Top 20 Tracks of 2017 (So Far)

While the end of year lists tend to give albums the most significance, these records are nothing but the sum of their parts which, in this case, is the songs. It doesn’t matter what the purpose of these tracks are, some are deep layered entities while others are just straight up lovable bangers, all that needs to be considered is that these songs have made 2017 one of the most exciting and interesting years of music that many of us can recall. Without further ado, let us go down the list of all the singles that we’ve had on loop and may or may not have been signing in the shower every morning for the past few months.

20. Royal Blood – Lights Out

While the album this track appeared on didn’t go down a treat with us, it’s undeniable that Lights Out hit a chord with one or two members of the blinkclyro team. It has all the traits that made Royal Blood one of the surprise big acts when they dropped their debut back in 2014 – that’s really all that needs to be said.

19. I Don’t Wanna Waste My Time by Joji 

No one was really expecting the mind behind the disgusting and ludicrous Filthy Frank to hit out with one of the most beautiful tracks of 2017 but Joji has went and surprised not only us but a lot of the music community.

REVIEW HERE

18. Manchester Orchestra – The Gold

An artist exploring two themes (heartbreak and family qualms) that have been done to death in an intriguing way (using the metaphor of mining work) isn’t something we expected to see pop up on this list but when the band in question is Manchester Orchestra, we really can’t complain.

17. Amber Mark – Lose My Cool

With Amber herself commenting on this track representing the stage of anger in the grieving process, Lose My Cool delivers this catchy yet simple production that lets the lyrics be the star while giving your ears something lovely to relax onto as well. A lot can be happening at once but considering the reaction of  bottling feelings up in this sort of situation, it couldn’t be more perfect.

16. The Kite String Tangle – Selfish

With a stylistic and extravagant use of synths and beats on display, The Kite String Tangle’s return seems to stand out even more with the recent surge of humility and stripping back. Transparent lyrics give the track an extra edge, helping it to differentiate itself from the countless others artists in the IDM genre. 

15. Sampha – (No One Knows Me) Like The Piano

Without even considering the tearful story behind the track, this was the last song Sampha played to his mother and was fitting performed at her funeral, Sampha uses nothing but the piano, his voice and a handful of near silent beats to deliver one of the greatest ballads not only of this year, but of this decade.

REVIEW HERE

14. Pronto Mama – Bottom Feeder 

Any of the 13 tracks that appear on Scottish rockers Pronto Mama‘s debut LP could appear on this list though it just so happens that it’s the intro track that we’ve happened to choose. Visceral lyrics, varied instrumentals and one of the best vocal performances you’ll hear all year, it’s the perfect way to introduce yourself to the Glasgow act.

REVIEW HERE

13. Sorority Noise – Disappeared 

Euphorically upbeat, yet meshing perfectly with the lyrical themes of mourning and death, Sorority Noise exercise their impeccable ability to approach a variety of situations in a way that only they can. Much like many of the tracks on YNA_AYT, Disappeared is gone as fast as it appears yet leaves an imprint in the few minutes its around.

REVIEW HERE

12. Father John Misty – Total Entertainment Forever 

Starting off with one of the best yet weirdest lyrics ever conceived (Bedding Taylor Swift/
Every night inside the Oculus Rift/
After mister and the missus finish dinner and the dishes), Father John Misty makes his mark right out the gate on Total Entertainment Forever, one that he definitely cemented on his recent LP Pure Comedy. Full of social commentary about technology and more, the track proves to be a witty, funny but equally smart song: something that, in this age of turmoil and tyranny, is definitely needed.

REVIEW HERE

11. The National – The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness 

The final refrain of System, “I can’t explain it any other, any other way”, sees Berninger stretched to the limits of his vocal capacity, similar to his end-of-performance outbursts on stage. If any of this is a reliable indicator, Sleep Well Beast, the band’s upcoming LP, threatens to be their best recording yet.

REVIEW HERE

10. Radiohead – I Promise

Both one of the oldest and most recent tracks from Radiohead, the song is one of three previously unreleased from OK Computer, I Promise easily nests itself into the band’s discography with Yorke’s haunting vocal performance and stripped back instrumentals. It’s a track full to the brim with devotion, leading to one of the band’s most romantic songs to date – whether or not that was Yorke and co’s intention.

9. Alt J – In Cold Blood

Channelling a lot of what has made the band’s past releases so great, In Cold Blood is brash, sleek and beautiful all at the same time with an unshakable familiarity to Alt J‘s sophomore LP. It’s just one taste of the unique cohesion of their various pop styles that Relaxer does so well.

REVIEW HERE

8. Wolf Alice – Yuk Foo

Venturing into mostly new territory vocally, Rowsell is known for the occasional scream on tracks such as Giant Peach, but on Yuk Foo, she is all out aggressive; the track relies on her to pull off the sentiment of frustration and she nails it. Wolf Alice deliver one of the most frustration fuelled songs of the year – the band may finally be shaking off the indie rock label for a more punk heavy one and we couldn’t be happier.

REVIEW HERE

7. Stormzy – Big For Your Boots

The best grime track on Stormzy‘s debut LP is lead single Big For Your Boots, which opens with a sample guaranteed to send shivers down your spine. This precedes the chorus which crashes in with Stormzy reminding any challengers that he has size 12 feet and “your face ain’t big for my boot” with a lightning-quick flow in the verses guaranteed to send festival crowds into raptures.

REVIEW HERE

6. King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard – The Lord Of Lightning vs Balrog

You would think with the band’s ambitious feat to release four to five albums in 2017 alone that King Gizzard would run out of ideas or fuel by now. Lead single for Murder of the Universe titled Lord of Lighting is enough to put those worries to rest, delivering the most insane song of the band’s career so far, referencing past releases not only by name but style as well.

5. Remo Drive – Yer Killin’ Me

Instrumentation from the intro of this Remo Drive track is reminiscent of bands like Gnarwolves or a heavier The Front Bottoms, the middle of the song sounds like it was influenced by Foals, the end sounding NOTHING like the rest of the song and vocal lines influences from bands like FIDLAR. However, the song still breaks down to be an emo anthem in the end: there aren’t many bands who could throw all of that into an album, let alone one song, but make it sound so effortless and downright beautiful.

REVIEW HERE

4. Frank Ocean – Chanel

Even though Chanel is suspected to have been written post-Blonde it still plays with the same themes, a lack of conventional ‘verse-chorus-verse’ song writing (with the exception of returning lyrics and motifs) and lush instrumentation. The most interesting part about this song is that even thought it was written within a year of the release of Blonde, it feels like it wouldn’t fit on the last album. The song from the start is a beautiful mix of piano, bass and jazz-influenced percussion, (drums and percussion being absent for the majority of Blonde, showing a progression in instrumentation).

REVIEW HERE

3. Francis & The Lights feat. Chance The Rapper – May I Have This Dance?

Remember during the intro when we mentioned that some tracks are just straight up tunes that don’t need analysis to shine? Well, here’s the track that inspired that: sounding like something straight out of a Disney Movie outro, May I Have This Dance is one of the purest songs to drop all year with one deliciously wholesome verse by none other than Chance The Rapper.

2. Lorde – Green Light

One thing that should always subtly remain with you when listening to Lorde‘s music is her age, and what she’s achieved by it. Around the age of 13/14, she was laying the groundwork for her debut album, Pure Heroine, and by the age of 16, she smashed into the face of the earth, becoming an instant success. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that Green Light is an utter tune.

The chorus has a dancy, nineties feel as she’ll “get [her] things, but [she] can’t let go”, before segueing back into the sombre, minimalist piano beat as Lorde sometimes “wakes up in a different bed, too”, with the lyrical theme subtly, maturely and perfectly covering the protagonist’s heartbreak & the route to mending that patching up that poorly ticker.

Closing out with a beautiful, yet simplistic synth-style solo with the energetic choral backing vocals weaving in between it, Green Light offers a frank and honest account of a break-up, with the partying that comes as part and parcel of setting yourself right with a maturity, depth and energy that only someone like Lorde can offer you.

REVIEW HERE

1.Kendrick Lamar – Humble

Comparing yourself to a religious symbol is usually bound to result in you becoming an infamous figure. If you need an example then just take a look at Kanye‘s Rolling Stone Cover where he not so subtly recreated the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Unsurprisingly this made Mr West public enemy number one in the eyes of many Christians, something which has continued when he repeatedly announces himself as a god.

So as Kendrick Lamar donned pope robes for the music video accompanying new single Humble, his second track in the space of a week following The Heart Part 4, you would have expected him to maybe take a second to reconsider his attire. Throughout this track, though, Kendrick isn’t concerned with the thoughts of others as we get an abundance of braggadocious bars that the Compton rapper hasn’t really channeled since his second studio album Good Kid, m.A.A.d city. 

Accompanied by the punchiest 808 bass line you’ll hear this year along with a catchy piano riff, this is the first witnessing of Kendrick‘s departure of the jazz-fuelled sound that can be found all over To Pimp A Butterfly and untitled.unmastered. Not only this but the lyrics seem to channel a lot more of the narrative that carried the aforementioned Good Kid, m.A.A.d city with Kendrick spouting lines about his youth surrounded by gang affiliations and cheap grub before he begins to brag about money and sex with one of the wittiest albeit cheesiest lines of the year so far (parmesan where my accountant lives).

While some may feel a bit light changed by DAMN., though not us, Humble cements Kendrick as not only the greatest rapper of the 21st century but a serious contestant for the GOAT title.


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Album Review: Alt J – Relaxer

By Becky Little (@sometimesboring) and Harry Sullivan (@radiohedge)

It’s crass intro time. Relaxer, Alt J’s most recent offering has definitely lived up to the trend set by its predecessors as being a grower, not a shower… that was a bit painful to type but it’s true.

Solely on first impressions, the album as a whole seemed a little underwhelming. Now, Alt J and underwhelming are not two things you would usually see in the same sentence. The main crux around this issue is potentially the fact that the release of Alt J albums tends to receive a lot of excitement and apprehension. However, upon the first listen, Relaxer as a whole didn’t seem to live up to the hype.

We were teased a few months ago with the release of gentle 3WW and the brash, intense In Cold Blood. It may seem to the untrained ear that these singles left us a little high and dry, as other tracks on the album arguably didn’t match the anticipation which followed the album like a stray puppy.

3ww-alt-j

ON! THE! OTHER! HAND!

Second listen. Oh, the glorious second listen. That’s where you find out that your first thoughts were wrong and in fact, that’s just what they want you to think. They want you to have to listen to it again in order to truly understand the unique cohesion, a trademark of the art-pop pioneers of the 2010s. The balance between the harsh Hit Me Like That Snare and more mellow tracks such as Last Year and Pleader is inspired, alongside the delightful cover of the iconic folk gem, House of The Rising Sun, popularised by The Animals in the 1960s.

On the topic of Pleader, the track really is reminiscent of the subtle, sparse yet powerful tracks of their debut; An Awesome Wave. The album ender almost shows signs of similarity to Intro and Bloodflood, confirming that the Leeds graduates have plunged back into their niche beginnings which propelled them to their initial success.

Alternatively, another of the pre-released singles, Adeline, bears similarities to the band’s sophomore album This Is All Yours, specifically Bloodflood, Pt. II. The track’s frantic percussion and orchestral elements towards the end also bear likeness to Woodkid’s Run Boy Run.

It is clear that the trio is drawing influence from across their discography and even potentially further afield, keeping it beautifully nerdy in the process. It’s almost as if they have gone full circle, with An Awesome Wave setting out their cleverly unique sound, This Is All Yours nodding towards the mainstream and Relaxer bringing some obscurity back home.

8/10


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Looking Back At…An Awesome Wave by Alt-J

 

By Becky Little (@sometimesboring)

May 25th. Looking back into history, quite a few interesting things happened on this very day; the restoration of the British monarchy, JFK’s announcement that he was going to put a man on the moon and the birth of Cillian Murphy (heart eyes) and Mike Myers (Shrek-shaped eyes). However, arguably none of these are as exciting as the debut release of those groove-inducers, Alt-J. An Awesome Wave is the album in question, and awesome it is 5 years down the line.

2012 was the year heralded by many as being a fundamentally important year for indie rock, with massive releases from artists such as Tame Impala and The XX, this year set off many an embarrassing indie phase for today’s cool kids. An Awesome Wave was one of those albums which people displayed across their Tumblr accounts (no doubt because the triangle imagery was so #aesthetic), or it was one which slowly and surely grew on many. However, as years have passed and people have grown through their teens with the album, it has matured and gone from being Tumblr-core to an essential album in anybody’s collection. It’s one of those which you can listen to all the way through, albeit a difficult task for many musicians to execute well.

It is throughout An Awesome Wave that Alt-J’s signature euphemistic raunchiness is established. With tracks such as Fitzpleasure and Tessellate, outright NSFW lyrics are disguised with discreet references to trigonometry and “feckless men who queue to be the next.” This trend continued further into their sophomore release, This Is All Yours, too but that’s a discussion for another day since we shouldn’t really be talking about S-E-X in front of the C-H-I-L-D-R-E-N. (Sex Cauldron? I thought they shut that place down! – Ed)

In order to counter the naughtiness, the incredibly inventive Leeds University grads litter their first offering with beautiful interludes, which all differ stylistically and split the album into 3. The first section offers the critically acclaimed track Breezeblocks, which had its fair share of airplay before and after the album’s release. Whether this was one of the reasons the album did so well is unsure, however what is true is that Alt-J arguably went from being niche to very widely mainstream. While some would claim this is a bad thing, in the case of An Awesome Wave it opened the floodgates for more less-conventional pop to enter the charts. Somehow, it also mingled its way into pop culture with the sensational Youtube video, How To Write An Alt-J Song, which has racked up 6 million views. It’s undeniable the influence that this unique debut has had.

The second and third aforementioned sections feature some more mellow tracks, one of which being Taro, a history lesson which has been turned into an Indian-influenced emotion-fest. Taro tells the tale of a photographer, ‘Capa’, during what can only be assumed as being wartime in South Asia, with “Indochina” being the first lyric of the haunting yet beautiful song. The powerful bass riff in the middle of the song followed by a cheerful ‘hey Taro!’ is definitely one of the most memorable moments of the entire album, which in itself is full of surprises.

It is very safe to say that An Awesome Wave has aged miraculously well, and upon reaching half a decade of gracing our ears, we must thank Alt-J for making being a little bit weird so damn cool.

9/10


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3WW by Alt-J REVIEW

By Liam Menzies (@blinkclyro)

Logs crisply burn as the intro to Alt-J‘s comeback single begins to unravel. The London alt-rock outfit has returned with 3WW, displaying the power the band possesses to make the most miscellaneous of sounds become a gateway to a mystic land. 2014’s This Is All Yours was a beautiful albeit flawed demonstration of this but this teaser from upcoming LP Relaxer alludes to a band that has spent the past few years perfecting their craft while slowly and carefully adding to their frigid formulas.

Image result for 3ww alt j

3WW is by far the most ambient track that the trio has ever produced: sparkling embers appear and disappear instantaneously while quiet, near silent, vocal rolls replicate the sounds of wildlife that surround this campfire serenade. While Alt-J has dipped their toes into sexual waters with Fitzpleasure and Every Other Freckle, 3WW finds the act at the peak of their seductiveness with lines such as “I just want to love you in my own language” being succeeded by a simple yet gorgeous melodic piano.

The inclusion of Ellie Roswell of Wolf Alice fame helps to tie this song up perfectly, further adding to this adventurous track which seems to be the most unfriendly radio song imaginable as the first single of an upcoming album. However, 3WW is very much trying to embody this on top of telling an abstract story about a lonely, venturing man through beautiful English landscape: an ambitious feat to say the least.

In a newsletter sent out today, Alt-J remarked that they “think it could be the best thing we’ve done to date”. With music as sensual and encapsulating at this, no one would be willing to deny such a statement.


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BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend 2015 Review, 23/05/2015 – 24/05/2015

Festival season is coming.

Soon the flower head dresses will be donned, the tents miserably pitched up and the cliché face-paint put on by every guy in sight (happy/sad to admit I did the same at T last year). With Glastonbury just under a month away, the BBC have got music fans hyped for the season ahead with their annual Big Weekend event which graced Glasgow last year. This year it was Norwich’s turn and god did they luck out, with what is probably the best line up the event has ever had. Unfortunately I never got tickets but this didn’t stop me from enjoying the coverage provided by BBC Three from the comfort of my bed. Instead of giving you a Top 10 style list a la WatchMojo, I’m just gonna give my thoughts on the different acts I managed to catch over the weekend. As always, this is my own opinion and my favourites and least favourites are gonna differ from yours. Regardless, let’s get started.

Foo Fighters
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R
ight let’s get something out of the way first: I’m not a fan of Sonic Highways. Maybe it was the hype, maybe it was the fact it played it too safe even though it’s the band’s eighth record, it just didn’t sit well with me. However, as soon as Dave Grohl and co. came on stage, as soon as he welcomed the crowd and started playing the opening chords to Everlong, none of that mattered. It was like being transported back to the very first time I listened to their greatest hits compilation and I loved every second of it. This feeling lasted through the entire set, a true testament to the band’s ability to perform. Watch out Glastonbury, you’re in for a treat.

Muse
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Saturday’s main stage headliner were none other than Muse, a band who, like Foo Fighters, have been a favourite of mine for as long as I’ve been a fan of music. However just like Foo Fighters, their recent music has been rather disappointing in comparison to their older material but regardless of the fact that they’ve nearly been around for as long as I’ve been alive, they still know how to put on a show. Their setlist showcased some tracks off  upcoming album Drones with Psycho being a highlight, accompanied by a drill sergeant appearing on a screen behind them yelling as if he was saying to the crowd directly if they were ready. Closing track Knights Of Cydonia was a real treat for fans, regardless if they were new or old, leaving those who attended satisfied as well as excited for June 8th when the band’s new album drops.

Alt J
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I’ll admit now that I was worried about this one. I love Alt J to bits, An Awesome Wave effortlessly making its way into my favourite debut albums list that’s unofficially written in my mind. However the odd vocal style and even odder sound that the band have has always had me questioning whether or not it can transfer to the stage well. Thankfully after the Miley Cyrus featuring Hunger Of The Pine and the even more mesmerizing Fitzpleasure, my worries were laid to rest. As off as some of the vocal performances may have been at times, to me it added to the band’s unique charm. Predictably enough the Leeds boys finished with Breezeblocks, a crowd and fan favourite which is just as much an anthem as you’d expect, resulting in a surprisingly sweet set by the band.

Jamie T
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I
t’s odd to think that Jamie T is actually back. For 4 years after his sophmore album Kings & Queens he just disappeared, fans left wondering what had happened to him and if he was ever gonna come back. Unbeknown to fans though, he was crafting 140 songs with only 12 getting hand-picked for 2014’s critically acclaimed Carry On The Grudge. The luck has continued for the Wimbledon boy with a set of festival appearances lined up, Big Weekend being the lucky one to host him first and he didn’t half arse it. There’s not much I could say that could do his performance justice as it was hands down my favourite of the weekend but I’ll try my best. Sheila, an indie anthem in its own right, had the crowd chanting along as Jamie controlled the crowd without any effort needed and this continued during the remainder of the set, especially during If You’ve Got The Money. There was some quiet moments during the atmospheric Don’t You Find as well as Emily’s Heart, both highlighting the natural skill Jamie T has as a songwriter. This performance showed why his albums will no doubt stand the test of time and why Jamie T is one of the most exciting and talented acts Britain has to offer.

Taylor Swift
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Confession time here: I used to hate Taylor Swift. Maybe it was cause I was 15 at the time and at that age you tend to jump onto whatever seems cool at the time, as proved by the Gangnam Style phase which was a dark time for us all. In my defence though I think it was because I didn’t like the style of music she was going for at the time with her country sound which in itself is a pretty Marmite genre. However her opening track We Are Never Getting Back Together was a glimpse of things to come when it was released on 2012 album Red and I’m not ashamed to admit how much I enjoyed it. Other tracks off last year’s surprisingly great album 1989 went down well with the crowd and if this performance was just Swift getting prepared for her BST gig next month then we should all be really excited.

Slaves
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Fun little story: back in November I was off to see Biffy in London and as such I was excited to say the least. When I heard that a little Kent duo called Slaves were one of the support acts, I didn’t think about it twice. Who would have known they’d become one of my favourite bands at the moment and take the music scene by storm. Their performance on the In New Music We Trust stage was a testament to the sheer power the duo can deliver, enough to put Royal Blood to shame. From White Knuckle Ride to closing track Hey, Slaves kept me entertained via the TV more than most acts I’ve saw live. The stories that vocalist Isaac told alongside bandmate Laurie had me laughing as well as intrigued, something that a lot of acts only wish they could do. If you get the chance to see this band live then do not miss out, you’ll heavily regret it.

And more…..
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I managed to watch a lot of acts over the weekend but the 6 above were my stand outs favourites. There were some other great artists there such as Fall Out Boy whose golden oldie tracks managed to outweigh the mediocre new ones. Florence + The Machine as always put on a stunning performance packed to the brim with quality that is now expected of them and will surely come in handy at Glastonbury. Lastly The Vaccines  put on a rather good performance as well, nicely tying into the release of their album English Graffiti today. BBC’s Big Weekend was well worth watching and with even more festivals on the way, music fans have more than enough entertainment sorted for the summer.

What were your favourites acts? Did you have a least favourite? Comment below or tweet me @blogclyro , thanks for reading to the end!

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