The Ghost has always avoided doing Best Albums of the Year lists. There is something intimidating about making such lists and making certain that your words are appropriately eloquent for each of the releases. But for the first time, The Ghost is taking on the task… sort of. What follows is an unranked listing of my seventeen favorite releases this year. It’s a mix of albums and EP’s, local and Texas, rock and hip-hop, peanut butter and jelly. OK, I’m getting off track here. Take a look, take a read, and most importantly, take a listen to these releases. Your ears will thank you… and The Ghost.
Andrew Delaney, The Escape Artist
Mr. Delaney has been a consistently good singer-songwriter through the years, but 2017 proved to be his strongest year to date. The Escape Artist hones his songwriting skills to the sharpest they’ve been, tackling issues such as dementia (“Lina”), and how society treats women (“Elephants”), among others. This album is a must for lovers of the singer-songwriter genre.
Andy Pickett, Andy Pickett
It’s been said that an artist releases a self-titled album as a way to define (or redefine) his or her self. Mr. Pickett’s name has been well known in the metroplex, but this is the kind of album that should attract national attention. Besides, it never hurts when White Denim is your backing band.
The Angelus, There Will Be No Peace
Has your life felt a void since the disbanding of Dove Hunter? Fear not, The Angelus created a southern Gothic masterpiece with There Will Be No Peace. I’d cite a favorite track, but in reality, this album works best when listened to as one singular work.
Atlantis Aquarius, Nibirian Sun
Confession time: The Ghost was on the verge of a Southern rock burnout. Then Atlantis Aquarius came along, and boom! Let’s break out all that Southern rock again!
Blue, the Misfit., Perfect Night, for a Funeral
I didn’t want to go to the trouble of ranking this list, but I will say this: if it were ranked, Perfect Night, for a Funeral would take the top spot. It’s an innovative hip-hop release that is equal parts melancholy introspection and turnt-up party tunes. Never before has The Ghost found a local hip-hop album so captivating and original. Word.
Calhoun, Football Night in America
It’s just your average Calhoun album. Translation: the majority of local bands work their whole career to match an “average” Calhoun album. Yet this band cranks out catchy, smart tunes such as “Georgia”, “MNTN Hearts”, and “The Lies Tho” as if it’s just an ordinary day at the office.
Garrett Owen, Sad Eyed Son
The Ghost stirred up some ire suggeting that Garrett Owen shouldn’t have been nominated for Best New Artist in this year DOMA’s. That’s because while the Dallas Observer was sleeping on Owen in 2010, The Ghost was attending his shows. But all that is besides the point. Mr. Owen has much deservedly found a broader audience this year thanks to the well-crafted tunes on his EP.
Jackie Venson, Transcend
The Ghost predicts that it is only a matter of time before this Austin based musician is known outside the state of Texas. Her bluesy rock is smart, soulful, and sincere. Plus, Ms. Venson is a beast on the guitar. In other words, she’s a complete package and the real deal.
Kaela Sinclair, We Watched the Lights Go Out
Ms. Sinclair is evidence that pop music doesn’t have to be dumb. Her melodies and lyrics and complex, yet the melodic hooks will keep you hitting repeat. My only complaint is that it’s a mere four song EP as opposed to a full length album of such brilliance.
Lizzie Boredom, Dead Men Can’t Cat Call
This EP’s title track has become something of an anthem for women in the local music scene. It’s a scathing indictment of the men who fear and disrespect women. While the title track is obviously the standout among the songs, the rest of the EP is still plenty fiery and energetic. No boredom to be had here with Lizzie Boredom.
Matthew Logan Vasquez, Does What He Wants
On this blog, DFW area music ranks #1, Austin’s a distant #2, and San Antonio chimes in at #3. This year, Matthew Logan Vasquez was indirectly shouting at me, screaming “You forgot about Houston” into my eardrums with each listen of this album. It’s all the intellect of singer-songwriter fare packaged in a rock and roll attitude. He’ll be at Three Links on January 6, and make no mistake: this will be a must see show for The Ghost to see these tunes brought to life.
Midnight Opera, The Mesmerist
Previously, I mentioned my disagreement with the DO regarding Garrett Owen. My other beef with their awards nominations regarded Midnight Opera. Yes, The Mesmerist is a beautifully bleak release that engrosses the listener. Yes, Midnight Opera is mad talented. But no, with only six tracks chiming at a mere 22 minutes, this should not have been a nominee for Best Album. Maybe they got The Mesmerist and Acid Carousel’s Higher Than The Beatles! (their Best EP nominee with 18 tracks, running 58 minutes) mixed up.
Quentin Moore, Black Privilege
There’s a lot of debate in this day and age as to whether or not it’s best for artists to focus on releasing singles, EP’s, or albums. In some cases, the music can make the decision for you. If you have an album’s worth of material that conveys a distinctive message, it indicates the need for the project to be an album. Such is the case for Quentin Moore’s Black Privilege, one of the year’s true masterpieces of an album. This is a socially conscious gem disguised as a funky party piece, and it’s an album that The Ghost has spent repeated hours listening to.
Shadows of Jets, Going Up to Space
It almost feels inappropriate for me to review the new SOJ EP. Reviews are created in the head, and the hooks on this album are so good that liking these songs border on being reflexive. Every one of the tracks is spot-on, but The Ghost has a particularly soft spot for “Houndstooth Coat”, which feels like a glammed up redo of a lost Tom Petty track.
Siberian Traps, Indicator
I’m not going to lie; Indicator did not grab me in the immediate manner their previous EP, Stray Dogs, did. This album is more of a slow burn than a bonfire, but it’s still easily interesting enough to make the year end cut.
Post-punk meets surf meets indie meets “who cares what the label is crank the stereo up let’s rock this out”.
The band’s Big Love EP showed Tomkat to be a significant force in Top 40/Electronica sounds. The release of Icarus was not a step up for the band; it was a full force leap into another stratosphere of talent. There’s a sophistication to both the songs and the production value in this album that have Tomkat poised to become a dominant force not just within the metroplex, but throughout the nation. Yeah, it’s that good.
Now I know what you’re wondering: Ghost, when are we going to discover your Top 40 songs of the year? Well, let’s just say that you’ll be hearing the Top 40 this Sunday on a certain internet radio station. But which one you ask? Hmmm….