TOP 200 TRACKS OF 2017 (26-50)
26. The Bomber Jackets – Death of a Bargain Hunter / Deranged Sauce Mum
Recommended for people who like their music horrifically wry and new wave-ish, ‘Kudos To The Bomber Jackets’ is the album for you. With a hint of Bernard Sumner about the vocals, the press release claims the band “index petty despondency for better days, imagining some unforeseen and unremarkable circumstance that makes up for it all“.
They find and hold a register of meandering hope by setting the perverted detail of domestic minutiae against an acutely self-conscious melancholy that cynically daydreams its way into an awkward middle-ground between profundity and platitude.
The synth-core of ‘Death of a bargain hunter’ and the chopped and screwed beats of ‘Deranged Sauce Mum’ are the moments when singer Russell Walker’s furrowed brow lyricism melds best with the music but the entire album rewards repeated listens.
Incidentally the album cover features Welwyn Garden City’s former shredded wheat factory. Redevelopment plans for the site are in progress.
27. The xx – Say Something Loving
Say something loving
I need a reminder; the feelings escaped me
Following on from 2016s Hall and Oates sampling, heartbroken pop gem, ‘On Hold’, The XX revealed their full third album including another hefty 80’s MOR sample.
‘Say Something Loving’ takes a looped ‘before it slips away’ fragment from The Alessi Brothers – Do You Feel It? before singers Oliver Sim and Romy Madley Croft beautifully implore each other to ‘say something loving’.
28. Chloe x Halle – Poppy Flower
The Two of Us mixtape was released initially as a single YouTube post, showcasing the Beyoncé-approved teenage sister act flipping through styles of R&B like they’re Instagram filters. Tracks like ‘Poppy Flower’ give a hint as to why Queen Bey’s label, Parkwood Entertainment signed them to a $1 million contract ‘for up to six albums’. Beyonce had to request approval of the deals from a Manhattan judge because the girls are minors, and if they fulfil their promise she’ll be a happy woman indeed as the contract entitles her to 15 percent of their gross earnings.
29. Fever Ray – To The Moon And Back
Your lips, warm and fuzzy
I want to run my fingers up your pussy
“Hey, remember me?” asks Fever Ray in the opening moments of ‘To The Moon and Back’, “I’ve been busy working like crazy.” The first new solo material to come from The Knife’s Karin Dreijer under the moniker since 2009, an eight year wait makes this track a long time coming. It’s a point wittily satirised in the matching video, too; a menacing figure being awoken from the cryogenic deep-freeze in order to go to an, erm, BDSM tea party.
Turns out every last second of anticipation for new Fever Ray was worthwhile. While self-titled debut album ‘Fever Ray’ saw Karin Dreijer pitting poison-drenched lullabies against a foreboding sense of unease, ’To The Moon and Back’ grows a ferocious pair of fangs, and hits the murky depths of a strobe-flickered basement instead. Nicking its title from an oft-repeated idiom (I love you to the moon and back) Fever Ray makes all its all-out kinkiness and explicitness sound, well, very tender.
30. Big Shaq – Man’s Not Hot / Skengdo & AM – Mad About Bars
The ting goes skrrrahh (ah)
Pap, pap, ka-ka-ka (ka)
Thanks to the dizzying flood of music released by drill crew #410 in 2017, members Skengdo and AM had already built a fair amount of hype before they recorded their ‘Mad About Bars’ freestyle for DJ Kenny Allstar. But no one was quite prepared for what followed. The live performance, recorded in a single take, saw the duo perfectly matched – Skengdo’s belligerent street threats set against AM’s deep bass tones.
Then came Michael Dapaah, aka Big Shaq, who performed a freestlye #FireInTheBooth for BBC 1Xtra called ‘Man’s Not Hot’ which from a small studio in Broadcasting House took on a life of its own. From the skududu-dudu kinetic sound effects Skengdo drops to AM’s intricate mathematics, ‘Man’s Not Hot’ is a direct parody of ‘Mad About Bars’ and its ilk, but Dapaah is laughing with them, not at them.
31. Trillary Banks – Come over Mi Yard
Any time I call got the ‘Na’ running
Got him coming for a piece of the pudding
Straight outta Leicester, Trillary Banks featured City winning the Premiership in one of her videos and proclaimed being from ‘LC’ in another with fellow Leicester rappers. As befitting a track with a condom as the cover art, ‘Come Over Mi Yard’ melds UK rap to classic JA dancehall sauce.
The video – with Trillary cavorting in what appears to be a Spanish hotel – is rapidly approaching a million YouTube views.
32. Litany – Bedroom
If you wanna come to my place then
We can talk about the weather
Harrogate locals Litany are combining the syncopated grooves of ’80s with urban beat making, creating a hazy brand of alt. pop. On “Bedroom” the naivety of teenage fornication takes centre ground whilst rolling basslines, soft pads, and marimba tones add an almost George Michael-level of opulence to the whole track. (The Line of best fit)
33. Hurray for the Riff Raff – Pa’lante
Colonized, and hypnotized, be something
Sterilized, dehumanized, be something
“Pa’lante” examines the spiritual death that occurs when ancestral histories and identities are abandoned in order to assimilate. The song’s title is a Spanish affirmation that means “onwards, forwards,” borrowed from the name of the newspaper published by the Young Lords, a Puerto Rican community activist group that agitated for change in the 1970s. Segarra also samples a recording of Pedro Pietri’s seminal 1969 poem “Puerto Rican Obituary,” which illuminated the rigged game of naturalization to a generation. But her lament is entirely her own.
Groups like the Young Lords offer free translation services to immigrants dealing with English-language documents. In that spirit, Segarra refines and boils down these social contracts on “Pa’lante,” distilling their inherent cruelty and contradiction: “Colonized and hypnotized/Be something.” As underscored by a recent wave of deportations, the model of the ‘good’ immigrant is an illusion, and Segarra’s cracked, forlorn voice and funereal pace expose how exhausting it is to chase that false ideal. “Pa’lante” borrows the structure of the Beatles’ “A Day in the Life,” beginning with mostly unadorned piano heft out of Lennon’s playbook; she then turns to a brisk clip, willing herself out of despair and into action. “Oh, any day now, I will come along,” she sings hopefully.
34. Bunji Garlin, Kubiyashi and Walshy Fire – Chicken and Dumplin’
Original Dancehall Maxi Taxi style. When everyone had speakers rattling their trunk and Clarks on dem feet. This one is for anyone who has had to go through some level of obstacles….and made it! And now a new set of people have appeared who have no clue what you had to go through to get where you are. They don’t remember when you could barely afford a CHICKEN AND DUMPLIN! “We work hard”!!
Also loving the random YouTube video of a man doing a drum workshop to the track. He works hard!
35. Bullion – Blue Pedro
Sea-shanty house, anyone? In the hands of anyone but Bullion, a tropical house cover of the Blue Peter theme could be a shocker, but The Trilogy Tapes label don’t tend to release sea wrecks and Bullion’s Blue Pedro will have you reaching for the auld dancing clogs.
36. Xylitol – (I don’t wanna be) PUNISHED
I’D RATHER EAT A SLICE OF MY SHOE
I’D RATHER GET A BRIEF STOMACH FLU
THAN DRAIN MY LIFE FORCE TALKING TO YOU
“Xylitol is a sugar alcohol used as a sweetener, it looks and tastes like sugar and helps prevent tooth decay. It is often fatal to dogs (it’s more dangerous to them than a bar of your favourite chocolate!).
Xylitol is also the name of a female fronted hardcore punk band from Olympia, Washington. The 4 members are Laura, Jake, Winter and Colter. Exposure to them can give you an energy rush but also leave you with a severe ringing in your ears. You have been warned.”
37. Xavier – It’s Not Right But It’s Okay (Peace Attack Remix)
New Yorker Xavier’s take on Whitney’s classic ‘It’s Not Right But It’s Okay’ has been around for a few years but Tummy Touch are bringing it back along with a new video that frankly can’t be unseen. It’s best summed up by one YouTube comment beneath it, ‘What the fuck is going on here?’ but if your eyes need to see a middle-aged man holding a banana while gyrating and undressing then click away below.
Personally I prefer Peace Attack’s super chilled remix which dubs the whole affair up into a trippy seven minute spaced out journey through children’s choirs and down pitched vocals while thankfully keeping that xylophone that made the original so unique.
38. V Ä L V Ē – Lights
V Ä L V Ē started life as a progressive/avant-guard/sound project from Chrome Hoof/Knifeworld Bassoon and Sax-meister Chloe Herington. They’ve now morphed into a three piece featuring fellow Hoofer, Emma Sullivan, and ‘Lights’ came as a taster for the forthcoming album.
39. KOJAQUE – WiFicode
Granny’s saying I should reconnect with God
But I be in church praying for the WIFI code
The only complaint about Dublin rapper Kojaque’s ‘wificode’ is that it’s too short. “The only man on a label still on Dublin bus,” he raps on an urgent piano beat that cries out for another verse.
As this end of year list is so late Kojaque has just released a new track, ‘Bubby’s Cream’ which might be fighting for next years end of year!
40. Valerie June – Astral Plane
Dancing on the astral plane
Holy water, cleansing rain
NPR spoke to Valerie about how ‘Astral Plane’ came to be written: “What I can tell you is that Massive Attack sent a track for me to write to a year ago or so. I love Massive Attack, so I gave it a go! Like many songs I’ve written, I was cooking in the kitchen. I had the track on loop in my headphones trying to hear voices around it. Finally, I turned the track off to focus on the cooking. That’s when I heard the voice and started to sing what I heard. The chorus came first … “Dancing on the astral plane, in holy water cleansing rain, floating through the stratosphere, blind but yeah you see so clear.” It took me out of myself. Most songs I receive that do that I want to hold on for myself, but I tried to fit that one to the track. I did an awful recording job on the demo that I sent to them. That’s usual for me. Recording is not a strong point for me!
Needless to say, as I hit the send button, I was feeling regretful thinking I should have kept it for myself. I was a little happy when I received a quick and sweet note back saying it would not work for their latest project. With just a few sniffles in a tissue for my ego, I fell asleep and awoke with the song on repeat in my mind. That led me to sit in the living room with my guitar and try to create music for it. That’s when I knew it was for me to sing. All songs received aren’t for the writer to sing, but most of the time, they will let you know how they’d like to be realized in the world. There sitting with my acoustic guitar, I knew it was for me“.
41. Tica Douglas – Deaths Come in Threes
“Deaths Come In Three” finds Douglas ruminating on how to deal with a confusing world. “Deaths come in three / I woke up to the news / didn’t have any black / So I wore navy blue”, sings Douglas in a high, slightly breathless voice of a contrary decision.
Douglas is accompanied only by electric guitar, a sort of detuned two-chord twang which is occasionally pierced with the beginnings of a higher register solo. Not quite slowcore, but the dirge-y chime recalls a band like Bedhead in its tense interrogation of the singer’s worries. (Line Of Best Fit)
42. Syd – Body
If there was an award for best sex song of the year, Syd, frontwoman of the Internet and former Odd Future member would’ve had it nailed down in January. ‘Body’ is a spare, warped, stuttering slow jam of a song that recalls Aaliyah in her prime. It’s good to have a straight up commercial bump’n’grind anthem from an LGBT perspective but that’s obviously no barrier to heterosexuals getting the hell down to it too!
43. Colin Stetson – All this I do for glory
44. Public Service Broadcasting – They Gave Me A Lamp
…you can’t climb up this tree, you’re a girl. You can’t come with us ’cause you’re a girl. And it made me damned determined to do it.
45. Marnie – Lost Maps
As the lead vocalist of electronic stalwarts Ladytron, Helen Marnie has been a synthpop stalwart since the turn of the century. With the band on hiatus over the last five years, however, she’s been able to focus on her solo career as simply Marnie. Lead single “Lost Maps”, is perfectly built for a club filled with smoke and laser lights, its crushing percussion outlined by the neon pattering of synthesizers. Underneath the vibrant haze, however, is a message for those who feel lost in the darkness of the world. “Gotta find the time, search the silence/ Open up our minds/ Survival’s not a crime,” Marnie sings on the hook. “Is there anybody out there speaking the truth?/ Don’t believe what they tell you.”
“‘Lost Maps’ is a cry in the dark. An echo,” Marnie told Consequence of Sound. “It’s a head banging against a wall. It’s for anyone that’s ever felt alone.”
46. GBM Nutron, Milko – Life 101
‘I grow up on Kitchener, my favourite Calypsonian was Spoiler, so now you get the picture‘ – so begins GBM Nutron aka Jason Carter nailing his Calypso and Soca colours to the mast early on. Carter started singing Calypso as seven year old at primary school but drifted away from the music after moving to the States. After falling back in love with the music at 16 he’s now dividing his time between North America and the Caribbean with a series of carnival hits both as a producer and vocalist.
47. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Rattlesnake
‘Rattlesnake’ barrels along with a breathless repetition, it’d be the perfect driving down the motorway song but for me it was one of my highlights of Glastonbury 2017. The Crows Nest is Glastonbury’s magical place, perched high above the vast temporary music city they have surprise acts playing to a maximum of about 50 people in-between serving damn fine tea and cakes. At about 1am one evening King Gizzard had the place crammed to the rafters with several dozen people gleefully pogoing along to ‘Rattlesnake’ as the band thrashed on almost amongst the throng.
48. Guy One – Estre
North-Ghanaian Kologo master Guy One opens the door to his first international release (January 2018). His name is self-descriptive, Guy One, i.e. he’s the number one artist of Frafra music, named after his people: the Frafra.
On ‘Estre’ he’s joined by special guest Florence Adooni, one of the leading voices of Frafra-Gospel. She interweaves perfectly with the horn arrangements of Max Weissenfeldt, as well whoever is responsible for the seriously funky drums.
49. Baxter Dury – Miami (Parrot And Cocker Too Remix)
‘Miami’ is the opening track of Baxter Dury’s new album and a portal into a hazy, anti-wonderland. We are guided by ‘Miami’ himself; a foul-mouthed and cocksure character created by Baxter, centred on the delusions that come with heartbreak. The original is a glorious soup of sleaze and discontent but as Dury himself commented on Jarvis Cocker’s disco remix, “Jarvis I guess isn’t interested in doing things politely, this is a different song, possibly a better one.”
50. Mario Batkovic – Restrictus