Thirty Hertz Rumble

A bl-g about movies, music and nostalgia by James David Patrick

Tag: 100 best tracks of 2017

30Hz 100 Best Songs of 2017 / #25 – #1

best songs of 2017

Return to Best Songs of 2017 #50 – #26

25“Cut to the Feeling” – Carly Rae Jepsen

Carly Rae Jepsen is the pop-singer we need, but not the one we deserve.

 

24“Shine a Light” – Shabazz Palaces, Quazarz, Thaddilac

Singular rappers evolve beyond their unique brand and replace stark minimalism with lush production and showcase skillful hip-hop skillz alongside soul and musicality. When you ask about the absence of Kendrick, Cardi B, Lil Uzi Vert, or any of those other buzzy, modern rappers on this list, I’m going to point to Shabazz Palaces and proclaim that they’re still not on this level. #UnpopularOpinions

 

23“Happiness Will Ruin This Place” – San Fermin

A musical collective in constant flux, ebb and flowed, flowed right into this brilliant centerpiece of their third full-length studio album. Downtempo optimism for the disillusioned.

 

22“Right Now” – Haim

You may not know this about me, but I love Haim. Not quite as much as I love CHVRCHES maybe, but “love” is no overstatement. At Haim’s Stage AE show a couple of years ago, they closed their set with this track. All three sisters grabbed drum sticks, beat the shit out of three bigass bass drums at the front of the stage and then walked off stage. #DramaticExits

 

21“Motion Sickness” – Phoebe Bridgers

When I first heard Phoebe Bridgers, I told everyone I knew that cared about music to listen to Phoebe Bridgers. Since you’re reading this bl-g, you care about music and therefore you should listen to Phoebe Bridgers, too.

 

20“Hard to Say Goodbye” – Washed Out

Washed Out climbed my 2017 charts through an epic war of attrition. I listened to this record the day it came out and want “meh” and then XMU played this song into the ground and I’d listen and listen and listen and finally I conceded the fact that it was a good song and placed it on the “Hits List” with the expectation that I’d dismiss it after the first round of cuts but then suddenly it was November or December and I couldn’t get “Hard to Say Goodbye” out of my head and the more it lingered the more I loved this low-key meditative pop-music. It’s got a soul that 2017 decidedly lacked.

 

19“Call Ticketron” – Run the Jewels

But Run the Jewels released their record on Christmas Day 2016, you’re saying. You’re saying technically this song doesn’t count for 2017. Fine. FINE. You go tell El-P or Killer Mike that they don’t qualify. I’ll wait. Meanwhile I’ll listen to Run the Jewels 3 on repeat because nobody releases bangers like this anymore. NOBODY.

 

18“Third of May / Odaigahara” – Fleet Foxes

The genre “psych-folk” still confounds and frustrates me, but Fleet Foxes is the epic poem version of folk music so if that’s what “psych-folk” means, I’ll let it slide.

 

17

“Tailwhip” – Men I Trust

Montreal indie-electro-poppers forced into my cranium by My Old Kentucky Blog. I’m thirsty for more.

 

16“Arabian Heights” – The Afghan Whigs

With few exceptions I consider the 1990’s rock music scene a sonic wasteland of grunge impersonators and trash pop acts. These particular 1990’s indie-rockers (one of the aforementioned exceptions) return with their most thumping track since… [scanning my Afghan Whigs playlist] …well, ever.

 

15“Imagining My Man” – Aldous Harding

Like a warbly, inebriated nightingale, Aldous Harding croons off-kilter ballads and “Imagining My Man” goes for the jugular when the “unsexy” sax intervenes and glues the whole thing together like already-been-chewed Trident. #MusicWritingDoesntHavetoMeanAnything

 

14

“Nothing Burns Like The Cold” – Snoh Aalegra, Vince Staples

Confession: until last week I’d never heard of Snoh Aalegra. I sampled this track while browsing someone else’s Best of 2017 list. Stax Records slow jam + Godzilla theme dramatic bass + Vince Staples’ inimitable flow. #PerfectionYouDidntKnowYouNeeded

 

13

“Keep Running” – Tei Shi

Tei Shi is the stage name for Argentinian-born, Vancouver-reared, Berklee-trained, New York City-based singer-songwrier/producer Valerie Teicher, but all that’s just backstory about how she comes up with her vicious pop hooks.

 

12“Keep Me In the Open” – Gang of Youths

Taking Australia by storm yet completely and totally unknown in the States. Dave Le’aupepe battles the likes of Ed Sheeran and Queens of the Stone Age atop of the Australian charts; have you read anything about Gang of Youths? Besides this blurb anyway? Le’aupepe sings like the National’s Matt Berninger, Bono and Bruce Springsteen, writes lyrics like Titus Andronicus and admits to being fucking pretentious. I admire that kind of self-awareness.

 

11“Harbour” – SOHN

Christopher Michael Taylor wowed me with his 2012 EP The Wheel and now he’s back to blow our minds with some more electronic wizardry. Taylor understands the power of patience and silence and expectation. When “Harbour” drops out after an already slow build at the 90-second mark, listen closely as he brings you back with a cacophony of sterile synth and a bulging bassline rising to a crescendo.

 

10“Deliverance” – Rationale

The Top 10. Huzzah. Rationale is Tinashe Fazakerley, a Zimbabwe-born UK electro-soulster that conveys the weight of a Shakespeare tragedy in his vocals. Close your eyes, let “Deliverance” wash over you and tell you don’t feel.

 

9“Un autre que moi” – Fishbach

 

Fishbach, aka Flora Fishbach, is an electro-tinged French singer-songwriter. I know absolutely nothing about her other than that she borrows Yé-yé pop sensibilities and reminds me of Françoise Hardy. And if you’re a reasonable music connoisseur that’s all you’ll need to know as well.

 

8“Astral Plane” – Valerie June

Van Morrison by way of Memphis, Tennessee. Nobody sings like Valerie June. Nobody will ever sing like Valerie June because to attempt to sing like Valerie June is like trying to argue with a Star Wars nerd about the logistics of making the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs.

*also qualified for Top 2017: “The Front Door” and “Long Lonely Road”

 

“Shark Smile” – Big Thief

When “Shark Smile” breaks down and we’re left with a quiet snare and Adrianne Lenkers singing “And she said woo / Baby, take me / And I said woo / Baby, take me too” you’ll believe in Jesus. Or the Loch Ness Monster. Whatever it is that skeptics worry about these days.

 

6“Jj” – Priests

Nominated for powerhouse vocal of 2017. This retro fuzz-punk outfit fronted by Katie Alice Greer reminds me of the way I felt when I first heard Savages.

 

5“Petals” – TOPS

Montreal four-piece indie poppers continue to churn out lush, low-key AM radio tracks, like offspring of Mazzy Star and Lindsay Buckingham. TOPS recorded their choice 2017 record at a former Los Angeles brothel, which seems like something you should know.

 

4“Slip Away” – Perfume Genius

It takes cajones to put “Genius” in your nom de plume and the only thing that Mike Hadreas has ever done is live up to that billing. I hope he and GZA get together on a bi-monthly basis and talk shop about the burdens of being a f’ing boss.

*also qualified for Top 2017: “Die 4 You”

 

3“Green Light” – Lorde

I wrongly assumed 2013’s Pure Heroine would be the pinnacle of Lorde’s career. Mea culpa.

 

2“Thinking of A Place” – The War on Drugs

Epic 11-minute jam from reliable Springsteen/Dylan disciples consumes its listeners and spits them out, partially chewed, and grateful for the opportunity.

*also qualified for Top 2017: “Holding On”

 

1“The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness” – The National

Though I’m still trying to wrap my head around The National’s challenging, abrasive and elegant Sleep Well Beast, this first single represents the band’s sonic leap by cramming a guitar solo into the middle of the song and sneaking some synth into the background like a matte painting. There were “better” songs, but none that stuck with me more than this one.

 

101 – 76   /   75 – 51   /  50 – 26  /   25 – 1

 

And now that you’ve run the gamut, here’s the entire list, plus all the tracks that got cut in the final round just before publication. Put the list on shuffle and make your own favorites. I’m no sonic dictator. Thanks for taking a sonic journey through my 2017. You can follow all my playlists on Spotify here.

 

The Best Songs of 2017

Every year since 2005, my friend Mike at bsidesnarrative.com and I have been compiling our “Best of” lists. It’s a competition without a winner or a loser. It’s a way for us to communicate about music and share our thoughts without being able to chat as much as we’d like anymore. The above link will take you to his list.

The 100 Best Songs of 2017

 

The year 2017 was a bunch of whatever. Broken. The Upside-Down became our reality. While all that nonsense raged on and fueled our fears and whipped our disillusionment into a lather, the year found time to beget a veritable trough of earhole-worthy jams. It was a year of transition, a coming-to-terms with the dumpster-fire status quo. We may not like the world in which we live, but the torrent of inspired and reactionary art may be the silver lining to the coming apocalypse. #SmallVictories

I tweaked the “Best of” rules this year. For 2017, I’m only allowing myself one song from each artist. This benefits you in two ways. 1) You won’t be forced to read a list of nothing but Valerie June, The War on Drugs, and Alvvays, and 2) I get to pick more artists and more songs. If you’re reading any of these 2017 lists, you’re likely looking to find new records and artists to make these days more meaningful/beautiful/soulful/tolerable. Or you’re hate reading and shaking your fist angrily at your computer screen. Either way, thanks for the click.

And I reserve the right to completely change my mind about all of these songs next week.

Disclaimer in perpetuity: I’m still just one guy and while I listen to a lot of music, there are people who listen to a lot more. Like the folks at Aquarium Drunkard, My Old Kentucky Blog and Said the Gramophone — my three go-to music blogs. In many ways their input came together to form these year-end lists like Voltron. 

best songs of 2017

Past years of the Best of: 2016 / 2015 / 2014 / 2013 / 2012 

Bonus picks: “What’s That Perfume That You Wear” – Jens Lekman; “No Coffee” – Amber Coffman; “Runaway” – Julietta; “Do You Still Love Me?” – Ryan Adams; “No One Like You” – Blue Hawaii; “Still Waking Up” – Tim Darcy; “I Know A Place” – MUNA; “I Promise” – Radiohead; “Keep Walking” – Kelly Lee Owens; “Soothing” – Laura Marling; “Wild Indifference” – Joan Shelley; “Westermarck” – Charly Bliss; “Stellular” – Rose Elinor Dougall; “Sweet Saturn Mine” – The Moonlandingz; “call the police” – LCD Soundsystem; “The Fear” – The Shins; “Old Time” – Willie Nelson; “Ran” – Future Islands; “You Never Come Closer” – Doris; “1234” – Kevin Morby; “There’s a Honey” – Pale Waves; “Baby Luv” – Nilufer Yanya; “Thinning” – Snail Mail

inifinity

Covers: 

“Sorrow” – Paul Shaffer And The World’s Most Dangerous Band (with Jenny Lewis) / “Valerie” – Ra Ra Riot / “Can’t Help Falling in Love” – Beck / “Fragments” – Blondie

For whatever reason, covers dominated my earholes in 2017 and while I have a hard time ranking cover songs in the main countdown, I reserve this slot for trends/miracles that deserve a little bit of time and attention. Back on January 6th, Sorrow” was actually the very first track added to my “2017 Hits” list, which is the year-long collection of tracks from which I draw this countdown. To wrap up the covers portion of this countdown, Blondie checks in with a defiant, goddammit I’m still relevant wave goodbye on her cover of Adam Johnston’s piano ballad.

“Valley Boy” – Wolf Parade

So I cheated and added #101. I couldn’t neglect my boy Spencer Krug, who more than any other indie vocalist sings at the frequency of 30Hz.

 

100

“French Press” – Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever

Melbourne 80’s indie-rock nostalgists sound like Real Estate and the Strokes at the same time. My birthday wish from 2009 just came true.

 

99

“Heartstruck – Wild Hunger” – Hamilton Leithauser, Angel Olsen

Angel Olsen shares Leithauser’s delicious appreciation for expressive 60’s-leaning vocal styles. The two bounce verses off each other like cunning Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em linguists.

 

98“T.V. M.A.C.” – Mega Bog

Neo-jam-glam on *ahem* wry toast.

 

97
tie: “If We Were Vampires” – Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit / “Alleyway” – Anna Tivel

This is me. Weeping. Like a baby.

 

96“Let ‘Em Talk” – Kesha (feat. Eagles of Death Metal)

Kesha’s Freedom Party 2017. A killer kiss off track backed by grumbly guitar rockers Eagles of Death Metal. The pop diva never sounded as comfortable in her own shoes as she does here, doubling as a riot grrrl.

 

95“Running Second” – Ainslie Wills

The terms “fierce” and “symphonic” come to mind when considering Melbourne’s Ainslie Wills. This teaser track from a pending 2018 LP promises more great things from this underrated songstress from down under.

 

94“The Blackout” – U2

Most will balk when I suggest the best track on U2’s latest album sounds like a lost gem from the Pop era. “The Blackout” forces Adam Clayton to the foreground and the result is the freshest U2 track since “Discoteque.” #ILikePopGoddammit

 

93“Ouija” – Graveyard Club

Dueling vocals and baroque synth. Stop teasing me with greatness and release the new record already you morose Minneapolis bastards.

 

92

“Deadly Valentine” – Charlotte Gainstbourg

Dramatic, grief-laden 6-minute vocal opus backed by strings and loss. Inspired in part by the apparent suicide of her half-sister, the Parisian actress and singer produced her greatest record to date. This song is one that will linger and grow and transform the more you listen.

 

91

“Ugly Human Heart Pt. 1 & 2” – Daniel Romano

An eccentric two-part romper stomper from the Canadian singer-songwriter.

 

90

“Call on God” – Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings

I challenge you to give yourself to this song. Listen to the hope and the majesty in Sharon Jones’ vocals. Knowing the battles she fought and the live she lived. You will be moved. The late, great soul singer released the best record of her career after she was already gone. Her spirit endures.

 

89

“Rules” – Hoops

Two minutes and thirteen seconds of Hoops jangle-pop perfection. Why bother with more when you jangle that hard?

 

88

“Follow My Voice” – Julie Byrne

Julie Byrne’s voice reacts and recoils, occasionally suffocated. It’s a fragile human spirit — that voice. Gazing upon its mortality with wonder and fear and the depth of human emotion.

 

87

“Grandma Hips” – Your Old Droog, Danny Brown

I don’t know Coney Island’s Your Old Droog from a ceramic mixing bowl, but he had the wisdom to share the microphone with Danny Brown.

86

“Heavy Hearts” – Hater

Swedish quarter dropped their first full-length featuring this standout showcase of melodrama rock. Soaring vocals with a side of clouldberry jangle and jam-pop.

 

85

“Elegy” – Leif Vollebekk

Liquid melancholy backed by simple piano chords, metronomic drumbeats. Think Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire” recorded on a bedroom eight-track.

 

84

“39 by Design” – Drab Majesty

Andrew Clinco channels Clan of Xymox. Some have called it “neo-goth,” but let’s all agree never to speak that term again. Pitch-perfect deep, dark thoughts with guitar, reverb and deep, mumbly vocals.

 

83

“Pink Up” – Spoon

While “Hot Thoughts” got all the airplay, the understated “Pink Up” rose up from the B-side depths to rule Spoon’s excellent 2017 LP — their best since 2007’s Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga.

*also eligible for the countdown: “Hot Thoughts”

 

82

“When the Heart Attacks” – Gabrielle Papillon

Paste Magazine liked Gabrielle Papillon to Ben Folds, Joanna Newsom and Tori Amos as one of our most important singer-songwriters. I’m embarrassed to admit that I’m new here. I “discovered” this tremendous talent on her fifth LP.

 

81

“Show You the Way” – Thundercat (feat. Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins)

Soul/funk/jazz impresario Thundercat (Stephen Bruner) impressed and beguiled in equal measure on 2017’s Drunk. Any artist that recreates a lounge-style atmosphere and introduces the likes of Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins as special guests in the middle of a song (without *much* irony) has my eternal affection.

 

80

“Cold Apartment” – Vagabon

When Lætitia Tamko’s vocals interrupt the opening silence on “Cold Apartment” you stand up and take notice. Without tremendous range, she cuts with unique precision and gives Vagabon a singular identity.

 

79

“Dog Years” – Maggie Rogers

Fun fact: I stayed a couple nights in Easton, Maryland — Maggie Rogers’ hometown. I had some amazing oysters in a crab shack in February. I loaded them up with paralyzing amounts of horseradish and hot sauce. But anyway. This NYC-educated singer-songwriter’s the real deal and if you’re not listening to Maggie Rogers right now you’re going to miss out on the time period during which you can say you listened to Maggie Rogers way back when.

 

78

“Judy French” – White Reaper

It seems that someone, perhaps Louisville’s White Reaper, is having some fun on their Wikipedia page: “White Reaper is the worst band in the history of bands. Known for making the crowd want to punch a baby, their garbage sound should not be tolerated.” While I’m loathe to cite a Pitchfork review, I love that they summed up the White Reaper sound as cheeky, classic rock for the Camaro-set.

 

77

“Talisa” – Daniele Luppi / Parquet Courts

Italian producer Daniele Luppi unites superheroes of indie rock — Karen O and Parquet Courts — on this balls-forward guitar and bass driven driven ode to former model Talisa Soto.

 

76

“J-Boy” – Phoenix

Total snoozefest. Recommending a Phoenix track. What is this 2003? What’s old is new again. Phoenix and frontman Thomas Mars keep evolving. 17 years young, yet they’ve never sounded stale.

 

101 – 76   /   75 – 51   /  50 – 26  /   25 – 1

 

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