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Music

Goldie - "I Adore You" (Singles Going Steady)

Adriane Pontecorvo: Breakbeats, soulful vocals, more breakbeats. What decade is this? A better one, from the sounds of it. The production soars on "I Adore You", fresh, fast, and retro. The melancholy in Natalie Williams’ voice feels almost hopeful, and whether that’s just her or a rosy retrospection on the simpler days of house music doesn’t really matter. The song is gorgeous, and it’s good to feel like the '90s are back for a few minutes. [9/10]

Mike Schillier: "I Adore You" is a success entirely on the strength of Natalie Williams' vocals. The classic drum 'n' bass beat is there, but it's practically a preset these days. Wobbly bass, color added with pianos, thick textures built upon wispy synths... there's nothing here to get excited about save for those vocals. Williams is perfect, however, injecting emotion and gravitas where there was only cold construction. She deserves all the credit for any success "I Adore You" might find. [6/10]

Chris Ingalls: Goldie teams up with R&B duo Ulterior Motive for a preview track from his upcoming double album. The vocals soar through Goldie's patented drum & bass beat and suddenly it's the '90s all over again. It's a soothing but ultimately inconsequential track that serves as a nice amuse bouche for what will likely be a highly anticipated new album. [7/10]

Andrew Paschal: There's a lot packed into "I Adore You". Natalie Williams' impressive vocals belt their way into the spotlight, but Goldie and Ulterior Motive's busy production seems intent on elbowing her back out of it. The track has the conflicted feeling of two songs unhappily married as one. It's a stimulating song, but it doesn't leave quite enough room to breathe. [6/10]

SCORE: 7.00

In Americana music the present is female. Two-thirds of our year-end list is comprised of albums by women. Here, then, are the women (and a few men) who represented the best in Americana in 2017.

If a single moment best illustrates the current divide between Americana music and mainstream country music, it was Sturgill Simpson busking in the street outside the CMA Awards in Nashville. While Simpson played his guitar and sang in a sort of renegade-outsider protest, Garth Brooks was onstage lip-syncindg his way to Entertainer of the Year. Americana music is, of course, a sprawling range of roots genres that incorporates traditional aspects of country, blues, soul, bluegrass, etc., but often represents an amalgamation or reconstitution of those styles. But one common aspect of the music that Simpson appeared to be championing during his bit of street theater is the independence, artistic purity, and authenticity at the heart of Americana music. Clearly, that spirit is alive and well in the hundreds of releases each year that could be filed under Americana's vast umbrella.

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From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

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Music

The Best Country Music of 2017

still from Midland "Drinkin' Problem" video

There are many fine country musicians making music that is relevant and affecting in these troubled times. Here are ten of our favorites.

Year to year, country music as a genre sometimes seems to roll on without paying that much attention to what's going on in the world (with the exception of bro-country singers trying to adopt the latest hip-hop slang). That can feel like a problem in a year when 58 people are killed and 546 are injured by gun violence at a country-music concert – a public-relations issue for a genre that sees many of its stars outright celebrating the NRA. Then again, these days mainstream country stars don't seem to do all that well when they try to pivot quickly to comment on current events – take Keith Urban's muddled-at-best 2017 single "Female", as but one easy example.

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It's ironic that by injecting a shot of cynicism into this glorified soap opera, Johnson provides the most satisfying explanation yet for the significance of The Force.

Despite J.J. Abrams successfully resuscitating the Star Wars franchise with 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, many fans were still left yearning for something new. It was comforting to see old familiar faces from a galaxy far, far away, but casual fans were unlikely to tolerate another greatest hits collection from a franchise already plagued by compositional overlap (to put it kindly).

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7

Yeah Yeah Yeahs played a few US shows to support the expanded reissue of their debut Fever to Tell.

Although they played a gig last year for an after-party for a Mick Rock doc, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs hadn't played a proper NYC show in four years before their Kings Theatre gig on November 7th, 2017. It was the last of only a handful of gigs, and the only one on the East coast.

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