It’s bloody Christmas time again. A time, we agree, for unholy amounts of mince pies and wine, and more repeats of Love Actually than you can shake a red and white sugary stick at, but it’s also a time to reflect on the musical year that has been 2017.
From Oh My God debut albums making new British bands massive, to the year’s most anticipated returns being everything we wanted and more, to incredible acts of defiance against hatred, and, as always, healthy servings of bands doing things that simply made us say: ‘Errr, Say That Again Mate?’.
There’s been some pretty amazing moments this year. So many, in fact, that we’ve collated a hundred of them. We’re going to be sharing them across this week, highlighting some of our favourite festival moments, absolute bangers of singles, political moments that gave us hope, legends of the year and more, before ending up with our ten Big Ones of 2017: the bands and acts that made us laugh, cry, smile and dance the most this year.
Follow everything in The DIY List 2017 here.
Don’t call it a comeback.
The ‘i was there’ live moments of the year.
Errr, say that again mate?
Sound the horns, it’s an absolute banger.
Most notable first steps.
Political moments that gave us hope.
The times we left an important part of our brains somewhere in a field.
Collaborations are some of our favourite things here at DIY, seeing our faves combine at live shows or for brilliant link-up LPs. This year’s seen plenty of ‘em, and we’re delighted. From The Big Moon backing Marika Hackman on her five star-rated ‘I’m Not Your Man’ to Mark Ronson lending a hand to Queens Of The Stone Age’s ‘Villains’ behind the desk. With buzzy new labels Yala! and Dirty Hit also inspiring us this year, it’s safe to say that we wanna be in their gang.
Marika Hackmoon: the world’s best new supergroup
If anybody can name a more iconic grouping this year, we’ll be damned and eat our collective hats in a single sitting while we’re at it.
Photo: Emma Swann / DIY
Everybody loves a superband, right? Right?! WELL, if anybody can name a more iconic grouping this year than Marika Hackman and The Big Moon, we’ll be damned and eat our collective hats in a single sitting while we’re at it!
After gawping at each other’s perceived coolness from a distance for quite some time, this merry band of legends eventually palled up for real during one particularly flailing dance-off, and the rest, as they say, is history. This year Marika enlisted her new best mates to play on her second album ‘I’m Not Your Man’, and starred as a villain in The Big Moon’s fidget-spinner filled ‘Pull The Other One’ video in return.
As well as touring together under a variety of guises - The Big Moon and Marika’s joint tour, along with Soph Nathan’s other band Our Girl supporting Marika in the States, the united supergroup - Marika Hackmoon, if you will - also played one of SXSW’s most staggering shows in 2017; taking over a frat party and battling electrocution with the help of a few (hopefully clean) socks on microphones in the process. A drunk man even fell in the swimming pool, and honestly, what more could you ask for from a gig? El Hunt
All aboard the Dirty Hit bus!
The next stage in the slow music world domination of the indie label, it marked their next generation out as a bunch capable of scaling equally great heights.
Photo: Emma Swann / DIY
Whenever a tour ends with one of its headliners running fully clothed into the sea, you know something’s gone right. Such was the sodden finale of April’s first ever Dirty Hit tour, helmed by comeback kids Superfood and propped up by hyper buzzy goth poppers Pale Waves and delightfully scuzzy young noiseniks King Nun.
Packing into a series of tiny, sweaty venues across the country, there was a tangible sense of excitement in the air and now, eight months later, you can see why. Superfood went on to release a game-changing album of the year. Pale Waves are currently gracing our cover as breakout superstars. King Nun have torn up every stage they’ve been put on with an irrepressible fizz of energy.
The next stage in the slow music world domination of the indie label (home to The 1975 and Wolf Alice), it marked their next generation out as a bunch capable of scaling equally great heights. And, even more than that, it was a right bloody laugh too. Lisa Wright
Kurt & Courtney teaming up is a great thing for music
More of these surprise musical couplings next year, please.
The most iconic pairing of Kurt and Courtney since… erm, well, the original Kurt and Courtney, actually, this year saw two bright stars from opposing sides of the Pacific ocean joining forces. Vile and Barnett might not sound like the most appetising of duos, granted, but that little old thing didn’t hold them back from making ‘Lotta Sea Lice’ - this year’s greatest accidental collaboration album (catchy).
“Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile should have started writing with each other years ago,” we wrote in our feature with the duo. “The pair, two of indie rock’s finest songwriters, have a shared penchant for deadpan humour and wry witticisms – Courtney’s droll observation is riddled through lo-fi guitars while Kurt’s existential bluesy grooves intertwine with American cliche. It’s a dream musical partnership that is obvious, in hindsight; a friendship first founded through mutual admiration, and talent cut from the same cloth.” Nawwwwh. More of these surprise musical couplings next year, please. El Hunt
Gorillaz showing their human side
Gorillaz are firmly back on the map, and it’s been a hell of a ride.
Across pretty much the whole of 2016, Gorillaz dropped hint after hint that they were preparing a return. All manner of ‘interview quotes’ from the band’s characters popped up across the web and a host of potential special guest names were thrown around. What no-one quite expected, however, was just how guest-packed the new album - suitably titled ‘Humanz’ - would be. From Noel Gallagher and Jehnny Beth of Savages to Vince Staples, Danny Brown, Grace Jones and beyond, ‘Humanz’ has a brilliant, vibrant range of voices across its 20 tracks. Pretty much all of them were in London to christen the album at a low-key but utterly joyous comeback show at Printworks back in March.
Rolling through the year by presenting all manner of bonus tracks and offcuts from the record, their own festival down in Margate, a huge US tour and a year-ending double-header at The O2 in London, Gorillaz are firmly back on the map, and it’s been a hell of a ride. Will Richards
Yala! Records: the coolest new label on the block
Yala!’s clearly on to a very good thing indeed.
Photo: Carolina Faruolo / DIY
Since The Maccabees announced their split (sob), guitarist Felix White’s been a busy bee. In-between presenting regular shows on Radio X and kicking off a new career as a respected cricket journalist (no, we didn’t see that one coming either), he’s also set up Yala! Records: a label/ clubnight/ Generally Good Musical Thing that’s already proven itself to have a rather fine ear for new bands.
Having launched Yala! at the end of 2016, 2017 was the year that the new venture really started to kick into gear. Over the past 12 months, they’ve released The Magic Gang’s ‘EP3’, as well as new music by DIY faves YAK and excellent newcomers FEET, while also hosting shows and live sessions from a whole load of excellent types including IDLES, Matt Maltese, Crows and Happyness. With a creative ethos to get behind and an indie treasure for a skipper, Yala!’s clearly on to a very good thing indeed. (Lisa Wright)
Rat Boy popping up on Kendrick Lamar’s ‘DAMN.’
“I just got loads of tweets one morning telling me I’m on the Kendrick album! It’s mad.”
Photo: Phil Smithies / DIY
There were quite a few surprises when Kendrick Lamar dropped new album ‘DAMN.’ earlier this year, but none quite matched up to the almost unbelievable sound of a certain Rat Boy popping up on ‘LUST.’ The singer’s 2015 mixtape track ‘Knock Knock Knock’ was sampled and the vocals fiddled with, becoming an actually-very-brilliant little snippet on one of ‘DAMN.’’s highlights.
“That was trippy,” Jordan Cardy told us in a recent DIY feature around Rat Boy’s debut album ‘SCUM’, of hearing the news of his inclusion on the record. “I got a message from his producer DJ Dahi about a year ago, telling me that he’d flipped one of my vocals. I messaged him quite a few times trying to found out what he’d done and didn’t really hear anything back so I kind of just dropped it.”
“Then the day [‘DAMN.’] came out, someone dug up a tweet I did of the lyrics [from ‘Knock Knock Knock’] about two years ago, and then all these blogs were writing about it and everyone was messaging me like crazy. I just got loads of tweets one morning telling me I’m on the Kendrick album! It’s mad.” Mad indeed. Will Richards
Queens Of The Stone Age <3 Mark Ronson 4eva
‘Villains’ is a five-star monster of a record that amped up Queens’ natural swagger and gave it an extra wiggle in its step.
On paper, a collaboration between horn-loving Uptown Funker Mark Ronson and tequila-swilling desert rock behemoths Queens of the Stone Age should be a nonsensical nightmare. There are reasons, you would imagine, that no-one tends to have both Bruno Mars and Josh Homme on equally convenient speed dial.
But then came ‘The Way You Used To Do’, a finger-clickin’, shoulder-shimmying sasspot of a number that somehow sounded audibly like the work of both its contributors and all the better for it. Maybe, we thought, raising a quizzical eyebrow, this thing could just work?
And it did. Very well. Not only was ‘Villains’ a five-star monster of a record that amped up Queens’ natural swagger and gave it an extra wiggle in its step, Josh and Mark’s mutual love-in became a bromance for the ages too. “I’d throw in something and they’d be like ‘Oh man, you’re in the jacuzzi’, which means like, ‘You can get in the club with us’,” gushed Ronno to DIY earlier this year. Room for a few more guys? Guys?? Lisa Wright
Calvin Harris and Frank Ocean creating the pop bop of the year on ‘Slide’
One of the most joyous slices of sun-drenched pop 2017 had to offer.
Back in February, Calvin Harris tweeted that all the songs he will release this year have been “sonically designed to make you feel fucking incredible”. A bold claim from the man who once dressed like a human glow stick, but the world-beating producer started to make good on his claim only two days later with ‘Slide’, a Frank Ocean and Migos collaboration that made an early claim to be Pop Bop Banger of the Summer 2017™. Spoiler alert: it still probably hasn’t been beaten all year.
The first single from an album Harris absurdly (but, turns out, quite suitably) called ‘Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1’, ‘Slide’ is the pure, joyous sound of cruising down the sunset strip with the windows down, with Ocean’s vocals the smoothest they’ve sounded in years.
‘Funk…’ featured plenty more bops of a similar quality, not least the gorgeous ‘Heatstroke’, released with help from Pharrell Williams, Ariana Grande and more but it was ‘Slide’ that stood out as one of the most joyous slices of sun-drenched pop 2017 had to offer. Hurry up with ‘Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 2’ Calvin, pal. Will Richards
All eyes on South London
The floodgates are opened, you’d be a fool to look away yet.
If you didn’t have an SE postcode in 2017, were you even in a band? Easily taking the title of ‘Most Prolific Bit Of The Capital’ (a title that we just invited, and what?), Brixton and the surrounding areas spent the last 12 months churning out thrilling new acts like it was going out of fashion.
Centred around pub venue The Windmill (and now-defunct boozer The Queen’s Head), a new crop of wild-eyed young’uns emerged with a penchant for visceral live shows and political lyrics that summed up what it was to be engaged and angry in a year of Brexit, Tory rule and Trump. From Shame’s eloquent railing to Goat Girl’s deadpan wit, via Matt Maltese’s world-weary romance and Sorry’s warped grunge (plus Dead Pretties, who sadly burnt out when they’d only just begun), there was something in the Thames water this year.
Now, there’s a second tier of bands emerging too: Yowl, Insecure Men, Lice, Hotel Lux, Milk Disco… the list goes on. Bands dwelling in various sonic hinterlands but sharing an urge to grab their audiences by the scruff of the neck and make their messages heard. The floodgates are opened, you’d be a fool to look away yet. Lisa Wright
The Magic Gang racing towards their debut album
It’s no secret that The Magic Gang have truly mastered the art of a lagers-in-the-air sing-along.
It’s no secret that The Magic Gang have truly mastered the art of a lagers-in-the-air sing-along. In between stints in the studio, this year saw the four piece releasing a whole new EP of boxfresh bangers, along with bundling into tour buses across the country to further prove this point, just ICYMI.
Supporting Sundara Karma and Wolf Alice on their respective tours, The Magic Gang also played basically every single festival going, including a genius set at Bestival which featured the group in matching boyband-esque yellow anoraks. Special mention, though, must go to their pier-shaking performance at The Great Escape in their Brighton hometown. Complete with a manically grinning punter being removed from the venue - while still on his friend’s shoulders! - that show in particular is a moment forever emblazoned in our memories.
To be honest, the only thing missing from this lot’s 2017 was that elusive debut album. And y’know what, since it’s slated for release next year, we’ll let them off on that count. El Hunt
More like this
All the biggest and best tracks of the past two weeks, rounded up and reviewed.
The August issue of DIY - featuring Sleater-Kinney, The Murder Capital, The Big Moon, Kim Petras and more - is out now
It also features Friendly Fires, The Futureheads, Jay Som, Shura, Whitney and more.
Not so much Marika 3.0 as the Marika who was always there, but tougher, stronger and more triumphant than ever.
On their Mercury-nominated debut, The Big Moon soared to greater heights than they ever predicted. We catch up with the quartet as they prep LP2 with the stratosphere in their reach..