2017 is halfway done – which is fucking terrifying, if you ask me (wasn’t it New Year’s Eve yesterday?). Not only because we’re hurtling ever faster towards our graves, but because the horrors this year has served up so far only suggests that things are going to get much worse before they get any better.
But at least the tunes have been good, hey? Might as well bask in that violin playing while Rome burns. Speaking of which, here are the 25 ditties we think represent the best 2017 has so far offered us, ranging from gurgling punk belters, to pop hits and weirdo slices of electronica.
You’ll find a countdown below, and even a handy playlist to play along at home with – bring on the second half of the year.
The top 25 countdown begins
25: Torres – ‘Skim’
It’s been two years since we last heard from Mackenzie Scott, the musician behind the Torres moniker, but time has done seemingly little to warp her frenetic, vicious sound – her new single ‘Skim’ is one of the darkest, most uncompromising songs she’s yet written.
24: Jade Imagine – ‘You And I’
Combining the truth-telling of Jonathan Richman with some rich, full rock choruses, Jade Imagine’s ‘You And I’ is equal parts heartbreak and humour. Tender, and emphatically so.
23: Rachel Maria Cox – ‘Emotionally Untidy’
Rachel Maria Cox is going from strength to strength, and ‘Emotionally Untidy’, the new single from the Newcastle based performer, is a thrilling example of the pop-punk they have forged their reputation on.
22: Feedtime – ‘Thought’
What has the world done without Feedtime? The delirious and hideous ‘Strayan punk band are one of the finest acts this country has ever produced, and their downright evil song ‘Thought’ proves it. Brutal.
21: Alvvays – ‘In Undertow’
Canadian dream-pop doo-woppers Alvvays are back with a brand new single, ‘In Undertow’. Sure, it might not break new ground for the band, but when the formula is this good, who would want to fuck with it?
20: The Smith Street Band – ‘It Kills Me To Have To Be Alive’
One of the most brutal, unrelenting songs from the new Smith Street Band record. But also one of the best.
19: Mermaidens – ‘Satsuma’
Last we heard from New Zealand witch rockers Mermaidens, they were casually dropping one of 2016’s best records– a brutal work of dark art called Undergrowth. Barely having stopped to catch their breath, the band are now back with ‘Satsuma’ a song with all the tactile sensuality of a velvet glove cast in iron.
18: Ariel Pink – ‘Another Weekend’
‘Another Weekend’ sees arch provocateur Ariel Pink trade in his grunting, lo-fi rock for something significantly more polished – but his repugnant wit is as sharp as ever.
17: Kirin J Callinan – ‘S. A. D.’
Not just another song about drugs.
16: Camp Cope – ‘Keep Growing’
This year Camp Cope played the Opera House and released the career-best new track ‘Keep Growing’. Either one of those feats would have cemented their reputation as one of our finest new acts – nailing both is downright miraculous.
15: Major Leagues – ‘It Was Always You’
Everyone knew Major Leagues had a stunning debut album in them. But maybe we all underestimated just how stunning it would be.
14: Jessica Says – ‘Xanax Baby’
Jessica Says’ Do With Me What U Will is hands down one of the most distinct records of the year – a fizzing, manic work of scattershot art. The eclectic ‘Xanax Baby’ might take unprepared listeners by surprise, but the persistent will find it has some unique pleasures to share.
13: Big Thief – ‘Mary’
The very definition of raw.
12: Harry Styles – ‘Sign Of The Times’
Look, it’s a great fucking song, alright?
11: Afghan Whigs – ‘Demon In Profile’
‘Demon In Profile’ is so excellent – so profoundly self-contained – that it could almost be considered Afghan Whigs’ mission statement. It’s the belter they have been working up to for decades.
10: Flowertruck – ‘Dying To Hear’
Sydney’s own art rock outfit Flowertruck return with the most clear-eyed and honest song of their still-burgeoning career. Impeccable.
9: Ainsley Farrell – ‘Dark Hours’
Ainsley Farrell’s done a Dylan. The Sydney-based singer-songwriter has traded in her nylon-string for an electric guitar, in the process producing the dark yet genuinely danceable ‘Dark Hours’. Maybe the catchiest song about vampires since ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’.
8: Jen Cloher – ‘Forgot Myself’
A late addition to this list, Jen Cloher’s ‘Forgot Myself’ was released only this week, but is nonetheless a thrilling checklist of every one of the living legend’s multiple talents. Catchy as hell? Check. Emotive and precisely drawn? Check. Fucking devastating? Double check.
7: Marika Hackman – ‘Boyfriend’
The bait and switch hidden in the first line of ‘Boyfriend’ might be slyest lyrical twist of the year.
6: Kendrick Lamar – ‘Humble’
You could chat to Damn.’s most furious detractor and they’d probably end up conceding that yeah, ‘Humble’ really is a near-perfect single.
5: Laura Marling – ‘Nothing, Not Nearly’
‘Nothing, Not Nearly’ sees Marling at her subversive, silver-tongued best. It could well be the finest album closer she’s turned in since ‘Saved These Words’ – at the very least, it’s a career high from a performer who has never once returned to cover old ground.
4: Methyl Ethel – ‘Ubu’
3: Georgia Mulligan – ‘Any Given Day’
Building on the momentum generated by her Our Blood To Part EP, local musician Georgia Mulligan has delivered a perfect fusion of confessional songwriting and baroque, indie-rock guitar work. Brilliant.
2: Mount Eerie – ‘Real Death’
It’s hard to know what to say about a song as brutal as ‘Real Death’, an astonishingly honest account of musician Phil Elverum’s life following the loss of his wife to cancer. Perhaps you could call it heartfelt – but that would be a trite way indeed to describe a song this uncompromised.
1: King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard – ‘The Lord Of Lightning vs Balrog’
From that Nonagon Infinity reference to the flirtation with heavy metal to ‘The Lord Of Lightning’s devastating final verse, this is a thrilling testament to one of the best, most inventive bands in the world right now. Fuck yeah King Gizz.
So, that’s our list! You can give the whole thing a listen below, and let us know any tracks you’d have in your own countdown in the comments.