Best Of Music

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





The Best Songs of 2017

Every year since 2005, my friend Mike at 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