Music

The Chelsea Tribe’s Top 20 Songs of 2017

Oh Sees – “Animated Violence”

Dropping “Thee” for their latest output, this track off of Orc is as heavy as it comes. This is a band that channels Black Sabbath hard, but with 2 drummers and the maniacal John Dwyer on vocals / guitar. “Web”, off of Mutilator Defeated at Last, was on-repeat in 2015, followed by two albums in 2016, and now we get another full-length album by one of the most prolific independent groups of the decade, maybe matched only by The Brian Jonestown Massacre in both quantity and quality.


At The Drive-In – “Hostage Stamps”

It was only a matter of time before Cedric Bixler and Omar Rodriguez reassembled to work on new material, following the dissolution of the Mars Volta and reformation of At the Drive-In. This past year, in•ter•a•li•a is the latest since 2000’s Relationship of Command, and even without founding member, Jim Ward, it’s easy to feel a bit nostalgic, especially given the El Paso group’s lively performances. Johnny Firecloud from Antquiet invited me to catch the group this year at the Shrine Auditorium, which immediately warranted giving in•ter•a•li•a a thorough listen. “Hostage Stamps”, with a music video akin to Tool’s “Sober”, is a stand-out track.


King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – “Rattlesnake”

There may not be single album this year quite like King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s  Flying Microtonal Banana, primarily because the album is composed and structured around microtonal instruments and arrangements. It’s an unusual pleasing cacophony, difficult to accomplish from a musicianship standpoint and as a result, resembles a worldly mix, even if it’s just a bunch of psychedelic freaks from Australia. “Rattlesnake”, while repetitious, is the essence of mixing heavy rock with obscure psychedelia. Check out the trippy, hypnotizing video below:


The Brian Jonestown Massacre – “Melody’s Actual Echo Chamber”

I’m sure that this song it’s politely poking fun at the French indie rock group, Melody’s Echo Chamber, but The Brian Jonestown Massacre, true to form, may have jokingly released one of the best a reggae / dub tracks of 2017. What!? Take a listen to the demo below, but for a real treat, be sure to “get lost” in the mastered version from The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s latest album, Don’t Get Lost. It’s a fully baked, mystical trance in the island of dub.


Tracy Bryant – “Forever Certain”

Venturing more into down-tempo, introspective territory than 2015’s rocking “Subterranean”, it’s delightful to see Tracy Bryant shift so effortlessly to acoustic-driven tracks. It’s obvious that Tracy has the chops to work within a variety of genres, from Corners to his solo work, which has established him amongst esteemed company on the Burger Records label. He’s a talented friend of The Chelsea Tribe and so is his frequent collaborator and music video director, Johnny Maroney.


Thurston Moore – “Smoke of Dreams”

The solo work of Thurston Moore, featuring collaborating musicians Debbie Googe (My Bloody Valentine), James Sedwards, and Steve Shelley (Sonic Youth), is essentially the closest thing we’ll get to Sonic Youth these days. With that pioneering group’s heavily-felt absence, we can find a modicum of comfort in Thurston’s unique guitar playing and voice inherent in his latest album, Rock n’ Roll Consciousness. I’d be remiss to not mention that Lee Ronaldo has also been simultaneously busy, putting out some cool stuff on Mute Records. That said, Thurston Moore’s “Smoke of Dreams” is a perfect encapsulation of Sonic Youth-related jams for 2017.


Drab Majesty – “Dot in the Sky”

If anyone is into The Cure, Bauhaus, Sisters of Mercy, and that whole genre, do yourself a favor and look up L.A.’s own, Drab Majesty. The Demonstration, released in the later half of 2017, does not sound of this era. In fact it’s quite impressive and alien that the band was able to so accurately mold their sound around some seriously 1980s harmonies and structures. It’s modern and slightly New Romantic, think Visage.


Queens of the Stone Age – “Un-Reborn Again”

Queens of the Stone Age, a band that needs very little introduction. …Like Clockwork, being the semi-major label (Matador) hit in 2013, anticipation was steadily building for a follow-up, even more so after frontman, Josh Homme, began working and touring with Iggy Pop in 2016. While their 2007 album, Era Vulgaris, is a personal favorite, there are more than a couple of great gems on Villains. “Un-Reborn Again” being a highlight, even if you primarily need to hear the song in context of the whole album.


Gothic Tropic – “Teenage Behavior”

Gothic Tropic, led by Cecilia Della Peruti, spent years polishing their full-length album, Fast or Feast. The lengthy time of recording and touring is supremely evident in the clean compositions and magnetic rhythms felt throughout the EP. You can call it pop or indie or whatever, but on a song like “Teenage Behavior” we see elements of Metric or The Duke Spirit drive the track into something worth getting down to.


Traps PS – Lexicon Artist

Kino Kimino was casually promoting Lexicon Artist on their Instagram story feed and even from that brief introduction, some wild sounds caught my attention. Traps PS are a rather unconventional L.A. punk group, with unsual song structures and are quite frankly— ineffable. In fact it’s not realistic to pick a “best” song off their latest effort, Lexicon Artist, as the songs are often only 40 seconds in length. Their albums are really meant to be listened to as a whole, not unlike Swans or many other post-punk groups. Furthermore, since this band is very underground, not a lot of live footage or snippets exists, hence no audio preview, but definitely give them a listen on Spotify or Apple Music or in our playlist below.


Honroable mentions:

There were some good songs by Allah-Las for the follow-up to Calico Review, plus new releases by Ministry, Ty Segall, The Falming Lips, Cherry Glazerr, Venn, Hollie Cook, Hoan, and Au.Ra


See our Apple Music playlist below:

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