Everyone who knows me, knows that I’m not a music connoisseur. I unapologetically listen to a lot of Top 40 and I am not up to date with all the new indie acts making waves at festivals. I am a simple man who listens to all kinds of music (except country) and enjoys different styles and artists. My top ten list will definitely not be similar to Rolling Stone’s, Billboard’s, or any other music publication. Hopefully you’ll enjoy this list, let me know your favorites, and maybe consider listening to some of this albums.
- Melodrama, Lorde
- This album has been dubbed a “breakup album.” But to call it simply a breakup album would be dismissive. This album tells a story, one that might be difficult to tell, but necessary nonetheless. Lorde shows a certain vulnerability she hadn’t explored before. With amazing lyrics, production, and vocals, Melodrama is the best release of the year so far.
- Melodrama Review Here
- Standout tracks: Green Light, The Louvre, Liability, Writer In The Dark, Perfect Places.
- Musas, Natalia Lafourcade
- I don’t listen to a lot of music in my native language. But this incredible album made me reconsider that. This is an ode to Latin American folklore and those incredible muses who inspired the talented singer Natalia Lafourcade. She embarks on this journey with the seasoned musicians Los Macorinos and creates magic along the way. Regardless of what language you speak, if you’re a fan of music, this is a must.
- Musas Review Here
- Standout tracks: Mexicana Hermosa, Soledad y el Mar, Que He Sacado Con Quererte, Tu Me Acostumbraste, Tonada de Luna Llena.
- Ctrl, SZA
- When I was trying to get my friend on board with SZA, I described her album themes as problematic, sexually-liberated, insecurity-ridden, and overall, real. I was blown away upon first listen, as I heard someone who I know, someone who I’ve come across with before, or someone who at times is me. This incredible record has collaborations that do not overshadow, but rather heighten SZA’s vibe. Listen and fall in love.
- Standout Tracks: Supermodel, Drew Barrymore, The Weekend, Broken Clocks.
- DAMN., Kendrick Lamar
- Kendrick Lamar, arguably the best rapper of our generation, predictably released the best rap album of the year so far. What makes DAMN. so amazing, is the fact that the rapper was able to continue paying homage to his beginnings while acknowledging his current status as rap royalty.
- Standout Tracks: DNA, ELEMENT, HUMBLE, XXX
- Lust For Life, Lana Del Rey
- With her second best album of her career (behind the stunning Ultraviolence) Lana Del Rey is more self aware than ever. While still using her essential themes of death, Americana, and tragic relationships, she builds into her persona by letting fans know about her current struggles and her view into the future. This is her first album with mega-producers and collaborations, but make no question, Lana’s sound, artistry, and greatness remains unchanged.
- Lust For Life Review Here
- Standout Tracks: 13 Beaches, Cherry, Summer Bummer, In My Feelings
- Harry Styles, Harry Styles
- When Zayn released her debut album last year, I for sure thought he was going to be the standout ex-member from One Direction. Turns out there’s enough room for two new great solo artists. This album has strong vocals, strong lyrical development and most importantly, allows us to witness an artist who shouldn’t be diminished to background vocals or sharing spotlights. Harry Styles is a star. The album has a 90’sesque blurry rock/pop sound that surprised me upon first listen.
- Standout Tracks: Sign of the Times, Sweet Creature, Ever Since New York, Two Ghosts
- The Far Field, Future Islands
- I still vividly remember that night when me and my friend Annie (music and eyebrow connoisseur) were drunkenly listening to music at 2 in the morning. She played Ran, the first single from Future Islands’ new album. I was amazed at how good the song was and how great it fit our moment. The next day I noticed, Annie had downloaded the song by accident (perhaps a drunken mistake), and I was forever grateful. By introducing me to the band, I was able to experience first hand their new record which was equally joyous, mature, and clever. They have a specific sound that is so worth listening to. Thanks Annie!
- Standout Tracks: Ran, Through The Roses, Day Glow Fire
- I See You, The XX
- Speaking about clear, specific sounds, here comes The XX with the first great album of the year. Released in January, the album became my first musical obsession of the year. From the exuberant intro track, Dangerous to the emotionally resonant track On Hold, this is definitely an album that spoke to me. It felt like I wrote On Hold.
- Standout Tracks: Say Something Loving, On Hold, I Dare You, Performance
- SweetSexySavage, Khelani
- Khelani delivered that bad-bitch realness that SZA expanded on. The album’s title is incredibly accurate to the sound (although the format irks me). Khelani is a woman who isn’t afraid of your societal norms, a woman who is sexual, who is emotional, who is real. A woman who like SZA, is relevant and necessary in the music industry right now.
- Standout Tracks: Distraction, Personal, In My Feelings, I Wanna Be
- Process, Sampha
- I was familiar with Sampha’s work only because of his collaborations with Drake and Solange. Initially, it was the cover art that drew me towards listening and boy, was I not disappointed. His sound is R&B at heart with electronic shades and facets. This is an artist who is raw, emotional, and with a unique voice to match.
- Standout Tracks: Plastic 100C, Blood On Me, Take Me Inside.
Almost made the cut:
American Teen, Khalid- This vibrant and unique look at the current state of American youth resonated with me because it was aware of it’s intentions. Like, this was targeting a generation that is always vilified by its self-absorbedness and vapid behaviors, and he acknowledges this while also adding the very real struggles of his life. El Paso doing it big! Almost made the list!
Everything Now, Arcade Fire- Upon first listen, I was exhilarated, happy, and energized. This weren’t emotions Arcade Fire had projected on me before. A definite step up over Reflektor, I need to listen to this more, in order to form a more objective opinion.
This Old Dog, Mac DeMarco- Another artist introduced to my by a friend (thanks Cruzito!) Mac DeMarco is something else. His music style is not out there, nor are his lyrics (which are real and poetic), it is the singer himself who has a larger-than-life personality. I think that is what makes this a successful album. The fact that this is a talented artist who cares about the music and not about how he is perceived. It is all about the emotions and not about the hype. Like Everything Now, I only listened to this album scarcely but what I heard, I really liked.
Humanz, Gorillaz- These aren’t your old-school Gorillaz. They definitely share the same lyrical greatness, underground vibe, and themes. But 2017 Gorillaz were able to adapt and continue to be current by increasing the political commentary, heightening the electronic beats, and continuing to mix darkness with light. Definitely a highlight for the year.
Let me know your favorite releases of the year, your thoughts on the list, and any omissions I might have had!