10 Tracks From 2017 You Need To Add To Your Playlist
It’s time to update your playlist.
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2017 has been an incredible year for music. So far we’ve seen headline-grabbing albums from superstars like Kendrick Lamar, Jay-Z, and Drake alongside celebrated full-length returns from The xx, Lorde, LCD Soundsystem, Gorillaz, Haim, and many more. Beyond those big albums, there’s been an avalanche of great music from Australia and further afield.
So how do you wade through all that good stuff? To get you started, here are ten playlist must-adds from 2017, organised from chilled and cruisy through to house party-appropriate.
‘Rainbow City’ – Cloud Control
Blue Mountains adventurers Cloud Control made a welcome return this year with the album Zone. In the years since its predecessor, 2013’s Dream Cave, the band lost bassist Jeremy Kelshaw to “civilian life”, forcing a change in how they make music.
Zone is Cloud Control’s first self-produced album, and ‘Rainbow City’ excels as its shimmering single. Perfect for the warm-up portion of a summer party playlist, it’s a harmonious showcase for Alister Wright and Heidi Leffner’s vocals. It feels good to have Cloud Control back.
‘Ubu’ – Methyl Ethel
Even if you don’t yet know Methyl Ethel, it doesn’t take long to fall under the charms of ‘Ubu’. The song appears on the Perth band’s recent album, Everything Is Forgotten, and it’s a perfect distillation of their oddball charms.
Carried along by the central call of “why’d you have to go and cut your hair?”, Methyl Ethel make a simple guitar, drums, and vocals formula go a long way. (Also sure to check out the ‘Ubu’ music video, which captures the trio’s very particular art-rock aesthetic.)
‘Dum Surfer’ – King Krule
King Krule is one of the most enjoyably unpredictable artists out there. The chameleon otherwise known as Archy Marshall has spent his prolific career jumping between aliases and musical modes, from indie-rock to hip-hop beats to electronic oddities.
Now the Londoner has completed The Ooz, his first album as King Krule since 2013’s 6 Feet Beneath The Moon. He’s set the tone with ‘Dum Surfer’, an exercise in gothic moodiness that somehow still grooves. Despite its rough, inky edges, this one slots surprisingly well into a summer playlist.
‘Everybody’s Hero’ – Sampa The Great
Keep a very close eye on Sampa The Great. The Zambian singer-songwriter and poet calls Sydney home, and she’s having a star-making 2017. Clued-in listeners learnt about her talent back in 2015 with The Great Mixtape and she’s recently signed to influential UK label Big Dada.
While Sampa’s latest track ‘Rhymes To The East’ is a certified gem, we keep coming back to ‘Everybody’s Hero’, produced by hip-hop maestro Rahki and featuring UK singer Estelle. Sampa’s distinctive flow is perfectly matched here by a hazy, head-nodding beat, making this a great kickoff to a backyard BBQ. Go on, spread the word on Sampa.
‘Los Ageless’ – St. Vincent
Ever since St. Vincent won a Grammy for her 2014 self-titled LP, fans have been itching for a follow-up. Now the celebrated singer-songwriter has returned with MASSEDUCTION, a smart, playful album full of ’80s synth-pop touches. (Lorde collaborator Jack Antonoff is the co-producer here.)
Coming after the bittersweet, slow-burning ‘New York’, the second single ‘Los Ageless’ is something else entirely. Pairing St. Vincent’s witty songwriting with an electronic pulse, it engages the head and feet all at once.
‘Call The Police’ – LCD Soundsystem
It was easy to feel a little cynical about LCD Soundsystem’s big comeback, just five years after their farewell concert. Was this a genuine return from an iconic band, or nothing more than a cash-grab? That cynicism has been dashed by American Dream, the first LCD album since 2010’s This Is Happening.
It was clear we were back in safe hands when James Murphy and co. released the half-bittersweet, half-celebratory ‘Call The Police’. Already a crowd favourite in LCD’s live shows, it’s almost as effective in a house party playlist.
‘Loyalty’ – Kendrick Lamar feat. Rihanna
Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. is one of 2017’s best records, which comes as no surprise at all. Ever since his debut Section.80, the Compton native has made a strong case for why hip-hop albums matter. But Kendrick can make killer singles too, as evidenced by DAMN. cut ‘Loyalty’.
One of his most radio-friendly tracks in years, ‘Loyalty’ pairs the rapper with none other than Rihanna, who shows up in typically fine form. While a lot of the album leans too dark or dense for a party playlist, this one is guaranteed to light things up.
‘LMK’ – Kelela
Up ’til now, R&B innovator Kelela has been a cult favourite, respected for her mixtape Cut 4 Me and EP Hallucinogen. With the arrival of her long-awaited album, Take Me Apart, a lot more people will get to know Kelela.
Its lead single ‘LMK’ is more overtly poppy than her past output, but she’s lost none of her subversive grit. With punchy, bass-heavy production from London talent Jam City, ‘LMK’ sounds both futuristic and ’90s-inspired. This one should wake up any party with no trouble.
‘Green Light’ – Lorde
Released a month ahead of her Coachella headline slot, ‘Green Light’ is Lorde at her most pop-savvy. A breakup song that doubles as a call to the dancefloor, it’s propelled by ’90s house keys and a triumphant, singalong-ready chorus.
Lorde did the best job summing it up: it’s “complex and funny and sad and joyous.” Clearly confident she’d made a hit, the New Zealander chose ‘Green Light’ to open her excellent second album, Melodrama, and close out her festival set-lists.
‘Lay Down’ – Touch Sensitive
Sydney’s own Michael ‘Touch Sensitive’ Di Francesco is a regular fixture on house party playlists. Following the runaway success of his 2013 single ‘Pizza Guy’, the summer jam specialist began work on his debut album.
Visions arrived at last in September, led by the instant earworm ‘Lay Down’. Four minutes of warm house keys and feelgood vocals, it’s the sound of early afternoon at a sun-soaked music festival. Don’t believe the title: ‘Lay Down’ is designed to get you moving.
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