SoundBites: Best albums of 2017 and ones to hear in 2018

Clockwise from top left: The Miltones, Great North, The Nudge, SWIDT.
Clockwise from top left: The Miltones, Great North, The Nudge, SWIDT.

Looking for something new or different to fill your playlists this summer? Here's our guide to some of the gems of 2017 and music to listen out for in 2018:

A year in which a certain New Zealand artist has topped or been near the top of many global 'best of' lists (no prizes for guessing) also threw up several other very listenable albums.

A lot of these have already had screeds written about them: Aldous Harding, Kendrick Lamar, Nadia Reid, Sampha and more, so you've probably already checked them out.

Simon Comber, aka Herriot Row.
Simon Comber, aka Herriot Row.

But you may not have come across Herriot Row. Simon Comber's debut album under that name, Lesser Stars, was a highlight this year, a showcase of beautiful New Zealand songwriting.

Other guitar-based Kiwi acts to shine in 2017 included Great North, The Bads, The Miltones and The Nudge, who between them brought a compelling mix of folk, rock, country, indie and psychedelia to our ears. In the hip-hop realm, SWIDT made a huge statement with the compelling Stoneyhunga.

Meanwhile, overseas veteran artists The National, Beck, Liam Gallagher, Lindsay Buckingham & Christine McVie, and U2 (yes, really!) stepped up with strong new material.

Indie Americana had a good year with releases from Father John Misty, Ryan Adams, The War on Drugs and the Courtney Barnett-Kurt Vile collaboration.

St Vincent released the album Masseduction in 2017.
St Vincent released the album Masseduction in 2017.

Other highlights to check out include albums from Julien Baker, St Vincent, Jake Bugg and Algiers.

As for 2018? In A Poem Unlimited is the next album from US Girls, aka Meg Remy, the follow-up to 2015's brilliant Half Free.

Meg Remy, aka U.S. Girls
Meg Remy, aka U.S. Girls

Due out February 16, the release promises to be an inversion of the dusty, sample-based minimal textures of its predecessor, with a "dizzying buffet of live grooves". Many of the songs are character studies of women grappling with power. Check out the two tracks released so far, Mad as Hell and Velvet 4 Sale.

Watch out also for the second Lucy Dacus album, Historian, due March 2.

Closer to home, Kimbra's Primal Heart is due January 19, Marlon Williams' Make Way for Love is due in February and Estère's two-part album My Design, On Others' Lives, is set for March.

Check out our Spotify playlist below for more recommendations — or search for SoundBitesNZ 2018 Summer Playlist.

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