TOP 200 TRACKS OF 2017 (51-100)
We’re into the Top 100 in the mighty ‘what’s wrong with just having a Top 10‘ countdown of the finest 200 tracks of 2017…
EXPERIENCE MORE MUSICAL GOODNESS VIA THE FOLLOWING LINKS: Parts 200-151, 150-101, and 26-50.
51. LCD Soundsystem – tonite
You hate the idea that you’re wasting your youth
That you stood in the background oh until you got older
But that’s all lies
Six years after their ‘farewell’ concert, LCD Soundsystem returned with the hugely successful ‘American Dream’ LP. ‘tonite’ is the most old-school LCD track on the album, a return to the roots of squelchy bass riffs and James Murphy drolly intoning about getting old and losing touch. It is in many ways ‘Losing My Edge’ part two, complete with its critiques of ‘modern’ music and trendiness. On ‘Losing’ he poked fun at people wanting to make ‘a Yazz record’ and on ‘tonite’ he was inspired by hearing tracks on the radio that all had the same theme of “we only have tonight”…”Everybody’s singing the same song / It goes tonight, tonight, tonight”.
The ‘80s-style video features Murphy prowling round a rotating glowing stage with retro recording gear in hand as an array of vintage synths (like the Arp Odyssey and EMS Synthi AKS) reach a parping climax as his bitterness reaches a crescendo. Absolute genius.
52. The Cravats – Power Lines
Power lines up, Power Lines down…Pylon
Back in late 2016 I curated – with the help of many others – an exhibition about Small Wonder Records, a shop and label that operated between 1975-83 and was responsible for a wealth of bands and even fresh genres, far beyond the coverage and historical credit it’s ever been given. Bauhaus, The Cure, Crass and more all released their first material on the label.
As part of the celebrations, several former Small Wonder bands played and in the case of The Cravats showcased new material from what would become their first new LP in 35 years, ‘Dustbin of Sound’. Famously derided by Garry Bushell as ‘sax-riddled tuneless semi-punk nothings’, the Cravats sound retains the unique Dadaist weirdness that so irked Mr Bushell and their live performance was as triumphant as it was sweaty.
‘Power Lines’ is one of several tracks on the album that could easily have troubled my favourites of the year and although the likes Marc Riley and Gideon Coe have championed their return on the airwaves it does make you wistfully wish that their original cheerleader John Peel was still here to give them a spin amongst the latest grindcore, ragga and dubstep.
53. Stefflon Don – 16 Shots
No gyal can tell me ’bout my mother
16 shot, we go longer than a ladder
Stefflon Don (aka Stephanie Allen) is happy switching between dancehall, grime verses, and honeyed vocals but on ’16 shots’ her persona is full and fierce patois as she berates anyone talking about her mother. Originally born in Birmingham, Don movedmill to the Netherlands before ending up in East London at the age of 14. The ’16 Shots’ video was filmed around Montego Bay in Jamaica, something of a return to roots for the singer as her parents originally hailed from the island.
54. Kamasi Washington – Truth
It’s been a couple of years since the Los Angeles saxophonist Kamasi Washington stunned the world with his monumental jazz triple-album ‘The Epic’. Washington signed to London label, Young Turks in 2017, and debuted ‘Truth’, 14 minutes of lovely, expansive, contemplative jazz alongside a short film by AG Rojas, which is full of beautifully shot slice-of-life imagery.
55. Powerdance – A Safe and Happy Place – Video Version
Powerdance was created with the idea of referencing back to a time when people invested time, energy and money, back into music. To capture all the moments of dance music that took things back to its grass roots which is ultimately about dancing and having fun. ‘A Safe and Happy Place’ is a woozy, smile-inducing fusion of baggy vocals, Balearic disco shuffle and blue-eyed soul attitude with a gloriously burbling acid finale.
56. Lorde – Green Light/Supercut
I know about what you did and I wanna scream the truth
She thinks you love the beach, you’re such a damn liar
57. The Black Madonna – He Is The Voice I Hear
A 10-minute disco ride that marks Chicago’s Marea Stamper, aka The Black Madonna first all new work since 2013’s “Lady Of Sorrows” EP. The track “He Is The Voice I Hear” is dedicated to the voices who inspired The Black Madonna to become who she is: Frankie Knuckles, Larry Levan, Arthur Russell, Walter Gibbons, Loleatta Holloway. “I wanted to make a record that returned to the core values of dance music. In a lot of ways, I don’t think I’m doing something new with this record. I’m doing something old,” says Stamper. The track was made in collaboration with her studio partner Rupert Murray, and features an ensemble of live musicians including Davide Rossi and Christoforo LaBarbera on strings and keyboard.
58. Mélanie De Biasio – Gold Junkies / Your Freedom is the End Of Me
Greed and power may prevail
But you won’t find me trapped in this jail
59. Mark Lanegan – Beehive
Honey just gets me stoned when I’m living
Mark Lanegan – Beehive
Former Screaming Trees frontman Mark Lanegan ‘Beehive’ opens with a swarm of guitars getting increasingly closer before some snapping drumming breaks it up into a forward march. With the music rising and falling like honeybees dipping in the wind, Lanegan sings in his low grumble of a voice, “Scenes of dying love/ In my head buzzes a bee’s nest/ Hanging down from above/ Everywhere I look it’s a bummer.” A press release says the song “brilliantly exemplifies the surprising new musical paths Lanegan has forged for himself in recent years,”.
60. Chronixx – Majesty / Likes
Well mi seh, Cleopatra, Queen Of Sheba, Nefertiti ah yuh higher feature
Empress Menen beautiful creature, yuh summarize every Queen ah di East
Based around Otis Gayle’s Studio One cover of The Spinners’ ‘I’ll Be Around’, ‘Majesty’ has an old school Lover Rock feel as you’d expect from a track that’s technically part produced by Coxone Dodd with Jackie Mitoo on keys. Roots singer Chronixx is on a retro tip with this one with the song’s title and chorus, of course, hearken back to The Techniques’ “Queen Majesty,” which was inspired in turn by Curtis Mayfield’s “Minstrel & Queen.” And the musical vibrations reverberate back through time.
‘Likes’ finds Chronixx in a much more modern up-tempo rnb come dancehall style as he bemoans artists who do everything for the ‘likes’ on social media. A scurrilous aim indeed but if you wish to share this Top 200 of the year on Facebook or Twitter, it’d be much appreciated.
61. Future – Mask Off
Percocets. Molly, Percocets
Future samples ‘Prison song’ from the Selma album for his own paean to drug use. Elsewhere it moves into misogynistic materialism with the refrain “chase a check, never chase a bitch” but is it possible to admire and love a tune while rolling your eyes at the lyrical content? I’m not sure, which is why the likes of Tyler, the Creator have featured less on my end of year round ups than perhaps the musical quality of their work might have warranted.
62. Strangelove – Lonely Souls
Fear and Loathing meets Young Fathers for a hallucinogenic poetry video – Directed by filmmaker Taz Tron Deli, this passed me by when it came out a few months back but it’s too good not to mention. ‘Lonely Souls’ explores the difficulties of modern romance and the alienation of urban life through a series of trippy imagery.
“After a month of micro-dosing LSD we began formulating ideas for the visual aesthetic of Lonely Souls in a pub in Bethnal Green,” the group told Dummy over email. “We wanted to convey the dizzying turmoil of modern romance and set it against the alienating experience of living in London (or any major city). The result lies somewhere between a bad trip and a feverish hallucination.”
63. Charly Bliss – Glitter
Am I the best?
Or just the first person to say yes?
A breakup song that’s as self-lacerating as it is self-liberating, this pogo-along track from the New York grunge-pop trio Charly Bliss uses the sweet-and-sour contrast of Eva Hendricks’ coo to showcase the high-pitched conflict of dating someone who’s a little bit too much like you. (Rolling Stone)
64. Lando Chill – Break Them Shackles
the earth shakes,
the sound of mankind on decline as they voice quake
65. Ed Sheeran – Shape of You
And last night you were in my room
And now my bedsheets smell like you
‘Shape Of You’ was roundly booed when Ed and it were awarded Best Pop Solo performance at the Grammys, up against four female singers, who the crowd probably felt better represented the year of #MeToo, or as one person on social media put it, “Lady Gaga wrote Million Reasons in a healing process to recover from a severe heartbreak. Kesha wrote Praying after being through her literal worst nightmare. Ed Sheeran wrote Shape Of You about a club girl he was horny for“.
That may well be true but ‘Shape of you’ is one of the most recognisable tunes of the year in its ubiquity and you can also tell a lot about a song by the shear wealth of covers and reworks around. My favourite being General Levy’s dancehall dnb version, the video to which includes a moment of pure brilliance when his neighbour comes out of her house to, one can only imagine, complain about the noise.
If you’re at all interested in song writing and modern pop I highly recommend this New York Times video that de-constructs the process of creating the song, including Ed’s co-writers attempts to de-objectify the lyrics and Ed’s love of Lego.
66. Drake – Passionfruit
67. Wolf Alice – Don’t Delete The Kisses
68. Mungo’s Hi Fi – Rules of the Dance (feat. Charlie P) [Jd Mix]
69. Whitney Rose – You Never Cross My Mind
Everything can be controlled
No one here’s growing old
70. Not Waving – Where Are We (feat. Marie Davidson)
71. Shawn Wasabi – Otter Pop (ft. Hollis)
72. Pierre Kwenders – Sexus Plexus Nexus
Named after a trilogy of erotic novels by Henry Miller, “Sexus Plexus Nexus” takes a leaf from its source material and aims for full on sensuousness: a sex, sax, and string-laden confection that floats along until Congolese rumba guitars enter the scene.
Pierre Kwenders is originally from Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, and his multi-lingual (he sings in English, French, Lingala, Tshiluba and Kikongo) stylings are already much loved in Canada with production with Arcade Fire’s DJ Windows98 (aka Win Butler) offering tour support and production for the latest album.
73. Marika Hackman – Boyfriend
I’ve got your boyfriend on my mind
I think he knows you stayed with me last night
I held his world in my hands
I threw it out to see where it would land
74. Downtown Boys – A Wall
75. Avalon Emerson – One More Fluorescent Rush
76. Arun Ghosh – Dagger Dance
77. ANOHNI – She Doesn’t Mourn Her Loss / Paradise
She doesn’t mourn her loss
She just loses
She doesn’t mourn her changes
She just changes
78. Laura Misch – Harness
79. Snapped Ankles – I Want My Minutes Back
80. Luxos – Vihrea Ovi
81. Tobi Sunmola – Wolves Cry Too
Nigerian born but Manchester-based Tobi Sunmola was a Mobo ‘One To Watch’ back in 2016 and has enjoyed support from Radio 1 and 1xtra. In 2017 he returned with a new EP “City of Dreams”, co-produced with fellow Mancunian TWO4KAY and delivering on all the early accolades.
82. Starcrawler – Ants
83. SOUL SUGAR featuring LEONARDO CARMICHAEL – Why can’t we live together (Discomix)
Championed by the likes of Rodigan and Bandcamp Weekly, Soul Sugar’s reworking of the Timmy Thomas classic is spine tingly good and the Dennis Bovell dub version on the flip is a must hear too. Absolute genius from this Paris-based collective of musicians.
84. Pussy Riot – Police State
Shut the borders, burn the other, sons and daughters, and the mothers
Drink the Kool-Aid, it’s a new way, do what I say
85. Patrice Roberts – What Yuh Come For
86. Amanda Palmer – Small Hands, Small Heart
and I stopped counting when they buried
my beloved in the ground
87. Missy Elliott – I’m Better (feat. Lamb)
Man I’m 3000, I’m André
Yo Missy talk big, I’m so grande
88. LAPS – Who Me? (ANY WAYS Mix)
ANY WAYS (aka Tom Marshallsay, one half of General Ludd) delivers a whirling, climactic club mix of Who me? by LAPS, preserving the vocals but deepening the low end and tightening the groove for a later-night audience, adding spurts of reeling, almost menacing reverb.
The LAPS original, taken from the ‘Who Me?’ EP on MIC, is their fierce homage to Ru Paul, darting between French and English female power chat and crashing, echoing dub.
89. Kendrick Lamar – LOVE. FEAT. ZACARI
Sipping bubbly, feeling lovely, living lovely
Just love me
90. Nabihah Iqbal – Zone 1 to 6000
91. CamelPhat, Elderbrook – Cola
92. Aldous Harding – Imagining My Man
All my life (hey!) I’ve had to fight to stay
You were right (yes!), love takes time, hey, hey
93. Duval Timothy – Emmerson
94. Father John Misty – Things It Would Have Been Helpful to Know Before the Revolution
It got too hot and so we overthrew the system
95. Casisdead – Pat Earrings
You wanna be my valentines?
Dirty spa weekend at Bannatyne’s (lyrics)
96. King Krule – Czech One / Mount Kimbie & King Krule – Blue Train Lines
A junkie in a queue for the lavatory line
That’s another lost sight
A stabbing of his eyes
Her veins are now popping like Blue Train lines
97. a boogie wit da hoodie – Say A
What the fuck I’m s’posed to say?
Police pull me over, they ain’t got nothing to say (lyrics)
98. BadBadNotGood – Lavender (feat. Kaytranada & Snoop Dogg) [Nightfall Remix]
And keep from dyin’ in these motherfuckin’ streets
Fuck the police, from a black man’s point of view (lyrics)
99. Golden Teacher- Sauchiehall Withdrawal (Edit)
Golden Teacher, Glasgow’s premier avant-punk-funk unit, herald a highly anticipated debut album No Luscious Life with the Fela Kuti-meets-James Brownian funk motion and ESG-style disco jabs of Sauchiehall Withdrawal
100. Helena Hauff – Continuez Mon Enfant Vous Serez Traité En Conséquence