Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The Top Ten Songs Of 2017

When we talk about music around here, it's almost always in the form of albums. I'm old-fashioned in that way, as I prefer most of the time to put on a record and be able to sit back and enjoy a particular band or artist for a solid stretch of time. I find mood to be important, so shuffling between a dozen artists over the course of an hour, listening to singles that have nothing at all to connect them, isn't my preferred way of listening. However, that doesn't change the fact that the basic unit of music is the song, and great songs don't always appear on great albums, or even albums at all. Sometimes, a great song exists in its own little universe, and they don't deserve to be forgotten just because someone couldn't write ten more that were just as good.

So now, let us celebrate my ten favorite songs of 2017, some of which came from my favorite albums, and some of which didn't. Regardless of how they were released, these were the songs that captured my attention the most this past year.

11. Serious Black - Witch Of Caldwell Town

One year after appearing on this list, Serious Black is back again. This time, they use one of my favorite tricks, slowing down the pace for the last chorus, giving what was already a great hook an epic flair. The album was a bit of a step down, but this song is right up their with the band's best.

10. Fastball - Just Another Dream

Fastball have a history of writing some truly fantastic pop songs, but they also haven't managed to keep that up through an entire album. That continued this year, with an underwhelming full-length that did give us two gems, including this one. Tony Scalzo has a knack for coming up with some of these bouncy melodies, which become infectious the more you hear them. This song is classic Fastball.

9. Sorcerer - The Crowning Of The Fire King

When doom isn't really doom, you get Sorcerer. Their approach is melodic, sweeping, and epic as all hell. This song is the crowning achievement of their album this year, and blows the doors off what doom can be. Sounding more like dark, sorrow-drenched power metal, Sorcerer has given us a song of remarkable scope and execution.

 8. Nocturnal Rites - Heart As Black As Coal

Nocturnal Rites returns where they left off, blending modern heavy power metal with huge pop choruses. That's a formula that works every time I hear it, and that's the case again here. Just as you get sucked into the heavy rhythms, the melody comes and sweeps over you in the best way possible.

7. Pale Waves - Television Romance

Pop music had a bad year, but here is the shining light. Pale Waves takes up the sound of "1989", but throws in a heavy dose of detached millennial ennui, creating a sonic identity that is both cold and bouncy. It's a unique combination, and all I can say is it works. Boy does it work. They are a band to watch in 2018.

6. Creeper - Black Rain

If Jim Steinman came around when punk and emo were a thing, "Black Rain" is a song he could have written. If you want to know how much melodrama can be fit into three minutes, here is your answer. This is dramatic music, a bit cheesy, and one unforgettable little number.

5. The Dark Element - Here's To You

Power metal is unique among heavy genres, because it's the one place where the music can be uplifting. That's what The Dark Element provides here, giving us a song that can put a smile on your face. Sometimes, that's the most important thing in the world.

4. Harem Scarem - One Of Life's Mysteries

AOR gets a bad rap, but a song like this is why those people are missing out. This is feel good, sunny weather music, the kind of song that you can't believe gets absolutely no traction from anyone but the most devoted fans of AOR. A modern update of 80s melodic rock, this is just beautifully hooky rock.

3. The Spider Accomplice - Swallow

Just like how the little engine that could kept going up that hill, The Spider Accomplice keeps appearing on these lists. Their new single, "Swallow" (available Christmas day), is a delightful gift. It has the group's blend of rocking energy, unique guitar riffs and textures, and powerhouse vocals. "Swallow" is a propulsive track that sounds sweet, but packs a mighty punch, and it continues the roll The Spider Accomplice has been on.

2. Soen - Opal

Some bands sound too unique to be duplicated, but then you hear a song and realize you were wrong. Soen captures the intricacies of Opeth's music, writing this song filled with positively Opeth-ian guitar riffs, a stunning melancholy melody, and a bridge that pushes the energy exactly the right amount. It's absolutely brilliant music, and could easily have been the best song of the year, if not for...

1. Michael Monroe - One Foot Outta The Grave

Michael Monroe's last album was good enough to be an Album Of The Year from me, but it just missed the mark. This single may or may not be a harbinger of the future, but in this moment it's Michael Monroe at his best. This is the very heartbeat of rock and roll, a gritty sound that is powerful and energetic, while still being relatable and hooky. This is a song a frenzied crowd would be shouting along with in a hot, sweaty, smoke-filled club. It's simply fun, and it's also the most enjoyable song of 2017.

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