10. Rolling Blackouts CF “Julie’s Place”
Sometimes you just want a simple pop song about going out somewhere. I enjoyed the Rolling Blackouts’ EP “The French Press”. It contains many catchy tunes as I noted in my review. “Julie’s Place” is the best, speaking of a need to be somewhere or a promise that you will go there. Given that I often listen to music between places, it’s nice to have a song or two like that on my playlist.
9. Blanck Mass “Rhesus Negative”
“Rhesus Negative” is the coarsest, most aggressive track on Blanck Mass’s album “World Eater”. I described it as about ten tracks mashed together at car crash speed. It’s long enough to live-tweet your response to each “movement”. However, it’s not ideal if you have a migraine. I’m not that sure what this kind of music is for per se, only that it sounds amazing if you are in the right mood.
8. Joe Goddard and SLO “Ordinary Madness”
This year I often planned out album digests and didn’t have time to write them. Often it was because converting the site from WordPress was more time consuming than I first thought. On the other hand, I do try to do albums justice. Joe Goddard’s excellent album “Electric Lines” was one of those albums. Released in May, it’s jam-packed with splendid pop-dance music that recalls the best of Hot Chip and the halcyon days of early nineties dance music. “Ordinary Madness” is super cute and fun to get lost in.
7. Fever Ray “To The Moon And Back”
The whole of Fever Ray’s second album “Plunge” is dedicated to the pursuit of love, or at least the adventure of getting out into the world to find love. The first single “To the Moon and Back” is very much that mission distilled into three minutes, culminating in a line that almost feels like a punch-line. You hear it, and you think: did I hear that right? And when you realise you did, the song just ends… Brilliant.
6. United Vibrations “Rocksteady”
If I’d written up my ten favourite albums of 2016, then United Vibrations’ “The Myth of the Golden Ratio” would have been number one. UV have been quieter this year, releasing only this track (and a remix of it by Bad Milk). However, this sweet soulful groove shows that their jazzy experimental sound could benefit from being transplanted into more conventional pop songs. The lyric is about dealing with personal and political setbacks in a chilled-out and gracious way, and as such it is very much the sort of tune that needs more airtime in this day and age.
5. Wire “Playing Harp For The Fishes”
Fish can’t hear things. Which makes this song by Wire an excellent metaphor for people attempting to have a serious debate in current times. Like United Vibrations, Wire urge you to keep going. It’s less about transcending matters in blissful solidarity with friends and lovers, and more about wryly carrying on with the same determination. In many senses, this is what Wire have always done. This is why they continue to be treasured by their fans.
4. Dreadzone “Area Code”
This jaunty number seems a touch out of place on Dreadzone’s moody comeback album “Dread Times” but that just means it works well as a stand alone track. It’s infectious in the most joyous of ways, one of very few songs that I would consider putting on
repeat one. I listen to it and I’m burbling random lyrics from it for the rest of the day. Work colleagues who have ever seen me bobbing my head like a madman while figuring out some R code or filling in a spreadsheet should know that this song is the reason why.
3. Hampshire and Foat “Galaxies Like A Grain Of Sand”
Spotify’s Discover Weekly does some wonderful things, like lobbing this glacial piece of instrumental jazz at me on a hot July morning walk to work. Suddenly all the other people on the street melted away, the shadows drew themselves up over me and Chichester became a speck in the celestial expanse. It felt like I had been slung into orbit, not bad work for two shredded wheat and a cup of instant coffee. The entire album of the same name is excellent but this one track packs in all the essential elements.
2. The Mysterons “Dotted Lines”
Because (spoiler alert) the Mysterons’ album “Meandering” is my favourite album of the year, it was very hard to pick out a favourite song from it for this list. It’s an album that works well as a whole, so I found myself choosing a different song almost every time I thought about this list. In fact I changed my mind again while writing this post. In the end I went for “Dotted Lines” because it shows the Mysterons to be capable songwriters and the song’s emphatic feminist rejection of plastic surgery and beauty magazines is worth highlighting.
1. The Unthanks “What Can A Song Do To You?”
The Unthanks released an album inspired by the poetry of Molly Bloom in July. This song made its way into my Discover Weekly and it played immediately after “Glaxies…” (see number 3) and this completely bowled me over. It played as I walked into work and it was so captivating that I sat down at my hot desk and carried on listening to the song. At which point a fragment of poetry was read, seemingly spoken directly to me. It was another of those magical moments that sometimes happen while listening to music (or reading poetry). Moreover, that same magic seems to occur again each time that I listen to the song. What can a song do to you? Good question…