Mandy’s Top 5 Albums Of 2017

Featured Images via Sundara KarmaNothing But ThievesCoastsKnox Hamilton and Foster The People 

With 2017 coming to a close, I wanted to take a look back at some of the incredible music that has been released this year. It wasn’t easy to pick only five best albums, but here are the ones that stand out from the rest of the pack to me: 

5. Sacred Hearts Club by Foster The People

Foster The People did not disappoint with their third studio album. They dabbled in a lot of new sounds (check out “Loyal Like Sid & Nancy”) that took me by surprise at first, but quickly grew on me. And of course the album comes complete with brilliant lyrical work from the genius that is Mark Foster.

Top 5 Tracks

  • “Pay The Man”
  • “Sit Next To Me”
  • “Lotus Eater”
  • “I Love My Friends”
  • “Static Space Lover”

4. The Heights by Knox Hamilton

Knox Hamilton didn’t disappoint with their debut album. The Heights is track after track of pop-rock goodness. Each track has its own unique sound, from the bright pop of “Rightfully So” to the grungy rock vibes of “Call Me Up.” 

Top 5 Tracks:

  • “Rightfully So”
  • “Sight For Sore Eyes”
  • “Washed Up Together”
  • “The Heights”
  • “Call Me Up”

3. This Life, Vol. 1 by Coasts

The Bristol boys’ second album was anything but a sophomore slump. Coasts explore more complex themes and display a sense of musical maturity throughout this album. From the feel-good “Take Me Back Home” to the heartwrenching “Born To Die,” Coasts deliver an album full of single-worthy tracks.

Top 5 Tracks:

  • “Heart Starts Beating”
  • “Let Me Love You”
  • “Born To Die”
  • “Chase The Night”
  • “White Noise”

2. Broken Machine by Nothing But Thieves

Nothing But Thieves’ sophomore album is nothing short of a masterpiece. The topics that they touch on are so incredibly deep and relatable. It’s hard to find words to describe the feeling of belting out these lyrics along with frontman Conor Mason, but the closest I can come is to say that it’s a cathartic experience. From start to finish, this album is truly a work of art.

Top 5 Tracks:

  • “Amsterdam”
  • “Broken Machine”
  • “Sorry”
  • “Particles”
  • “Live Like Animals”

1. Youth Is Only Ever Fun In Retrospect by Sundara Karma

Sundara Karma quickly became one of my favorite bands with their debut album. Their music has so much packed into it. The raw emotion of “Happy Family” that never fails to bring me to tears. The beautiful lyrics of “Loveblood.” The deep meaning paired with the funky beat in “Explore.” Youth Is Only Ever Fun In Retrospect has everything you could ever hope for in a debut album and more. This is easily the best debut I’ve ever heard, and certainly the best album of the year.

Top 5 Tracks:

  • “Happy Family”
  • “Flame”
  • “Explore”
  • “She Said”
  • “A Young Understanding”
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EP Review: A Light That Blinds

Featured Image via Saint Raymond

Saint Raymond is finally back with a new EP, A Light That Blinds. It was completely worth the wait. 

This EP has such an incredible vibe to it. It kicks off with the infectious “Younger,” a song that anyone who has gotten that bubbly, butterflies-in-your-stomach feeling around a crush (so everyone, no point in denying it) can relate to. It’s a song to blast from a boom box while holding it over your head under said crush’s window. Okay, maybe that’s taking it a bit too far, but seriously, this song is amazing.

Next up is the sultry “Nightcrawling.” There’s a certain intensity in the imagery of this track that gives me chills. “Last Time” is a reminder that simplicity can be beautiful. The layers of vocals and guitars are mesmerizing, especially in the pre-chorus. The last song, “We Are Fire,” is nothing short of anthemic. I can easily imagine it being played in a packed arena with thousands of fans singing along. 

In short, this EP is absolutely stunning. This is undoubtedly Saint Raymond’s best work yet. I am forever grateful for the friend who said “hey, check this guy out,” because it led me to this fantastic EP.

Check out A Light That Blinds below! 

Bonus: Saint Raymond also released an alternative version of “Nightcrawling,” which is just as incredible (if not more so) than the original. Give it a listen below.

Song of the Week: Lifted

Featured Image via New Politics

Sometimes a song comes along that manages to perfectly convey how you feel at that moment. Right now, that song for me is “Lifted” by New Politics

Tensions are rising

How much can I take?

Tensing my muscles, afraid I will break

The damage is done

I’m left with a choice

Live with the pain or live without no voice

I’m lifted

Frontman David Boyd delivers these poignant lyrics with heartfelt emotion. He’s backed by tribal vocals that somehow manage to fit flawlessly in this pop-rock ballad. All in all, this song is nothing short of a tearjerker, and a relatable one at that.

Listen to “Lifted” below. 

Joe Dolman Gives Us “Something Beautiful” With New Single

Featured Image via Joe Dolman

My favorite singer/songwriter, Joe Dolman, released his highly anticipated new single today. Entitled “Something Beautiful,” the track is exactly what the title suggests. This song has a bit more of a pop feel to it than his earlier work, but still has that familiar acoustic sound I’ve come to love. I’ve always admired Joe’s lyrical work, and this track is no exception. He’s captured a feeling that I’m sure many can relate to, including myself. His melodic vocals are flawless as always. All in all, this single is nothing short of amazing. 

Image via Joe Dolman

The single comes complete with a b-side, “I Think It’s Strange (Acoustic).” This song is classic Joe, nothing but his voice, an acoustic guitar and subtle hints of keys. This beautiful ballad really lets Joe’s vocals shine, raw and full of emotion. I’ll admit it gives me chills.

In short, I am forever blown away by Joe’s talent. Both of these tracks are absolutely stunning. Give them a listen below!

Joe will be embarking on a UK tour starting on November 1st! Trust me, his live gigs are not to be missed (if you’re not stuck in America like me). Check out the dates below.

Image via Joe Dolman

Song of the Week: “Bite”

Featured Image via Troye Sivan

I’ll have to admit, I joined the Troye Sivan bandwagon pretty late in the game, well after the release of Blue Neighbourhood, his debut album. And I’ll admit I became a fan of his music in a pretty bandwagon-y way, by falling in love with his hit single “Youth.” But Troye Sivan’s album is so much more than just one pop anthem. There are so many tracks to love.

One of my personal favorites, “Bite,” is my Song of the Week. “Bite” starts off with only hauntingly beautiful layers of Troye’s vocals, leading into a gorgeous synth-filled ballad packed with vivid imagery sure to give any listener chills. It’s a track I find myself coming back to again and again, constantly humming the tune in my head.

Check out “Bite” below.

Song of the Week: Drown

Featured Image via Kovic

British band Kovic are back at it again with their newest single “Drown.” I’ve had this song on repeat ever since its release on Friday. Having seen Kovic open with this song all six nights of their last UK tour with Coasts, I’m instantly transported back to dancing in the front row with my friends every time I hear it. I have had the infectious chorus stuck in my head ever since the tour ended, so believe me when I say the release of “Drown” was a highly anticipated one for me.

“Drown” is also featured in the soundtrack for FIFA 18, quite an accomplishment for such a new band and certainly a testament to their talent.

Check “Drown” out below!

Coasts Release Sophomore Album “This Life, Vol. 1”

Featured Image via Coasts 

On August 18, my favorite band, Coasts, released their sophomore album titled This Life, Vol. 1. I never expected a second album this soon, as their self-titled debut was just released in January 2016. But hey, I’m not complaining. 

Image via Coasts

The Bristol boys really outdid themselves with this album. It still has the “Coasts vibe” I’ve come to love, but shows a certain maturity that separates it from their debut. They kick it off with two lighthearted tracks, “Take Me Back Home” and “Heart Starts Beating,” both of which are absolute bangers live. “Come On Over” is the perfect pop ballad to listen to on a summer’s night, but it isn’t until after this track that we hit some real emotional depth. “Let Me Love You” is by far Coasts’ most powerful track. It delves deep into the world of mental health, shedding light on a subject others often deem too dark to write about. It never fails to make me emotional. Coasts keep it slow with “Paradise,” featuring floaty background vocals that I absolutely adore. 

“Make It Out Alive” kicks off the second half of the album, and I for one cannot wait to see the energy of this track live. The driving rock of the chorus backed by Chris Caines’ epic dance moves will be a sight to behold. “Chase The Night” is yet another moving track, featuring dark imagery that evokes strong emotions. Coasts give us one more lighthearted track, “White Noise,” which gets stuck in my head entirely too often. The chorus is too catchy not to love. They finish the album with two deeper tracks, but they have completely different moods. “Tomorrow” gives a message of hope, the promise that tomorrow will be better. “Born To Die” is a heartbreaker complete with a gospel choir. I dare you not to tear up during this track. It ends the album on a solemn note, something I found to be a bit of a shock. Not a bad shock, but a shock nonetheless.

This album shows so much growth for Coasts. They dive deeper with their emotions, not just on the ballads, but on the upbeat tracks as well. Not only did they step up their lyrical game, but their musical game as well. I can easily see these tracks moving a crowd to tears or making them jump for joy. And I’m not the only one who took note of this: the album charted at #17 in the UK, their highest ranking yet. 

Oh, how far they’ve come since “Oceans.”

Give This Life, Vol. 1 a listen here.

Now that we’ve got Vol. 1, who else is ready for a Vol. 2?!?