Our Musical Gift to You: A smug, cold “Best Of 2017” list — you’re welcome

By on December 13, 2017

RIP the success of Halsey’s freshman record and her multi-colored hair that came with it.

In parts of the country where it’s just now starting to get cold, smug music journalists are breaking out their barely used hoodies, grabbing an artisanal hot chocolate and getting down to the serious business of making their best of 2017 lists. While everyone’s list is slightly different from the rest, here’s a spoiler alert: get ready to read a lot about how great Kendrick Lamar, St. Vincent and LCD Soundsystem are. Even when you strip out the big names lists are fairly predictable, with acts like SZA, Slowdive and Jlin getting their praise.

But doesn’t it strike you as sad that in a world where great music is coming out literally every day that these are the only records people want to talk about? What records are we missing because music writers are on the hunt for clicks rather than turning you on to cool stuff that isn’t being promoted to death?

I am but one man, but as an early gift to you, I’m going to clue you into some records that have flown under the radar this year that are worth your time. Look them up, give them a listen then namedrop them at this year’s holiday parties so you can look way cooler than everyone else trying to convince you that Reputation isn’t that bad.

Honorable Mention: Halsey, hopeless fountain kingdom

This list exists to highlight those underdogs who didn’t get a ton of spotlight, but if I were going to highlight a mainstream record that didn’t get its proper due, it would be Halsey’s sophmore effort. A little too gritty for true pop success, a little too glossy for some to take her seriously, hopeless fountain kingdom is a rock solid record that would be setting the world on fire in a world where curse words were OK on the radio.

Deafcult, Auras

Can’t Miss Track: “Urusai”

Do you like your guitars fuzzy? Whether you call it dream pop or shoegaze or whatever silly sounding moniker you’d like, Deafcult’s processed melodies will get stuck in your head for days. While heroes of the genre like Slowdive and Ride returned with new albums this year, Deafcult prove that younger bands can make dense, beautiful music that is just as good as their forebearers.

Poppy, poppy.computer

Can’t Miss Track: “Interweb”

In fairness, maybe it’s wrong to dub Poppy as simply a musical act. More well known for her very odd series of videos on Youtube, this performance artist has a serious ear for melody. The song that make up poppy.computer are catchier than almost anything you’ve heard this year, all while retaining the obvious dark edge that has made her videos can’t miss for certain parts of tumblr. Most pop artist fandoms are basically cults anyway; Poppy is just the only one willing to really lean into the idea, and her music is all the more interesting for it.

Joseph, Stay Awake

Can’t Miss Track: “All”

Joseph are not the first sibling act, I assume, to be told they sing like angels, but in the case of the Closner family that label might be more true than ever. Their reimagining of Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” is the type of song this world needs more than ever, being a rare instance of a cover updating the source material for the better. But the real star here is album opener “All”, a simple but lush track that should be on at least one of your make out mixtapes next year. Play it during the magic hour and thank me later.

Football, Etc., Corner

Can’t Miss Track: “Space”

You might find this hard to believe, but there’s an emo revival going on right now. Before you go getting excited and reaching for your black eyeliners and My Chemical Romance gear, manage your expectations; this revival skews closer to the Get Up Kids model of emo than it does the stuff that made it to MTV in the early part of this century. When it comes to modern emo, Football, Etc. is near the top of the class, always reliable for solid guitar work and vocals that’ll hit you right in the chest. If you need a good cry on a long night, this is where to reach.

Muna, About U

Can’t Miss Track: “Crying on the Bathroom Floor”

If there was a hall of fame for records about relationships gone sour, About U would get in on the first ballot. Lyrically, this is the album that sad bastards from coast to coast wish they could write, but lack the vision and fearless to really pull off. I don’t care who you are, you have to be pretty damn bold to sing “And at the bar on TV/They were talking about the casualties/400 and counting/and my only question was how would you feel if one was me?” Wrap up the lyrics is some of the best bits of electro-pop and you’ve got a record that amazes from start to finish. PJH

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