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The Best Albums of 2017

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2017 gave listeners many great albums that will be remembered for years to come. Ranging in genres from hip hop to indie and mainstream rock, many artists proved themselves with important releases this year. Together, we have collaborated and both come up with our choices for the five best albums released this past year. For this list we are not including any reissue albums or any remasters. These are purely new albums that are from a range of different genres.

David Kuhn

#5. To kick off the list at number five is Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. While other people may put DAMN at number one, I personally believed that, while a good album, it wasn’t excellent all the way through. Some songs are clearly just music for people to get high to and some songs take too long to get started. Even though it had its problems, DAMN was still a great album. The overall message was powerful and meaningful, and Kendrick’s lyricism is superb all the way through.

#4. At number four is Flower Boy by Tyler the Creator. This album came at a time when I was really losing hope in Hip Hop and where it was going. Tyler’s album is superbly produced unlike some of his preceding albums and with his great beats and lyrics, he made me have hope for the future of hip hop. Flower Boy is about Tyler finding who he is and his purpose. He constantly uses his car in songs to show his journey through life and how it has led up to this point in time. Without a doubt Flower Boy is the best rap album of the year in my opinion. And it comes from an unexpected artist.

#3. At number three is an album that I just can’t stop listening to. Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters somehow manage to top themselves again with the album Concrete and Gold. I literally enjoyed every second of this album. It has the ability to be heavy and soft at the same time while still sounding good. Since I wrote my review on this album I have listened to it a total of 5 times and will most likely listen to it again before the year is out. Grohl’s rough vocals are fantastic and only get better when put over a soft guitar riff and heavy drums. The album somehow manages to separate itself from the rest of the Foo Fighters discography even in the band’s old age.

#2. Sliding into number two is a band who I had previously never listened to. Seeing an ad on spotify for the album Villains by Queens of The Stone Age, I decided to click on it for the very cool album cover. The album surprised me a lot. Villains has some awesome rock guitar riffs over some fantastic bass and drums. The songs, while seemingly simple, are actually rather complex the more you listen to the album. Villains has a funk feel to it that makes you want to get up and dance. The album is excellently produced by Mark Ronson, the same person who produced “Uptown Funk.” Villains as a whole is an excellent album that got me into a new band.

#1. Coming in at number 1 is an album I originally wrote off as a band losing its touch. However, after re-listening The Stage by Avenged Sevenfold is now my top album of the year. The album deals with artificial intelligence and the future of technology. A strange turn for a band that usually has little meaning in its work. Avenged Sevenfold retains its classic sound but with synthesizers added to give the album an almost supernatural feel. Filled with Synyster Gates’ signature guitar licks and Johnny Christ’s heavy melodies the band finds an interesting sound that makes one think about his place in the universe. The band’s new drummer adds a lot to a sound that totally separates this album from any other album in the band’s history.

Alec Maskell

#5. Starting off my list is the second release from jazz saxophonist Kamasi Washington titled Harmony of Difference. Kamasi Washington made his debut back in 2015, first appearing as a studio musician on Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly; and then that same year releasing his debut The Epic. Harmony of Difference is a unique difference from Washington’s first album, which was three hours long. Harmony of Difference is an EP, clocking in at just over a half an hour; and centers more on short melodic jazz figures than long sections of improvisational soloing. In Washington’s vision for the EP, he explores and highlights the contrast between the main melody and the counterpoints in music; which is where the album’s title is derived from. He executes this vision exquisitely and in doing so produced possibly the best jazz album this year.

 #4. My next choice is Pure Comedy by Father John Misty. This album was beautiful, and caused me to become completely immersed in Father John Misty. This album was his third release, and it showed immense growth for the folk singer from his previous albums. The album’s sound is a mixture of indie and folk rock; and at many moments sounds derivative of Elton John with his fashion of singing and piano playing. This album takes a look at our current world, and puts a comedic look on it; with many of Misty’s lyrics being satirical while also still important. The topics of focus range from technology and social media to politics to pop culture.

#3.  2017 was a very politically charged year, and therefore music reflected the issues of the times. Hip Hop especially took to highlighting these issues, but I believe it was done best on All-AmeriKKKan Bada$$ by Joey Bada$$. Joey Bada$$’ sophmore project was one of the most important conscious hip hop albums I’ve heard this year, and definitely the best album tackling the political situations of the year. For starters, in an age of hip hop which is flooded with trap rap, it is refreshing to hear a rap album with real lyricism and complex beats. Beyond that, Bada$$’ lyricism is amazing on this album; and is in my opinion more sophisticated than the rhymes from his previous album. On this album he also uses his feature choices wisely, and has ScHoolboy Q and J. Cole on the record. His look at the life of african-american’s in America today, and the relationship to this year’s political issues is journalistic in nature and gives a profound and elevating feeling to the listener.

#2. Possibly the most unique and unexpected album for me this year was Drunk by Thundercat. I came to learn of Thundercat (just as I did of Kamasi Washington) because of his previous collaborations with Kendrick Lamar. Thundercat is a bassist and singer who’s music centers on a fusion of jazz, hip hop and funk. His sound is so unique because of his style of playing on his six string bass guitar; and is easy to single out on his collaborations with Kamasi Washington and Kendrick Lamar on other albums. Drunk also highlighted this sound, and brought forth his most improved and profound work. The songs on this album are mostly short, but his collaborations on the album are amazing. He works with Kendrick Lamar, Wiz Khalifa, Pharell, and legends Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins. This album is one of the most unique and beautiful sounding albums of not only this year, but the last decade.

#1. For me this year’s best album was DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar. In his third major studio release, Kendrick proved that he still has it and is the still the best rapper in the genre today. With every album thus far, Kendrick has explored a different sub genre of hip hop; with good kid, m.A.A.d city being centered on gangsta rap and West Coast hip hop, and To Pimp a Butterfly being centered on Jazz hip hop. With DAMN. Kendrick explores trap rap while combining it with regular hip hop beats and his conscious lyricism. The album is incredibly unique in its usage of trap style beats backed by true lyricism as opposed to the lyricism constantly heard on trap rap songs today. Kendrick drifts away from his previous releases with this album not having an explicitly conceived concept throughout. His features on this album are profound and well used; with him working with Rihanna, Zacari, and unexpectedly U2. For an all around hip hop album, with a varied amount of topics, DAMN. delivered some of Kendrick’s best moments and proved his prominence in hip hop today.

 

 

 

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The Best Albums of 2017