Music update, December 2017.

I sometimes post a monthly playlist for December after my top 100 songs of the year come out to catch singles that came out after I posted the rankings, but this year there weren’t quite enough songs for that, so this is more of a salmagundi of singles I missed from earlier in the year, new stuff that didn’t make the list, a few songs that did but are good enough to mention again, and so on. You can access the playlist here if the widget below doesn’t work.

Artificial Pleasure – Wound up Tight. This was #80 on my top 100 songs of 2017, the first song I’d heard from this London electronic-rock group, who have released a few singles but no full-length album yet. I’d say it’s like the Human League meet Wild Beasts.

The Decemberists – Ben Franklin’s Song. A “Hamildrop” with lyrics courtesy of Lin-Manuel Miranda, who apparently wrote the words with the Decemberists in mind, then sent them to Colin Meloy, who produced what I think is one of the band’s best tunes to go with it. Warning: There’s some choice language within.

Kid Astray – Roads. This was #85 on my best of 2017 list, the third time this Norwegian indie-pop act has made one of my annual top 100s.

The Fratellis – Stand up Tragedy. I feel like the Fratellis’ lyrics are sort of a poor man’s version of the wordplay we get from the Wombats’ Matthew Murphy, which may in turn be a reaction to the Fratellis’ biggest hit coming from their 2006 debut. It’s a bit of a shame that “Chelsea Dagger,” a great song in its own right, has overshadowed their later work; they’ve produced plenty of solid-average tunes like this one even if they haven’t matched their first song’s peak.

The Wombats – Turn. Speak of the devils. This is a little more midtempo than my favorite Wombats songs, and didn’t make my top 100 (although “Lemon to a Knife Fight” did at #17. Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life drops on February 9th, and their US tour starts this week (with a show in Philly I can’t make, unfortunately).

HAERTS – The Way. HAERTS released this single on December 8th, their third of 2017, but there’s still no word of a new album.

Van William – Before I Found You. The WATERS lead singer’s debut solo album, Countries, is due out on January 19th, and includes this single, “Country” (#91 on my 2017 top 100), “Revolution” (#41 on my 2016 top 100), and “Fourth of July (#15 on my 2016 list). So I’m looking forward to it.

Belle & Sebastian – The Girl Doesn’t Get It. The Scottish stalwarts are releasing three Eps over three months under the collective title How to Solve Our Human Problems, with an expected 15 songs in total. It’s more of a return to their typical style, if they can even be said to have one, after their outstanding pop/dance-tinged Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance.

Sunflower Bean – I Was a Fool. “Wall Watcher” was #87 on my 2015 top 100; this is the band’s first new single since their 2016 debut album and their last single, “Easier Said.” The indie/jangle-pop trio should release their second album some time in 2018, but there’s no date or title yet.

Anteros – Love. Anteros’ “Cherry Drop” was #43 on my top 100 from last year; this December single was my second-favorite track of the four the band released last year.

The Afghan Whigs with James Hall – You Want Love. The Afghan Whigs released this song in June, a cover of a 2004 song by Pleasure Club, as a tribute to the Whigs’ late guitarist. Whigs lead singer Greg Dulli is a longtime fan of Hall, who was the founder and lead singer/guitarist of Pleasure Club and has had a lengthy underground career as a solo artist.

Buffalo Tom – All Be Gone. I assumed Buffalo Tom were on a permanent hiatus, but this single just appeared a few weeks ago ahead of a promised new album, their first since 2011. This feels like their ’90s peak in the combination of upbeat music and melancholy lyrics, although the production puts Bill Janovitz’s vocals further out front.

Ten Fé – Single, No Return. Ten Fé’s debut album, Hit the Light, was my #10 album of 2017; they’ve since become (officially) a five-piece band and released this new single in November.

Saxon – Thunderbolt. Saxon were a major part of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, although they didn’t have as much success in the U.S. as they did in the U.K., never landing a top 100 album over here. They’ve continued recording and have had a modest comeback over their last few albums, with this the title track from their upcoming 22nd LP.

Legend Of The Seagullmen – Shipswreck.. The band’s own site describes them as a “genre destroying super-group,” even though they’re a prog-metal band. Featuring Brent Hinds of Mastodon, Danny Carey of Tool, and the guy who directed Horton Hears a Who!, the band played its debut show on New Year’s Eve as an opener for Primus.

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