Best of 2017 so far…

Slightly later than usual, due to a much later Easter than normal, here is a quick rundown of my favourite tracks of the years far.  Eighteen in total, which is actually slightly more than in my 2016 ‘Q1 report’ at this point last year, so things are shaping up well. Apologies for any typos or spacing issues, but the latest wordpress ‘improvement’ lurches around like a drunken uncle at a wedding reception.

Public Service Broadcasting’s last album was a concept album about the space race, their next is about the rise and fall of the coal industry, so this lead track, ‘Progress’, probably needs to be heard in that context as opposed to taking it’s wide-eyed lyrics literally. As with ‘The Race For Space’ and ‘the War room’, the album will have a tale to tell..

This is a simply stunning track by Tom Adams. No video, just close your eyes and float away. Yet another Nils Fram collaborator, hailing from Cambridge, this is from his imminent debut album. In a perfect world this would be number one for five weeks. Sadly as 2016 so painfully demonstrated, this is not a perfect world, but ‘hold on, keep breathing…’

This next one is ‘Babes Never Die’ from Scottish duo Honeyblood, the title track of their second album.

Slowdive are back. With new material! and it is fantastic. I saw them live stream a concert from the Islington Garage a couple of weeks ago and was as mesmerised as ever. This is ‘Star Roving’ from the imminent album ‘Sugar For The Pill’. Again, no video, but it really doesn’t matter…

This is ‘No Reason’ from the latest Bonobo album, featuring Nick Murphy on lead vocals

Here’s another track without a video (well a proper one anyway) . This is  the catchily titled ”Transient Program For Drums & Machinery’  from Belgian Duo Soulwax. This is taken from their album ‘From Deewee’, which was recorded in one take and as a result has a pleasing sharp rawness to it reminsicent of German electronic pioneers like DAF and Connie Plank.

Another proper video – Isle of Arran by Loyle Carner. I heard an interview in which he said her grew up in Croydon but used to enjoy family visits to Arran. How that relates to this song I am unsure, but I’m a sucker for a gospel choir…

Earlier we had the first new track from  Slowdive in 23 years and following in its shoe (gaze)s is the first single from Ride for 20 years – ‘Charm Assault’. First time I heard this I really liked it but assumed it was indeed something from the 90s. Nothing wrong with that of course…

Less of a gap since the last Gorillaz music, just five years – this is my favourite track so far, Andromeda:

“We’re going down like BHS, while the able bodied vultures pick at us’ – A 2017 anthem for Brexit Britain from Sleaford Mods:

From the excellent ‘Drunken Songs’, I give you Julian Cope’s answer to ‘Heart Big As Liverpool’ by Pete Wylie, which is called ‘Liver Big As Hartlepool’. Shame the director of this User Genetrated Content couldn’t get in focus, but the sound quality is great.   “Never got to flirt with Polly James/ never took a trip down Carla Lane/ When two sevens clashed on Merseyside”  Saw him at The Roundhouse on this very tour back in January. 60% music, 40% monologuing, but in his defence he does give good banter  .

Next up ‘Give Me A reason by Ibibio Sound Machine. It preserves the unique sound of their first album, but adds in some 80s sounding synths very reminiscent of William Oyeabor

Talking of the Eighties, this track from De La Soul features a prominent sample from Musical Youth. I wonder if it is as obvious to American listeners as Pass The Dutchie was such a massive number one hit over here, but only top 10 in the US – at least according to wikipedia.

A slight swerve in musical direction now with Grandaddy, who have featured in our musical reviews of the year, but not chosen by me up till now. Excellent song based on a nice scrunchy keyboard riff, but not much effort gone into the video sadly…

This is a band new to me – The Amazons with ‘Little Something. Our second live performance video, this one shot with proper cameras and all, taken from a Radio 1 session. Does Radio 1 really play this sort of music any more though?

Nice to see Guy Garvey cropping up in a cameo in Peter Kay’s Car Share last week. it seemed a good fit. This track, from their Little Fictions albums kicked off their set with them performing it in front of the curtain – a nice stripped down feel, fairly representative of the album, which is less overtly ‘anthemic’ than recent efforts.

The XX have finally released an album I actually like. I tried hard with the first two as I definitely approved of the concept of the band and some of the singles, but perhaps Jamie XX’s solo work has introduced a more dancey feel to this album and this lead single is certainly very accessible…

Finally, to wrap things up, some new Numan. From the upcoming new album, this is from the Ghost In The Shell soundtrack. I have heard it before as I am signed up on pledge music as a ‘sponsor’ of his new album, which means I get sent demos and reports on tracks as they arrive. Do check out the excellent ‘Android in La La Land’ documentary that aired on BBC 4 recently, which was almost painfully candid, yet ultimately uplifting.

So that’s it. Thanks for making it this far. If we do get through nine more months of Trump and Brexit we will see how many of these make it into our year end lists.  If you feel I have missed anything out please do feel free to post it below.

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6 thoughts on “Best of 2017 so far…”

  1. As always a thoroughly decent listening experience, which has accompanied my first day back at work for 10 days. One or two surprises – gratifying surprsies at that, and one or two of my favourites too. My only other comment was I thought the start of the Gary Numan track sounded like The The, but then I think some of the Depeche Mode new album also sounds like Matt Johnson, so maybe it’s just wishful thinking on my behalf! Anyway, thanks for putting this together – always a pleasure to hear the early contenders.

  2. Talking of The The, the first play of the new single is on 6Music around 5pm today along with an interview. It’s for Record Store Day, but I am sure will turn up on YouTube so will try to post a link. No more wishful thinking needed!

  3. Slightly ironic given my earlier comment on your website…

    [image: Inline image 1]

    On Mon, Apr 17, 2017 at 7:11 PM, http://www.theuncertainsmile.com wrote:

    > Richardmlive posted: “Slightly later than usual, due to a much later > Easter than normal, here is a quick rundown of my favourite tracks of the > year. Eighteen in total, which is actually slightly more than this my 2016 > Q1 report, so things are shaping up well Public Service B” >

  4. Of the stuff I’ve heard:
    Slowdive – wow! what a return. Think I may have mistakingly told you the album will be called ‘Sugar For The Pill’ ; that’s the follow up track which is equally as wonderful. Album will simply be called ‘Slowdive’ – can’t wait.
    Ride – Andy Bell is king of the indie, phazed, guitar riff; superb tune. As you say could have been off any of their early EP’s.
    Gorillaz – like this and most of what else I’ve heard from the album; however favourite is ‘We Got The Power’.
    Amazons – this was a single last year from their debut album which is being re-released. Current single is ‘Black Magic’ which isn’t as good. Alongside Royal Blood, they provide the ‘rock’ quota for Radio1 listeners.
    Honeyblood – single is from their largely disappointing 2016 album of the same name and not a patch on the excellent ‘Ready For The Magic’ which was the lead off track
    A Tribe Called Quest – like this track a lot, the go to hip-hop band of 50 something white blokes.
    As for the rest. Bonobo, Numan and Soulwax all new to me; are all variants of the electronica I enjoy. Grandaddy and Elbow are both like a good pair of shoes, trustworthy and never disappoint. PSB is pretty dull and the less said about the phoned in monotony of the XX single, the better.

  5. Some additional early contenders:
    First up, the allegedly headache inducing, agit-prop Manc collective, Cabbage, channelling the Super Furries

    Tattoed, uber-rock from ex-Gallows from man, Frank Carter. This what should be despoiling the Radio 1 playlist. Spot the Cult riff: https://youtu.be/DR_zU6ruZMA

    Indie electronica from Super Furry linked Welsh supergroup, Gulp. https://youtu.be/Vr3Ib8vomG0

    Spoon have been around seemingly for ever but haven’t sparked much interest in me before; however this is particularly good. https://youtu.be/mkxz93GohDs

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