do and Mend. Download this ep right here.
30. Servants – Finding My Hope Ep
Such a fine way to end this list and a great year in music. This 4 song ep shows a rising band tackling the much loved genre of Melodic Hardcore and they do it quite well. Taking cues from Life In Your Way, Old Shai Hullud, Misery Signals, Strongarm, Means, and even Comeback Kid, to make a wonderful little ep. If this is any indication of the future this band has in store then we truly have something to be pumped about in 2018. If you haven’t heard this band yet then do yourself a favor and download the ep right here.
Hands – New Heaven / New Earth
Young Oceans – Suddenly (Or The Nuclear Sunburst of Truth Revealed)
Christafari – Hearts of Fire
Cool Hand Luke – Cora
Army of Bones – Army of Bones
Deathbreaker – Disconnect
Authority Zero – Broadcasting to the Nations
88 Fingers Louie –
Jess Penner – Imagination
Liam Gallagher – As You Were
War Of Ages – Alpha
Take – The Dead Will Rise
All the 3 Song Acoustic series releases from Thumper Punk Records (Michael W Stand, Sef Idle, Mike Liberty, JohnnyBoy, etc)
Blank Books – Ep1
No Lost Cause / Peter118 Split
Manchester Orchestra – A Black Mile to the Surface
Makeout – The Good Life
Neck Deep – The Peace and The Panic
New Found Glory – Makes Me Sick
Least Of These – Wolves
Shake It Up – Everything That Makes You Wonder
Seaway – Vacation
We Are Leo – The Rush & The Roar
Rancid – Troublemaker
Raquet Club – Raquet Club
PVRIS – All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell
The Menzingers – After The Party
Cold War Kids – LA DIVINE
Dropkick Murphys – 11 Short Stores of Pain & Glory
Ellie Holcomb – Red Sea Road