Camiele’s 100 Favorite Albums of 2017
60. Samuel Seo & Qim Isle – Elbow EP
I have to start by saying: YES LAWD New Jack Swing! I am always, always going to give my love to South Korean artists who delve into the genre that I grew up with. A mixture of funk, hip-hop, R&B, and jazz, it’s a genre that takes a great deal of soul and attitude to pull off. When Mango rings through with that signature drum machine canto, I’m instantly in love. But Elbow is so much more than that. It’s emotive, tender. An amazing piece of music from one of my favorite Korean artists.
(Available on Apple Music)
59. issue nine – TRANQUILITY
“Tranquility” is absolutely correct. issue nine released several albums last year, but TRANQUILITY is the one that caught and held my attention the most. It toes the line between melodic trance—reminiscent of artists like Massive Attack and Peace Orchestra—and elemental R&B. The construction is just gorgeous, peaceful yet utterly powerful.
58. Billy Carter – The Orange EP
The sister EP to my #87 album on the list. Orange is straight raw from the get-go. It’s grittier, dirtier, a heartier blues than the Green EP.
57. Blue Lab Beats – Freedom
Seriously, guys. Following some of your favorite artists on Instagram is a blessing .I found out about this outfit from another artist from the clube$kimo universe: Queen Miso. She had the album playing during an Instastory, and I just had to check them out. Keep Moving is ’90s hip-hop pure and simple, when hip-hop was pure and simple. Blue Lab Beats is more straightforward than Hawk House, but still the vibe is strong and the musicality is delicious.
56. Jamiroquai – Automaton
Full disclosure: I screamed when I found out Jamiroquai was coming back with not only another album, but an entire tour! I’ll always be impressed by Jamiroquai’s dedication to pushing forward musically while still maintaining a sound that has become as synonymous with the band’s vision as their famous Buffalo Man. Automaton is a welcome return for the legendary band, fronted by their mercurial leader Jay Kay. He’s lost none of his groove, but it has become peppered with the various experiences he’s had over the band’s decade-long absence, including getting married and having three kids. Who would’ve thought, my forever urchin settling down? But it’s certainly given his music a different dimension, one that’s not unwelcome!
55. Jin the MC – Nobody’s Listening
There’s nothing you can say about Jin that hasn’t been said before: powerful, magical, genius flow and execution, writing to the GODS! The first in a trilogy, Nobody’s Listening was an instant addition to my list as soon as I heard it. Classic Jin, some of the best work I’ve heard from him in quite some time.
(Available on Soundcloud)
54. IDIOTAPE – Dystopian
Okay, so Dystopian is just exciting. high-octane from start to finish. It really sounds like the kind of soundtrack you’d hear on an old-school arcade game… meaning over-the-top, intense, full-throttle action. I ADORE IT! The energy is breathtaking!
53. SAAY – The Zone
Thank the lord SAAY released an EP in 2017! I was almost heartbroken to think I wasn’t going to be able to add her to my list. This woman’s voice absolutely stunned me. So much power and nuance, with soul that seems to imply she’s been through much more than her years suggest. The Zone was sensual, powerful, thick R&B that South Korea desperately needed to break up much of the humdrum.
(Available on Soundcloud)
52. The Alchemist & Budgie – The Good Book Vol. 2
The Alchemist & Budgie bring church to a new level. The Good Book Vol. 2 is raw and unpretty, but it’s still about praising the Lord. More honest than any church I’ve ever been in.
51. AKMU – Winter
I’m so happy they released music before Chan-hyuk enlisted. Winter is without a doubt AKMU’s maturest, most evocative release to date. Though my heart is broken that we won’t get more from the sibling duo for two years, Su-hyun has so much to offer, and she showcases just how powerful her voice can be with the work on this album (Will Last Forever).
50. SZA – Ctrl
Okay, so I’m in love with albums where women get right down to the heart of the matter, since it seems very few men have been able to do it with any sort of earnestness. Admitting to being the side chick without apologizing for it, admitting to needing love without being ashamed, admitting to insecurities without any caveats. Ctrl is the album you turn to when you need to listen to a voice that truly understands your soul. SZA utilizes a conversational singing tone, and while it isn’t always my favorite style of delivery, in this way the music sounds like a diary. A confessional more than an album, and I respect that heavily.
49. DPR Live – Coming To You Live
DPR Live probably had my favorite debut from South Korea in 2017. It was bold to make music that was mostly esoteric as the opening note to a career. Though the features were strong, one never lost the thread of DPR Live’s presence. He was front and center and his lyricism was unbelievably impressive.
48. Flannel Albert – YEAH, no.
Is it weird to feel proud of someone you’ve never met? Because, yeah, that’s how I feel about Albert Joo, who goes by the pseudonym Flannel Albert. YEAH, no. is a piece of magic. It’s deceptively simple. The production seems to take a backseat, but that’s the gag. The production doesn’t sit in the backseat. It’s very much the passenger with all the directions, guiding listeners to the brilliant lyricism, FA’s flow, and those moments of harmonious instrumental magic that you may not be expecting. A genuinely smart album.
47. Lizz Wright – Grace
What can I even say about Lizz Wright? She’s just an absolute goddess. Her vocals touch every part of your emotions with just a push of breath. From first note to last, Grace is sheer perfection. I’ve missed Lizz so much!
46. Nuz – Room
This man is pure magic. His music is ethereal, sensual, deep. Room is some of the smoothest I’ve heard coming out of South Korea. Not to mention it’s one of the clearest examples of neo-soul I’ve heard from the country. What a blessing.
45. Syd – Fin.
The world was forever gifted a blessing worthy of some heavy praise when the Internet bestowed their talents. That goes double for their frontwoman, Syd. Her natural soprano voice is rich and beautiful. But when she reaches for something grittier, dirtier… it’s almost sinful. Contrary to what the titile suggests, Fin. is very much the beginning of something marvelous for fans of the coquettish R&B singer. Though it was the culmination of hard work and hard emotion, it certainly isn’t the last we’ll ever hear from Syd.
44. SOMA – The Letter
SOMA’s voice is as sweet and deep as warm honey. It melts the listener with how thick and emotive it is. The production also works in concert with her voice. The Letter is only a six song mini-album, but there’s so much depth, such decadence that it’s hard to believe it’s only an EP.
43. Jonghyun – The Collection: Story Op.2
There are only a few words I can say about this without becoming emotional. Jonghyun once again proved how powerful of a writer he was. But Story Op.2 also uncovered so much more of the pain he was hiding. It’s stunning, sensual in parts, and covers the scope and depth of who he was. While it’s a combination of songs released throughout his stint on Blue Night Radio and newer material, it’s all a final note to those who were listening.
I miss him so damn much.
42. Zion.T – OO
What a joy to have Zion.T back, blessing us with his brand of easygoing R&B. This was the album fans of the crooner needed. At times flirtatious and playful, at others poignant, OO is 100 percent Zion.T, delving deeper into who he is as an artist and a man. A gorgeous piece of work.
41. Bobby Earth – PROGRESSION (Deluxe)
The Milky Wavy family has some of the most amazing talent. At the forefront is Bobby Earth, who’s got a sound so magical it’s like it came from the stars. When I heard Bobby’s version of the legendary Soundgarden track Black Hole Sun in deference to the late Chris Cornell, I was his forever. While Progression was released in 2016, this remastered deluxe version takes what was beautiful and makes it outrageously stunning.