From monumental releases to rockstar controversies, 2017 was a huge year for music. As the year comes to an end, here are ACRN’s favorite tracks from 2017. Give these tracks a good listen; they deserve it.
Sam Tornow, General Manager: Yves Tumor – “Limerence”
In passing, “Limerence” can sound like an interlude. The light, ethereal groove buried under sampled conversations is easily comparable to the passive 3-minute tracks that bridge separate sections of albums together, working as a skit; maybe under any other artist, it would be. Though, Yves Tumor has an unmatched knack for being able to string together light conversations into something with weight. Landing on track three of the astonishing Mono No Aware, label compilation by PAN, “Limerence” brings the gentle forward motion of the album to a halt for a few minutes, before allowing it to continue. Maybe moments passed or maybe it was years, nevertheless, the breath was appreciated.
Devon Hannan, Editorial Director: Fleet Foxes – “Fool’s Errand”
Serving as the second single off of Crack-Up, Fleet Foxes’ third studio album, “Fool’s Errand” equates the act of entrusting your emotions with someone who is unable to do so to the inevitable downfall of Rome (“But I can make it through / I was thin and I saw life in you”). It may be worth mentioning that Crack-Up, as a whole, loosely follows the Shakespearean play, Julius Caesar. If you fell asleep in 10th grade English like me, the thought-to-be power-hungry Julius Caesar gets unnecessarily assassinated by his best friend. However, in the end, Rome falls victim to total dictatorship anyway. In other words, it was a fool’s errand. This track signifies one of the final breaths of the album, leaving the chaos that once hung so fiercely to finally settle at peace. “Et tu, Brute?”
Themes aside, “Fool’s Errand” is an endless plateau of driving percussion and strings. The track itself transitions so smoothly–like waves that are constantly being cast upon the shore only for its elements to trickle back into the sea. The light, swaying instrumentation contrasts the eruption of utterly spectacular vocal harmonies until the track falls silent–draining into an abyss of bellowing piano keys.
Tanner Bidish, Visual Media Director: Jr. Adelberg – “Belong”
Do you remember seeing a sparkler for the first time? There’s this bursting orb in your face, sparks flying every which way – like a firework, but it’s in your hand! Like a wand, magic is finally real, and you’re casting spells with this amazing phenomenon – then it’s gone. Jr. Adelberg sits in my heart like that first sparkler. On their album, It Happens Too Briefly To Know, the group digs at the nuances of ephemeral states of being, and they do it so beautifully in “Belong” – “But will I ever be happy like I was when I was five years old / before I felt the sting of the words / or the weight of my clothes / by the time the hope in myself and the world began to tear / I knew in my heart I did not belong anywhere.”
The lyrics pull at the classic emo sentiments, but they don’t take those feelings for granted. Ignorance is truly what made childhood blissful. They don’t pretend that it isn’t true and they don’t pretend that they can go back. Jr. Adelberg knows that beautiful moments can’t last. You can hear it in “Belong”, and you can see it in their peaceful break-up a month after their album release.
Jon Fuchs, Music Director: Kendrick Lamar – “DNA.”
“DNA.”, the second track off Kendrick Lamar’s latest modern classic, DAMN., is everything an effective rap song should be. It consistently remains bold and confident through two different instrumentals filled with ear-shattering bass lines and absolutely fantastic rhymes from the California rapper. “I got loyalty, got royalty inside my DNA” is rapped with the perfect amount of swagger to send chills down your spine, matched perfectly with a dense, slick beat that gets entire stadiums moving like crazy. The track’s halfway transition (which features Geraldo Rivera’s infamously stupid comments about Lamar’s BET Awards performance) is a hair-raising audio experience, anxiously building up to the hardest beat ever made, all thanks to Mike WiLL Made It. Obviously other tracks off DAMN. show Kung Fu Kenny’s quick advancement in the music industry, but the godlike production and unbelievably fast flows of “DNA.” prove he’s one step ahead of everyone else.
Justin Cudahy, Columns Editor: Tyler, the Creator – “911 / Mr. Lonely”
Watching Tyler, the Creator transform from his disturbed and childish persona in Odd Future to a more cool and open solo artist is like breathing a fresh of breath air. Just this year, he released (in my opinion) one the best albums of 2017, Flower Boy. He also partnered up with several clothing lines and has created not one, but two television shows all in the span of a few months.
Keeping with his musical successes, “911 / Mr. Lonely” combines two rather opposite sounding tracks and unites it under one theme: loneliness. The first half, “911” is a fusion of both hip-hop and soul that juggles back and forth between Tyler, Steve Lacy, Anna of the North and Frank Ocean. The oddly sweet and soothing track transitions into its successor, the more direct and simple “Mr. Lonely” with Tyler rapping intensely about his anxiety and social issues over an 8-bit beat that could be confused out of something from a game like Mario Kart. Please, don’t let my barebones description of this song convince you. Go listen to it yourself.
Marvin Dotiyal, Features Editor: Alvvays – “Lollipop (Ode to Jim)”
I wake up to this song every day; that really says something when it’s coming from an avid metal and punk enthusiast. Alvvays’ “Lollipop (Ode to Jim)” is the ideal “feel-good” song that will turn your frown upside down and gild the skies gold, even on the gloomiest Monday. The bubbly melody and Molly Rankin’s delicate vocals make the song so likable and adorable as the chorus hook gets more infectious with every listen: “You’re a lollipop / In the form of a lightning bolt / But I’m a gumdrop / Am I ever gonna fit that mould?” The perfect balance of Rankin’s melodies and the instruments form a euphoric atmosphere so exuberant that it will certainly lift your spirits, all in a headrush of three minutes. Alvvays really stepped it up a notch in Antisocialites, and I can honestly say that I have clearly underestimated their musical prowess on my first listen.
Eli Schoop, Copy Editor: Jlin – “Black Origami”
The narrative featuring Jlin as the blue-collar factory worker from Gary, Indiana is fitting, maybe even too perfect. Jerrilynn Patton, however, is a woman whose mind and gospel puts her in an otherworldly radiance, the cosmos and nebulas fusing as a molecular dance that supernovas the psyche through tonality and vision. “Black Origami” is the titular track that slices through preconceived notions of footwork in the wake of DJ Rashad’s passing, and it’s some of the most inventive and caffeinated music on the planet right now. This is art that you can physically feel and sense, bolstered by a kind of gravitas stemming from an acute awareness of intensity and ferocity in sound. “You made something ’cause it sounds good? For real? You’re not doing enough.” Well said, Ms. Patton.
Hunter Bych, Contributor: A Perfect Circle – “The Doomed”
Maynard James Keenan released something new and it’s under A Perfect Circle, no less! Aside from “By and Down” in their greatest hits album, Three Sixty, this has been the first glimpse of something new by them in over a decade. With a new album coming in 2018, they released the first single from it. “The Doomed” is a politically charged song about inequality between social classes. “Blessed be the rich / Doomed are the poor / Fuck the doomed, you’re on your own,” could not be more fitting – With 2017 trying to prove that Murphy’s law is a legitimate statement, this could not have come out at a better time. Keenan and Billy Howerdel are still phenomenal (as usual), and Jeff Friedl has been giving a solid performance since the band’s return from hiatus. It is wonderful to hear new material with the promise of a new album coming out next year. *Insert mandatory “When are you going to release anything new from Tool?” comment here.*
Emily DiAlbert, Contributor: Lorde – “The Louvre”
Having a crush on someone is one of those crazy-yet-amazing things that can completely dominate the human psyche. On the outside, it seems so simple, but in your head, there’s really nothing more confusing, bubbling, gushing and enthralling. We all know that completely overwhelming feeling that we get when thinking about our crushes. It’s like you just want to smile, dance around and spend all the time you can with this person because they’re the best thing ever, but at the same time, you’re nervous as hell and try to hide the emotions you’re feeling.
There are a million songs about crushes, but it’s rare for a song to truly capture the essence of all these raw, primeval feelings – Yet Lorde perfectly encapsulates all your middle-school-like crush feelings through “The Louvre”. Lorde sings of getting a surge of emotions upon seeing her crush and how her heart beat amplifies around them: “Broadcast the boom, boom, boom, boom / And make ‘em all dance to it.” The pop anthem leaves you whirling through space, carefree and happy, thinking about wasting away with that person you’re beyond infatuated with.
Paige McCluskey, Contributor: Death From Above 1979 – “Freeze Me”
Although Death from Above 1979 has been on the low about new music since their last studio album back in 2014, the lead single from their 2017 album Outrage! Is Now, “Freeze Me,” shows that punk rock is still alive and well. The song opens with a catchy piano track that continues throughout, sometimes being the only instrument playing to emphasize the vocals. The fast-paced, frantic song slows down for a second in the bridge, where the singing becomes longer and more haunting – a contrast from the short, choppier words in the first few verses. It hits a high in the sailing chorus – which is simple lyrically, but also effective sonically – combining long stretches of singing with hard-hitting instrumentals. The song continuously echoes the same unforgettable rhythm throughout, making the song extremely infectious to listen to. “Freeze Me” has somewhat of an abrupt ending but maintains a steady presence throughout the entire track. Overall, “Freeze Me” is a melodious, dense song that twists gliding lyrics with hefty instrumentals to create a solid punk rock track.
Eric Perzanowski, Contributor: Code Orange – “Bleeding in the Blur”
It’s weird to think now, but back when Forever was released in January, I did not think it would end up as my number three album of the year. It was undoubtedly good, but number three good? A lot of the staying power on this record was fueled by my repeated returns to “Bleeding in the Blur”. It is unlike anything else Code Orange has released stylistically. In some cases, it’s divisive when a band releases material that contrasts greatly with their typical work, however, in this case, it made it all the more endearing. As the year progressed, this track continued to reappear at the tiniest corners and moments of my life, which is probably what I look for most in a song-of-the-year. Not to mention, this was one of the theme songs for NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn III. At the start of the show, Code Orange played it live at the top of the entrance ramp, and it was one of my personal highlights from that show.
Listen and follow our Spotify playlist of these tracks here: