Camiele’s 100 Favorite Albums of 2017
I said last year when I posted my favorite albums of 2016 I was going to stretch for that 75. Turns out I’d done a lot more intensive listening in 2017 than I initially thought I would. As the title suggests, I’ve listened to over 100 albums over a 365-day period… GAWD DAYUM! As such, there are some albums that I listened to that didn’t make my list at all. There are also albums I really just forgot to actually listen to, albums that I even told myself to get to. Unfortunately, I started generating my list a lot later than I’d intended, so albums that I didn’t preemptively write down didn’t make it before the clock struck midnight on January 1, albums that would have most likely found a spot in my Top 20…!
But after all has been said and done, 2017 was very clearly a grand year for music. My list is testament to that. I have to reiterate for those who have seen my last couple lists, this is just a list of my favorite albums. I, in no way, represent every opinion or opinions of those with bigger names for that matter. These are simply the albums that had an impact on me, each number representing really just how deeply I was moved in one way or another.
Because of the depth of the list, I decided to forgo an “Honorable Mentions” list of albums I didn’t get a chance to listen to or that just missed my main list. (Though I yowl in despair as I realize NOW that I forgot to listen to both Talib Kweli and Tricky’s albums last year! DAMMIT! And Day6’s album… Day. Six’s. ALBUM! Forgive me as I sob into the void…)
But enough lamenting what I can’t change. Without any further gilding of the lily, I present my Top 100 Favorite Albums of 2017!
100. Khalid – American Teen
This album suffers from the same issue I had with another album later on in the list: I can’t relate. It’s relatable enough on the surface because it’s about one’s teen years, which we’ve all had. But apparently it’s too young for me. Or my experience wasn’t anything like his, which I find hard to believe. But it’s not a stretch to imagine I may not actually relate to the teen years of a young Black man. That being said, the album is well put together, thematic, and has beautiful production quality.
99. Drug Restaurant – Pomade EP
The South Korean punk-pop band’s sophomore effort has its moments, but overall it’s lacking… something to actually leave an impression on me. There’s definitely something to be said for the musicianship and the obvious tongue-in-cheek nature of the overall theme, enough for it to be on my list, anyway.
(Available on Apple Music)
98. Marlin – Nights EP
There are moments of pure London house here, straight from the alleys of Soho! Reminds me of a a new-age Modjo! Certain elements, such as the glimmers of moombah-inspired pop (which is the latest trend in popular dance music), I could’ve done without. But for the nods to pure House, I had to include it here.
97. Kehlani – SweetSexySavage
The other album on my list that I couldn’t completely identify with. This could be a product of becoming older, or perhaps my high school/teen experiences were a bit different in scope and complications, which I don’t really want to believe is true. But Kehlani has a very pretty voice that houses simple, not completely inspiring lyrics. That being said, the production quality is high-class.
96. BTS – Love Yourself/HER
Undoubtedly, 2017 was the year of BTS. This is obviously an album for fans of the K-pop juggernaut. For me, it’s mostly nothing different than what we’ve heard previously in terms of music (starting with the WINGS album). It’s decent but stagnated as far as their aural aesthetic. They’ve found their musical niche, which is fine but does nothing for me. The obvious focal points are the lyrics and the continuation of a story arc that’s been following them since 2014’s Dark & Wild. Save for the actual music itself, which gets interesting in parts but otherwise falls flat, Love Yourself/HER is a pretty decent album with great lyrical weight.
95. Oki Kim – Fuckingmadness
I first came across Oki Kim from his participation in another album further up on the list. His saxophone work is just amazing. There are some parts that I could’ve seriously done without—the rapping, for instance. But the some of the composition is truly impressive: Impasto 2 is just SEXY, and Impasto 3 has a Nujabes-esque feel to it, which always manages to capture my heart whenever I hear it.
94. Junny – Monochrome
It took a listen or two to get into this one, but I couldn’t deny the absolutely gorgeous composition and some of the amazing lyrical depth and musicality on Junny’s EP. Solid, raw R&B/hip-hop. Though it does at times fall into the now clichéd delivery of most newer Korean rappers—opting for lackadaisical rapping influenced by trap music in the States—it’s still a solid piece of music that has some amazing production value.
93. Vic Mensa – The Autobiography
Vic Mensa’s album adds to the era of Black folk uplifting each other, which I can 100 percent get behind. It’s emotional hip-hop in which rappers are now more prone to being honest with themselves about their shortcomings and their insecurities, being carefree, saying honestly that they love the people around them. However, I could’ve done without the romanticizing of cheating just because a man’s selfish and expects his girl to be okay with it…
92. DEAN – Limbo
Try as I might, there was no way I could leave DEAN off this list. Though Limbo is a mini-EP (with two tracks), the songs therein were some of his most lyrically open. Uninvited Guest is probably his most powerful track to date in its stripped-down simplicity. The overall “aesthetic” for those who know this man’s music is consistent with what he’s released in the last couple years. He’s not lost focus, even if his self-consciousness has caused him some frustration as of late. A lovely piece of music.
91. Car, the Garden – Apartment
The South Korean band cropped up quite a bit throughout 2017. Their notoriety got a big boost when they released their debut album last year. Soothing music, very easy to listen to. The lead singer’s voice is very smooth and undeniably pretty. One of the most impressive track is “Bye,” which reminds me of some of the more emotional repertoire of the Beatles (Yesterday, Something). Completely gorgeous.
90. Watch the Duck – The Trojan Horse Deluxe Edition
Okay, full disclosure. I only added the deluxe version because I wanted The Trojan Horse somewhere on the list. It may be cheating a bit… okay, but it’s so amazing! The production is just everything! Despite how head-over-heels I am for it, in good faith I had to put it at the lower end of the list because the “deluxe” part is just a whole bunch of remixes.
89. Suran – Walkin’
While it’s taken me some time to warm up to Suran’s voice (thanks in no small part to her role in Code Kunst’s Muggles’ Mansion), I’m sincerely happy I did give her a chance. Walkin’ is full of solid R&B-pop. While her voice is still taking time to grow on me, she’s shown that she has the potential to reach for some incredible soul when she’s inspired, and she does have a great flair for lyricism.
88. Tish Hyman – The Way I Am
I fell in love with Tish from 2016’s All That I Can Do. The song and video just blew me away. When I saw she’d released more music on her Soundcloud, it wasn’t at all what I expected. But that’s the point. The Way I Am shows her various sides, and she’s not afraid to delve into her deepest desires and insecurities. She embraces facets of pop while still maintaining her roots in R&B and Soul. So much respect.
87. Billy Carter – The Green EP
Billy Carter is… everything. Their sound is just so incredibly raw, and the two EPs they released in 2017 are testament to that blues-rock power. The Green EP is subtly elegant. Smooth, beautiful, understated.
86. DUETTO – The First Mini Album
I could not have guessed I’d come across an opera duo in 2017. These guys absolutely blew me away. I’ll always have a soft spot for anything that has ties to the theater, and their technique, harmonization, and flawless delivery gave me chills when I first listened to their debut EP.
(Available on Apple Music)
85. Miyavi – Samurai Sessions Vol. 2
I would be an idiot to leave anything Miyavi does off my list. After having experienced his excellence at SXSW last year, I was thirsty for more music. Samurai Sessions Vol. 2 is relentless from the first note. Though his Royal Ninja Badness has opted for more pop-focused fare lately, that doesn’t stop the intensity from being at Mach-12 from start to finish. All that energy and moments of grittiness showcase his broad range and allow him to really let his guitar work explode.
84. offonoff – boy.
Clube$kimo had one hell of a year in 2017. Colde and 0channel work so brilliantly together, and their music is testament to just how dynamic they are as a group. boy. has the signature clube$kimo sound and vibe: chill, sensual in spots, unhurried and unpressed. It’s a lovely, lilting album. While not my favorite release from the new-age musical outfit, its place is firm on my list.
83. Keeyen Martin – The Suitcase EP
This. Man’s. VOICE! So pure. So powerful. It’s almost magical. It’s a wonder what you find on Soundcloud. The Suitcase is one of those instances where the production takes a backseat (execution-wise) to the vocals and lyrical depth. I’m not totally mad about it, but a voice like Keeyen’s deserves production that doesn’t almost drown him out at times, doesn’t support him completely at others.
82. Musiq Soulchild – Feel the Real
What can one say about Musiq Soulchild? His voice is just… silk. The way he delivers his notes is awe-inspiring. He’s an absolute master of harmonics. The rapping wasn’t… great. It seemed added in there for the sake of giving Musiq’s sound a wider appeal, but it really stunts some of the more emotionally raw aspects the tracks Willie’s included on. Regardless, it’s a beautiful catalog of Musiq’s talent.
81. Primary – Shininryu
Primary is definitely a funky dude. Shininryu showcases just how outrageous his scope is. He has an immediately recognizable style that while not as emotive for me as Code Kunst is still incredibly musical and full of depth.