At several points throughout 2017, a simple question was asked: What are you listening to? Whether we were fielding it or asking it, the reply was often specific to a singular song. With all due respect to the time-honored album and EP -- and from Slowdive's self-titled to Kendrick's DAMN. to Quiet Giant's You're in Heaven, there were quite a few of note -- this year was all about the song. Songs of passion, songs of empowerment, songs of not giving a damn and songs of giving every last damn imaginable soundtracked a year that tested the will of the people. As Daniel Brockman notes in his intense Year in Pop essay for Vanyaland, pop music is headed down a dangerous path; but it's also merging into one giant streamable playlist, where the underground battles for clicks and listens with Top 40, and this year's Vanyaland year-end recap -- a mere selection of our staff's favorites, and by no means a silly declaration of the absolute "best" -- reflects that. Our staff was asked to come up with their faves, and these are the responses, presented alphabetically. The lead entry, via Toronto's Alvvays, feels like an appropriate jump-off, and the featured image of the up top was shot by the late, great Eddy Leiva, from their October show at The Paradise.
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Anti-Flag, “When The Wall Falls”
Aside from the obvious political direction in this track from their newest album chronicling the current state of affairs, American Fall, Anti-Flag flex their muscles with “When The Wall Falls.” From the gang vocals to open the track and the booming drums throughout, to the many different genre styles they incorporate within the 2:45 window, from elements of ska punk to the surprising organ solo that replaces the common breakdown, Anti-Flag yet again proves that they haven’t exactly coasted through their 30-year career without mixing it up a little bit in the studio.