Best Albums & Songs of 2017 (So Far) Edition 2.0


Kendrick, Father John Misty © Interscope, Sub PopKendrick Lamar and Father John Misty top both the best songs and best albums lists of 2017 (so far).  

Ah, it’s that time of year folks – the best of music lists, so far.  This particular list covers both the best albums of songs of 2017.  Consider this the diet version of several lists released on our more expansive sister site, The Musical Hype.  But if you’re all about the skinny, here’s our brief, to-the-point analysis of the crème de la crème of music 2K17 style! The is the second edition – Edition 2.0 – of our Best of list (so far)! New entries into the top-10 or the list as a whole are marked with an asterisk (*). 

10 Best Albums: 2.0 Edition

Kendrick Lamar, DAMN. © Interscope1. Kendrick Lamar, DAMN.

The best way to characterize the new Kendrick Lamar album is to use the title itself – DAMN! It goes without saying that K-Dot is a god among MCs and everything he releases is certain to be damn good. DAMN. ends up being truly extraordinary.

Must Listen: “HUMBLE.”

Father John Misty, Pure Comedy © Sub Pop2. Father John Misty, Pure Comedy

Father John Misty delivered another exceptional album with Pure Comedy.  Though more demanding this his previous album, it’s also more ambitious. Josh Tillman is among the most gifted songwriters in modern times, blending the serious, humorous, and the satirical seamlessly.

Must Listen: “Pure Comedy”

Chris Stapleton, From a Room: Volume 1 © Mercury3. Chris Stapleton, From A Room: Volume 1

 

Chris Stapleton only offered 32 minutes’ worth of material on his sophomore album, From A Room: Volume 1. Despite its brevity, Stapleton delivers another superb effort that stands out because of its authenticity. The crown jewel is the unapologetic “Them Stems.”

Must Listen: “Them Stems”

Fleet Foxes, Catch-Up © Nonesuch4. Fleet Foxes, Crack-Up *

Crack-Up, the third studio album by Fleet Foxes, is a demanding listen, but ultimately, a truly rewarding, comeback album.  It can’t be overstated that this album requires decoding – multiple listens for everything to sink in.  But, the risks and progressive approaches taken by the band offers one of the most unique and distinct albums of 2017.

Must Listen: “Third of May / Ōdaigahara”

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, The Nashville Sound © Southeastern5. Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, The Nashville Sound * 

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit delivers one of the year’s best albums with The Nashville Sound blending Americana, country, and rock seamlessly.   The songwriting by Isbell is stunning; It’s creative, relevant, and thoughtful through and through. There are no misses whatsoever over the span of the 10 featured tracks.  A gem without question.

Must Listen: “Anxiety”

Ryan Adams, Prisoner © Blue Note6. Ryan Adams, Prisoner

Ryan Adams dropped a formidable divorce album with Prisoner.  Better yet, he dropped one of the truly elite albums of 2017. He authentically captures the feelings of uncertainty, regret, and loneliness following a break-up.  The simplicity of the lyrics makes Prisoner relatable to everybody, not just his own situation. “Do You Still Love Me?” is simple, but an absolute gem.

Must Listen: “Do You Still Love Me?”

Lorde, Melodrama © Republic7. Lorde, Melodrama *

Now a more mature, 20-year old, Lorde expands her artistry throughout the course of Melodrama.  After a four-year hiatus, the alternative-pop artist returned soundly, delivering one of the year’s most consistent and most intriguing efforts.  Lorde successfully executes the concept, something incredibly tough to do with conceptual albums.

Must Listen: “Green Light”

John Mayer, The Search for Everything © Columbia8. John Mayer, The Search for Everything

The Search for Everything is by far the best John Mayer album in years. Consistent to the nth degree, Mayer delivers a return to form worthy of much more buzz than it has received.  Despite its painful underratedness, The Search for Everything rivals the brilliance of Mayer’s tour de force, Continuum (2006).  Many songs could duke it out for must listen 

Must Listen: “Still Feel Like Your Man”

the-xx-i-see-you-young-turks9. The xx, I See You

The xx returns with its highly anticipated third studio album, I See You. A well-conceived LP, I See You trends on the quiet side of the spectrum, but certainly isn’t devoid of rhythm.  Yes, occasionally it’s too subtle, but more often than not, I See You is an intriguing affair.  “Say Something Loving” and “On Hold” duke it out for must hear, though “Dangerous” and “Performance” give both a run for their money.

Must Listen: “Say Something Loving”

Sampha, Process © Young Turks10. Sampha, Process 

Sampha proves he’s the real deal on his debut album, Process.  Throughout the course of the album, Sampha captures his own emotional rollercoaster.  It’s not a jubilant affair – particularly songs such as “Blood on Me” or “(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano” – but musically, it’s a tour de force.  

Must Listen: “Blood on Me”

NOTE: To read the full list, comprised of 25 albums, check out The Musical Hype article, 25 Best Albums of 2017 (So Far) 2.0 | The Musical Hype.

10 Best Songs: Edition 2.0

1. Kendrick Lamar, “HUMBLE.”

DAMN. 

On energetic single “HUMBLE.,” Kendrick Lamar testifies about his come-up.  Naturally, he emphasizes being humble, with a brilliant, gimmicky hook. Although some believe it’s a diss track, most likely, it’s more transcendent.

2. Father John Misty, “Pure Comedy”

Pure Comedy 

“Pure Comedy” is the centerpiece of Pure Comedy, setting the tone of the album lyrically and musically. The lyrics are ambitious, and pure genius, finding Father John Misty referencing societal issues including women’s rights, religion, and politics.

3. Migos ft. Lil Uzi Vert, “Bad and Boujee”

Culture 

“Bad and Boujee” doesn’t convey a deep message, but it’s a sensational banger. It’s another product of ever-formidable producer, Metro Boomin. The hook, clearly, is where the “bread is buttered. Can you say, “Raindrop, drop top / Smokin’ on cookie in the hotbox?”

4. Bruno Mars, “That’s What I Like”

24K Magic

“That’s What I Like” thrives off immense swagger and sexiness.  Furthermore, it brilliantly balances the 80s cues that dominate 24K Magic and the urban contemporary sound.

5. Childish Gambino, “Redbone”

Awaken, My Love!

Redbone” is a soulful R&B record that’s clearly a throwback to the past.  The chorus, in particular, is saturated with soulfulness. Glover’s vocals are gritty and drenched in effects, specifically pitch-shifted. According to Childish Gambino, he and numerous black dudes desire a redbone.

6. Kendrick Lamar, “DNA”

DAMN.

“DNA” bangs hard from the jump as Kendrick Lamar shares the composition of his DNA. Ultimately, various things characterize him. He raps in maddening fashion, showcasing insane wordplay. Notably, K-Dot addresses racism on this multi-faceted gem.

7. Ryan Adams, “Do You Still Love Me?”

Prisoner 

 “Do You Still Love Me?” initiates mysteriously and exhibits sensitivity.  The sensitivity is short lived, with guitar interjections intensifying the emotion. The pacing and development of the record are superb.  Adams begins singing tenderly, eventually embracing an assertive, approach.

8. Khalid, “Location”

American Teen

The best attribute of breakout single “Location” is the voice of teen R&B artist Khalid – he sets himself apart from his colleagues. Beyond the slick production work, this is a well-rounded song, as Khalid sensationally shares the desires of his young heart.

9. Ed Sheeran, “Shape of You” *

÷

 “Shape of You” was destined to be the hit it became.  Though the sound is cncharacteristic of Sheeran, the change of pace is incredibly successful.  “Shape of You” is soundly produced (Steve Mac), with a danceable, tropical tinge.  As always, Sheeran remains consistent vocally, weaving effortlessly through the rhythmically quick melody.  All in all, it’s a fun, infectious gem.

10. Harry Styles, “Sign of the Times” *

Harry Styles

“Just stop your crying, it’s a sign of the times / We gotta get away from here…” On “Sign of the Times,” Harry Styles delivers an impressive vocal performance that is perfectly suited for this rock-pop ballad.  As the song progresses, his voice only grows riper. “Sign of the Times” is beautiful, tackling topics of morbidity, heaven, and being open as opposed to covert. 

NOTE: To read the full list, comprised of 60 songs, check out The Musical Hype article, Best Songs of 2017 (So Far): Edition 2.0 | The Musical Hype.

Photo Credits: Interscope, Sub Pop, Mercury, Nonesuch, Southeastern, Blue Note, Republic, Columbia, Young Turks
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