Above is a YouTube video playlist counting down each song. I've included official videos when possible, with official audio-only "videos" as a backup. Unofficial audio streams are never used. As a result, several tracks in the countdown are unfortunately not available in this playlist. Pro tip: Click on bars in the upper left of the YouTube window to jump to a specific video.
As is tradition, here are my Top 35 Songs of 2017. These are songs that I loved when I first heard them, and songs that I was excited to hear again when I started compiling this list just before Christmas. These aren't the "best" songs, and certainly are not the ones I listened to most (those Spotify lists are useless), but they are my favorites. As always I've also included three tracks from 2016 that I just didn't hear in time to make last year's list, but they definitely would have made the cut if I had.
Top 35 Songs of 2017:
After a long hiatus, the Midwestern trio has returned with a single that's well-crafted, catchy, and hushed. The restraint and build up is masterful, giving weight to a beefy riff that twists the knife in just the right spot.
Guitars buried in tremolo, wood block percussion, and a bouncing rhythm just set the plate for Stephin Merritt's rhyming words of caution about the true impact of a rock 'n' roll lifestyle. Take it from the old timer when he warns "And all that noise gave me hyperacusis / So turn this record down or it'll happen to you, sis."
Stephanie Knipe's "Full Screen" is full of astute observation, real emotion, and enough bounding flowery indie pop that you'll lose yourself in 2:37. Those guitar solos are Aztec Camera-perfect.
Daniel Romano will never write the same song twice, which is why we should cherish this crafted number that recalls the Laurel Canyon music scene of psychedelic-tinged country rock. Lose yourself as you breath in the apricot-like scent of sinister oleander.
A dream pairing that doesn't disappointment. This duet-done-right brings weary lovers together to propose a fragile ceasefire over simple indie pop accentuated by a smart bass line.
The perfect melding of a big guitar riff and enormous gutsy vocals makes "Tonight" everything. When the chorus explodes I want to put on Doc Martens, a flowery skirt, and stomp the shit out of big muff pedal.
A lovely two-minute earworm of '77 punk rock that's heavy on the pop and cheeky AF. Join in the backing chorus and remember that rebellion should be fun.
These French punks get a little sappy in this melodic song that churned and chugged right into the soft spot in my heart. Nothing oversized, everything just laid out perfectly. Well done boys.
A message of self-improvement from the lads on the terraces. I love the driving guitars that erupt into melodic solos, the pinging bass, and that big gang chorus is everything to me. Smart and done right.
The fathers of Oi build on their legacy with a song begging for fans to pile at the front of the stage for a chance to sing into an outstretched microphone. It's family, solidarity, and defiance sung over a galloping pub rock foundation.
Things you will do when you hear this song: 1) Air drum 2) Shout vocals until you're hoarse 3) Shake your ass to that nifty guitar lead. You're going to look silly doing that as you walk to the bus stop, but you're not going to care a bit.
This song is an enormous gut punch. If the lyrics about a fallen band member don't get you, then that chorus is going to knock the air right out of you. When the guitar solo slides in, you're done for.
So nice to have Ted Leo back with a dynamite song that adds some production filigree to his timeless power pop. Where did all those guitars come from and how do they all sound so damn good?
Chicago punks show that they're anything they want to be. This is a quiet tumbling song about a dead cat, replete with sad steel guitar, and it's breaking my old man heart.
BA Johnston is the working-class hero we don't deserve. Just a simple solo acoustic jam that shares the wisdom of "when you pay someone what you pay me, an emergency for you is not one for me." Shout it proudly!
"Entangled" is a lovely return to the slow and shimmering power pop of Sweet's heyday. It's amazingly difficult to write a song that sounds this simple, and even harder to make me think of a slide guitar as an old friend.
That guitar lead. That goddamned guitar lead. It comes in three times (in various forms) during a song that never reaches three minutes, and I still want to hear it again. That's some alt rock guitar heroics right here.
This sweet two-minute power pop cut from Leeds' Cyanide Pills carries all the bomp, the harmonies, and the heartache one could ask for. If the Kinks' skinny-tie-era was your everything, then this will change your life.
The fathers of Oi! offer a melodic punk track with one of the most hopeful and comforting choruses ever written. "I'm telling you she's gonna be ok / I'm telling you that she'll pull through and find her own way / Telling you she'ss gonna win this fight / I'm telling you she's gonna be alright."
Garage punk? Power pop? '77? Who knows but it's snappy and catchy as hell and if you're not spelling along to that chorus by the second time it rolls around, you're dead.
Working class anthems are nothing new, but Booze & Glory has written the one to end them all. The chorus, the harmonies, the guest vocalist, the guitar solos, and damn those lyrics. Listen to this song for every time you've been screwed over by a boss.
A bit of high energy indie pop that will explode the dance floor at a club night, as well as the floor of your bedroom on a cold Thursday night. Kick off your shoes and slide out of that jumper, it's time to dance.
Perfect power pop from a founding member of The Boys. Sweet vocals, fun lyrics, snapping drums, a quick hit guitar solo, and everything you're going to need to make the next two and a half minutes of your life right.
Experimental London act strikes Krautrock gold with this 8+ minute motorik track colored by processed guitars, repetitive synths, and a mysterious vocal tag.
You'll not find a more persistent ear worm in 2017 or any other year. There's just hooks for miles and miles, and I'm in love with the synth line hiding in the chorus. Even the little things are done right here.
Whether on vinyl or live, there's no more exciting band than Austin's A Giant Dog. The bass drives this one while drums crash, synths squall, guitars climb, and Ellis's high vocals all round out Cashen's baritone.
A lifetime ago it was lo-fi recordings with a frantic acoustic guitar, today Darnielle's observation and wit is sharper, and his craft powerful enough to mold a full choir around his honest celebration of the supremely disaffected goth tribe. Simply majestic.
"Teenage Heart" is not just this year's best power pop song, it's one of the best power pop songs ever written. This is the dramatic urgency of my teenage years, only filtered so I remember the kid I wanted to be, not the one I was.
Is this a true story? Is it the pitch for a movie that I desperately want made? Here's a full-band punk rock track about two things that don't mix: drinking and the J stroke.
"Holy Mountain" is a fuzzy glam stomper with an enormous chorus, layers of backing vocals, and every instrument ever. Oh, and it's also better than anything Oasis ever did.
Talk about playing hard to get — here's a local trio that plays only a few shows a year, refuses to do a record with me, and I'm smitten. "Crazies" is a glam slam, and that thumping chorus keeps me jumping. Call me please?
Moz's social politics may be polarizing, but from the skipping electric piano, to that dreamy half time, and all the way through a chorus replete with trademark croon, I'm team Morrissey.
After a long absence, this one-time buzz band has returned with a bossa nova-fueled party invite that's hypnotizing, hilarious, and sharp. If you won't dance to this this one, please don't come to the party.
Every few years Aimee Mann releases a new album and everyone writes about how underrated she is. This year's installment highlights "Patient Zero" — a song and story that unfolds masterfully as piano chimes and swelling strings are added over simple acoustic guitar, and a voice confident enough to expose its vulnerability.
This high energy rock 'n' roll masterpiece wastes no time. It's all chorus and refrain, most of it double time, all of it filthy fun. If you didn't get a chance to scream this one along with the band during one of its legendary live sets, then your 2017 was a waste.
The title says it all, this is a bright and breezy ode to the jangly 12-string guitars and power poppers that every Too Much Rock listener is surely in love with. Name check Chris Bell and Bobby Sutliff in a song and my heart melts. This would have been high up in Top Songs of 2016 if I only would have heard it in time.
Just a dynamite cover of the 1966 Link Cromwell & the Zoo (Lenny Kaye!) side. More energy than the original gives this the feel of a garage stomper while not losing the transcendent elements. Play this one more time while I pound the steering wheel and scream out that chorus.
So much sleaze for one A-side that honors all the tropes, invents nothing, lifts rifts, and builds the best damn song you can imagine. Three minutes that feels like the best 1:45 of your life. How did I miss this single last year?
Tracks #9 through #1 can be heard on Too Much Rock Podcast #427.
Are your favourite songs on my list? If not, let me know and maybe they'll make my 2018 adventure picks.