Overlooked Albums of 2017 So Far
2017, thus far, has been a fantastic year for music. But because so many artists are putting out great projects, there are projects that can, at times, be forgotten. They get lost in the shuffle of the weekly Friday music releases and never truly get the hype they may deserve. CommRadio editor David Arroyo and production director Chandler Copenheaver take a look at those albums and break down what makes them great, even when forgotten.
Nightmare Logic by Power Trip
The thrash metal band that formed in 2008 returned in 2017 with Nightmare Logic, a menacing album that tackles the issues facing the world today in the most menacing way possible. Over excellent guitar riffs and drum solos, the band spits in the face of religion, the political landscape, and anything else they feel is a detriment to the world. Complacency is its own form of awfulness to the band and they make it clear over this eight track album. They are not afraid to be loud and brazen about what they believe in and the album stands as a mouthpiece for a generation of people who stand against the politics of the Reagan era that have crawled back into modern politics. Thrash metal is not easily digestible and most certainly a genre that will turn a lot of people off, but it is hard to listen to this album and not appreciate the incredible artistry of the band and their talents. – David
Peasant by Richard Dawson
Richard Dawson puts his bizarre and off-kilter soul into every song on Peasant, making for one of the most visceral folk releases of the decade. “Avant-garde” and “progressive” can only describe this album so much before it fails to capture the brilliant step forward this album takes for folk music. Feeling like a true progression from the sounds established by folk legends Comus and Exuma, Dawson crafts songs that not only transport the listener to another world, but transcends and returns multiple times within the same album. Peasant is not for the untrained and unassuming listener; Dawson is not afraid to stretch and strain his vocals in unsettling ways, nor stick to any sonic conventions of the genre. But for the patient listener, Peasant provides inarguably one of the most unique and unforgettable musical experiences of the decade. – Chandler
Fin by Syd
Despite making the list of top 10 albums to be released so far in 2017 here at CommRadio, Syd’s Fin is an album that has gotten far less praise and recognition than it should. It’s a tribute to 90’s R&B music and allows Syd to show off her incredible vocals. She soothes the listener while singing about relationships, the people who doubt her, and how she will rise to fame no matter what. It’s a familiar theme for Syd as she has always been a forgotten figure, especially if we go back to her days as a contributor for Odd Future. It’s time to give Syd her props and recognize her as one of the top R&B artists putting out music right now. – David
Being You Is Great, I Wish I Could Be You More Often by Quelle Chris
At a time when underground hip-hop is bursting at the seams with exciting new voices and styles, few artists are releasing material as unique to them as Quelle Chris. Being You Is Great, I Wish I Could Be You More Often is a modern masterwork of self-reflection and self-discovery, diving even deeper into Chris’s already unique and unmatched wit. Chris feels the least afraid to be himself here compared to past albums while somehow achieving a more comedic and accessible sound than he’s ever put to record. His production seamlessly works together with his personality and themes, with a wide array of jazz-rap beats that range from soulful grooves to more dizzying oddities. In a year wear Kendrick Lamar and Vince Staples are continuing to push hip-hop forward sonically and thematically, Quelle Chris stands out with nothing more than an honest, and at times hilarious, portrayal of his inner psyche. – Chandler
Infinite Worlds by Vagabon
Lætitia Tamko’s debut album as Vagabon shows that this Cameroon born musician will be a force in the New York scene for years to come. She has a powerful voice with the ability to be soothing, powerful, or anything in between. Despite being young, Tamko has a clear ear for music and an ability to combine contrasting elements into an album that is pleasing. Indie Rock is not a genre I have ever personally found myself enjoying or listening too, however, Vagabon’s ability to push the trend of self awareness and humor in Indie Rock makes for one of the most lyrically clever albums of the year. – David
Abysma by Geotic
Offering his fourth non Baths project since 2013’s criminally underrated Obsidian, Will Wiesenfeld returns with another downtempo electronic album under his more ambient moniker Geotic. Unlike previous Geotic projects, Abysma feels like the first worthy successor and progression in sound for Wiesenfeld, with a stronger emphasis on soundscapes than Wiesenfeld has ever brought to a release before. The glitch-hop beats provide a sturdy foundation for Wiesenfeld’s flawless and pulsating synth work, mixing in light elements of his distinct vocal delivery in subtle and evocative ways. Angular string synths pop up every so often to bring some variety to the instrumentation, but Abysma shines the strongest when it delves fully into its soundscapes, leaving behind any discernible melody to instead wash over the listener in a spacey ocean of noise. With rumors that a true Baths follow up to Obsidian may be coming later this year, Abysma offers Wiesenfeld’s strongest indication yet that he’s ready to craft a worthwhile successor. – Chandler
Universal EP by Kintaro
Being the brother of an already popular musician can be difficult, but Kintaro shows he does not care with the release of his EP Universal EP. Kintaro has found success in his past as the keyboardist for The Internet, the same group Syd is in, but the multitalented Kintaro stands out in any crowd of music. The short 5 track EP is well produced, with every track being recorded, mixed, and mastered by Kintaro. The project is an incredibly wide range of music, with everything from trap to soul music influences. Much like his brother, Kintaro is lyrically gifted and brings a unique flavor to every song. Kintaro also gets a feature from Anderson .Paak on the standout track “MK,” a song that should be a candidate for song of the summer. This album appeals to so many crowds, and it is surprising for it to be a project that has had such little discussion since its release. – David
Kelly Lee Owens by Kelly Lee Owens
No album perfectly walks the line between ambient and minimal this year like Kelly Lee Owens’s self-titled debut. Owens’s ethereal vocals blend perfectly into her airy synth work, with just the smallest sprinkling of percussion to keep these 10 tracks grounded. Owens is able to keep her simple songwriting from growing boring by shifting up her styles ever so slightly over the 46 minute runtime, capturing a soundscape of a distant, cold, and mechanic future. A slight pop sensibility underlies the whole album, keeping the melodies interesting and a nice break between the more atmospheric tracks. Hopefully Owens’s self-titled debut will be the first of a long string of dystopic yet euphoric electronic albums to come. – Chandler
Brutalism by Idles
The next few years will see its fair share of political albums given the current political landscape, and few albums have offered more political outrage over the last decade than the debut of UK post-hardcore outfit Idles. Frontman Joe Talbot gives an unmatched vocal performance, offering some of the most biting satirical and provocative lyrics of the year in his beautifully disgusting snarls and shouts. The instrumentation matches Talbot’s intensity perfectly, with some of the best straightforward guitar work from a UK group in recent memory. If you’re looking for the soundtrack to your next protest or march, look no further than this UK group’s encouraging debut. – Chandler
David Arroyo is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chandler Copenheaver is a senior majoring in public relations. To contact him, emaill email@example.com.