Sunday, December 10, 2017

2017 The Albums: Top 10


It is that time of the year again, our favorite time actually, as well look back on the year in music and let you know our choices for the 10 best albums of the year.

In the year we lost voices like Chris Cornell, Tom Petty, Chester Benington, Gord Downie, we were still recovering from last year with the losses of Prince and David Bowie.  

2017 came on right away with great music as artists like The xx, Joey Bada$$, Loyle Carner, and one of the first of many solid releases from King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, the year was saturated with great sounds. Some of the heavy hitters and Officially A Yuppie favorites released solid albums that didn't make the cut like U2, Bjork, Noel Gallagher, Depeche Mode, Mastodon, Lorde, Ride, Royal Blood, and Lana Del Rey among others. There were some major disappointments from heavy hitters like Gorillaz, At the Drive-In, Snoop Dogg, and TLC among others. 

Yet, then there was Kendrick Lamar, whose album, DAMN., we put in a League of its Own, as it was the most important record of the year.  

While looking behind, 10 albums stood out for us and in our third and final list, we present the best of the year. These records not only made an impact to our ears but also have a welcomed longevity where we will be listening to them for years to come.

Here are our picks for the 10 Best Albums of the Year: 

10. Liam Gallagher - As You Were
9. Logic - Everybody
8. SZA - ctrl
7. JAY-Z - 4:44
6. Ryan Adams - Prisoner
5. Power Trip - Nightmare Logic
4. Thundercat - Drunk
3. St. Vincent - MASSEDUCATION
2. Future Islands - The Far Field
1. The Afghan Whigs - In Spades

Now in Long Form, With Explanations:
10. Liam Gallagher - As You Were

Generally it is Noel Gallagher in one of our Top 10 lists, but 2017 belonged to his younger brother and the voice of Oasis and Beady Eye. The anticipated solo debut from the former Oasis frontman is finally here and does not disappoint. The underrated Beady Eye released two solid records but now, on his own, the younger and more caustic Gallagher brother can bust out and prove his chops. With some of his best ballads, he brings forth a whole new dimension to a man you thought you knew.

 9. Logic - Everybody

Logic has developed a cult following thanks to Millennials but the Maryland rapper showcases his best work on his third studio album – Everybody. From the beats to the autobiographical lyrics to the in-your-face look at society, Logic proves he is just as much of a wordsmith as his contemporaries and not just some sensation for the young kids. With appearances by Neil deGrasse Tyson, Killer Mike, No I.D. and more, Logic is showing off he is for everybody.

8. SZA - ctrl

Our 2017 "Best New Artist" didn't pull any punches. Arriving with one of the best debuts in recent memory, the rapper blends R&B, soul, funk, into her autobiographical LP. Featuring Kendrick Lamar, Travis Scott, Isaiah Rashad, among others, she pulls her influences from Tupac to the Fugees to Odd Future to give the new school a taste of the old in an artistic manner. If this is her first step towards stardom, we are strapped in for the ride forever. 

7. JAY-Z - 4:44

On his 13th studio album, Jay-Z returns with what his best work since 2003’s The Black Album as well as his most personal record to date. What has plagued Jay Z for over a decade, including on Watch the Throne, is that he has nothing to talk about. He has seen and done it all and has Beyonce to call his wife to prove it. Yet, on 4:44, he opens up about his mistakes, setbacks, personal problems, and trying to sustain a legacy outside of being Queen Bey’s husband. 4:44 is easily one of the year’s best and one of his best records of his illustrious career. The minimal production from No I.D. is also a gem because HOVA is forcing the listener to pay attention to what he has to say and what needs to be said. This isn’t a record to blast in the car but one to indulge in on a good pair of headphones and shut the world away.  

6. Ryan Adams - Prisoner

Ryan Adams has always been an artist who wears his heart on his sleeve and on his latest record, his lets it beat in full force. Taking inspiration from his recent divorce, his struggle to find himself and the solace of being alone, Adams creates his best record in years. Touching on almost all of the different sub genres of rock and roll he has written and recorded in, Prisoner is him coming undone and back together again.

5. Power Trip - Nightmare Logic

Take the early thrash sound and production of Slayer, mix it with the technical metal of Megadeath and give it a storyline like early Protest the Hero and you have Power Trip’s fantastic new album. Nightmare Logic is a whiplash of force, power, and brutality rolled into one. More than just one of the best albums of the year, it is without a doubt, the best metal album this century. 

4. Thundercat - Drunk

If Key and Peele wrote songs for Prince it would sound like Thundercat's Drunk. The jazz, funk, psych bassist's third album is a concept record about getting drunk and figuring out life. While the record takes the listener on a musical journey and trip through some very strange places, it is an experience. The music gives the listener a visual idea of what they can play in their head when listening to it. Thundercat and the rest of the Brainfeeder label are the only artists pushing music in new directions and with the help of the label's master Flying Lotus as well as Kendrick Lamar, Wiz Khalifa, Pharrell, and others, Drunk is a trip and one you want to go back to.

3. St. Vincent - MASSEDUCATION
In 2017, we named St. Vincent an icon simply because of her shape-shifting, never stop, never cease creating attitude. The androgynous singer and songwriter is more than just a musician, she has become a cultural phenom much like David Bowie and Bjork before her. MASSEDUCATION is what you make of it -- a tongue in cheek look at society, a heartbreak record, a recovery album, it raises questions and also makes you want more. It is essential art for this day and age and we should be thrilled we are living in a world where St. Vincent has the paintbrush.

2. Future Islands - The Far Field
On their fifth record, Baltimore experimental outfit Future Islands delivers their thunderous best. The Far Field is a record about obsession, love, passion, and captivation. It is a record that also captures the rawness and intensity of their live shows and even gets applause from heavy hitters like Debbie Harry from Blondie who appears on the album to led her voice.  

1. The Afghan Whigs - In Spades
In their second record since reuniting in 2012, the Afghan Whigs prove they are without a doubt America’s most underrated rock and roll band. On their latest record, In Spades, a contender for Album of the Year, the Whigs show off their funk, rock, goth rock, R&B, and alternative swagger like never before. Like a fine wine not only do they get better with age, singer Greg Dulli is writing some of the best work of his career – and this is a career that spans over 30 years. As the band tour behind the record and seem to be in good spirits, be thankful we are living in a time when they are consistently giving us brilliant music.  

Guided By Voices Anounce Another New LP

Guided By Voices simply don't stop. They released two solid albums in 2017 and in March will return with Space Gun. 

Take a look at the cover, above, and the tracklisting, below, and hear the new single, "Space Gun."

01. Space Gun
02. Colonel Paper
03. King Flute
04. Ark Technican
05. See My Field
06. Liar’s Box
07. Blink Bank
08. Daily Get Ups
09. Hudson Rake
10. Sport Component National
11. I Love Kangaroos
12. Grey Spat Matters
13. That’s Good
14. Flight Advantage
15. Evolution Circus

SZA on 'SNL'

2017's Best New Artist, SZA performed “The Weekend” and “Love Galore” backed by a choir and chamber orchestra on Saturday Night Live. Take a look!

RHYE Detail New Album

In February, RHYE will release their new album, Blood

"We've spent the last few years on the road translating the Woman album from a bedroom project into a full live experience. With BLOOD, it's been the opposite process; the music and sounds were really born out of the live environment and are built for performance," commented RHYE frontman Milosh said in a press release. "It takes a lot of courage to be vulnerable in front of an audience night after night. I use the same courage on every song on this record."
Take a look at the cover, above, and the tracklisting, below:
1. Waste
2. Taste
3. Feel Your Weight
4. Please
5. Count to Five
6. Song for You
7. Blood Knows
8. Stay Safe
9. Phoenix
10. Softly
11. Sinful

Friday, December 8, 2017

Royal Blood on 'Conan'

Watch Royal Blood perform "I Only Lie When I Love You" on Conan.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

St. Vincent on 'Daily Show'

St. Vincent was a rare musical performer on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah Wednesday night where she performed an acoustic version of "Los Ageless." Take a look.

Beck on 'Fallon'

Watch Beck perform "Up All Night" on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Miguel on 'Kimmel'

Watch Miguel and Travis Scott perform "Sky Walker" on Jimmy Kimmel Live!

U2 Live at BBC

U2 taped a special for BBC inside London's Abbey Road Studios last month. The special ran in the UK last night but the network aired a clip of it on YouTube. Take a look at them performing their classic, "All I Want Is You," with a choir and orchestra.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

2017 Best New Artist: SZA

This superlative and tradition began in 2011 when a little British artist made a lasting impact on us, that artist James Blake, has gone on to release a handful of superb EP's, two more strong LPs, won the Mercury Prize and was nominated for a Grammy. Needless to say, we feel like we were correct in picking him and starting this award with him.
Other winners in following years included artists that were picked:
2011 - James Blake
2012 - The Heartbreaks
2013 - The 1975
2014 - Royal Blood
2015 - Kamasi Washington  
2016 - The Lemon Twigs
This superlative is awarded to an artist who released a stellar debut within the last 12 months and this year's winner is certainly someone special and one to treasure. 

SZA, who released her brilliant debut, ctrl, earlier this year, was someone who came on our radar in 2014 and we named her a Rising Artist in March of that year. Since then, we have kept an eye on the TDE artist and after three years of waiting, ctrl arrived and it was worth the wait. Arriving with one of the best debuts in recent memory, the rapper blends R&B, soul, funk, into her autobiographical LP. Featuring Kendrick Lamar, Travis Scott, Isaiah Rashad, among others, she pulls her influences from Tupac to the Fugees to Odd Future to give the new school a taste of the old in an artistic manner. If this is her first step towards stardom, we are strapped in for the ride forever.