My annual live music binge (aka SXSW) is coming up, and that means a little music research is in order. I poured through the imposing list of planned performers and pulled together a playlist to help me decide who I might want to checkout while I’m in Austin. This list definitely tilts towards my own musical interests, which I’d roughly describe as indie rock, indie pop, and indietronica with an occasional dose of alt rock and alt country. So if you’re heading to Austin (or want to check out some new tunes), check it out. There is a good mix of familiar bands (Cut Copy, Ghostland Observatory, Okkervil River, Superchunk), a number of acts I’ve seen in Austin in the last few years (Lo Moon, Lucy Dacus, Natalie Prass, Porches, Speedy Ortiz, Sylvan Esso, Wye Oak), and some artist I’m really looking forward to seeing for the first time (Japandroids, Morgan Saint, Sunflower Bean, Superoganism). But most of these acts are new to me, and that’s the fun of going from venue to venue in downtown Austin to seek out new acts. If you’re gonna be down there, let’s hang out and listen to live music together.
Going through my play history to pull together my best-of lists is one of my favorite year-end activities. It’s always tough to pare the list down to 50, but these are the tracks I’ve had in heavy rotation and/or I think I’ll want to keep listening to years into the future. As a sign that I’ve been keeping up my live music habit, I’m pretty excited that I managed to see half of the bands featured in this list live on stage this year! Some of the performance highlights for me this year were Sylvan Esso, Grandaddy, Hamilton Leithauser, and Spoon at SXSW; Perfume Genius and Wolf Parade at Capitol Hill Block Party; Lorde, SOHN, and Maggie Rogers at Outside Lands; Cold War Kids, Arcade Fire, New Order, and U2 at their own shows; and Blitzen Trapper playing an acoustic set visiting our Amazon Music offices in San Francisco. And let’s not forget Paul Allen’s inaugural Upstream Fest in Seattle that transformed Pioneer Square into a music lover’s dream for a weekend. And with that, here are my favorite 50 songs of 2017.
If you prefer, you can jump to the end to see Amazon and Spotify playlists.
Let’s get started with Songs 41-50
You can call me obsessed for seeing Arcade Fire twice in October, but if you haven’t seen a show on their arena tour, you’re definitely missing out. I also managed to catch Alt-J and Phantogram live up in Seattle this month. But even if you don’t get out to live concerts, that’s no excuse for not checking out new music. My latest list includes new singles from MGMT and Franz Ferdinand, and we have tracks from an avalanche of LPs out from ODESZA, Cut Copy, Julien Baker, Stars, Fever Ray, Destroyer, and more. Check it out.
As summer fades into fall, many of my favorite artists are releasing some great new music. September saw new LPs by The Horrors, The War On Drugs, ODESZA, Cut Copy, The Killers, The National, LCD Soundsystem, and my friend Tomo Nakayama. We have tracks from new albums coming in October from St. Vincent, Wolf Parade, Destroyer, and Beck. I’m also enjoying the singles just out by First Aid Kit, Maggie Rogers, and Bjork. Enjoy.
August is ending in San Francisco, which means two things: 1) Karl The Fog is in full effect, and 2) I had another fantastic experience at Outside Lands in Golden Gate Park. I was able to catch 25 acts this year over the 3 days, with my favorite performances by Gorillaz, Fleet Foxes, SOHN, Hamilton Leithauser, Joseph, Dawes, Avett Brothers, Maggie Rogers, and Lorde. And of course, I loved getting a chance to see Metallica and The WHO! You can check out some of my pics below, or checkout my instagram for more. I have some awesome new music for you again this month, including a whole mess of new singles from Beck, Atlas Genius, BØRNS, Portugal. The Man, LCD Soundsystem, Car Seat Headrest, Stars… too many to name them all, so just go check it out. And oh ya, I can’t believe this is my 100th playlist! Taking a look down memory lane, some of my favorites from my first playlist: “Ageless Beauty” by Stars, “Banquet” by Bloc Party, and “Black And White Town” by Doves. Good stuff.
I was lucky enough to check out Seattle’s Capitol Hill Block Party this month, and on this playlist I’m including some great new songs from several of my favorites from the festival, particularly Wolf Parade, Flor, Kyle Craft, and Perfume Genius. It’s a great month for new music, with new LPs out from Arcade Fire, Passion Pit, Washed Out, Broken Social Scene, and more, along with singles from upcoming albums from Manchester Orchestra, The National, The War on Drugs, and St. Vincent. Radiohead even gave us a previously unreleased gem “Promise” on their OK Computer reissue.
We’re continuing to see an avalanche of early singles from upcoming albums. On that front, Arcade Fire (one of my favorite bands) has a couple of great tracks from their upcoming album Everything Now, and we have new singles from Waxahatchee, The War On Drugs, Rostam, Fleet Foxes, Kevin Morby, and The Horrors. Phoenix has released their new LP Ti Amo, and Lorde’s new album Melodrama is impressive and worth a listen top to bottom. Happy Summer!