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Music

The Weeknd - "I Feel It Coming" feat. Daft Punk (Singles Going Steady)

The Weeknd sounds more like Michael Jackson than ever as he glides up to those high notes.

Andrew Paschal: Whereas "Starboy" was chilly and nocturnal, "I Feel It Coming" is all warmth and gentle buoyancy. The track closes out its respective album with a dose of youthful, romantic innocence, a morning where all the previous night's depravities have somehow melted away. Abel Tesfaye's vocals are clear and infectious, as are the percolating synths surrounding them. The track is more on-brand Daft Punk than "Starboy", but their telltale robotic backup vocals are still tastefully applied and may even provoke some welcome nostalgia, befitting the track's retro vibe as a whole. One of those songs you actually look forward to hearing on the radio. [8/10]

Adriane Pontecorvo: There’s no question that the Weeknd is best when he’s feeling romantic, and "I Feel It Coming" showcases his smoother side (along with Daft Punk’s, though the duo owes us no more proof of its versatility at this point). The graphic side of things matches perfectly: soft sunset lights, picturesque nebulae, and a glittering cosmos add grandeur to the song’s low-key velvet grooves. The Weeknd sounds more like Michael Jackson than ever as he glides up to those high notes, and this time around, at least, he sounds effortless. [8/10]

Chris Ingalls: In his second collaboration with Daft Punk, the Weeknd unabashedly channels '80s era Michael Jackson, right down to the retro music video. Sonically, this hits all the right "Thriller" notes, from the robotic mid-tempo beat to the gleaming synths and the Weeknd's smooth R&B croon. Daft Punk adds their own sound to the mix with some typical Vocoder effects. Ultimately, it's more style over substance: more of a tribute than a meaningful tune. But it's a fun diversion, and the King of Pop is likely looking down on this and smiling (and moonwalking). [7/10]

Mike Schiller: It's hard to say it'd be a problem if all of the Weeknd's singles going forward featured Daft Punk. This song is so slick, so smooth, it practically melts out of the speakers. It gets docked a point for the unnecessary "heat between your legs" line, but otherwise, this homage to Michael Jackson is about as close to the real thing as we could hope for in 2017. [8/10]

SCORE: 7.75

Music

The Best Indie Rock of 2017

Photo courtesy of Matador Records

The indie rock genre is wide and unwieldy, but the musicians selected here share an awareness of one's place on the cultural-historical timeline.

Indie rock may be one of the most fluid and intangible terms currently imposed upon musicians. It holds no real indication of what the music will sound like and many of the artists aren't even independent. But more than a sonic indicator, indie rock represents a spirit. It's a spirit found where folk songsters and punk rockers come together to dialogue about what they're fed up with in mainstream culture. In so doing they uplift each other and celebrate each other's unique qualities.

With that in mind, our list of 2017's best indie rock albums ranges from melancholy to upbeat, defiant to uplifting, serious to seriously goofy. As always, it's hard to pick the best ten albums that represent the year, especially in such a broad category. Artists like King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard had a heck of a year, putting out four albums. Although they might fit nicer in progressive rock than here. Artists like Father John Misty don't quite fit the indie rock mold in our estimation. Foxygen, Mackenzie Keefe, Broken Social Scene, Sorority Noise, Sheer Mag... this list of excellent bands that had worthy cuts this year goes on. But ultimately, here are the ten we deemed most worthy of recognition in 2017.

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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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