It's that time of year! Christmas is right around the corner, but more importantly, the time to release music in 2017 is coming to an close. This year was a great one for music. There was a lot of crap released, but there was also a lot of gems. I know we still have a couple weeks left in December, but I'm releasing my "Best Albums of 2017" list early. The only two artists that could change my mind and be added to this list after it's posted are A$AP Rocky and Schoolboy Q, who both said they would have albums out at the end of the year, but I'm too impatient to wait for them to pull a Frank Ocean and end up not releasing anything. These are in no particular order because picking favorite music is like picking a favorite child and I just can't do it. So, without further ado, here's my list!
Citizen - As You Please
Before this album, I wasn't a huge Citizen fan. I had seen them before as an opener for The Story So Far but I wasn't instantly into their music. For me, their previous albums sounded too much like the rest of the Pop Punk scene, as the case for many bands from that time. However, As You Please changed my opinion. You can sense the emotion in every song and it strays from the path of a typical Pop Punk album. I found myself unable to skip any song when listening to the album and for me, that's when I know it's one of the best of the year.
Highlights: In the Middle of It All, Jet
(Sandy) Alex G - Rocket
Alex G has a ridiculous amount of music and it's hard to find a bad song amidst his large discography. Rocket is not an exclusion to this trend. This album isn't exactly a "normal" album for Alex G; there's a lot of experimentation and not a lot of consistency when it comes to the trackless, but that's what I like about it. He's released so many songs at this point that he's allowed to experiment so that every track doesn't sound cookie-cutter to the next. You can hear the influence of Frank Ocean in some of the songs, which makes sense seeing as Alex G contributed to Ocean's Blond last year. Overall, I haven't been able to stop listening to this record since it came out and I'm very happy I was able to photograph this genius on his Boston stop during his tour. (Yes, I'm still unsure which name he goes by. Sandy? Alex G? Musical genius?)
Highlights: Witch, Sportstar, Powerful Man
Jay-Z - 4:44
It's about time, am I right? I love Jay-Z. I love Beyonce. I love them together. I love when they fight because Beyonce releases one of the best albums of all time. So, it's no surprise that I love this album. I actually bought it because I don't have a subscription to Apple Music or Tidal and it's not on Spotify. I haven't bought an album since Lemonade. It's that good. Each track is musically striking and so many of the lyrics are relevant to today's struggles in the government and society. It's politically charged while still being a jam.
Highlights: Bam, Moonlight
Turnover - Good Nature
I've been living under a rock for the past year so I didn't even know Turnover was a band until early 2017. Luckily, I got to be a fan when they released Good Nature, which is my most listened to album this year, according to Spotify. Many have said the songs sound very similar to each other, but I think the album's contents are different from one another but keep a similar vibe. That's always a good thing. This album is perfect for a day of driving or a beach visit.
Highlights: Nightlight Girl, Super Natural, Bonnie (Rhythm & Melody)
PVRIS - All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell
This album has bangers after bangers. PVRIS has gotten huge after their last album and they certainly deserve it. Local to Massachusetts, PVRIS started off small and starting gaining more popularity with their female lead vocalist, unique cross between Rock and Electronic, and their awesome message of positivity in the LGBTQ community. Listening to AWKOHAWNOH will make you feel like a badass and dance around the house.
Highlights: What's Wrong, Same Soul, Anybody Else
Brockhampton - Saturation I & II
Brockhampton blessed us with two albums this year and a third is due out next week (which may make me regret releasing this list early). This collective is a cross between A$AP Mob, Frank Ocean, and Odd Future. They're incredible. Kevin Abstract and his crew are truly unique and make sure they get that through your head with these albums. I love the range of sounds this collective produces and I can't wait for their third album. Apparently, it may be their last, but it better not be or I'll lose my mind. How can a band release three albums in one year and then call it quits, especially after the following they've gained in 2017? We'll see. If it's true, you'll catch me signing a petition to bring them back.
Highlights: GOLD, STAR, GUMMY, SWEET
Brand New - Science Fiction
So, this one is hard. This was going to be my number 1 for 2017. I'm a huge fan of Brand New. I have a Brand New tattoo. But, Jesse Lacey broke my heart this year. A month or two after the album came out, sexual assault allegations against Lacey arose on Facebook and the band later confirmed these allegations on their page. I don't want to go into detail (honestly because I'm still not over it) but it has been difficult for me to listen to this album for a while now. It's hard when your idol turns out to be a terrible person. It's hard when you listen to lyrics that seemed about someone else's perspective but now you're unsure if Lacey wrote them about his own feelings. I feel for the victim(s). Lacey is no longer my idol and his pathetic apology was not accepted. However, Lacey's actions don't speak for the whole band and it's heartbreaking that this album is now associated with them. Science Fiction is still one of the best albums of 2017, in my opinion. It's full of emotion, heartbreak, and musical genius. I will no longer be supporting them, but I can't ignore that their music changed my life. I'll still listen to them, but you won't find me defending Lacey.
Highlights: 137, In the Water, Can't Get it Out
Kendrick Lamar - DAMN.
This one is pretty obvious. I don't think that anyone has not put this album on a list this year. It's absolutely fantastic. Kendrick proves, once again, he's one of the best rappers of all time. Every track is unique, innovation, politically charged, and lyrically genius.
Highlights: HUMBLE, FEAR, LOYALTY
Manchester Orchestra - A Black Mile to the Surface
Manchester Orchestra has never made a bad album, in my opinion. This album isn't an exception to that. I can listen from start to finish and not get bored. It's amazing, well-written, and moving. As always, the instrumental elements are on point and emotional. It's not an album for everyone because of it's emotional content, but if you're a fan of Brand New, Turnover, and Citizen, then I would recommend it. I got to shoot their Boston date of their promotional tour and it's even better live.
Highlights: The Gold, The Alien, The Moth
These albums don't make my list for the "best" albums because they didn't resonate with me like the ones above did, but there's no denying that they're amazing. Sometimes, the music just doesn't make me go nuts and that's okay. So here are three albums that deserve a listen, but just were a little off for me.
SZA - CTRL
Another Top Dawg production! This time, SZA comes out with her debut album and she kills it. SZA is a vocal powerhouse. I first heard her on Rihanna's album last year and I was instantly hooked. Her voice is beautiful and her songs are seductive. This album sets the standard for debut albums. That being said, some of the songs I can't relate to and that's okay. SZA definitely had a solid concept behind this album that would reach specific people. I think a lot of the songs are fantastic, but some didn't stick with me.
Highlights: Drew Barrymore, The Weekend, Love Galore
Tyler, the Creator - Scum Fuck Flower Boy
I love Tyler. I really do. His previous album, Cherry Bomb? Wasn't my favorite. SFFB is definitely better than that one, but it still didn't excite me as much as I hoped. It's still incredible, but I was a fan of Tyler when he produced Wolf and Goblin. Those songs really changed the game of rap for me. I think this album was made by Tyler for Tyler. He comes out of his shell (and maybe out as gay, although it's not exactly confirmed) and made music that no one expected him to make. And while I think that's extremely commendable, it just wasn't my cup of tea exactly. It has some gems on it, but many of the songs aren't my style. That being said, I still think the album is fantastic and a great stepping stone for his career and musical style. I was also honored to be able to shoot this tour as well. He definitely puts on one hell of a show.
Highlights: See You Again, I Ain't Got Time!
Miguel - War & Leisure
The only reason this is an honorable mention is because it literally came out last week, so I haven't been able to dive into it yet. But so far, it's incredible. Miguel has been consistently impressing me this year with his single releases. Sky Walker was one of my most listened to songs this year, according to Spotify. He really let loose with this album and had fun with it. I respect that a lot, especially because he has so much talent and his voice is so beautiful. Please check out this album if you haven't yet and make sure you have plenty of room around you so you can bust out dancing like I usually do.
Highlights: Sky Walker, Caramelo Duro, Come Through and Chill