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?
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. 😉