Staff Picks: Elijah Watson's Top 5 Albums of 2017 So Far
Elijah C. Watson, Staff Writer
Halfway through the year and it's already given us so many good albums with still plenty more the way. Several that have left me impressed and will hopefully remain favorites of mine until the end of 2017, with each one showcasing the ways in which music has changed in the Internet age, blending genres and sounds together in a very compelling way. Which ones are they? Well, click to find out!
1. Mac DeMarco - This Old Dog
Surely, Mac DeMarco knew what he was doing releasing his latest album, This Old Dog, so close to the summer. Bubbly synths take precedence over DeMarco's distinguishable guitar sound but his knack for catchy and memorable melodies are as strong as ever. The lyrics are similar to those from previous releases, with DeMarco waxing poetic on love and the inevitability of getting older. But DeMarco's voice has gotten better with age, and he showcases it throughout the album's 13 tracks. Seriously, bask in the summer sun and listen to "On The Level." You're welcome.
2. Thundercat - DRUNK
Drunk is an apt title for Thundercat's third album. Throughout the project's 23 tracks the bass virtuoso is somber and whimsical, providing a comedic outlook on the challenges of just living. There's album starters "Rabbot Ho" and "Captain Stupido," where Thundercat offers himself a morning mantra after a night of partying; and There's "Bus In These Streets," which finds Thundercat sarcastically commenting on our obsession with social media. But Thundercat shows other sides of himself on Drunk, particularly the standout "Show You The Way" with Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins, which could double as both a love song and an acceptance of the inevitability of death. Drunk shows that Thundercat is just like us, content and careless when the alcohol hits, only to return to reality once it wears off.
3. Kendrick Lamar - DAMN.
There's no denying that Kendrick Lamar is one of contemporary rap's best lyricists and storytellers, but if there were doubts for some reason DAMN surely serves as a reminder. But after the complex and dense To Pimp A Butterfly, DAMN is refreshing because it's the first time in awhile that Kendrick has given us an album with hits. Where were you when you first heard "DNA"? How unstoppable did you feel when the second half of that track kicked in? The fact that Kendrick can make such a concise pop hit and then several tracks later drop a seven minute long narrative about his life that maintains the dynamism of "DNA" is a testament to Kendrick as an artist. Damn, Kung Fu Kenny has done it again.
4. BROCKHAMPTON - SATURATION
Brockhampton, the rap collective originally formed in San Marcos, Texas in 2015, make a strong case as "The Internet's first boy band" with its debut album Saturation. The album sounds like the internet: a combination of influences and inspirations that span the World Wide Web, with the collective's undeniable chemistry showcased throughout the album's 17 tracks. "Star" may very well encapsulate this, as Dom McLennon, Ameer Vann, and Kevin Abstract pass off vocal duties to one another in a way that feels so natural, as if listeners were actually present when the collective recorded the track. Complex yet cohesive, Saturation hopefully foreshadows what more will become of Brockhampton.
5. Ho99o9 - United States Of Ho99o9
Ho99o9 has been hustling its distinctive mix of rap and rock for the past few years, with the band having dropped its debut album United States Of Ho99o9 in 2017. The album maintains what has defined Ho99o9, with Eaddy and theOGM's horror-movie-inspired lyrics frantically screamed across electronic, lo-fi production and dynamic drums from Black Flag drummer Brandon Pertzborn. However, the difference from the band's debut album and its prior releases is how focused it feels. The intensity is so consistent and direct, never letting up until the album is at its end. United States Of Ho99o9 is an enjoyably chaotic ride, and Ho99o9 wouldn't have it any other way.
Vagabon - Infinite Worlds
Zack Villere - Little World
Show Me The Body - Corpus I
Code Orange - Forever
GoldLink - At What Cost