The Sock Ratings: Top Debut Albums of 2017

The Sock Ratings

An indie crowd is a fine thing to be in. In the words of a random security guard at Camp Bestival, “Indie crowds are the fucking worst – they are maniacs”. But obviously wonderful maniacs.

You’ll always find the classic types at an indie gig. The bucket hat-sunglasses combo wearer who’s pretending he’s at a Stone Roses gig. Not forgetting the New Balance bum bag around his chest. Or the lovely lady with a glitter covered face in high waisted pleated culotte trousers.

But something you’ll always see, no matter what, is the ends of trousers being rolled up so high they might as well be shorts. There is always socks galore.

The more visible socks the Indier the gig. Fact.

The sock rating is a way of comparing that so called ‘Indie-ness’ of a band – that certain something in their music which has the ability to turn the crowd into chaos.

Top 5  Debut Albums of 2017

With January moving quickly along, it’s time to stop and take a second to reflect on the debut albums that hit us last year:

1) What do you think about the car? – Declan McKenna

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Declan McKenna epitomises Indie. He’s young, exciting and has a messy but endearing shape to his songs. His debut ‘What do you think about the car?’, released through Columbia in July 2017, features heavy themes of socialism, homophobia and sexism in the lyrics despite McKenna being a relatively young artist. It just proves sometimes the younger generation can actually think about things larger than social media.

Even with some bleak lyrics, this is still a feel good album. McKenna has a magic skill in creating memorable tracks which seem to have something upbeat about them. The interesting use of vocal snippets and thicker textures than most indie-pop, this was solid step in McKenna’s career.

Listen here:

 

2) The Amazons (Deluxe) – The Amazons

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Reading boys, The Amazons’, self-titled debut gives you a big kick.

Each track is so infectious it makes it hard to not find yourself coming back to listen again and again. The album was recorded live making it rough round the edges in production but is compensated in energy and spirit tenfold.

For a debut, it has a big sound. The Amazon’s have cracked the potion of writing anthemic tracks which are ready to fill stadiums. It can cause rough and muddy mosh pits in tracks like ‘Something in The Water’ or a mass sing-a-long with ‘Junk Food Forever’ which brings us stories of nights out in Reading. I don’t know if it’s because I’m Reading-grown myself, but there’s a special spot in my music library for this band.

Listen Here:

3) Love In The 4th Dimension – The Big Moon

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This charming 4-piece are oozing with skill. This isn’t your typical indie-rock album with 4 chord patterns being recycled and predictable guitar riffs: The Big Moon have made a dent in the new music scene with their own style which is distinguishable to them. And that’s what a debut album should do right? Let the world know what you’re about, and show them you’re in for the long run.

By contrasting quiet intimate parts and thrashy sections it shows off the versatility that is welcomed in any album. The unconventional lyrics and dynamic delivery from Juliette Jackson sets this aside from other debuts. This is a proper rock and roll album.

4) Youth Is Only Ever Fun In Retrospect – Sundara Karma

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This is one of those artists where you can tell that their festival slot would unravel absolute carnage. They have the whole recipe: singable lead guitar riffs, memorable chorus’s, guitar tones that appeal to the masses and a hypnotic stage presence.

This album sends the mind reeling back to the summer There’s no point criticising tracks such as ‘She Said’ and ‘Flame’ for pretty technical reasons, because even if this isn’t your type of rock you can’t deny, these songs captivate you and you can’t help but enjoy them. Along with ‘Vivenne’ and ‘A Young Understanding’ these are the soaring highlights of the album.

The only thing stopping it from getting top marks is that the production on this debut is unbelievably clean – they are an exciting band which should be mirrored in the recording, it just needs a little more edge.

Listen here:

5) That’s Your Lot – Blaenavon

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That’s Your Lot is comparable to the works of The Macabees and Foals, and there’s a reason those bands were successful. The debut has trickles of cheekiness, intimacy and sense of celebration of youth. It entails high falsetto similar to the likes of Bombay Bicycle Club; guitar riffs which follow the vocal line – a classic indie tribute; and pleasing backing vocals (especially in ‘Let’s Pray’).

The album moves from Indie-rock tight drum grooves in ‘Take Care’, to slightly more indie-pop catchy chorus in ‘Orthodox Man’, followed shortly by more affectionate piano ballad ‘Let Me See What Happens Next’.

To push this slightly higher on our list, this album could do with a bit more bite. ‘I Will Be The World’ teased us with what could be, for example a huge guitar sound which is found nowhere else on the album. Come on Blaenavon, give us some crunch, we know you’ve got it in you.

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