Top 100 Songs of 2017

top 100 songs of 2017

best songs of 2017 Laura Marling30. Laura Marling
“Nothing, Not Nearly”

from Semper Femina (More Alarming)

On Laura Marling’s sixth album, Semper Femina, the 27-year-old singer/songwriter consistently packs each of her songs with emotional translucence, and “Nothing, Not Nearly” is no different. Its nostalgic take on a fading love is both palpable and relatable as Marling’s music always manages to be. As the relationship in the song begins to fade, the listener is treated to a moment where Marling steps outside of the studio, the music halts and we’re left contemplating her words set to nature’s own song. It’s the album’s under-appreciated gem and its airy, gentle string-plucking finale caps everything that preceded it serenely. – Chris Willis


Open Mike Eagle 95 radios29. Open Mike Eagle
“95 Radios”

from Brick Body Kids Still Daydream (Mello)

With mumble rap in one corner, Kendrick in another, and Vince Staples in yet another, Open Mike Eagle’s “95 Radios” felt curiously of another time in 2017. Backed by a human-beatbox beat, Mike Eagle croons about wrapping hands in tinfoil in order to pick up a better radio transmission. It’s a cartoonish image of naive youth, but it’s an all-too-relatable one. Everyone reaches the age where radio becomes a personal soundtrack and not just background noise, and though that seems like a quaint notion, the lullaby boom-bap of “95 Radios” is a loving tribute to the days when the soothing sound of a DJ’s voice was like a good friend. – Jeff Terich


Priests Nothing Feels Natural28. Priests
“Nothing Feels Natural”

from Nothing Feels Natural (Sister Polygon)

The title track from Priests’ too-well-timed debut was written shortly after the band recorded and scrapped an album in Olympia, Washington. It encapsulates feelings of frustration, stagnancy and delusion—how it feels to be truly and hopelessly stuck. “No it’s not for anyone and I can’t wait until it’s done,” Katie Alice Greer moans, as her voice is now hushed with exhaustion seven tracks into the album. At the time of the recording of Nothing Feels Natural, Greer worked in a restaurant, depressed and hating her job. “In times when it feels like things aren’t working, my entire life feels like it’s not working. This song came out of that feeling,” she says in a press release. “Nothing Feels Natural” contains a sense of catharsis in its tumbling drumlines and steady bass—both sonic anchors in Priests’ most melodic track to date. – Patrick Pilch


best metal albums of 2017 Converge27. Converge
“Reptilian”

from The Dusk In Us (Epitaph)

Converge knows how to end an album. On what was already a blistering musical experience, their ninth album comes to a close with its most climactic track, a four-and-a-half-minute psychedelic sludge sprint through demons both personal and external. “Devils don’t need a hell in order to exist,” screeches Jacob Bannon, exorcising what plagues him while aiming his barbs toward those who profit from chaos (“Futile wars for fruitless words“). It’s a scathing beast of a song, a one-man-army unleashing hell against anything foolish enough to try and stop him, and if it overwhelms, then it succeeds. This is Converge at their most exciting, rushing toward the end of one of their best albums only to leave the audience craving another tumble through their hardcore gauntlet. – Jeff Terich


best songs of 2017 Algiers26. Algiers
“The Underside of Power”

from The Underside of Power (Matador)

Gothic soul—especially that of a political nature—usually gets delivered at the deliberate, even glacial pace of acts like Massive Attack. What Algiers does with tracks like “The Underside of Power” is crank up the energy and speed to suggest a more desperate need for acknowledgement and action. Franklin James Fisher caterwauls about the walls that divide us, while synthesized fuzz and echo submerge the song’s handclaps, horns, and harmonies in darkness. If Suicide were dropped into the Northern soul movement, or a woke ‘70s R&B star were reanimated to front Daptone modernism, you’d be about halfway to Algiers. – Adam Blyweiss


Beach Fossils Somersault review25. Beach Fossils
“This Year”

from Somersault (Bayonet)

Brooklyn’s indie pop slayers have long had a reputation for lo-fi, melancholy goodness, and Somersault vaulted the band in 2017 into new heights. Following an uneven go in 2013 with Clash the Truth, where its emotive songwriting flitted with awkward social commentary, Beach Fossils got back to basics this year. A sharp pop sensibility has been a foundation for the trio, with charming songwriting that has only gotten better. With the lead single “This Year,” Beach Fossils extended that footprint with a melodic composition that sees Dustin Payseur longing for hope. Though tracks like “Down the Line” made a bigger splash this year, “This Year” signaled an adored act’s triumphant return. – Ernesto Aguilar


(Sandy) Alex G rocket review24. (Sandy) Alex G
“Proud”

from Rocket (Domino)

“Proud” is the benchmark for how artists should evolve. Although it does have a more country-rock flavor to it than the majority of stuff (Sandy) Alex G’s put out so far, it’s still definitively him—that is, somber, but hopeful. At first listen, “Proud” sounds like a love letter. You know, that whole romantic vibe and everything. But who’s to say it’s even that romantic? Who are we as listeners to assume that every single relationship written about in the entire musical canon to date must be of romantic nature—almost as if such relationships are of more inherent value? “Proud” definitely tugs at the heartstrings, but couldn’t that just be the own listener’s projections? What are heartstrings, anyway? – Ben Braunstein


best songs of 2017 Big Thief23. Big Thief
“Shark Smile”

from Capacity (Saddle Creek)

A highlight in Big Thief’s live repertoire, “Shark Smile” holds a symbolic significance worth experiencing time and again. It’s an easy listen, but a look beneath the surface reveals something visceral and nostalgic: a road trip destined for an unhappy ending. With wistful and evocative imagery, singer and guitarist Adrianne Lenker presents a corporeal reality stripped bare, a lover longing to be taken to the afterlife with their beloved, Evelyn, “a shark smile in a yellow van” whose “kiss was oxygen.” One can’t help but be charmed by the chorus as it cruises along, easy to sing along with while capturing the cataclysmic fate of a love that feels as spiritual as it does real.  – Jonathan Ortiz


Manchester Orchestra review22. Manchester Orchestra
“The Silence”

from A Black Mile to the Surface (Loma Vista)

A closing track so strong that few other tracks in 2017 could even dream of touching its throat-punching intensity. Oscillating from a country-tinged epic of lingering doom and ending in a post-rock borderline-cosmic anomaly, “The Silence” is the perfect ending for an album that was defined by quieter and more isolated moments. It isn’t purposely brash, it’s instead meditative in its build, focused on its gloomy trajectory with stunning accuracy. Positioned as an epic hymn to conclude an album that’s abundant with vicious tales and existential dread, It’s a track that bites and doesn’t hold back. – Brian Roesler


best albums of 2017 Nine Inch Nails21. Nine Inch Nails
“Less Than”

from ADD VIOLENCE (The Null Corporation)

No song more precisely described and attacked the mess we’ve put ourselves in since last year’s election than “Less Than.” Not sure how much clearer I can be than that. That Nine Inch Nails squeezed all this into a 3:30 song that sounds both fresh and entirely of a piece with legendary NIN industrial rockers such as “Wish,” “Head Like a Hole” and “March of the Pigs” is even more remarkable, considering Trent Reznor is closing in on 30 years of making music. Long critiqued (sometimes quite correctly) for overly simplistic or plain bad lyrics, Reznor’s words for “Less Than” pull no punches but get it just right: He apes the voice of bootstrap-ass conservatives—“Needful, too many fucking people/You’ll have to take care of yourselves, you know I’ve got my hands full”—before mocking such claims: “And you can always justify/The missile screams across the sky AGAIN!” All we can hope is that what he envisioned is nightmare and not prophecy. – Liam Green

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