Top Albums of 2017 Through June

Story posted June 26, 2017 in CommRadio by Music Staff

2017, following in the footsteps of 2016’s incredible music year, has had no shortages of good music. Top artists have released projects to critical and fan affair, and new artists have burst on to the scene with impressive projects of their own. With that in mind, CommRadio editor David Arroyo and production director Chandler Copenheaver took a look at and ranked the best albums of 2017 at the halfway point of the year.

*Note: All albums included were released on or before June 16th.*

Honorable Mention: Run the Jewels 3 by Run the Jewels

Run the Jewels 3 receives an honorable mention on our list for having a streaming release in 2016, but a physical release in 2017. Run the Jewels, over the best production yet from rapper/producer El-P, rap scathing bars about the political landscape in America today. The project flows smoothly and the rap duo of Killer Mike and El-P are not afraid to make their thoughts known. This is an album that certainly deserves to be on the list, but its murky official release day had us stumped and thus give it an honorable mention. – David

10. Fin by Syd

Member of rap group The Internet and former Odd Future collaborator Syd makes a strong debut with her album Fin. Syd has a clear swagger throughout the album and exudes confidence with every song. It’s a strong R&B album at a time where R&B is not as strong as it once was. She evokes nostalgia of 90s R&B music and was the first project to show the genre still can be viable in 2017. Syd’s voice could soothe anyone over the 37-minute runtime and slots her in right at number ten. – David

9. Pure Comedy by Father John Misty

It’s difficult to separate an artist’s persona from their work more than Father John Misty, but on Pure Comedy, Misty finds his lyrical groove, delivering his best written batch of songs to date. At Pure Comedy’s core lies a songwriter who honestly cares that the world is going up in flames and isn’t looking to make the listener feel comfortable with this. It’s a modern version of John Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band, offering a biting and sharp witted critique of 21st century America that encapsulates the strange times we live in. While it’s not as accessible or as replayable as 2015’s I Love You Honeybear, the album shows that Misty’s path as a songwriter is far from peaking and that he has a lot more to offer than just a bit of tongue-in cheek humor over a folk ballad. – Chandler

Read our full Pure Comedy review here.

8. I See You by The xx

Following a lackluster sophomore album, The xx reunite on I See You and deliver an album that finds each member of the group incorporating some of their new sounds. Producer Jamie xx brings elements of his album In Colour and puts it on this new project. Without Jamie xx, it is fair to say this album would not be as strong as he holds the album together and gives The xx a new sound going forward. The songs are pop enough to make it onto the radio, but are musically different from much of what the band had done prior. – David

7. Drunk by Thundercat

If there’s any way to make virtuoso bass playing and soulful jams enjoyable for a large audience, it’s by lathering your compositions in a heavy layer of satire and humor. Following in the footsteps of Frank Zappa, Thundercat releases some of the most impressive and jazz-fueled tracks of the decade, delivered with a side of falsetto vocals singing about Dragon Ball Z, escaping racial profiling via an interstellar rocket, or a fever dream in Tokyo. A few serious tracks are peppered throughout the album such as “These Changes” or “Walk on By” featuring frequent collaborator Kendrick Lamar, but Thundercat’s undeniable comedic charm and soulful grooves make it the frontrunner for the most fun and enjoyable record of the year. – Chandler

6. BEAUTIFUL THUGGER GIRLS by Young Thug

Young Thug is weird. There is no plainer way to describe Young Thug. But Young Thug is also just one of a handful of rappers who are currently pushing the genre forward. Some would call him mumble rap, but his recent releases have proven otherwise. On BEAUTIFUL THUGGER GIRLS, Young Thug again finds himself pushing the genre forward with his production selections and the way he uses his voice.

Continuing on a trend Kanye West started, Young Thug uses his voice as another enhancer to the song past just what he is saying. He’ll groan and make other strange noises, but they make sense in the confines of his music. He’s also not afraid to take his voice to the next level and hit high-pitched notes. It’s oddly pleasing to the ear and although this was not the complete singing album Young Thug had promised, it is still an excellent album and cements Young Thug’s place as one of the best rappers out currently and a talent that will be remembered for how he changed the rap industry. – David

5. Saturation by BROCKHAMPTON

Completely out of left field, BROCKHAMPTON released one of the most honest and unique hip hop projects of the decade in early June. Over the course of 17 tracks, the 15+ collective dive head first into the subjects of homosexuality, self-fulfillment, and coming of age with an unapologetic and polarizing combination of aggressive bangers and softer R&B-inspired tracks that somehow work together perfectly. The mixtape never feels overcrowded or disjointed despite so many members working together on a single track, with each member’s personality and individual talents shining through and helping the tracks progress and flow. BROCKHAMPTON comes through with not only one of the most interesting recent projects in hip hop, but capture the zeitgeist of the changing genre and audience of hip hop as a whole. – Chandler

4. Ctrl by SZA

At a time where R&B is trying to make a resurgence, this is the second R&B album to crack the top ten. SZA makes her case for second-best artist on Top Dawg as she takes back control of her life. She sings about past relationships, while still redefining social norms for a woman. She takes the approach a man would normally take when singing about relationships, and does it from the female perspective. SZA is learning who she is and as her confidence continues to grow, so does the quality of her music. This is the type of album that fans can continually listen to and just vibe out over. And considering SZA stated all the stories she tells are real and not recent, it gives the album more life compared to some of the concept albums released this year detailing false stories. SZA feels more real than most artists and her growing comfort with expressing herself has helped put R&B back in the spotlight of modern music. – David

3. Carrie & Lowell Live by Sufjan Stevens

Breathing new life into an already incredible album, Carrie & Lowell Live takes the bare, yet emotionally potent songs of its predecessor and expands them into fully realized progressive rock and folktronica bliss. It rivals Illinois for title of Sufjan Steven’s magnum opus, evoking not just the very stark melancholy of losing a loved one, but true, undeniable beauty that comes from celebrating a life after its passing. The album truly shines with the extended outros and intros of various tracks, with engulfing soundscapes swallowing the listener whole. Do not let the title of “live album” fool you: Carrie & Lowell Live deserves as much attention as a studio release, standing head and shoulders above its fellow ambitious contemporaries. – Chandler

2. A Crow Looked at Me by Mount Eerie

No album defies the standards of musical critique like A Crow Looked at Me. Phil Elverum, the musician behind Mount Eerie, wrote and recorded the album in the months following the death of his wife in the room she passed away in. Haunting guitar compositions carry Elverum’s vocals and lyrics, which reveal his inner pain bare to the listener. Small moments such as Elverum imagining his wife’s spirit leaving through a window, or spreading his wife’s ashes with their daughter, become an authentic and livable experience of true grief and loss.

It’s not enjoyable or impressive in the normal sense of music appreciation. Rather, it reaffirms the power of love and the catharsis of expressing one’s inner pain. It’s an album Elverum seems to have made solely to help him process the death of his wife, yet has chosen to share it with the world as well. A Crow Looked at Me will stand the test of time for being a timeless recording of two people’s love, and the loss of that love, in the most honest way possible. The lines, “I poured out your ashes on it / I guess so you can watch the sunset / But the truth is I don't think of that dust as you / You are the sunset,” perfectly encapsulate what Elverum ultimately discovers through the process of creating the album: our loved ones don’t truly leave us upon their passing. They remain a part of our world, illuminating it and giving it purpose, but now forever beyond our embrace. Only a beautiful fading glow of who they once were, and will never be again. – Chandler

1.DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick Lamar is the best rapper living. With such a title comes the expectation that every album you put out will be a classic and, somehow, Kendrick Lamar has lived up to these lofty expectations. With DAMN., Kendrick Lamar brings his own style, morphs it, and takes shots at the entire industry.

What this album holds that’s missing from past projects, especially To Pimp A Butterfly, is strong replay value. The replay value of this album is the reason is it number one on our top ten. It’s an album that you can repeatedly listen to, as I have done since its release, and still not get tired of it and continue to find new things about it. Lamar can talk about love versus lust in a real way, talk about his fears and not seem scared, even tell his thoughts on religion and not feel like he is forcing anything upon the listener. Kendrick Lamar is informative and has created an album that any fan of music can appreciate. – David

Read our full DAMN. review here.

David and Chandler’s Personal Top Ten

David

Chandler

1.     DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar

1. Carrie & Lowell Live by Sufjan Stevens

2.     A Crow Looked at Me by Mount Eerie

2. A Crow Looked at Me by Mount Eerie

3.     BEAUTIFUL THUGGER GIRLS by Young Thug

3. Murder of the Universe by King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard

4.     CTRL by SZA

4. Being You Is Great, I Wish I Could Be You More Often by Quelle Chris

5. Run the Jewels 3 by Run the Jewels

5. Pure Comedy by Father John Misty

6. Drunk by Thundercat

6. Saturation by BROCKHAMPTON

7. Saturation by BROCKHAMPTON

7. Peasant by Richard Dawson

8. I See You  by The xx

8. CTRL by SZA

9. Fin by Syd

9. Goths by The Mountain Goats

10. Melodrama by Lorde

10. DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar

 

Playlists of the top cuts from these albums

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/user/1241207869/playlist/6ooG0XIn7AzWbjy3WCUYG8

Apple Music: https://itunes.apple.com/us/playlist/commradios-top-album-cuts-of-2017-june/idpl.c615e9e221444a0893ac1381dc5840eb

 

David Arroyo is junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email arroyodavid01@gmail.com.

Chandler Copenheaver is a senior majoring in public relations. To contact him, email chandlercopenheaver@gmail.com.

 

 

About the Contributors

ChandlerCopenheaver's photo

ChandlerCopenheaver

Senior / Public Relations

Chandler Copenheaver is a Production Director and Arts Director of CommRadio who has been a member of CommRadio since the spring of 2015. Chandler’s responsibilities entail managing the production department, managing the arts department, creating audio commercials for CommRadio and external organizations, scheduling commercial blocks, and writing editorial content related to the arts. Chandler Copenheaver has worked most recently at Arlington Thrive in Arlington, VA as a Development & Program Intern, WellSpan Health in South Central PA as a Public Relations & Marketing Intern and served as a teaching assistant for the Penn State course BiSci 3 Environmental Science. Chandler aims to work in the fields of Public Relations, Communications Strategy or Communications Management. Follow him on Twitter @C_Copenheaver or email him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

David Arroyo's photo

David Arroyo

Junior / Broadcast Journalism

David Arroyo is both an editor and arts director for CommRadio and also contributes to the sports staff. He has served as a producer for multiple Penn State sports while in CommRadio, has done play by play for Penn State sporting events such as football, basketball and volleyball and co-hosted and produced his own talk show. David has interned at B94.5 (State College). Follow him on Twitter (@_arroyodavid) or email him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).