Camiele’s 100 Favorite Albums of 2017
80. G2 – G2’s Life
It was my sublime pleasure to meet and interview G2 at this year’s Dallas Korean Festival. My first experience with him was really when I got to see him perform at that same festival’s inaugural stage in 2016, so listening to his music this time around had a substantial impact. G2’s Life is really powerful, honest. I hear a bit of J. Cole in him on certain songs (We Are Young, Knockin’ at the Door, Growing Pains). Every song makes me remember watching him live: the wild passion in his eyes, the untamed energy. This is certainly an album that’s all G2: honest, raw, emotional.
79. Giriboy – Graduation
While Giriboy perhaps doesn’t possess my favorite flow, no one can deny that passion, that fire, and that lyricism. The production is A+, a lot of soul and emotion. What makes Giriboy one of the hottest rappers in Korea is his ability to mesh pop and hip-hop effortlessly without losing any of the grit and soul that makes rap what it is. He embraces all sides of it, incorporating multiple genres to put his musical knowledge on full display. Graduation is a wee bit poppier for my taste in terms of hip-hop, but like Q-Tip said, “Rap is not pop if you call it that and stop.”
78. Heize – /// (너 먹구름 비)
There’s a reason I continued to refer to Heize as “queen” in 2017. She has a style that’s uniquely hers—fun, quirky (songs Don’t Know You and Dark Clouds) but completely honest and emotive (Star). Plus working with Groovyroom has allowed her talent to shine through, showcasing her maturity as an artist.
77. Lecrae – All Things Work Together
Okay… so this album is AMAZINGLY BLACK!!! Some of the production is cliché, but overall the lyricism is there, the storytelling is strong, and there isn’t anything trite about it. Lecrae is openly spiritual but still completely honest. And finally we get a man who admits his faults without the caveat “I’m a man, what did you expect?”
76. FKJ – French Kiwi Juice
There’s only one word that truly encapsulates FKJ: Smooth. Though perhaps not the most intriguing lo-fi R&B I heard in 2017, it’s certainly got a sound to it that keeps you mellow. FKJ is a brilliant master of sample and transition. His sound hearkens back to the rare grooves of the Brand New Heavies and Jamiroquai, Acid Jazz. It’s such a welcoming sound, full and elegant. Though there are elements of the new-age on French Kiwi Juice, it’s mostly a sound that takes me back to the early ’90s of nu-funk.
75. The Barberettes – Spring EP
As usual the Barberettes are magnificent. The purity in their harmonies and their voices is simply astounding. Though the lineup is a bit different, the power in their delivery is no less potent. I just wish there was more of the EP, pushing it to a full-length. Their vocals have taken on a moodier, more R&B-laced shade, and I wanted to hear more of that. Stunning as always.
74. Rad Museum – Scene
The next entry from the clube$kimo family. If there were an album that truly encapsulates the collective’s aesthetic, Scene would be it, I reckon. From the first song it’s completely unexpected, compellingly soulful musically. Even though vocally Rad tends toward the more monochromatic and unsensational, that leaves room for his writing and the brilliant composition. There are subtle nods to his interest in indie rock, but it doesn’t seem out-of-place. It’s an album that’s very clearly 100 percent Rad Museum. His vocal range and tone fits with alt-rock more than R&B, but that’s what makes it so compelling. I sense bits of ’90s alt-rock: Fastball, a tinge of Soundgarden, Tonic, etc. But I also hear a lot of Odd Future, particularly Tyler’s composing.
73. BOSCO – b.
BOSCO is truly a revelation. I get serious Van Hunt vibes from her sound, á la his debut. b. is such a mellow groove in parts. I’m absolutely feeling her vibe. She has a smooth, laid-back, sultry, lovely, powerful voice—deceptively pretty. She blends the chill of the Internet with the musicality of Van Hunt. And I’m just…!
72. Murs – Captain California
I first came across this album with single Lemon Juice, a collaboration with Curtiss King. Let me tell you, there was no turning back for me at that point. Captain California is an entertaining album with wonderful wordplay and at times powerful messages. No doubt his older work had a rawer sound, but the quality hasn’t diminished at all.
71. 10cm – 4.0
Oh, how I’ve missed 10cm! The band’s as emotive as ever. Kwon Jung-yeol’s voice is pure gold. If possible for the veteran band, the music is even maturer, more poignant than anything they’ve done thus far. It’s truly a joy to hear from them again. A band that quietly has a presence every year since their debut.
70. BeWhy – The Blind Star
I don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings, but BeWhy has some of the rawest shit coming out South Korea. His flow, his tone, his production. It’s all so damn grimy. The Blind Star had me in my stankface feels for its entirety.
69. Feel Ghood Music – Feelghood
Honestly it’d be a crime and a shame to leave anything coming from the Feel Ghood universe off my list. Every time any music comes from the home Tasha and JK built, it’s bound to be full of magic. That magic came in the form of MRSHLL. This man is an absolute gift from GOD! Two words: That. Voice!!! Beyond just the dynamite that is MRSHLL, this compilation from the Feel Ghood family had outrageous power and range from songstress Ann One and just stupid bars from Junoflo.
68. Shania Twain – Now (Deluxe)
When I found out the queen of country-pop was releasing more music, I almost squealed from glee. Now is definitely vintage Shania, but more than that it’s got that rugged sound that makes country what it is (Roll Me on the River). However, there’s so much depth, so much soul, so much fire. The sound we’ve missed with Shania’s absence.
67. Daley – The Spectrum
Let’s suspend with the formalities. Daley just has so much damn soul! I’ve missed this man’s voice. That natural falsetto and that bit of heartache in his voice just hits you in all the right ways. Truly a powerful piece of soul music. Spans the full spectrum of love, from first infatuation, to full-blown romance, to the tumult of a relationship.
66. Polo & Pan – Caravelle
Without a doubt Caravelle is the perfect house album, consisting of a bevy of subgenres: classic French/swing house. elemental house, deep house. It’s just lovely, romantic, chic. J’adore!
65. Billie Eilish – dont smile at me
Good god if this woman doesn’t have a gorgeous voice! Sultry. Husky. Honest music that tells concrete stories. dont smile at me is gritty, raw, vulnerable work that pulls no punches. It’s just a voice and some simple yet beautiful composition.
64. Fleet Foxes – Crack-Up
There’s not much to say here. Crack-Up is simply elegant soul-reaching folk music. It sounds like music one would play at a faerie garden party. Take that as you will, but this latest effort from Fleet Foxes is absolutely lovely!
63. Sir the Baptist – Saint or Sinner
From note one, Saint or Sinner is explosive gospel-inspired R&B. Not only does the album reintroduce the world to Brandy and her unparalleled vocal technique, we’re also gifted the grit and guts of Sir the Baptist and his raw and open interpretation of his spiritual journey as a man.
62. Rico – White Light EP
The word of 2017 was smooth. And let me tell you, this dude is so smooth it hurts! White Light was really a surprising piece of music coming from the Daze Alive family. Truth be told, the label is low-key becoming one of the strongest proponents of hip-hop in South Korea. Everything that comes out of that family is just fire. Rico is no exception, his brand of ’90s-inspired R&B almost second to none in the country. I only wish I’d been paying more attention and listened to the full album, Panorama.
61. Dazealive – Fommy Hiltiger
And speaking of which, we have another label compilation compliments of the Daze Alive family. I’m just goona put it out there. SLEEQ is a goddess and one of the most powerful MCs to come out of South Korea… period! Thank goodness she released music this year, even if it was in the form of a collaborative album with labelmates JERRY K and Don Malik. The sound is clever, the delivery is fresh, and the music is pure class.
(Available on Soundcloud)