Hope you all had a lovely Christmas! It’s that time of year again; as 2017 draws to a close we’ll be talking about Belwood’s highlights of the year gone by, starting with our favourite songs. It’s been no easy task to whittle it down to just ten tracks, there’s been a lot of outstanding music released this past year. With a healthy mix of acts both old and new, large and small, it’s our strongest list yet. Hopefully you can find a few hidden gems here that you missed first time around, or just jam along all over again!
10. Torgeir Waldemar – ‘Sylvia (Southern People)’
This sprawling Americana epic, the kind that puts even the genre’s titans such as Neil Young to shame, was the first stand-out track of 2017 and has remained a highlight all through the year. This Norwegian singer/songwriter has crafted something truly awe-inspiring, like a vast thunderstorm on the horizon as you walk some lonesome highway.
9. Hajk – ‘Best Friend’
The second release on this list from Norway’s Jansen Records, whose artists have consistently delivered gold standard music this year. The bright infectious melody of ‘Best Friend’ curiously contrasts the serious tone of the lyrics. Following the Rumours school of bringing joy from sorrow, this is a master class in pop songwriting.
8. Arcade Fire – ‘Everything Now’
Although I seemed to be one of the few reviewers that saw Arcade Fire’s latest record as a solid and enjoyable offering, even the album’s harshest critics couldn’t argue with the title track. ‘Everything Now’ is such an immediate and engaging song, one that carries a universal appeal and is sure to endure as one of the band’s biggest hits.
7. Algiers – ‘The Underside of Power’
Algiers became firm favourites of ours after their genre defying debut, but the title track of their new record sees them at the height of their powers, while also exploring new territory. It’s just as politically charged as you’d expect, but displays hints of Northern Soul and Motown to bring a ray of hope into the fight for a better future.
6. Ryan Adams – ‘Doomsday’
Realistically I could have picked any number of songs from Ryan’s new album Prisoner, as it’s one of the most consistently brilliant records released since Belwood started. Picking which one proved to be the most difficult part of this list, but ‘Doomsday’ is the one that had the most airplay, and the one that I most often found myself singing to myself.
5. The Lunar Year – ‘Backyard Deck’
Haunting piano, cathartic guitar, and some of the most expressive drum work of the year are all to be found here. Like a fading vignette of some cherished childhood memory, the rich imagery gives such a nostalgic release. The Lunar Year have produced a real gem here. They may not be a household name, but they can tug at your heartstrings with the best of them.
4. Manchester Orchestra – ‘The Gold’
There are few joys in life that compare to discovering a new band to love, and this is the track that made me fall for Manchester Orchestra. Their new album A Black Mile To The Surface has been on heavy rotation in my car since its release, and as its crowning glory ‘The Gold’ makes even a dreary commute feel like a journey to remember.
3. The National – ‘Day I Die’
There are several tracks from Sleep Well Beast that are worthy of a place on this list, but ‘Day I Die’ is perhaps the one that speaks to me most as it wraps up their trademark introspection and melancholy into something that makes you wanna get up and dance to forget your troubles. With the bombastic drums, squalling riff and the finest opening lines of the year, this song is an absolute delight.
2. Bent Knee – ‘Holy Ghost’
I’ve had this video on repeat more times than I can count. Why? Is it to see world-class musicians loving every minute of what they do, as they create this off-kilter masterpiece? Is it because the powerful and triumphant climax feels as though it could tear the very sky asunder? Fuck knows! ‘Holy Ghost’ is just too awesome for us mere mortals to comprehend.
1. Evening Darling – ‘Another Long Drive’
I approach the title of “song of the year” the same way as falling in love; there’s no rhyme and reason to it, no way that you can explain it, you just know. Listen by listen ‘Another Long Drive’ grew on me, until there was no doubt in my mind that it would take the number one spot. This track has made my heart sing more than any other this year, and for that Evening Darling have my utmost love and gratitude.