We’re rounding up the best of the first few months of 2018 here this week at Music for Your Ears. Before that I have a handful of reviews of last week’s new music:
The Vaccines – Combat Sports
I was hotly anticipating this album after their incredible first single “I Can’t Quit”. You’ll even see that track later in this article heading up the Best of Winter playlist. I’ve been playing it nearly nonstop since its release in the first week of January. I’d love to give this album a better grade, but I fear that I may have made it too highly anticipated. I wouldn’t say it’s disappointing, but many of the songs simply sound the same. I’m perfectly happy with the danceable rock outs of “Surfing in the Sky” and “Nightclub” but there weren’t enough like the palpable brake pads in the slowed down “Young American”. I’m also very happy that this band has taken up the reins left behind by their predecessors like the Strokes, Libertines and Oasis. If they keep churning out stuff, I’m happy with this level of quality to even start. I think it’ll take a listen or two more to truly identify if this is one of the best of the year, though.
Key Tracks: I Can’t Quit / Take It Easy / Out on the Street
Here you go, it all comes down to this: and are the two best tracks from 2017, according to our readers. Which one will come out on top? That’s up to you to decide, faithful followers!
Our final showdown of the year involves one of the lowest seeds, a rarity in brackets – but for good reason, it’s the hit single “Want You Back” from Haim. The sister trio out of California faces off against their neighbors from Nevada – The Killers, with their big return in “Run for Cover”.
Take a listen once again, to refresh your memory:
Now, for additional reading pleasure, are my top five albums of 2017:
5) Spoon – Hot Thoughts
As is often the case with bands you’ve loved for a decade or more, it’s difficult to continue loving each and every album they put out. It’s usually lightning in a bottle when you capture their sound for the first time, and a battle for quality in your mind spreads over their subsequent work. Spoon has generally been good for me, but their last two albums, 2010’s Transference and 2014’s They Want My Soul were lackluster to say the least. What a relief that Britt Daniel and company got back on their game with this album, a fresh funky dance groove that wants you to shake off the dust of your bad feelings. There’s nothing wrong with that, right?
What I Said Then (3/22): “I love when an album comes together like this, reminding you of all their best moments, while still imagining new adventures for the crew. This is likely my favorite album this year so far.”
Well, there’s already been some surprising upsets in our first bracket music challenge! Both our 1st and 2nd seeds were knocked out (some may say our voters have no heart) as Selena Gomez fell to Liam Gallagher and Carly Rae Jepsen fell to Haim. Without further adieu, here’s the elite eight:
First, we have the British invading the States again as Liam Gallagher takes on St. Vincent:
It’s all about cardio in our second match-up as Cold War Kids try to unseat the racing Killers single:
Underrated Jidenna pops up in our third face-off, where he tries to fend of the sister trio Haim:
Kesha continues strong, but faces fierce competition from similar songstress Lorde:
Now, as for those songs that didn’t make the cut – some were victims of overexposure (Feel It Still, Portugal. the Man) and some were simply a victim of my strict sixteen limits. Anyway, here’s six extra songs for your enjoyment:
Edge of Town – Middle Kids
Early this year, a new band emerged out of Australia with a three-song EP. This snappy garage rocker earwormed its way into my head, and positioned this band as one of the artists I’m most excited about in the coming year. Eagerly anticipating their full release, we can live inside this for now – a mix of Yeah Yeah Yeahs tremble from vocalist Alex Lahey and guitar work that feels straight out of tour mates Cold War Kids. Elton John has lauded this tune, and now so am I.
Forgiveness – Paramore
The best song off After Laughter, the crisp follow-up to their best and self-titled 2013 album, ‘Forgiveness’ is a somber look at how heartbreak affects us. Take a look at this section – ‘Cause your voice is a gun / Every word is a bullet hole / Shot a hole in the sun / If I never look up maybe I’ll never notice. I’m sure I’ve said it before, but Hayley Williams has never written anything so poignant and relatable.
Sky Musings – Wolf Alice
As tremulous as the vocals were in Sleigh Bells’ great track ‘And Saints’, singer Ellie Roswell outdoes Alexis Krauss here in the best track off Wolf Alice’s latest album. Almost whipsering, Roswell searches her way under your skin with one of the darkest yet hopeful tracks you’ll hear all year. When you’re young you think your life is over when something drastic happens, but Wolf Alice is here to remind you that there’s plenty of time left to make sure you get it right.
I’m Stuck – Noah Cyrus
Miley’s younger sister nearly stole the show this summer with this catchy love tune that popped up in commercials and trailers all over the place. I hesitate to say it’s better, because I clearly placed ‘Malibu’ in the bracket, but I have higher hopes for where Noah’s future lies. She’s already got the knack for irresistible hooks, and I gather she’ll have the chance to win us over for many songs of the summer to come.
Lay It On Me – Vance Joy
A late entry in this – literally, I heard this again yesterday and realized I knew the lyrics only after a second listen. I’m already a big fan of Vance Joy’s 2013 hit ‘Riptide’ and that song worked its way into my heart over a year. This time it was clearly much faster, and Joy’s infectious vocals are just what we need as the year wraps up. Apparently this developed from a voicemail Joy kept on his phone for some time, and this is the quaint response.
Savage – Lights
I had limited my expectations of Lights singer Valerie Poxleitner after being underwhelmed by her previous efforts. Luckily this year’s Skin&Earth is a brilliant concept album that lives in a fantasy world, something that’s definitely up my weird alley. Somehow nerdier Lights became better Lights, and the best example of that improvement is ‘Savage’. A raucous declaration of unrequited love, Lights has truly outdone herself.
Here’s a full playlist of my top thirty-five songs from 2017:
Here we are again, with the back four face-offs between some of my favorite songs of 2017. Tuesday we brought you the top seed alongside some other notable singles, so check that out and vote if you missed it. As for now, look out below for some pop darlings, some hip hop surprises and one of the most honest songs you’ll hear all year.
So we’re trying something different this year, as I’ve mentioned the past couple of editions – I’m a big fan of brackets and tournaments, so I figured I’d pick my four favorite songs from each season of 2017 (Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn) and pit them against each other. I’m going to give the lowdown on why I chose them and all that, of course, signifying why they’re the best sixteen songs of the year.
This is where you come in: This week and the subsequent three Tuesdays I’ll be asking you to vote for what you think is the best of the best. The first four matchups are today, below, and on Thursday I’ll reveal the other four face-offs.