Happy New Year to one and all. I was so happy to welcome 2018 in yesterday.

In 2017 I liked music that mixed genres and had honest, heartfelt lyrics. You’ll find a random selection below. What have you been listening to?

WP_20180102_12_03_23_Pro_LI (3)

Although I said that I liked the mixing of genres, I must confess I do love the sound of pure shoegaze in the morning. Slowdive sounded like Slowdive and I was very happy about that.

There were a lot of albums that had only one or two songs I loved. Lisa Knapp’s Till April Is Dead – a Garland of May was one of those; I bought it and gave it away. But the song Till April is Dead is dizzy with rhythm and repetitions I like.

I would’ve been engrossed in the playing and authenticity on Lillie Mae’s album ten years ago but now I have Americana apathy. The country-soul-pop of “Dance” is a tune that struck me instantly though.

Loved The xx ‘s latest. When I saw them live, the emotional warmth of “Say Something Loving” soundtracked a perfect kiss.

Reverb heaven and jangling guitars. If Madonna had been into C86, she would’ve written “Lucky Girl”. The world needs more solo female artists from NZ.

Goldfrapp puts modern sexy into glamrock beats, Roxy Music glitz and the warping of pop sounds.

Big Boi might need Andre 3000 now and then but I love the lascivious “Chocolate”.

Strobelite mixes 1980’s soul and R’n’B and adds house piano and vocals. If Gorillaz album had had eight songs fewer, it would’ve a classic not a sprawl.

Keeping the 1980’s synth funk feeling going but blending it with TV soundtrack atmospherics and noir lyrics made Timber Timbre a big fave in my house.

I think BishBosh remembered that back in the 1970s and 80s the smooth sounds Thundercat explored this year were despised in certain quarters. But this has rambling funk and soul and lyrics about destructive changes and I identify.

Anything can happen when the music is good…

Bonobo incorporates the organic sounds of NYC/Moroccan band Innov Gnawa into his electronica. Love it.

Emel incorporates  electronica into her organic Tunisian sounds. Love it. Her album “Ensen” has some of the most consistently urgent and depressing lyrics but the music is dynamic; it’s a brilliant mix of styles and maybe my fave album of the year. The urgency in this song comes from her confusion as to what is happening, but I see hope in the chaos.

Zeal & Ardor mix spirituals with electronica and melodic black metal to explore a pagan, devil-worshipping alternate reality. Fuck yeah!

Cody ChesnuTT mixes rap beats, 1970’s funk and modern dubby-soul sounds of the Ocean kind. This song could be a cinema short. It’s pop with a social conscience.

Pop star Miley with alt-rock stars fucking up what could be a beautiful anthem actually turn it into an anthem for fucked-up, not-your-standard families.

Late forties bloke steeped in pop culture approaches middle-age and sets his life into context. I identify. Maybe my favourite album of the year. Electronica with Wah! references. (Honestly I even hear “Seven Minutes to Midnight” and “Better Scream” references in “Call the Police”. In my defence, 2017 was a looooooong mind-fucking year.)

Kendrick feels like no one is praying for him… I sure know that feeling. More spirituals to open with but then it gets a bit Sade until the lyrics –  bare and vulnerable.

Stormzy also lays it bare and mixes gospel and proper singing into his album. Prayer is central in this songworld too. But the way he documents pain, especially the pain of being disappointed by family… Raw.

More references to prayer in “Hailing Drums” – they pray for nothing at all. It pummels genres together. It’s ace.

Nothing Feels Natural at all to Priests. They are all your favourite spiky, post-punk bands mixed into one, an irresistible sound if you grew up listening to what I did.

A man is not his song says Feist, but am I my record collection? She adds Mastodon to her tune, which is handy cos…

Rock chick girlfriend likes Mastodon. I fell out of love with blustery bloke-rock music this year but Mastodon’s latest album is accessible and the death and cancer themes in the lyrics – I identify.

Maija’s Song is about the imminent death of a close friend of Astrid Swan to cancer. Swan has metastatic cancer. Few albums have such lyrical honesty as From the Bed and Beyond. The wailing in Maija’s Song adds the musical raw touch and brings a folk tradition into the sensitive singer-songwriter piano playing.

Lots of death and misery as well as political skulduggery and debacle this year. 2017 was dreadful then brilliant then dreadful.  2017 – I let you go.

Though, if I could go back to the start of the year – to a time when a photo was taken of a group of white men sat in an office making decisions about people they has no obvious empathy for and no understanding of, and thus set the stage for this year’s political divisiveness, I would take out everyone in that room. 😉


28 thoughts on “2017

  1. You recommended Emel to me and I think “Ensen” is great – found Femme by Briga while on bandcamp, Briga is a Canadian violinist – but with roots that tap right into my Balkan Beats love -album is an all-female collaborative effort.
    Femme by Briga

    The t-rex glam beats are strong in this Weaves track – probably my 2nd fav off the album after my number 1 spill choice:
    Weaves – Slicked

    For anyone who missed it (and has a passing interest) – this was my 2017 playlist:
    saneshane 2017 songs

    • Briga is rather good and you’re the second person to recommend Femme to me and it goes on my to buy list. I’ll do a second (totally different 2017) list later in January and will include something from it.

      Weaves’ Slicked is maybe my fave from your list (this opinion is only valid for five minutes). Going to make a mix for the car and that will be first on it.

      Your list and AFH’s Instrumentals list are saved on my yt account. Prefer Self Esteem to Slow Club. 😉

    • Love loads of these Shane. currently listening to Gracie and Rachel album off the back of your playlist. I liked the Lovely Badthings’ video too – I want to be able to surf like that – or maybe look as good as that in a bikini! Oh and Slotface – brilliant!

  2. Very nice list thanks Fuel. Faserdaze also caught my attention, for my tastes the best NZ release of the year, though I’m biased towards anything which connects more with the Flying Nun years.

    • Cheers. The next list will have a lot more electronica and even jazz. That NZ trio of Lorde, Aldous Harding and Fazerdaze are just brilliant. I for one, welcome our female NZ overlords…

  3. For what it’s worth here’s a quick overview of what I’ve been listening to this year- not really very many albums but I have put a lot of time into them, a year big on quality for me if not quantity.
    I thought NPR’s year-end lists for albums and singles were very good btw, a lot more diverse than the Guardian’s.

    • Impressive list. Oumou Sangaré is great. She’s high up in that npr list, which is also great.

      Feels like I have been listening to the wrong stuff for most of this year and that I’m only now discovering the artists who were consistently great rather than had one or two tracks that drew me in and left me disappointed with the other stuff..

      Ambrose Akinmusire – A Rift in Decorum: Live at the Village Vanguard was my fave jazzy thing, esp. the track Moment In Between The Rest (To Curve An Ache)

      • Akinmusire is destined for great things, as are many of the young jazz musicians around at the moment. That is a beautiful track.
        It was that NPR list which introduced me to Sangaré, they have some very good recommendations for Southern/Central American material as well, though their jazz critics seem to have a blind spot for European musicians, if not European labels.
        I also often find it’s the “slow burn” albums which leave the longest lasting impression. You just have to give them time.

    • Going to stick this on in a moment nilpferd. Looking forward to it. Loving the whole “New Year -new music” vibe going on over the last few days.

    • & a Nilpferd list .. may need another day off at this rate

      (Still have about half the festies & J-Pants albums to get to).

      • Cheers shoey- just a word of caution as I’m not sure what’s visible of my Spotify account, but most of the other playlists on there are from the Nilpteen… don’t want people thinking I’ve been on a Fall out boy binge in 2017 😉

  4. Much to love in both yours and Shane’s lists (oh but how I detest playing them on YouTube, Shane – sorry!) Won’t post a lengthy reply, but really liked a lot of the stuff I didn’t already know. I also spotted one of my favourite ever books in your pile of stuff – Oscar Wao is just amazing. You also have “Last Night a DJ Saved My Life” which I bought for my husband for Christmas. I love Bill Brewster’s internet radio shows and his SoundCloud mixes.

    • Not got to Oscar Wao yet. Borrowed it along with lots of comic books for the children 😉 Xmas and New Year reading.

      Last Night a DJ Saved My Life should be required reading. An excellent choice. There are sections where they write about how the DJ starts mixing and extends instrumental sections to keep the dancing going and the intensity rising – artistry. I was going to mention/quote it in the great instrumental debate but I plan to copy parts of it and make a music playlist to go with the quotes.

  5. Certainly something for every ‘Spiller in that lot – kind of fun playing “oh, (x) will love that”, as you listen through. For me it was Re-TROS, but who doesn’t need more Chinese math/post-punk-rock in their lives? That Big Boi was a fun standout too.


    • Cheers. I actually tried to make it a proper RR list with a fair old mix of genres.

      “Who doesn’t need more Chinese math/post-punk-rock in their lives?”

      Couldn’t have put it better myself.

  6. Finally got round to listening to all these over the last couple of nights (haven’t got round to Shoey and Shane’s lists yet, and haven’t exhausted the Festive Spill either – 2017, you are spoiling us). Fantastic playlist.

    I’ve listened quite a bit to the Slowdive album (having not paid particular attention to them first time round) – it has that perfect shoegazing balance of delicate beauty and aural assault.

    I gave the Lisa Knapp album a listen on the back of the Guardian albums of the year list – this was the song that stood out for me too, but will definitely give the album another listen come springtime.

    Lille Mae was newtome and great.

    Haven’t listened to the xx’s new one – this was good, a bit different.

    I’ve been listening to a lot of Lorde, and a fair bit of Aldous Harding, but will definitely have to investigate Fazerdaze.

    The next few were all good poppy fun – I saw Goldfrapp at Bluedot this year, and they were great, although this album didn’t particularly grab me. I haven’t listened to the Gorillaz record for some reason – I should do.

    Bonobo and Emel were both stunning. I had no idea how in the mood I was for North African-electronica fusion.

    I’m glad I listened to Zeal and Ardour once, but not sure I want to do so again. Wouldn’t mind hearing more Cody Chesnutt though.

    Flaming Lips and Miley gets a thumbs up. I should listen to more LCD Soundsystem. And more Kendrick Lamarr. This is becoming a recurring theme.

    I don’t think I’ve ever actually listened to Stormzy. That was actually rather stunning.

    Re:tros was very unstable genius. Priests good. Feist great, but I was struggling to stay awake by this point so skipped Mastadon (sorry, rockchick girlfriend) to listen to Astrid Swan. Gulp.

    Always love your playlists and your writing Fuel. Hope 2018 will be a happy year for you and yours.

    • Wow. Thanks for listening and glad you enjoyed it. I think you’ll like the Lillie Mae album and the Astrid Swan. (I’ve followed Astrid Swan for a few years and her husband runs the Soliti label, which is always excellent. He writes BTL as Triani (Spurs fan) on The G’s site and seems like a really good bloke. Swan’s performance at Flow Festival was stunning – everybody’s eyes welling up. (I’ll do a gigs of the year next.)

      The North African-Arabic-Persian-electronica fusion is a thing. Check out Yasmine Hamdan’s earlier band Soap Kills (and also this week’s Earworms).

      Have to confess that I thought of you and Toffeeboy when putting on Fazerdaze. Check out her tune Little Uneasy and I think you might fall even more under her spell.

      Christian Savill of Slowdive used to run a forum called Finland Football on which I wrote occasionally. Sometime around 2001/2, I asked him about Slowdive but he seemed almost dismissive of/embarrassed by my appreciation of the band – as if it was a closed/closing chapter. I don’t think he had any idea of how influential they would become.

      Stormzy’s developing and moving beyond grime, Maybe 2017 wasn’t so bad after all.


  7. Finally got round to this – lots to like!
    Of the didn’t knows, Ret:ros and Timber Timbre were great, of the did knows it reminded me that I really need to get that Stormzy album – that was an amazing track.

    Cheers Fuel!

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