2017: After a surprisingly difficult year of losing rock stars and reflecting on what true legends we have left, 2017 was poised to give us hope and reset the clock for a better run. Though the death toll was smaller, there were several new challenges to face for our society. From the political circus freak show to the advent calendar of sexual misconduct allegations coming out of Hollywood, the year wasn’t without it’s grim tribulations. Though the uprising of women’s voices and stories were heard world-wide, musically, the tone was tepid and pedestrian – with no real new raw force of sound, genre, or inspiration to mirror that energy of the Me Too movement and all the new ground being broken for humanity. In fact, quite the opposite was true. The biggest trend being Mumble-Rap claimed the charts and airwaves everywhere. Artists like Lil Yachty and 21 Savage actually made millions out of NON-coherence; using mushy lyrical delivery and sleepy flow similar to that of a a kindergarten student waking from a nap. This isn’t exactly the urgency from the “Time’s Up” movement we could have used. But perhaps 2018 will inspire and launch a musical outpouring of newly empowered humans to capture the new lighting and thunder crackling in the sky.
There was a slight resurgence in mid-2000’s indie rock which was expected to be very exciting on the surface, but didn’t leave much of an impact after the dust settled. New albums from bands like Wolf Parade, Arcade Fire, LCD Soundsystem, and Broken Social Scene on paper seemed like a wet dream for my days of spinning indie-dance in 2005, but it only proved that everything we experience can never quite be re-experienced the same way. LCD did release a great new comeback album (even if their breakup was only a ploy to sell concert tickets), but Arcade Fire threw me for a loop entirely. Being one of the greatest rock bands of all time, they just completely lost their sense of connection, melody, and songwriting. The album was a misfire for most, and certainly for me. The War On Drugs further solidified their trust in us for making great vibey rock n roll music, and The National put out a strong album that I had anticipated would top my list, although it didn’t. They are indeed one of my most favourite bands, but this time I found myself seeking a bit more out of them then the direction they headed towards. Perfume Genius, The Drums, and Land Of Talk all impressed with incredible bodies of work. I was quite taken with Post Malone’s use of melancholic melody woven into down-tempo reverb laced Hip-Hop, and pop acts like Lorde and Harry Styles (both of which I would normally cringe at) proved to me that a great song is a great song, and it stands own no matter who the artist is. Sleigh Bells’ took a sublime venture into new territory, and they simply floored me with what they can do with a ballad. As usual, I found some very enticing obscure acts out there who broke records for the least possible amount of views one could imagine on tracks that are way too go unnoticed. Topping the list is an act from Sweden I had never heard of, but knew as soon as it hit my ears that it was a haunting slice of musical work, undeniable from the first five seconds of its melodic bliss. As always, it prides me to share my yearly picks with you in hopes of spreading new music that may go unheard, and celebrate the unity we hold from top mainstream selling artist, to unknown bedroom hopeful. This is the best of 2017:
38. A=FM | ASHES
42. LP | LOST ON YOU