TOP SONGS OF 2017
“PHANTOM LIMBO” - A SAVAGE: Falling back on his Texas roots, songwriter Andrew Savage's 3rd single from his debut solo album Thawing Dawn is filled with slide guitar and singing cowboy sentimentality. As one of the lead guitarists and vocalists of Parquet Courts, Savage is often intimate in his treatment of punk songwriting, however this track is a departure from often raucous nature of his previous group efforts. Savage reflects on the death of a relationship and the moment of flux that follows, using rural allegories about fast flashing graveyards and small-town dives.
“ROCK POOL” - CATE LE BON: The most innovative and underrated artist of the decade, Cate Le Bon was back at it again in 2017. Following up her 2016 full length "Crab Day" with her four song EP "Rock Pool" the title track is a shining star of the year. Never one to stray from the absurd or esoteric, "Rock Pool" is a masterpiece of the highly-accessible strange. In a era where punk is often considered to have lost its edge, Le Bon proves that punk still exists in all its glory, it's just taken up shop in a new soundscape.
“GOLDEN CAGE” - NILUFER YANYA: Nilufer Yanya is a newcomer in the indie music world. At least that's what you'll read in every article about her, but what is indie in 2017? As pop music continues to shift in the age of soundcloud stars and internet anthems, can independent artists still push through the oversaturated market? "Golden Cage" is an infectiously jazz-tinged pop track that could have easily been a summer hit, but it sadly never broke out of its proverbial cage and onto the charts. The future looks bright for this 22-year-old west Londoner though, as she was just signed this fall to ATO records.
“BELIEVE” - BENJAMIN BOOKER: Singing violins open this track off Benjamin Booker's 2017 sophomore album Witness. Though not straying from the political themes that have long endued his art, this track does take a sonic turn from his 2014 self-titled album. Drawing on gospel music less so than garage rock, Booker is still able to tap into the visceral and intellectual draw that has propelled his music thus far.
“ESTUARY” - JACK COOPER: Ultimate Painting's Jack Cooper made his debut as a solo artist this year, with a folk album that felt timelessly classic. With the drifting and dreamy "Estuary" languid guitar riffs strum as organ gently seeps in the background. All of this building into a catchy chorus of "I can try if you like / We'll be fine / It takes time." A serene homage to his hometown of Blackpool, England and the people in it.
“THE BUS SONG” - JAY SOM: Whimsy and jangling guitars make the lingering uncertainty of the relationship depicted in "The Bus Song" take on a light and loving air. As it builds from light vocals and soft, sparse guitar into orchestral peaks, Melina Duterte guides the listener on a journey that ebbs and flows effortlessly.
“MALE PLAGUE” - PROTOMARTYR: Angry and very apropos for the political currents of 2017. You can practically hear Protomartyr lead singer Joe Casey spitting into his mic as he sings. With all its harshness and gloom however, the repeated chanting of "Male Plague!" can't help but take on a poppy catchiness.
“DIVING WOMAN” - JAPANESE BREAKFAST: On "Diving Woman" Michelle Zauner of Japanese Breakfast creates a 6+ minute piece inspired by female divers of the Jeju province in South Korea. Listeners are transported into a bubbling seascape as guitars lap during Zauner's choral refrain of "I want it all". Feminine power resides in the play between her airy vocals and the lush space crafted in her layering guitar riffs.
“MYTHOLOGICAL BEAUTY” - BIG THIEF: Lead singer Adrianne Lenker captures the intense intimacy that folk music is known for on this track. Floating through two stages in her young mother's life, the song begins with the birth of her first child and then drifts into a harrowing childhood incident with Adrianne. Backed by hushed instrumentation she flits between deep, meditative vocals and roaring peaks.
“BLUE COUPE” - TWIN PEAKS: "Blue Coupe" is a stand out track from Twin Peaks' Sweet '17 Singles series. The series was devised as way to continue releasing music in the midst of long stint of touring. The only single with lead vocals from Jack Dolan, this track's tinkling piano and crooning vocals are a plaintive reflection reflection on gratitude and mourning.