Fuzzy Gray Area - Top 10 Tracks of 2017

Hi welcome to Fuzzy Gray Area, a music podcast of recommended songs and ramblings from me Patrick Lu.

(Actual voice part to come... sorry, I bought a mic and everything.)

It seems 2017 has passed me without having time or motivation to write a blog post to bring closure to my feelings.

If anything though, I came across so many wonderful bands and music throughout this year, so much so that I started a record collection, which is mainly comprised of vinyl releases from 2017, and went to about 3-4 live shows a month.

The name of this segment is inspired by a conversation I had with a ramen chef in Japan, where he described the taste of his ramen as being "fuzzy" - or that was the best translation Google translate could come up with. I believe he was trying to say the components of his ramen (the noodles, broth, toppings), together created a complex taste that you can never put a finger on.

To me, interesting music tends to stretch the boundaries of what I find "normal." I find it magical that a song can feature distortion from guitar that if separated, sounds just like random noise, but given the right context feels etherial. Just like how my tastebuds enjoy the balance of a good bowl of noodles, music's complexity offers the same sense of pleasure to my ears.

Here's my playlist of my overall top 10 songs of 2017.

I mainly listen to indie rock / pop, so that's what this playlist will have for you =).

There's going to be a Spotify and Youtube playlist at the bottom of this post.

1. No Vacation - Mind Fields

Going to start off with a band that I think anyone could get into, No Vacation. Their latest EP "Intermission" features songs that portray a dreamy, melancholic feel, yet are delivered in an upbeat and catchy way.

When they performed in San Francisco at Rickshaw Stop, my friend Helen and I were probably the oldest people at the venue. It was nice to see a band so youthful produce music that felt complex, intertwined, and relatable.

Even though I love the whole EP, I feel Mind Fields is the strongest standalone song on this release.

2. Big Thief - Shark Smile

Big Thief popped up in my recommendations along with folky artists such as Angel Olsen. Their music makes me feel like I'm on some sort of never ending Midwest roadtrip.

The song Shark Smile, was often played at their live performances, but was only released officially this year. The song recalls a car accident where the singer survives and her lover dies. I believe it's a song relenting singer's guilt for surviving the accident. "And I said woo Baby, take me too."

I've often said that I feel that the lead guitarist, Buck Meek, who makes his appearance sporatically in certain songs, is my favorite member of the band. His guitar and even vocals bring in highlights that tend to send shivers down my spine. To my dismay, he was abscent the second time I went to see them live, but they were able to give a solid and emotional performance without him.

If you like Shark Smile, I'd recommend these songs by them: Parallels, Humans, Interstate, Black Diamonds

3. Hazel English - Birthday

Hazel Engish in her double EP "Just Give In / Never Going Home" sounds like a never ending leisurely hike or day at the park.

In their live performances, the other band members have more space to flourish and some of the attention is shifted away from the lead singer, even though she's really rad. I'd highly recommend seeing them live!

4. Yellow Days - That Easy

I haven't seen Yellow Days live or anything, but I think this song is a banger. His deep voice reminds me of King Krule, who also hails for London.

This song's chorus: "I ain't gonna give up that easy" makes me feel like I have the upper edge in this struggle I have to find my own personal identity. The world is scary, but it's full of possibility and up to you to make something out of it.

5. Jay Som - Baybee

When I first came across Jay Som, I gave her a pass. But after watching her music videos and seeing one of the greatest live performances I've seen in my life, I can say I'm a huge fan of hers.

Also coming from the Bay, her music gives an outcry against the monotony of everyday life. We're kids growing up in a grown up world, we have to make certain sacrifices to survive, but that doesn't mean we can't groove the night away.

6. Sales - Talk a lot

To me, the music of Sales gives off similar vibes to "The XX" but packaged in a more poppy and teenage-angst filled package.

Their album "Sales LP" - released in 2016. Is one of those rare albums you can listen to all the way through, with songs that have such duality that I can easily listen to them chilling out or dancing around.

"Talk a lot" was the only single they released in 2017, but they've given off hints in their live performances that their next full album will be a banger.

7. Yumi Zouma - December

Yumi Zouma is my friend Phil's favorite band. I don't know what that means to you, but in him bringing me to multiple live performances, I grew to like their poppy, groovy tunes. It's as if their music saying to me "Dance around, have a chill, yet funky time."

8. Beach Fossils - Down the Line

Even though I favorited almost every song on their new album "Somersault", I found the song "Down the Line" particularly relatable. I believe it's about a slacker who loves someone who has shifted to making their career more professional, perhaps finding her spot in the limelight with her poetry. Could she be feeling pressure to maintain her newfound successful image? It's as if the singer is saying to her "It's okay, there's someone there who doesn't care about your next creation, that likes you for you."

9. Palehound - Room

Palehound went on tour this year with a new album "A place I'll always go." I saw them twice this past year, in Austin and SF, and found their stage presence to be absolutely electric. I'll always remember their bassist's hair flailing around as she dishes out her basslines.

"Room" gives me a fuzzy feeling of how much fun you can have in your own room, removed from the pressures of going out into the world.

10. Chaz Bundick Meets The Mattson 2 - JBS

Chaz Bundick, or "Toro y Moi" worked on a psycedelic rock side project with The Mattson 2. This song got me through a particularly hard time of my recent trip to Japan where I felt, despite finally being in a new and exciting place, that I had no motivation to go outside.

2k17 Spotify playlist with more tracks:

Youtube playlist Link Here