2016 was a hard year to compete with in terms of music. Last year, there seemed to be an explosion of energy from the music industry and its constituents. This year didn’t seem to have that feeling to it. It felt more like a transition year for many artists as many highly anticipated albums seemed to fall short. That being said, there are always the records that shine through and inspire to keep pushing the realms of our music tastes. At KCSU, we search to find all of those artists that keep on pushing through, or popping up, and giving their listeners something to grasp for. Our DJs all have very unique and opposite music tastes, so no two lists are alike.
Below are the top albums that our KCSU DJs considered the best of 2017.
Music Director: DJ Mimi (Mimi Hibben)
Billie Eilish: dont smile at me
I’m not normally one to listen to discographies that are made by artists under the age of 21, but this artist has had the power to revolutionize the way woman visualize aspects of raw love and heartbreak through music. This album was one of her first, and her experimentation with sampling on top of showcasing her beautiful vocals makes it one of my top favorites released in 2017. If you want to lay around and get in your feels, I suggest you turn this on loud.
Calvin Harris & Guests: Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1
The seamless relationship slowly being built between the hip-hop/rap/R&B communities and the electronica community has been something of a privilege to listen to over time. Although this is one of my first favorites produced by the artist, Calvin Harris’ creative twist on transforming his sound from pop-electronica to funk-electronica made it that much more tolerable, while he invited some of the most popular artists in hip-hop/R&B to vocalize his tracks. Each track features a different artist, personalizing the sound technique and lyrics based on that artists own individualistic style and creativity. Because of the attention to detail and unconventional collaborations, this album counts as one of my top picks of 2017.
Kendrick Lamar: DAMN.
This album. Holy shit this album. When he first debuted the track “Humble” and rumored this album, I was immediately prepared to take a day off in order to listen to this entire thing thoroughly through… which is exactly what I did. The hype was real, and he exceeded the expectations of millions of people who have been using his name as an anthem since he was Kung Fu Kenny. DAMN made me speechless, making darkness beautiful, terrifying, and powerful.
Tyler, The Creator: Flower Boy
To be completely honest, Tyler The Creator had put a bitter taste in my mouth with his music since I was young. I didn’t understand him as a rapper whatsoever, and when he came out with that intense video for his track “Yonkers” in 2011, I wrote him off from my personal “rap palette”. But when he came out with this album I couldn’t help but have a listen…Flower Boy represents the artist’s growth within the industry as not just a rapper, but as an artist who has found an appreciation in the beauty of all forms of alternative R&B as well. This album allowed him to maintain the trademark “darkness” that lies beneath the sounds of his vocals, while also bringing euphoria to the very definition of rap. Flower Boy deserves to be in my top 10 favorites of 2017.
Being the only woman signed to a predominantly male record label (Top Dawg Entertainment for those of you who were unaware), SZA has brought this whole new meaning to what it is to be a woman in music. She has used Ctrl as a platform to show vulnerability, intimacy and insecurity with her listeners, allowing them to connect her experiences to their own. She struggled to release this album for a few years, going through difficult obstacles pertaining to her relationships, self-image, and self-confidence, but I tell you, I commend her on finally finding to power to get personal with all of us.
H.E.R.: H.E.R. Volume 2
Who is she? Why doesn’t she disclose her identity during live performances but instead hides behind her aviators and little green electric guitar? Because she’s motherfucking H.E.R. That’s why. No one knows who she is personally, but her lovable energy and vocals is all anyone needs to fall for her dramatic spin on alternative R&B. She has two albums out, one from 2016 and the other from 2017, but both are wondrous.
21 Savage: Without Warning
Mumble rap has, without a doubt, annoyingly made every party in the present just a little bit more… well, for lack of a better word… lit. And as much as I want to sit here and bash it as a community in rap, it’s some of the only music that can undeniably get my mind off real life problems when I need it. So, this newest collaboration between artists 21 Savage, Metro Boomin and Offset has everything a lover of overproduced and dis-articulate rap music could ever dream of. And honestly, each track is a banger, and has been my “guilty pleasure” album as of late 2017.
Cashmere Cat: 9
This Norwegian producer has been hiding behind the likes of The Weeknd, Kanye West, Drake, Halsey and Ariana Grande for over 3 years, until he decided to finally put a pause on collaborations and debut his first full length studio album. His style weighs on the use of low bass, emphasizing on an array of peculiar, yet original sounds that catch his listeners off guard. 9 is a celebration and acknowledgement of all the work this artist has put into perfecting who he represents in the music industry. A favorite release of mine in the 2017 year by a far.
Bryson Tiller: True to Self
“I think she looooove me” Yeah, I do Tiller. In fact, every woman with a pulse does. That is all. This album has me feelin’ some type of nostalgic way. Top 2017 pick.
Goldlink: At What Cost
This artist has set himself apart from most experimental rappers with a certain passion and grace that is incomparable. At What Cost angles to motivate positivity in light of a time where negativity can easily get the best of us, which is one of the main reasons why I was about to identify so deeply with the album. Goldlink also makes being a ca$$hmoney rapper look classy af. So cheers to topping my musical 2017 Sr. Goldlink. The lyric “she see money all around me, I look like I’m the man” has allowed me to grasp a better understanding of what it’s like to probably date a rapper, which has lead me to reevaluate my love life.
Music Director: The Steiner Recliner (Danny Steiner)
Cloakroom – Timewell
This record is unlike anything I’ve heard before from the “shoegaze” genre. Cloakroom tests darker tides here, but they success in mixing morose tones with sonic diversity.
Incendiary – Thousand Yard Stare
As far as hardcore records go, I’d say this is my favorite one in general. Not only is this album heavy, but Incendiary is also REALLY good at writing hooks.
The Menzingers – After The Party
I originally described this album to someone as “Bruce Springsteen if he put out a pop-punk record”, and I think that’s what makes it so special. It’s a record that deals with the pains of maturing as an adult set to the sound of a band maturing in their sound.
Julien Baker – Turn out the Lights
I was originally pretty un-enthused with this record, but the more I listened to it the more I began to appreciate how Baker creates an experience with her records. While her sound is fairly stripped down, each song is an emotional wound being exposed to the listener. This record also showcases Baker’s ability as a songwriter to keep growing in her instrumentation.
Manchester Orchestra – A Black Mile To The Surface
I wasn’t really surprised that I enjoyed this record. I had high hopes from the beginning, and they were met. A Black Mile To The Surface picks up where Cope left off, but still manages to show a lot of growth from Manchester Orchestra.
Father John Misty – Pure Comedy
Pure Comedy is just a solid record all around. Tillman’s poignant commentary set to his incredibly songwriting abilities makes it a fairly easy and enjoyable listen.
Death Bells – Standing At The Edge Of The World
This was my introduction to Death Bells, and I love this band as a result. They manage to mimic the “goth/post-punk” sound, but not fall into a rut with it. They add in elements from indie, rock, and a little psych at times, and it is a fantastic record.
Slaughter Beach, Dog – Birdie
God, I love this record so much. Ewald creates such a warm homely vibe on this record that makes it a comforting listen in stressful times.
Alvvays – Antisocialites
I think my favorite part about this record is the venture Alvvays took into dream pop. While they maintained their “indie” sound, Antisocialites has a lot more ambient dream pop textures and hooks that make it a great sunny day listen.
Big Thief – Capacity
I’m not a huge fan of the world of folk, but Big Thief breaks this genre standard on this record. While there are folk elements on this record, it is so much more. There are amazing stories, melodies, and instrumentation on this record.
Music Director: DJ Monterey (Monty Daniel)
Julien Baker – Turn Out the Lights
Julien Baker is such a beautifully powerful musician, which is showcased perfectly here. It feels like a good friend giving you an hour-long heart-to-heart talk. Yet again, another album that makes me want to sob uncontrollably, but in a very good way.
Phoebe Bridgers – Stranger in the Alps
All of the songs on here make me feel so gloomy and delighted at the same time, and I can’t stop listening to it. This is Bridgers’ first full album and now I find myself craving more of her ghostly vocals and hauntingly raw lyrics.
The Franklin Electric – Blue Ceilings
I’ve forced this album upon so many people at this point, but it’s only because it’s so easy to listen to and love. All of the songs will make you feel something, ranging from nostalgia, despair, anger, and bliss. Plus, the lyrics are all simply gorgeous.
Manchester Orchestra – A Black Mile to the Surface
Honesty shines through in this record. It really makes me sad to know that I just recently discovered Manchester Orchestra, but I’m oh so joyous that I’ve had the pleasure to listen to the heart-wrenching, emotional, and unique sound this provides.
Citizen – As You Please
Some classic jams and bangers. Always makes me wanna jump around and break things. Too many people have probably seen me yell-singing and playing air guitar in my car to this album.
Sorority Noise – You’re Not As _____ As You Think
Also another band that I wish I would have discovered sooner. The lyrics in these songs are so relatable to everyone at one point in their life or another. This band reminds me of the old Front Bottoms that I miss (hence this album being on my list, and the new Front Bottoms one not… sorry, not sorry).
Slaughter Beach, Dog – Birdie
You might say this is a “Pretty O.K.” album. Ha, just kidding. It’s much better than that. But seriously, Jake Ewald really impressed me with his lyrical and acoustic chops presented here, and I can’t wait to hear more.
Portugal. The Man – Woodstock
So many catchy songs, which is something we’ve all come to expect from Portugal. The Man. If you haven’t had a one man dance party to “Feel It Still” and “Rich Friends”, I would highly recommend it.
Wolf Alice – Visions of a Life
Each song switches between sounding ethereal and pretty, to dark and scary. It has some killer guitar solos on it and Ellie Rowsell has such an entrancing voice.
VISSIA – Place Holder
This is VISSIA’s debut album, and it’s pretty darn great, if I do say so myself. There’s definite folk, country, and rock influences, and each song brings something new to the table. I’ll be patiently waiting to hear what’s next. Also, she’s Canadian, so that’s always a plus.
Oh Wonder – Ultralife
Tigers Jaw – spin
Alex Lahey – I Love You Like a Brother
The Front Bottoms – Going Grey
Ed Sheeran – Divide
DJ Squid (Sam Bulkley)
1.) The Menzingers – After The Party
I had high expectations for this album. The Menzingers perfectly capture the pure emotion and hopelessness that the band goes through while entering the muddy future of their 30’s. The entire album kept me captivated from start to finish and I cannot grow tired of it. I think I will always be able to listen to this album and find pure enjoyment from it.
2.) Remo Drive – Greatest Hits
These guys came out of left field for me. I randomly found them on a music blog I follow and, honestly, the weird 90’s aesthetic album art peaked my curiosity. When I ventured into this album I was drawn in instantly with the first lead off of “Art School.” After that, I couldn’t stop analyzing everything that I had never experienced from an emo band before. The lyrics, time changes, shift in mood and melody… I couldn’t grasp it at all. The fact that this is their first album is not just impressive, but keeps me looking forward to see what’s next.
3.) The Obsessives – The Obsessives
I slept on this album. So hard. I first heard of these guys when they toured with Sorority Noise earlier this year. I heard their live performance and listened to the record a couple times, and I guess I just didn’t grasp it well enough. I didn’t listen to it again until late November. Once I revisited it, I became… Obsessed. (I’m sorry, I had to) Lead singer, Nick Bairatchnyi, moves this album with a droning, almost bored, tone in his voice that just seems unimpressed with everything that he describes in the songs. Combined with precise timing and well placed instrumentation, this album climbed my list very quickly.
4.) The Smith Street Band – More Scared of You Than You Are of Me
Australia has been pushing out some very talented acts recently. These guys came back from their previous album, Throw Me In The River, with even more pure and forceful emotion that welcomes any listener. I keep changing which song I call my “favorite” off of the album because I continue to find tiny parts within a song that somehow changes how I view it.
5.) Citizen – As You Please
I had never really enjoyed much of Citizen before I heard this album. And I’m disappointed I didn’t. I first listened to As You Please with expectations for a completely different type of album. I was expecting heavy, overused guitars and a hardcore sound. This album is not that. Every instrument, lyric, of note of these songs are placed with purpose to be able to shift moods and make this album sound like clockwork.
6.) Great Grandpa – Plastic Cough
I first experienced Great Grandpa live, and I’m glad I did. There are some bands that I don’t think I would be able to get hooked on without the live aspect they give. Great Grandpa gives an album that I find clever and unique. They use fierce vocals with quirky lyrics to give an overall head banging experience.
7.) Julien Baker – Turn Out The Lights
Julien Baker gave us a spectacular sophomore album. This one grows on what she presents in her first album and she creates the most elaborate, yet simple setups in her songs. I still can’t get over how strong and beautiful her voice is.
8.) K.Flay – Every Where Is Some Where
I have been growing up with K.Flay for the last eight years. I have seen her transition from a strictly hip-hop artist to whatever you want categorize this certified banger of an album as. At first, I wasn’t very fond of the transition. While her last album was good, I think I wasn’t used to the new style of music she made. This album changed that for me, drastically. K.Flay shows up to this album to throw so many twists and turns through the songs and create a live atmosphere for her music. She also got nominated for a Grammy, so it’s a special feeling being able to see her find what she was meant to do.
9.) Manchester Orchestra – A Black Mile To The Surface
This album is, in simple terms, beautiful. Andy Hull knows how to make music, which is shown in everything he releases. A Black Mile To The Surface is no exception. Hull had hit a new point in his life after he had his first child, so this album seems like a new but more personal record. Every song is as powerful as the next, whether the it soothes or crushes you.
10.) The Front Bottoms – Going Grey
I wasn’t too pleased with how this album came out. I don’t think that it was quite ready for release. That being said, I think that there are some really terrific songs on this album. I think that I will find more appreciation for it a little further in the future.
Slaughter Beach Dog – Birdie
Sorority Noise – You’re Not As ___ As You Think
Tigers Jaw – Spin
Head North – The Last Living Man Alive Ever in the History of the World
DJ Snazzy Seth (Seth Rutherford)
1.) Kendrick Lamar – DAMN.
Three classics in a row, can Kendrick be stopped? “HUMBLE” is the perfect #1 hit and will be remembered for ages, but this album is stacked to the brim with amazing production and some of Kendrick’s best lyrics yet. “FEAR”, an exploration of Kendrick’s own fears across three different periods of his life, is absolutely genius. And hey, the U2 feature is actually pretty good.
2.) Landlady – The World is a Loud Place
Adam Schatz doesn’t have the voice of an angel, more like Randy Newman meets the dude from TV on the Radio, but boy does it sound fresh. I’m also a real sucker for odd time signatures and chord progressions and Landlady pulls that off with ease. “Cadaver” is so smooth, off-tempo R&B grooves mixed with Beatles vibes. The Colorado name-drop in “Driving in California” is the icing on the cake.
3.) Primus – The Desaturating Seven
After the unsettling Primus and the Chocolate Factory side project, the band went into the studio to record their first album of original music since 2011. Thankfully, they haven’t missed a beat. Drawing inspiration from a children’s book called “The Rainbow Goblins”, Les Claypool and co. tell a tale of greed and gluttony that feels incredibly relevant (I wonder why) and retains the oddball prog-funk style of their old tunes. “The Scheme” is 100% classic Primus.
4.) Milo – who told you to think??!!?!?!?!
Milo’s lyrics tend to require a second (or third or fourth) listen to really sink in, but when they hit, he sounds like no other MC out there. The beats are ambient and jazzy at the same time, and the album flows in and out of a dream. The final track, “Rapper” features a stellar verse from Busdriver over flutes and saxophones and is possibly the grooviest song of 2017.
5.) Father John Misty – Pure Comedy
“Another white guy in 2017 / who takes himself so goddamn seriously” is Father John Misty a fictional character? A persona created by Josh Tillman to sarcastically evaluate his own personal criticisms? I dunno, but he makes great music, and Pure Comedy shares some interesting thoughts on the current state of humanity.
6.) BROCKHAMPTON – Saturation II
The best new band of 2017 dropped three albums this year while going on tour and filming several music videos. That level of work can often lead to a rushed or mediocre product, but not in this case. BROCKHAMPTON popped up out of nowhere to create the most exciting hip-hop collective (or boyband, as they call themselves) since Odd Future in 2010.
7.) Vince Staples – Big Fish Theory
Vince Staples makes a dance album and the production here is off the rails. I never thought I’d hear Vince and Kendrick Lamar trade verses over an industrial noise beat but it happens on “Yeah Right” and ends up being one of the coolest moments for music in 2017.
8.) Colleen – A Flame My Love, A Frequency
Using only her voice and a handful of Moog synthesizers, French artist Colleen creates an entire landscape of music that sounds like nothing else I’ve ever heard and makes me feel like I’m floating. Put in some nice headphones and go on a walk with this one. It’s really something else.
9.) Angelo de Augustine – Swim Inside the Moon
Recorded in a bathtub with a single SM57 microphone, this record is perfect folk singer/songwriter music in the vein of Nick Drake or Elliott Smith. Coziest album of the year.
10.) Moses Sumney – Aromanticism
After a couple years of releasing excellent singles and EPs, Moses Sumney delivers on his first full-length album. His voice sounds like it could break at any moment but it never does, like James Blake and a little baby angel singing in harmony. “Doomed” gives me chills.
Benjamin Clementine – I Tell A Fly
Palehound – A Place I’ll Always Go
Will Graefe – North America
WHY? – Moh Lhean
King Krule – The Ooz
Just Bryan (Bryan Teisl)
Thundercat – Drunk
Maybe it was that I had the opportunity to see Thundercat live on my birthday this year, maybe it’s the absolute absurdity that is the album. Thundercat does it again with a wonderfully experimental funky groove that only he does so well.
Suggestion: ‘Them Changes’
Milo – who told you to think??!!?!?!?!
Maine born, LA raised emcee milo follows through with his unspoken promise to be the most lyrically talented underground rapper of the year.
Suggestion: ‘Magician (Suture)’
Injury Reserve – Drive it Like You Stole It
It never fails, I always get so incredibly hyped up for Injury Reserve. While not as fine or delicately tuned, words I’d never thought I’d use to describe Injury Reserve, as their debut album. Drive It Like You Stole It makes you feel like you are an enemy.
Suggestion: ‘BOOM (X3)’
King Krule – The Ooz
Dark and entrancing are the only words I can think of to describe the English MC, his signature syruppy drawl a sign of his upbringing. Krule brings it home after is independant release under his own name, Archy Marshall. While not necessarily better than his debut album, 6 Feet Below the Moon, The Ooz is a talented return with a couple twists and turns along the way.
Suggestion: ‘Dum Surfer’
Quelle Chris – Being You Is Great, I Wish I Could Be You More Often
I’m not sure I could point at why I love this album so much, and ‘Popeye’ is now my most played song on Spotify. Also, the bass work on this album is unreal.
Portugal. The Man – Woodstock
My good friends from back home told me to get on this train before it left the station back with ‘The Majestic Majesty’. I didn’t. I picked this album up not aware of the hype surrounding it. Now I hear it everywhere, and I love it. .
Suggestion: you know the one
Sampha – Process
This was my first conscious introduction to Sampha. I think this is the most complete album I’ve heard this year. Every song from ‘Plastic 100oC’ to ‘What Shouldn’t I Be’ has a fully flushed out and unique feel to it, while still allowing Sampha’s incredible, kind yet powerful voice to be felt throughout and be the star of each track.
Suggestion: ‘Timmy’s Prayer’
BROCKHAMPTON – SATURATION I, II, & III
These albums are made to be taken as a trio put out across 2017. What an incredible trip these albums have been. There is such a variety of producers, vocalists, emcees, and people just doing things, it’s hard to put a label on what exactly they’re doing. If you’re looking for something unique, these albums are for you.
Suggestion: ‘SWEET’, also, look into their surrounding material
AllttA – The Upper Hand
I’ve been following one member of AllttA, 20syl, for a while now. His addition to the group on ‘The Upper Hand’ shows. I feel like 20syl’s solo work was single-handedly keeping French club culture alive. With AllttA, 20syl and Mr. J. Medeiros take a crack at opening the electronic side of hip-hop.
Suggestion: ‘The Woods’
Kendrick Lamar – DAMN.
Suggestion: pick one, pick anything
Chef Zay (Zay Reyes)
Daniel Caesar – Freudian
With songs like “Get You”, “Take Me Away” and “We Find Love” Daniel establishes himself as one of the R&B artists that has a voice to represent a generation and a sound that is unlike anyone else’s.
dvsn- Morning After
Another R&B young gun out of Drake’s OVO label with his second studio album is by far his better of the two. He balances elegant violins with heavy bass drops almost seamlessly. My top tracks include “P.O.V.”, “Mood”, “Run Away”
Slaughter Beach, Dog – Birdie
Julia if you’re reading this, thank you for being so persistent about me listening to this album. This album has great lyricism and has tons of catchy tunes. More of a guitar led band, I couldn’t find a song on this album I didn’t like. Top picks “Pretty O.K.” and “Friend Song”.
Harry Styles – Harry Styles
Guys, Harry is a rockstar… point blank and simple. His sound has matured ten-fold from him deciding to go another direction and releasing his first solo album. He reminds me of an early Mick Jagger with this explosive album. His voice is pissed off and passionate at the same time. Songs that stood out to me “Sign of the Times” “Only Angel” “Sweet Creature” and “Kiwi”.
JAY-Z – 4:44
Personally, I think this is his most revealing album into Hov’s life. He’s more personal and shows more weakness than on any other of his previous projects. The top tracks off of this album for me is “4:44”, “Caught Their Eyes”, “The Story of O.J.”
Kendrick Lamar – DAMN.
K Dot can do it all on a microphone, exemplified to a T on this album. Whether it be tackling gang violence, proclaiming his love for God or family, or just making a hook with his clever wordplay. King Kendrick has netted one of the best albums of the year… again. My top tracks “DNA”, “ELEMENT”, “XXX”
Mura Masa – Mura Masa
An underrated album this year, this is the producer’s first time creating a full length EP and it’s terrific. His electronic varies from club mixes to those good shower cries. My top tracks are “Love$ick”, “What If I go?”, “Blu”.
Portugal. The Man – Woodstock
John really pushes his range of himself and the band, straying away from the more rock’n’roll vibe and transitioning to more of an alternative wave. This album sounds straight out of the Woodstock age great tracks including “Feel it Still”, “Easy Tiger” and “So Young”.
Childish Gambino – Awaken My Love
This may be a bit of bias but I loved Gambino since Day 1, and this project is just a great culmination of what he can do. From his reggae dubs to unbelievable vocal pitch range Gambino still proves himself as one of the most formidable artists with his 3rd EP. Top tracks include “Baby boy”, “Redbone”, “Stand Tall”.
Phoenix – Ti Amo
The four french men go totally 80’s on this one. The electronic groove that this album can put me in is unmatched. Top tracks include “J-Boy”, “Ti Amo” and “Goodbye Soleil”.
DJ Silent G (Julia Battagliese)
1.) Manchester Orchestra – A Black Mile to the Surface
I listened to this album a lot this year if I was trying to process something or get through a hard time. I had a few days where I would put this album on loop and Andy Hull’s voice made me feel much better. I definitely had to make this number one for it getting me through some rough patches this year.
2.)K.Flay – Eveywhere Is Somewhere
I saw a different side of K.Flay in this album as opposed to some of her earlier albums. Similar to Manchester Orchestra’s album, a few of her songs helped me a lot this year getting through some stuff I had to work out in my head. She could be singing anything and I would most likely be listening, she sings like a damn angel.
3) Sorority Noise – You’re Not As _______ As You Think You Are
I don’t have their album name on a banner in my room for no reason. I learned so much about their lead singer from this album and there was just so much to take from it, pain and sadness, and it was really beautifully done. I don’t think there’s anything I didn’t love about this album.
4) Rozwell Kid – Precious Art
I think the first time I listened to Rozwell Kid I knew I’d love them. They’re really goofy with their lyrics and you can really jam to any song. I mean even their little 50 second songs are little masterpieces, and when I saw them live they were really down-to-earth. I could listen to their album on repeat for hours. I also listened to them during a time I wasn’t in a great mood, which they aren’t very serious so it seems odd now that I think of it, but screaming their lyrics has helped me out for sure.
5) Remo Drive – greatest hits
I just started listening to them but they are high up on my list because much like Rozwell Kid, they crack me up with their lyrics. I can also connect on a few of the lyrics too and it doesn’t hurt that I can head bang to it…
6) Slaughter Beach, Dog – Birdie
I loved this album a lot, it’s mellow and soothing with Jake’s vocals and definitely something I could listen to on a chill morning. I didn’t get as excited about it as some of the singles I’ve heard from them in the past so it isn’t as high up there on my list as I had anticipated but I still enjoy it immensely.
7) The Front Bottoms – Going Grey
Another album I wasn’t super happy about, I initially didn’t even download all of the album because there were a few songs I just did not like. Seeing them in concert made the album really grow on me though and even though the lyrics aren’t as clever or complex as I would’ve liked, I find myself wanting to listen to the album more every week.
8) The Obsessives – The Obsessives
I thought the Obsessives album wasn’t bad when I first heard it, but definitely seeing them in concert made me like them more. The vocals are a little weird at first but when I got used to it I was able to enjoy it much more and this album as a whole has really grown on me.
9) Portugal. the Man – Woodstock
I have purposefully not overplayed this album because like 80% of them are bangers and I want to listen to them in the future without hating it. I kinda loved this album when it first came out and it feels like a guilty pleasure in some ways…but I have no regrets and will blast them with no shame.
10) Los Campesinos! – Sick Scenes
This album exposed me to Los Campesinos! and I think it’s my favorite album by them. The album art immediately drew me in and i really liked where they went with this album. Some of their older stuff is more electronic, and while that’s definitely still present in this album, it just felt more organized and upbeat than their previous albums.
Alumni: DJ MEENBEATZ (Meena Rezaei)
Little Dragon-Season High
10 years later and Little Dragon can still give you goosebumps with other-worldly synths that make you want to dance and cry at the same time.
Kari Faux – Primary
The WAVIEST album of 2017, Kari is the Q U E E N of those south coast beats with a sophomore album that flows; although a little short, she was able to squeeze in an incredible feature by Jerry Paper.
Princess Nokia – 1992
Princess Nokia’s first studio album and it’s overflowing with the unapologetically femme vibes that 2017 needed and fully embraced (and what must continue through years to come), and a new age hip hop album paying homage to NYC, the birthplace of the genre itself. Ultimately, I cannot emphasize enough how Princess Nokia liberates and highlights the magical spirit that is womxn of color. This album gets me fired up at points while also providing the perfect tracks to ride around to.
Sampha – Process
Beautiful, raw, perfectly emotional – this album cuts deep into a side of Sampha representative of his soul that we are so privileged to experience even a fraction of.
SZA – CTRL
The music in 2017 reached out to and further celebrated womxn of color, SZA is the representation of that happening in the mainstream, and she did it with perfection. SZA takes instances that womxn often don’t celebrate, and she gave them such value; and with emotionally triggering vocals that even got me (the most tone deaf person alive) belting along to.
Ondatrópica – Baile Bucanero
Quantic’s side project bringing in the necessary tropical tunes to move your hips to and make you forget about how Donald Trump is actually our president.
Moses Sumney – Aromanticism
Moses Sumney is maybe one of the most underrated musical geniuses of this generation – he taps into sounds to develop a unique combination of soulful music so complex yet so minimalistic to perfectly pinpoint that feeling you get in your heart when you’re overwhelmed with uncertainty or a lack of reciprocity.
Kelela – Take me Apart
Another amazing album playing with that neo-soul/minimalistic feel and perfectly representing the emotions that come on the cusp of self-liberation after heartbreak (whether it be a result of a lost love or simply a transition). Kelela, as with many fellow femme artists this year, sheds light on self-liberation, self-love all with the power of that divine female energy.
Mount Kimbie – Love What Survives
All I have to say is that this album takes you to a place magical, exciting and beautiful mysterious at the same time.
Kendrick Lamar – DAMN.
I wanted to hate this album, I really did. First of all – a U2 feature? We’re not addressing that… what we are addressing is how K.dot did it again, creating a seamless album, that draws us deeper into his story/his identity. And it doesn’t hurt that the album is seamless in reverse (supposedly how ~it should~ be listened to), regardless, DAMN is a piece of art.
DJ FANTASTIK (Alex Scott)
Vince Staples – Big Fish Theory
I can’t say anything that won’t be said a hundred times better everywhere else. Shit’s fire, yo.
Open Mike Eagle – Brick Body Kids Still Daydream
With this album, Art Rap master Open Mike Eagle creates an everlasting monument to the now demolished Robert Taylor Homes in Chicago where he grew up. He casts himself as both a superhero and a super-villain all the while commenting on the displacement of black bodies and destruction of black memories. It’s truly entrancing.
Injury Reserve – Drive It Like It’s Stolen
I can’t explain exactly why I loved this album as much as I do. It probably has something to do with the incredible range of emotions expressed on this album. From the bass driven basement party songs like See You Sweat and Boom x3 to the deeply introspective songs like North Pole Injury Reserve proves that they are more than just some underground rappers. They’re THE underground rappers.
LCD Soundsystem – american dream
american dream is my fanboy album of the year. I love LCD Soundsystem and everything that they do. So why should you listen to it? You should listen to it if you want to feel melancholy and rebellious.
clipping – The Deep
I’ll come clean, this isn’t an album but a single song. But this song is so complex and well made that it might as well be a complete album. This song was composed for an episode of This American Life called We Are In The Future and let me tell you this song IS the future. The song tells the story of an underwater battle between humans of the sea and humans of the earth. It is a sci-fi movie in song form.
Portugal. The Man – Woodstock
This was the summer album of the year. Also I still haven’t stopped listening to the single.
Big Sean – I Decided
This was my complete surprise album of the year. In general I don’t really listen to trap rap. But I Decided just grabbed me and never let go. From the incredibly catchy and uplifting “Bounce Back” to the steal yo’ girl “Jump Out the Window” every song was relatable, but still alien enough to be intriguing
!!! – Shake The Shutter
Mavis Staples – If All I Was Black
Benjamin Clementine- I Tell a Fly
DJ E (Aaron Brown)
- Iglooghost – Neo Wax Bloom
- Kendrick Lamar – DAMN.
- Dirty Art Club – Basement Seance
- NxWorries – Yes Lawd!
- Deadmau5 – stuff i used to do
- Terrace Martin Presents The Pollyseeds – Sounds of Crenshaw vol. 1
- Tyler, the Creator – Flower Boy
- Vince Staples – Big Fish Theory
- Jonwayne – Rap Album 2
- Kamasi Washington – Harmony of Difference
- (Honorable Mention) Toro y Moi – Boo Boo
DJ Skully (Kara Zehner)
- Sorority Noise – You Are Not As ___ As You Think
- Daddy Issues – Deep Dream
- Rozwell Kid – Precious Art
- Dude York- Sincerely
- Swept Under – Trial/Error
- Citizen – As You Please
- The Front Bottoms – Going Grey
- HAIM – Something to Tell You
- Spendtime Palace – Sonora
- Alex Lahey – I Love You Like a Brother
- The Menzingers – After the Party
- Paramore- After Laughter
DJ Raven (Natalie Pace)
I’m gonna start this by mentioning that I have an unashamed love for pop music, and that this list reflects that strongly.
- Taylor Swift –Reputation
- Lorde –Melodrama
- Halsey –Hopeless Fountain Kingdom
- All Time Low –Last Young Renegade
- You Me At Six –Night People
- P!nk –Beautiful Trauma
- The Front Bottoms –Going Grey
- Kelly Clarkson –Meaning of Life
- The Killers –Wonderful Wonderful
- The Sherlocks –Live for the Moment
- Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings –Soul of a Woman
- Kesha –Rainbow
- The Safes –Tasty Waves
- Shelby Earl –The Man Who Made Himself a Name
Chiara Garland (DJ Peach Pie)
- Passion Pit – Tremendous Sea of Love
- Sampha – Process
- (Sandy) Alex G – Rocket
- Phoenix – Ti Amo
- Ty Segall – Ty Segall
- Grizzly Bear – Painted Ruins
- Hovvdy – Taster
- Kendrick Lamar – Damn.
- Pardoner – Uncontrollable Salvation
- Fleet Foxes – Crack Up