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“What really matters is what you like, not what you are like… Books, records, films — these things matter.”
— High Fidelity

Etcetera

Best Songs of 2017

Though I am already well past the age where normal people cease consuming new music, I have to admit that while I may not be joining their ranks anytime soon, I am definitely slowing down. In all honesty, if I did not force myself to create this list, I may have been far less diligent in seeking out new music in 2017.

Obviously a large part of that is devoting my brain and energy to the bigger problems of the world. Some of that, too, can be chalked up to the way we consume music now; I buy a lot less music than I used to, and streaming hasn’t exactly filled the gap. If anything, it has made my connection to what I don’t by more tenuous than before.

Mostly, though, the reason my consumption has waned is simply because I already have so much, and adding more to the pile—or piles, since this constraint goes beyond music into other forms of entertainment—often feels futile. This conundrum probably explains why so few items on my list the past couple years have been reserved for something truly new. The overwhelming majority of songs here, as you can see in my notes below, were from artists I already knew.

Technically speaking, this entire list is all “new” in the sense that it was released in 2017. And maybe it will be new to you, as you peruse the list in words below, or in audio form. But in actuality, with a limitation of 100 songs—sometimes a smaller number than it seems—there are only a handful of slots open each year to the truly new discovery. The rest is practically just playing out the timeline set years ago. Which is its own form of interesting, I think, and probably why I do this in the first place.

For these year-end lists, I like to undertake the seemingly impossibly task of creating an hours-long mix. The order you see below represents that effort, which you can listen to via Spotify. Sadly all 100 tracks aren't available—just 2 shy of complete!—but you get the general idea. Track notes to come eventually or maybe never.

  1. American Dream

    Call the Police

    LCD Soundsystem

    American Dream

    DFA

    via past experience

  2. Colors

    Up All Night

    Beck

    Colors

    Capitol

    via past experience

  3. War & Leisure

    Told You So

    Miguel

    War & Leisure

    RCA

    via past experience

  4. Ctrl

    Prom

    SZA

    Ctrl

    Top Dawg

    via Alli Adamonis, et al

  5. The Times I'm Not There

    The Times I’m Not There

    Ne-Hi | Jamila Woods

    The Times I’m Not There

    Grand Jury

    via KEXP

  6. Everybody Works

    Baybee

    Jay Som

    Everybody Works

    Polyvinyl

    via past experience

  7. Oh, Evolution

    I Don’t Care

    Sarah Bethe Nelson

    Oh, Evolution

    Burger

    via past experience

  8. Semper Femina

    Nothing, Not Nearly

    Laura Marling

    Semper Femina

    Kobalt

    via past experience

  9. The Navigator

    Hungry Ghost

    Hurray for the Riff Raff

    The Navigator

    ATO

    via past experience

  10. form/a

    Frost Burn

    Half Waif

    form/a

    Cascine

    via Spotify Discover Weekly

  11. Willowbank

    Half Hour

    Yumi Zouma

    Willowbank

    Cascine

    via past experience

  12. Rest

    Deadly Valentine

    Charlotte Gainsbourg

    Rest

    Because Music

    via past experience

  13. No Shape

    Slip Away

    Perfume Genius

    No Shape

    Matador

    via past experience

  14. Season High

    Should I

    Little Dragon

    Season High

    Loma Vista

    via past experience

  15. The Far Field

    Beauty of the Road

    Future Islands

    The Far Field

    4AD

    via past experience

  16. Little Fictions

    Gentle Storm

    Elbow

    Little Fictions

    Polydor

    via past experience

  17. Migration

    Break Apart

    Bonobo featuring Rhye

    Migration

    Ninja Tune

    via Spotify Discover Weekly

  18. The Order of Time

    Astral Plane

    Valerie June

    The Order of Time

    Concord

    via past experience

  19. Sui Zhen

    Calm Winds

    Sui Zhen

    Our First 100 Days

    Bandcamp

    via Bandcamp

  20. Cruel World

    Cruel World

    Active Child

    Cruel World

    Sun Rooms

    via past experience

  21. Stay

    Stay

    Zedd & Alessia Cara

    Stay

    Interscope

    via the ether

  22. Go to Hell

    Go to Hell

    Empress Of

    Go to Hell

    Terrible

    via past experience

  23. Gone Now

    Hate That You Know Me

    Bleachers featuring Carly Rae Jepsen

    Gone Now

    RCA

    via past experience

  24. Cut to the Feeling

    Cut to the Feeling

    Carly Rae Jepsen

    Cut to the Feeling

    Interscope

    via past experience

  25. Now That the Light Is Fading

    On + Off

    Maggie Rogers

    Now That the Light Is Fading

    Capitol

    via past experience

  26. What Now

    Die Young

    Sylvan Esso

    What Now

    Loma Vista

    via past experience

  27. Omnion

    Omnion

    Hercules and Love Affair featuring Sharon Van Etten

    Omnion

    Big Beat

    via past experience

  28. Young

    Hold Me Close

    Overcoats

    Young

    Arts & Crafts

    via Alli Adamonis

  29. City of No Reply

    Nobody Knows

    Amber Coffman

    City of No Reply

    Sony

    via past experience (Dirty Projectors)

  30. Dirty Projectors

    Up in Hudson

    Dirty Projectors

    Dirty Projectors

    Domino

    via past experience

  31. Masseduction

    New York

    St. Vincent

    Masseduction

    Loma Vista

    via past experience

  32. Stranger in the Alps

    Scott Street

    Phoebe Bridgers

    Stranger in the Alps

    Dead Oceans

    via Cody Goins

  33. Recorded Songs

    How It Gets In

    Frightened Rabbit featuring Julien Baker

    Recorded Songs

    Atlantic

    via past experience

  34. Lotta Sea Lice

    Continental Breakfast

    Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile

    Lotta Sea Lice

    Matador

    via past experience

  35. Okkervil River

    Denomination Blues

    Okkervil River

    Our First 100 Days

    Bandcamp

    via past experience

  36. Hallelujah Anyhow

    Domino (Time Will Tell)

    Hiss Golden Messenger

    Hallelujah Anyhow

    Merge

    via past experience

  37. Stitch of the World

    Dusty Old Man

    Tift Merritt

    Stitch of the World

    Yep Roc

    via past experience

  38. Waiting on a Song

    Stand By My Girl

    Dan Auerbach

    Waiting on a Song

    Nonesuch

    via past experience

  39. Need to Feel Your Love

    Need to Feel Your Love

    Sheer Mag

    Need to Feel Your Love

    Sheer Mag

    via past experience

  40. Invitation

    Any Kind of Crowd

    Filthy Friends

    Invitation

    Kill Rock Stars

    via past experience (Sleater-Kinney, R.E.M.)

  41. Life Without Sound

    Modern Act

    Cloud Nothings

    Life Without Sound

    Carpark

    via past experience

  42. You're Welcome

    Stupid in Love

    Wavves

    You’re Welcome

    Ghost Ramp

    via past experience

  43. Losing

    Kills to Be Resistant

    Bully

    Losing

    Sub Pop

    via past experience

  44. Taste Buds

    Sometimes

    Hypoluxo

    Taste Buds

    Broken Circles

    via Spotify Discover Weekly

  45. The French Press

    Julie’s Place

    Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever

    The French Press

    Sub Pop

    via past experience

  46. Near to the Wild Heart of Life

    Midnight to Morning

    Japandroids

    Near to the Wild Heart of Life

    Anti

    via past experience

  47. Tourist in This Town

    Miles Away

    Allison Crutchfield

    Tourist in This Town

    Merge

    via past experience (Waxahatchee)

  48. Out in the Storm

    Recite Remorse

    Waxahatchee

    Out in the Storm

    Merge

    via past experience

  49. Bread & Butter

    Desperation

    Bread & Butter

    Bread & Butter

    Killroom

    via KEXP

  50. Hard Love

    Radio Kids

    Strand of Oaks

    Hard Love

    Dead Oceans

    via past experience

  51. A Deeper Understanding

    Up All Night

    The War on Drugs

    A Deeper Understanding

    Atlantic

    via past experience

  52. Prisoner

    Doomsday

    Ryan Adams

    Prisoner

    Pax Am

    via past experience

  53. Sorry Is Gone

    Sorry Is Gone

    Jessica Lea Mayfield

    Sorry Is Gone

    ATO

    via past experience

  54. Life After Youth

    World Made

    Land of Talk

    Life After Youth

    Saddle Creek

    via past experience

  55. Soft Sounds From Another Planet

    Road Head

    Japanese Breakfast

    Soft Sounds From Another Planet

    Dead Oceans

    via past experience

  56. Abysmal Thoughts

    Mirror

    The Drums

    Abysmal Thoughts

    Anti

    via past experience

  57. Chamber Girls

    Half Asleep

    Kory Dane

    Chamber Girls

    Innovative Leisure

    via Cody Goins

  58. We All Want the Same Things

    Preludes

    Craig Finn

    We All Want the Same Things

    Partisan

    via past experience

  59. Oom Sha La La

    Oom Sha La La

    Haley Heynderickx

    Oom Sha La La

    self-released

    via KEXP

  60. City Music

    City Music

    Kevin Morby

    City Music

    Dead Oceans

    via past experience

  61. This Old Dog

    My Old Man

    Mac DeMarco

    This Old Dog

    Captured Tracks

    via past experience

  62. Toro y Moi

    Omaha

    Toro y Moi

    Our First 100 Days

    Bandcamp

    via past experience

  63. Ti Amo

    Fior di Latte

    Phoenix

    Ti Amo

    Glassnote

    via past experience

  64. Melodrama

    The Louvre

    Lorde

    Melodrama

    Universal

    via past experience

  65. Routines

    Sun’s Out

    Hoops

    Routines

    Fat Possum

    via Andy Greenwald

  66. Just Give In / Never Going Home

    That Thing

    Hazel English

    Just Give In / Never Going Home

    Polyvinyl

    via Alli Adamonis

  67. The Ride

    Pipe Dreams

    Nelly Furtado

    The Ride

    Nelstar

    via past experience

  68. DAMN.

    LOVE.

    Kendrick Lamar featuring Zacari

    DAMN.

    Interscope

    via past experience

  69. H.E.R. Volume 2

    Lights On

    H.E.R.

    H.E.R. Volume 2

    RCA

    via Alli Adamonis

  70. Drunk

    Show You the Way

    Thundercat featuring Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins

    Drunk

    Brainfeeder

    via past experience

  71. White Knight

    Chance for Us

    Todd Rundgren featuring Darryl Hall and Bobby Strickland

    White Knight

    Cleopatra

    via Spotify Discover Weekly

  72. Funk Wav Bounces Vol.1

    Slide

    Calvin Harris featuring Frank Ocean and Migos

    Funk Wav Bounces Vol.1

    Columbia

    via the ether

  73. The Time Is Now

    Heartline

    Craig David

    The Time Is Now

    Speakerbox/Insanity

    via past experience

  74. Haiku From Zero

    Black Rainbows

    Cut Copy

    Haiku From Zero

    Astralwerks

    via past experience

  75. Everything Now

    Everything Now

    Arcade Fire

    Everything Now

    Columbia

    via past experience

  76. Something to Tell You

    You Never Knew

    Haim

    Something to Tell You

    Columbia

    via past experience

  77. Concrete Love

    Concrete Love

    Kristin Kontrol

    Concrete Love

    Hunny Music

    via past experience

  78. Side A

    Reasons

    Jillian Jacqueline

    Side A

    Big Loud

    via Spotify Discover Weekly

  79. Rainbow

    Learn to Let Go

    Kesha

    Rainbow

    Kemosabe

    via past experience

  80. Tell Me You Love Me

    Sorry Not Sorry

    Demi Lovato

    Tell Me You Love Me

    Island

    via the ether, probably

  81. Water Me

    Water Me

    Lizzo

    Water Me

    Nice Life

    via Julia Paleski, et al

  82. Face Your Fear

    On and On

    Curtis Harding

    Face Your Fear

    Anti

    via past experience

  83. Soul of a Woman

    Matter of Time

    Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings

    Soul of a Woman

    Daptone

    via past experience

  84. Mr. Minister Great

    Mr. Minister Great

    Júníus Meyvant

    Mr. Minister Great digital single

    Record Records

    via past experience

  85. Heartstruck (Wild Hunger)

    Heartstruck (Wild Hunger)

    Hamilton Leithauser featuring Angel Olsen

    Heartstruck (Wild Hunger) digital single

    Glassnote

    via past experience

  86. Hot Thoughts

    Can I Get Next to You

    Spoon

    Hot Thoughts

    Matador

    via past experience

  87. Fake Sugar

    Oo La La

    Beth Ditto

    Fake Sugar

    Myra’s Child

    via past experience

  88. Silver Eye

    Anymore

    Goldfrapp

    Silver Eye

    Mute

    via past experience

  89. Spirit

    Going Backwards

    Depeche Mode

    Spirit

    Sony

    via past experience

  90. Sleep Well Beast

    Day I Die

    The National

    Sleep Well Beast

    4AD

    via past experience

  91. Hug of Thunder

    Halfway Home

    Broken Social Scene

    Hug of Thunder

    Arts & Crafts

    via past experience

  92. Cry Cry Cry

    You’re Dreaming

    Wolf Parade

    Cry Cry Cry

    Sub Pop

    via past experience

  93. Whiteout Conditions

    The World of the Theatre

    The New Pornographers

    Whiteout Conditions

    Collected Works

    via past experience

  94. Antisocialites

    Plimsoul Punks

    Alvvays

    Antisocialites

    Polyvinyl

    via past experience

  95. Pleasure

    Pleasure

    Feist

    Pleasure

    Interscope

    via past experience

  96. Half-Light

    Don’t Let It Get to You

    Rostam

    Half-Light

    Nonesuch

    via past experience (Vampire Weekend)

  97. Tuna Hair

    I Can Relate

    Way Yes

    Tuna Hair

    Gold Robot

    via past experience

  98. Crack-Up

    If You Need to, Keep Time on Me

    Fleet Foxes

    Crack-Up

    Nonesuch

    via past experience

  99. Beast Epic

    Call It Dreaming

    Iron & Wine

    Beast Epic

    Sub Pop

    via past experience

  100. We Were Babies & We Were Dirtbags

    Bad Art & Weirdo Ideas

    Quiet Slang

    We Were Babies & We Were Dirtbags

    Polyvinyl

    via past experience