Thursday, January 11, 2018

Top Songs of 2017: 1-20

Apple Music link

20. “Deadcrush” 
Alt + J 
19. “Mask Off”  

Modestly preferred over the remix w/ Kendrick.  

18. “High Ticket Attractions” 
The New Pornographers 
Whiteout Conditions
17. “Bad Liar” 
Selena Gomez 

First Bieber, now Selena. Blame this one on sampling the Talking Heads' "Psycho Killer".

16. “Coloring Outside the Lines” 
Connect the Dots
15. “America” 
Logic w/ Black Thought, Chuck D, et al.  

To get political, Sir Robert Bryson Hall II (Logic's real legal name!) brings along The Roots and Public Enemy. Kanye gets hit as badly as Trump. 
14. “Nothing to Find” 
The War on Drugs 
A Deeper Understanding

Much like with their prior album, A Deeper Understanding makes a lot of appearances on year-end top 20 song lists with at least four or five different tracks getting highlighted. Strong, consistent work from Ganduciel & co. 
13. “May I Have This Dance (remix)” 
Francis and the Lights w/ Chance the Rapper

The original version of this song was from 2016's Farewell, Starlite! (this exact spot on last year's list was taken up with "Friends" from said album) but the remix w/ Chance and the fantastic video merit 2017 consideration. Even if Francis is cribbing maybe a little too much from his video template at this point.
12. “Now and Then” 

We know very little about this band, who have released only a handful of singles to date. But we did just learn that they are apparently from California, not Sweden. Självklart. 
11. “HUMBLE.” 
Kendrick Lamar 

Best video imagery of the year, and another album that sees many of its excellent CAPS LOCK tracks spread among top song lists.  
10. “The Wanting” 
J. Roddy Walston & The Business 
Destroyer of the Soft Life

We'd love to see a new age of "modern classic rock". While The War on Drugs seem to strive for the anthems of Springsteen, J. Roddy does a great job echoing the rollicking feel of T. Rex or even .38 Special. 
9. “Ran” 
Future Islands
The Far Field

No one sells genuine feels like Sam Herring. "And what's a song without you / when every song I write's about you"

8. “I Know a Place” 
About U

Such a strange, great way to say "weapon" (way-pon).

7. “The Maze” 
Machester Orchestra 
A Black Mile to the Surface

A father writing a song from the perspective of his newborn child. Probably would have seemed pretty corny a decade ago. As a father of two, it hits. "Wish me a wonder / wish me to sleep / you don't have to wander to hear when I speak / there is nothing I have when I die that I keep / it's amazing"
6. “Unforgiving Girl (single version)” 
Car Seat Headrest

A pretty fascinating example of how a song can evolve with further tinkering. The original version on 2016's Teens of Denial was fine but, like a some of CSH's work, less than the sum of its parts. Re-released as a heavily reworked single in 2017, we finally feel like they are on the exact same page, at the exact same time. 
5. “Tin Can” 
Kevin Morby
City Music

A song that kept climbing the list with repeated listens. Fantastic instrumental interludes. "I am a prisoner here / but I don't mind"
4. “Call it Dreaming” 
Iron & Wine 
Beast Epic

Sam Beam, sounds more like the Sam Beam of Our Endless Numbered Days here than he has in a long time. "And we get a chance to say / before we ease away / for all the love you've left behind / you can have mine" 
3. “Feel it Still” 
Portugal. The Man.  

A blog favorite (top 30 appearances in 2011 and 2013), these guys richly deserve this track's overnight success, 12 years in the making.
2. “Shark Smile (single version)” 
Big Thief 

Very much a modern, folk-y version of "Last Kiss", with a perfect "too" in the chorus. Single version streamlines the song by dropping the first minute of noise. A very good sophomore album. 
1. “american dream” 
LCD Soundsytem 
american dream

There are a lot of white dudes in the second decade of their career near the top of this list. Probably not a coincidence and no one captures the yearning better than James Murphy. The disenchanted hipster approaches middle age and is wise enough to know what he is lacking but still not wise enough to find it. If we lived vicariously through the wanderlust of musicians in our shared youth, we are content to do the same as we age together and they grapple searching for the meaning we think we've found. A song worthy of its lofty title. 

"in the morning everything's clearer / as the sunlight exposes your age / but that's okay"

"find the place where you can be boring / where you won't need to explain"

"you just suck at self-preservation"

"but now more will go with age, you know / so get up and stop your complaining"

"look what happened when you were dreaming / then punch yourself in the face"

"'its a drug of the heart and you can't stop the shaking / 'cause the body wants what is it's terrible at taking" 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Top Songs of 2017: 21-40

Apple Music link
Spotify link

40. “Song” 
Slyvan Esso 
What Now
39. “Real Death” 
Mount Eerie 
A Crow Looked At Me

As another music fan noted in their top song list, this is a weird track to be part of a lighthearted forced ranking. Hopefully the song and album gave Phil Elverum some peace. "When real death enters the house / all poetry is dumb ... and I don't want to learn anything from this"
38. “Love” 
Lana Del Rey
Lust for Life

37. “Spent the Day in Bed” 
Low in High School

"Stop watching the news / because the news contrives to frighten you"

36. “Young Blood” 
Noah Kahan

35. “A Phantom” 
Ramona Falls

34. “Oh Lord, Pt. 3” 
Josh Ritter 

"Been kidnapped and ransomed / just a little too handsome"

33. “Elodie” 
Ten Fé
Hit the Light

32. “Andrew Eldritch Is Moving Back to Leeds” 
The Mountain Goats 

"A few old building gone to dust / and some new ones in their way / they'll look just like the old ones / when the winds have had their say"
31. “Something for Your M.I.N.D.” 

A whole lot of wonderful weirdness in the early tracks released from this 8-piece collective, but the story of the band itself is just as strange. Looking forward to the debut album in March. 

30. “When You Were Mine” 

29. “Dear Life”  

28. “Belong” 
San Fermin

27. “Sugar for the Pill” 

Probably one of the best albums ever by a band after a 22-year hiatus. 
26. “Young Dumb & Broke” 
American Teen

Among the things to like about this song is the lack of comma in the title. Young dumb. 
25. “First Caress” 
Hot Thoughts

24. “Turning the Screw” 

23. (tie) “This Song” / "Bike Dream" 
RAC with Rostam / Rostam 
Ego / Half-Light

Rostam takes a shot at double representation on the list but the "one song per artist per year" rule is sacred, so we'll call it a draw between a "guest spot" on an RAC track and our favorite selection from his very long-in-the-making, debut album (which has a song that appeared on this list 6 years ago!). 
22. “Ben Franklin's Song”
The Decemberists 

Pretty seamless pairing between Lin Manuel Miranda and The Decemberists, though the profane chorus seems a bit out of character for both. 

21. “Looking for Knives” 
Looking for Knives

Well shit. Apparently this came out in 2016. But we aren't going to slot in song #101 here to cover our error so enjoy the track and unbundle Rostam if you must. 

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Top Songs of 2017: 41-60

Apple Music link
Spotify link

60. “Creature Comfort” 
Arcade Fire 
Everything Now

It is weird to see reviewers who gave The Suburbs a pass complain about the joyless and pretentious elements of Everything Now

59. “Oceans Away (Sam Feldt remix)” 
A R I Z O N A 

Spacing in band name looks good, but results in iTunes sorting it under the letter "R"  

58. “No Question” 
Out in the Storm

57. “Don't Take the Money” 
Gone Now 

56. “Kill Jill” 
Big Boi w/ Killer Mike & Jeezy 

Killer Mike and Big Boi have been guesting on each other tracks for nearly 15 years and make a better duo than Killer Mike and El-P, even if Run the Jewels shows up higher on this year's list.  
55. “Blondie” 

Pretty vintage for a band that has been around since 1974. 

54. “Deadly Valentine” 
Charlotte Gainsbourg 

53. “I''m the One” 
DJ Khaled w/ Bieber, Quavo, Chance & Lil' Wayne 

In 2017 Chance the Rapper did a lot of impressive things (giving $1M to Chicago schools, hosting SNL, cracking wise as a weatherman) but getting Justin Bieber onto the list is maybe the most surprising. 
52. “Mercury” 
Sufjan Stevens, Bryce Dessner, etc. 

Most of Planetarium (an album inspired by the solar system) is as much of a bloated mess as that concept might suggest, but this very Sufjan-y track is an exception. 
51. “Alone” 
Jessie Ware 

50. “New York” 
St. Vincent 

49. “Ubu” 
Methyl Ethel
Everything is Forgotten

48. “Take Care” 
Young Thug

Love the last minute, especially when it sounds like he name checks (in a song full of name checking) onetime Niner QB Tim Rattay. ed note: Young Thug does not name check Tim Rattay. 
47. “Little of Your Love" 
Something To Tell You

In addition to directing Oscar contender Phantom Thread, Paul Thomas Anderson found time to direct the video for this song, the second best goofy dancing video HAIM made in 2017 (first best)
46. “Slip Away” 
Perfume Genius 
No Shape

A pretty impressive artistic progression/evolution continues for Mike Hadreas. 4th album, 4th appearance on this list. 
45. “Nights With You” 

MØ seems to be taking a modern approach to music recording in a post-Spotify world. 5 years into her career she has only released one LP but has new singles and EPs every 6 months or so.
44. “Call Ticketron” 
Run the Jewels
Run the Jewels 3

43. “Telefono” 
Ti Amo

There is a lot of Italian mixed with the English in this album from the French indie pop stalwarts. We like the slow fade in to the start of the song. 
42. “You Don't Know About Me” 
Ella Vos 
Words I Never Said

41. “Good Old Days” 

7 of the 20 songs in this grouping have an all caps album title or band name. We guess that is a thing now. As are corny YOLO songs that we can't help but like.