Sunday, December 17, 2017

The Top 30 ALBUMS of 2017: Part III (#1--10)...

An outstanding year for the album, especially the artistic type. These ten (10) albums present ten different perspectives, all fascinating, all reaching deep into humanity and what makes us tick. Here they are:

1.Kendrick Lamar DAMN: Kendrick Lamar traded the jazzy density of his 2015 album, “To Pimp a Butterfly,” for tracks built with stark loops on “DAMN.” But he hasn’t pared back the dexterity of his rhymes or the scope of what he sets out to address, which encompasses his Compton neighborhood, his career, American politics, spiritual matters and the state of hip-hop. (NEW YORK TIMES)

2. Benjamin Clementine I Tell A Fly: Upon inspection of his visa allowing travel from Europe to America, Benjamin Clementine stumbled across five intriguing words: “an alien of extraordinary ability”. Those five words acted as the catalyst for Clementine’s second studio album, I Tell a Fly. Initially conceived as a theatrical play, this wildly unpredictable and dramatic record - informed by Clementine’s nomadic experiences and the current geopolitical climate - narrates the tale of two flies in love, exploring and learning about the world together before they part. (THE LINE OF BEST FIT)

3. SZA Ctrl: How complicated is modern love? Factor in desire, intimacy, self-consciousness, competition, lies, the internet, jealousy, mixed allegiances, loneliness, rhythm, economics, gossip, insecurity, selfishness and unselfishness, and they lead to the perpetual negotiations that SZA details throughout the shadowy, fitful grooves of “Ctrl.” The songs suit slow-dancing all alone, wishing for that elusive true partner. (NEW YORK TIMES)

4. Kelela Take Me Apart: Take Me Apart feels as if Kelela is taking the different ingredients that have characterised her music to this point and forming them into an honest whole. This honesty extends to the album’s crowning glory: her voice. No longer mannered in style or tone, it is rich and warming, reminiscent of Janet but also of Aaliyah, another pioneer who made music that also worked in conventional terms. (THE GUARDIAN)

5. Ty Segall Ty Segall: For someone with roots in a genre—garage-punk—that puts a premium on gritty authenticity, Segall has become increasingly fond of artifice, be it the Bolan-via-Barrett faux British accent that’s become his default vocal tic, the silver-lipstick vamping, or his use of Emotional Mugger as a vehicle to masquerade as a surrogate band and terrorize morning news programs. And that mischievous zeal is the glue that ultimately holds this album’s disparate pieces together, particularly when they collide in the same song. (PITCHFORK)

6. Perfume Genius No Shape: Mike Hadreas' goth-glam songs of longing uncoil like someone who's waited a long goddamn time for things to go right; when they finally rise to a crescendo, the release is thrillingly palpable. They do this often on his fourth Perfume Genius LP, which by his standards feels startlingly optimistic, with pop and rock tropes queered into dreamlike scenarios. "Go Ahead" conjures "Kiss"-era Prince and mid-Sixties Dionne Warwick ("say a little prayer for me/Baby") over dyspeptic electro-funk. "Die 4 You" is goth Sade, while the darkly ecstatic "Wreath" invokes Kate Bush ("Running up that hill/I'm gonna peel off every weight") over harpsichord gilt. (ROLLING STONE)

7. Sampha Process: Throughout Process Sampha captivates with his voice—a unique thing that I can only describe as gospel meets celestial—over a self-produced sonic landscape that feels like muffled crying meets CD-ROM meets tribal celebration. He harnesses all of these elements into an impressive, cohesive debut album. (COMPLEX MAGAZINE)

8. St. Vincent MASSEDUCATION: The hefty programmed beats, emphatic electronic hooks and gargantuan choruses of current pop are the framework that Annie Clark, a.k.a. St. Vincent, chose for songs about pleasure, fame, lust and drugs — and their extreme, even deathly consequences. The songs ended up cryptic and emphatic, tragicomic and bold: taking things to the limit in taut three-minute packages. (NEW YORK TIMES)

9. Thundercat Drunk: Thundercat produces consistently smooth music, solidly based in jazz and funk but with a yacht-rock sheen, synth stings and nerdy as fuck lyrics (he namedrops both Dragonball Z and Mortal Kombat)—shit that the next generation’s Dr. Dre will want to sample the hell out of. Just 33, the artist also known as Stephen Bruner became the bassist of Cali punk-metal legends Suicidal Tendencies at 16, before work with Flying Lotus led him to become a major collaborator on Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly. On Drunk, his third solo LP, it’s clear he’s found his groove. We’re in it too. (COMPLEX MAGAZINE)

10. King Krule The Ooz: Details that seem to provide levity -- "Man this band that's playin', is playing fucking trash" among them -- have a way of heightening the sense of inescapable dread. No matter that feeling, illustrated with one distressed scene after another, filtered through a multitude of inspirations and a few bodily fluids, The Ooz is a completely engrossing work from a one-off. (ALLMUSIC)