Hot Press

ALBUMS, TRACKS & GIGS OF THE YEAR

THE NATURE OF THE BEAST

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The Hot Press critics round up the music highlights of the year.

The National edge out fierce competitio­n at home and abroad to take No. 1 on Hot Press’ Albums of the Year.

Never do Hot Press editorial meetings more resemble a battlegrou­nd than when it comes to picking our Top 50 Albums of the Year. Having been graced with so much fantastic music over the past 12 months, tempers were always going to fray before we agreed on a winner. If 2016 was the year of paying respect to deceased icons like Leonard Cohen and David Bowie, 2017 was all about celebratin­g the comeback records from living legends.

The National, therefore, are rightly deserving of the ultimate accolade. Having reinvented themselves time and time again, Sleep Well Beast confirmed that the Cincinnati band could still surprise audiences, even seven albums in. What may have sealed the deal was getting to experience their string of blistering live performanc­es in Cork and Dublin up close. This is a band that always smashes through the ceiling, just when you think you’ve got them sussed.

Sleep Well Beast is a monumental record. Elsewhere, lightning struck a third time for Kendrick Lamar, with his powerfully abrasive DAMN. James Murphy made all our dreams come true with LCD Soundsyste­m’s triumphant revival,

American Dream. And we all agreed that recent Hot Press cover star St. Vincent, The Horrors and The War On Drugs, released unmissable albums.

On the Irish front, it was a relatively quiet year. James Vincent McMorrow took us by surprise by dropping the masterful True Care a mere eight months after his last album We Move. Joining him in a very strong Top 50 are fellow Irish songsters, Imelda May, Damien Dempsey, (newcomer) David Rooney and Eoin French (Talos), who together exemplify the extraordin­ary diversity of modern Irish music.

Some major albums came too late for considerat­ion. Notably, there was U2, whose Songs of Experience is released just this week (Olaf Tyaransen reviews it on Page XX). The Corrs’ Jupiter Calling and Taylor Swift’s Reputation also came too late and, like U2, will have to be considered in 2018. We’re looking forward to the scrap over who is No.1 next year, already. – Peter McGoran

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