TOP 200 TRACKS OF 2017 (151-200)
End of year lists as far as the eye can see – top 20 must-see music videos, best books, worst Trump tweets, most memorable memes… there’s no end to the permutations and the overload, every December. Well, that was all a long time ago now so perhaps you’ve room for one final end of year list??
No? Well tough, I’ve been doing these for 13 years now and this unbelievably is actually early by this blogs standards! Here goes with…
TWO HUNDRED of – in my opinion – the finest tracks to bless this earth in the year 2017. Various playlists are coming (check OpenWhyd above) and the countdown continues over the next few days.
151. Jimothy Lacoste – Getting busy / Future Bae
“I have no idea how seriously to take anything anymore” – A perplexed comment beneath a Jimothy Lacoste track neatly summs up the Lo-fi London ‘rapper’. When first stumbling across ‘Future Bae’ my aged brain slowly processed the grans dancing in bras, Jimmy’s ‘money dance’ on top of buses and tubes and the lyrics that wander between bonita applebum and getting so well paid you can shop at Waitrose almost everyday. Is it all some arch Nathan Barley style social media jape or a young Londoner with an iPad and a fine line in quirky tongue in cheek rhymes?
Who knows… my conclusion at the end of watching it for a third time was it made me nod my head and chuckle and that’s enough for me.
152. BLK Muzak – Roberta
A soulful stew, with the last century of African-American culture as a potential ingredients list – so a dash of the Dead Prez, a hint of Gil Scott-Heren, a smattering of Eddie Gale. The project started life as a fairly traditional DJ making beats with samples type setup but expanded in both scope and sound with three new members joining founder, Ra Washington, including jazz vocalist Kyle Kidd.
153. Sampa The Great – I Am Me
When you write your fears and hopes on a paper
Music is the way I acknowledge the maker
Born in Zambia, raised in Botswana and now based in Australia, in 2017 Sampa Tembo aka Sampa The Great’s music piqued the global interests of the likes of Rolling Stone, The Guardian, Complex and Noisey. There’s an unflashy, unpretentious air to her mix of reggae, soul and jazz with perhaps a slight hint of perhaps the most well known artist to have featured on the Big Dada label, Speeche Debelle.
154. Nosaj Thing – All Points Back to U (feat. Steve Spacek)
A low bubbling haunter filled with paranoia and condemnation. Steve Spacek from electronica outfit, Spacek provides the sinister yet restrained vocals, singing, “Everyone I ask, it’s the same, so there’s only one conclusion/ Look at it from my point of view and there’s really no confusion/ It all points back to you.”
155. Adekunle Gold – Only Girl (feat. MoeLogo)
A real summer slice of Nigerian highlife with Adekunle Gold joined by British-Nigerian singer Moelogo.
156. Everything Is Recorded feat. Sampha – Close But Not Quite
“Close But Not Quite” is the Sampha-featuring title track from XL Recordings label chief Richard Russell’s debut EP as Everything Is Recorded. The video for the song is a studio tour with a glitchy twist: The Copper House, Russell’s studio in London, is recreated in a series of distorted maps stretched into three dimensions. Curtis Mayfield’s 1970 classic “The Makings Of You” is sampled heavily on the tune, and clips of a live performance are intercut with Sampha’s beautifully-sung address to the camera.
157. Mac DeMarco – My Old Man
The song begins with a goofy little synth pattern and a light-hearted acoustic guitar chord progression, giving the impression of a more typical Mac track, the light stuff that got him his legions of dad-hat-wearing young fans and labels like “chill” and “slacker”. But it only takes him a few lines to shut all that fun down: “Look how old and cold and tired and lonely he’s become….There’s a price tag hanging off of half of all that fun.” Those lyrics are Demarco’s most direct admission yet of something his fans have seen for a while: his non-stop chain smoking of Viceroys, his copious drinking, and his endless touring have taken a physical toll on the songwriter. He’s 26 years old, and looks at least 35.
All this comes before the song’s kicker of a chorus: “Uh-oh, I’m seeing more of my old man in me / Oh no, I’m seeing more of my old man in me” The context of this despairing admission within the song is gut-wrenching, but it’s especially heartbreaking when you know the story of Demarco’s early life. “My Old Man” is the sound of the singer coming to terms with his physical and emotional similarities to the person who hurt him the most in his life. (Berkeley B-Side)
158. Anna Tivel – Alleyway
i wonder what our daughter’s like, yeah i hope that family treats her right
and gives her all the things we couldn’t give her
Anna Tivel’s fourth studio album ‘Small Believer’ is a collection of patchwork stories drawn from conversations with strangers, on the road, in restaurants, bars, and rest stops.
“This song is for a woman I met in a bar on tour. She told me her story, the way strangers will often tell you about themselves more honestly than the people you know. I wanted to write it into a song for a long time, but I really wanted to get it right, to keep it simple and honest.”
159. Björk – Losss
160. Declan Welsh & the Decadent West – No Pasaran
You’ll need a cloth to wipe the spittle from your face after listening to Declan Welsh’s three minute rage against the prevailing political tides. It’s Punk rock at its finest angry agitating best and was one of my three selections for this years Glastonbury Emerging Talent competition.
Declan went on to release the track just before Theresa May’s expected coronation at the UK elections:
“No Pasaran is a song about standing up to intolerance, it’s about solidarity and remembering what we’re fighting for. In this time where nationalism, white supremacy and misogyny are being normalised, it’s important to shout as loud as we can that we don’t accept the demagoguery of Trump, Le Pen, Farage, Putin, or any of the rest of the far right.
The Conservative party has always been willing to target the vulnerable in order to get elected. This election is no different. They have eviscerated UKIP by becoming them. They are further to the right than ever, and Theresa May is willing to say anything, and betray anyone, to get into power. This includes lying to the white working poor of Britain about immigration. In fuelling this racial tension, she turns two sets of people who are being fucked over by this government on each other. It is only in solidarity with each other we can achieve a better society.
Imperialists, racists, xenophobes, capitalists, misogynists and homophobes – No Pasaran”
161. Biosphere – Black Mesa Featuring Joan Lorring and Leslie Howard
162. BANANA – Banana A
Six musicians, one reel-to-reel tape, and live tracks titled simply Banana A, Banana B, C and D…
The supergroup, Banana originally got together to support singer Cate Le Bon but the performances went so well that Le Bon, Sweet Baboo, H.Hawkline, Warpaint’s Stella Mozgawa, Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Joshua Klinghoffer, along with producer Josiah Steinbrick, set up in a house in LA to jam. Originally recorded as an online special for DubLab, the six improvise over Steinbricks composition with the marimba driven Banana A being the highlight for me.
163. Australian Art Orchestra – Here Come the Waves
The Australian Art Orchestra, led by artistic director Peter Knight, is renowned for merging musical styles and cultures. The new album ‘Water Pushes Sand’ was composed by Erik Griswold along with master musicians from Sichuan, China.
“Sichuan is the “Texas of China”. It is known for its brash and friendly people, spicy food, laid back tea-houses and the distinctive twang of its spoken dialect. Its music combines colours from rustic country folk, street songs, and the ear-splitting cacophony of gongs and cymbals. It is more like blues or early rock and roll than classical music. Even Sichuan opera is hard core“.
164. Car Seat Headrest – War Is Coming (If You Want It)
At 5 in the morning I couldn’t tolerate it
How many had died while I slept?
Originally released as a demo/alternate version for one day to support Bandcamp’s 24 hours donating all of its music sales proceeds to the Transgender Law Center, ‘War Is Coming’ officially arrived a few weeks later. According to Will Toledo the song’s “about not murdering people.
165. Floating Points – Ratio (Radio Edit)
The full version of Ratio stretches out over 19 minutes, at times a banging dance tune but unfolding out with a three minute breakdown and then something like a seven minute wind down section. The full track is of course well worth a listen but this is a rare time when a dance track is somehow better when edited down for the radio.
166. Wino Wagon – Paco’s Ode
Rush Hour called Wino Wagon “The sound of the Rathmines industrial estate … weirdo wagon dance music”. It builds up from pensive, kraut-y percussion into a madcap house groove and is taken from the compilation of Dublin house sounds, “Absolutely Wino”.
167. !!! – Dancing Is The Best Revenge
A look back at dance-punk’s heyday with crisp synths and a meaty bassline. !!! lead singer Nic Offer explained the thought behind the song and video: “when we recorded ‘Dancing Is The Best Revenge’ I pitched up my voice, becoming Nicole Fayu in the studio – much like Prince became Camille and Morrissey became Ann Coates. The groove felt like a strut or walk and I imagined it akin to drag or ballroom culture… After ‘The One 2’ video featured such strong dance performances, and was filmed in the historic LA venue Jalisco, we decided to give the song to some girls who could really walk the walk and perform the song as in the spirit of reinvention. We traded outfits and makeup tips and they helped me become IRL Nicole Fayu. Dancing with them was a blast, and it was great to finally see the song walked. I have to admit, I’m not used to being out performed in a video.”
He continued, “These ladies ignore a world that tells them who they should be – they take the stage, walking as whoever they want to be, and that’s their best revenge. Maybe you’ll never put on heels, maybe you’ll never walk onstage, maybe you’ll never be anyone else, but maybe this song/vid/story inspires you to try something you haven’t before.”
168. Dabrye – The Appetite (feat. Roc Marciano, Quelle Chris & Danny Brown)
Nervous, slow-motion electro hip-hop from veteran producer Tadd Mullinix who returned to his Dabrye project after almost a decade. For MC duties he roped in an army of top dollar talent with Long Island’s rugged surrealist Roc Marciano, and fellow Detroiters Danny Brown and Quelle Chris (who appears elsewhere on this list) gracing ‘The Appetite’.
170. BOSCO – Castles (feat. St. Beauty)
For ‘Castles’ Bosco teamed up with fellow Atlanta natives St. Beauty who are signed to Janelle Monáe’s Wondaland imprint. The beats are from Bosco’s label-mate on Fools Gold, Sammy Bananas.
169. Yaeji – Raingurl
When the sweaty walls are bangin’
I don’t fuck with family planning
Whether she’s rapping in English or Korean, Kathy Yaeji Lee makes house anthems that her fans sing along to. If she sounded shy on her first record, she comes out of her shell on EP2. She sounds almost commanding on “Raingurl,” a track whose chorus “Make it rain girl, make it rain!” is a fan favourite at shows. (Resident Adviser)
171. Tei Shi – Justify
“’Justify’ is a kind of protest song against the way in which we are categorized or judged by others based off of very superficial or one dimensional standards,” she explains.
“It came from a place of rebellion against the insecurities and pressures that come into play when you put yourself in a position to be defined by another. For me the song is a challenge against that musically and emotionally.” Tei Shi
172. Aminé – Spice Girl
I need a Spice Girl
Zig-a-zig-ah, fuck up my whole world
At the age of five, Portland rapper Aminé went to his first ever gig, 90’s pop behemoths The Spice Girls. At 23 he’d convinced the actual Scary Spice aka Mel B to appear in his self directed wacky video for his daft tribute to all things Zig-a-zig-ah.
173. Special Request – Adel Crag Microdot
174. Sly5thAve feat. Cory Henry – California Love
No one was in any danger of forgetting about The Dre but just in case multi-instrumentalist, arranger and producer Sly5thAve released an entire Lp in ‘Orchestral Tribute To Dr. Dre’.
175. Christian Scott feat. Elena Pinderhughes – Encryption
Trumpeter Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah from his EP “Ruler Rebel.” It’s the first installment in his centennial trilogy commemorating the first jazz records a century ago. This is the sound of jazz, some jazz anyway, a hundred years on.
176. Tess Roby – Ballad 5
Tess Roby, a 23 year old musician and photographer born in Toronto and now living in Montreal. “Ballad 5” is a song of love and loss in the humid Montreal summer – the sound of Parc Avenue in the blue light of dawn. Her music echoes the cascading pulse of Steve Reich, the drone of Stereolab, and the melancholic drift of Durutti Column, and her voice lands somewhere between Broadcast’s Trish Keenan and Nico.
177. Quelle Chris – Buddies
True love starts from within. Don’t just greet the world. Introduce the world to your best friend. You.
178. Princess Nokia – G.O.A.T.
179. Priests – Jj
“Who ever deserves anything anyway, What a stupid concept,” Katie Alice Greer yowls. But Priests’ surf-y punk rock makes getting hosed by life feel kinda awesome.
180. Dasher – Go Rambo
Dasher are a trio of Atlanta rippers led by drummer/vocalist Kylee Kimbrough. “Go Rambo,” has an unhinged intensity during it’s brief-but-barreling collision of post-punk sonics and punk-rock energy.
181. Perfume Genius – Slip Away
Single Slip Away is a wide-eyed love song, its magnificent pop chorus bursting into life over a pounding rhythm track.
“If we never see them coming, we never have to hide,” Mike Hadreas sings to his boyfriend of eight years, Alan Wyffels, amid clattering drums and ornate piano flurries that swoop like hysterical starlings at sundown or the darkly glamorous swish of a protective cloak.
182. The Indelicates – Top of the Pops
She says there’s something wrong with the TV
She says there’s something wrong with the BBC
The Sixth Indelicates Record. ‘Juniverbrecher’ is a Banishing ritual conducted to rescue England from the Daemon styling himself variously as Mr. Punch, Jimmy Savile and the architects of Brexit. We know who has been doing it, and we will send him back. Glam rock ‘Top of the Pops’ probably won’t get many plays on the Beeb.
183. The National – The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness
184. Little Simz – Backseat
185. Kelly Lee Owens – CBM / More Than A Woman
London producer Kelly Lee Owens “CBM” is a dark, frenetic slow-build that reminds me of Factory Floor, Maya Jane Coles, and LCD Soundsystem — or more likely some cool techno records that inspired LCD Soundsystem. Her rework of Aliyah’s classic ‘More Than A Woman’ is nothing short of brilliant.
186. DJ Seinfeld – U
‘U’ features a sample of Bob Geldof discussing the heartbreak and grief of Paula Yates leaving him. Plangent piano chords underpin a simple and simply beautiful, moving dance track.
187. Jimmy Wopo – First Day Out
Just yesterday I woke up in a jail cell
Came a long way from bustin’ down them dope sales
Jimmy Wopo wasted no time after his release from prison with his single “First Day Out”.
188. D. Tiffany – How Ru Plush ft. Regular Fantasy
189. Quantic & Nidia Góngora – Que Me Duele?
190. Adesse Versions – Sistem
191. Mr Jukes – Somebody New
192. The Moonlandingz – The Strangle of Anna
193. Tzusing – 日出東方 唯我不敗
194. Duke Hugh – Home
195. Hieroglyphic Being, Sarathy Korwar & Shabaka Hutchings – Ashrams
196. Gorillaz – Ascension (feat. Vince Staples)
197. Angela Hunte – Big Drum Beat
Wine up ya waist & make up ya face to de BIG DRUM BEAT
198. Sneaks – Future
199. Su Na – Cycle
200. Kirin J Callinan – Big Enough ft Alex Cameron Molly Lewis Jimmy Barnes
And then I ate my horse’s meat straight from my horse’s bones
‘Cause this dog
Must roam alone
The video for this utterly bonkers EDM country aberration/work of genius sees Jimmy Barnes appearing as a cowboy among the clouds, Mufasa style, where he proceeds to belt out some of his signature screams over Kirin J’s wonky synth beats, making for something both huge and ridiculous in equal measure.