Once again, we present our end-of-the-year favorites from the Burst & Bloom family and friends. It is our hope that you might discover something that has made us happy in 2017, and that it will make you happy as well.
Burst & Bloom had a banner year, releasing the following: “A Light I Can Feel: A Tribute to Brown Bird” compilation 2CD, the Buzzy zine anthology book, the free “Burst & Bloom 50” compilation, Guy Capecelatro III’s “Hope is the Thing With Feathers” CD, The Great Auk’s “Paradox” CD, and Cape Snow’s “The Last of the Light” CD. We encourage you to check these out, if you haven’t already.
Here are the lists…
- Jack Cooper Sandgrown
- Marika Hackman I Am Not Your Man
- Woods Love is Love
- Cape Snow The Last of the Light
- Lean Year Self-Titled
- Roger Waters Is This the Life We Really Want?
- Father John Misty Pure Comedy
- Max Richter Three Worlds: Music from Woolf Works
- Tinariwen Elwan
- Tonstartssbandht Sorcerer
- Leif Vollebekk Twin Solitude
- Joan Shelley Self-Titled
- Feist Pleasure
- Aldous Harding Party
From Aldous Harding’s song ‘Swell Does the Skull’:
“I don’t want to be a sinner, no
Don’t want to be a sinner, no
But bourbon, always bourbon”
(neat or on the rocks)
This year I tended to get stuck on certain songs for days, sometimes weeks, at a time– either because they resonated on some level or I wanted to “figure them out” in some way. Some were released in 2017, others not. Here are ten with brief explanations:
- “Funeral”, Phoebe Bridgers, Stranger in the Alps, 2017. This song just gives me the chills—so raw and heartbreaking. I like the chills.
- “Valentine”, Richard Hawley, Lover’s Bridge, 2007. The voice. I’ve always loved Hawley, but I really studied his phrasing on this one.
- “The Greatest”, Cat Power, The Greatest, 2006. Just a great song. How her voice has a conversation with those tremolo guitar chords is real beauty.
- “As I Go”, Richard Swift, Walking Without Effort, 2005. The horns on this one give the song a great bounce, and Swift’s voice is right in its strike zone.
- “Spirits in the Material World”, The Police, Ghosts in the Machine, 1981. It started with the intro. Where is the one? Well, Copeland, as is often the case, doesn’t play the one. I had to learn the drum part beginning to end. The groove shift from verse to chorus sounds so simple and cool, but it took a while to suss out the snare hit.
- “Egbe Mi O”, Fela Ransome-Kuti and The Africa ’70 with Ginger Baker, Live! 1971. Great album. This song is particularly fun to play along with, though. It has such a groovy pulse to it that’s a total blast to move in and out of.
- “Here it Is”, Leonard Cohen, Ten New Songs, 2001. Cohen at his most soulful. And yet the album would never work without Sharon Robinson. Her voice floats flawlessly over Cohen’s weathered baritone.
- “Nobody Else Will Be There”, The National, Sleep Well Beast, 2017. A kind of electronic “clomping” and then…Boom, that first piano chord…
- “Pink Up”, Spoon, Hot Thoughts, 2017. This track settles into a very distinct sonic space and brilliantly stays there, allowing parts to move in and out without disrupting the consistent vibe.
- “The Sunshine”, Manchester Orchestra, A Black Mile to The Surface, 2017. At 1:52, this song would literally be played more than ten times in a row on my way home from work. It’s a simple groove and melody that made me think of my wife, who was waiting for me at home.
Dylan Metrano (Cape Snow, Tiger Saw)
- Big Thief Capacity. Still discovering things about this record after listening non-stop since June. The most emotive, meandering, and mystifying of the year. I love the imaginative passion in the guitar playing and the raw transparency of Adrianne Lenker’s voice. An instant classic.
- Perfume Genius No Shape. Perfume Genius is on a winning streak. Coming on the heels of the amazing “Too Bright”, this album takes a turn for the weirder, noisier. “Die 4 U” is the sexiest song of the year. A Sade song while we wait for the next actual Sade song.
- Sampha Process. My top five this year are really about these one-of-a-kind voices. The voice is always the thing that makes me pay attention and draws me in. Sampha’s is probably the most unique of the bunch- a soulful, foreign head-turner with it’s heart-on-sleeve. Gorgeous ballads with minimalist 21st century funk.
- Ibeyi Ash. The most eclectic sounding album of the year. Gorgeous French-Cuban twin sister harmonies over world-spanning rhythm music. Political, personal, and heavy in all the best ways.
- Twain Rare Feeling. A new discovery for me. Twain’s direct songwriting and elegiac falsetto make for a stunning listen. I can’t wait to hear what comes next.
- Lorde Melodrama. Lorde is great! To me, this is the sound of pop music in 2017. Dynamic, fun, and rich.
- Margo Price All American Made. Margo Price, with her second full-length has so firmly planted herself as our preeminent country singer. It’s her roots in r&b that separates her from the rest of the pack. Classic Tennessee vocals over the tightest, slinkiest, road-tested country soul band.
- Jidenna The Chief. My favorite hip-hop album in years. Genre-defying, fun, and powerful.
- Julien Baker Turn Out the Lights. Baker’s voice can turn from fragile to thunderous in a single line. A moving follow-up to her stunning debut.
- Sinkane Life & Livin’ It. Sudanese-American funk / soul / pop. The soundtrack to the best party of the year.
- Friendship Shock Out of Season. Friendship breaks the mold. Novelistic storytelling over an imaginative rhythm section and sonorous pedal-steel guitar.
- Amber Coffman City of No Reply. Coffman sings her heart. The whole albums seems so familiar and well-worn in from first listen. A warm, classic feel from an adventurous songwriter.
- Resistance Radio: The Man in the High Castle Album. Contemporary takes on classic soul, pop and doo-wop. A compilation that plays like a single artist’s album, due to canny production (Danger Mouse) and a house band. Too many highlights to mention.
Guy Capecelatro III
This year I had a really hard time whittling down my top picks for musical choices. I guess it was a big year. It felt like some amazing returns to form (Tricky, Ranier Maria, Will Johnson), new discoveries (Nadia Reid, Anna Tivel Birdie) and some artists who doubled down on the quality of their work (The Weather Station, Florist, Jason Isbell). By far the most affecting, for me, was Mount Eerie’s A Crow Looked at Me. Phil Elvrum really created a testament to loss stripped of artifice and pretense. It’s such an incredibly true and harrowing ride. It was an amazing year for music.
Mount Eerie – A Crow Looked at Me
The Weather Station – s/t
Anna Tivel – Small Believer
Tricky – Ununiform
Lotte Kestner – Off White
Rainer Maria – s/t
Birdie – Slaughter Beach
Soft Fangs – Fractures
Lomelda – Forever
Chris Bathgate – Dizzy Seas
Tara Jane O’Neil – s/t
Nadia Reid – Preservation
Shannon Wright – Division
Julien Baker – Turn Out the Lights
Jason Isbell – The Nashville Sound
Joan Shelley – s/t
Phoebe Bridgers – Stranger in the Alps
Big Thief – Capacity
Florist – If Blue Could Be Happiness
Craig Finn – We All Want the Same Things
Sera Cahoone – From Where I Started
Will Johnson – Hatteras Night, A Good Luck Charm
Hand Habits – Wildly Idle
Amazing Albums Friends Made:
Friendship – Shock Out of Season
Eric Ott – Freeway UFOs
Best Girl Athlete – s/t
Damfino – One False Move and I’m Yours
Lina Tullgren – Won
Rick Rude – Make Mine Tuesday
The Huntress and Holder of Hands – Avalon
Footings – Resolver
Montagnard – s/t
Eastern Mountain Time – Mountain Country
Scotty Houston – Three on a Match
Dan Blakeslee – The Alley Walker
C.S Buchan – new album
TW Walsh – Terrible Freedom
John Craigie – No Rain, No Rose
I Don’t Feel at Home in this World Anymore
The Big Sick
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
The Florida Project
Top TV Shows:
Game of Thrones
Better Call Saul
The Ultimate Fighter
Top of the Lake: China Girl
Sean Hood (Eastern Mountain Time)
Top 10 Albums of 2017:
1. Phoebe Bridgers Stranger in the Alps
2. Iron & Wine Beast Epic
3. Lorde Melodrama
4. Ryan Adams Prisoner
5. SZA Ctrl
6. Margo Price All American Made
7. Conor Oberst Salutations
8. Big Thief Capacity
9. Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit The Nashville Sound
10. Bleachers Gone Now
My Top Ten Favorites Songs From 2017
“Apocalypse” by Cigarettes After Sex
“Light And Love” by The Lemon Twigs
“Heartbreak Junky” by Kyle Craft
“Prisoner” by Ryan Adams
“Shark Smile” by Big Thief
“Wasup Jojo” by Lil B
“Avalon” by Foxygen
“Feels Like Heaven” by Ariel Pink
“Like Going Down Sideways” by Cut Worms
“Never Been Wrong” by Waxahatchee
My Top Favorite Songs That I Heard For The First Time in 2017 That Aren’t From 2017
“Moonlighting” by Leo Sayer
“It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels” by Kitty Wells
“Blue Kiss” by Jane Wiedlin (She was in The Go-Go’s)
“Skin And Bone” by The Kinks
“I Don’t Think We Could Ever Be Friends” (Synthpop Dusty Springfield)
“Your My Favorite Waste of Time” by Marshall Crenshaw
“I Don’t Wanna Miss You” by Twin Peaks
“Slow Dancin’” – Chaka Kahn (Featuring Rick James)
“Velocity Girl” by Primal Scream
“Acid Tongue” by Jenny Lewis
Top Ten Songs 2017
10. “Clovers” – Gateway to Hell
9. “Nearer My God To Thee” – Bill Orcutt
8. “Berkeley” – Lil B
7. “Little Dark Age” – MGMT
6. “Return of the Witch” – Venomous Maximus
5. “Feels Like Heaven” – Ariel Pink
4. “Two Hawks” – Sky Jelly
3. “Holding On” – The War on Drugs
2. “New York” – St. Vincent
1. “On Lankershim” – Foxygen
Peter Squires (The LandLadys, solo)
My wife and I were fortunate enough to take a three month globe-trotting trip from January-April. We like to say we had the world’s smallest wedding and the world’s biggest honeymoon. It was an incredible, life-changing experience that brought us closer and helped reshape our understanding of the world and our place in it.
So, that said…Top Ten Countries I visited in 2017:
1. Egypt – Incredible to see the ancient sites. This is the place where I felt the most removed from life as I know it.
2. Thailand – Beautiful, delicious, CHEAP, profoundly different way of life, and shattered some assumptions I had about the intersection of the Muslim world & the Middle East.
3. Hungary – Budapest is a super-fun, awesome city! Thermal baths, an amazing indoor market, and the Budapest Circus Festival made for a great four day stay.
4. Spain/Catalonia – Barcelona is BEAUTIFUL and fun. Some of the best meals from our whole trip. But it raises the question: have I been to Spain or not?
5. Portugal – Lisbon is cool, but the highlight was an hour away in Sintra. The Quinta da Regaleira was one of the best places we went on our whole trip.
6. Greece – though Egypt was amazing, it was super intense. Getting to follow it with Greece felt like a warm hug. We found the people to be kind and welcoming.
7. France – Paris is as beautiful and romantic as they say. Could spend a whole week at the Louvre. Day trips to Chartres and to see a show in Compiegne nicely offset our “city time.”
8. Slovakia – Bratislava is a really cool, under-the-radar city! Did you know it’s only 45 minutes from Vienna? Go to U Sedliaka and order the pork knuckle.
9. The Netherlands – We didn’t really like Berlin or Prague, which made up a gray, rainy, sort of depressing stretch of our trip. WWII and the ensuing Soviet occupation still weigh heavily on parts Central/Eastern Europe. Upon arriving in Amsterdam, we immediately felt that weight lifted. It’s a beautiful city. Shout out to the guitar store “De Plug”!
10. Australia – I’m glad we started our travels in Australia, because even though it’s on the other side of the world, it’s SO similar to the US. Everything’s pretty much the same, but slightly “off” (for instance, black coffee has milk in it). We stayed in Melbourne the whole time and had fun, but wish we’d seen more of the country.
To see photos from our trip, check out our instagram.
Jesse R. Berlin
What a dogshit year, in every sense. Almost every record I listened to in 2017 was at best derivative and uninspiring, and at worst such a squandering of time and resources as to be an actual crime against humanity. Even the very good ones that I genuinely enjoyed listening to, at the end of the day they were all just treading water, and I forgot about them the second their press cycles ended. Except one.
The new Foxygen record, “Hang”- what a record. This was the only thing I heard all year that was so aware of it’s own pointlessness, so committed against all odds to grandiosity and narcissism, that it circled all the way back around to having a tangible social value. It was magnificently overblown and dumb in a way that no other records were, but life in America in 2017 certainly was. It’s release on Inauguration Day may have been a coincidence, but damn was that right on the money. Foxygen held a mirror up to our collective obnoxiousness and stupidity so that we could view it in all it’s gory detail. Every other person I played it for hated it and questioned my sanity, but if there was any justice in this diarrhea industry, they’d sweep the Grammys. God bless Foxygen, and God bless this grotesque cesspool of ignorance and greed that we call America.