A year ago I started this quest. My goal was to dig. That’s the word I use for it. I dig and I dig, through hours and hours of music I find online, and that’s what it takes nowadays to find the music that really matters to me. In 2017 everyone and their moms dog has the ability to release their music to the masses. There is more music now than there has ever been for our consumption, and it’s increasing rampantly. This means that there are more hidden gems to be discovered than ever before. It also means there is more godawful bullshit than ever before. You have to leap into the breach and start digging through it. It’s the only way. So that’s what I’ve been doing for the past year. I finally decided I need to put in the work and stop relying on algorithms to find it for me.
This blog is a personal record of what I’ve found, for future reference, so I don’t forget. In the meantime you, my friends, might use this blog as a resource, the way I use so many others as resources, to start your own digging journey. After much personal deliberation, these are the 10 releases from 2017 that have had the greatest impact on me. Some of them were just sitting, all shiny, atop the piles of musical-crapola that came out this year, some were buried deep deep deeeeeep beneath it. I hope you find something that matters.
Briscoe – Good Time Riffs For Bad Times
This little EP of 5 poorly recorded songs (from a band that, for all I know, doesn’t even exist anymore) is, in fact, the best thing I’ve heard in 2017. It’s hard to put into words why exactly. I mean what’s so great about it? Sonically it’s all kind of mushed. It’s hard to even make out the lyrics, but the vocals are perfect and you can build your own narrative to them. It’s choose-your-own-adventure. For me it’s songs about summer, about running away, escape, and it’s about falling in love on a hot night. It’s inspirational. The more you listen to this the more the murk settles, and eventually it’s crystal clear. It’s perfect and I wouldn’t have it recorded any other way. I still have no information whatsoever about this band. I can’t find anything on them. It’s kind of a mystery and maybe that makes it even better. Listen on Bandcamp
Standard Rat Fuck – ST
I’m surprised this blog doesn’t come up when you google ‘Standard Rat Fuck’. I’m pretty sure I’ve used those 3 words more than any others on this blog. In real life too. I can’t shut up about this EP. I’m not even going to try to use genres to describe it. It’s beyond genres. It’s intense and it’s smart, but it doesn’t take itself that seriously. The lyrics are somehow senseless and exactly on-point at the same time, the way only a mad poet could write. They called themselves Standard Rat Fuck. I don’t think they’re trying to make it big with a name like that. They should be big though. Everyone should be talking about this as much as I do. All the pissed off kids should be wearing SRF shirts. Freedom Fries is the best song of 2017. Listen on Bandcamp or Spotify
Conor Oberst – Salutations
I had to exclude Conor Oberst from my top songs of 2017. It could have been a top 5 instead of a top 3 if I’d included Napalm and Mamah Borthwick, but my OCD wouldn’t allow the imbalance. A lot of people say 2016’s Ruminations was the better version of this album. Those people are what I like to call fools. Salutations is the album in it’s completed form. This is how these songs were intended to be heard and they sound magnificent with the band behind them. Ruminations is like the director’s cut or something. It’s like bonus tracks for Salutations. Yeah it’s neat, it’s stripped down, it’s like a little peek into the songwriters process, but it’s not the album. It’s just not the album, sorry. Salutations is the album. Listen on Spotify
Strange Ranger – Daymoon
Given the sheer mass of their 2016 masterpiece, Rot Forever, I think it’s fair to assume Daymoon is the long awaited outro to that album. It pales in comparison, yet it’s still my 4th favourite release this year. That’s sayin’ something. You know what else is sayin’ something? Everything that is said is sayin’ something. Is this coming across as sarcastic? It shouldn’t cuz this is still my favorite new(ish) band. Even if they do hate Canada. That’s fine cuz I hate Portland. I’m just kidding. I love Portland. I don’t know what their problem is. Is this coming across libelous? Look, Strange Ranger hates Canada. There’s nothing we can do about that. We’re still going to listen to it. They could cheat on us with our best friend and we’d keep coming back for more. Listen on Bandcamp or Spotify
Pinky – Mood Swings
I’ve been waiting a while for someone to do the whole Title Fight- Floral Green thing properly. Title Fight isn’t doing it anymore so someone’s gotta step in. These guys pretty much pick up where they left off. I shouldn’t make this out be just a Title Fight wannabe band though. They have their own thing going. I’m just saying, if Floral Green was your bread and butter, these guys are gonna be your toaster oven. You know what I’m sayin’? Toast. Toast is what I’m sayin’. This is toast. Listen on Bandcamp
Local Programming – Seymour Glass
This is likely the most upbeat album on the list. It’s a lot of fun to listen to. I think every song reminds me of a different band.. Kudrow, Minto, Forming.. If you enjoy any of those bands, chances are you’re going to find something here that piques your interest. It’s just nice uncomplicated indie rock punk. It’s not breaking the mold or anything, but that’s ok because it has that something that makes it stand out. A lot of the best bands are like that. It’s un-put-your-finger-on-able. There’s just something about it you know.. Something! Listen on Bandcamp
Basement Revolver – Agatha
This is the band I’m longing to see live. They have that sound that would just fill a room to the gills. You almost feel like you need to get out of the room to make space for the music. You just have to stand in the doorway or something, just past the threshold. Give these guys some fuckin’ space I said! Damn! If you haven’t seen their performance on Audiotree Live, you need to check that out immediately. You go ahead and do that. I’ll wait here.. Oh! You’re back already? That was fast. You didn’t actually watch it did you? Well now you’ve offended me. Listen on Bandcamp or Spotify
Tigress – ST
Another release that went under my radar when it came out in June, which is a shame because the only thing my summer listening lacked was some quality hardcore. I’ve been playing this a lot lately though. Trying to make up for lost time. This is the kind of band you can build your scene around. Proof that hardcore will always have a purpose. “Fuck the police I hate them all” and “fuck your goddamn brotherhood” are lyrics I can really get behind. Call it juvenile if you want, and you’d be right, and your point would be? I’m sorry, I don’t know why I’m feeling so combative right now. The truth is, we need angry young people making angry blanket statements. Especially after a year rife with angry old people making angry blanket statements. Listen on Bandcamp
Shepards – ST
Right now if you go to their bandcamp page you’ll see a picture of me in the ‘Supported by’ section. I’m the only one there. I hope maybe someone reading this will go and join me. It seems this has been grossly overlooked. I guess it’s a side-project of sorts. My advice to these guys is to do Shepards full time, but change the name. Shepards is a stupid name. Standard Rat Fuck is taken by the way. Listen on Bandcamp
Dead Man Winter – Furnace
Yee haw! Bang bang! Giddyup! Budweiser! I’m just kidding. It’s not Country, but it does have more twang than anything else on this list. It’s that good twang though. Like the way The Band had twang. It’s a straight up country-blues rock record, and executed perfectly. This thing goes down so smooth. It’s the perfect way to wash down the bass-akwards randomness of this top 10. I suggest you turn down the lights, lay on the floor and turn this one up. It’ll take you away to your happy place. Then, once you’re in your happy place, turn the lights down in said happy place and lay on the floor. It’s like Inception but with really good music. Or if you have a special someone you can dance on your front porch to it. If you don’t have a front porch, a back porch will do. If you don’t have any porches, just put the Tigress EP back on and start smashing stuff. Listen on Spotify
That’s it, so hey, if you’re thinking your favourite genre is dead.. Whatever it might be, punk rock is dead, hip hop is dead, ratfuck is dead. Don’t be so sure. Your new favourite band is out there right now, somewhere in a dingy basement recording your new favourite album, and if you’re not searching you’re going to miss it. Shoot, my favourite album of 2017 is probably still out there and it never reached my ears, but at least in searching, I found a lot of great stuff in the process. Stuff that I’m gonna keep listening to for years to come. I’m not going anywhere. I’m here to help. Check out my monthly top 5’s for more. Thanks for reading and never stop digging. Please write to me!