Best Music of 2017

A yearly tradition featuring my favorite songs of the year.

Those who know me well know that I listen to (and actually purchase!) a crazy amount of music. I’ve also been publishing these lists of my favorite songs for probably as long as I’ve been blogging (though the current iteration of my blog only has archives back to 2014). My tastes tend to lean towards alternative and electronic. Most of the time, I favor unknown artists, though from time to time I pick a winner (like when I featured artists like Lorde and Tove Lo on my internet radio show years ago with Bob Silverberg or more recently when I picked Portugal. The Man’s “Feel It Still” as one of my favorite songs of 2017 so far back in April). This year’s list features a lot of new artists and, honestly, I think at least one of them here will make it big one day - if winners and losers in the music biz were based on talent, they certainly all deserve to.

So, here’s my favorite songs of 2017.

Don’t Delete the Kisses - Wolf Alice

If you were to take the essence of 80s teen movies like 16 Candles or Pretty in Pink and then distill them into a song 30 years in the future, I think you’d get “Don’t Delete the Kisses” by Wolf Alice. The song even seems to recognize this with lyrics like the following (sung in a sort of melodical whisper rap by Ellie Rowsell):

How awful’s that? I’m like a teenage girl

I might as well write all over my notebook

That you ‘rock my world!’

I love the mixture of barely hidden rage with sorrow and silliness that this song has - and it’s what made it my favorite song of 2017. But I recommend checking out the entire album “Visions of a Life” (for instance, “Planet Hunter” which evokes memories of the Sundays).

Television Romance - Pale Waves

Given that Pale Waves have yet to release a full album (their debut is due in January of 2018), I expect them to be in my favorites at the end of next year as well. Every one of their 4 released songs to date manages to stick in my head so much that I even had a hard time picking a favorite this year (it was a tough call between this song and “There’s a Honey”). I love the fact that the band looks like a modern-day, female-led Cure (“There’s a Honey” has a clear Cure influence) but creates these upbeat, infectious pop tunes (with, ironically, less than upbeat lyrics).

My guess is that you’ll have a hard time getting the chorus of this song out of your head. Can’t wait for the full album!

Bedroom - Litany

2017 was a terrible year for many things, but it truly introduced me to some new bands I am certain to follow for years to come (see above) - Litany being one of the best. Their “4 Track EP,” which actually has 8 songs but only 4 full songs plus interludes, is almost flawless - a funny thing for an album in which one of the best songs is called “Flaws.”

The duo features the singing of Beth Cornell, whose voice has this beautiful, sweet airiness that reminds me of Mandalay for any of you who remember them. While all the songs are fantastic, that sweetness in her voice plays off the lyrics of “Bedroom” just enough to put it over the top as my favorite song by one of my favorite new artists on one of my favorite EPs of 2017.

Hard to Be Still - Annie Hart

Some of you may know of Annie Hart from her days with Au Revoir Simone. Her new solo album, “Impossible Accomplice,” doesn’t depart far from the kind of minimalist, synth-pop sound of her prior band - and that’s a good thing. One of the things that she does so well, to me, is manage to make music that has a rough enough edge that you could imagine someone just screwing around in their basement recording these songs - and yet they are too polished and too good for that.

Persephone - Yumi Zouma

Yumi Zouma’s “Yoncalla” was one of my favorite albums of last year (and their “Song for Zoe & Gwen” was on my list from 2015). Their new album sticks with their airy, dream-pop sound but tightens everything up a bit - the vocals aren’t as lost in reverb, the melodies are catchier and the production overall seems just more mature. For some bands that might mean they lose their edge but for Yumi Zouma it seems to have perfected a recipe.

Freaking Out - Juiceboxxx

Juiceboxxx is another artist who I’ve been following for years since his amazing “Like a Renegade” from 2012 that evoked classic Beastie Boys - it managed to be both laced with nostalgia while feeling new. The rest of that album (“I Don’t Wanna Go Into Darkness”) was very hit and miss. The same thing goes for his new album, “Freaked Out American Loser,” but once again he still somehowhas one, near-perfect song. It’s not quite as “Licensed to Ill” but still mixes nostaligia with a modern sound. One day I think Juiceboxxx will actually create an entire album on par with his best songs.

Oh, and just to warn, the lyrics are very NSFW.