The 35 Best Rock Songs of 2017GuitarSpotting
21. Queens of the Stone Age – The Way You Used To Do (Villains)
“Just come and love me how.
Like the way you used to do.”
It’s been a few years since we heard from American rockers Queens of the Stone Age. But Josh Homme and the boys returned to the scene in August with their new album Villains.
And ‘The Way You Used To Do’ strutted straight onto radios around the world.
It’s a well-crafted tune that pushes all the right buttons, mixing a tight, funky riff, cool vocals and sense of swing into a song that is instantly recognizable.
TLDR: Rock you can dance to.
20. Prophets of Rage – Unfuck the World (Prophets of Rage)
“Bow down, just do what the man say.
Buy them lie them deny it all day.”
This one ain’t safe for work (if you hadn’t already figured that out from the song title). Let’s just say the language is a little surly.
If you ever wondered what happened to the guys from Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave, lead guitarist Tom Morello, bassist Tim Commerford and drummer Brad Wilk teamed up with two members of Public Enemy (DJ Lord and legendary vocalist Chuck D) and B-Real from Cypress Hill, to create a new album of hop-rock music.
And ‘Unfuck the World’ rocks. I love the way the backing music shifts into an awesome groove when the second verse (with B-Real) kicks in. Chuck D and B-Real’s twin lead vocals mesh pretty well here. And one thing is clear: Tom Morello’s still got it. Check out his excellent (but weird) squealing guitar solo.
Heavy and uncompromising, yet still accessible for fans of both hard rock and hip hop.
TLDR: Make America Rage Again.
19. Milk Teeth – Owning Your Okayness (Be Nice)
“But I hate that I’ll never really know if you’re telling the truth.
It drives me wild trusting you’re talking to who you say you do.”
Milk Teeth is an indie band hailing from England (the Brits are certainly representing this year), who released the Be Nice EP back in July.
‘Owning Your Okayness’ is a catchy rock ditty with some crunchy guitars and cool vocals from lead singer Becky Blomfield. Unique vibe and the melody gets its hooks into you with repeat listens. I dig this.
TLDR: Crunchy pop.
18. Stone Temple Pilots – Meadow (Single)
“Yeah, we’re all just killing time and having fun.
Here in the sun.”
The sordid history of Stone Temple Pilots and troubled singer Scott Weiland is well-documented. After his death in 2015, the band decided to carry on, and recently announced the addition of new lead singer Jeff Gutt.
Still working on the new album, the band dropped the single ‘Meadow’ in November. I was curious enough to check it out, but have to admit I wasn’t expecting all that much.
My apathy quickly turned to appreciation, because ‘Meadow’ kicks some serious ass. A driving, blistering rocker, it sounds just like a classic hit song from nineties-era STP. Gutt does sound like Weiland at times, but he still makes this song his own.
TLDR: Instant nostalgia.
17. Blackwater Conspiracy – Penny For Your Dirty Mind (Shootin’ the Breeze)
“Got a feeling that I don’t wanna be kind.
Got a kiss for your devil and a penny for your dirty mind.”
Blackwater Conspiracy is an Irish band with a Southern Rock style that incorporates elements of hard rock, blues and Stonesy swagger. If you’re into bands like the Black Crowes and The Quireboys, this album’s definitely worth checking out. It features several songs in contention for this list, including ‘Monday Club’ and ‘Blackwater Swagger’.
But I like ‘Penny For Your Dirty Mind’ the best. It’s a bluesy mid-tempo rocker with a great melody. Love the vocals, too.
The studio version’s not currently available on YouTube, so here’s a live performance. But be sure to check out the album version, cause it rocks!
TLDR: Melodic swagger.
16. Japandroids – Near to the Wild Heart of Life (Near to the Wild Heart of Life)
“And it got me all fired up.
To go far away.”
Canadian rock duo Japandroids returned in January with a new record, and lead single ‘Near to the Wild Heart of Life’ didn’t impress me at all the first time I heard it.
By the second playthrough however, I was hooked. The chorus is infectious and it’s got a hectic pace with quality instrumentation. A well-crafted song.
15. Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit – Last of My Kind (The Nashville Sound)
“Nobody here can dance like me.
Everybody’s clapping on the one and the three.
Am I the last of my kind?”
I guess the best way to describe Jason Isbell would be “indie country Americana”, but that’s selling him short by a mile. I first became aware of him through 2013’s excellent solo album Southeastern, and he’s an excellent songwriter.
While working on this list, I kept thinking I should probably showcase the more rocking ‘Cumberland Gap’ (and it’s a great song too), but in the end I had to go with the song I like the best.
And that’s the sparse acoustic ’Last of My Kind’. I’m not a huge country fan and this song is one of the more “countryish” tracks on the record, but it’s just so damn good! It’s a song about isolation and regret, and packs quite an emotional wallop for such a sparse musical track.
TLDR: Great songwriting.