Best Albums of 2017
selected by Raivis Spalvēns

Ansamblis Manta <BR> “Karaliene Anna”

Ansamblis Manta
“Karaliene Anna”

Latvian retro-pop ensemble Manta in their second album “Karaliene Anna” stays loyal to their sound and aesthetics.

The band has created a space suitable for those who seek pure and easy listening music covered with a dose of irony and contemplation.

♪♫ Listen: “K13” + album stream

Ansamblis Manta on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Twitter, Facebook, Youtube.

Āres <BR> “Facets”


Experimental postrock band Āres album “Facets” is like a beautiful abstract painting with calm color palette but rather complicated content.

“Facets” guides listener into wonderful landscapes with pleasant and welcoming sounds that pulls you in and doesn’t let go.

♪♫ Listen: “Niedrāja labirints” + album stream

Āres on Bandcamp, Soundcloud, Facebook, Youtube.

Astro’n’out <BR> “Urda”


Riga-based Astro’n’out knows how to make catchy and melodic popmusic.

Their fifth studio album “Urda” is full of honest and smooth tunes, but the overall feeling responds to all the emotions a person possess – from melancholic mood to joyous sounds that make you want to dance.

♪♫ Listen: “Satiksimies, tiksimies” + album stream

Astro’n’out on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, Soundcloud, www.

Auļi un Tautumeitas <BR> “Lai māsiņa rotājās”

Auļi un Tautumeitas
“Lai māsiņa rotājās”

Experienced Latvian pipe and drum band Auļi and rather fresh all female ethno ensemble Tautumeitas have teamed up to record “Lai māsiņa rotājās!”, one of the most stunning ethno music albums of the year, where soft but powerful female voices blend with rhythmical and vigorous sound of pipes and drums.

These are traditional Latvian folk songs about love and marriage brought to the 21st century – with a somewhat feminist approach.

♪♫ Listen: “Dzied’ pa priekšu, brāļa māsa” + album stream

Auļi on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, www.

Tautumeitas on Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud, Youtube, Instagram.

Carnival Youth <BR> “Vienā vilcienā”

Carnival Youth
“Vienā vilcienā”

Latvian indie band Carnival Youth with their third album “Vienā vilcienā” proves that they’ve become more experienced, focused and matured, but their musical qualities and aesthetics remain the same.

It is a youthful and joyous music for those who feel or want to feel young at heart.

♪♫ Listen: “Ūdensmērītāji” + album stream

Carnival Youth on Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube.

George Will <BR> “Dawn”

George Will

George Wills’ beautiful and thrilling postrock album “Dawn” is a nine track short novel about darkness and light where main characters are relaxed piano and screams of a guitar.

Every chapter draws different moods and ways of the time when night just turns into morning light. Yes, the album is kind of fifty shades of a dawn.

♪♫ Listen: “Aeon” + album stream

George Will on Youtube, Facebook, Bandcamp, Twitter.

Instrumenti <BR> “Atkala”


One of the best Latvian bands Instrumenti doesn’t fit into particular music genre because their musical scope varies from experimental electropop to minimalism, but aesthetics and mood can be provocatively aggressive or calmly contemplating.

“Atkala” is a bit different from Instrumenti previous work because the band musically and intellectually have come to the point where content dominates over form, but emotions overcome reason.

♪♫ Listen: “Visa par daudz” + album stream

Instrumenti on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, www.

Linda Leen <BR> “Digital Church”

Linda Leen
“Digital Church”

Experienced singer songwriter Linda Leen is always changing but with her latest album “Digital Church” Linda has came closer to the nature of meaningful popmusic and herself as a musician.

In the album her aesthetics is more integrated, radically changing sounds and moods are more powerful and personal, but the stories she tells are more focused and precise. This is not just a good popmusic album but also intimate insight into Lindas’ world.

♪♫ Listen: “Beyond Velvet Skin” + album stream

Linda Leen on Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, www.

MNTHA <BR> “Identity”


After artistically and musically brilliant debut on national music contest Supernova few years ago it took some time for artpop musician MNTHA to get to “Identity”.

Even this minialbum is not very cohesive, but it perfectly sketches artists’ self, aesthetics and musical abilities.

“Identity” proves that MNTHA knows who she is as an artist, what she wants to say and how to do it.

♪♫ Listen: “Air is a Liquid” + album stream

MNTHA on Youtube, Facebook, Soundcloud, Twitter.

Satellites LV <BR> “Varavīksnes galā”

Satellites LV
“Varavīksnes galā”

Satellites LV have always created serious and smart music – from Britpop in the late 1990s to inventive and joyous electrorock in latest album.

“Varavīksnes galā” is very clever but easy listening, life affirming and intellectually positive music that stands against fakeness and absurdity of our times.

It has been also awarded by Latvian music critics and journalists as the best Latvian album of year 2017.

♪♫ Listen: “Pāri barjerām” + album stream

Satellites LV on Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud.

Sniedze Prauliņa <BR> “Inkrustācija”

Sniedze Prauliņa

Latvian composer, flute player and singer Sniedze Prauliņa with her dreamy, easy listening and perfectly balanced debut album “Inkrustācija” fits very well into art pop genre.

Her music is so pleasant and smooth that it could be a soundtrack to a visually beautiful animation movie that is full of amazing and astonishing scenes, with weird and pretty creatures.

♪♫ Listen: “All The Stars” + album stream

Sniedze Prauliņa on Facebook, Soundcloud, Twitter, www.

Stanislav Yudin & Asnate Rancane <BR> “op.2”

Stanislav Yudin & Asnate Rancane

Composer Stanislav Judin and ethno musician Asnate Rancane have recorded one the best contemporary music albums of 2017.

In this opus Judin and Rancane beautifully and masterfully incorporates traditional music and singing into remote and meditative sounds.

♪♫ Listen: “Op.2” + album stream

Stanislav Yudin & Asnate Rancane on Facebook.

Tehnikums & Ozols <BR> “Semestris”

Tehnikums & Ozols

Synthpop band Tehnikums and hiphoper Ozols have recorded cheerful and witty album “Semestris”.

On this record, they invite listeners to an imaginary 1990s school party where everyone is careless and the only thing that matters is to spend a fun time.

♪♫ Listen: “Tu vari tēlot” + album stream

Tehnikums on Faceook, Twitter. Ozols on Facebook, Bandcamp, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube.

The Gerhard Ornig & Toms Rudzinskis quartet <BR> “Locomotion”

The Gerhard Ornig & Toms Rudzinskis quartet

This is a fine jazz recording created by musicians from Latvia, Austria and United Kingdom.

Whole album is filled with traditional sounds and rhythm of the jazz, mixed with innovative and masterful take on the genre.

♪♫ Listen: “Sus” + album stream

Toms Rudzinskis quartet on Facebook, Soundcloud, www.

Various artists <BR> “Mūsu dziesmas 2.0”

Various artists
“Mūsu dziesmas 2.0”

Compilation “Our Songs 2.0” is one of the grandest events in Latvia of the year 2017. Firstly, applaudable is the initiative of Museum of Latvian Literature and Music to invite young Latvian composers and musicians to make their own versions of iconic Latvian songs from folkmusic, choir music and popmusic repertoire.

Secondly, the result is stunning because these old, beloved and in a way banal songs with a great symbolic value has been remade into original compositions that sounds very contemporary.

This compilation also gives insight into the aesthetics of modern Latvian music.

♪♫ Listen: “Shipsea – Viņi dejoja vienu vasaru

“Mūsu dziesmas 2.0” on Soundcloud, Youtube, www.

Various artists <BR> “Veidenbaums. Vaidi un gaidi”

Various artists
“Veidenbaums. Vaidi un gaidi”

Also this compilation presented by radio station NABA gives insight into many genres of Latvian contemporary music.

But this the time the idea that unites the CD is a rough, angry and sociocritical verse by Latvian poet Eduards Veidenbaums (1867-1892).

This compilation proves that it is possible to get inspiration in the verse that’s been written for more than 100 years ago and still create modern and meaningful music.

♪♫ Listen: “Hipstokrātija – Ziemas aukstais sniegs” + album stream

“Veidenbaums. Vaidi un gaidi” on Bandcamp, Youtube.