Richard Dawson – Peasant
Thundercat – Drunk
Lil Uzi Vert – Luv Is Rage 2
Migos – Culture
SZA – Cntrl
Slowdive – Slowdive
Iglooghost – Neo Wax Bloom
Ariel Pink – Dedication To Bobby Jameson
The exclusive and elusive live album Swans released on CD is as close as one get to experiencing the band without seeing them live. The arrangements, the performances and the antics all add up to be one of my favorite releases of the year so far, even if it’s just a live album. This an absolute essential for Swans fans or just post-rock fans in general.
I have to say, one of the best things I have done in 2017 was something I didn’t pay much attention to when I did it. This was subscribing to the Flenser’s Youtube channel. After getting pure euphoria off of Street Sect’s End Position, I knew I had to look more into the record label, and once doing so, I found a band called Planning For Burial. I can safely say that after stumbling upon this band, I believe shoegaze and noise rock still have a chance in this age of music. Pitch perfect songwriting with loads of noise and distortion that take immense amount of listens to peel back through make this album a personal favorite of mine this year. Please check this album out if you’re into any type of post-rock, shoegaze or noise rock.
Even though this is just an EP, it’s my list and I can do whatever the fuck I want with it. This EP proves why Injury Reserve are still the most underrated rap group in the game and the one trio you should be watching in 2018. Emotional, layered and more sparse than their previous record, Injury Reserve leaves fans clinging onto every single word of theirs until they drop this year.
Although worrying me with their promise of 5 records in one year, King Gizzard churned out some of their best records in their entire discography with Flying Microtonal Banana, an adventure into micro tuning, and Sketches of Brunswick East. Where their other records focus on hard psych and acid rock, Sketches is a foray into jazz fusion and soft record. With flourishes by Mild High Club, who’s an up and coming indie artist who relies on downtuned guitars and drum machines, this record is a whole new sound for Gizzard to perfect.
To no surprise, Lorde dropped an instant pop classic with her new record Melodrama. Lyrics detailing young adulthood, broken relationships, and generational problems are perfectly placed over immaculate production filled with pulsing synths and sharp drums.
Made entirely on an iPhone, Steve Lacy proves himself as a rising talent and producer, with sharp hooks and even sharper guitar lines that land all over this thing. Now with a production feature on Kendrick Lamar’s Damn, we can expect much more from The Internet alum.
Sure, question my music taste with this one, but Purpp’s style of trap rap is incredibly simple yet mesmerizing, being a full tape straight from the underbelly of SoundCloud. A more focused and entertaining effort than the tape collaborator Lil Pump released, Smokepurpp made something hypnotic and fun for the new wave of rappers.
I never heard about IDK until this year, but I have to say that I’m extremely happy that I did. These bars are honestly needed in hip-hop, and with a co-sign from MF DOOM and a tour with Denzel Curry and A$AP Ferg, IDK is seconds from a breakthrough, if he hasn’t already with this incredible record. I can hear the passion in his voice through his aggressive flows and lyrics, and all I can say is that this man has more potential than most of the rap game right now.
Yung Lean finally releases a project that illustrates his amazing potential. Ever since his subtle yet important role in Frank Ocean’s Blonde, Leandooer has been crafting his icy follow up to his experimental Warlord. Filled with some of his most heartbreaking songs to date, Lean has found the perfect balance his records should’ve had in the first place, and cut out all the fat to make his best album yet.
A psychedelic journey through the sounds of Funk, Ambient and Electronic, Chaz, AKA Toro Y Moi, creates another drug filled trip to foreign planet, one filled with jam filled passages. Incredibly danceable yet breezy and light, Toro y Moi has made his most personal album to date with lyrics detailing his newfound fame and fortune.
Another artist I never heard of until this year, J.I.D blends the new Atlanta sound with hard-hitting lyricism detailing life in the streets that are unmistakably dense and clever. His flow, which sounds like if Anderson Paak. and Kendrick had a love child, is fast, witty, and most of all catchy. Listen to “NEVER” as an intro to the record, and then go back to listen to one of the most under the radar releases of the decade for maximum enjoyment.
Crafting an album that fuses the melodies of 90’s R&B with instrumentals that sound like they were delivered from the future, Kelela finally blossoms into a unique artist who has finally carved themselves a pocket in the ever-growing Alternative R&B genre. The emotion here is real, with belting vocals and metallic beats from Arca that sound icier every time I listen to it.
Far and away a better record than the other conscious hip hop album that month, Damn, Joey’s follow up to B4.DA.$$ is a smart reflection on the current state of America over classic NY boom bap beats. With song topics like his rise to fame and a relationship song about the country he lives in, at such a young age, Joey is wise upon his years.
This album, fortunately, puts the idea that “punk is dead” to rest. The growling basslines, the blastbeat drumming and the amazing vocal performances from the frontman make this Bristol punk outfit special. The aggressive nature of the record is something I really appreciate in a world where musicians are way too self-serious. If you are into hardcore punk please check this record out.
A legend rises like a phoenix to drop an album that while flying under the radar for a ton of rap listeners is a Bonafide return from one of the best to do it this decade. Say what you want about his lyrics, Sosa’s pen game in the hook and flow department is unbeatable, with some of my favorite tracks of the year like “Glory Bridge” ending up on this thing.
Just when everyone thought Future was done for 2017 with the release of his self-titled album, he surprised the world with the surprise announcement of another album while the last one wasn’t even a week old yet. HNDRXX, the soulful, more emotional sister album to the hard hitting FUTURE is one of the rapper’s best works yet, being his most consistent project since his trap masterpiece DS2.
After being featured on the XXL Freshman class of 2016, Denzel Curry has focused on honing his craft, which is only showcased here. Over the most experimental beats he’s touched yet, Denzel makes one of the most high energy and urgent EPs in recent memory. If you were to check out one thing on his project, make it “Hate Government”.
An album that, even though I really liked it at release, grew on me, Cozy Tapes Vol. 2 shows improvement on all fronts from the first volume of the Cozy Tapes saga and produces some of the best rap tracks of 2017. A record that truly bumps, every single track on here is endlessly fun, enjoyable and hard hitting, right from the beginning with “Perry Aye”, which perfectly sets the tone for the rest of the tape. Sure, there is a talent gap between a lot of the artists in the Mob, but what some members lack in lyricism they make up for with catchy flows and the sheer energy they bring to the tracks.
Rapping over beats reminiscent of UK Garage, Vince Staples shows no sign of stopping his streak of experimentation. Since Summertime 06, Vince has had too many opportunities to sell out, but he never has. Sticking to his guns and brilliant mind, he has released his most concise and focused work to date, packing a lifetime into the short 36 minutes of material here.
An album I couldn’t bring myself to write a full review to, this haunting and heartbreaking record captures Phil Elvrum in the moments directly after his wife’s death. Performed in the very room she passed, Phil’s lyrics, acoustic guitar and drum machine paint an accurate portrayal of human grief.
An album that I knew would have to be at least good, RATKING vet Wiki pulled through with one of the most fun and concise records of the year. Over soulful beats, Wiki’s loud and carefree voice sounds triumphant and grand and his lyrics, both hilarious and genius, back it up. Just the first three tracks, which might just be the best run of tracks on any NY rap album this year, are great enough for you to give it a listen.
Pharrell returns with his flagship group NERD after 7 years of silence to welcome arms. Pushing their sound into fresher territory, NERD has made their best record since Seeing Sounds. Enlisting Kendrick, 3 Stacks, Future, and much much more, the eccentric production takes the listener to another world, filled with unheard of sounds and imaginative concepts like what tigers do in their free time. Through these crazy ideas, however, there are strong political messages, especially in the amazing “Don’t Don’t Do It!”
Running at the length of a feature length film, it would be easy to skip on this record and even bash it without listening to it. However, what Big KRIT has done here is make a Southern Rap classic, ranking up there with OutKast’s and Three Sixs best. Filled with deep fried bangers, clever wordplay, perfectly placed features and brilliant production, I will not stop listening to this record, and that’s a promise.
Going into this record with no expectations, especially after his disaster Magna Carta…Holy Grail, Jay Z surprised the fuck out of me with what I believe to be one of his best records to date. Personal, honest and dense, this is the record that Jay Z has always wanted to make, shedding any thoughts of a radio hit out of his head. Tackling some of his most controversial issues like his affair over some of the best production I’ve heard all year from No ID, Jay Z has made the best rap album ever made from an ageing legend.
These albums changed my life. My obsession began when I first heard “Star”, which was the aggressive, colorful, and movie reference laced rap song I needed. When they dropped Saturation it blew my head off. They did it again with Saturation II, then dumped my body in the dumpster with Saturation III, all in less than 6 months. Please listen to this group, even if it seems daunting. Each song is insanely poppy and fun, with both introspective and braggadocious lyrics coming from each immensely talented member.
5. Sampha – Process
After waiting for years, Sampha finally released the solo project that we needed. Emotionally dense, danceable and endlessly enjoyable, Sampha has crafted an R&B album that will sound futuristic in 2030. Tracks like “No One Knows Me (Like The Piano” will destroy your soul while “Blood On Me” will make you want to run and jump around your house.
4. Young Thug – Beautiful Thugger Girls
The crooner this generation needs, Thugger finally released his “pop” album. An album that blends genres correctly, Thug pulled through with a record that has as much acoustic guitars as hi-hats and snares. Filled to the brim with catchy hooks to the point where songs blur the line as to what are verses and what are choruses, Thugger Girls rewards many listens and plays. I don’t know how he’ll top this, but then again it’s Young Thug, and he will.
3. Playboi Carti – Playboi Carti
Let me make this straight, I will NEVER defend this mixtape no matter what anyone says about it. The lyrics, the whole aesthetic of the album, is trashy, but I love it. The slippery flows are catchy as hell and the washed out, druggy beats make it hard not to come back to it. The project contains songs all under the 2 and half minute mark, this creating a collage of songs that feel like little bites of sound. I am not recommending this album to anyone, because this a personal favorite, and I am not expecting anyone to like it, especially people who like substance in their music. It’s hypnotic, simple and fun.
2. Tyler, The Creator – Flower Boy
Who could’ve thought we’d be sitting here, acting unsurprised when Tyler, The Creator, the same kid who released Bastard back in 2010, released something as lush and pretty as Flower Boy? What was my most anticipated album of last year, it surpassed my expectations with flying colors. Front to back, this record is perfect and I honestly think it’s a 10 out of 10 if I was forced to review and place a score on it again. I don’t know where to start with this record, from the Can- sampling “Foreword”, to the absolute stunning switch up on “Glitter”, please give this a listen no matter who you are.
My album of the year, everything about this record is perfect. The brooding, relatable lyrics, the sweeping instrumentation that sounds like a full orchestra, and of course, the songwriting is top notch. Coming from the brilliant mind of one 21 year old, it’s hard not to praise this record, let alone appreciate it. Everything is straight to point and essential, right to the interludes and skits that connect each song perfectly to the next. Like a therapy session for Archy, the record serves as a release from reality, which it’s allowed for me and other listeners to experience as well. This album is a flying success and masterpiece, soaked in blue and shot from an airplane in the sky.