Tag Archives: best songs 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.



“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



“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



“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.


30Hz 100 Best Songs of 2017 / #50 – #26

best songs of 2017

Return to Best Songs of 2017 #75 – #51

50“Goose Snow Cone” – Aimee Mann

I can’t hear Aimee Mann without thinking of her work on the Magnolia soundtrack. This is her best record since Magnolia and “Goose Snow Cone” is her best song since “Save Me.”


“Walkaway” – Weaves

Indie-pop from Toronto on the same wavelength as the Yeah Yeah Yeahs (but without the power punk) or the tUnE-yArDs (but without the creativity). They’re the middle-of-the-road indie power-popsters for the rest of us.


“Appointments” – Julien Baker

Julien Baker joins fellow Memphis, TN crooner Valerie June as  standout acts of 2017. Both represent a conflicted and complicated southern viewpoint with a devotion to the roots of their genre. “Appointments” builds slowly. The listener waits for that cathartic release, only the transcendence undermines expectations. It’s bittersweet and ruminative, not bombastic, but even more potent.


“Moon Dust” – Cherry Glazerr

Los Angeles punk-pop trio full of self-awareness and cocky swagger. When the guitar solo bleeds into a blistering crescendo around the 2-minute mark, you’ll think to yourself, “Self, this rocks pretty hard, but not too hard that you’ll hurt anything vital.”


46“Machinist” – Japanese Breakfast

Or Jay-Brekky if you’re into the whole brevity thing. Solo project from Michelle Zauner, formerly of Little Big League. “Machinist” is an otherworldly meditation on the escape of earthbound pain and fear, a remarkable combination of synth and sax and voice modulation.


45“How It Left” – Violents (feat. Monica Martin)

Electronic soul music for the weary.


44“Never Start” – Middle Kids

Sydney, Australia’s indie-pop trio opened for Ryan Adams and Cold War Kids on the strength of one EP filled with catchy-as-hell earworms.

*also qualified for Top 2017: “Edge of Town”


43“Shilpa Ray’s Got a Heart Full of Dirt” – Shilpa Ray

A playful, straightforward art pop ‘n roll record that hints at Patti Smith vocals and Lou Reed rhythms. Shilpa Ray’s greatest asset is her boisterous big-blues vocals. A punk diva in an Ella Fitzgerald cover band.


42“Tie Me to the Ground” – Dear Reader

Before looking it up I’d have guessed that Dear Reader hailed from Australia, but it turns out that Dear Reader is now just a solo project of Cherilyn MacNeil and she’s based in Berlin. Art-pop with plenty of soulful piano dirges and sweeping choral flourishes.


“Wrong For You” – Molly Burch

By now you’re probably starting to skim this blurbs without really reading them and I’m okay with that. Really. 100 blurbs is a lot of blurbs. 100 songs is a lot of songs. Trust me. I’m the one writing them. And tradition dictates that I take blurb number 41 to discuss the grind of reading and writing about 100 songs. Rather poorly. You’re not really reading anymore and I’m not really spending much time thinking about them. Molly Burch deserves better than a half-assed blurb because she’s a cross between Patsy Cline and Nina Simone and that’s a damn fine part of the vocal spectrum. The girl can sing.


40“Tinseltown Swimming in Blood” – Destroyer

Den Bejar vocals + leftover synth and bass from The Cure’s Disintegration. Epic track.


39“Thirty” – The Weather Station

Toronto songwriter Tamara Lindeman perfects her formula on “Thirty” — the standout track from her fourth LP. Passionate, genre-spanning and remarkably unpredictable.


38“The Way” – HAERTS

No stranger to the 30Hz countdown, HAERTS returns with this power ballad that sounds like CHVRCHES and Haim and Rhye and the Shout Out Louds all came together for a jam. So of course I love it. Hopefully the band has a second full-length album on the horizon.


“Slide” – Calvin Harris, Frank Ocean, Migos

Maybe the most un-Calvin Harris song I’ve heard. Epic, soulful hip-hop in four movements.


36“Little Ones” – Kwaye

This Zimbabwe-born, London-raised student was discovered during his first week of studying abroad at UCLA while catching a ride in an Uber. He happened to play his demo for his driver, a former music executive, who passed Kwaye’s demo tape to the founder of Mind of a Genius. Frank Ocean – excessive production + killer hook.


35“Three Rings” – Grizzly Bear

Layered, folk-rock landscapes that reward with deep headphone listening and high volume. Lay down on your floor, stare at the ceiling and succumb to the Grizzly Bear.


34“The Underside of Power” – Algiers

Band members hail from the UK, Atlanta and New York City. Their sound becomes the interstice between them all, borrowing sonic tropes from Motown soul, garage rock, 80’s punk, R&B and even Italian horror movies. That sounds like a cute little buzz blurb for a sales pitch, but it’s legit. Wait until “The Underside of Power” drops out just before the 4-minute mark and you’ll swear you hear some Bruno Nicolai.


33“Apocalypse” – Cigarettes After Sex

Brooklyn-based noir dream-pop. You’ll be forgiven for believing that frontman Greg Gonzalez was a female vocalist. There’s a lot of Galaxie 500 and Beach House here. While many other dream-poppers skew flinty and wistful, Cigarettes After Sex relishes a good bassline and droning guitars.


32“Every Day’s the Weekend” – Alex Lahey

Pure punk-pop confection with a chorus that’ll infect your brain and have you singing “wooo oooh whoaaa oh whooaaa oh oh oh,” among mixed company. This 25-year-old Australian crafted a song neither I nor my 5yo could get sick of — and that’s a small miracle.


31“Sunshower” – Flowertruck

Sydney, Australia (yes, again!) post-punk, new-wave quartet inspired by Talking Heads, the Smiths, and Oingo Boingo. The band’s not getting enough attention for their debut full-length but you could probably say that about 9 out of 10 artists on this list because people listen to the garbage that’s placed in front of them.


30“Hug of Thunder” – Broken Social Scene

Indie-superstar collective returns with this slice of comfort good. Mac and cheese for old souls.


29“Eden” – Makthaverskan

Anthemic, angsty jangle-pop from Sweden. I’ve also heard them called “dream-punk,” which is a new sub-genre for me. Vocalist Maja Milner skewed darker on III (their third record, obvs.) but “Eden” remains a standout slice of accessible joy, the gateway drug to the darker themes within the rest of the album.


28“Rose Blind” – Gold Class

Australians dominated my 2017. These post-punkers play like Joy Division but where Joy Division kept listeners at a chilly distance, Gold Class’ record plays like a spiral, constantly pulling you towards the center with engaging lyrics about anger and politics and disillusionment. My most spun piece of vinyl from 2017.


27“Stranger’s Kiss” – Alex Cameron (feat. Angel Olsen)

Idiosyncratic Australian (they’re coming for me!) singer-songwriter plays like the sledgehammer version of Father John Misty, but where Father John Misty lets his lyrics speak for themselves, Alex Cameron pounds his cleverness home with a witty hook. Pitchfork called him “art-sleeze” and I’m struggling to come up with anything more appropriate. It’s worth noting that this is the second appearance of Angel Olsen on this countdown despite none of her own material making an appearance.


26“Saved By A Waif” – Alvvays

I didn’t immediately connect with Alvvays’ sophomore record but then I scanned my “Hits List” in November and found I’d logged four songs from the album. That’s only a failure when you consider I had five tracks from their debut on my 2015 Hits List. Way to let me down, Alvvays. I wish more bands would crush my dreams like you do.

*also qualified for Top 2017: “Not My Baby”

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




30Hz 100 Best Songs of 2017 / #75– #51

best songs of 2017

Return to Best Songs of 2017 #101 – #76




“Feels” – Anna of the North

Oslo’s Anna Lotterud, aka Anna of the North, sings effervescent electronic ballads that feel like watching the Northern Lights from a sonic tundra. The synth in this song keeps my cockles warm despite the sub-zero temperatures.

74“Big Fish” – Vince Staples

One of the few modern buzzy rap artists that actually resonates at 30Hz. He displays a working knowledge of the classical tenants of the genre, yet still breaks it down from the inside out. He’s embracing the rap game and commenting on its toxicity at the same time. It’s a brilliant bit of lyrical tightrope walking.


73“Demand It” – Hand Habits

This song makes me feel things. My wife thinks Meg Duffy sings like someone using a cat as a bagpipe.



“Prom” – SZA

I don’t know what to make of SZA, exactly. Do you? She’s my musical equivalent of the girlfriend on Seinfeld that only looks good in certain lights. (Karen Fineman on “The Strike” – Season 9, Episode 10, if you need a point of reference)



“Trouble Adjusting” – Miya Frolick

Miya Frolick’s “Give It To Me” EP is a kick in the teeth. Through a broken and bloodied jaw I begged for more.


70“Big For Your Boots” – Stormzy

Back in February, I named Stormzy’s Gang Signs & Prayer as my album of the week and then shared my newfound knowledge on UK Grime. #PublicService


69“Persephone” – Yumi Zouma

The only thing more fun than saying “I’m listening to Yumi Zouma” is actually listening to Yumi Zouma. Bonus points for being from New Zealand instead of Australia because as you’ll see as you continue down this countdown, Australia is so played out.


68“Never Been Wrong” – Waxahatchee

Katie Crutchfield can do no wrong. And she’s still improving as a songwriter, constantly expanding our expectations for the “Waxahatchee” sound – the resonance of her family home in Birmingham, Alabama filtered through introspection and sporadically tyrannical guitar.


67“Undercover” – Susanne Sundfør

More sensuous vocals from this Swedish singer-songwriter that chews my heart up and spits it out — just like the only time I tried fermented herring.


66“Need to Feel Your Love” – Sheer Mag

If the Jackson 5 showed up to jam with a garage band and broadcast through a transistor radio. Philadelphia low-fi act turns 1970’s nostalgia into hard-edged modern pop confections.


65“Hey Boy” – She-Devils

Deviantly saccharine ode to 50’s surf pop melodies. When somebody said that music could soothe the savage beast, they were talking about Audrey Ann Boucher’s vocals on this track.


64“The Way You Used to Do”  – Queens of the Stone Age

I spent ten minutes trying to type out the onomatopoeia for this guitar riff before realizing that guitar onomatopoeia might be one of the least “rock ‘n roll” things I’ve ever done. And I do plenty. #TrustMe


63“There’s a Honey” – Pale Waves

Mysterious but accessible electro-goth artist with a dramatic sense of musicality. Though all the individual pieces sound familiar, I don’t think we’ve ever really heard them fit together like this.



“Sign 2” – Black Fly

Mysterious but accessible electro-goth artist with a dramatic sense of musicality. Though all the individual pieces sound familiar, I don’t think we’ve ever really heard them fit together like this.


61“Night and Quiet”  – Bedouine

Listening to Syrian folk musician Azniv Korkejian is the sonic equivalent of draping yourself in velvet.


60“The Chant (Iquo Isang)” – The Ibibio Sound Machine

I don’t even know where I first heard this song. It’s not like I frequent musical clubs that play Nigerian-inspired electronic dance music.

59“No Exit” – Tennis

Still clinging to my two degrees of separation from Alaina Moore since she’s the cousin of my old dental hygienist. It’s not much, but it’s something. The band released a terrific full-length and an equally competent EP featuring this scaled-down retro bass and snare ditty. #WhatDidYouDoIn2017?


58“Run For Cover” – The Killers

I felt dirty even admitting how much I liked this song considering that the album’s total nonsense, but then I read that Brandon Flowers wrote the first verse for “Run For Cover” during the Day and Age recording sessions and suddenly I could divorce the song from 2017’s  Wonderful Wonderful and be totally okay with it’s place at #58.



“Way with Silence” – Vogue Dots

The synth during the final movement of this song makes babies. What else would you do in Halifax besides listen to funky synth and make babies? Maybe I’m just misreading this Halifax travel brochure.


56“Diane” – Cam

Obligatory country jam slots in at #55 on the countdown. The “other woman” sings her apology to the cuckquean. Did you know that the term for a female cuckold is “cuckquean” before reading this? #TheMoreYouKnow


55“Particle” – Hundred Waters

Acoustic songwriting does battle against the armies of electronica on a battlefield of melancholy.


54“World Made” – Land of Talk

A straightforward indie-rock track from a straightforward indie-rock trio from Quebec that has returned to us after a seven-year hiatus. They sound like a dozen other female-fronted bands, but do it just a little bit better. “World Made” combines the band’s best elements — driving drum beats, droning guitars, and tender, angsty vocals.



“Love” – Lana Del Rey

Love “Love.” Nonplussed by the record, Lana.


52“Dangerous” – The xx

I had “On Hold” in my Top 5 from 2016. I appreciate that The xx had enough foresight to drop that track at the tail end of last year so I could place another cut from their excellent album on the countdown.


51“Star Roving” – Slowdive

Did you realize how much you missed Slowdive until Slowdive released a proper Slowdive record and all the other shoegaze bands that sound like Slowdive were like “whoa, my bad”?



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

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



“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.



“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.



“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.


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.



“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.



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

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



“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.



“Rules” – Hoops

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



“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.



“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.


“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.



“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.



“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.



“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”



“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.



“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.



“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.



“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.



“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.



“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.



“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