Top 100 Songs of 2017

top 100 songs of 2017

best albums of april 2017 Arca80. Arca

from Arca (XL)

In his role as producer for the likes of Bjork and FKA Twigs, Alejandro Ghersi aka Arca served as a bridge between his own caustic mélange and the melodic, pop arrangements found more traditionally toward the center of our music world.  Before “Desafio,” the staggering centerpiece of his third album, Ghersi had never let his euphonic tendencies enter his solo lexicon. In doing so Arca created a track that doubled as both a sample and an outlier among his breakthrough 2017. – Wesley Whitacre

Girlpool Powerplant review79. Girlpool
“It Gets More Blue”

from Powerplant (Anti-)

The Girlpool of 2017 is a more mature one, their slightly older age adding to what they’ve experienced. This translates throughout Powerplant, but specifically within “It Gets More Blue,” a darker tone appears, presenting the solemn aftermath of living through this fraught political climate. Each line hits like a pungent reminder of disappointment, like the rawness of “You’ll build him a tower / he’ll burn you a bridge.” Cleo and Harmony brew up a new take on ennui on this ball of frustration, served with a side of spite. – Virginia Croft

Pallbearer Heartless review78. Pallbearer

from Heartless (Profound Lore)

This Arkansas doom metal outfit has shed the oppressive sorrow that marked their early recordings, this single opening the door to a wider range of lush melodies. “Thorns” displays how they were once a doom band that had a passing interest in prog to a groggy shoegaze band with a passing interest in metal. Some of the more soaring vocal passages make it clear that when it comes to Sabbath, they preferred the Dio years. It’s another display of stunning songwriting, no matter the genre they progress into.  – Wil Lewellyn

best songs of 2017 Bjork77. Björk
“The Gate”

from Utopia (One Little Indian)

Bjork’s entire musical history of at least 24 years has seen many a stylistic evolution. On lead single “The Gate” from her ninth album, Utopia, Björk takes the lead from fellow producer Arca on a fascinating co-production. “The Gate” frequently sounds both spacious and claustrophobic. “I care for you, care for you,” she sings repeatedly over a backdrop of hymnal strings and synths, often with the occasional moment of uplift. But the song itself is unsettling and yet kind of pretty, too; it feels like a decent metaphor for faith. – Ben Braunstein

best albums of May Jlin76. Jlin

from Black Origami (Planet Mu)

A microcosm of Jerrilynn Patton’s Black Origami, “1%” is a stylistic and to some extent literal vocabulary lesson. It explores the language of Chicago footwork, the interplay of spare bass drops, squeaking loops and clipped metallic percussion at hummingbird speed suggesting deep roots in tribal and aboriginal chants, rhythms and dance traditions. It’s also home to an intriguing dialogue between the Red Queen from Resident Evil and automated phone-operator messages. The question is, are these machines meant to be talking to each other, or is one reaching out and finding only cold disconnection? Much like origami, a puzzlement. – Adam Blyweiss

best songs of 2017 Animal Collective75. Animal Collective
“Man of Oil”

from Meeting of the Waters (Domino)

Pure, weird fun—that’s the best way to describe Animal Collective’s “Man of Oil.” It feels improvisational in its sound and, having been recorded along the Amazon River, has an eerie, otherworldly tone. Even though the Meeting of the Waters EP featured only Avery Tare and Geologist, “Man of Oil” has the feeling of containing the full quartet in their peak experimental form. As always, there’s so much to unpack and repeated listens uncover new easter eggs and secrets each time. – Chris Willis

best albums of july 2017 Sheer Mag74. Sheer Mag
“Turn It Up”

from Need to Feel Your Love (Wilsuns RC)

The general breakdown of Sheer Mag’s catalog is that it’s 50 percent love songs and 50 percent anthems calling for revolution. And they’re not necessarily mutually exclusive; there’s something kind of romantic about smashing the system together. But there’s another type of song they do well, as evidenced by “Turn It Up”: The I’m-young-and-I’ll-do-what-I-want-so-fuck-you anthem. The title of the song is essentially all the information you need: It’s a loud rock song—part Thin Lizzy, part Joan Jett—that warrants cranking. So turn it up already. – Jeff Terich

best albums of 2017 Phoebe Bridgers73. Phoebe Bridgers
“Motion Sickness”

from Stranger in the Alps (Dead Oceans)

Few songs in 2017 had more quotable lyrics than “Motion Sickness.” The runaway one-liner is probably “And why do you sing in an English accent/I guess it’s too late to change it now,” but really you can take your pick. Lyrics aside, the tune is just plain sweetness. One can’t help but feel like even if it was your fake accent Bridgers was singing about, you wouldn’t really be all that mad at her over it. – Adam Ellsworth

Jason Isbell The Nashville Sound review72. Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
“Last of My Kind”

from The Nashville Sound (Southeastern)

Imbued with the spirit of classic country and the clever lyricism of Pete Seeger, the leadoff track on The Nashville Sound is one in which Jason Isbell dissects the presence of values, or lack thereof—it’s an honest bit of introspection. Examining his life thus far and waxing poetic on the “old” days, Isbell invites us in for a closer look at his self examination. Moreover, it’s a reflection of the ever-changing times, reeling in the need for fond memoriese within during periods of turmoil. – Virginia Croft

best albums of July 2017 Japanese Breakfast71. Japanese Breakfast
“Road Head”

from Soft Sounds from Another Planet (Dead Oceans)

Originally appearing on 2014’s lo-fi American Sound, “Road Head” is Soft Sounds from Another Planet’s glorious fuck-you moment. Japanese Breakfast maestro Michelle Zauner quotes country music star Tammy Wynette, singing “dream on, baby,” in reference to Wynette’s husband’s parting words when she told him she wanted to be a musician. His words would bite him in the ass a few years later. “Road Head” is both celebratory and tongue-in-cheek, played out like a satisfied smirk on the past. – Patrick Pilch

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