Your biweekly source of the best left-field pop/rock/punk/dance from Canada, Australia and beyond.
It’s list-making time! Here are my 30 favourite songs of 2017. First up, Numbers 30-16.
30. Tapas (feat. Jeepz, G. Grand & Hyf), Havana Nights
Tasty hiphop from my hometown of Ottawa. Been following Jeepz for a while, and his effortlessly cool beats here don’t disappoint. MCs G. Grand and Hyf bring it as well. Solid beginning to the 2017 top 30, right?
29. Mezko, Trust
Sydney’s Mezko bring the 90s alternative dance to the second decade of the 21st century. Cool.
28. She-Devils, The World Laughs
Slinky, dreamy music that sounds like it was beamed here from one of the lusher lounges of the 1960s. These Montreal women bring it.
27. Alex Lahey, Every Day’s the Weekend
Ladies and gentlemen, the future of rock and roll.
26. Foxy Morons, Ex
From Hobart, a plaintive bit of relationship wisdom. Sadly, after one glorious EP, Foxy Morons are no more, a victim of the pull of the mainland, in their words. Oh, well. The world is a better place for their brief time together.
25. Kashka, New Moon Blues
I saw Kat Burns, aka Kashka, at the Heartbeat Festival, held in a house and backyard of a Toronto townhouse. There couldn’t have been more than 25 of us in attendance. She and her backing string quartet (trio? I’m blanking) set up in the living room, which was the perfect venue for her intimate, mesmerising, gentle tunes. New Moon Blues was a particular standout. I’m a fan.
24. The Afghan Whigs, Arabian Heights
Greg Dulli’s been churning out soul-infused rock in the Afghan Whigs and Twilight Singers for almost 30 years, and Arabian Heights continues his winning streak. One of the most consistently rewarding American rock musicians of his generation.
23. Moody Beach, Vanilla
In a perfect world, this song would be a Top 10 worldwide pop juggernaut.
22. The Courtneys, Tour
Optimism’s been a hard thing to come by in 2017, so we can thank our lucky stars that The Courtneys have stepped up to deliver some of that pure power pop. Perfect, joyous driving music.
21. Birdz, Crown Thieves
Public Enemy once described a previous generation of political hiphop as the Black CNN. On his debut album, which counts this song as a standout, it’s clear that Birdz, from Australia’s Northern Territory is continuing the tradition of politically aware hiphop, alongside Australians like Briggs, Trials, and Lucky Luke (coming right up). Call it Black CNN International. I’m not steeped in the intricacies of hiphop by any stretch of the imagination, but there seems to be a definite 90s tinge to the music. And did I mention that it sounds great? Cuz it does.
20. Laura Sauvage, Alien (Anything Like It, Have You?)
80s inspired synthpop that would make the Pet Shop Boys stand up and take notice. Given that PSB are at the very top of my personal pantheon of rock gods, there is no higher praise.
19. Lucky Luke, Jacks
On this one, there’s a definite 90s West Coast hiphop thing going on, all in service of a cool song about an abandoned Australian mining community. Socially conscious hiphop that grows your brain.
18. Leather Jacuzzi, Leatherette Spa
For the first punk rock entry into my top 30, it’s Calgary’s Leather Jacuzzi. Loud, ferocious, with a wicked sense of humour, these ladies are doing it right.
17. La Fièvre, La Chienne
Dreamy, resigned feminist pop from one of my new Canadian favourites.
16. The OBGMs, Beat Up Kidz
This is why you shouldn’t skip the opening act. Saw these Toronto punkers open up for Danko Jones a couple of years ago and they blew me away. High-octane punk rock. Yes. Here’s hoping their just-released debut album garners them the attention they so richly deserve.