I love to do my end of the year-lists and I already had one figured out for 2017 but then I started playing “Prey” on PS4 and also decided that I could divide the whole list in certain clusters, so they are more topical and then the holidays happened and well …
The result is a little late but it’s here and it starts with the music that I genuinely liked last year whether it was a single song, an album or the whole aura of an artist. As usual, I am kind of off when it comes to the general best of-lists of cool people and music journalists with a few exceptions but then again, why would you see yet another list of the same ten bands? (I am even so unhip, I only made it to 9 on this list).
Btw: these artists are listed in no particular order because I don’t do that, it’s unhealthy and way too dependent on daily mood, weather and level of sleepiness.
I think I haven’t written about Haley before but her EP “Fish Eyes” really came up often on my playlist this year. It’s just this lovely, folksy songwriting with a voice that knows what it’s doing (the high notes are so precious, like intricate decoration on a cake that also adds to the taste – and yes, that example was horrendous).
Jay Som “Everybody Works”
Jay Som has this beautiful alt-sound of the 90s that always (always!) sounds really cool and relaxed and helps you get through the days. Her album “Everybody Works” and especially her song “The bus song” have this lingering quality of popping into your head occasionally.
I also can’t believe how soft her voice is. It’s like listening to kitten fur (who wouldn’t want to?).
Alex Cameron “Jumping the Shark” / “Forced Witness”
Despite his album release in 2017 for “Forced Witness”, his previous release “Jumping the Shark” really hit me around late summer and stayed there for weeks if not months. “Happy Endings” makes me feel things because I love this suave of Cameron, this slightly slimy but still cool alter ego of a washed-up entertainer losing his spark. It’s such a beautiful album concept and all the stories within the songs should be bitter but somehow are not because there’s an empathy running through Cameron’s performances that is so sad and also a little hopeful. This will be one of those albums that will stick with me forever.
Laura Marling “Semper Femina”
I feel like Laura Marling shouldn’t be on this list just for her album but also for her “Reversal of the muse“-project which shines a light on women in the music business. Together, the album and the podcast create a modern, critical view on what makes a muse, why the muse does exist but also why she should be subverted and questioned as inspirational but never creating (at least in the history of male artists).
Jamila Woods “HEAVN”
Jamila Woods provided a debut album that is pure sunshine. It’s such a strong, lovely, beautiful album that does everything right. There’s so much to discover on “HEAVN” from the lyrics to the background vocals to her use of instrumentals and beats and samples – it’s just one of those debut albums that make you wonder how the hell the artist can top that. I really hope that 2018 will be the year when everyone else discovers Jamila because I want her to do all the live shows and award shows and red carpets because Jamila Wood has something to say and sing and I am here to listen.
Jesca Hoop “Memories are now”
I love this album so much. I’ve listened to the titular song so often, it’s edged into my skin (like “Civilian” by Wye Oak” or “Crane Wife” by the Decemberists). The whole album is musically rich and in the here and now. Hoop’s use of backing vocals and subtle instrumentals – not always but sometimes – create these stripped down songs to give her voice the center stage – that’s just so wonderful and she has such a unique way of doing it. Love her.
Plus, her song and video “The Lost Sky” is heartbreaking!
Miley Cyrus – Younger Now
I really wanted to like the whole album but somehow, the single “Younger Now” promised too much and the stylistic difference between this song and most of the other songs on the album kept me lukewarm. BUT! “Younger Now” is an amazing hymn to growing older and watching the world turn. Cyrus’ voice is perfect for this song (actually, I can’t imagine anyone else singing it like she does) and the slight melancholy due to the guitar twang throughout the whole song as well as the imagery in her video work so well that I really would love a Rockabilly-inspired pop album by her next year.
When it comes to voices that stayed with me, Yola Carter never left my side from the moment I first heard her song “Fly away”. I could not forget that song and it always made me happy whenever it popped into my head and spread its wings (or rather, Carter’s pipes).
I love that this is a song that could just as well be on an old Led Zep-album because it has this rock’n’roll flow that country can do amazingly but quite often doesn’t manage.
I also feel like everyone should clasp their hands over their mouths whenever they realize what Carter’s voice can do because there are no limits.
Lauren Ruth Ward “Make love to myself”
Looking at this list it feels like I really got into the country-folk scene in 2017. I love Ward’s dirty country pop and that dark music video accompanying the song. Artists like her (and Yola and Haley) make me so giddy because they shake up the squeaky clean country pop scene of American Billboard charts and twist it into something fun and smart that I previously didn’t know it could be.
Next up (maybe on the weekend, maybe next week): my favorite movies, tv-shows and games because I am a big old couch potato!