Best Albums of 2017 (First Half)

Today marks the six month anniversary of my 25th Annual Album of the Year Report, meaning that it’s now time for the mid-year report of 2017. As has been my June 1 practice in most recent years, I offer the following interim list of eleven new records that have most rocked my world since the preceding January, plus any late additions that came out last December after I closed out 2016. Some of these discs will very likely be contenders for “Album of the Year” honors come December 2017. The list is in alphabetical order by artist (more or less), with links to help you explore. Happy listening . . . and let me know in the comment section what you’re loving that’s not listed here so I can check it out myself before year end!

The Black Angels — Death Song

David Bowie — No Plan (EP)

Robyn Hitchcock — Robyn Hitchcock

Irontom — Partners

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard — Flying Microtonal Banana

Meat Wave — The Incessant

Pile — A Hairshirt of Purpose

Awa Poulo — Poulo Warali

The Residents — The Ghost of Hope

Wire — Silver/Lead

Xiu Xiu — Forget


The Warrior Has Fallen

The warrior has fallen,
the armor joint between his chin and his chest
pierced by an arrow.
A lucky shot from across the field,
severing an artery:
the warrior has fallen.

The foot soldiers rush forward
to pull the warrior from beneath his war horse.
They lift his helmet:
blood runs from his open mouth, jaw slack.
Arrows continue to fall.
The foot soldiers rush forward.

The lancers are advancing
from across the field, their pikes sticky with the blood
of screaming peasants
who had walked to war with staves and clubs,
victory promised to them.
The lancers are advancing.

Untrained field hands are huddling
without shields and armor, watching for a signal.
But the warrior
is dead or dying, despite his armor
and his war horse, and his gold.
Untrained field hands are huddling.

Chaos on top of carnage,
the army of serf soldiers attempting to flee.
Escape routes closing,
horsemen chase them down, blocking
their paths into the forest,
chaos on top of carnage.

The warrior has fallen.
As he dropped his commanding aura died with him.
Confused and frightened
servants suddenly understand war:
there are no sure victories.
The warrior has fallen.

Copyright 2004, J. Eric Smith