Best of 2017: Will Eastman’s Picks
Jamie xx’s grasp of emotive song craft is indisputable, yet he always seems to shine brightest on the dance floor when remixing his own music. The greatest dance music is simple and appeals across genres. Add a dollop of emotion and Jamie has the recipe for something to lose oneself in under the mirror ball time and time again.
Kendrick Lamar, DAMN.
Since April 14, was there ever any doubt this would be album of the year? Not much I can add here that hasn’t already been published.
Best New Artist
Yaeji’s sound is close and intimate, and one can hear the influence of contemporaries like Dirtybird Records artists. But where Yaeji differs is in her own idiosyncratic production. She bobs and weaves playfully, melding hip-hop and bass with a flow that’s undeniably groovy, but she’s getting a lot of well-deserved props right now thanks to her irresistible vibe. Yaeji, please come to DC and blow our minds!
Track of the Year
Charlotte Gainsbourg, “Deadly Valentine”
If you’d told me 8 years ago electro king SebastiAn would produce my favorite song of 2017 I’d likely have said fat chance of that, however it happened on 46-year-old French musician and actress Charlotte Gainsbourg’s willful and immaculate fifth album, Rest. The album explores the death of her famous father, and takes as its central theme alcohol addiction. It’s dark and real in a way only the musical art form can be, and it’s a gift we collectively deserve in this brutal year. In many ways, the song is a counterpoint to 2013’s “Get Lucky” by fellow French luminaries Daft Punk — and oh how we’ve fallen in the intervening four short years. Enjoy the dense darkness with a splif and close friends as we all teeter on the edge between civilization and chaos. We are wed to this age “from this day forward, for better, for worse, until death do us part” like Gainsbourg to her lover/existence:
You are my little hurricane
Pictures are gently left behind me
Somewhere a face that I can’t find
You are my deadly valentine
It is a perfect soundtrack of our time.
Artist of the Year
If anyone ever tells you there aren’t great artists coming out of the D.C. area, promptly tell them to go f*ck theyselves. Now, we just need to figure out how to keep them from moving away. The infrastructure is here, yet the ethos undeniably isn’t (but that’s a topic for another day). Kelela has made her own way, forging a unique sound yet drawing upon and standing tall on the shoulders of those who came before her in R&B. She risked it all to push herself and her sound forward, and she has succeeded. Where she goes next is limited only by her drive and imagination.
In an immensely disjointed and miserable year, DJ Seinfeld’s 80s and 90s-inspired euphoric jams were an injection of much-needed optimism and positivity, reminding us that the dance floor is, and will always be, our refuge.
Favorite Shows of the Year
U Street Music Hall created the Our DC event series in 2017 to support the efforts of the ACLU to defend the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States. The launch event was one I’ll never forget. We raised over $10,000 for the ACLU this year. If you were there, thank you for supporting this effort. As Joe Strummer said, the future is unwritten. That’s a wonderful thing for artists, creatives, and dreamers, but also, as we’ve seen in 2017, an opportunity for despots, reactionaries, and deplorables. Don’t lose sight of the goal of a peaceful and more harmonious future.
A master DJ in a small space with a rapt audience ready to leave behind any and all bullshit and get down is a simply a magical moment in time.
Label of the Year
DC Artist to Watch