EMMIE’s Albums of the Year

By EMMIE Staff

2017 is quickly coming to a close. While there wasn’t much to celebrate, 2017 brought many fantastic projects. From lowkey artists rising to fame to well-established artists continuing to make waves, finding great music in 2017 was not much of a problem. In honor of this past year’s music, the staff of EMMIE picked the 14 best albums of 2017.

14. Freudian, Daniel Caesar

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Freudian is an ode to love where Daniel Caesar explores what passion and devotion mean to him. The album is laced with 90’s gospel and old-school R&B sounds, as Caesar successfully brings back actual love songs that make your legs weak and gives you goosebumps. On Blessed,he expresses gratitude for love despite his flaws, like craving love so much to the point that it becomes an unhealthy addiction. His voice is delicate as it portrays a type of innocence, especially like that on “Best Part” and “We Find Love.” Everything is said with intricate fragility and gentleness that it gives a feeling of peace like soft rain. He makes you believe in love.” – Nnenna Ene, Staff Photographer

13. SATURATION, BROCKHAMPTON

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“BROCKHAMPTON builds its brand triumphantly on the idea of a collective. The ever-contrarian “boy band” consists of fifteen members of various backgrounds and musical talents, all of whom contribute to the fresh and visually-rich SATURATION. Angsty lyricism and hard-hitting beats subside with more suave and effortless tracks. Memorable hooks, like that of “GOLD” are impossible to not dance to. Other parts of the project deliberately flow and clash, mixing soft, melodic tracks with more aggressive tones. BROCKHAMPTON has no trouble creating an aura of fashionable delineation from traditional rap, and in doing so they set themselves up to be a continuous evolutionary force in their genre.” – Madeline Rasmussen, Contributing Writer

12. Dirty Projectors, Dirty Projectors

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“Dave Longstreth began making music under the guise of Dirty Projectors when he was in college in 2003. The project evolved into a full-fledged band until this year, when the band — and the relationship between Longstreth and bandmate Amber Coffman — ended. Dirty Projectors is a beautiful and experimental coming-to-terms album oozing with pain and reconciliation. Longstreth abandoned most of the hallmarks form prior Dirty Projectors records, opting for an electronic-based synth-heavy, sprawling epic detailing his struggle coming to terms with his new place in the world. Winding guitars, screeching modular synthesizers and unfamiliar percussion all culminate in a series of instrumentals that perfectly captures the feeling of love lost in the modern age.” – Logan Rude, Concerts Editor

11. Crack-Up, Fleet Foxes

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The intricacy of the songs on Fleet Foxes’ Crack-Up is made all the more remarkable by how welcoming and warm the thing is. The labyrinthine compositions formed by the sounds of more instruments than many could name are somehow all the more essential in their complexity. Rather than feeling distant or inaccessible, Crack-Up welcomes the listener into its colorful, all-encompassing and real world of mountains and oceans. Crack-Up manages to transport its listeners to a world of maximum saturation. Lead singer Robin Pecknold provides nonstop vistas of the world, of emotions and of history. He bounces between references as varied as Classical Roman and Spanish paintings to visions of his personal life and places he’s been; all rendered poetically and under a thick stitching of sounds.” – Christian Zimonick, Staff Writer

10. Everybody Works, Jay Som

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Everybody Works is unlike your normal debut album. Oakland-based writer Jay Som takes her inner-most quirks and rebellions and contorts them into hypnagogic vignettes. Rather than feeling lazy and disinterested, Everybody Works is like the creamiest of dreams, one where colors reverberate off of racing guitars, thumping rhythms and the thick air itself. Highlights like “The Bus Song” and “Baybee” are the fruition of long-awaited memories that careen across lush sonic palates like rockets in the daytime sky. Everybody Works, arguably the most underrated album of 2017, bends the genres of indie and bedroom pop oh so fluorescently.” – Daniel Winogradoff, Albums Editor

9. Rocket, (Sandy) Alex G

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Rocket subverts expectations as the Philadelphia multi-instrumentalist moves away from his traditional indie rock sound, drawing inspiration from country, industrial, and psychedelic music, while still maintaining his ever-present intimacy with the listener. The album exhibits Alex’s growth as an artist as he develops strong, multi-faceted compositions and tackles mature themes of self-disclosure and reflection in his music. At forty-one minutes long, the album is a pleasure to listen to from start to finish and will have you coming back to play it again and again. With every new listen, you will notice new intricacies and smile a lot.” – Matt Weinberger, Staff Photographer

8. Soft Sounds From Another Planet, Japanese Breakfast

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“In the mere thirty-seven minutes and eleven seconds that is Soft Sounds from Another Planet, Michelle Zauner explores the ideas of sexuality, heartbreak and life. The entirety of this record pays homage to all of Zauner’s chaotic glory with several songs dating back to her demo tapes. Laced in dreamy and ambient noises, her lyrics are more personal than ever and her unique songwriting welds together feelings of nostalgia and anxiety. From the shoe-gazey opening song “Diving Woman” to the dream pop, autotune-filled “Machinist” to the powerful love ballad “Til Death,” Zauner takes listeners to another planet where they are able to bathe in ethereal sounds.” – Mercy Xiong, Social Media Director

7. Big Fish Theory, Vince Staples

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“Vince Staples is here to come at your neck, rather than play nice with you. The Long Beach smartmouth is intuitive, calculative and precise with his stylistic choices, making sure that everything fits his expectations, not yours. Big Fish Theory features gangster-influenced bars that are striking and imperative behind metallic club instrumentals made to move and kill you at the same time. Scratchy percussion, booming kicks and martian synthesizers help create one of the most bad-ass projects of the year. BFT shows that Staples is the antipode of rap: he has separated himself into a totally different rap hierarchy, one that even the most germane and relevant rappers can’t be a part of.” – Daniel Winogradoff, Albums Editor

6. Melodrama, Lorde

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Melodrama is a newly curated sense of style for Lorde. The album, inspired by the emotional and tumultuous nature of a house party, utilizes traditional pop soundscapes that coalesce into a moody, anthemic atmosphere of dramatic quips and heart-wrenching lyricism. While retaining the Lorde-esque novelty in its lyricism and structure, Melodrama reflects the life that the New Zealand-hailing songstress has been living, in the space following her debut, in a very aged and novel way. With songs such as “Homemade Dynamite,” “Liability” and “Writer in the Dark,” one tends to find themselves sharing the experiences and vulnerability that Lorde expresses as a budding adult.” – Collin Kirk, Copy Editor & Ella Guo, Staff Photographer

5. The OOZ, King Krule

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“23-year-old Londonian Archy Marshall (aka King Krule) crafted The OOZ under wretched solidarity. The suffocating effects of the album’s richness are hard to cope with; the situations described feel too bitter and, juxtaposingly, too wonderful to be understood as normal, and that is exactly what The OOZ isn’t. Slightly off-tuned guitars and a variety of inflections in Marshall’s voice are poisonous, yet seductive. The gritty lyricism is equally as rotten as it is golden. Abstract, yet posh song titles pique interest while unnerving listeners at the same time. Overall, The OOZ is the musical equivalent of an oasis: luxurious, yet cruel.” – Daniel Winogradoff, Albums Editor

4. Ctrl, SZA

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“A testament to the imbalance of power and control that sex and love play in one’s romantic and sexual relationships, as well as a mesmerizing display of her maturity as an artist, SZA’s second studio album Ctrl sounds and feels like an R&B classic in the making. Ctrl is an intrinsic mix of her essentialism we recognize from her first record Z (i.e. insatiable beats, A+ features, and vivid transitions), with loving lyricism and raw rhythm that sounds entirely evolved and authentic. We all have or know someone who has gotten emotional and cried while listening to “Drew Barrymore,” fucked up and danced while listening to “Love Galore,” and laid while listening to “Doves in the Wind” — and that’s just the first half of the album.” – Jordan Madden, Contributing Writer

3. DAMN., Kendrick Lamar

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DAMN. is the aftermath of an emotional journey. It details Kendrick’s findings about deep issues such as love, fear and religion. On a more general level, the album tackles the fight many endure against substance abuse, gang violence, and the harsh realities of life, common themes of Kendrick’s works. The mixture of upbeat tracks like HUMBLE. and LOYALTY. contrast the slower, ballad-like tracks such as PRIDE. and GOD., providing relatability. Raw lyrical elements and Kendrick’s visceral delivery connect with every listener, making it one of the best projects of 2017.” – Bailey Owens, Staff Writer

2. Process, Sampha

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“To many, Sampha is known as the prodigy with the angelic voice featured on songs with Drake, Solange, SBTRKT, Kanye and more. However, after the release of Process, his debut album, Sampha distinguishes himself and makes his mark as a soulful yet electric artist who deserves far more recognition for his talent both as a singer and a producer. Each track is heart-wrenchingly beautiful, revealing his deepest inflections and vulnerability as he deals with grief (losing both of his parents) and self-discovery. The project brilliantly combines the multitude of his emotions in a seemingly effortless way, managing to perfectly execute a blend of a cry for help, a deep breath and a sigh of relief all in one.” – Deeba Abrishamchi, Staff Writer

1. Flower Boy, Tyler, the Creator

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“When Tyler, the Creator emerged in the hip-hop scene back in 2010 alongside his Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All posse, he was criticized — and praised — for his vulgar, abrasive and violent songs. Now, on his fifth solo project, he’s shed the obscenity for sincerity. Flower Boy is Tyler’s magnum opus. It shows him perfecting the style he strived for on his past projects while venturing into new territories. Filled with clever wordplay, outstanding production (all done by Tyler) and visceral honesty on his loneliness and insecurities, Flower Boy clearly cements Tyler as, not only a boundary-defying rapper, but as an artist who’s not adverse to taking risks.” – Logan Rude, Concerts Editor

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