Top 10 Albums of 2017

Listen to all of these albums.

Listen to all of these albums.

Michael Quinn, Writer

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With all the happenings that 2017 gave us, it also gave us another year of great music. There were numerous notable albums that came out this year, but ten of these albums really stood out among the rest. Here’s the MDO’s Top 10 Albums of 2017.

 

  1. King Krule – The OOZ

After much consideration, The OOZ managed to make this year’s list for producing some of the most distinct songs of the year. The damp and urban-sounding, jazz instrumentals sets a very defined tone for the album and gives us a feel that was never fully explored on his previous album. In this album, frontman Archie Marshall gives us a handful of impressive tracks on this album such as Dum Surfer and Half Man Half Shark, along with several other jazz fueled songs like Cadet Limbo or Midnight 01. Overall, the album takes an experimental approach that has the makings of a great album.

 

  1. St. Vincent – Masseduction

After her experimental 2015 self-titled album, St. Vincent returns once again with one of her hottest, most fluorescent albums to date. The hot pink album cover is a perfect visual to match up with some of the more hard-hitting tracks on this, specifically songs like Los Ageless and the title track Masseduction. The fantastic guitars in these tracks in particular make the songs can’t help but make you feel like a movie star every time they play. Masseduction specifically has some of the most passionate and catchy lyrics on the album and will almost force the listener to try to imitate it. Apart from the sexier songs in the listing, it has its fair share of sentimental and soothing tracks like New York and Happy Birthday Johnny. As a whole, fantastic album.

 

  1. Kendrick Lamar – DAMN

It should be no surprise to anyone that Kendrick makes the list yet again. The anticipation for this album was no secret to anyone, with Kendrick releasing his hit single HUMBLE just prior to the album’s release, there was so much to be desired, and he delivered on many fronts. HUMBLE and DNA supplied the bulk of the energy on this album, songs like ELEMENT and LUST cooled the molten metal that the prior songs provided. While the song DUCKWORTH is not a personal favorite, the ending of the song wrapping up the album gives it a satisfying end.

 

  1. Julien Baker – Turn Out The Lights

Julien Baker really stepped it up this year. Like, a lot. The only thing I can ask someone who put this album as their favorite album of this year is, “Are you ok?” And believe me, that’s in no way an insult. This album is a compilation of some of the most beautiful, brutally heart-wrenching songs Julien Baker has to offer. Almost every track without fail could definitely revive emotions that you’ve only ever felt at 2 AM when you sit alone staring into the dark. Aside from the tone, Baker’s performance on this album is absolutely gorgeous. On songs like Claws in Your Back and Appointments, her vocals are almost second to none. Mixed with some of the most epic strings and piano arrangements, along with its fair share of guitar parts, they almost don’t compare to Baker’s insane vocal quality. Be sure to add this entire album to your sad music playlist.

 

  1. Mac DeMarco – This Old Dog

As a whole this year, indie music did not deliver as well as it has in the past. However, among this very heavy rap influenced year, indie icon Mac DeMarco did pull through with his latest album This Old Dog. Mac’s kick-back style is as present as ever in this album, though putting an even slightly more mature shift on certain topics. Sad and sentimental songs are not unheard of from Mac Demarco, with songs like Still Together and My Kind of Woman definitely hitting on the sentimental piece of it. On This Old Dog, there seems to be a tone of aging that Mac in really honing in on, specifically on the title track and My Old Man, which have some of his most dreary lyrics by comparison to his other work. His somewhat carefree style is still present, it’s just taken a different mood from his iconic warped, jammy guitars into one more fueled by acoustic guitar instead. This Old Dog isn’t necessarily a sad album though, it still contains Mac’s slappy beats on songs like Baby You’re Out and For the First Time.

 

  1. Vince Staples – Big Fish Theory

I would consider this the real starting point for the list of the best albums of 2017. Although the previous albums on this list are certainly great listens, these albums have nearly impeccable consistency and quality, beginning with Vince Staples’ Big Fish Theory. Vince Staples was really able to pull through this year with definitely his most impressive album to date. Vince’s slurred and satisfying voice combined with this album’s bubbly and punchy beats are paved throughout making it sonically pleasing to start. While lyrically, it’s nothing particularly different or innovative, the sound of this record just makes it appealing in its own way. This thing is littered with fast paced bangers almost all the way through from Yeah, Right to BagBak and finds success through simplicity. While there’s nothing quite as edgy and hard as something like his past work like Norf Norf, this album’s consistency and fun, simple beats make it a fun, jumpy album.

 

  1. Tyler, the Creator – Flower Boy

Yeah, we can’t believe it either. Tyler, the Creator made a top 10 albums list. Odd Future founder and rapper Tyler, the Creator 100% earned his spot on this list. Flower Boy is easily his best work and finally develops the mature sound that many people have been waiting for on his end. Tyler has been infamous for his immaturity and controversy over the years, always trying to get a rise out of people, and that couldn’t be more reflective in all of his work prior on work like Goblin or Cherry Bomb. However, Tyler’s iconic vulgar and grimy beats and lyrics are not nearly as present as they have been, and even where it’s present, it does not come across nearly as gross. The only two real bangers on this thing are Who Dat Boy and I Ain’t Got Time, which although have instrumentals that make it bigger and faster as it goes on, contain lyrics that are cries for help in a way. The album is littered with references to coming out of the closet about being gay and how he wishes that the controversies around him would all fade away if he were honest with people about topics this personal to him. Sonically, Tyler has some of his best flows ever on songs like Foreword and 911 and have his best produced beats ever recorded by him, all of which he did personally. All around, amazing album, props to Tyler.

 

  1. SZA – Ctrl

If there were a word to describe this album, “loose” would some it up in more ways than one. Prior to this album, I had never found myself listening to SZA very consistently, not because I disliked it, but I had just never bothered. Although her previous work was in no way bad, it just didn’t resonate with me or feel particularly groundbreaking overall. However, Ctrl puts a seemingly more personal vibe than before. Vocally, SZA brings some of her best performances on songs like Pretty Little Birds and Drew Barrymore. There are several catchy beats that I credit the drums with providing on songs like Go Gina and Prom. Several songs like these have such poppy and pillowy beats that you can’t help but be engaged with. The lyrics and narratives on this are nothing extraordinary, with songs about having relations with men in relationships and the like, though the sound on this feels much more developed in exchange. Sonically pleasing and great performances instrumentally and vocally, this album is definitely something to add to your discography.

 

  1. Big K.R.I.T. – 4eva Is A Mighty Long Time

It’s unfortunate because I think many people overlooked this album when considering the best albums of the year. It didn’t make either the Rolling Stone or Pitchfork’s list for the top 50 albums of the year, which is an intense slap in the face for an album of this quality. Krit absolutely kills it on this album. You would never guess from seeing a 22 track album that the consistency would be anywhere near notable, but you would be so very wrong once you listen to it beginning to end. Almost every track on here is exciting and brilliant with its use of stirring horns and beautiful strings. Bangers like Big Bank and hard-hitters like Confetti add to the excitement, but tracks like these pale in comparison to the exotic and soul vibes of songs like Justin Scott or Aux Cord. But regardless of whether or not it’s a banger or a funk song, almost every song has a heavy strength in one form or another. His flow and beat on the first track alone should be more than enough to rope in any listener.

 

  1. BROCKHAMPTON – The Saturation Series

While we’re on the topic of drastically underrated albums, music critics overlooked not one, not two, but three albums all capable of filling this list. Brockhampton are easily the artist of the year, no contest. Not one artist could even come close to accomplishing the feat that these guys in Brockhampton have. For readers unfamiliar with Brockhampton, this self-proclaimed ‘boy band’ released three separate albums between June and December of 2017, all under the title of Saturation. As if their first album wasn’t already stellar in terms of quality and consistency across 14 tracks, they only grew in quality, dishing out two more incredible albums as follow ups, truly saturating the market the way their album’s title claims. It would be unfair to the other albums on this list to rank these albums separately, because they would all easily rank highly on this list. As far as highlights go across all three albums, each record has a diversity of song styles. Hard, violent bangers like HEAT, JUNKY, and SISTER/NATION are just a few examples of the mitochondria of the albums, smooth tracks like SWEET, GOLD, and ALASKA are used to maintain the energy nicely, and soft, beautiful songs like WASTE, SUMMER, and TEAM are amazing finishers to each album. This description doesn’t do these albums justice, simply because almost any song out of these albums is good in its own respect. To sum it up, Brockhampton rocks and everyone should listen to these albums.

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