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opbmusic Best Of 2017: Songs


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We asked the opbmusic staff for some of their favorite songs of the year by locally based acts: songs that we loved on first listen, songs that grew on us, songs we couldn’t get out of our heads. Paring it down to just 18 wasn’t easy, but some common favorites eventually emerged. Here’s opbmusic’s list of favorite songs from 2017 by Oregon musicians:


Wild Ones - Paresthesia

“I’ve long thought Wild Ones to be Portland’s finest pop band (by some distance), but have had to wait an agonizing three years to have further confirmation of that title. Whatever they were doing in that time has really paid off: ‘Mirror Touch’ is a masterful album and opening track ‘Paresthesia’ is an immediate highlight. Save this for those late nights when everything has fallen apart and you just want to own it and dance among the pieces. We’re spoiled for complex, nuanced, emotional pop music these days, but this one feels raw: There’s genuine hurt here and real defiance.”

- Mike Dempsey, opbmusic DJ


Haley Heynderickx - Oom Sha La La

“Forest Grove, Oregon, native Haley Heynderickx took opbmusic by storm in 2016 with her stunning debut EP, ‘Fish Eyes.’ Her full-length debut is due out in early 2018, and if this teaser track, ‘Oom Sha La La,’ is any indication, her brand of thoughtful and electric folk has expanded to include a broader and more adventurous sound. With it’s doo-wop backing vocals and quirky, introspective lyrics (including a gardening-related freakout!), this was easily one of the year’s most striking songs.”

- Jerad Walker, opbmusic Music Director


RAC - This Song feat. Rostam

“For ‘This Song,’ RAC teamed up with former Vampire Weekend-er Rostam to serve up our favorite unabashed electropop anthem of 2017. The synthesized rhythmic sequence that drives the track is treated with a classical sophistication at the end, and the peaks and valleys in between take us from an ethereal dance to full on club-jumping … just shy of fist pumps (but with all the excitement). It’s the perfect song to add to your pre-funk playlist.”

- Mike Baden, opbmusic DJ


Kelli Schaefer - Big Black Box

“Kelli Schaefer’s ‘Big Black Box’ comes off her latest release, ‘No Identity.’ The song has a beautifully haunting and sobering feeling to it that is framed perfectly by Schaefer’s tense voice and cinematic lyrics. Each verse is illustrative, allowing the listener to follow the raw emotion line by line. And while I can’t quite pinpoint the underlying message of the song, the mystery is what keeps me coming back over and over.”

- Morgan McDonald, opbmusic DJ


Aminé - Heebiejeebies

“Playful, flirtatious, and — at times — incisive, 23 year-old Benson Polytech graduate Adam Aminé Daniel charmed listeners in 2017 with his critically acclaimed debut studio album, ‘Good For You.’ ‘Heebeejeebies,’ a bonus track from the record, pairs the Portland rapper with rising star Kehlani. It’s an effort that’s referential to hip-hop/R&B crossover duets of eras past while playing adroitly on the pair’s shared love of the modern-day intersection of social media, whimsy and lust. With an eye towards branding and filmmaking, Aminé appears poised to become a dynamic contributor to the ever-expansive national hip-hop dialogue.”

- Nathan Tang, opbmusic DJ


Autonomics - Bad Blood

“Before this year, I’d only heard a couple of singles that Autonomics had released, but I dug the fuzzed-up guitars and great melodies. So when the band’s second full-length album, ‘Debt Sounds,’ came out in September, I bought a copy without hesitation. It didn’t disappoint. The one-two punch of ‘Southern Funeral’ and this song, ‘Bad Blood,’ are the reasons why Autonomics are definitely my favorite new Portland band.”

- Francis Storr, opbmusic DJ


Anna Tivel - Illinois

“Expertly produced by Austin Nevins (Josh Ritter, Aoife O’Donovan), ‘Illinois’ is propelled forward by Anna Tivel’s wispy voice with the help of beautiful electric lead guitar, pedal steel and standup bass arrangements that never quite overshadow the songwriter’s lyrics. And that’s important because Tivel is a talented storyteller who vividly describes a heavy-hearted road trip home in soul-crushing detail.”

- Jerad Walker, opbmusic Music Director


 The Domestics - Little Darkness

“The Domestics have been a staple of opbmusic since their 2015 self-titled debut album, including a visit to our studio in early 2016, but I somehow missed the boat. That all changed when I heard the title cut from their sophomore album, ‘Little Darkness.’ Extensive touring in 2016 made the band a tighter group of performers, and they’ve elevated their game in the studio to create a fuller, rounder sound. In the case of ‘Little Darkness,’ they replaced what would have been piano with Rhodes, synths, and Mellotron and further embraced and enhanced what they do so well: simple, well-crafted songs with everyman lyrics about heartache and what it takes to get by. Little Darkness is a song full of contradictions — both rhythmically and lyrically — and is a great sonic indication of the rest of the songs on the album.”

- Matthew Casebeer, opbmusic DJ


Reptaliens - 666Bus

“Reptaliens are one of the most interesting live bands in the country. If you’ve never seen them before, I implore you to watch their opbmusic session from September — it’s a wild mix of avant-garde performance art and dreamy rock n roll. But don’t let the lizards, preachers and faceless people dancing on stage distract from the band’s solid music like this song, ‘666Bus.’”

- Jerad Walker, opbmusic Music Director


The Last Artful, Dodgr - Oofda 

“The Last Artful, Dodgr released her full-length LP ‘Bone Music’ earlier this year. The record is the result of a partnership with Neill Von Tally, a Portland producer whose beats seem to resonate a little deeper than most human eardrums are accustomed to. ‘Oofda’ is a prime example of why these two local talents work so well together. Speaker-rattling sub-bass tones combine with Dodgr’s distinct, nasal yet soulful voice to create a soundscape that makes you wish you still had that sub-woofer in the trunk the next time you roll down Burnside Ave.”

- Gerard O’Sullivan, opbmusic Contributor


Eyelids - Falling Eyes

“Jangling guitars, lush lyrics and simple three-chord melodies that simply won’t let you go are what make Portland rock band so Eyelids great. ‘Falling Eyes’ has all of the above. The song is reminiscent of the best of the Lemonheads or R.E.M., so the fact that Peter Buck produced the album on which it appears is no surprise.”

- Per Ramfjord, opbmusic DJ


Filthy Friends - The Arrival

“Fronted by singer Corin Tucker (Sleater-Kinney) and backed by Peter Buck (R.E.M.) and a rotating cast of talented musicians, the supergroup Filthy Friends released their debut album, ‘Invitation,’ in August. The album itself is a mixed bag of sounds with sonic references to iconic bands from Television to T-Rex (as well as the band’s own impressive resume). These are all very good things. ‘The Arrival,’ an early single, delivers everything you’d expect of indie-rock veterans. The guitar riffs are heavy and catchy, Tucker’s vocals howl, and the song is carried by a punk energy.”

- Michael Cavazos, opbmusic DJ


The Dovecotes - Tantrum

“The Dovecotes dropped their second full-length record, ‘Humorless,’ in March. As the title suggests, the Portland rock band delivered a gloomy record written largely in minor keys. But that’s not a bad thing. Dark times call for dark music, and as the days grew shorter this year, I found myself coming back to this album again and again. With haunting vocals, a relentless beat and warbly guitars, this dance-y rock song, ‘Tantrum,’ was the standout track.”

- Jerad Walker, opbmusic Music Director


Little Star – Calming Ritual #1

“Little Star’s self-titled album is a collection of concise, introspective songs, each bearing their trademark sonic signature, forward-sounding chorused guitars and falsetto vocals. Rarely does their music progress for more than a few seconds without sliding in and out of dissonant tension, which fits perfectly with singer Dan Byers’ self-reflective lyrics. On ‘Calming Ritual #1,’ Byers sings of measuring himself by his value to others, his need to ‘feel like somebody’s darling’ or have ‘something to offer.’ Every piece of assurance is met with unease. It’s a lesson in discovering how to cultivate one’s own sense of belonging.”

- Nick Hennessy, opbmusic Contributor


Portugal. The Man - Feel It Still

“2017 was a big year for Portugal. The Man — one that saw them accomplish a first ever feat for a Portland-based band: Their single, ‘Feel it Still,’ reached No. 1 on six or more airplay charts. That made the song a verified smash hit (all over the world). So it should have been no surprise that when PTM headlined Edgefield this summer they played the song twice (once early and once late), and no one seemed to mind one bit. The track, built around the bass riff from the Marvelettes’ ‘Please Mr. Postman,’ is catchy, infectious and timeless. The live version from the band’s opbmusic session showcased the triumphant pop song stripped down, funky bass, rollicking piano. With their recent Grammy nomination for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance it’s clear that people far outside of Portland like the song and (wait for it) feel it still.”

- JT Griffith, opbmusic DJ


Jeffrey Martin - Golden Thread

“For the better part of a decade, Jeffrey Martin has been a solid contributor to the Eugene and Portland folk music scenes. But with the release of his third full-length record, ‘One Go Around,’ he made a huge leap forward. The song ‘Golden Thread’ was a particular head-turner. Martin’s rock-solid songcraft is still front and center here, but it’s wrapped snugly in warm production that highlights every positive angle.”

- Jerad Walker, opbmusic Music Director


 The Parson Red Heads – Coming Down

“The Parson Red Heads are a favorite here at opbmusic, and their fourth full-length album, ‘Blurred Harmony,’ gave us another reliable dose of great songs this year. The first single from the record, ‘Coming Down,’ caught our ears with its dreamy lyrics and crunchy guitar riffs that give way to seemingly endless guitarmony solos. Although the track is laced with psychedelic introspection, it’s essentially straight-ahead guitar-drum-and-bass rock ‘n’ roll, which is all you really need when the songwriting and musicianship is this masterful.”

- Arthur Lee, opbmusic DJ


Landlines – Signs Of Life

“In September, Landlines released their second full-length album, ‘s/t.’ The 11-track slacker rock collection included this standout song, ‘Signs Of Life.’ With lazy, hazy vocals that would make Stephen Malkmus proud and one of the catchiest guitar lines of the year, the Portland trio reminded us all just how great no frills rock n roll can be.”

- Jerad Walker, opbmusic Music Director

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