The Best of 2017

 

 

 

 

The Music:

Man, this year was busy, but I enjoyed the ride. I have been working my butt off between jobs and my band, which is why this list is so late in arriving, and I apologize to my loyal readers! Listening to albums was the ultimate escape for me, as per usual. I personally listened in detail to over 150 albums in the genres of rock, alternative, hip hop, electronic, folk, singer songwriter etc. and have list of what I personally found to be the best ones.

 

 

Mainstream critics have “outdone” themselves again by placing a lot of R& B albums front and center. Going back 20 or twenty years in time when artists like Radiohead, Yo La Tengo, Built to Spill, Sleater Kinney, Modest Mouse, Primus….i dunno bands who made real original music used to top critics lists. Why on earth Rolling Stones lists coincide with more independent web critics like Paste or Popmatters is beyond me. To make it worse, pop music “albums” seem to have dominated most people’s lists as well, when the “albums” themselves are just collaborations between 50 different producers, songwriters, and big business people. I don’t wanna name drop, but it shouldn’t be too hard to figure out who I am talking about 😛  What is popular and trendy comes in waves and cycles in music, so I guess this is just the point we are at. What is innovative and ambitious is always more lasting that what is fashionable and trendy, so that’s how I make my lists.

 

My favorite albums of the year may not have been your personal faves, the most successful in terms of sales, or at the tops of the critics’ lists. However, I am making this list because I do think that this music is THAT GOOD and definitely worth talking about. As we are towards the middle-end of the 2010’s, many of these names will be new, but it is good to look at this concept as an exciting thing as opposed to a detrimental thing. If you don’t see and album or artist you liked a lot and are wondering where I would personally rank it, you can check about my full list of over 100 albums from last year ranked here:

 

https://rateyourmusic.com/list/Doxxman/2017-in-a-nutshell/

 

 

 

 

 

Honorable Mention (so many great albums this year!):

Fever Ray – Plunge

Iglooghost – Neo Wax Bloom

San Fermin – Belong

Grails – Chalice Hymnal

Cloud Nothings – Life Without Sound

The Dream Syndicate – How Did I Find Myself Here?

Joan Shelly – s/t

The Bug vs. Earth – Concreate Desert

 

 

 

  1. Robyn Hitchcock – Self Titled

 

Genre: Psychedelic rock, power pop, country rock, folk rock

It is a joy to hear an old veteran like Hitchcock come back to his original sound with such confidence. It is true that sometimes artists need to revitalize their sound with fresh new musicians and themes, and no one has had better side men/women than Hitchcock has throughout his 40 year career. Reinventing himself with a new rock band again and relocating to Nashville, the man sounds revitalized yet again. His new band tears through new classic English psych songs like “Virginia Woolf” and “Mad Shelly’s Letter box”, while “Autumn Sunglasses” shows off a more relaxed bluesy vibe. Hitchcock even adds some country flavor in “I Pray When I’m Drunk” and pedal steel in “1970 In Aspic”, and he never delves into the somewhat boring acoustic dirges of his previous couple 21st century albums, instead using mood to drive ballads like “Sayonara Judge”. “Time Coast” may be the best example of this new sound even though it comes at the end of the record, and it just a killer rock n roll ending to his best album since 2005’s Ole Tarantula. . If Hitchcock never made another record, his self titled album would serve as a fitting end to his career, but we all know that this man cannot stop making tantalizing music until he leaves this dimension for the next more psychedelic one.

 

 

  1. Charly Bliss – Guppy

 

Genre: Alternative rock, Pure Pop

Bands as fun and naïve sounding as Charly Bliss should never go out of style. Sure the mix of The Breeders, Weezer, and other early 90’s grunge/alternative bands is obnoxiously present, as well as The Strokes homage “Scare U”, but every once in a while we have to be reminded of those funner more innocent times in rock music history. The opening four songs “Percolator”, “Westermarck”, Glitter”, and “Black Hole” is perhaps the most carefree of any album made this year. There is also depth and complex chord patterns in many of the songs, especially “Ruby”, that hints at a more complex future and expanding of the bands sound. Lead Singer Eva Hendrix rehashes many youthful experiences in a universal appealing way, and works with her brother drummer Sam Hendrix to form memorable hooks with Spencer Fox’s guitar riffs that will stand the test of time. Guppy is a reminder to not take ourselves so seriously when critiquing rock albums.

 

 

 

  1. Oh Sees – Orc

 

Genre: Psychedelic Rock, Lo-Fi, Garage Rock

Thee Oh Sees (or whatever John Dwyer wants to call himself these days) are almost frustratingly good at being consistent. I don’t even know where to begin to count how many great releases they have so far this decade alone, but it’s a lot. With 2017’s release, they again expand and celebrate the sound they have cultivated over the years. The eight minute “Keys to the Castle” is a true psych rock journey, harking back to the days of Syd Barrett Pink Floyd and Jimi Hendrix, with songs such as “Jettisoned” and “The Static God” keep the punk rock flavor alive. Check the synth intro to “Nite Expo”, that comes straight from last decade. The group is a psychedelic beast that is constantly shedding its skin to reveal more interesting colors beneath. The band’s brand of psychedelic rock has become very fashionable these days, but no one can do it better than the originators.

 

 

 

  1. Juana Molina – Halo

Genre: South American Music, Electronic Rock, 21st century Classical, Progressive Rock, A Cappella

Argentina’s Juana Molina is a lot of fun and transcends boundaries of language. Songs such as “Cosoco” and “Estalacticas” don’t have to be literally interpreted to be enjoyed, and the Portuguese language It has never sounded as charming as when it comes from her multi-vocal approach. At age 55, she shows no signs of slowing down in her efforts to make boundary-defying music. Sometimes there are a dozen different voices, all harmonizing with themselves in alien-trance like patterns (“Sin Dones”, “In the Lassa”). Other time we are treated to her vocals with bare accompaniment (“Lentisimo Halo”) and almost a new kind of Hip hop music in “AOO B01”. She has been making great music this entire decade, and while this album may not be quite as great as 2008’s Un Dia, it is the closest she has come to making the sound of South American rock music valid for the 21st century audience.

 

 

 

  1. Run The Jewels – RTJ 3

Genre: Experimental Hip Hop, Hardcore Rap, Conscious Rap, Instrumental Hip Hop

Just because a band is repetitive in what they do doesn’t mean they can’t be consistently great. Killer Mike and El-p’s RTJ attempted to branch out of their hardcore hip-hop shell with their third album, expanded everything from production quality (“Hey Kids” with a Danny Brown cameo, “Thursday in the Danger Room” which harks back to El-P’s 2007’s record I’ll Sleep When Your Dead with its emotional presence) to the length of the record at fifteen songs, the themes and topics they covered (the last song is actually two songs in one). Even if the lyrics are not quite as personal as the previous two attempts, RTJ still use the considerable influenced they have to entertain while being topical (“Don’t Get Captured”, “Talk To Me”).

The idea mostly worked, though I think everyone who loves this album will find themselves skipping around from song to song more then on previous records. For me, “Oh Mama” and “A Report to Shareholders” are pretty irrelevant. Still, “Stay Gold” is the most accessible thing that they have done, “Legend Has It” and “Down” are easily new classics, and “Call Tickerton” and “Thieves” are songs that point to a very interesting future. What matters is the things we have come to expect from Run the Jewels – hard hitting deliveries, deep-space background beats, universal appeal, juvenile humor, and innovative rapping wordsmithery – is still present on the bands third record. How many other Rap duo’s around can say the same thing?

 

 

 

 

  1. Blanck Mass – World Eater

 

Genre: IDM, Noise Rock, Industrial

Gotta love a band like Blanck Mass, whose disregard for pop music is front and center in everything they do. Ex-Fuck Buttons front man Ben Powers new moniker is actually more accessible then his older band, and this quality extends to his songs no matter how genre behind they become. Songs such as “Rhesus Negative” and “Hive Mind” assault the listener with their brilliant ideas, and once inside there is nowhere to hide. That doesn’t one man band can’t do epic or beautiful, and in fact the breakout song from the record is the seven minute “Please”, a visionary master work that blends dance music, techno, and noise rock with vocals that come from the farthest depth of our galaxy. This is the best Blanck Mass album yet, and the possibilities seem endless for this incarnation of Powers’ ideas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. The War on Drugs – A Deeper Understanding

 

Genre: Traditional Rock, Folk Rock, Country Rock, Psychedelic

War on Drugs made a very interesting choice for their 4th lp, in that they did decided to make a true double album: all long, wondering songs that sound similar to each other but when placed side by side create more than the sum of their individual parts. Don’t get me wrong, each song is distinctive enough, but also of a piece and rather homogenous when all heard together. It is one of the few albums in recent memory that I would recommend to listen to perhaps 3 or 4 songs at a time, as each beautiful guitar solo or melody is in the same fashion of the song before, almost combining the ambient aura of their masterpiece, 2011’s Slave Ambient, into the classic rock formula of the bands they love : Tom Petty, Dire Straits, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan. “Thinking of a Place” is their longest song yet at over eleven minutes, and “Knocked Down and “In Chains” are just a few other stand outs on a very solid listen. Songwriting of this kind is very old fashioned, but also immortal. And credit is due for having an average song length of six and a half minutes!

 

 

 

  1. The Black Angels – Death Song

 

Genre: Space Rock, Psychedelic Music, Hard Rock, Tribal Music

The Black Angels have always excelled at making music of a certain blend of older Psychedelic rock icons, but now they have finally branched out into a more soul-searching kind of sound. It’s still got a hard rock edge, it’s still very rooted in mysticism, but this is their attempt at the “death song” mood of the ballads by early Velvet Underground and the like. “Half Believing” is a successful attempt at a new soul-searching ballad (perhaps a break up song?) as well as the even more underrated is “Estimate”. The native American influenced “Commanche Moon” blends in with the blistering opener “Currency”, as the dour mood of the music often gives glimpses of hope in the cheerful lyrics, “Never gonna lose you darling / never let them shoot us down”. In the genre of 21st century psychedelic rock, I can’t think of a more versatile and entertaining rock band.

 

 

 

  1. Uniform – Wake In Freight

 

Genre: Industrial Metal

It has been a while since someone dug up the ghost of Ministry and Godflesh so single mindedly, that it’s easy to view this album as some sort of one trick pony. That would be a mistake of course, and there is plenty of great songwriting to be found underneath the harsh metallic sounds of the record. “The Killing of America” and “Habit” are very interesting in their approach to make music that is truly frightening and disturbing, even if the disturbing qualities come from only telling harsh truths. Harsh opener “Tabloid” could be Nine Inch Nails or Foetus at their most unforgiving, but has just enough of a freshness that it works as a comparison test. Some records are just really great at making one point and try to pound it in your head over and over; in the case of Wake in Fright, it works brilliantly.

 

 

  1. METZ – Strange Place

 

Genre: Hardcore, Noise Rock, Punk Rock

The band’s 3rd album was produced by Steve Albini and it stands as their best yet. The attack of “Mess of Wires” is a dead ringer for Big Black, and the painful screaming recalls Sonic Youth or Unwound at their most vicious. Not many bands of the day dare to be this bleak while simultaneously being melodic and catchy, as so many of these tunes are actually very hummable and stick in your head for days (“Common Trash”, “Mess of Wires”). “Lost in the Blank City” is a cycle of never ending torture, and the spacey “Caterpillar” points to the future for a band that refuses to be defined by their idols alone, all the group needs to do is increase the length of their albums a little bit!

 

 

  1. The Magnetic Fields – 50 Song Memoir

 

Genre: Melodic Pop, Experimental Pop, Tin Pan Alley

Ambitious, over long album projects seem to suit Steven Merritt in his later you career. In the early 1990s, Magnetic Fields mastered the melodic pop album format with albums such as The Wayward Bus, Get Lost, Charm of the Highway Stirp, and Holiday, so he was probably right to try something as ambitious as his 1999 release 69 Love songs, a three-hour long record filled with that many songs that used diverse singers and players to create its own universe. His return to the normal length album format has never successful, and in the last 20 years he failed to come up with anything quite as remarkable as his 90’s work. Hence, we have another huge song collection, 50 Song Memoir, with each song about a year in Merritt’s 50 year life so far.

There are some differences between this record and his previous behemoth collection, as Merritt is the main lead singer on every song this time around. Some would say this makes the album harder to sit through in one sitting, but I would say since it is a concept album about his life, it only makes sense he sings the songs. Taking the last several months to listen to all 5 ten-song albums included here (geez it’s a lot of music!) I have concluded that this is actually a more consistent record than 69 Love songs was, simply because it does not take quite as many risks as that album did, though it does not quite the heights of perfect pop songs such as “Grand Canyon”, “Chicken with Its Head Cut Off”, “Epitaph for my Heart”, etc. There is plenty to love here though, and 50 Song Memoir most importantly WORKS as a concept album. You can feel Merritt’s youthful experiences one the first record, with songs about getting your first pet in “A Cat Called Dionysus”, “They’re Killing Children Over There” (with a great rant about going to see The Jefferson Airplane), and the gorgeous ode to creating music “I Think I’ll Make Another World”. The second record lives in the era of disco and electronic rock music, which obviously had a huge musical effect on Merritt, best represented by songs such as the throwback “Foxx and I”, the Todd Rundgren homage “How to Play the Synthesizer” and the hilarious and catchy “Rock n Roll Will Ruin Your Life”. Every day stories such as “The Blizzard of 1978” (with about twenty cool band name drops) and “No” reflect everyday life in his family and breeze by like they are not important, but they are.

The third disc deals with the troublesome twenties, where songs describe wasting time playing video games in “Dreaming in Tetris”, learning about great authors in “Ethan Frome”, the thrill of exploring sexuality with “Weird Diseases” and “Me and Fred and Dave and Ted”, and being broke all the time in probably the best song on the record “Haven’t Got a Penny”. The forth record tracks his way through the thirties where heartbreak is present on “Lovers Lies” and “I’m Sad”, existential thoughts on “Fathers in the Clouds”, and looking back on youth in one of the great drinking songs of the year, “Be True to Your Bar”. The final album reflects on his more recent forties and the making of this record with the bizarre “Surfin”, the pensive “Big Enough for Both of Us” and “I Wish I had Pictures”, and the pain of moving and growing apart in “You Can Never Go Back to New York”. Merritt runs the gamut from being a folk-rock troubadour like Gordon Lightfoot to an aspiring classical music composer such as Brian Eno, with a whole bunch of ABBA thrown in for good measure. It is influenced by albums like The Village Green Preservation Society by The Kinks, but its five times as long. It is a challenging listen for music that is friendly sounding, only because Merritt is often very dour and truthful in his songs, and the truth is often rather painful. What Steven Merritt has given his fans is an album that encapsulated not only his entire career but since it starts on the year 1966, an album that sums up the ENTIRE history of melodic pop music. He is the greatest melody maker of our era, and anybody who is aware he exists knows this already.

 

 

 

 

  1. The Feelies – In Between

 

Genre: Folk, Indie Music, Jangle Pop

The Feelies have been around for forty years now, and their music still works because it is timeless and simple. Beyond that, it feels simultaneously daring and effortless as well, and songs like “Stay the Course” or “Pass the Time” prove by sounding exactly like something that could have come off of 1986’s The Good Earth. “Time Will Tell”, creeping in toward the end of the album, is one of the greatest folk/rock jangles to ever come along. For The Feelies, patience is virtue, as they move at their own pace and make you wait for the big payoff. Every record they have made since the 1980s has depicted stillness as a mood, whether is it being up mellow and remaining on the same three chords on the peaceful “When to Go”, or playing it ferociously busy and distorted such as album closer “In Between(reprise). They make it seem so easy to make great music and every time they release an album it is a blessing.

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Dalek – Endangered Philosohies

 

Genre: Hip Hop, Underground Rap, Industrial Rap, Noise Rap

Endangered Philosophies is Dalek’s seventh album and their most accessible, as it tones down the unattractive elements of their previous records and focuses on what the group does best: hard hitting, poignant raps about what is important. With songs such as “The Son of Immigrants”, “Nothing Stays Permanent”, and “Weapons”, this is the music the hip hop community needs the most. Before the group tried perhaps a little too much to be difficult, having some songs that were merely ten or twenty-minute-long soundscapes with no purpose other than to alienate. But here, the group fuses everything together brilliantly, creating a sound that is hard hitting, scary, and most of all memorable. When the group goes for noise-rap, it totally works on the seven minute “A Collective Cancelled Thought”. “Battlecries” is perhaps the best attempt at this new merge of Dalek old and new, but honestly my favorite songs change upon my mood. The last half of the record is especially powerful, and the lines blur between intelligent raps and mechanical clanks into a very original sound.

 

 

 

  1. St. Vincent – Masseducation

Genre: Synth Pop, Rock Opera, Alternative Rock, Art Rock

Annie Clark was probably leaning towards a rock-opera style album her entire career, but it still took me by surprise. Maybe the concept itself is not the surprise, but rather how well it all came off. Her last self-titled record was a rather disjointed and somewhat confused sounding affair, and this one is completely confident and shows an artist in complete control of her craft. Since her spectacular debut, 2007’s Marry Me, Clark has always shown a talent for eccentric vocal arrangement, and here she finally marries that to a coherent synthesized sound. As far as lyrical theme, there is something going on about growing up and getting overwhelmed by life in a metropolis. “Sometimes I feel like an inland ocean / too big to be a lake too small to be an attraction.”

Musically, themes are repeated, like the major riff of the mind blowing “Los Ageless” being hinted at in the song before it “Sugarboy”. Just listen in awe at the epic closer, “Smoking Section” with a chords powerful enough to shake the planet to its foundations. There are some varied influences too, the obvious one I hear is The Who’s Tommy but there is something about the mechanical nature of the songs that hints at the delirious industrial albums of Foetus and Pop Group. The old-fashioned torch ballads of “New York” and “Smoking Section” are used to great effect, serving as a break from the controlled chaos of “Fear the Future” and “Masseducation”, two of her best songs ever. I am still waiting for her outright, blistering guitar ROCK album as I have seen her live several times and I know the lady can shred! But until then this is my favorite thing she has done by far, as Clark manages to be both heartfelt and progressive at the same time.

 

 

 

  1. Slowdive – Self Titled

 

Genre: Shoegaze, Dream Pop, Atmospheric Folk Rock

In an era of band reunions, Slowdive’s was perhaps the most inevitable. I love how everyone starts off their review of this record like Slowdive have been anywhere the last twenty years. Husband and wife couple Neil Halstead and Rachel Goswell simply changed their name to Mojave 3 after Slowdive released their last album back in 1995 and though the approach was somewhat different, the couple never stopped making amazing, atmospheric rock music. This “reunion” album is a merging of what Mojave 3 was doing with their atmospheric folk rock with a little distortion added from the Slowdive of old, and as the band accepts their legacy with songs like “Slow Roving” they also expand it with the eight-minute piano dirge “Falling Ashes” and moody daydreams such as “Sugar for the Pill and “Everyone Knows”, showing a true lineage between The Cocteau Twins (the dreamy “dream pop”) and the 21st century digital age. It should also be said that Slowdive’s return to their shoegaze roots is more welcome and better complete than My Bloody Valentine’s was, as the two bands will forever be compared to each other. Slowdive made a conscious effort to expand their sound while remaining tethered to their roots. It’s just great songwriting from people who know exactly how rock music should sound.

 

 

 

  1. Grizzly Bear – Painted Ruins

 

Genre: Progressive Rock, Melodic Vocal Music, Experimental Rock

Grizzly Bear are not a band that usually makes my top “whatever” lists honestly, so it was a surprise to me when I loved their new record. It was always how I wanted the band to sound, but they never quite nailed it like they finally did on their 5th record. It does happen in rock music that bands don’t make their defining records until many years into their career, and great bands like Radiohead, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and The Church all have fans that make those kinds of claims; sometimes it takes a band a while to find its sound. Painted Ruins takes the cold, snow covered Grizzy Bear of old and moves it into the warmth of springtime. The band does nothing new here, but songs bloom and blossom like never before, and the lister is treated to a much more polished version of the groups sound.

Throughout its lush tapestry on tunes such as “Three Rings” and “Stysole” are beautiful examples of songs that erupt into volcanic rainbows of melody. “Aquarian” and “Four Cypresses” are as elegant and polished as the best 60’s and 70’s progressive rock bands. Vocals are still the bands forte, and “Losing all Senses” and “Mourning Sound” are a joy to hear. “Wasted Acres” and “Cut Out” fit well into the bands catalogue of patient, atmospheric space rock. The closer “Sky Took Hold” is brilliant too, harnessing the power of all the above-mentioned songs for an epic finale. I can’t wait to see where the band goes next, even if it take them another 5 years to make a follow up record. The equivalent of a lovely abstract painting in 2017 rock n roll.

 

 

 

  1. Jesca Hoop – Memories are Now

 

Genre: Folk Rock, Singer / Songwriter, Poetry

The greatest female singer/songwriter record of the year. Hoop’s unique, stripped down style is one for the ages, taking a disjointed sound and atmosphere and making it sound very nurturing and immediate as well. “Animal Logic” is a great tale of technology versus our own brains, told in a nonsensical style. “The Lost Sky” recalls Paul Simon with its mysterious aura and haunting lyrics, as the title track and “Cut Connection” are instant classics of folk music with airy melodies that stay in your head for days. The second side of the record is a little more of an acquired taste, but no less entertaining once odd tales such as “Unsaid” and “Pegasi” are absorbed into the psyche. Her tunes are unpredictable but very endearing. Jesca has the ability to pull you into her world, as her sound is that of angst portrayed in an often-jarring contrast to the minimal acoustic counterpart. The best tunes rival that of Joni Mitchell and Joana Newsom. and more successfully than any album she has released prior to this one. It is a female voice that blows all her male counterparts away, though it is at times merely a whisper.

 

 

 

  1. Japandroids – Near to the Wild Heart of Life

 

Genre: Classic Rock, Punk Rock, Emocore, Power Pop

The Japandroids take the emo influenced sound of previous records and turn it to epic classic rock on their long awaited third record. They are not the first band to do this, but their syntheses is still rare in a mostly digital music age. In a year where we lost both Tom Petty and Malcolm Young, we get killer grooves with attitude like “True Love and a Life of Free will” and the travelogue “North East South West”. The lyrics mark a huge growth, especially by making era defining statements on “In a Body like a Grave”. “Love will scar the heart / school will deepen debt / sun will burn the skin / work will sap the soul / just the way it is”. “No Known Drink or Drug” and the title track are simple statements about love and life, and about personal growth just as the band goes through artistic growth. Best of all, “Arc of Bar” shows how a band of only guitar and drums can pull of an epic rock song of towering proportions. Seeing the band live in late 2017, I also witnessed that it was possible to be as effective live as it is on record, and “Arc of Bar” is one of the great power chord anthems of all time, as it redefines grandeur for an age that has forgotten its roots.

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Algiers – The Underside of Power

 

Genre: Gospel, Post Punk, Industrial Rock, Blues, Noise Rock

With only their second record, Algiers have established themselves as important as Arcade Fire was for the 00’s for defining the sound of the 2010’s. Their music is rebellious in lyrics, and timely in sound, which is the reverse of many great rock bands. There is an arc to the album, and it plays in perfect track list sequence opening with the blistering “Walk Like a Panther” and ending with the thoughtful soul cry of “Cycle / the Spiral”. As a record that creates great singles, “Underside of Power”, “Cry of the Martyrs” and “Cleveland” each have their own take on radical rock music.

In between the singles we have tunes that expand their template such as instrumentals as “Plague Years” and “Bury Me Standing”, as well as the crushing “Death March” and the punky “Animals”, and the piano sonata “Mme Reiux”. New drummer Matt Tong, formerly of Bloc Party, is a amazing addition to the 80’s inspired programmed drum machines and the two play in tandem. Much like the bands amazing 2015 debut, Underside of Power collides post-punk era angst with 21st century angst, the both recalls the incendiary 1960’s and ignites the future of music.

 

 

 

  1. Vince Staples – Big Fish Theory

 

Genre: Experimental Rap, Hip Hop, Dance Rap

This album is one of the few instant classics of the year, instantly becoming one of my favorite rap records of all time. Were so many albums (his full length debut Summertime 06 included) are overlong and bloated, this album is precise in what it is trying to say and says it in 35 minutes. Combining the inventive but depressing ideas from his Big Time EP from last year, the album is a trip in the different ways raps can be applied to music. Each song is a different “kind of ” rap song. The offbeat, demented clang of “SAMO” stands next to the heavy ballad of “Rain Come Down” without a problem, and smooth rockers such as “BigBak” are right by solo skits gone stretched out to longer lengths  like “Alyssa Interlude” as well as the blips and bloops of “Love Can Be” with sounds like an alternate soundtrack to the silent movie Metropolis. Speaking of cinematic influences, Homage questions the very nature of what pop music means by named dropping Alfred Hitchcock.

Staples is influenced all over the album by modern acts like Janelle Monae and his guest star Kendrick Lamar on “Yeah Right”, but also by more old school artists like the playful antics of De La Soul on “Party People”, plus a healthy dose of depression and pretention inherited from Mos Def to keep things at the pinnacle of diversity. “Bigbak” is cleverly placed towards the end of the album but is easily an era defining stand out, calling out the rich, government controlled state of our nation with the brilliant and but silly lyric “tell the government to suck a dick because we own them”.

What Staples expertly does is lay out possibilities and directions he could go in in the future, and he does so by being the best at every single idea he puts forward and NEVER playing it safe and easy. He could easily make an album full of songs like “Big Fish”, but that would bore him; his short attention span echoes among the intelligent people of his generation. He knows how to find great producers, he knows how to please everyone from the neophyte kids who just wanna dance to the hard-edged critics looking for flaws in the veneer. It may take the world years to catch up to how fast Vince Staples is growing, but I would like to think that in 10 or twenty years, this will be the consensus as the greatest musical hip hop creation of 2017, if not the century.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best Single Songs of the Year 2017:

 

What songs spoke to me the most and gave me that special feeling:

 

1.Suzanne Sundfor – “Undercover”

2.Japandroids – “Arc of Bar”

3.Vince Staples – “BigBak”

4.Algiers – “The Underside of Power”

5.St. Vincent – “Los Ageless”

6.The Magnetic Fields – “’94: Haven’t Got a Penny”

7.Charly Bliss – “Westermarck”

  1. The Black Angels: “Half Believing”

9.Juana Molina – “Cosoco”

  1. Blanck Mass – “Please”

 

11.The Feelies – “Time Will Tell”

12.Fever Ray – “This Country”

13.Joan Shelly – “The Push and Pull”

14.Grizzly Bear – “Losing All Sense”

15.Idles – “Mother”

16.Run the Jewels – “Legend Has It”

17.Slowdive – “Star Roving”

18.Robyn Hitchcock – “Time Coast”

19.War on Drugs – “Knocked Down”

20.Priests – “Nicki”

 

21.Iglooghost – “White Gum”

22.Jesca Hoop – “Cut Connection”

23.Grails – “New Prauge”

24.Hiss Golden Messenger – “I Am the Song”

25.Uniform – “The Killing of America”

26.The New Pornographers – “Darling Shade”

27.LCD Soundsystem – “How Do You Sleep?”

28.Thee Oh Sees – “Jettisoned”

29.Shabazz Palaces – “Effeminence”

30.Kevin Morby – “Crybaby”

 

31.Queens of the Stone Age – “The Evil Has Landed”

  1. The Bug vs. Earth – “Snakes vs. Rats”

33.The Magnetic Fields – “I Think I’ll Make Another World”

34.Perfume Genius – “Wreathe”

35.Elbow – “Firebrand and Angel”

36.Vince Staples – “Samo”

37.The Jesus and Mary Chain – “All Things Must Pass”

38.Oxbow – “Cold and Well Lite Place”

39.The National – “Dark Side of the Gym”

40.The Dream Syndicate – “Filter Me Through You”

 

41.Unsane – “Aberration”

42.Dalek – “The Sons of Immigrants”

43.Mount Eerie – Ravens”

44.Shannon Wright – “Iodine”

45.Algiers – “Cleveland”

46.Gnod – “People”

47.Kendrick Lamar – “LOVE”

48.Residente – “Somos Anormales”

49.Beach Fossils – “Closer Everywhere”

50.Pere Ubu – “Red Eye Blues”