Best Tracks of 2017
selected by Adrian Yap


Youth Portal
“Butter Breakfast”

Youth Portal takes a leaf out of the languid indie pop of Chicago band Smith Westerns.
It’s not terribly complicated, but it’s got buckets of charm.

It’s a straightforward cut built around a driving 4/4 backbeat, a singular guitar hook and two wonderful sounding chords. Sometimes that’s all you need.

It’s the kind of music that inspires you to want to make some yourself, by just how easy and effective it all sounds.

Youth Portal on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.


Zet Legacy

Bat Cave alumni Zet Legacy actually released his debut album “Prelude 101” in early 2017 but this track was not a part of it. But as a toast to what he has to offer going forward, “No” may just have out slide and slip the already-fantastic tracks on his debut.

As is the case with his best cuts, this track is built around an infectious hook, in this instance it’s a crawling synth line that sets the mood, brooding and contemplative.

Zet then just glides on top of it, slipping out rhymes with controlled aggression, never allowing the vibe to overpower him at any point.

Pensive hip-hop, if that’s a thing.

Zet Legacy on Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.


“Forever’s Not Our Thing”

Bedroom belle Lunadria may have made a viral name out of delivering bedroom pop covers from the likes of Zayn and Khalid, but this original single may be the loveliest thing she’s delivered.

Built around the strains of a ukulele and synth atmospherics, this heartbroken ode can take you very deep into the bittersweet, if you allow it to.

She doesn’t overcomplicate things, allowing the melody of the song sufficient space to breathe, to stretch its emotional girth. More, please.

Lunadira on Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.



Not much is actually known about Sabah-born Rozella Marie, other than the fact that she’s released a series of outstanding singles. Well, that and Glasgow synth pop juggernauts CHVRCHES has done a remix of one of her songs.

“You” is her latest release and it furthers her into the electro soul space. It plays dangerously close to supermarket pop balladry but the thing that makes it soar above that is the sparse production and her delivery.

She has a wonderful tone, titillating but innocent at the same time, and it is this dichotomy that makes the track fizz.

Rozella on Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.



Catchy’, that’s the first thing you think when you spin this track from hip-hop exponent Airliftz. The next C-word is ‘compelling’.

Hip-hop can sometimes feel a little ‘outside-looking-in’ but the good vibes on “Appreciate”, the opening track off his debut EP “BAGEL”, makes you feel like you are welcomed to come in and take a look for yourself.

He shuffles between rhymes and croon with such considerable ease, recalling his heroes Bone Thugs-n-Harmony. He would be a prodigious talent anywhere in the world.

Airliftz on Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.


Pastel Lite

For the past two years, duo Pastel Lite has been hard at work on two things – building a reputation as one of the hippest electro pop act in town and working on their long-awaited debut.

They finally dropped “Balada” this year and it’s every bit as sexy and sophisticated as you would come to expect. This lead single sets the tone, with its dirty synth lines and Eff Hakim’s nonchalant tone adding plenty of character.

There is almost a cat-like vibe to Pastel Lite, in that they are not desperate for your attention. They know eventually you’ll come around anyway.

Pastel Lite on Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.


“Terang Bintang, Tenang Bulan”

Now where did this come from? Malaysian acts can often be accused of lacking in sophistication, or thought. But Shuuna, consisting of duo Shuu and Moja, may just offer a retort to that.

Their debut EP “Torsades de Pointes” brims and pulses with a freshness that’s not been heard in these parts for a while now, at least not from an act like them. With a distinct folk base, the duo then uncages their sonic imagination to go wherever it needs to.

There are traces of shoegaze textures to Hacienda-approved acid rock. It’s a record adapt for both the big outdoors and the four walls of your bedroom.

Shunna on Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.



monoloQue are a sonic success in more than one way. They remain one of the most orchestrally rich bands in these parts and they are probably the only band to have successfully melded more contemporary indie sonic textures with traditional Malay folk elements.

Led by the enigmatic and talented Loque (of Butterfingers fame), their record this year “Jangan Puja Sampai Kecewa” continues their metamorphosis as a band. It’s a delicious melting pot of provocative sonic structures with strong dashes of traditional Malay melodies and rhythm.

monoloQue on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, www.


Spooky Wet Dreams
“Ipoh Girls”

The one gripe about local music these days as acts become more sophisticated is that not a lot of it sounds very Malaysian.

Besides the fact that this single is an ode to fetching girls from a popular West Coast town in these parts, the sound that these 5-piece band make is a huge throwback to the early days of Malaysian indie in the 90s.

Jingle-jangle four chord pop done with oodles of charisma without necessarily having everything figured out.

Spooky Wet Dreams on Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter.



Probably the biggest discovery this year, Masdo has been like a breath of fresh air to a staling ‘band’ scene. Ironic, considering they dip quite a lot into the past. With matching suits, shades and a penchant for echo chamber-laden guitar lines, the band looks like they’ve been plucked out of a 60s dinner and dance party.

But dismiss them as empty revivalists at your peril because there is plenty of songwriting gold on their debut “Selamat Tinggal Pujaan”, not withstanding this bouncy pop cut that recalls sweaty nights under the tropical stars, turning up the hissy radio beside the beach in the swinging 60s.

Masdo on Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.


Milo Dinosaur

From the moment the sparse guitar picking of the intro to this single resonates, you are bracing for an impending impact. And it is truly glorious when it hits. Like a punch to the gut at first but ending with an affectionate backhand touch to the cheeks.

“Emo rock” has become like soiled used sheets in the last decade, but we sometimes forget that there was a time when it used to mean angular guitar assaults, odd time signatures and please-save-me-now vocals.

KL-based band Milo Dinosaur’s sound borrows heavily from early emo bands such as Braid and Cursive, and we cannot be more thankful for it. Easily one of the most exciting bands to come out this year.

Milo Dinosaur on Bandcamp.



alextbh a.k.a. Alex Bong is what you may call a prodigy. Going through his tracks, it’s easy to forget that he’s only 21. While the rest of us spent our teens hitting arcades, window shopping or scoring sips of beer in front of a 7-Eleven, Bong was busy perfecting his art, his tone.

This gorgeous slice of electro R&B, featuring the talents of Singaporean electro soul siren Sam Rui, at times, sounds almost unreal. It’s served to perfection, simmering synth pads providing the foundation for Bong’s stabs of falsettos to just soar.

It’s the kind of track you are almost compelled to turn up louder, the later the night goes. Not because it’s a great party track, far from it. It’s a track that’s best enjoyed alone. Turn it up in the dead of night.

alextbh on Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.



College rock-meisters Jaggfuzzbeats may still be our best kept secret but it won’t be for long.

They keep things simple, fuzzy bright chords plugged through warm tube amps, Azrul’s almost-indolent delivery keeps things just sufficiently unpolished on the edges. It sounds almost deceptively easy, but it certainly isn’t.

Their debut record “Rest Now” is packed with indie pop done the Mac McCaughan way – simple, dirty but yet strangely exciting that you want to come back for seconds and thirds.

Jaggfuzzbeats on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter.


Noh Salleh

The beauty that perennial Malaysian indie rock figure Noh Salleh resonates through this track, taken from his latest repackaged record “Angin Kencang”, is almost indescribable.

The lush strings meld into the rich chord textures and nostalgic melodies. By the time the horn section and the creaky piano breaks off into its own passages, you are suddenly jolted into the realisation that you’re no longer here today.

You’re somewhere else, but it’s gorgeous.

Noh Salleh on Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.