The Top Tracks of 2017
We spared no expense. We left no stone unturned. We argued and battled until we finally agreed on this list. Behold, the best.
10. Eastghost - "Eyes in the Back of My Head"
Eastghost has been through some shit. Producer Ryan Akeley survived a scary near death experience in 2013, and has been pumping out tunes dripping with emotion ever since. Kicking off the compilation album "Gouldian Finch #02" from the always ecclectic Bitbird label, "Eyes In the Back of My Head" is a brooding, bass throbbing track that straddles the line between uplifting and full on rage. An instant attention-grabbing vocal sample starts the song off and leads us through a slow and patient bass heavy and infectious journey.
9. Isaac Gracie - "Reverie"
Peaceful slow-burning bliss. Gracie brings us this gorgeous lullaby filled with regret and questions for the girlfriend he lost. While the lyrics are simple, they are effective, "without you, I just ain't the same." This heartbreaking and beautiful song rises and falls with effortless ease from Gracie, and Isaac is in no rush telling the story. Coming in at 5 minutes and 43 seconds, this sets up a stunning climax with full band to join in, while showcasing his vocal range. As with everything Gracie has released, each note and bar is purposeful and full of weight.
8. RL Grime - "Reims"
Epic doesn't begin to describe it. Up until May of 2017, RL Grimes had been generally pretty quiet with any releases, but explodes back with this offering. He wrote "for the better part of the last 2 years I've been quietly working away on my second album" and we think it was worth the wait. Anthemic and cinematic in sound, RL has perfected the art of the drop, with each of the 2 drops being absolutely massive. Buzzing saw bass and arp synths create an atmosphere we haven't heard from him, and the enormous bass drop is dark, heavy and oddly inspirational. He is seemingly is done with his stripped back trap style and is onto something bigger and more meaningful. With more of this style on his horizon, we couldn't be happier.
7. Josh Pan, X&G - "Nowhere"
Back in February 2017, the enigmatic Josh Pan teamed up with X&G and released one of the most hypnotizing and interesting songs of the year on the famous OWSLA label. Pulling you in from the initial horns, Josh's soft spoken and intricate vocal style relentlessly drags you deeper and deeper into the subtle atmospheric layers. Marching forward with a simple and flawlessly produced drum pattern, the words "we won't let them take us nowhere" sit atop a head-nodding and serene verse. When you've become completely transfixed, tempos change and bass elements slap you back to reality.
6. Real Estate - "Darling"
When you talk about a band perfecting a style unique to themselves, you have to talk about Real Estate. Perfecting that art is one thing, but staying interesting enough in perfecting it is a battle that Real Estate is dominating. The stuttering drum pattern throughout the song emphasizes the impatience of lead singer Martin Courtney waiting for his darling. Synths open up this track and sit atop the classic and indisputable Real Estate guitar sound. As with any song from this band, Darling is impeccably clean, and tricks you into believing its not all that complicated.
5. Fleet foxes - "Third of May / Ōdaigahara"
Fleet Foxes doing what Fleet Foxes does best? Well....kind've. Continuing their folk rock sound all to their own, "Third Of May/Odaigahara" spotlights the legendary and passion filled range of lead singer Robin Pecknold. The painfully dense lyrics ooze despair through his trademark falsetto tone, and while that may be familiar to Fleet Foxes fans, thrashing guitar riffs and frantic drum patterns are new. Lyrics like, "Aren't we made to be crowded together, like leaves", simply could not sound as profound sung by anyone else. Tension, restraint, pain, and palpable desperation incapsulate throughout the entire gripping 8 minutes and 52 seconds.
4. Moses Sumney - "Doomed"
Every now and then, you hear a song that within seconds of listening is so clearly above the rest. Moses askes, "Am I vital, if my heart is idle", in his incomprehensibly falsetto vocal style. The instruments are sparse, fittingly leaving Sumney to fill the space with deep thoughts and wailings on the isolation of love. This is a song to listen to late at night, alone, as its hauntingly beautiful notes flow through you, leaving you to contemplate the inner workings of the cosmos.
3. The War on Drugs - "Thinking of a Place"
Kudos to Atlantic Records for letting TWOD do their thing. The centerpiece of "A Deeper Understanding" is a serene 11 minute journey that stays focused throughout. Granduciel is able to masterfully create an energy and urgency while telling the story of darkness and light, with light a metaphor for love. In its hypnotic way, it truly does make you think of a place while listening.
2. Father John Misty - "Pure Comedy"
A masterpiece. On lyrical merit alone, this song would belong on this list. While Josh Tillman warns his lyrics are not just about Trump, its a damning poem of the state of the world. Entangled in a Elton John piano rock music bed, the song questions everything from religion to democracy to greed to the future of mankind. While some might ask Tillman to give us some answers to the relentless questions he asks, or to define more specifically what he would change in the world he is so critical of...for now the line "I hate to say it, but each other's all we got" is enough.
1. Harry Styles - "Sign of the Times"
If you didn't think Harry Styles would be topping this list, neither did we. However, this immaculate piece is truly worthy of the top spot. Comparisons to Bowie/Queen may be a tad premature, but "Sign of the Times" is an epic piano power-ballad for the ages. Still only a young 23 years old, One Direction star Harry Styles went solo and no one expected ambitious songs like these. Even with its simple chord structure, "Sign of the Times" undeniably shatters the other Rock offerings from the year, and ultimately any other song from 2017. Bold, fearless and confident, Harry Styles is primed to be the next big rockstar.