Some may say that it is a fool’s errand to try to narrow down hundreds of songs into one top ten list. And it probably is. Luckily, I am that fool…
Just a quick note to say that I haven’t included any of the bands that appeared in my top ten albums list. Just makes it more interesting y’all.
10. Noel Gallagher – Holy Mountain
The emergence of Liam Gallagher as a serious solo artist has had a happy effect on his brother. The two may claim not to have a musical rivalry but the rest of us realise this is poppycock. Noel has broken free of his rock ‘n’ roll roots on his latest album but ‘Holy Mountain’ is purely Bowie. As well as stealing the intro from ‘Lets Stick Together’ and re-imagining it as a glam rock stomp, the song is also notable for inspiring one of the more infamous musical moments of 2017 as one of Noel’s band mates found herself playing the scissors during an appearance on Jools Holland. Remarkable.
9. Milburn – Take Me Home
What a year these boys have had. Sold out shows and critically acclaimed singles culminating in a glorious homecoming gig at Don Valley Bowl in Sheffield. The simple act of reforming was never going to be enough for Joe Carnall JR and his band however, they needed the tunes to go with it.
‘Take Me Home’ is a breezy slice of guitar pop that combines Carnall’s ear for a melody with the bands tuneful craftsmanship. It’s always the same old story…
8. Los Campesinos – We Broke Up In Amarante
Los Campesinos singer Gareth David has always conspired to combine heartbreak with self-effacing and often verbose lyrics. ‘I Broke Up In Amarante’ is a fine example of his unique ability to make depression and sadness an acceptable subject. It is bands such as Los Cam that allow us to discuss such sensitive topics out in the open.
The lead single from the bands sixth album, Sick Scenes, is a classic slice of forlorn storytelling mixed with high tempo DIY indie rock. As ever with this band, the chorus is a case of once heard, never forgotten. The song is autobiographical for Gareth and tells of a couple breaking up in the midst of an international football tournament. A concept that is so up my street, I can see a bungalow being erected on Rob Johnson Avenue as we speak.
7. Slaughter Beach, Dog – Bad Beer/Gold and Green
‘Gold and Green’ was the opening single from Birdie and it evokes Winnipeg legends The Weakerthans while still maintaining that trademark Ewald sound. When he sings about making his garden grow “inch by inch and row by row”, it could be an acknowledgment of the healing process for his other band Modern Baseball… or it could just be a song about his garden.
‘Bad Beer’ is the albums catchiest and best moment. The tale of an up and coming band drinking subpar beer on tour sees Slaughter Beach, Dog rise above the sum of their influences to produce something truly theirs. It is an affecting toe tapper that might well be the best song Ewald has ever written.
I can’t choose between them so I’m having both. It’s my list. Back off.
6. The Orwells – Double Feature
You know when that thing happens when you don’t properly appreciate a song until you see it live? Yeah that. I saw the Orwells supporting Weezer back in October of this year and it was the polar opposite to their lacklustre performance at Leeds festival. ‘Double Feature’ was the last song and the highlight of that set and I have since discovered a newfound love for this snarling, defiant showstopper.
‘Double Feature’ has become a serious ear worm for me and I defy anyone to escape having the song stuck in their head after a couple of listens.
5. The Jesus and Mary Chain – Amputation
Sometimes you hear a song and think, oh, I know this song, but actually it is the first time you have heard it. Some tracks just feel like they have always been there, the musical equivalent of Jack Torrance at the Overlook Hotel. ‘Amputation’ is one such track. That crunching riff, the sneering vocals, it could have been released in ’66 or 2006. The result is the same. A song that you can’t ignore.
It’s incredible that over thirty years since their debut album Psychocandy, the Reid brothers can still produce something as gut punchingly brilliant as this. Turn it up LOUD.
4. Arcade Fire – Creature Comfort
It’s no secret that I am not a fan of Arcade Fire’s later material. Let’s not forget though that the Canadian band were probably the best in the world at one point and there are still glimmers of all that lost potential if you dig deep enough. ‘Creature Comfort’ is not a return to the glory days of The Suburbs but is about as good as latter day Arcade Fire gets. Catchy, breezy and funny, ‘Creature Comfort’ sounds like Win Butler being backed by New Order.
There is still a great band somewhere underneath the daft costumes and pretentiousness. Maybe one day we will see them again. For now we will have to make do with ‘Creature Comforts’.
3. Foo Fighters – Run/The Sky is a Neighbourhood
One of the reasons that the Foo Fighters maintain their considerable popularity and relevance is that they are a great singles band. Even their worst albums featured great singles and their new album Concrete and Gold is definitely not among their worst albums. Indeed, it only just missed out on my albums of the year.
‘Run’ is a classic Foo Fighters single. Massive riff, soaring chorus, brutal guitar solo. It’s refreshing to see Dave Grohl and co still properly rock out, ‘Run’ is their heaviest single in years. ‘The Sky is a Neighbourhood’ is a totally different beast, a slow burner that roams and snarls until finally revealing a huge chorus. This two songs side by side lay waste to claims that the band have been writing the same song for twenty years.
2. Everything Everything – Can’t Do
If I ever stepped foot on a dance floor, I could say this song has been filling dance floors in 2017. But I don’t and it probably hasn’t. People in clubs generally listen to shit music in my (limited) experience. Still, ‘Can’t Do’ is undoubtedly a banger. Like most of Everything Everything’s output, ‘Can’t Do’ is enthusiastic, weird and utterly unique.
Jonathan Higgs screeching falsetto can occasionally become grating but it fits this track perfectly. If you have never heard the Manchester band, this would be a great starting point.
1. LCD Soundsystem – American Dream
James Murphy has been at forefront of the music scene for so long that it is easy to forget how seminal his albums have been. While I didn’t care for his latest record, single ‘American Dream’ is Murphy at his absolute best. Recalling the bar room lament ‘New York, I Love You’, ‘American Dream’ is the latter songs more reflective elder brother. One of those tracks that is almost impossible to listen to with your eyes open, you will struggle to find a more emotive musical moment released in 2017. A triumphant daydream in song form.
As ever, if you ask me to compile this same list in a weeks time it could be completely different, but right now, ‘American Dream’ by LCD Soundsystem is the best song I have heard this year. Drink it in.
Shed Seven – Room In My House
The Amazons – In My Mind
Cribs – In Your Palace
Declan McKenna – Paracetamol
Radiohead – I Promise
Royal Blood – Lights Out
(Sandy) Alex G – Powerful Man
Phoenix – Ti Amo
Reverend & the Makers – Too Tough to Die