Getintothis’ Matthew Wood takes a fond amble back through much of what 2017 had to offer, rounding up forty tunes that have had little chance to collect dust since our first listen.
Another year complete, done and dusted, another year of Singles Club and another year stronger here at Getintothis, as we celebrate 10 whole years since it all began. First off, for those of you who tune in and read my columns, it means a lot, so thank you! If I’ve managed to introduce someone to a new band, or a song that’s stuck with them, then that’s what it’s all about, discovery.
You can never relive something again for the first time, and often that first time remains the most potent. So, here’s to another year of discovery as we mooch around on this rock hurtling through space.
Secondly, we’ve a host of journalistic talent on our side here at Getintothis and, while we’re all volunteers, there’s a deep-running passion instilled in all we produce and it shows. Uncountable hours are spent every day by the team for no reward other than their commitment to this city and the arts, so nice one for inspiring me and others to keep pushing on; your work ethic is admirable.
Now, let the roundup commence! Forty tracks that have blown our socks off, there’s some bigger names listed, alongside strong representatives from the younger, less established crop that continue to cause notable stirs across the globe with their phenomenal output.
Liverpool representatives Trudy & The Romance impressed throughout the year, maturing and growing ever more fluent in their brand of ‘mutant pop’. Fellow Merseyside-dwellers Pale Rider look set to catapult their brooding psych rock into 2018 while Shame, King Krule and members of that Fat White Family send trails from the big smoke.
With plenty of reflection to follow, tuck into our final Singles Club selection of 2017.
Toro Y Moi – Girl Like You
Confessing at times he’s struggled to come to terms with his fame – Chaz Bear’s his latest album confronts his fears, delving into his own sense of musical ‘space‘.
Girl Like You does indeed feel spacious, opening on some woozy crystal synths before a muffled jungle beat enters, providing a unique groove. Bundick has become renowned for his sweet falsetto delivery and he immediately hits us with a lyrical hook. A Frank Ocean influence becomes apparent as his vocals develop, toying with auto-tune and weaving complex melodic patterns.
Many have already made comparisons with the ubiquitous Travis Scott and the influence is apparent, but Bundick’s tracks are forever welcoming, sweet as well as nourishing; Bundick remains honest and innocent and his musical voice now calls beyond the realms of chill-wave, spanning genres with his consistent application of formidable song-writing talent.
Lana Del Rey – Love
You have to cast your mind back to the start of the year to remember the release of this one but my, my, what a timeless anthem.
Here Del Rey is up to her old tricks, transforming the simple aspects of life into the most powerful lyrical motifs, we’ve had Blue Jeans, getting High By The Beach and now she revels in putting on your glad rags with no certain destination.
Pounding timpani give this one a theatrical edge, accompanying a modern day love story that reaches beyond our atmosphere where our lovers float carelessly through space in what looks like a Ford Anglia.
Gengahr – Carrion
Two years on since their debut record, A Dream Outside, Stoke Newington’s finest dream-pop outfit made their inevitable comeback a little bit older, wiser and a few shades darker.
Front-man Felix Busche’s dreamy falsetto is, to our delight, fully intact, while also including a punchy change of pace, and the gifted lead-guitarists John Victor once again paints beautiful scenes with his technical mastery and electric flare.
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard – Rattlesnake
It would be wrong, and albeit impossible to include just one of the recently released tracks from one of the most prolific and hard working bands on the planet right now.
King Gizzard have released an astounding four records in the past year, Flying Microtonal Banana, Murder of the Universe, Sketches of Brunswick (with Mild High Club) and their twelfth studio record, Polygondwanaland, and yes, they’ve one more gift for us before the dawn of 2017. How!?
Anyway, this one is Rattlesnake, although technically released in 2016, it serves as the opener to 2017’s Flying Microtonal Banana and our introduction to King Gizzard’s altered fretboard. The ‘Microtonal Banana’ refers to a yellow custom-made guitar that splits a standard octave into 24 microtones by moving frets on the guitar’s neck, opening up a whole world of sound to be explored.
Kendrick Lamar – ELEMENT.
I could have chosen numerous tracks from Kendrick Lamar’s third Grammy Nominated record, it’s an album that gets better with every listen and after finding out he intended it to be listened to in reverse order, well this opened up even more avenues to wander with wonder.
It had to be ELEMENT. for it’s icy cool hook with Mr. Duckworth‘s ‘element’ becoming more and more impressive, and his realisation that he can do just about anything and look damn good doing it.
If anyone is allowed to brag it’s the biggest name in hip-hop right now, and what better way to brag than teaming up with your genius pal James Blake and knocking this one up.
King Krule – Dum Surfer
Four years since the release of 6 Feet Beneath the Moon, Archy Marshall brought us The Ooz, 19 tracks of compelling song writing that see Krule placing bets, confront mental health and paint lucid images of a grounded existence, all encased in the dense, tangible gloom of reality.
Dum Surfer is an example of this perilously dark, jazz infused world Krule operates in. An impending bass-line surges to the forefront, with Krule’s signature suspended chords take a back seat.
His lyrical work, however, comes from a young lad gambling in a pub with a belly full of ale and Chinese food; ‘The stir fry didn’t absorb it, I need another slash!’ he admits, before slagging of a local band ‘playing fucking trash‘ and squeezing ‘potato mash‘ into his poetic cockney recollections.
Trudy & The Romance – Is There A Place I Can Go
Pioneers of ‘mutant pop’, top notch trio, Trudy and the Romance hit the spot once again in their latest number, taken from their upcoming 5-track EP, Junkyard Jazz.
Their wondrous blend of 50’s doo wop and raunchy, angular pop is chocked full of even more melody and slick transitions, seeing the band at their most impressive.
Meaty, and suitably romantic riffs combine with the quivering vocal of Oliver Taylor, largely reminiscent of Orlando Weeks of former Maccabees fame, and the rich ensemble of backing voices.
The Horrors – Machine
‘Who do you think it is that keeps this scene alive?’ poses Faris Badwan in The Horrors‘ return to the spotlight since the quintet released their fourth studio record, Luminous. The 2014 album it was perhaps the band’s weakest effort and we had no doubt they’d return with a ferocious fire in their bellies to get themselves back on top form.
Standing thousands of feet tall, gurgling and pulsing mechanically like an industrial beast, Machine is a menacing number that rattled and malfunctions into life before that familiar vocal of Faris Badwan cruises into place, announcing ‘Your smile, is nothing to live for‘, immediately adding to the harsh, rumbling atmosphere.
The track falls into a simmering break before launching into yet another brutal blast of abrasive industrial screams; It’s a certified monolith of a track, that only gets better with every listen.
Mac DeMarco – On The Level
It seems the slacker rock turned ‘Jizz Jazz’ king Mac DeMarco can do no wrong. His latest record This Old Dog came out earlier this year and the world’s love for his efforts and life approach have escalated to new levels.
Mac is no longer just an act heralded by the hipster youth who want to dress like they’re on the bread line, but is earning due respect from his elders around the globe, so much so the Canadian government funded the music video for One Another.
On the Level is the Pepperoni Playboy at his most sexy and seductive; rumour has it the synth they used on the record actually caused female listeners to become pregnant, it’s just a rumour though.
Slowdive – Sugar for the Pill
The shoe-gaze pioneers Slowdive are making their return but in unfamiliar style in their latest single, following up their comeback single Star Roving.
Setting their fuzz pedals to one side and working in sharp, crystal bursts of guitar, the final product is a mellow yet melancholic 80’s pop number that plods along gently but makes up potency in the familiar dreamy vocal and synth combos.
Sugar for the Pill showcases the versatility and brilliance of a creative force that’s lay dormant for decades; but man are we glad to have them back..
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard with Mild High Club – Countdown
This tantalising partnership takes heavy influence from Miles Davis‘ 1960 record, Sketches of Spain, hence the title Sketches of Brunswick East, and delves deep into the world of improvisational jazz.
Long-term provider of Gizzard animation, Jason Galea works his magic once again with a flow of ‘sketches’ to accompany the squelchy synths and effortless complexity of this super-mellow track, Countdown.
Take a blissful swim with two of the most creative projects out there; strength in numbers indeed.
Shame – Tasteless
South London post-punk outfit Shame channel waves of youthful anger, anti-establishment tendencies and a well humoured sense of political outrage.
They’ve made their mark through their abrasive sound and bone-shattering live performances, including a tour with Fat White Family so early in their careers; it’s clear what Shame came here to do.
Raspy snarls from front-man Charlie Steen already sound like the powerful voice for a troubled generation of youth amid the out of hand political climate. A looped, catchy kraut-inspired riff charges the track creating a dichotomy in sound with repeated expletives screamed over the psych-tinged backdrop.
Tyler, The Creator – 911/Mr. Lonely
A common paradox for stars, when you’ve got millions of people screaming your name, wanting to get a glimpse into your world, loneliness creeps in.
This is no doubt something all musicians have to go through to reach their dreams, being able to be by oneself is one of the many keys to success, but here Tyler, The Creator has had enough, and you better dial 911 for the guy.
Despite the serious overtones, Tyler, as always, fuses to it a sense of humour and a comedic edge to somewhat lessen the blow, and of course, the production is nigh on perfect.
MGMT – When You Die
Hands down one of the most impressive music videos you’ll have seen all year, we’ve been anticipating an MGMT return for some time now. We waited four long years for their last release, Little Dark Age throw in some teaser Instagram posts and cryptic tweets and you’ve got a ravenous crowd ready to gorge on any morsel you throw out to them.
One of the most inventive bands of our generation, When You Die again pushes boundaries like a kaleidoscopic dream, this time we follow a troubled chap (Alex Karpovsky from Girls) through a breathtaking montage of visual effects, urging us to trip a long with the band.
As your mind bends out of shape, MGMT bend strings, the twangs becoming fluid in the up-tempo mix while the visuals take a terrifying turn for the worst. Welcome back.
Xam Volo – Old Soul
For a lad so young, Xam Volo oozes a wisdom beyond his years, single handedly spanning generations with his sound. He delves deep into the archives of soul and hip-hop while simultaneously crafting a sound that’s so prevalently at the cutting edge of modern music.
Old Soul resonates with all that Big Sam is about; an instant groove is set underway by some intricate Spanish guitar before his smooth falsetto greets the groove in a manner not dissimilar to funk icon Thundercat. He then launches into a chorus that swells and builds, revelling in the simple pleasure of kicking back with pile of records and whiling away the days without a care in the world.
Get on that Al Jarreau-esque scat vocal around 2 minutes in, too, he really has all bases covered here; marvellous.
Tim Darcy – Still Waking Up
‘Release the hounds‘ croons Darcy in his irresistible baritone style over some slack, gritty chords as Still Waking Up breaks us in gently, verses flowing from one to the next as he serenades his lover from her front yard.
Fizzing charismatically throughout but never launching into anything near his politically charged yelps in Ought, it’s a slow burning love song that arrests your attention through Darcy’s unique blend of songwriting.
LCD Soundsystem – Call The Police
Seven years on since the release of This Is Happening, James Murphy marked his much-heralded return with a minute for every year gone by in whopping track, Call The Police.
Intense, raging and rich with energetic textures, the track drives along incessantly on a monster of a bass line amid crystal synth and vocal combinations.
Thurston Moore – Smoke Of Dreams
Teaming up with Grammy Award winning producer, Paul Epworth, best known for his work with Adele, Thurston Moore’s Rock & Roll Consciousness saw an optimistic Moore dip into his nourishing past, and show us all that he’s learnt along the way.
A gloomy amble through signature Moore tunings and a heavy bass presence via Deb Goodge soon becomes a face paced race into a welcome indulgence into the brain of a guitar wizard.
Beach House – Chariot
Not many would contest your opinion if you were to crown Beach House as one of the greatest if not the greatest dream-pop outfit to date. Their expansive career has spanned thirteen years, they’ve released six studio albums and have appeared on practically every music platform there is.
They’re a special band for many and not just because they’re so prolific, but because their sound is one of the finest forms of escapism; it captures the other-worldly, it transports you to places your dreams can’t, and frankly they’ve crafted some of the most beautiful piece of music in the contemporary mainstream.
A mighty treat awaited us on June 30, when Beach House released their B-Sides and Rarities album, which includes this previously unreleased gem, Chariot. It’s an archetypal piece that shimmers and glides fluidly and offers all you need to drift away to your happy place.
The National – The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness
Usually with a National track you can kick back, sip your glass of red and sink into their ornate orchestrations, but what strikes is the sense of urgency with this one.
They launch into rapid fire movements with clanging chords and a race-y beat, Matt Berninger’s the only real signifier that this is the same band; but that’s all we really need. A stab of guitar repeats throughout, present but not overly welcome, but we’re met with delight as the same guitar shreds mightily later in the track while drummer Bryan Devendorf adds even more urgency.
With such a prolific history they’re in a position to anything they please, but that’s not to say this sense of a new direction isn’t well chosen. It’s punchy and more manic than they’re previous releases, sure, but it marked the beginning of a glorious summer for the band.
Rey Pila – Ninjas
Mexico City quartet Rey Pila piqued the attention of Julian Casablancas back in 2013, signing for Cult Records and well, naturally, it all started snowballing from there.
This year they released their Wall of Goth EP, which featured Ninjas and saw the band generate their finest blend of 80’s revival synth rock.
There’s obvious parallels with later work from The Strokes, embracing those iconic elements of 80’s pop; dark, arpeggiated synths, sugar-coated hooks and dashes of Nick Valensi-esque guitar work, but heck, we’re not complaining.
The Moonlandingz – The Strangle Of Anna
The Moonlandingz changed their tune a little on this one, teaming up with Rebecca Lucy Taylor, (formerly of Slow Club and recording under her latest guise, Self Esteem), for a down-trodden, suitably messed up waltz into madness.
There are all the signs of a Lias Saoudi touch, as he croons with fried eggs plastered to his chest, his hair slicked into a 50’s quiff, before a bruised and blood-soaked Taylor joins him on the dance floor for an awkward dance routine.
The track fizzes with fuzz and adopts a simple refrain for their duet; and oddly enough the scenes won’t be too far off resembling some of this year’s Christmas parties.
Insecure Men – Teenage Toy
Fat Possum’s duo Saul Adamczewski of Fat White Family and Ben Romans-Hopcraft of Childhood return with their latest as Insecure Men, a superbly crafted dose of mutated synth-pop.
Teenage Toy was recorded at Sean Lennon’s studio straight onto a Tascam giving it that sweet, vintage and as the title suggests, playful feel.
Adamczewski sought to create a ‘demented cartoon world‘ via a pop tune with a ‘dark underbelly‘, drawing on adolescent frustrations of love and sexuality, and that idea certainly shines through. It’s like wandering through an 80’s video game with Ariel Pink and a evangelical cockney kid on your tail as you try to navigate the undulating synth landscape.
The Vryll Society – Sacred Flight
A relatively quiet year for The Vryll Society in terms of studio output, while they held a 3-date residency at The Magnet which was a mighty fine idea for the lads, and were nominated for the GIT Award, we await their debut full-length record.
Sacred Flight was our first glimpse since they adopted a more measured approach, rather than just riffing on a ‘vibe’, they were really mulling these ones over. In an interview with Getintothis they admitted they were out to make punchier records; pop records intertwined with their undying love for the experimental and psychedelic, and Sacred Flight really is just that.
Protomartyr – A Private Understanding
Dark, eloquent and terrifyingly relevant, Protomartyr are a mighty force in the alt-rock scene, and their harsh sounds and acute political awareness allow them to tap into the dark caverns of our souls we are otherwise unaware of, a private understanding so to speak…
Taken from their fourth studio record Relatives in Descent, it’s an uneasy jam in an age of ‘blasted trumpets‘, chocked full of literary nods and the eventual eruption into a bone-shattering chorus.
White Room – Twisted Celebration
Yet another successful step forward by Brighton’s finest psych quintet, Twisted Celebration feels like its title suggests, carnivalesque and full of surprises.
Their approach this time fuses Favourite Worst Nightmare Arctic Monkeys with their close partner in crime Miles Kane, shot through with their signature dose of 70’s psychedelia.
They launch into a dizzying chorus, shimmering with sustained guitar twangs and neat percussive bursts of tambourine and vibraslap, it’s alive with mischief and another taste of what this band has to offer.
Downtown Boys – A Wall
‘A WALL IS JUST A WALL, A WALL IS WALL AND NOTHING MORE AT ALL’ screams Downtown Boys lead vocalist Victoria Ruiz in one of the most powerful and relevant lines in the wake of America’s political ongoing atrophy.
Recorded with the godlike Steve Albini, Downtown Boys made considerable waves this year, garnering attention as the most important punk band in America. Hailing from Rhode Island, they’ve rocked the boats of many and inspired a pro-active approach to the current political climate.
During live performances Ruiz often offers words of spine-tingling wisdom, adding to the electric energy of their shows, charged with bolstering percussion and ferocious flurries of saxophone.
Big Shaq – Man’s Not Hot
I was toying with the idea of including this viral monster, comedian Michael Dapaah was practically unknown at the start of the year and he’s a shining example of how quickly your efforts can change your life
The 26 year old, who goes by the names Big Shaq, Roadman Shaq and MC Quakez seems to have struck a chord with just about everyone through his spoof of grime and the London ‘Road-man’ culture.
He’s taken his time in the spotlight into schools to help fund creative projects for the under privileged, as well as brushing shoulders with the big boys such as DJ Khaled and Stormzy. How long he’ll last at this level is in his hands, but as daft as he might sound behind the mic, he’s a shrewd lad with an intoxicating sense of humour.
A joining of great characters, wonderful minds and even better musicians, the music world was crying out for a collaboration between these two.
Both artists retain their unique approach to story telling, interweaving perspectives and guitar work until they become one.
The whole album is treat if you’re yet to hear it, two incredible song writers that are arguably better together, like steak and blue cheese.
Four Tet – Lush
Kieran Hebden may not have found an entirely New Energy as his latest album title suggests, but that doesn’t prevent it being a record to praise.
Lush- a personal favourite of mine from the record – samples steel drum patterns and fits them to an enticing, pulsing rhythm.
Immediately you join the tempo, mesmerised by the melodic taps and glimmering flurries that dart like shooting stars across the mix. All the while a dance floor worthy bass-line propels you along, not entirely certain if you want to jerk your body about or sit there and melt into your sofa.
Aldous Harding – Blend
A truly captivating piece of art here from New-Zealand’s Aldous Harding, I first heard it without the visuals and was enchanted by her generously smooth vocal and somewhat melancholy finger-picking. There is a hollow aspect to the track that allows Harding to paint a lyrical picture.
Combine this with the music video directed by Charlotte Evans and you gather that Harding is expressing more than the lyrics may first suggest. There’s a form of distaste in her dance moves, dressed like the Playboy models in Apocalypse Now, she often looks robotic and puppet-like as her body jaunts and flails, pulling pistols from their holsters, while at other times she looks genuinely engaged in her routine.
Many questions arise upon multiple listens of this one, her lyrics are longing and heartfelt, her dancing provocative yet perhaps a tad disconcerting, it’s a puzzle and it’s honestly fantastic.
The War On Drugs – Thinking of a Place
Another epic, touching piece of music from Philadelphia’s rock outfit The War On Drugs. Their latest, Thinking of a Place extends over 10-minutes, rolling like the hills, propelling us across the American landscape- it’s a perfect travel companion.
Built on soft, generous, gorgeous layers of folk and Americana, Adam Granduciel’s vocal as iconic and captivating as a certain Bob Dylan, laying down soft poetry while the rest of the band offer fuel for pondering with a relentless, laid-back energy including sumptuous riffs and solos of both guitar and harmonica.
Hazy, soothing and extensive; this one no doubt accompanied many through the summer.
Ariel Pink – Another Weekend
‘Another weekend out of my life‘ mourns Ariel Pink, the iconic figure of hypnogogic pop in his latest track in run up to the release of his latest record Dedicated to Bobby Jameson. As Pink goes it’s one of his most accessible tracks, turning his talent to the gentle crooner we see in his top notch cover of Baby by the largely unknown Donnie and Joe Emerson.
The album is, as the title would suggest, dedicated to Bobby Jameson, another near mythical figure who rose to prominence in the 60’s brushing shoulders with Jagger and co. and a Mr. Frank Zappa. Woozy chords join the delicious tones of neon light that flood the video while a troubled looking Pink poses innocently under the technicolor glow.
Jake Bugg – How Soon The Dawn
Choosing to record his latest record Hearts That Strain in Nashville, with Dan Auerbach lending a hand on guitar and production, there’s a definite refreshing tone to the record, it feels as though this is what Bugg has wanted to do from the beginning.
The album as a whole however, while it may serve as a personal milestone for Bugg, doesn’t come close to his previous three outings that have cemented him singer-songwriter stardom.
How Soon The Dawn is the standout track, and perhaps the pinnacle of what he sought to achieve; blissful suspended chords and fiddly acoustic riffs give it a sun-kissed-Americana twang, while the Nottingham youngster exercises his vocal strength.
Boy Pablo – Everytime
If you’ve listened to Mac DeMarco, Homeshake or Whitney on YouTube in recent months, you’ve no doubt been ‘recommended’ this tune and played a part in its sudden surge to 2 million views.
An 18 year old Norwegian-born chap of Chilean descent called Pablo jams awkwardly with his buddies, delivering an expertly written pop tune, all written and produced by the baby-faced lad in baby pink and Hummel shorts.
Sure YouTube may have played a part in his recent success, but that’s mainly because it’s a cracking tune; DeMarco guitar tones and a crisply delivered chorus make for a boyish love song without any signs of inexperience.
Yak – All I Need Is Some Sunshine In My Life
Scuzzy-rock trio Yak earned themselves a slot in Kevin Parker’s Perth studio at the beginning of 2017, proving themselves as not only progressive song writers, but as explosive performers.
They’ve fine tuned their chaotic performances into an artistic display, touching on early Nick Cave exploits and aggressive psych, supporting huge acts and securing sweet festival slots.
This serves a bridge between 2016’s Alas Salvation and a follow up record, a dusty, downtrodden anthem with Oli Burslem taking on the role as a bitter, sad and lonely narrator.
The track then launches into a fuzzy chorus, peppered with a devilish baritone and yelping guitar licks, finished a sun-kissed haze. Maybe 2018 will see Yak and Tame Impala further their successful partnership…
Colin Stetson – In The Clinches
Radical multireedist Colin Stetson follows up his astounding debut track Spindrift with another fantastically immersive track of raw emotion and talent. Stetson maybe be familiar to some of you through his collaborations with huge acts such as Arcade Fire and Bon Iver; while his solo venture is less accessible, it is arguably the most original piece of music you’ll hear this week/month/year/ever.
Stetson’s aim with this one was to create a direct parallel to Spindrift. While Spindrift pulses elegantly on waves of arpeggiated sax, In The Clinches destroys any sense of tranquility and instead takes over your faculties with its manic urgency and bludgeoning energy.
Relentlessly it thuds and bumps before elephant-esque bursts of sax complete the conquering march. Spindrift will caress your very soul, while Clinches rock and ruin, but both will astound you, I can guarantee. Phenomenal.
Pale Rider – I Run On Rain
Vocalist Ben Russell embodies a Humbug-era Alex Turner, spinning mysterious lyrical webs across hefty layers of heavy psych, grumbling to life with pounding tom-tom beats that become raucous waves of cymbals, while their guitar work grows with aggression and prowess.
Built around thick, meaty chord progressions and jarring strikes from lead guitarist Fran Codman, they form a tight, compact unit with prudent use of effects giving the licks the extra legs they need.
Excitement brews around this group and we’ll no doubt be hearing much more from them in 2018.
The XX – I Dare You
The XX have finally begun to spread their wings, their minimalist gloomy pop was, of course, superbly executed but it was time we saw development from the trio.
Jamie XX’s solo ventures proved extremely fruitful, and the incorporation of his work behind the decks has given the London band a new lease of life, and the world has fallen in love with them once again.
Euphoric, expansive and infinitely danceable soundscapes now accompany Romy Madley Croft’s heavenly output and the fond baritone and bass of Oliver Sim who as always brings perfect musical balance.
Mount Eerie – Real Death
Phil Elverum sadly witnessed the passing of his beloved wife last year, shortly after giving birth to their first child. Real Death is taken from the concept album, A Crow Looked At Me, mourning his beloved’s death and is one of the most beautifully heart-wrenching songs you will no doubt ever hear.
Using a pure, spacious track to document the heartache that follows the death of a loved one, Elverum captures a reality that for some is unimaginable, and paints an undiluted picture of the despair that arrives with death, but out of it all comes a wonderful piece of art from a lo-fi genius.