Honorable Mention Albums of 2017
As 2017 wraps up, the CommRadio Arts Department will be taking a look back at the year in music. For honorable mentions, the albums placed on this list were great albums that just missed making it on our top albums of the year list. Here is the Arts Department’s honorable mentions list of 2017.
Father John Misty – Pure Comedy
In a musical year dominated by mainstream artists and short-lived trends, Josh Tillman, a.k.a. Father John Misty, released one of the most ironic albums of the year. On his third studio record Pure Comedy, Tillman criticizes society through lyrics that touch on a universal sense of greed, climate-change and even the quality of modern day entertainment. Some have called Tillman out for sounding pretentious on this album, but that plays into his fundamental tone that is a mixture of both sarcasm and seriousness. The people who criticize Tillman for his arrogance are oblivious to the humor that underlies the tracks of this album. It is clear that this was written as a diss, but also as a tip for Americans to start putting more emphasis on what is really important in the world. Pure Comedy is a record that will be remembered years from now for the crucial topics it explores and also for Tillman’s carefree attitude while singing about these issues. – Jenna Minnig
Fleet Foxes – Crack-Up
It takes guts for an artist to experiment with their sound in the way Fleet Foxes have with Crack-Up. Coming off a six year break from a set of universally critically acclaimed projects, Fleet Foxes took their signature sound of folk-pop songs bathed in chamber instrumentation and evolved it into a fully matured progressive and psychedelic folk sound. Crack-Up may not offer the immediacy or comfort found in the pastoral compositions of their self-titled debut or Helplessness Blues, but it succeeds in planting the seeds for more artistically ambitious records in the future. While at times it struggles to overcome its dense songwriting or lack of emotional variety, Crack-Up nevertheless offers some of the most beautiful folk moments of the year and proves than Robin Pecknold and company are far from reaching their true artistic potential. – Chandler Copenheaver
Future – HNDRXX
Since the release of DS2, Future has gotten rather stale. Release after release saw the same drugged out Future mumbling his was through some hits here and there, but trying nothing new. On HNDRXX, Future finally seems to be moving on with his life. He raps about love, the consequences of it and how someone can move on. It is still the same codeine using and braggadocios Future, but this is a new sound. It is a sound that Future has dabbled in before, but was never willing to take the full, headfirst dive in. The production is spacey yet vibrant, a start contrast from the dark production of nearly every other Future release to date. DS2 saw Future partying like there was no tomorrow because it felt like he truly felt that way. On HNDRXX, Future has finally found that tomorrow. – David Arroyo
Milo – Who Told You To Think??!!?!?!?!
Milo’s confidence finally catches up to his artistic ambition on his third studio album. Though never afraid to offer personal and revealing lyrics on prior projects, Who Told You To Think??!!?!?!?! is where Milo’s true passion comes fully into play. He’s a force to be reckoned with over the jazzy and experimental production. A better balance is struck between his abstract bars and socially/politically conscious themes, with tracks like “Take Advantage of the Naysayer” and “Rapper” offering philosophically complex ideas in the context of mainstream cultural subjects like Method Man’s “Bring The Pain” and Pokémon Go. Though Milo offers the tongue-in-cheek line “I’m probably not the rapper for you,” few underground hip hop artists have been able to fully come into their own artistically with the same success as Milo. – Chandler Copenheaver
The National – Sleep Well Beast
Correcting their course after 2013’s disappointing Trouble Will Find Me, The National’s seventh studio album Sleep Well Beast showcases the band returning to the solemn songwriting of Boxer with a more diverse and expanded sonic palette. The use of spaced-out electronics perfectly matches with Matt Berninger’s solitary and depressive lyrics, offering some of The National’s most significant artistic growth in their entire career. Though one or two tracks in the nearly hour long runtime feel more like filler than a cohesive part of the project as a whole, The National have nevertheless found a new direction to fully embrace on their next project in their career long goal of creating some of the most depressing and defeating albums of the independent music scene. – Chandler Copenheaver
Power Trip – Nightmare Logic
Metal, no matter the genre, is a hard sell to most people. It is hard to understand the appeal if not trained for that style of music, but that should not push people away from the trash metal album Nightmare Logic. Power Trip have always been described as a band you do not understand until you seem them live, but this album disproves that. Over eight tracks, Power Trip aggressively slices through everything they hate in the world and does so in a way that just makes you want to punch a hole in the wall. This album is head knocking to the extreme; the kind of music you cannot help but rage to. Of all the metal albums, this is easily one of the easiest to enjoy even if you do not like that style of music. It is fun despite the clear anger in the instrumentation and vocal performances and forces people to confront some of their biggest fears head on. Power Trip has perfected their sound, while simultaneously changing what thrash metal can and should be. – David Arroyo
Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell Live
2017 has been nothing short of great releases from the indie powerhouse, but nothing shined brighter in Sufjan’s prolific release schedule of the last year like Carrie & Lowell Live. While fans expected less pristine and more intimate versions of the already quiet and collected acoustic ballads of 2015’s Carrie & Lowell, Sufjan instead breathes entirely new life into these songs with lush progressive electronics and a full backing band. Where these songs once felt like Sufjan grieving the loss of his mother, Carrie & Lowell Live expands them into an ethereal direction that feels like an acceptance and celebration of the memory of his mother. Musically diverse and stunningly crafted, Sufjan has found the next evolution in his sound and delivers one of the most beautiful and ethereal albums of the year. – Chandler Copenheaver
Syd – Fin
Taking a brief stint away from the excellence R&B group The Internet, lead singer Syd came through with one of the most sensual R&B releases of 2017. Syd simultaneously builds on some of the great sounds of Timbaland era R&B and the work she has done with The Internet for a beautiful release. She sings about her sexuality on many songs, providing anthems for both the lesbian community and every male who thinks they know what it is women want. Her love for her crew shines through on several tracks as well, showing off her prolific abilities. As an album she called “an in-between thing” before the next The Internet album, Syd came through with one of the best R&B of the year. – David Arroyo
The Underachievers – Renaissance
On their third studio project Renaissance, the Underachievers play close to their Brooklyn roots. The rap duo of Issa Gold and AKTHESAVIOR blend a true school style with a bombastic new age sound. The complete production and overall smooth style on Renaissance earn them their spot on this list. Despite the independent group’s lack of radio play, the album still peaked at No. 34 on Billboard’s Top 50. Trap inspired, pre-released singles “Gotham Nights” and “Crescendo” stand out as the album’s most commercially successful tracks, but Renaissance features a lot of other appealing tracks in between its bangers. On “Phoenix Feathers” and “Break the System,” Issa and AK rap with a more personal flow, commentating on life and the oppression of poverty. The album follows a steady dualist progression, which builds up slowly and then evolves into something else. It’s a steady album on which the group finds strength returning to its routes. – Sam McQuillan
Young Thug – BEAUTIFUL THUGGER GIRLS
There is little to say about Young Thug that hasn’t been said already. On BEAUTIFUL THUGGER GIRLS, Young Thug continues to use his high pitched and at times hard to understand voice to fascinate listeners. He experiments at times with more minimalistic, guitar instrumentations that really allow for him to show off his singing ability. Although not the strongest singer, the uniqueness of his voice allows for him to thrive on these kinds of tracks. Despite their being less hits compared to prior albums, Young Thug still finds a way to advance hip hop to place it has never been and show that he is an artist that will be remembered and revered for generations to come. – David Arroyo
Jenna Minnig is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email at email@example.com.
Chandler Copenheaver is a senior majoring in public relations. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
David Arroyo is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.
Sam McQuillan is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Contributors
Senior / Broadcast Journalism
Senior / Public Relations
Senior / Broadcast Journalism
Jenna is a General Manager of CommRadio where she manages the student radio station.