Sunday, December 10, 2017

My Top 30 Tracks Of 2017

Astute readers will notice that I have upped the number in this year's usual "Best Tracks of The Year"-list by 10. And while it might look like a lazy move on my part, designed to allow me to do this list quickly, the truth is that there were just too many great songs this year. And I felt like none of these could be left off my annual list.

So, without any further delay, here are the 30 tracks that made me so happy as a listener this year, presented roughly in order of release.

Kenixfan's Top 30 Tracks Of 2017

1. "Hell and Back" by Rose Elinor Dougall (from Stellular)

There were loads of songs on the latest Rose Elinor Dougall album, Stellular, reviewed by me here, that were haunting and memorable but perhaps none as lyrical and enticing as this one.

2. "Take Care (To Comb Your Hair)" by Ty Segall (from Ty Segall)

Ty Segall is, quite simply, a machine that won't quit. And the quality of his brand of psych-rock has not flagged. His 2017 self-titled album yielded this T.Rex-style charmer.

3. "The Last Ten Years" by Mark Eitzel (from Hey Mr. Ferryman)

Not that I don't like Mark Eitzel but I can't say that I'm a huge fan. That said, his 2017 album, Hey Mr. Ferryman, yielded this one. The production by Suede's Bernard Butler helped win me firmly over, as my rave review hopefully made clear.

4. "Julie's Place" by Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever (from The French Press EP)

Perhaps the song this year that was the hardest to dislodge from my head once I'd heard it, "Julie's Place" from Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever was an instant hit in my book. There were other gems on the band's EP, The French Press, reviewed by me here.

5. "JJ" by Priests (from Nothing Feels Natural)

An easy contender for the best record of 2017, Nothing Feels Natural from D.C. own Priests heralded the arrival of an absolutely superb, sharp, and smart band on the national stage. Infectious and bright, "JJ" rides a big hook that sees all the formidable players here in top form. My review of Nothing Feels Natural is here.

6. "Dundee Man" by Spiral Stairs (from Doris and the Daggers)

The ex-Pavement guy delivered a lot of fun tunes on Doris and the Daggers but probably none as catchy as this nugget.

7. "Riding a Lightning Bold" by Mr. Husband (from Plaid on Plaid)

The skewed indie-pop of this tune from Mr. Husband, from his fine Plaid on Plaid album, is the sort of thing that deserves a lot more word-of-mouth attention.

8. "Rocket Science" by The Chills (from the "Rocket Single" 7-inch single)

The Chills continued their latest renaissance with this punchy Record Store Day release, a bright politically-minded offering from Martin Phillipps and crew. More details here.

9. "Closer Everywhere" by Beach Fossils (from Somersault)

The latest album from Beach Fossils, Somersault, really won me over in 2017, thanks especially to Left Banke-inspired gems like the crystalline "Closer Everywhere", seen here in a more spacious live version.

10. "I Had a Dream" by The Jet Age (from At The End Of The World)

D.C.'s The Jet Age finally delivered a new record in 2017 after that trickle of 2-song drops in 2016. 2017's At The End of The World saw front-man Eric Tischler look for hope in the Trumpian landscape, with the quiet rage of "I Had a Dream" being one of the highlights of the record.

11. "Ramen Waitress" by High Sunn (from the Hopeless Romantic EP)

I'm a fan of just about everything on the PNKSLM label so it was a given I'd be thrilled when the band signed their first American band. The latest release from the wildly-prolific Justin Cheromiah and High Sunn was the bright Hopeless Romantic EP, reviewed by me here. Amid the skittering guitar hooks and breathless vocals, was this bouncy ditty that seemed to recall The Apples in Stereo a tiny bit.

12. "Hindsight" by Dave Depper (from Emotional Freedom Technique)

I loved Emotional Freedom Technique by Dave Depper so much that it was damn near impossible trying to determine what individual track to put on this list. However, if the truth were told, this number's ability to make me tear up with a sort of happy sadness every time I played it, made it the obvious choice. Such a great album!

13. "Staying Home" by The Peacers (from Introducing The Crimsmen)

The new album from Peacers, reviewed by me here, is a hard one to describe. But as the warped indie careens all over the place, a few gems -- like this John Lennon-inspired offering -- stand out immediately.

14. "Wha Do Wha Do" by Male Gaze (from Miss Taken)

In a perfect world, Male Gaze would be as big as Protomartyr. Doubt me? Listen to this excellent rocker from the band's latest album, reviewed by me here.

15. "Used to Spend" by Chastity Belt (from I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone)

I still wonder if Chastity Belt lost any fans by jettisoning some of the humor found on their previous releases for 2017's sublime I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone, reviewed by me here. The record moved me, and none of the emotions on the slower numbers felt forced to me, with the title cut being a real standout.

16. "Cali" by Ride (from Weather Diaries)

If Weather Diaries was a bit overrated in my book, "Cali" was not. An epic single, the tune is one of Ride's very best numbers, in my opinion.

17. "Red Museum" by Frankie Rose (from Cage Tropical)

Frankie Rose took some real chances on her latest release on Slumberland Records, the sleek Cage Tropical. But, as I tried to stress in my review, Rose tapped into something both nostalgic and forward-looking on the record, with the bright sheen of New Wave-y numbers like "Red Museum" making the release one of 2017's highlights for me.

18. "Cameo" by Childhood (from Universal High)

Where to begin with Childhood? 2017 saw the band more or less re-invent themselves with the wildly successful Universal High, an album positively brimming with both Seventies AM radio-flavor and Philly Soul-heart. I started raving about the record in the summer and I'm still raving. One listen to the sun-dappled "Cameo" with its glorious breaks ought to explain why.

19. "Where Does The Sadness Come From?" by The Granite Shore (from Suspended Second)

The majestic new album from UK indie super-group The Granite Shore, Suspended Second, reviewed by me here, seemed to be simultaneously a very personal record and one that was concerned with larger issues affecting the British Isles. The gently soaring and wholly lyrical "Where Does The Sadness Come From?" was a standout on a record full of tunes just like this.

20. "So True" by The Pains of Being Pure at Heart (from The Echo of Pleasure)

I didn't follow The Pains of Being Pure at Heart as closely once they jumped off the Slumberland Records ship, but I did like their newest record, The Echo of Pleasure, reviewed by me here, quite a bit. A real highlight of the long-player was this sleek ditty featuring Jen Goma of Another Sunny day in Glasgow on vocals.

21. "I Haven't Been Taking Care of Myself" by Alex Lahey (from I Love You Like A Brother)

Alex Lahey released an EP and a full-length record in 2017 and virtually any cut from either could go on this list. I Love You Like A Brother is superb, modern indie-pop and this is one of the real highlights from her first, stellar, full-length release.

22. "Great Outdoors" by King Leg (from Introducing King Leg)

In a year where Morrissey seemingly gave up trying, leave it to this Dwight Yoakum protege to step in and deliver what sounds as much like Moz as it does Roy Orbison. A real left-field gem, this tune from King Leg is a nice taste of his largely excellent debut album, reviewed by me here.

23. "Paper Crown" by Liam Gallagher (from As You Were)

As You Were by Liam Gallagher was a pretty good record, if not quite as great in my book as the first Beady Eye LP. That said, Liam's voice was in very fine form throughout, nowhere more so than on this lyrical and tender number, a shoe-in for inclusion on this list. As You Were reviewed by me here.

24. "The South Will Never Rise Again" by Des Demonas (from Des Demonas)

The debut album from D.C.'s own Des Demonas was full of scorchers, making it hard to narrow it down to just one track for this list. Still, the pointed lyrics and deliberate delivery here from front-man Jacky Cougar Abok made this one a stand-out. More details on the album in my recent review, but, for now, groove on this one with its guitar-hooks from the busiest musician in D.C., Mark Cisneros.

25. "Break The Glass" by Superchunk (from the "Break The Glass" 7-inch single)

Superchunk, gearing up for a new album in early 2018, dropped this stomper not too long ago, with proceeds going to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

26. "They Took The Waves" by Escape-ism (from Introduction to Escape-ism)

Ian Svenonius not only released 2 records with Chain and the Gang in 2017, he publicly debuted his largely-solo effort, Escape-ism, with a fine and funny debut album, reviewed by me here. The smart and acerbic "They Took The Waves" was a real stand-out, with Ian offering up one of his most pointed screeds in ages.

27. "Get Clear" by Light Beams (from Light Beams)

One of the catchiest tracks of 2017 was this rabble-rouser from D.C.'s own Light Beams, featuring Justin Moyer of a whole slew of other classic D.C. acts. The Gang of Four-ish "Get Clear" is, like a lot of the band's numbers, even more affecting and infectious live.

28. "New Shapes of Life" by Martin Carr (from New Shapes of Life)

The title cut from the latest Martin Carr album saw the Boo Radleys front-man hit the heights of his past group. It was, like lots on New Shapes of Life, the best kind of British indie-pop and proof that Carr has lost none of his considerable skills.

29. "Into the Blue Sky" by Craig Wedren (from Adult Desire)

Adult Desire, reviewed by me here last week, is one of the most direct and affecting records from Craig Wedren in quite some time. The ex-Shudder to Think front-man delivered tunes of a near-classical elegance here, with "Into The Blue Sky" being a stand-out for this listener and reviewer.

30. "International Blue" by Manic Street Preachers (from Resistance is Futile)

I spent all weekend trying to find a way to hear the new Manic Street Preachers single since the official versions on YouTube and elsewhere were only available to U.K. residents. Once I found it, I loved it. Here's looking forward to the new Manics record in the Spring!