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Class of 2017 – The 100 greatest songs of the year!

15 December, 2017

60. Cherry Glazerr “Nuclear Bomb”
(from Apocalipstick)

59. The White Buffalo “The Heart And Soul Of The Night”
(from Darkest Darks, Lightest Lights)

citattecken “It reminded me of ‘Promised Land’ by Joe Smooth or an old house record like that. I think it’s a good sentiment in house music that really seems to work, it’s got a gospel kind of spirituality…”

58. Joe Goddard “Home”
(from Electric Lines)

“I think it began with finding the sample that I used in the track, which is an old less well known seventies sample from American jazz funk group called Brainstorm. I picked up the album in Vancouver a long, long time ago when I was on tour with Hot Chip there. There’s loads of good second hand vinyl in Vanvouver. I bought lots on one trip, always with the intention of going through sampling stuff. I finally got round to doing it. I have all my records in no real order, just thousands of records in my front room. So I picked things out at random sometimes listening through for samples or digitizing so I can DJ with them and things. I just thought that that sample that forms part of the chorus of Home would just be a brilliant moment in a disco-house record. It reminded me of ‘Promised Land’ by Joe Smooth or an old house record like that. I think it’s a good sentiment in house music that really seems to work, it’s got a gospel kind of spirituality. I’m a sucker for that kind of sentiment in house music.

So I began with that sample and started to build the track around it, wrote the verse chords, the drums, got all my synthesizers out and started using them to build it. Daniel Wilson who sings on the song expressed an interest to work together a year or so ago. He happened to be in London recording so I sent over the demo and suggested that we work on this together, because it seemed to me that his voice fitted to that kind of Detroit or Chicago feeling, gospel influenced, very soulful and pure vocal style. He comes from just outside Detroit from a small town, so he came to my basement studio where we worked together for a few hours and talked through what the song should be about and wrote some words together. He sang it very quickly in just a couple of takes. That was it, that was the song done. It really felt very natural and nice moment when it came together, very easy to finish. He’s a very gentle and nice person. There were no moments of agony trying to work out what the song should be, it all kind of flowed in a quite nice way.

For a long time I tried to knit the sample into my stuff the whole way through thinking that that would be the right way to do it, then actually what happened was I asked Kieran (Hebden) of Four Tet to come round to the studio because I often have obsessions with him when I’m kind of finishing an album. I just ask his opinion and he’s quite good at just being very honest. He gives good feedback. I think he suggested to me that “this sample sounds good on its own, so why don’t you just have a moment in the song?”. To me, at first that sounded like a kind of bold and kind of unusual idea but I tried it and I got used to it quickly and I’m really into it now. I think what’s clever about it is it makes the record feel more like a modern record, having that thing like a sample playing on its own in stark fashion is the kind of thing Kanye West does in his music quite often. He’ll take famous samples quite often and just take that song, making it his own by rapping over it and letting you hear it on its own for a while without any other layers. So I was pleased with that advice from Kieran after a little while.”

– Joe Goddard

citattecken “Unfortunately, this song came to me in a very boring way. I was sitting at my desk, and I wrote and recorded it in about 30 minutes. And it was done…”

57. Young Guv “It Could Be Me”
(B-side of Traumatic)

“Unfortunately, this song came to me in a very boring way. I was sitting at my desk, and I wrote and recorded it in about 30 minutes. And it was done. I tried to use analog tape machines on this song so it would sound more cohesive to its partner on the A Side ‘Traumatic’, but it just didn’t sound right. I kept the gloss of its original state, and sent it to my friend Tony like I usually do “Hey, I wrote a cute song, what do you think”, his reply was “this is the best song you’ve ever written”. Even though that’s usually what he says it gave me the confidence to include it on the B side of the single. The song entertains the notion that perhaps everything that’s happened isn’t anyone’s fault but your own, and that it’s important to stay humble and self aware.”

– Ben Cook

citattecken “The funny thing with the title was the Rio 2016 Olympics were on when the beat was made so the beat was casually labeled ‘Olympics’…”

56. The Doppelgangaz “Olympics”
(from Dopp Hopp)

EP: “I remember in the early stages of Dopp Hopp the beat was more stripped down and I initially saw it as being an interlude on the album. I was feeling it, but didn’t have strong song aspirations for it at first. We were going over the tracks we completed and listening to some of the beats we we’re going to tackle and MoF was saying we had to get on the “Olympics” beat. The funny thing with the title was the Rio 2016 Olympics were on when the beat was made so the beat was casually labeled “Olympics”. In a similar fashion to “Suppository”, we just stuck with the beat name as the official song title. It really works though because it’s like MoF and I are running the race together, passing the baton to the next runner. Just a lovely song about teamwork ya know! 
 
Which brings me to the way we found the “teamwork” sample which was so fitting! I feel like when you’re in album mode, the right sounds just find you. We had a collection of vocal samples we didn’t use and that happened to be one of them. We started beefing up the song, adding different elements and really brought it home with the spaced out break down at the end using those atmospheric reverse guitars.”

Matter ov Fact: “As soon as I heard the beat I started having all of these ideas flowing in my head. Soon I was doing the same jumping around and incoherent rambling that I do every time I hear something I like. I think my enthusiasm rubbed off on E and before we knew it we were laying down vocals. 

My verse included things I couldn’t escape at the time. I kept seeing puke colored Nissan Jukes so naturally it seemed like a great way to set the tone. I mentioned being smothered in Duke gear and being a fake alumni because at the time my brother just got a pair of Duke Kyries. He’s a diehard Duke fan so I mess with him all the time about being a fake ass alumni. Basically I was just having fun while touching on the theme of teamwork because that makes the dream work.”

– EP and Matter ov Fact

55. Mark Lanegan “Beehive”
(from Gargoyle)

54. The Weather Station “You And I (On The Other Side Of The World)”
(from The Weather Station)

53. Aimee Mann “Simple Fix”
(from Mental Illness)

52. Mr Jukes feat. Charles Bradley “Grant Green”
(from God First)

51. Lydia Loveless “Desire”
(single)

50. Deer Tick “Jumpstarting”
(from Deer Tick Vol. 2)

49. Bipolar Sunshine “Tears”
(single)

48. Jane Weaver “Slow Motion”
(from Modern Kosmology)

citattecken “…you keep on making these impulsive decisions to find peace but then it ends up making you crazier. A lot this record was me thinking ‘Why do I have no ties to anything?’…”

47. Widowspeak “Dog”
(from Expect The Best)

Molly: “I’ve been feeling kind of stuck, it’s been cyclical to me. Like there’s gotta be a better place. An apartment, a city or a totally different state. It could be a physical place but also a mindset where you feel at odds with a situation, whatever that situation might be; a job, a place, a person. The ‘grass is always greener’ thing… So I ended up in my hometown but it still didn’t feel right. ‘Am I going to be searching for something all the time…?’. It’s not really about my dog but rather the dog mentality. The idea of how things are simple and you have this kind of obvious need for something that you could just fill without the complications of logistics or physical location.

A lot of people, especially musicians, find themselves in those situations where you’re constantly having to move on from things that aren’t maybe finished, or that you could never fully commit yourself to because you’re being pulled in a lot of different directions. There’s always ‘What if I would’ve done this differently?’, especially musically. I do try to follow through with things, you know, it’s just that sometimes on the other end of things you’re trying to keep your sanity. So you keep on making these impulsive decisions to find peace but then it ends up making you crazier. A lot this record was me thinking ‘Why do I have no ties to anything?’. Sometimes you don’t see that you still have what you thought you lost.”

Rob: “I wouldn’t say that she’s lying to herself, but she fools herself a lot. Molly is the type of person who moves somewhere going ‘This is it, this is where I’m going to be!’, then she’s like ‘Wait, I’ve changed my mind’. You think it’s going to be the last time and then she’s changed her mind again. She said ‘I’m going on a vacation to see my dad’, went there and then she never went back! I packed everything up and drove across the country to meet her there…

I think the song is indicative of the whole record. The last record we did had cleaner production. Fewer and easier instruments playing specific parts. You could listen to it and hear what was doing what. This record we wanted to be denser so you couldn’t nail down everything that was going on. That song is a good example because there is so much stuff, it’s hard to pick out any one thing which I think lends itself to the haziness of your writer’s outlook. Also I think it’s cool ‘cause there’s a balance as she was trying to be more direct with her lyrics instead of using metaphors and instead the music got more diffused.”

Molly: “The music video for this song was made in the apartment where I wrote all the songs, because it felt like it was a very specific time and place in which the record came out of. We were moving out so most of the furniture is gone. We went to Home Depot and got some funny lights and a smoke machine that stopped working. It almost set off the smoke alarm!”

Rob: “A friend of mine made the video and filmed it in one shot which followed Molly around the house. It was kind of cool because it was like that she wrote the record, hanging around by herself.”

– Molly Harrison and Robert Earl Thomas III

citattecken “This was in the spring or summer of 2016 when I wrote them, and this whole situation of finding certain famous people to have been sexual predators was already developing…”

46. Arbouretum “Fall From An Eyrie”
(from Song Of The Rose)

“Our typical songwriting process is that I’ll either bring a melody/chord idea to the band and we’ll collectively develop it, or we’ll record our jams, and if interesting ideas come out of them I’ll see if I can find vocal melodies that will fit and we’ll go from there. In the case of Fall From an Eyrie, it was (keyboardist) Matthew Pierce’s chord/melody idea that he brought, a first for our band.

He had the chorus melody, and chords for it and the verses. It was something that had come to him in the course of a dream about flying, and we liked the soaring effect the melody had. We played it in our rehearsal space and recorded the rough sketch it was at that point. Over the course of the next couple weeks I remember tossing around ideas for how I’d sing it. At first, the song was in I think D/bmin, but that wasn’t working for me vocally, so I transposed it to A/f#min. From there we tightened up the verse structure, and I remember coming up with the bridge at home.

Matthew had some pretty specific ideas for the drums. He himself is a quite capable drummer, so he’s able to think very concretely about drum things. The double-time feel that the song has is unusual for Arbouretum, and we felt ultimately that it’s something that if done tastefully and with some subtlety could be great, but if we came out slamming from the first chorus it would completely blow the effect.

We tracked it a full six months before I’d added any vocals to it, if I’m remembering right. This was the case for a lot of the record’s songs, actually. It’s often been the case in our history that the lyrics are the last thing to get written for a song, and this was no exception to that. For this record I recorded nearly all the vocals at home, and Matthew did a lot of synths from home as well, though the main recordings we’re all done at Wrightway Studios, which is this very legit, very full-featured studio complex near us.

For these lyrics I wanted to stay pretty close thematically to Matthew’s original inspiration for the song, but I was having a hard time writing about flying. Falling, though, that seemed like something that suggested a few more directions that could be interesting to go into. This was in the spring or summer of 2016 when I wrote them, and this whole situation of finding certain famous people to have been sexual predators was already developing. So the song has some commentary about that, with the whole idea of falling from an eyrie being the central metaphor. An eyrie, as you may know, is an eagle or hawk’s nest, and for the purposes of the song it makes sense that the type of bird referenced is itself a predator. Incidentally, it was completely lost on me that the idea of an eyrie was used in Game of Thrones until people pointed out the connection much later. I’d long been a fan of the show, but somehow must have missed that!”

– Dave Heumann

citattecken “…although my Mom would appreciate me writing a song in her honor, something this tragic sounding just wouldn’t be easy to record and ultimately play on stage for people…”

45. GospelbeacH “In The Desert”
(from Another Summer Of Love)

“‘In The Desert’ was the first song written for our second album, Another Summer of Love. The initial spark (chord progression and melody) came to me in a somber moment after hearing of my Mothers passing on January 13th 2016. The song actually went on quite a journey before it was ultimately completed, mixed and mastered for the album. It’s a good story with a happy ending, which I love.
I discovered open C tuning while writing songs for the last Beachwood Sparks album and composed most of the songs for Pacific Surf Line, the debut GospelbeacH album in that folk style C tuning. My wife had just given me new mahogany Martin for Christmas and it was always beside the bed where I could sit on the edge and look out onto the sunlit Mt Washington hillside from our Highland Park hilltop window. Usually I like to place a capo on the neck to work in different keys signatures and you get some cool overtones. For In The Desert I kept it open so you could get that deep rolling low C chord.

That morning after hearing the sad news I sat alone in our room with our dogs asleep at my side and was strumming a very slow version of what would become the song and even humming a sad melody to go along with it. I actually felt like like I was channeling my Moms spirit and that she could hear me. I recorded a snippet on my iPhone and I titled it “Chris Bell” as it was very melancholy. When I returned to the song something hit me like a bolt of lighting with the idea that although my Mom would appreciate me writing a song in her honor, something this tragic sounding just wouldn’t be easy to record and ultimately play on stage for people. It might honor her more to right something that feels good and is uplifting.

My wife Kathleen and I had just bought a little homestead cabin on 5 acres near Joshua Tree and we were making the 2 1/2 hour drive to the desert nearly every weekend looking at places, really getting to know the people and places from Pioneer Town, Yucca Valley, 29 Palms, Flamingo Heights and our slice of the desert in Johnson Valley. I also told myself I didn’t want to write any love songs for my wife until we were together for 10 years and we were just celebrating 10 years together. All the inspiration was in place…

My favorite bands and songwriters are the ones that are able to reflect their surroundings in their music and lyrics, one of my favorites since I was 15 was Paul Weller and The Jam. Just listening to his music instantly transports you to the streets, tube stations, military schools or the suburbs of London. I wanted Another Summer of Love to be a direct reflection of my life in California lyrically and musically, a reflection of the rock and roll music that we as a band loved. Subliminally the first line that came to me when I strummed the sad “Mom Chris Bell” chords with new found enthusiasm was “In The Desert there’s a thousand things I wanna say to you…” Thank you Paul Weller for the inspiration…it’s not a rip-off, it’s more of a quote. I was excited, I brought the chords and that opening line to rehearsal that night and played it to the band and Jonny Neiman immediately suggested I sing something about the “river rocks” so the follow up lines fell into place.

Jason had just put the finishing touches on his new recording studio, Palomino Sound and we we going to break it in with In The Desert. Before we started the recording I call my friend Trevor Beld Jimenez over to help me vibe on some more lyrics. Finishing the bulk of the lyrics was easy as we just needed to tell my story with Kathleen and our new desert home. Trevor is such a talent and a sweet soul and we work together well as he kind of has a way of taking on my persona and writing from my point of view, we finish each other’s sentences…literally!

The first session at Palomino was Jonnny Nieman (Wurlitzer), a borrowed drummer from Trevors band (Tall Tales and the Silver Lining) and myself recording what was to be a demo of the song. Jason called bassist Todd O’Keefe from Ventura and who played a superb melodic bass line. As we started to overdub on the track it started to sound like it had real promise but was a little choppy. Jason called drummer Will Scott whom he had played with in a previous band, Will laid down a great smooth, solid drum performance on the existing track. I asked Jason if we could use a bigger 70’s style drum kit with more tom toms and he brought in a vintage set of Ludwigs that sounded great. (listen to the tom tom fills on all the breaks) I especially love the well placed cymbal crashes before each chorus. Will is now our permanent drummer.

Now that the track was in place Jonny Niemann added some whispie synth with the Roland Juno-60 and some Hammond B3, we kept his original electric piano part. For the guitars we used my original scratch acoustic track and Jason played an incredible lead guitar solo on the outro that just makes you feel like you’re speeding down Highway 247 while the “pictures roll by”. That guitar solo is a song in itself! He also added some choice 12 string in the intro that was influenced by Fleetwood Macs Sara and doubled with a piano.

Vocally I sang the lead in one take and Jason harmonized the entire track with me. We needed a third high vocal part and Wilco just happened to be playing in town so Jason called Pat Sansone who sings and plays in Wilco and Autumn Defense in to sing and he really nailed it. Jason mixed the song by bouncing it back to 24 track tape on his 1970s MCI machine and console and that’s was that…In The Desert….’look at everything that’s come and gone’.”

– Brent Rademaker

citattecken “…many buildings that used to house studios, music venues, clubs, theatres and small independent businesses have been sold or had the rent doubled…”

44. Little Barrie “You Won’t Stop Us”
(from Death Express)

“Central London is becoming more dull and boring by the month – many buildings that used to house studios, music venues, clubs, theatres and small independent businesses have been sold or had the rent doubled. It forces the creative types out, making way for luxury housing, big names in retail and restaurant chains in ugly new structures of metal and glass. We’ve been kicked out of three studios in the last two years whilst making our album Death Express, many of our friends have experienced the same.

But dark times can produce good art, it can drive peoples spirit. ‘You Won’t Stop Us’ is about that. People will find a way to evolve, create and express themselves, despite whatever is thrown at them and that in return can inspire others. We couldn’t afford to go to a studio to make Death Express, so we recorded it ourselves in a rehearsal room in North London with what we had – An old white MacBook, some borrowed microphones and a 4 track cassette machine. It was the least sophisticated recording sessions we’d ever done, but those limitations meant the album sounded more personal. It felt more like us.

We loved playing Death Express live. ‘You Won’t Stop Us’ was a band favourite, it became the opening song at all our gigs with it in 2017. Virgil said the album was the best thing he’d ever done, and me and Lewis feel the same.”

– Barrie Cadogan (http://www.littlebarrie.com)

43. Pale Waves “Television Romance”
(single)

42. Maya Jane Coles “Golden Days”
(from Take Flight)

41. St. Vincent “Savior”
(from MASSEDUCATION)


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