Best Of 2017: The DIY List 2017: Big Ones

The DIY List 2017: Big Ones

All this week, we’re travelling through our favourite moments of the year that’s been 2017 - as we arrive at the end of our rundown, here’s our ten favourite bands and acts of the year.

It’s bloody Christmas time again. A time, we agree, for unholy amounts of mince pies and wine, and more repeats of Love Actually than you can shake a red and white sugary stick at, but it’s also a time to reflect on the musical year that has been 2017.

From Oh My God debut albums making new British bands massive, to the year’s most anticipated returns being everything we wanted and more, to incredible acts of defiance against hatred, and, as always, healthy servings of bands doing things that simply made us say: ‘Errr, Say That Again Mate?’.

There’s been some pretty amazing moments this year. So many, in fact, that we’ve collated a hundred of them. We’re going to be sharing two posts a day, highlighting some of our favourite festival moments, absolute bangers of singles, political moments that gave us hope, legends of the year and more, before ending up with our ten Big Ones of 2017: the bands and acts that made us laugh, cry, smile and dance the most this year.

Follow everything in The DIY List 2017 here.

Don’t call it a comeback.
The ‘i was there’ live moments of the year.
Errr, say that again mate?
Sound the horns, it’s an absolute banger.
Most notable first steps.
Political moments that gave us hope.
The times we left an important part of our brains somewhere in a field.
We wanna be in their gang.
Legendary people of the year.

There’s been countless brilliant bands, pop stars and moments this year; from early albums in January through festival season, autumn tours and countless laughs, as well as eleven issues of DIY, we’ve been endlessly thrilled by a group of artists that have completely surpassed expectations, transforming live sets or making the album of their careers: they’re our Big Ones of 2017 from Paramore’s fragile but fantastic ‘After Laughter’ to St Vincent’s absurd, sexy return with ‘MASSEDUCTION’ and Glass Animals becoming kings of the festival circuit, the list could be (and almost was, believe us) endless. Let’s count them down.

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10. Creeper’s flamboyant, outrageous opus ‘Eternity, In Your Arms’

The DIY List 2017: Big Ones

It’s a debut that showed a whole new face to British rock music and truly cast off the shackles of the conventional.

Photo: Mike Massaro / DIY

It was after, arguably, Creeper’s biggest move yet that the unexpected happened: the band disappeared entirely. After playing two huge sets at the iconic Reading and Leeds festivals, it was somewhere on their journey back down the M1 that their entire social media presence vanished into thin air, and the Southampton six-piece began to slowly reveal their complex narrative, one step at a time.

Creepy voicemails, missing posters and clues hidden around their hometown all became part and parcel of the summer-long treasure hunt they encouraged fans to dive into. The mystery of their central character James Scythe slowly infiltrated our minds, while the staff at the Dolphin Hotel became all too sick of requests to visit Room 309. It was only as fans began to figure out the clues - taped inside fountains, left at the end of piers - that it became clear what this was all leading to: their debut album.

Luckily for Creeper, ‘Eternity, In Your Arms’ entirely lives up to the hype. Theatrical but punky, visceral but heartfelt, it’s a debut that showed a whole new face to British rock music and truly cast off the shackles of the conventional. Sarah Jamieson

Read: How To Disappear Completely - the DIY interview with Creeper.

9. Marika Hackman’s brilliant reinvention with ‘I’m Not Your Man’

The DIY List 2017: Big Ones

This is probably the boldest reinvention of this year.

Photo: Mike Massaro / DIY

Who would’ve thought that come 2017, Marika Hackman would be penning badass grunge albums and slicing and dicing cucumbers with quite literally gay abandon? Tossing aside her previous rep for disquieting, introspective folk, her next steps weren’t just a drastic progression from debut ‘We Slept At Last’. Instead, she went so much further. 

Emerging from creative doldrums and newly empowered, Marika’s second album ‘I’m Not Your Man’ wound up being the musical equivalent of a shredded rulebook. As well as featuring The Big Moon as her backing band of choice, it seemed like the record Marika Hackman always needed to make. Melding abstract sex with wry takedowns of creepy men with references to The L Word and some killer hooks so sharply written that they should probably come with a warning label, let’s be honest here, this is probably the boldest reinvention of this year. El Hunt

Read: The DIY interview with Marika Hackman.

8. Kendrick Lamar stepped things up again on ‘DAMN.’

The DIY List 2017: Big Ones

Another seemingly inconceivable step up from an artist who keeps on adapting, changing and surprising

The idea that Kendrick Lamar could top his revolutionary magnum opus ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’ seemed nigh on impossible at the start of this year. Enter ‘DAMN.’ Building on the huge ambition of ‘TPAB’, which saw Kendrick, in his own words, taking his beliefs “from Compton to congress”, ‘DAMN.’ saw the rapper turning the lens inward and focusing on his own development, worries and anxieties, with simply stunning results.

Debuted live at Coachella and gaining no less than seven(!) Grammy nominations, ‘DAMN.’ has been another seemingly inconceivable step up from an artist who keeps on adapting, changing and surprising. We’re ready to see him do it all again on album five. Will Richards

Read: The DIY review of ‘DAMN.’.

7. Glass Animals become kings of the festival circuit

The DIY List 2017: Big Ones

The Oxford four-piece took 2017 by the scruff of the colourfully shirted neck and proceeded to absolutely smash it.

Photo: Phil Smithies / DIY

Head to pretty much any major festival across the globe this year, and you’ll have been likely to see some sort of pineapple-related tomfoolery: shiny pineapples painted on chests; huge pineapple lilos floating across a crowd, often with a person on top; real pineapples being passed around huge tents like communion. It was all thanks to Glass Animals.

Releasing their second album ‘How To Be A Human Being’ last year, the Oxford four-piece took 2017 by the scruff of the colourfully shirted neck and proceeded to absolutely smash it. From a huge, sold-out Brixton show to putting in potential sets of the weekend at Coachella, Glastonbury, Reading, Leeds and beyond, festival season especially became Glass Animals’ this year, with revamped versions of songs from ‘How To Be A Human Being’ and debt album ‘ZABA’ morphing into anthemic monsters.

“Reading was amazing,” frontman Dave Bayley told us in a recent DIY chat, talking through the band’s highlights from a massive year. “We used to break into that festival when we were kids. I’ve seen my favourite bands there. LCD Soundsystem played the exact slot that we played back in 2010, and that to this day is still my favourite show of all time, and to play that slot just made me feel amazing,” he continued. “At first I felt pretty sick, but then it started getting exciting, and when we finally got there it was totally unbelievable.”

Already announced to support LCD Soundsystem at next year’s huge All Points East event in London, Glass Animals’ charge towards inevitable world domination carries on. Will Richards

Read: The DIY end of year chat with Glass Animals.

6. Wolf Alice’s triumphant second age

The DIY List 2017: Big Ones

If Wolf Alice’s superlative debut marked them out as this generation’s indie frontrunners, then 2017 was when they showed it was no fluke.

Photo: Phil Smithies / DIY

It might come a a surprise considering we very rarely bang on about this lot, interview them, put them on the cover or generally shout about their world-beating excellence but we’re actually quite big fans of Wolf Alice over at DIY HQ.

It was quite nice then(!!) when Ellie, Joff, Joel and Theo put out really rather fantastic second LP ‘Visions Of A Life’ this September and then followed it with an end of year that elevated them to next level superstars. Good on ‘em, we say!

But seriously though, if Wolf Alice’s superlative debut marked them out as this generation’s indie frontrunners, then 2017 was when they showed it was no fluke. From a stupidly exciting early morning secret set at Reading Festival, to a half hilarious/ half deadly serious chart battle with Shania Twain, everything the quartet touched this year was imbued with a kind of magic. Then they rounded it all off with an enormous, sold out homecoming show at Alexandra Palace and, frankly, our hearts burst with happiness. That’s not a tear in our eye, it’s just windy outside yeah? Lisa Wright

Read: The DIY cover feature with Wolf Alice - The Next Life.

5. The Big Moon going to infinity and beyond

The DIY List 2017: Big Ones

Having a massive 2017, they became one of our favourite bands in the process.

Well, well, well, where on earth do we start in appraising The Big Moon’s year? Possibly the most bonkers interviewees we’ve ever encountered (the band have talked our ears off on subjects ranging from werewolf conspiracy theories right through to fictional dating realms and delicious roast dinners over the last twelve months Celia, Soph, Fern and Jules also made one of 2017’s stand-out debuts, ‘Love in the 4th Dimension’.

Nominated for a Mercury gong for their efforts, and commanding ever-bigger venues with their fiercely honed belter of a first record, they also donned space suits along the way for DIY’s April cover feature, covered Bonnie Tyler’s ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’, hopped in the tour bus with best buddy Marika Hackman, and became one of our favourite bands in the process. What absolute heroes. El Hunt

Read: DIY’s astronaut-tastic The Big Moon cover feature.

4. Lorde’s huge, technicolour return with ‘Melodrama’

The DIY List 2017: Big Ones

An album that brilliantly and carefully lays out the ups, downs, pain and triumph of moving on after heartbreak.

Upon its release, it was clear that Lorde’s comeback single ‘Green Light’ was a track worthy of defining any year. Taking the dark, somewhat introverted strut of debut album ‘Pure Heroine’, the single turned things a shade of heartbreak-flooded melancholia while demanding you dance through the pain. It opens the singer’s second album ‘Melodrama’, a hugely rich, varied second effort which proved to us all that Ella Yelich-O’Connor is one of the most special, emotionally intelligent lyricists we have, from the self-analysation of ‘Liability’ to ‘Supercut’, which concerns the selective memory of reliving a past relationship, focusing only on good memories and blocking out the bad ones. An album that brilliantly and carefully lays out the ups, downs, pain and triumph of moving on after heartbreak, ‘Melodrama’ was, and remains, the whole package.

Released in mid-June, the album came to life even further through festival season, with Lorde’s Glastonbury set an undeniable highlight of the weekend. A September UK tour brought even more memories to treasure - topped off with a massive, euphoric London show at Alexandra Palace. As comebacks go, Lorde’s has to be the best of the year. Will Richards

Read: The DIY review of ‘Melodrama’.

3. The Killers man up

The DIY List 2017: Big Ones

The Killers’ 2017 has been a blistering reminder of their firepower, as well as a brilliant continued evolution.

Photo: Phil Smithies / DIY

No comeback this year has been quite as surprising as that of The Killers. Overwhelming and flamboyant in equal measure, ‘The Man’ was a return that had our mouths wide open and hips shaking in equal measure, and remained on repeat on the DIY HQ stereo for the rest of the year.

Sometimes it’s tough for me to be ironic because I have such a sincere voice,” Brandon Flowers told us in DIY’s cover feature with the band last month. “I think it’s working with ‘The Man’ though,” he admits, “I think people are getting it. It brings a little bit of levity to the shows and it definitely brought some to the studio and recording.”

Making their (secret) comeback at Glastonbury before playing huge shows at Hyde Park and The O2 (and another intimate one at Brixton Academy for good measure), The Killers’ 2017 has been a blistering reminder of their firepower, as well as a brilliant continued evolution. Will Richards

Read: The DIY cover feature with The Killers - It’s A Wonderful Life.

2. St Vincent’s sleek, sexy reinvention for ‘MASSEDUCTION’

The DIY List 2017: Big Ones

By now, absolutely nothing appears out of bounds for Annie Clark.

Photo: Catalina Kulczar / DIY

From releasing her mindblowing and five-star rated album ‘MASSEDUCTION’and rattling the cage of tired gig conventions right through to passing on a few gleaming words of wisdom when it comes to the more ‘surprising’ benefits of Pilates (“it made me sing better, and it made me come harder,” she gleefully told DIY in our cover feature) St Vinny’s had a legendary year on all fronts. Her self-titled record ‘St Vincent’ three years ago - the dystopian, glitching vision of a guitar-wielding cult leader - started up a whole new chapter of fearlessness, but few could’ve just predicted just how much further she would go next time around.

By now, absolutely nothing appears out of bounds for Annie Clark, who has spent her 2017 dissecting the dark and troubling age we live in with her customary razor-sharp scalpel, and putting together her own cuttingly satirical press packs. Along the way, she also - somehow! - found the time to direct her own horror movie, too. Casual. El Hunt

Read: DIY’s October 2017 cover feature with St Vincent.

1. Paramore’s fragile, fantastic evolution on ‘After Laughter’

The DIY List 2017: Big Ones

They say that nothing worth having comes easy, and it feels like that’s never been truer than here.

Photo: Pooneh Ghana / DIY

It’s easy to assume that life inside a platinum-selling, arena-headlining band must be smooth sailing. But if the life lessons of Paramore have taught us anything, it’s that sometimes, there’s so much more than meets the eye. Over the past eighteen months, Hayley Williams and Taylor York – as joined by former-but-now-very-much-present drummer Zac Farro – have flung open the doors to their world – their heartache, their anxiety, their pain – and all in the name of the most human of all instincts, survival. Their fifth album ‘After Laughter’, with all of its gorgeous choruses and infectious pop idiosyncrasies, still feels vital and raw; a real life coping mechanism, constantly treading that line between brilliant and terrifying. And while its narrative may seem melodramatic to the eye-rollers among us, it’s an album that’s become the very life blood of the band themselves.

Think back eight months to when ‘Hard Times’ first emerged out of the blue and the excitement was palpable. It was a track that stared darkly into the abyss and decided to dance it off – quite literally, in the video at least - anyway. Next, the sharp tongued, whippy-hair ‘Told You So’ arrived, in all its Wes Anderson-esque glory, and the ante was upped. By the time that ‘After Laughter’ landed on shelves just weeks later, the trio felt revitalised, inspired and it still shows.

What’s most clear, however, is that they feel more of a unit than ever before. From the creative aspects surrounding the record, to their live shows – the stunning Royal Albert Hall show amongst them – complete with the full band ritual of covering HalfNoise’s ‘Scooby’s In the Back’, after almost a decade of uncertainty in the band, the pieces finally seem to have fallen into place. While this past year has undoubtedly seen some of Paramore’s most difficult moments, it’s also produced some of their greatest. They say that nothing worth having comes easy, and it feels like that’s never been truer than here. Sarah Jamieson

Read: The DIY cover feature with Paramore.

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