A Best of 2017 Part 1 on The Moon

We are already over half way through 2017 and so The Moon presents a  A Best of 2017 Part 1. It is a Moon tradition that has become a bit trailblazin, as many other content providers now do a similar thing, only they manage to publish 6 months into the year rather than at the start of the 7th....

The big change this year is that you can play this playlist directly from The Moon on any old device thanks to Playmoss, which allows you to pull together content from Bandcamp, Vimeo, the non subscription required Soundcloud content and any Youtube content that is not on a Vevo channel or owned by Universal Music...

This does mean that, compared to using Spotify, there are some restrictions, in that the choice can be limited to the "single" tracks released on Youtube or Soundcloud or available to stream on the Bandcamp page, but also allows for content not available on Spotify to be included, and we have two tracks not on the Spotify version from Ty Segall and Trindon Grange Explosion.

I have been pleasantly surprised on the number of albums that are on Bandcamp, though some do only allow the streaming of one or two tracks. I have had to use a couple of live performances from Ubend from Ha Ha Tonka and Chilli Gonzales and Jarvis Cocker, but both are indistinguishable from the original, if you ignore the intro and outro from the Tonka's. Then the penultimate track is a live acoustic recording of Billy Bragg doing his new tune, that is not the best quality, but it is Mr Bragg with a guitar and the words are clear.

It would be a lot easier if it was possible to use Vevo content; it is odd that a Vevo video can be embedded into Wordpress blogs but then don't work in Playmoss or in feed readers. Playmoss have recently blogged that  they are in "in conversations with them" so it may be sorted at some point. I hope they do as it may be that Soundcloud, at least as we know it, will not be around forever.

The playlist itself is as achingly Anglo-Saxon as ever, though in a pretty diverse way, ranging from Psych Rock and quite a bit of electronic Top Pop to Spook Folk and Americana and also a little bit of soul and Hip Hop.

It is a nice round 50 tracks and so a bit down on the mammoth 64 from 2016. As usual it consists of newish tunage I have discovered in recent times and so quite a few are from 2016 and, as ever, it will not be comprehensive. Below the playlist is a bit of guff on each artist and/or links to relevant Moon posts and some other further info. From the playlist you can also click on "Buy" on those from Bandcamp to check out the album.

Thanks go to the usual suspects: The AV Club, A Finest Kiss, Folk Radio UK (FRUK), God Is In The TV and The VPME music blogs, BBC 6Music and Uncut Magazine.

A 48 track version is also available via Spotify for offline syncing if you are a subscriber and to convert it to some other streaming providers you can use Soundiiz  though 5 of the tracks are not on Microsoft's Groove Music.

1. Ural Thomas and the Pain - Pain (is the Name of Your Game)

This is a new version of a song Mr Thomas first released back in 1967,  but this is a radically different and much improved version released on his latest LP from 2016. The album is very fine soul with soul that can also rock n' roll.

2. Joseph Coward - Peanut Girl

I would have liked to have kicked off this playlist with the brilliant Coming Down from this LP, but it is not available via Playmoss and so instead we have this single which is Mr Coward at his most poptastic. He is someone with an interesting past of being born into and escaping a religious cult, and his experience is certainly reflected in his music. It is his second LP, his first from 2014 is also very good, but I did discover it until last year. This new LP came out in late 2016 and is my favourite from that year to not have its own Moon post.

3. Camp Claude - Golden Prize

This is the cracking lead track from a fine album of poptastic electronica from three "citizens of nowhere"  -  The French-American Diane Sagnier, the British Mike Giffts and the Swedish Leo Hellden. It is another album I was not sure about but went back to after hearing this track again in one of Mr Any Von Pip's excellent podcasts from his VPME blog.

4. Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions - Let Me Get There

Ms Sandoval has one of my fave voices and the debut Mazzy Starr LP, from way back in 1990, is a classic. However, subsequent releases have not managed to float my boat, even the much admired second Mazzy Starr LP, but this new Warm Inventions LP has. It is pretty laid back, but it at least manages to almost match the songcraft of the classic Mazzy Star debut, especially this track which is a duet with Kurt Vile. It is now the second entry onto a Moon Best of for Ms Sandoval, as she featured on the gorgeous I Don't Mind  from The Psychic Ills on A Best of 16

5. Puberty - Nature Calls

From one of a number of albums from 2016 I got into belatedly thanks to the end of year best of from the A Finest Kiss blog. They are from Seattle, Trumpyland and a project of The Intelligence frontman Lars Finberg and former member  Susanna Welbourne.  It is a fine album of punky indie rock. This track is a highlight and the most raucous.

6. The Burning Hell - Fu*ck the Government, I Love You

This is the best song I have come across from 2016 that did not get on A Best of 2016. They are a Canadian indie institution, recommended by both A Finest Kiss and FRUK and their sound is like a mashup of the best bits of Belle and Sebastian and The Wave Pictures. I presume this track might have been inspired by the previous Canadian government, but it is now very relevant to Brexshit Blighty in 2017.

7. Flyying Colours - 1987

This is the third time this Australian band have featured on a Moon best of and the second time it has been a track released the year before as I was again alerted to it via A Finest Kiss. The album carries on in the same vein as there previous EPs, though again nothing quite matches Wavy Gravy from their debut EP. This track is their most poptastic to date and is very appropriately named as it a very fine slice of C86 inspired indie pop.

8. Snails  - Jennifer Jones

From another album that featured on the end of year best of from the A Finest Kiss but I had already heard of them from elsewhere, especially this track, which is a great slice of Syd Barretesque like top pop. The album is not available on Microsofts Goove Music and, limited to listening to is via Bandcamp I had not quite got into it in time for A Best of 16, but I did manage to in January and it is a fine LP which is reminiscent of early Belle and Sebastian. They have also released a new 4 track EP this year, which is also available on their Bandcamp site.

9. Hotels - Wildwood

Also via  A Finest Kiss, but this time from their Belated List of 2016 Seattle LP’s
Apparently,  they have been "knocking around Seattle for years, and have released a number of albums and singles but none as good as their latest." This cinematic soul, a one for Dame Shirley Bassey, track is a highlight with a great vocal, but also not very representative as the rest of the album as it has male lead vocals and is also rather like Belle and Sebastian.

10. Austra - Future Politics

Rather like Camp Claude this is an album I was not sure about initially, but it was highly recommended by many sources and always featured this excellent lead track. The rest of the album is also poptastic electronica, but not quite as instantly gettable as this track.

11. The Flaming Lips - The Castle

Into 2017 at last and a track from an album I was looking forward to after their excellent EP from 2015. It did not quite live up to expectations, with quite a bit of filler, but the best of both does make an LPs worth if great and inventive tunage. Although, I am not your typical Flaming Lips fan as I still think their Heady Ffrends collaboration from 2013 is the best LP I have heard from them.

12. Ron Gallo - Young Lady, You're Scaring Me

From a pretty impressive debut LP from this New Yorker who is a bit of a mashup of Ezra Furman and Jimi Hendrix. Although, anyone with kids might not appreciate the rather preachy Why Did You Have Kids, plus it is not a great song, but this opener is one of many highlights.

13. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard - Billabong Valley

From the first of 5 albums they plan to release in 2017 and it was a great start and meant they gained their third Moon post. The second Murder in the Universe is more for the hardcore, although it is a fun listen. The next LP is apparently jazz based...They were also one of the highlights of my armchair Glastonbury, despite playing mostly tracks I don't like much.

14. Ty Segall - Break A Guitar (not Spotify)

A first appearance from Mr Segall in a Moon Best of since the Grooveshark one from 2012, but he could have been in virtually every year since but for the fact Drag City do not allow his stuff to be streamed from the usual places, in Brexshit Blighty at least. That said, this latest LP is a  return in style to his 2012 releases. It does not quite match a best of the two LPs he released in 2012, but it is the most consistent and varied LP I think he has released. This track is the opener and one of the most conventional tracks. It is not a  particular highlight, but just the one track that has had an official Ubend release, but thankfully not via Vevo and so usable in Playmoss.

15. Trindon Grange Explosion - Weeping and Wailing  (not Spotify)

Sadly not available on Spotify etc, but this is one of many highlights from these London folk rockers. Their sound ranges from being remarkably Teenage Fanclub like to this gorgeous slice of spook folk. You can check it out on The Moon

16. Bleached - Dear Trouble

A track that marries punk rock with an Abbaesqe melody, from the EP of the year so far from a band who featured on The Moon last year, and it  hopefully points to a great third album. The lead singer also pulled together the Can You Deal zine in support of Planned Parenthood.

17. Hurray for the Riff Raff - Living in the City

This is a band I had previously been aware of, but had not floated my boat despite the rave reviews, but for this album Alynda Segarra, put together a new band which managed to create a great new and more modern style. This is one of the many great tracks that together make one of the albums of the year so far. Check it out on The Moon

18. Ryan Adams - It Will Never Be the Same on Spotify or Burn The Night on Playmoss

Mr Adams has been as prodigious as ever and as with the year of his last album release I have pulled all my faves together on Ryan Adams Recent Decent on The Moon

As before, many of the  most interesting tracks are not on the album and ironically, his Ubend content does not work in Playmoss as it is from UMG. So for Playmoss we have one of  his 2015 self released singles via his PAXAM label and on Spotify we have a track from the 18 track Prisoner B Sides, originally released with the box set, but now streamable from the usual places.

19. Ha Ha Tonka - Favor

Their previous album had a Moon post, but this latest effort does not quite match it. That said, I did end up enjoying it despite initial reservations. It follows the same pattern as the last LP by kicking off with some big tunes reminiscent of other more successful bands; beginning with Kings of Leon at their best; then Wilco at their most mainstream; then Coldplay at their worst and then some old skool like Mumford and Sons. It gets better in the second half where they stick to their default mode of early Wilco, although the electronic and poptastic Land Beyond works surprisingly well.

20. Dead Man Winter - Destroyer

This is from the solo project of Dave Simonett, the lead singer of Trampled by Turtles from Minnesota, Trumpyland, who kicked off  A Best of 14 on The Moon. It is more mainstream alt Americana than the more folky Turtles, but the songs are top quality. And this track has a great video featuring a bevy of famous faces.

21. Dear Reader - Oh, the Sky

The gorgeous opener from a brilliant 4th LP from this South African who is now German based. The album is sadly still not on Microsoft's Groove music, but is available to stream on The Moon via Bandcamp and in the other usual places.

22. Hannah Lou Clark - Matilda

This is the opening track from her third EP, all of which are of a very high standard and you can check out on The Moon. I hope a great album, that does not feature many of these tracks follows and none of the EPs disappear from Spotify etc.

23. Laura Marling - The Valley

Her last LP was the first I had got into since her second, as I thought she had been repeating herself a bit. This  new LP carries on where Short Movie left off by bringing more variation to her sound, though it does not quite match Short Movie, mainly because it has only 9 songs. This track is one that would fit into her earlier records, but it is gorgeous.

24. State Broadcasters - I'll Sing With Yer

My song of the Summer and what should be the festival anthem of the year. From a cracking album featured on The Moon by a band from The Land of More Enlightenment to the North of  The North, and who are like a great combination of some of Glasgow's finest bands.

25. Angharad Drake - Baby

The great opening track from this debut album of gorgeous folk from Downunder. She had released 3 mini LPs previously, but this track and a couple of others on the LP introduced a fuller sound that I hope is developed more in the future. Check it out on The Moon

26. Chris T-T - #Worst Government Ever

He is an artist I have been aware of for a while and another one I re-checked out thanks to a VPME podcast and his last 9 track album turns out to be one of the best I missed last year. This track is now more relevant than ever, although with hindsight the UK government of 2015-17 would be hard to beat, but then you could say it is continuing but, thankfully, in a contained way. The track Love Me I'm a Liberal is my personal anthem, it is a re-write/ update of a Phil Ochs song of the same name, but I think he improves the lyrics and gives it a load more melody.

27. Father John Misty - Two Wildly Different Perspectives

From an album that divided critics somewhat, an ambitious effort that does not quite live up to itself. His single track releases last year were promising and if you work in the poptastic Real Love and the weird but wonderful Maybe, Sweet One, You Won't Have Nightmares Tonight, and move the epic but never ending Leaving LA to the end, then it makes for a fine playlist to match his previous efforts, which also have their share of underwhelming tracks. But when he is good he is brilliant, like with this track and he was a highlight of my armchair Glastonbury experience.

28. Monkoora - Bocx World

The lead track from a 6 track EP that is the most distinctive and inventive music I have come across this year. Monkoora is Julie Crawford and hails from Edinburgh in The Land of More Enlightenment to the North of The North. This track also manages to represent the way many must be feeling about the world in general. The EP is available on the main streaming services, except for Microsoft's Groove Music and her previous releases can be found on Bandcamp.

29. Martin Carr - Gold Lift

The main man from the legendary Boo Radleys released this just before #GE2017 and it has turned out to be a great representation of the times we are in. It's lyrics say it all, but the upbeat and dam funkay sound make it make most sense post election result.  It is his only release this year, hopefully there is more to come, but for now check out A Best of Martin Carr on the Moon via Spotify or stream a best of Bravecaptain, his initial post Boo incarnation,  directly on The Moon via Playmoss.

30. The Asteroid Boys - Foreigners

Some Tip Top Hip Hop from Cardiff in The Land of More Enlightenment to the West of The North. They are yet to release an LP but have released a number of EPs and this track is the one of the top political tracks of the year.

31. Gorillaz - We Got the Power

Mr Alburn is the most featured artist in his multiple incarnations on Moon best ofs, and after a year off he is back with one of his most Poptastic moments. He is aided and a abetted by Jehnny Beth from Savages who reveals a fantastic voice that has not been done justice with her bands material so far and by some bloke called Noel Gallagher, who is a big Stevie Wonder fan and this track is reminiscent of Mr Wonder's finest work; it may have been the reason Mr Albarn asked Mr Gallagher to contribute or it may be part of his contribution. The rest of the album is an uplifting and dizzying array of further collaborations with the up and coming and with a couple of legends. It is another remarkable achievement from Mr Albarn.

Check out Gorillaz Live on The Moon

32. Chilli Gonzales and Jarvis Cocker - Tearjerker

Mr Cocker follows up his entry on A Best of 16 with a track from his interesting collaboration with Mr Gonzales. I always wished there were a bit less of talky bits in Pulp records, but in this setting, and with last years Likely Stories EP it works well. Still, it would be great to her him properly sing some new material at some point.

Check out A Yorkshire Treasure: A Best of Pulp and Jarvis on The Moon

33. The Black Angels - Currency

This is from a  psychedelic rock band from Austin Texas, deep in Trumplyand, who have been around for a while but have only come to my attention with their recent release. This is cracking opening track rocks and also gets a bit political. The rest of the album continues in pretty much the same vein, but this track has the most instant impact.

34. Mark Lanegan - Goodbye to Beauty

A track from his latest LP and one of many top songs as usual, but like his last album it is not as brilliant as his Blues Funeral album from 2012. He is repeating himself a bit, I hope his next effort is different, even a change to a very retro style would be welcome as his voice and the quality of the songs will always make it stand out. This track is one of the few quieter moments with a less brooding style and is rather lovely.

35. UV-TV - Run, Run (Morning Sun)

From a cracking debut LP from a trio from Florida in Trumpyland. It kicks off with 4 short burst that sound like The Primatives on steroids, but then this track comes along and is more like  The Vaselines on steroids and then later on there are some epic slower and longer tracks that bring to mind the the likes of Spaceman 3. Unsurprisingly, The Finest Kiss loved it.

36. The Paperhead- The True Poet

A cracking opening track from the third album from "Nashville’s best-kept secret". It is an album of Blighty influenced psychedelic rock n' roll channelling the likes of Ray Davies and Syd Barrett.

37. Charles Latham - Dressed Up For Nothin'

From a top album of alt-folk americana from Virginia Trumpyland, but with formative experience in Brighton, an outpost of enlightenment in what is now Brexshity Blighty. This track is one of the most folky and traditional on an LP that is consistently brilliant but also varied. Check it out on The Moon

38. Alex Rex - Song for Dora

One of the tracks of the year, from one of the albums of the year from the solo project of the leader of Trembling Bells, a folk rock group from Glasgow in The Land of More Enlightenment to the North of The North. Find out more and check out the LP on The Moon

39. Kathryn Williams - Common Ground

Ms Williams has a voice I have admired for years, but I have never been taken by her songs until I heard this track which is a beautiful instant boat floater. It is from an album that is a soundtrack to a novel by Laura Barnett called Greatest Hits. The lyrics were written by Ms Williams with Ms Barnett, and though this track is sonically what I would expect from Ms Williams, this project has resulted in a very varied LP and one that is consistently very good, it even positively rocks in places, just maybe a bit too politely.

40. The Wolfhounds - Stupid Poor

This is a band who featured on the original C86 tape. They then went onto develop their sound to be more akin to the likes of the Pixies or Sonic Youth, but then split in 1990. Then in 2005 they reformed and have bucked the usual trend by managing to produce some great new music. This track jumps out at you, but it is a fine album of politically charged rock n' roll.

41. Sweet Baboo - Humberside

A gorgeous track about getting away to the mystical land of Humberside, it is said that part, or all of it is within God's Very Own County. This is another album not available on Microsoft's Groove Music but inexplicably you can stream it on The Moon via Ubend and find it on Bandcamp. The quality matches his last, also Moon featuring LP, but is just shorter. This track is the most Divine Comedy like and most like the last LP, but the rest of the album is a bit more electronic and with Pink Rainbow it gets a bit funkay.

42. Tender Prey - Bury Me At The Temple

Another fine album from Miss Byron of self-described Sleaze Blues from Cardiff. Which like her debut featured on The Moon  It has no obvious stand out track but this one is a good representation.

43. Cigarettes After Sex - Apocalypse

This is the project of Greg Gonzalez, which he started in 2008 as an experimental recording project in a stairwell in the University of Texas. The results ended up being released as an EP and lead track was recently used to great effect in an very moving scene in The Handmaidens Tale, which is my top telly of the year so far.

He is now New York based and there has been a few single releases, including this track from this year and from the recently released debut LP. This track is a good indication of the album that does not include the early EP tracks, so a very good playlist can be put together from all the releases so far, but it is all a bit one paced, which can also be said about....

44. Lana Del Rey - Summer Bummer

From another overly long and oddly track-listed LP from the ever generous  Miss Grant. But you can make a 12 track LP from it and re-order it to make what would be a very good LP that is pretty diverse and less one paced, although not nearly as diverse or multi-paced as A Best of the Rest of Lana Del Rey on The Moon Part 4

This track is a languid highlight, but it is not her first or best collaboration with ASAP Rocky as you can find the excellent Ridin on A Best of the Rest of Lana Del Rey on The Moon Part 2

45. Algiers - The Underside of Power

This is the brilliant lead track from this anglo-American band. It is the most modern soul with soul I have come across, which is also inspiringly political. This track is a stand out, but it is from one of the most inventive albums of the year.

46. Noga Erez - Off the Radar

The cracking title track from an impressively inventive debut LP of hip hoppy electro from Israel. Also inspiringly political, taking on specific issues in her country and the more universal issue of misogyny.

47. Sufjan Stevens, Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhly, James McAlister - Mercury

This is from an album for a project that has been brewing since 2011. Many of the songs were first used in a live 2012 production of  Planetarium as a suite of songs celebrating the solar system, with full orchestral backing. However, the album has ended up sounding like a Sufjan Stevens record and could be seen as the follow up to his The Age Of Adz  record from 2010. There is a lot of filla but it all sounds lovely.

48. Big Thief - Capacity

This track does not match the brilliant Real Love as featured on A Best of 16 from the debut LP from this New York based band. They have followed their debut with a new LP lacking in obvious standouts, but one that is more consistent.  It is a brave record to release so soon after the impact of the debut, but it is a great listen if you give it a little time.

49. Billy Bragg - The Sleep of Reason

The first of a number of new political numbers Mr Bragg will be releasing this year, and it is a great start. He had said it should not be up to him to bring politics to pop anymore and that it should come from a new generation, but I guess 2016 changed all that. A new generation has also stepped up, often supported and encouraged by Mr Bragg and with the likes of Grime4Corbyn. He has made this track available in all the usual places, but sadly the lyric video on Ubend is on his Vevo channel which does not work in Playmoss, and so we have a live acoustic version. It is not studio quality, but it is Mr Bragg with a guitar and the words are clear - what more could you want? Check out A Very Best of Billy Bragg and More on The Moon

50. Blondie - Heart of Glass (Crabtree Remix)

This is the second track on this playlist to also feature on The Handmaidens Tale, the TV of the year so far. It is used in an amazing riot scene in part 3 of the first series and is a mash up of the classic Blondie track and Violin Concerto II by Phillip Glass and turns the top pop tune into a melancholic masterpiece.

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