20 Best Albums of 2017 (So Far) | The Musical Hype
Kendrick Lamar (DAMN.), Father John Misty (Pure Comedy), and Chris Stapleton (From A Room: Volume 1) lead the list of 20 best albums of 2017 (so far).
Well DAMN…okay, enough with the puns. But being honest, the album – not the baby curse word – by Kendrick Lamar is one of few elite albums from 2017 so far. Backing up after such a rough introduction, this list seeks to pick the best albums of 2017 so far. Honestly, it’s difficult. 2017 has lacked some surefire critically acclaimed efforts, at least IMO. Nonetheless, there are some very good albums, led by none other than DAMN., which is definitely a pretty damn good album. Okay – STOP IT!
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. Come February 2018, maybe he’ll finally walk out of the Grammys holding a Grammy for Album of the Year.
Must Listen: “HUMBLE.”
Father John Misty delivered another exceptional album with Pure Comedy. Though more demanding this his previous album, I Love You, Honeybear, it’s also more ambitious. Josh Tillman is among the most gifted songwriters in modern times, able to blend the serious, the humorous, and the satirical seamlessly. Once more, he works his magic on Pure Comedy.
Must Listen: “Pure Comedy”
Chris Stapleton wasn’t generous in regards to the duration of his sophomore album, From A Room: Volume 1. 32 minutes is all he could muster! Despite its brevity, Stapleton delivers another superb country effort that stands out because of its authenticity. While all nine songs are fantastic, arguably the unapologetic “Them Stems” is the crème de la crème.
Must Listen: “Them Stems”
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”
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?”
On Spirit, Depeche Mode examines the moral, social, and political turmoil of present times. Frontman Dave Gahan isn’t particularly enthused about anything over the course of Spirit, painting a pessimistic portrait of the direction of life. While this isn’t an empowering album, it is a realistic, thoughtful tour de force. As awesome as single “Where’s the Revolution?” is, “Scum” may be the most intriguing record.
Must Listen: “Scum”
Spoon’s latest album, Hot Thoughts, followed a successful effort, They Want My Soul (2014). As great as They Want My Soul was, Hot Thoughts is better. Spoon embrace change on Hot Thoughts, offering listeners a different sound and overall vibe. Consistent throughout its course, nothing tops the formidable opening trio of “Hot Thoughts,” “WhisperI’lllistentohearit,” “Do I Have to Talk You into It.”
Must Listen: “WhisperI’lllistentohearit”
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”
Enjoyable, Well-Rounded Albums
For some, the inclusion of Everybody, Logic’s third studio album, will be a polarizing choice. Arguably, Logic didn’t “dig into” some of the racial, social, and political issues he references, but he did at least open the discussion. The concept of album no. 3 may be far-reaching, but there’s still plenty to like about Everybody, namely the rapper’s ill flow.
Must Listen: “1-800-273-8255”
Fueled by Ramen
After Laughter is an album that far exceeds expectations. Despite the drama behind the scenes with line-up changes and various internal arguments, Paramore uses it as fuel for the fire. The band has some legitimate hits on their hands with “Hard Times,” “Told You So,” and “Fake Happy” among others.
Must Listen: “Hard Times”
American Teen showcases the lofty potential up-and-coming teenage R&B artist Khalid possesses. Khalid earned a breakthrough single with “Location,” depicting the desires of his young heart. In addition to “Location,” Khalid also triumphs with gems including the spirited title track, the melodic “Cold Blooded,” and the dramatic “Shot Down,” which perfectly captures the effects of over infatuation.
Must Listen: “Location”
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: “On Hold”
Ed Sheeran assembled another enjoyable, highly respectable album with ÷. While ÷ doesn’t supplant the singer/songwriter’s previous album, +, it has its own share of notable moments. Among the bright spots are “Shape of You,” the initially underrated “Castle on the Hill,” and the moving “Supermarket Flowers.”
Must Listen: “Castle on the Hill”
Had this been 2005, a new Mary J. Blige album would be receiving much more buzz than Strength of a Woman has in 2017. For the first time in years, MJB has the pain to fuel her fire, given her messy divorce with Kendu Isaacs. This isn’t The Breakthrough 2.0, but it is enjoyable, thoughtful, and ultimately, effective.
Must Listen: “Love Yourself”
Perhaps the biggest flaw of Humanz, the fifth studio album by Gorillaz, is why it’s appealing. As an album, Humanz is all over the place, lacking unification as a whole. While that sounds like a fatal flaw, aren’t many pop albums filled with records as opposed to songs as of late? Sure, not everything works on Humanz, but this big album has more than enough appealing moments.
Must Listen: “Let Me Out”
Kehlani proves she’s among the up-and-coming bright spots in urban contemporary music on her debut album, SweetSexySavage. Her best attribute is her voice. Vocally, she’s a beast, without question. Although SSS is too long, she delivers hits with the likes of “Distraction,” “CRZY,” and “Advice.”
Must Listen: “Distraction”
Who is Gabriel Garzón-Montano? For many “that is [indeed] the question.” For those who’ve followed indie releases from 2017, they know this singer/songwriter had alternative R&B on lockdown. Jardín may go down as one of the year’s most underrated efforts, but it should also be placed on every best albums of 2017 list.
Must Listen: “Crawl”
Here for Now, Gone Later?
Harry Styles made the Best Albums of 2017 (So Far)? Yes, he did. To some, it is a divisive choice, and when the final best-of-list arrives, he may be toast, BUT, as of publication time, Harry Styles gets the nod. The crème de la crème is “Sign of the Times,” but Styles also delivered gems including “Carolina,” “Only Angel,” “Ever Since New York,” and “Woman.”
Must Listen: “Sign of the Times”
Was “Raindrop, drop top / Smokin’ on cookie in the hotbox” enough to earn Migos and Culture a coveted spot on the Best Albums of 2017 list? No of course not, but having “Bad and Boujee” as the promo single from Culture didn’t hurt its cause. It’s not a deep album, but Culture does find Migos flexing in top-notch form.
Must Listen: “Bad and Boujee”
Pro Era / Cinematic Group
Honestly, album no. 20 was a toss-up. There have been many good albums and fewer great ones. Joey Bada$$ gets the nod because All-Amerikkkan Bada$$ was painfully underrated. It’s not a flashy effort, which may be part of the reason it gets overlooked. Nonetheless, Joey Bada$$ does a better job than most capturing racial issues, specifically black issues in America.
Must Listen: “Land of the Free”