Best Of Music

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.


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