Posted by: cousinbrandon | January 10, 2018

The “Mixes” Series: x and y, 2017

Fuck this. I’m breaking format.

For decades I’ve fashioned two mixes to encapsulate the musical landscape of the current year, spending days laboring over the proper order of one track after the next, hypnotized by the transition of one song’s outro into the next song’s intro. Each time was the culmination of my poring over records, digging for only the most perfect songs to best represent the respective year, unable to “release” my mixes into the ether until I was sure I could do no better.

Not this year. I just don’t have it in me this time. Whether it’s my newfound sobriety or the fact that the White House is occupied by a pea-brained, misogynist Nazi, I don’t know. I’m just drained.

Rather than creating two CD-length mixes, I’ve curated two long-play Spotify playlists representing the best “fast” and “slow” tracks of 2017. What’s more, there is a total lack of transition, in that I’m simply presenting the songs alphabetically by artist. Because Spotify is Spotify, artists are alphabetized by first name, so Allison Crutchfield, for instance, falls into the “A” category rather than “C.” In yet another violation of mixes past, I’ve even included multiple tracks by the same band on both playlists. (To be fair, it was only one band that this applies to, as the record was too damn good — wink, wink — to only choose one song for each list.)

With that, I’m also skipping most of the “awards” that I typically dole out. No Lyric of the Year, no Vocal Moment of the Year, no Most Disappointing Records of the Year. I am, however, keeping my album cover of the year, as well as ranking my top records, because they’re goddamn necessities.

I should point out, too, that 2017 included a lot of records that I really, really liked, but fewer tracks I could point to and say, “No-brainer song of the year!” Some bands simply made some solid records from start to finish. Others shit the bed completely. Oh, and I should note that some of my Post-Rock gurus not only came back in 2017, but came back hard! When was the last time Do Make Say Think, Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Mogwai not only released albums in the same year, but really, really good albums?! It’s been a while, but holy shit was it worth the wait. With that…

Album Cover of the Year:

Thundercat – Drunk

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Top 20 Records of 2017:

20. GirlpoolPowerplant (Anti-)
19. RatboysGN (Topshelf Records)
18. VersingNirvana (Help Yourself Records)
17. PalehoundA Place I’ll Always Go (Polyvinyl)
16. Wolf ParadeCry Cry Cry (Sub Pop)
15. PileA Hairshirt of Purpose (Exploding in Sound)
14. A Giant DogToy (Merge)
13. CaddywhompusOdd Hours (Inflated)
12. Godspeed You! Black EmperorLuciferian Towers (Constellation)
11. MogwaiEvery Country’s Sun (Temporary Residence)

10. Katie Ellen Cowgirl Blues (Lauren Records)

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9. Allison Crutchfield – Tourist in This Town (Merge)

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8. Waxahatchee Out in the Storm (Merge)

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7. Charly Bliss Guppy (Barsuk)

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6. Big Thief – Capacity (Saddle Creek)

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5. Cool American – Infinite Hiatus (Good Cheer Records)

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4. Washer – All Aboard (Exploding in Sound)

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3. Meat Wave – The Incessant (SideOneDummy Records)

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2. Mount Eerie – A Crow Looked at Me (P.W. Elverum & Sun)

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1. Do Make Say Think – Stubborn Persistent Illusions (Constellation)

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Stubborn Persistent Illusions is not just an outstanding album for 2017; it is an outstanding album, period. While I still consider & Yet & Yet to be DMST’s masterpiece, SPI does not disappoint in the least. There are zero throwaways on the record, and to include pieces of the record on my playlists frankly does SPI a horrible injustice. Beginning with opener “War on Torpor,” SPI has a certain urgency that feels both timely and necessary. It is aggressive and eerie and discomforting, and yet altogether engaging. It is everything great about DMST. The 10-minute-plus “Horripilation” descends and builds like any one of their legendary tracks, while “Bound” and “And Boundless” mirror each other brilliantly. Like & Yet & Yet 15 years earlier, Stubborn Persistent Illusions found its way into my earholes with more regularity than any other record all year, hands down. What’s more, it was the only 2017 release that I actually purchased on vinyl. That pretty much says it all.

And while DMST took 2017’s top spot, I’d be remiss if I didn’t spend a bit more time on Mount Eerie’s A Crow Looked at Me. Ho. Lee. Shit is it a bummer. After his wife succumbed to pancreatic cancer, Phil Elverum penned this ridiculously sad and personal record, chronicling the immediate aftermath of his wife’s passing and his attempt to move forward with his young child. It’s equal parts beautiful and heartbreaking, and it’s easily one of the saddest records I’ve ever heard. But goddamn is it great and really, really worth your time.

Obviously, there are no CDs (hard copies) this year. Your best bets are to a) listen to the Spotify playlist, b) click the individual song links below, or c) curate the playlists yourself in iTunes, Spotify, or some other type of music app.

With that, I give you the 93 songs that comprise my 2017 playlists…

x (The Best “Slow” Tracks of 2017):

1. Adult Mom – “J Station” (Soft Spots)
2. Allison Crutchfield – “I Don’t Ever Wanna Leave California” (Tourist in This Town)
3. Alvvays – “Forget About Life” (Antisocialites)
4. Amy O – “Sunday Meal” (Elastic)
5. Big Thief – “Coma” (Capacity)
6. Caddywhompus – “Appetite” (Odd Hours)
7. Chad VanGaalen – “Pine and Clover” (Light Information)
8. Charly Bliss – “Julia” (Guppy)
9. Chastity Belt – “Different Now” (I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone)
10. Cherry Glazerr – “Nuclear Bomb” (Apocalipstick)
11. Cloakroom – “The Passenger” (Time Well)
12. Cool American – “Lifers, Pt. 2” (Infinite Hiatus)
13. Corridor – “L’histoire populaire de Jonathan Cadeau” (Supermercado)
14. Diet Cig – “I Don’t Know Her” (Swear I’m Good at This)
15. The Districts – “Violet” (Popular Manipulations)
16. Do Make Say Think – “Horripilation” (Stubborn Persistent Illusions)
17. Do Make Say Think – “Bound” (Stubborn Persistent Illusions)
18. En Route – “Null” (Then Is a Song)
19. Fleet Foxes – “Fool’s Errand” (Crack-Up)
20. Florist – “Red Bird” (If Blue Could Be Happiness)
21. Girl Ray – “Stupid Things” (Earl Grey)
22. Girlpool – “123” (Powerplant)
23. Grandaddy – “I Don’t Wanna Live Here Anymore” (Last Place)
24. Great Grandpa – “Faithful” (Plastic Cough)
25. Guided by Voices – “Tenth Century” (How Do You Spell Heaven)
26. Holiday Ghosts – “Ron Song” (Holiday Ghosts)
27. Katie Ellen – “Drawing Room” (Cowgirl Blues)
28. LCD Soundsystem – “oh baby” (American Dream)
29. Lexie – “In Us” (Record Time!)
30. Meat Wave – “No Light” (The Incessant)
31. Mogwai – “20 Size” (Every Country’s Sun)
32. Mount Eerie – “Seaweed” (A Crow Looked at Me)
33. The National – “Empire Line” (Sleep Well Beast)
34. Palehound – “Feeling Fruit” (A Place I’ll Always Go)
35. Pile – “Worms” (A Hairshirt of Purpose)
36. Radiator Hospital – “Long Distance Dedication” (Play the Songs You Like)
37. Radioactivity – “Sleep” (Infected/Sleep 7-inch)
38. Ratboys – “Crying About the Planets” (GN)
39. (Sandy) Alex G – “Proud” (Rocket)
40. Surfer Rosie – “Resting” (EP1)
41. Thunder Dreamer – “Victoria” (Capture)
42. Vagabon – “The Embers” (Infinite Worlds)
43. Washer – “Afraid to Care” (All Aboard)
44. Waxahatchee – “8 Ball” (Out in the Storm)
45. Wolf Parade – “Baby Blue” (Cry Cry Cry)
46. Young Jesus – “River” (S/T)

y (The Best “Fast” Tracks of 2017):

1. Adult Mom – “Full Screen” (Soft Spots)
2. Allison Crutchfield – “Expatriate” (Tourist in This Town)
3. Alvvays – “Plimsoll Punks” (Antisocialites)
4. Amy O – “Soft Skin” (Elastic)
5. Big Thief – “Shark Smile” (Capacity)
6. Broken Social Scene – “Mouth Guards of the Apocalypse” (Hug of Thunder)
7. Caddywhompus – “Decent” (Odd Hours)
8. Chad VanGaalen – “Mystery Elementals” (Light Information
9. Charly Bliss – “Percolator” (Guppy)
10. Cloud Nothings – “Internal World” (Life Without Sound)
11. Cool American – “Maui’s” (Infinite Hiatus)
12. Corridor – “Coup d’épée” (Supermercado)
13. Diet Cig – “Sixteen” (Swear I’m Good at This)
14. The Districts – “Rattling of the Heart” (Popular Manipulations)
15. Do Make Say Think – “War on Torpor” (Stubborn Persistent Illusions)
16. Do Make Say Think – “Her Eyes on the Horizon” (Stubborn Persistent Illusions)
17. En Route – “I Am the Problem” (Then Is a Song)
18. A Giant Dog – “Lucky Ponderosa” (Toy)
19. Girlpool – “Static Somewhere” (Powerplant)
20. Great Grandpa – “Teen Challenge” (Plastic Cough)
21. Guided by Voices – “Cretinous Number Ones” (How Do You Spell Heaven)
22. Hiccup – “Dad Jokes” (Imaginary Enemies)
23. Jay Som – “1 Billion Dogs” (Everybody Works)
24. Katie Ellen – “Sad Girls Club” (Cowgirl Blues)
25. Lexie – “It’s Nothing” (Record Time!)
26. Lost Balloons – “Not My Time” (Hey Summer)
27. Meat Wave – “Leopard Print Jet Ski” (The Incessant)
28. Mogwai – “Old Poisons” (Every Country’s Sun)
29. The New Pornographers – “Play Money” (Whiteout Conditions)
30. Palehound – “If You Met Her” (A Place I’ll Always Go)
31. Pile – “Leaning On a Wheel” (A Hairshirt of Purpose)
32. Radiator Hospital – “Lonely Road” (Play the Songs You Like)
33. Radioactivity – “Infected” (Infected/Sleep Single)
34. Ratboys – “Control” (GN)
35. Real Life Buildings – “Cold” (Significant Weather)
36. Rozwell Kid – “Wendy’s Trash Can” (Precious Art)
37. Sorority Noise – “No Halo” (You’re Not as _____ as You Think)
38. Stef Chura – “Spotted Gold” (Messes)
39. Surfer Rosie – “Nerves” (EP1)
40. Thunder Dreamer – “You Know Me” (Capture)
41. Tobin Sprout – “Future Boy Today/Man of Tomorrow” (The Universe and Me)
42. UV-TV – “Run, Run (Morning Sun)” (Glass)
43. Versing – “Call Me Out” (Nirvana)
44. Washer – “Elbow” (All Aboard)
45. Waxahatchee – “No Curse” (No Curse)
46. Wolf Parade – “Incantation” (Cry Cry Cry)
47. Worriers – “No Thanks” (Survival Pop)

 

 

Well, that’ll do it for 2017. With that, I now ask that you do the following four things:

  1. In the comments section, let me know your picks for the best songs, records, and anything else music of 2017. What did I miss? What do you violently disagree with? What are you wholeheartedly in agreement with? What the hell else?
  2. Should you choose to (or if you have already) put together a Best of 2017 playlist of your own, by all means send me a copy, or at the very least a track listing. I’ll do my best to post them on my blog.
  3. If you’re feeling nostalgic, go back and check out my Best of… mixes from years’ past. There’s a shit-ton of them.
  4. You’ve got Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and 7 billion other social media outlets at your disposal. Share this with the world, even if you only have two Twitter followers (and one of them is me).

Until the Best of 2018, have at it, you vultures!

BD

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