Spoiliticians' Top 10 Tracks of the Year So Far...
We've reached the midway point of 2017, and it's already been a year stacked with impressive releases. Each Spoilitician has listed below, their top ten tracks released between January and June:
PHLEGE'S TOP 10
Into The Floor
The Afghan Whigs
The last time I saw The Afghan Whigs play, Greg Dulli stopped the gig to ask an audience member to turn his camera light off; likening the invasion to someone shining a torch in your eyes whilst receiving fellatio. The lyrics to Into The Floor may be opaque, but the intimacy shared in this brooding, insistent song prove his songcraft is even more personal than his performances.
Signs Of Life
I'm never going to be a member of the Arcade Fire adulation brigade - they always seemed too prone to self-indulgence, whimsy and handclaps for me. But they've created some great singles. Including this slice of driving funk. Talented smug bastards.
A compelling piece of electro-pop, that feels fresh yet of the 1980’s at the same time.
Feist ft. Jarvis Cocker
Has to be heard, if just for Jarvis Cocker's philosophical meanderings on the spoken outro.
Stumbled across this while looking for new music so that I could avoid picking “Fags After Shags” to annoy Bruce. Jangly guitars and a jam style that evoke The Grateful Dead mixed with pop sensibilities.
Goodbye To Beauty
Gargoyle has its share of potential picks - Beehive, Death's Head Tattoo and Emperor could easily be here. However, I've chosen the slow ballad Goodbye To Beauty, presumably a paean to the passing of time and youth.
Okay, the single came out last year, but the album came out this year, so I'm claiming it. The Moonlandingz may be as playful as Songhoy Blues, but the music is altogether darker and more unsettling.
The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness
(I haven't bothered to write anything, as I reckon everyone will choose this…)
The Pure And The Damned
Oneohtrix Point Never ft. Iggy Pop
One of those tracks that you just need to hear to understand. Iggy has always made an excellent and willing guest vocalist, his presence defining songs like Aisha by Death In Vegas and Rolodex Propaganda by At The Drive-In. And now this partly spoken ballad will be forever his.
Apparently about a night-out in the titular city, Bamako is a feel-good slice of guitar funk that deserves to be the soundtrack to the summer.
Listen to Phlege's top 10 tracks of the year so far on Spotify:
BRYCE'S TOP 10
To It All
Bing & Ruth
Another good album from Bing & Ruth this year. It’s similar to previous releases, so the album may not be held in as high regard, but To It All is a fantastic composition with the perfect balance of musicianship and minimalism to make it one of my favourites from 2017 so far.
I sometimes wonder if Blanck Mass are the best thing to happen to music since Black Dice. They’re not. They’re too extreme. Same flaw that Black Dice have. It’s too much, but it’s great. Please is an excellent example of that desire to push every possible sound to the furthest, harshest place. Superb song.
Cigarettes After Sex
Any list of the best songs from 2017 that doesn’t include a Cigarettes After Sex song is not worth reading.
Busted & Blue
Outstanding track from an otherwise disappointing album. I always listen to any new releases from Damon Albarn, and while the new Gorillaz album on the whole was not for me, this one song may be one I’ll listen to all my life.
A Song Of Summer
Clocking in at over ten minutes, it’s actually a good thing Cantu-Ledesma is not a radio-friendly artist because not a second of this should ever be cut in any edit. The song is an epic summertime masterpiece. It reminds me a lot of “Endless Summer” by Fennesz. Not musically, of course, but in terms of a composition based on guitars but without ever sounding like a guitar-based track. An electric guitar rolls onto and off of centre stage for this song, with long soothing vocal notes and soundscapes shimmering and dancing in between. Play this on repeat, all night long.
All The Land Glimmered Beneath
My favourite track from an excellent album. It’s been listened to daily this summer in the Eunson cabin, especially in the morning. First thing, sitting with my coffee, looking out the window, gearing up to start another day. Julie Byrne adds weight to my suspicion that female singer-songwriters are out-performing the men these days...
The Roseate Dreamlight
Tom James Scott
We are surely at a point in time where neo-classical music has reached its peak of popularity? Who knows. Tom James Scott is not part of that scene, but in my opinion the extremely minimalist piano pieces which have become more and more common recently are directly related to the popularity of the neo-classical giants. The Roseate Dreamlight is absolutely stunning.
Ah, The xx... what can you say? The chemistry between the three members and how their talents gel together is beyond special. They have absolutely mastered a style and pace when recording their slightly slower songs. And they’re great songwriters. I love the lyrics and the idea behind this song, of putting on a performance, of trying really hard to be someone good – but knowing it makes no fucking difference.
Just as I See You gets to its midway point, a good album suddenly becomes great. Following on from the existentialism of Performance, Replica paints those same feelings in expressionistic tones with huge, long-drawn, echoing piano chords and bass notes. Is it a song Jamie took a back-seat for? Or did he arrange so perfectly that you forget he is there? Maybe the success of the band is finding that balance. The song follows a simple verse/chorus format, ending on a verse rather than a chorus, which means before you know it...
Brave For You
...Oliver has stopped singing, his song has finished, and Romy has started singing – her song comes gliding into the room, almost unexpectedly. We are now into the most melancholic tune of the album. Melancholic, and yet hopeful. Also slightly romantic. Actually, very romantic, very much searching for inner strength. She sings “And when I’m scared, I imagine you there, telling me to be brave for you...” After this song, a great album is now one of your absolute favourites.
Listen to Bryce's top 10 tracks of the year so far on Spotify:
CJ'S TOP 10
Poor Ariel, striking out after yet another weekend on the pull. Don’t worry, we still love you.
Sleazy electronica. Funky and awkward at the same time, like a Spoilitician at the discotheque.
Cigarettes After Sex
Absurdly lush dreampop masterstroke.
Challenge (To Be Continued)
Jlin lays it down for the future of footwork in this furious maelstrom of a track from the brilliant Black Origami album.
On The Level
Plinky synths and smooth, smooth vocals with some of Mac’s best melodies yet.
Mount Kimbie ft. Micachu
Mount Kimbie enlist Mica Levi for this genuinely hard to categorise track - it’s soulful, nervy, bassy and melodic all at the same time.
Sugar Tastes Like Salt
Halifax’s surf-pop prodigies unleash an 8-minute belter. See also: I Only Bought It For The Bottle.
Shine A Light
Amost J-Dilla-esque (very high accolade) in its woozy sci-fi future soul.
Tara Jane O’Neill
One of the finest cuts from TJ’s exquisite self-titled album - Sand is hypnotic and addictive.
Syd Barrett/Marc Bolan homage from Ty’s Sentimental Goblin EP on this mellow psych number.
Listen to CJ's top 10 tracks of the year so far on Spotify:
MATTHEW'S TOP 10
The price of consistent excellence is the weight of expectation, so upon first listen, the title track of Arcade Fire’s upcoming album may have slightly underwhelmed. However surprising the disco-direction the band have taken here is, it has quickly grown and Everything Now is one of the anthems of the summer.
Hug Of Thunder
Broken Social Scene
The Canadian ensemble return with their first new music in seven years, and the title track from new album, Hug Of Thunder, finds Leslie Feist leading the vocals with arguably the catchiest chorus of 2017.
January’s Life Without Sound saw the Cleveland band return with a more polished LP compared to their previous offerings. This may have gained them a little criticism from fans who were anticipating another rough, punk-y album, but Enter Entirely stands out as a Cloud Nothings classic, with its textbook hooks and riffs, and a mammoth refrain.
So I’m Growing Old On Magic Mountain
Father John Misty
Pure Comedy is an album loaded with scathing critiques on the state of the world we live in, however, this ten minute epic takes a step back and finds Josh Tillman in more reflective mood. A gorgeous track more in vein of Tillman’s pre-Father John Misty folksy days.
Kendrick spits DAMN.’s most ferocious bars while exploring his black heritage and culture, while simultaneously taking aim at FOX News journalist, Geraldo Rivera’s comments that “hip-hop has done more damage to young African Americans than racism in recent years”.
Pure pop perfection.
The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness
The usually sombre tones found in much of The National’s previous work takes a backseat here, as the Ohio five-piece rock their way through the aggressive lead single from upcoming album, Sleep Well Beast. Featuring probably the most unexpected guitar solo of 2017.
A triumphant return from the 90’s shoegaze pioneers. The soaring, dreamlike guitars lead the listener through a track full of intricate details, showing that Slowdive haven’t lost any of what made them grate two decades ago.
A piano-led ballad with Annie Clark’s usually blistering guitar nowhere to be heard. A heartfelt ode to love and the city where it was lost and found, New York wouldn’t have been out of place on St. Vincent’s debut LP, Marry Me.
Perhaps the best example of a track from January’s I See You that melds the melancholic vocals and reverbing guitars found in the trio’s previous work with their newfound, electronic backing tracks.