RoundOnEndHiInMiddle
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Last Active 01-11-18 7:07 pm
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 Lists
01.11.18 Round's Favorite 101 Albums of 2017 01.06.17 Round's Favorite 101 Albums Of 2016
01.04.16 Round's Favorite 101 Albums of 2015 05.01.15 New Avengers Movie
10.18.14 Top Ten Gy!be Songs06.20.14 Atmospheres In Music
06.12.14 Nba Finals On Sput03.26.14 Awesome Albums With Little To No Exposu
02.14.14 Electronic Digs01.25.14 Sentimental Classics?
11.08.13 Favorite Album Openers08.14.13 Current Digs
07.23.13 Currently Digging07.08.13 Albums I've Listened To This Week

Round's Favorite 101 Albums of 2017

2017 was... ...a year, that's for sure. Hope you guys had a good one.
101The Japanese House
Saw You In A Dream


(Genre: Dream Pop/Ambient Pop/Indie Pop) Gorgeous if not all that original hazy, dreamy indie pop. Though that closer really is quite great. Best song: "Count To Nine"
100Priests
Nothing Feels Natural


(Genre: Art Punk/Post-Punk) Some very solid and occasionally really wonderful art punk, politically minded and musically skilled. Best song: "Pink White House"
99Chxpo
emo savage


(Genre: Alt-R&B/Cloud/Trap) On which Cleveland's own Chxpo, one of the hardest working rappers in the game, channels his inner Peep and explores his more emotional side. Best song: "4am In LA"
98Chepang
A Tale Of Wildfire


(Genre: Grindcore) Some of the fastest grindcore of the year from a group of young upstarts. Doesn't vary much, but makes up for that with relentless intensity and anger. Best song: "Falame Fokso"
97smokepurpp
Deadstar


(Genre: Trap/Industrial Hip-Hop/Southern Hip-Hop) Kind of a smorgasbord of everything the south-Floridian trap scene has been up to lately. Stays very consistent throughout and the closer has a beat to die for. Best song: "RIP Max"
96Martin Kuchen / Johan Berthling / Young Noble
Threnody, At The Gates


(Genre: Free Jazz) Some very talented improvisers come together and create an album that spends almost its entire time off of the rails, in a good way of course. The tones here are really sharp. Best song: "Gate 1"
95Ski Mask The Slump God
YouWillRegret


(Genre: Trap/Southern Hip-Hop) The most talented rapper out of Members Only, bar none. Dude hits some absolutely insane pockets on his flows during this thing, and his clever pop-culture references never seem to get old. Hooks can be somewhat of an issue here, though. Best song: "Bird Is The Word"
94Red Death
Formidable Darkness


(Genre: Crossover Thrash/Hardcore Punk) And once again Red Death comes through with some crossover thrash meant to rip your face off. The energy is high, the tempo is fast, and there's even some moments that you wouldn't expect to hear, all in a nicely-wrapped twenty-four minute package. Best song: "Slashed To Bits"
93Amine
Good For You


(Genre: Pop Rap) One of the more underrated XXL freshman members of the year. I kinda get a Chance/Gambino feel from a lot of these tracks, and the production here is actually really fun. Dude also name-drops Fela Kuti, so he gets cool points for that. Best song: "Sundays"
92Au-Dessus
End of Chapter


(Genre: Atmo-Black/Post-Metal) To be honest, I don't even know what prompted me to listen to this, but I'm glad I did. The strong and passionate playing style on both the guitars and the drums combines wonderfully with howling vocals and some surprisingly competent clean vocal sections. Solid stuff. Best song: "X"
91WifisFuneral
Boy Who Cried Wolf


(Genre: Trap/Southern Hip-Hop) wifisfuneral is one of the most naturally talented members of Members Only, and this tape of his, on which he spits his best rapping performances yet, is pound-for-pound the best work in his young career. A cohesive and remarkably consistent effort. Best song: "Eyez Low"
90The Myrrors
Hasta La Victoria


(Genre: Heavy Psych/Psychedelic Rock/Psychedelic Folk) Some of their best work here, and though it does follow the formula they've been working with for a while, few other bands use said formula and do it half as well. Sprawling, psychedelic, evolving, sweltering heavy psych jam sessions. Best song: "Hasta La Victoria"
89Brockhampton
SATURATION III


(Genre: West Coast Hip-Hop/Pop Rap) Undoubtedly the worst out of the trilogy, but still an enjoyable listen even if their schtick is getting predictable by this point. They do nail more of the chiller songs on here than before, but at the expense of their harder tracks. That said, it is impressive that they can make music this well in such a short time. Best song: "BLEACH"
88David Rawlings
Poor David's Almanack


(Genre: Americana/Country Rock/ Country Gospel) Pretty solid and decently varied work from Dave here. There's a nice influence from Appalachian folk that comes through on several of these songs, and the general catchiness of the material helps make this an easy and fun listen. Best song: "Guitar Man"
87Deniro Farrar
Guilty Until Proven Innocent


(Genre: Trap/Southern Hip-Hop) The best of Deniro Farrar's EP's this year, with a ton of low-end and a political edge to it that actually holds a fair amount of weight to it. Deniro himself is still spitting vivid descriptions of the life he lives(d) and the people involved in it as great as ever. Would love a full-length or tape soon. Best song: "2am"
86Chris Stapleton
From A Room: Volume 2


(Genre: Country Rock/Country Soul/Country Blues) The second of two solid-as-a-rock country albums from Chris Stapleton, this one is probably the more consistent, but it lacks the highs of its predecessor. Still, this is some of the most well-done country of the year, comforting and lovely. Best song: "Friendship"
85Chris Stapleton
From A Room: Volume 1


(Genre: Country Rock/Country Soul/Country Blues) This one ranks just a bit higher than its successor, mainly because the opener here is the best song Chris has ever written. Other than that, it's very much in the same vein as its successor, and gets the job done in much the same way. Best song: "Broken Halos"
84Converge
I Can Tell You About Pain


(Genre: Mathcore/Sludge Metal) This is actually the first new Converge release I've heard since I began listening in late 2013. It's only two tracks, but they're both pretty swell, one being an absolute burner and the other being one of their more sludge/post-metal-influenced tracks. Best song: "Eve"
8321 Savage, Offset and Metro Boomin
Without Warning


(Genre: Trap/Southern Hip-Hop) Not as menacing or violent as the cover suggests, but still some enjoyable Halloween-y trap from some well-established players. Offset really spits here, 21 Savage is his usual unfazed self, and do I even need to say Metro's production is great? You should probably just assume that by now. Best song: "Ric Flair Drip"
82Radiohead
OKNOTOK 1997-2017


(Genre: Art Rock/Alt-Rock) Even their so-called "throwaways" are great. This compiles some unreleased material along with material from their singles and EP's around the mid-90's, and they're typically great. Pretty much all of them sound like an equal mix between their first three records, which is an interesting sound. Best song: "Lift"
81Uli K
Uli Loves U


(Genre: Cloud/Alt-R&B/Latin Electronic) And I love you, Uli. Been one monster of a year for Bala Club, and Uli K is most certainly at the forefront of it all. This EP collects some loosies and a remix, and they're all pretty good, but "Itami" reigns supreme, acting as an anthem for the emotionally despondent. Best song: "Itami"
80The Body and Full Of Hell
Ascending a Mountain of Heavy Light


(Genre: Drone Metal/Power Electronics/Industrial) My least favorite full-length involving Full Of Hell, and that should speak to how high-quality they are as a band. The Body is a slight bit better, though they're two very different bands. Despite these differences, for the second year in a row they've made a remarkable collab record, this time leaning towards the experimental side of both groups rather than just the punishing side. Best song: "Didn't The Night End"
79Lean Left
I Forgot To Breathe


(Genre: European Free Jazz/Jazz-Rock) This is one of those free jazz albums where the emphasis isn't on flailing horns, a web of technical bass lines, and spastic drumming. Rather, the emphasis is on restraint and a whole mess of tension. This lends itself to some breathtaking moments, mainly because you're expecting a massive explosion of noisy jazz that more often than not doesn't even exist. Best song: "Groove For Sub Clavian Vein"
78XXXTENTACION
Revenge


(Genre: Trap/Industrial Hip-Hop/Lo-Fi Indie) Yes, really. Dude's been falling off ever since he went to prison back in October of 2016, but his material from late 2014 to early 2016 is quite captivating in my book. That's what this comp is mostly made up of, though there are a couple clunkers, and it illustrates his versatility as an artist, a quality which he used to know how to use quite well. Nowadays, not so much. Best song: "I Don't Wanna Do This Anymore"
77August Burns Red
Phantom Anthem


(Genre: Progressive Metalcore) This is probably as tight as their songwriting will ever get unless they somehow tap into a vein they haven't touched in eight years. Everything flows much better this time around, and the pacing has also vastly improved from the last outing. Seems like every four years they release a great album with an underwhelming one in between. Here's to another great one in 2021! Best song: "Coordinates"
76Bladee
Working On Dying


(Genre: Alt-R&B/Cloud) For all intents and purposes, this is a collaboration between Bladee and Working On Dying, which was founded by four marvelous producers in Oogie Mane, F1lthy, Loosie Man, and Yun Forza. Naturally, this is a match made in heaven, as both parties and most of the features do quite well. This is definitely Bladee's best work this year, and although it can't quite top the D&G comp (thanks to Thaiboy Digital and Ecco2k), it's still a mesmerizing listen, as if it'd be anything but. Best song: "Gatekeeper"
75bladee x ECCO2K x Thaiboy Digital
D&G


(Genre: Alt-R&B/Cloud) Whereas a lot of Bladee's stuff here sounds like leftovers from Eversince (though that's not exactly a bad thing), the spotlight shines on Thaiboy Digital and Ecco2k, both of whom have some of their best moments as artists on this thing, "Climbing" and "GT-R" as respective examples. whitearmor's production is still pretty good and sets the tone and mood excellently even if it's becoming somewhat predictable by now. Best song: "GT-R"
74Kiasmos
Blurred EP


(Genre: Microhouse/Ambient Techno) With their first works, Kiasmos used a sort of "winter wonderland" trope, making icy ambient techno/microhouse with a freezing sense of wonder rather than emotionlessness. With this EP, the duo allow warmth and comfort to enter the fray, and in doing so tread ground they haven't walked on yet. It's nice to see the duo beginning to evolve their sound a bit, even if the differences are mainly just in tone rather than song structure. Best song: "Paused"
73Lil Peep
Come Over When You're Sober, Pt. 1


(Genre: Alt-R&B/Cloud/Emo-Pop) This may not have been his best work, but it unfortunately takes on another meaning after his death, and in that context, it's really saddening to hear. Nothing about this romanticizes depression. R.I.P. Gustav Ahr. Best song: "Benz Truck"
72Purefilth
Unhuman Forms Prevail


(Genre: Deathcore/Slam Death Metal) The slams take up about forty percent of the music, so it's not nearly as slam-centric as most slam albums are. Purefilth makes up for this by churning out some timely and almost always infectious riffs, usually laced with pinch harmonics, with some of them even lending some melodicism to the music. The vocals are pretty excellent, exactly the kind of stuff this style requires if not being very idiosyncratic at all. Best song: "Parasitic Coitus"
71Gucci Mane
DropTopWop


(Genre: Trap/Southern Hip-Hop) Undoubtedly the Gucci Mane project of the year. Although I'd still say WOPTOBER is Gucci's best post-prison work, this comes pretty close. The consistency is ridiculous; Gucci raps his butt off on most every track here, with a solid array of flows to choose from. The features really kill it as well, and Metro Boomin' continues providing the goods, with "Tho Freestyle", "Met Gala" and especially "Loss 4 Wrdz" ranking among his best beat work of his unsurprisingly successful year. Best song: "Loss 4 Wrdz"
70The Black Dahlia Murder
Nightbringers


(Genre: Melodic Death Metal) Finally: a TBDM album that combines the ferocity of Unhallowed with the catchiness of Nocturnal and the slightly more forward-thinking material of Everblack. I wouldn't say it's their best record, but it's certainly their best in a while, with their songwriting reaching up towards peak form again. The production can be a little muddy, but it's definitely made up for with the non-stop intensity and infectious melodicism that TBDM so effortlessly work with. Best song: "The Lonely Deceased"
69G Herbo
Humble Beast


(Genre: Drill/Gangsta Rap) Though I prefer Welcome To Fazoland and Ballin' Like I'm Kobe both, Herbo comes through with another ultra-consistent streetwise work of drill, and also pays a bit of an homage to the gangsta rap of decades past. He's as confident and passionate as ever, and his descriptions of living an illegal life in his city are still very potent and easy to imagine. He's gonna need to shake things up a bit on his next work, but I have no qualms calling his debut LP a winner. Best song: "Malcolm"
68Robert Finley
Goin' Platinum!


(Genre: Blues Rock/Deep Soul) I think this is one of the first records that Dan Auerbach produced, besides his material with The Black Keys, that I really, really enjoy! Robert Finely goes for this deep soul kind of sound here, and it works because not only does the man have a really wonderful voice, as exemplified on every track here, but he also has a knack for arranging the songs well. It's nice to see someone who can perform wonderfully using only the basic roots of soul/blues rock, even in 2017. Best song: "Holy Wine"
67Diamanda Galas
All the Way


(Genre: Vocal Jazz/Piano Blues) This is perhaps Diamanda's most conventional work yet, as the record is mostly made up of covers of blues/jazz standards, but she provides so much personality and charisma with her unmissable and unmistakable vocal prowess. More conventional though it may be, I wouldn't exactly call this easy to listen to, as it's still got the strangeness that any Galas work has coursing through its veins. Crazy how it's been almost forty years and she's still going strong. Best song: "Pardon Me, I've Got Someone To Kill"
66Kamasi Washington
Harmony of Difference


(Genre: Spiritual Jazz/Soul Jazz) Granted, it might not be the sprawling conceptual beast of a modern day jazz album that was The Epic, but there's an impressive beauty found in this EP's relative simplicity and easy-going nature. The tones sound wonderful no matter the instrument, and the arrangements are still very fluid and flowing, each section sounding like a perfectly logical progression of the last. Washington himself really tears it up on the sax throughout, oftentimes parlaying tender, bluesy sections into swingier, more upbeat ones. Solid, if not occasionally brilliant work. Best song: "Truth"
65Adamn Killa and Killavesi
Lover Not a Killa


(Genre: Alt-R&B/Cloud) It makes me smile to hear this. We'll talk about Adamn later, though his contributions to this EP are typically strange and awesome. Killavesi, who is Adamn's girlfriend and fellow artist, does an excellent job here with what just might be her best singing. She's really beginning to come into her own as an artist, and with her man, as well as plenty of Bala Club, to accompany her, her potential is very, very high. And let's not forget to show some love to D33J, Different Sleep, and co. on the production. Best song: "Just For You"
64ESPRIT
200% Electronica


(Genre: Synthwave/Hypnagogic Pop/Chillwave/Vaporwave) Perhaps one of the best in the business at this style, Esprit, otherwise known as George Clanton, makes synthwave to lose yourself in. It functions a lot like an instrumental version of its spiritual predecessor 100% Electronica, which keeps the wondrous atmosphere that record employed going strong here. Suffice to say, it's impressive that he can conjure such intoxicating feelings and images from this stuff. Best song: "Play That Thing Again"
63Malibu
Gold of Nightfall


(Genre: Ambient Pop/Ambient/Spoken Word) DJ Mix of the year, baby. Bala Club's got themselves another winner. This mix is one of the most pleasant and beautiful listens of the year, due in no small part to the genius that is Malibu. She's able to piece together all sorts of seemingly unrelated music and make them totally symbiotic. The best moment of this is when she sings the lyrics to Lana Del Rey's "High By The Beach" ("All I wanna do is..." sounds so much like "I don't wanna do this" and it's actually heartbreaking) over a repeating section of Matthew Bourne's "Isotach" whilst the bridge to 21 Savage's "X" is sampled a capella. Best song: The only one
62Chief Keef
The W


(Genre: Drill/Pop Rap) A victory lap of sorts for Chief Keef, as he's had one memorable year, but even without that context The W is a great tape. It's a shorter one, but it doesn't skimp on the strangely melodic, pop-sensible side of Sosa that has been one of his greatest virtues, as well as his idiosyncratic production choices. There's a few tracks that are pretty standard drill, but there's no questioning his prowess in that regard. Basically, whatever side of Keef you enjoy, you should find something to like here. Best song: "Milk Me"
61Jen Cloher
Jen Cloher


(Genre: Singer-Songwriter/Lo-Fi Indie) This is one of the most bare (lel) albums of the year, but that's not a vice; the songwriting may be pretty simple, but you don't need complexity when you can make even those simplest of moments resonant and memorable. There's an emphasis on the lyrics here, which makes sense given that the lyrics hold a lot of weight to them a belie Cloher's genuinely passionate nature. It's an easy, but still captivating listen. Best song: "Regional Echo"
60Washed Out
Mister Mellow


(Genre: Chillwave/Dream Pop/Neo-Psychedelia) For what it's worth, this is my favorite Washed Out project to date, and by a long shot my favorite LP from him. It's got the comforting vibes his music has always had, but this time with a couple interesting influences that he didn't showcase before, such as balearic beat. The best thing about it is that it's all wrapped up in a very succinct and easy-to-digest package, with the record lasting only just under a half an hour. Best song: "Million Miles Away"
59Paramore
After Laughter


(Genre: Alternative Dance/New Wave/Synthpop/Pop Rock) At their core, Paramore was just as much of a pop outfit as they were a rock one, delivering catchy song after catchy song like it was nothing. Now, the rock has been all but eschewed, with the band releasing the purest pop album they've penned yet. The songwriting isn't all that different really, just the instrumentation/production, but that's enough to give a fresh spin on their sound, especially when they're still excellent hook-makers. Best song: "Told You So"
58Clap! Clap!
A Thousand Skies


(Genre: UK Bass/Afro-House/Footwork) You really have to enjoy an electronic album that is as eclectic and well-versed as this one is. Clap!Clap! has always had a massive influence from various African folk music, and he continues his foray into a style known as "Afro-house" with songwriting/producing tact that would be foolish not to covet. Naturally, the atmosphere created as a result of this is one distinctly tribal and earthy, and with those infectious rhythms, it's hard not to be memorable. Best song: "Hope"
57Kodak Black
Project Baby 2


(Genre: Trap/Southern Hip-Hop) For my money, this is better than Painting Pictures. This is perhaps the most consistent outing Kodak has ever released, which is commendable given the length of the tape. It's still the Kodak Black we've become accustomed to, but I can't help but feel that he's really in a zone here, as he sounds as comfortable and confident as he ever has. That he does it all by himself aside from three or so features is also quite impressive. Best song: "Transportin'"
56Godspeed You! Black Emperor
Luciferian Towers


(Genre: Post-Rock/Drone) Definitely my favorite reformation-era Godspeed album. There's nothing here that hasn't been covered already by them, but the songwriting here is good enough that it renders that point insignificant. The drone tracks are perhaps the best drone they've made since reforming, and though the two post-rock tracks are pretty standard fare, this record still captures that feel that most Godspeed records have, with their most potent atmosphere since reforming. Well done. Best song: "Bosses Hang"
55Made to Break
Trebuchet


(Genre: Avant-Garde Jazz) This is absolutely delicious. Wanna know why? Groove, that's why. While there's a ton of spastic improvisation amidst spidery bass and quick drumming, as well as some isolated moments where electronics are thrown into the mix, there's several moments that go into straight up jam sessions, full of groove and catchiness, and even sometimes combining both of these dynamics to make a interestingly dichotomous and ultimately gripping avant-garde jazz spectacle. Best song: "Contact Sheet (For Susan Sontag)"
54Krallice
Loüm


(Genre: Progressive Black Metal/Technical Death Metal) Well, if there were any question as to Krallice's standing with the greater metal community, I think this collaboration with Neurosis' own Dave Edwardson puts it to rest. Dave does quite good, as expected, and Krallice continue an excellent string of albums with a record that matches Prelapsarian in songwriting prowess, while also delivering the tech-death moments that first made their appearance on Ygg Huur. Best song: "Rank Mankind"
53Kettenkarussell
Insecurity Guard


(Genre: Ambient House/Deep House/Microhouse) And here we have the studying album of the year, with Kettenkarussell coming through with six impressively consistent and very easy-listening ambient house journeys. It sounds very much like it's cover; watery and understated but calming and pretty all the same. It's definitely best listened to passively, but it's surely pleasant enough to stand on its own if you want to focus entirely on it and only it. Best song: "New York Blues"
52Bedwetter
Volume 1: Flick Your Tongue Against Your Teeth...


(Genre: Abstract Hip-Hop/Illbient) Waking up in situations, feeling like I'm living in suspended animation, I guess I'm still sober on occasion, and that's enough for me to rationalize inebriation. I told you I ain't right, you knew it going in, so just shut the fuck up if you wanna be a friend, I don't wanna stretch you more than you extend, I don't wanna spit in the hand that you lend. I did it to myself, I get what I deserve, thoughts in my head feel like a raw nerve, I'm looking for an answer, I don't wanna hurt, but I just wanna sleep when I'm tired of Earth. Best song: "Haze Of Interference"
51Full of Hell
Trumpeting Ecstasy


(Genre: Powerviolence/Deathgrind/Sludge Metal) This is probably my second least favorite full-length record involving Full Of Hell, with my least favorite being earlier on the list, but like I said before, they've got to be a high-quality group if this is the "worst" of their full-length material. They've got a deathgrind flair to them this time around, and they're at their best when combining said flair with their noisy brand of powerviolence, which they do plenty here. The sludgier tracks are pretty good too. Best song: "Deluminate"
50Brockhampton
SATURATION II


(Genre: West Coast Hip-Hop/Pop Rap) It's not quite as good as its predecessor despite being more consistent and having what is perhaps the group's best song so far in the anthemic "SWEET", but it's still a pretty great listen. It's got some pretty weird beats and a lot of charisma, and though it ends kind of awkwardly, there's a lot here to appreciate. For my money, I think Dom McLennon is the most conventionally talented emcee here, but it's no secret that Kevin Abstract is the most entertaining out of them all. Fun stuff. Best song: "SWEET"
49Almyrkvi
Umbra


(Genre: Atmo-Black/Space Ambient) I love the Icelandic black metal scene. Some really promising projects have come from the archipelagos of Iceland in the past few years, and Almyrkvi, the solo project of Sinmara's lead guitarist, is now a name to add to the totem pole. There's no shortage of spacey, winding riffs and windy drumming, but the quieter moments here that lean on space ambient is just as important. When those two combine, they yield some of the best moments in atmo-black all year, and cement this debut as one of the best to arrive from its respective scene. Best song: "Vaporous Flame"
48FKJ
French Kiwi Juice


(Genre: Neo-Soul/Trip-Hop/Nu Jazz) I love when a good buddy recommends you an artist that is legitimately great, especially one that you didn't even know existed beforehand. It's hard not to fall in love with this kind of stuff; liquid, sunny, and soothing neo-soul combined with some trip-hop production and nu jazz instrumentation. The songs all flow smoothly into the next, keeping the relaxing and chill vibes coming. I still have yet to find out if French kiwi juice is actually a real drink, but if it is I'm going to have to try it just because. Best song: "Joy"
47The War on Drugs
A Deeper Understanding


(Genre: Dream Pop/Heartland Rock) Not quite as good as Lost In The Dream, but it's still a wonderfully hazy slab of dreamy heartland rock with an atmosphere only slightly less enveloping. The songs are consistent all across the board here, and while there's not much on the same level as something like "Arms Like Boulders" or "Eyes To The Wind", this consistency is appreciated, especially because it allows the atmosphere to remain at full strength throughout the whole listen. They'll need to mix it up a little on their next album, though, if they don't want to become stale. Best song: "In Chains"
46Care
LUV IN THE RUINS


(Genre: Progressive Pop/Ambient Pop/Art Rock/Synthpop) This was the first record released in 2017 that I heard. It's a sprawling progressive pop escapade, with an atmosphere that feels and sounds almost exactly like it's beautiful cover. It tells a story of two New York City college kids falling in and out of love, and though that may seem somewhat corny, it's presented with commendable tact here. It also contains a Neon Genesis Evangelion reference in the form of "Unfamiliar Ceiling", so it kinda has to be up on this list. It's the same with The Inalienable Dreamless on a list of the best grind albums. Best song: "You Hallucinate"
45Bastien Keb
22.02.85


(Genre: Jazz Fusion/Neo-Soul/UK Hip-Hop) On one of the more obscure and eclectic records of the year, Bastien Keb showcases his range, and not just vocally. He delves into several genres of related subtleness; a relaxing fusion of jazz and neo-soul being the most prevalent, with also some singer-songwriter material and a couple of songs of quaint, downtempo-based UK hip-hop. It describes life according to the denizens of a large, constantly alive city, and the atmosphere the record gives off is a feel similar to said concept. Pretty stuff. Best song: "Pick Up"
44Wieuca
Guilt Complex


(Genre: Alt-Rock/Punk Rock/Garage Rock/Neo-Psychedelia) In the current landscape of alternative rock, there's not a whole lot of bands that catch my ear. Wieuca does, however, and they do it through songwriting ability that shouldn't be falling this far under the radar. The combination of rock styles, incorporation of electronics, catchy choruses, and a mesmerizingly psychedelic feel to the atmosphere makes this debut record of theirs quite the trip. They do lean on the established tropes here and there, but they easily make up for it with all of the aforementioned qualities. Best song: "Enamel"
43King Woman
Created In The Image Of Suffering


(Genre: Doom/Post-Metal) I'm really not the biggest fan of post-metal outside of some obvious exceptions, but I love what Kristina Esfandiari and company are able to accomplish here. An expansive production job highlights the gorgeous doom riffing and drumming, whilst Esfandiari continues to showcase her wonderful vocal talents, which seem to just be getting better and better as time goes on. The best improvement, however, comes in the form of heightened catchiness in the songwriting, making for an enthralling and memorable listen. Best song: "Hierophant"
42Death Grips
Steroids (Crouching Tiger Hidden Gabber Megamix)


(Genre: Glitch-Hop/Industrial Hip-Hop/Digital Hardcore) So, just when their sound was beginning to get somewhat stale, Death Grips pull out this surprise monster of an EP. It's hard to digest as a whole song, but the songwriting on display here is quite impressive, with some influences we hadn't heard them really flesh out yet, like digital hardcore and, yes, small doses of gabber. It's a needed shift in their sound, and hopefully this leads to more great things in the future. Best song: the only one.
41Krallice
Go Be Forgotten


(Genre: Progressive Black Metal) It's been a heck of a year for these dudes. This is definitely the most unique Krallice release, at least in the context of their discography. What's insane is that they accomplish this by leaning more on the conventional side of things when it comes to black metal. It's still got all of the hallmarks of a Krallice album, but instead of coldly calculated design, we're presented with something far more human and intimate. Honestly, Xenophanes' review of this record sums it up better that I could ever hope to. Best song: "Go Be Forgotten"
40Pallbearer
Heartless


(Genre: Doom Metal) Pallbearer has the uncanny ability to make their songs seem melancholy and uplifting at the same time, allowing the listeners to connect no matter which they feel at the time. The atmosphere can be constant in this regard, but it can just as easily be one that goes through a couple of shifts. Basically, depending on how you feel, you may not hear the same things twice. While this record treads a similar path as the ones before it, it's also around the same level of quality, which is great. Best song: "I Saw The End"
39Milo
Who Told You To Think?​?​!​!​?​!​?​!​?​!


(Genre: Abstract Hip-Hop/Jazz Rap) I like Milo because it's clear that he doesn't take himself or his place in today's hip-hop landscape very seriously, and has a way of displaying this through subtle irony and interesting lyricism. His flows are still solid enough, and the production here is the best stuff he's spit over yet. It takes influence from several styles of the genre that are older in nature and gives them a more modern spin, sounding like a natural evolution from those same styles of decades past. Best song: "Yet Another"
38Couch Slut
Contempt


(Genre: Noise Rock/Sludge Metal) This is not only a venomously-written depth charge of sludgy noise rock that takes pride in that it takes no prisoners, it's also a stark and sometimes hard-to-stomach look into the warped and unfair world of domestic abuse. It's gritty, teeth-gnashing stuff, and when you consider the notion that the lyrics may be firsthand accounts of such pain, not only do the vocals become almost overwhelming in their anger and frustration, but the whole album becomes absolutely gut-wrenching. Best song: "Summer Smiles"
37Lil Pump
Lil Pump


(Genre: Trap/ESSKEETIT) This is one of the dumbest (in a good way) things in rap this year, but it's also one of the most entertaining. The songs here are nothing but concentrated balls of energy, usually consisting of one or two verses with a delightfully repetitive and catchy hook. Pump sounds exactly like someone his age should: full of energy and hype, and he never lets that go throughout the entire tape. That it makes those "I only listen to REAL hip-hop" mouth-breathers' blood boil merely by existing is but only one of its virtues. It was only a matter of time before these Florida boys started gaining some traction in the mainstream. Best song: "Smoke My Dope"
36Cigarettes After Sex
Cigarettes After Sex


(Genre: Slowcore/Dream Pop/Ambient Pop) Many have criticized this record for being too samey, and while they're not wrong in the assessment that it's essentially ten songs that follow a strict formula, if the formula is as fantastic as the one Cigarettes After Sex employ here, it lessens the blow by a large margin. Especially if it's got a masterful, enveloping atmosphere that doesn't let up from the very beginning. Dreamy, ethereal, catchy, and ultimately stunningly gorgeous, I wouldn't mind another one of these in the future. Best song: "Opera House"
35Chelsea Wolfe
Hiss Spun


(Genre: Darkwave/Doom Metal/Ethereal Wave/Gothic Rock) Probably the most unique album in the context of Chelsea Wolfe's own discography. This is mainly because this is her heaviest and most metal-influenced album yet. In a way, it's like she's still writing the songs she's always wrote, but with different instrumentation and a heavier production job. Overall, it's hard not to fall in love with it if you liked Abyss, and fans of her softer material should still find things to adore about this one. Best song: "Twin Fawn"
34Tyler, the Creator
Flower Boy


(Genre: West Coast Hip-Hop/Neo-Soul) Odd Future's had a strangely-timed but welcome creative resurgence in the past year (shout out to Doms, Red Corolla just barely missed the list), and this is definitely the poster album for it. Far, far removed from the teenage spite and frustration of Bastard, Flower Boy is Tyler in a much more mature light while keeping a similar level of intimacy. The album sounds like Tyler rapping over The Internet's stuff, and while that may sound simple, it's actually a great listen. Hopefully, this resurgence continues. Best song: "Pothole"
33Diphenylchloroarsine
Post Apocalyptic Human Annihilation


(Genre: Sludge/Slam Death Metal) This one is a monster. It's definitely not a very varied affair, but who needs variation when you have an atmosphere made almost entirely of nuclear sludge and the sorry carcasses of all who were unlucky enough to be caught in its wake? The production on the guitars and drums is phenomenal for the style, and the vocals more than get the job done. Also, they sampled the siren from the first Silent Hill, which automatically makes them winners. Best song: "Asphyxiating On Hazardous Pollution"
32Information Flash
Ego Murda Sound


(Genre: Acid Techno/Outsider House/Jungle/Breakbeat) This is one of those albums that gain some traction early on in the year because everyone's scrambling to find a new album to listen to. Still, Information Flash have put together quite the eclectic record, full to the brim with different styles and sub genres of the greater electronic umbrella. Even with these different styles, the sort of gritty atmosphere stays completely constant throughout, impressively enough. Best song: "Early In The Mornin'"
31Cloakroom
Time Well


(Genre: Shoegaze/Stoner Rock/Emo/Slowcore) And once again the noted purveyors of the, as they call it, "stoner emo" sound give us a beautiful gift. The songwriting this time around is markedly more consistent, and the structures of the songs are less typical than before. The atmosphere is a gorgeous melancholy. Con said it best in his review; "this album sounds like someone reaching for the stars while they are trapped within the sedimentary earth, slowly sinking yet never crying for help". Best song: "The Passenger"
30Artificial Brain
Infrared Horizon


(Genre: Technical Death Metal) It always does my heart good to hear a band as unbelievably skilled with their instruments as Artificial Brain exercise restraint in their songwriting. It's technical, no doubt, but they don't write songs to 100% of their own playing power, allowing for genuine emotions to flow into the music, as well as having a few mid-tempo or even tranquil moments to help give the listener a rest before the next technical onslaught. These dudes haven't been around all that long, but they've quickly become one of the most exciting bands in technical death metal, and this record shows why in stunning fashion. Best song: "Anchored To The Inlayed Arc"
29Rina Sawayama
RINA


(Genre: Art Pop/Dance-Pop/Electropop) This was one of my last listens of the year, but I'm very glad I was able to fit it in. Though everyone, deservedly, talks about the excellent production job here from the ineffable and extremely creative Clarance Clarity, Rina Sawayama is fantastic here. Her voice is a nostalgic one; she sounds like she could've fit in to the late-90's-to-early-00's pop/R&B landscape almost perfectly (that she's an unabashed Britney Spears fangirl has a little to do with it, surely). Still, she adheres to the more complex style of production extremely smoothly, and ultimately gives the EP a whole lot of personality. Needless to say, hopefully it'll be a short wait for the debut LP. Best song: "Cyber Stockholm Syndrome"
28Sheer Mag
Need to Feel Your Love


(Genre: Garage Rock/Hard Rock/Power Pop) It's been a fantastic year for this up-and-coming Philly quintet. Their name is short for "Sheer Magnitude", and they play garage rock/power pop as catchy, upbeat, and addictive as they come. I was playing this album out loud while doing some housework, and I asked my father if he could guess what decade they were from. He guessed "either the late 70's or the 80's". It was a good guess, to be sure, because this album really does sound like it came straight from that era. This of course means the music isn't all that original, but that means little when the music is as thoroughly well done as this. Best song: "(Say Goodbye To) Sophie Scholl"
27Sheer Mag
Compilation LP


(Genre: Garage Rock/Hard Rock/Power Pop) As good as their debut LP is, I just couldn't put it over the compilation LP that came out very early this year which collects their first three EP's. It's more or less the same stuff, but try as they might, they couldn't top "Worth The Tears" with any song off of their debut. "Hard Lovin'" is also incredible. One thing I can definitely appreciate this comp for is that the songs flow together exactly like an album of songs does, which is always a virtue for a compilation. Some people really dislike Tina Halladay's vocals, for some godforsaken reason, but I find them absolutely lovely in most respects. Best song: "Worth The Tears"
26Four Tet
New Energy


(Genre: Ambient House/Downtempo/Folktronica) I never got the hype around Four Tet until last year when I heard Rounds for the first time, and though he wasn't going through his greatest stretch of albums at the time of this release, New Energy really is Four Tet catching a second wind. The intimate, almost playful atmosphere is a joy to be lost in, and the producing/songwriting here is about as serene and relaxing as anything else he's ever made. I love that he's begun to incorporate a legitimate ambient house influence in his music rather than small snippets of it on records past. One of the most pleasant surprises of the year in electronic. Best song: "Two Thousand And Seventeen"
25Yung Bambi
NVRLND


(Genre: Cloud/Alt-R&B) I know this just says by Yung Bambi, but it's blank body's project as much as his. Last time blank body did a collaborative EP with a rapper, Libra Season was bestowed onto the undeserving earth, and seeing as how he's one of the most creative producers today, it's no secret that he goes perfect with a versatile and charismatic auto-tuned-sing-rapper in Yung Bambi of Midnight Society. Cloud rap symbiosis at its finest. Shouts out to Matt OX (of Working On Dying) on the feature, kid might only be twelve but he's got a surprisingly good flow and "Overwhelming" is legitimately one of the most entertaining rap songs of the year. Best song: "No Light"
24Robot Bachelor
The Third House Boat Album


(Genre: Pop Punk) If you know who House Boat is, as you definitely should, you know they make some of the catchiest pop punk songs around. Robot Bachelor is a similar band, both being fronted by Garth Madden, and this album of theirs is basically the same level of quality. The production is excellent, with everything having a nice tone and a bit of a lo-fi feel to boot. Sure, Madden's vocals can be nasally, but if you can get past them (a ton of people can't, though I don't really get why), you'll uncover some hilarious and sometimes heartwarming lyrics and infectious vocal melodies. These are the type of pop punk records that deserve to be defended. Best song: "Up All Night"
23Loss
Horizonless


(Genre: Funeral Doom Metal) I'm sorry, I like Bell Witch as much as the next guy but Loss one-upped them this year with this monster. If that stunning artwork is anything to go by, you'd think you'd be in for an expansive, forlorn journey across the dying stars, and that's most certainly where Loss takes you here. There are moments of pure tranquility interspersed within the gloom to give the listener a break, which is needed on an album this long, and as such the pacing and songwriting are both really swell. Hopefully it doesn't take them another six years to put out another project, though at this point I'll take what I can get. Best song: "All Grows On Tears"
22The Dirty Nil
Minimum R&B


(Genre: Garage Punk/Power Pop) Comp of the year, baby. This is, bar none, some of the catchiest garage punk to come out this decade, and every single last song is a blast. I was singing along to them on only my second listen, they're that good. The singing is delightfully off-key in certain places, and the production helps give everything a nice, raw-ish feel. And those hooks, my lord those hooks. If you can listen to "F*ckin' Up Young" (which is one of my favorite songs of all time) or "Hate Is A Stone" without at least conjuring something within you that resembles a good feeling, you, my friend, are made of stone. Best song: "F*ckin' Up Young"
21Kaskets
Waves Of Ashes


(Genre: Instrumental Hip-Hop/Trip-Hop/Downtempo) This is a new project of Blue Sky Black Death's 88 Ultra A.K.A. Kingston and his labelmate Qreepz, and though it generally stays along the same course as many of BSBD's work, we haven't had a BSBD album in a hot minute and this record more than suffices. It's as layered as is it expansive and as relaxingly quaint as it is beautiful. Lush is the word here, and it describes the pianos, synths, horns, and even the guest vocalists on this thing. Everything on here lends itself to a feel of comfortable wonder, as if you're daydreaming with no immediate responsibilities making themselves known at the moment. Best song: "Justice"
20Arca
Arca


(Genre: Glitch Pop/Ambient Pop/Post-Industrial) Whereas most of Arca's works were alien in nature, with precious little in the way of forgiveness or easy listening, his self-titled work is a stark outlier. This album sounds personal, human even. The addition of his piercing voice on most of the tracks here has plenty to do with it, but the production also takes a more subtle, ambient-influenced route than the glitchy spasticness of records and mixtapes past. The end result is something that little expected, but surprised many. For my part, I feel that it's almost the perfect foil to the draining and violent Entranas, especially since "Sin Rumbo", astonishingly, works perfectly in the context of both projects. Best song: "Desafio"
19Spectral Voice
Eroded Corridors of Unbeing


(Genre: Death-Doom Metal) How would you like to be Paul Riedl right now? He's well on his way to becoming modern death metal royalty with albums like this and Blood Incantation's Starspawn under his belt. Needless to say, if you're a fan of modern death metal, your eye should be keen on this man. Spectral Voice go about things a bit differently than their sister band does, but that doesn't mean the bone-chilling, evil-doing spirit of death metal doesn't flow through their veins. It reminds me a lot of Inverloch's last record, only with more dimensions to the music as well as tighter songwriting. The production is humongous, but gives everything it's fair share of space, making it a very full listen. It might not be the most original thing, but it's done so wonderfully it hardly matters. Best song: "Visions Of Psychic Dismemberment"
18Heaven In Her Arms
White Halo


(Genre: Screamo/Post-Rock/"Blackgaze") I'm not going to go ahead and pretend that this is anything incredibly original, but I'm not pretending when I say this is the most emotionally resonant screamo LP of the year for me. I can't really pin down what makes it that way; all of the usual ingredients are there, but there's something extra to this, something not easily quantifiable. It may just be the emotional environment I was in when I first heard it. It may be because when I hear it all sorts of images and memories appear in my mind's eye that go absolutely perfect with it. It may even be that absolutely gorgeous album cover. Who's to say? Whatever it is, White Halo captivates me, and I suppose that's all it really needs to do to be a great album. Best song: "Abyss Of The Moonbow"
17Devouring Humanity
Eradication of Living Human Shit


(Genre: Slam Death Metal) Though it's only Brian Moehler this time, once again anything the Moelher brothers touch turns to disgusting slam carcinoma. This particular record is quite unique in the context of their works; usually the production is far less clean and the songwriting far less coherent. This is basically Brians tribute to the godfathers of the subgenre and a venomous indictment on pedophiles (who seem like an obvious and easy target, but it just goes to show: even people who write albums like Driving My Fist Through Her Chest have their limits). Still, this is some of the most schizophrenic and haphazard slam out there despite this relative cleanliness, and that's never a bad thing, especially when one or both of the Moehler brothers are involved. Best song: "Guilty Are Butchered And Burnt"
16Vince Staples
Big Fish Theory


(Genre: West Coast Hip-Hop/Hyphy/Hip House) Were it not for Vince Staples' relatively common flow and that clear, clean delivery, this record might've been a bit of a mess. The production is like very few things that anyone with a following like Vince's does, and accepts influences from a wide range of styles. You can definitely tell the songs apart from each other, and though sometimes the production can get a little too crazy for its own good, Vince is there to be the steadying hand; without him, this album has no theme, no rhyme, no reason. It would be practically wholly incoherent. It's not something I'd call legendary, but there's no reason not to believe that he's really on to something here. If there's one thing he does well, it's making sure his sound stays fresh. Best song: "Yeah Right"
15Brockhampton
SATURATION


(Genre: West Coast Hip-Hop/Pop Rap) This ones definitely the best. BROCKHAMPTON garner a lot of comparisons to Odd Future, but I'm not sure why; musically there's a bunch that separates them, and though BROCKHAMPTON has brought some hype, if you remember back in the early 2010's Odd Future was nearly omnipresent in most hip-hop circles. Still, this fact doesn't serve to discredit what BROCKHAMPTON does here; this stuff is packed to the brim with personality and charm, and unlike plenty of hip-hop collectives, you can easily tell who's who just by paying the slightest bit of attention, which is something that they and Odd Future actually do have in common. Basically, this is the best version of BROCKHAMPTON, like SATURATION II's big brother. They sound very similar, but this one is just more infectious and charming. Best song: "FAKE"
14Ondatropica
Baile Buacanero


(Genre: Cumbia/Latin Jazz/Caribbean Folk/Valleneto) And here we have the jazz album of the year. Ondatropica utilizes an eclectic mixture of South American jazz styles and fuses them with South American folk music as well as reggae, dub, and Caribbean folk. It's one of the funnest records of the year bar none, with all sorts of catchy melodies, infectious choruses, danceable swings and rhythms, and a distinctly Caribbean beach feel. It sounds like an open, outdoor bar on the side of a beach with live music and tons of dancing. The feel of it is understandably intoxicating, and the range of styles makes sure nothing ever becomes boring or disengaging. Needless to say, this collective is one of the best jazz collectives out there today and this album of theirs helps prove it. Best song: "Soy Campesino"
13Kendrick Lamar
DAMN.


(Genre: West Coast Hip-Hop/Conscious Hip-Hop) It's not quite as good as the two albums before it and just a shade below the debut record, but DAMN is still a very high-quality record, and that's become something people expect all of his music to be. Kendrick does a lot of different things in a lot of different styles here, and although there's not an overarching story like GKMC or a singularly potent atmosphere like TPAB, this isn't Kendrick on cruise control. Rather, this is him honing his skills in versatility even more, testing his own limits in certain styles. The thing is, he's very proficient in each of them, never sounding out of place. You could call it scatter-brained, but the reality is that the music is unified through its overall theme and structure. It's not a classic record, not by a long shot, but it's still a very satisfying listen. Best song: "GOD"
12King Krule
The OOZ


(Genre: Art Rock/Neo-Psychedelia/Nu Jazz/Trip-Hop) The OOZ is a reference to when King Krule was known as Zoo Kid, which is Dik Ooz backwards. Still, Archy has come a long, long way since then, and this record proves it. It holds the same wonderful eclecticism he's always operated with, but the flow of the album is definitely the best so far in his career. These songs are all like sketches or drawings on a number of pages, all presenting differing ideas but being unified under a general theme. Marshall's voice and lyrics, both of which betray the problems of feeling listless and living monotonously, are a huge driving force behind the album, and though it may seem "chill" on the surface, it's actually anything but; it's anxious, angsty, and frustrated if anything. Everything looks like it's going alright, but behind the scenes it's in turmoil. How he's able to make his music mirror that is no small feat. Best song: "The OOZ"
11Pretend
Circular Ræsoning


(Genre: Post-Rock/Math Rock) I had fully expected and was fully prepared to wait another six years for another Pretend masterpiece, but it turns out I only had to wait a year and a half. These guys make some of the most intricate stuff around, but this isn't some self-aggrandizing display of technical prowess; this is a display of some of the best songwriting in guitar music today. Each and every note flows perfectly on to the next, the shifts and progressions of the songs sounding as organic and natural as possible. The vocals are airy and soothing, and while the guitars have a twinkly sound for the most part and the drumming is fluid, not noisy, this album does lend itself to some heavier, more explosive moments. They're not crescendos either; you can't really tell when they're going to happen, making them all the more effective. Amazing band. Best song: "Longer Repose"
10Lorde
Melodrama


(Genre: Art Pop/Singer-Songwriter) On which Lorde channels her inner Kate Bush and crafts a modern pop masterpiece... again. As I've said before, if Pure Heroine was acting as if you didn't care about anything and you were king of the world, then Melodrama is realizing that you've definitely cared about a lot of things all along and even royalty can feel low. The fact that she's only twenty-one and she's making as mature of pop music as this is crazy. The production is more varied than before, but so is the songwriting, fluctuating between sharply-crafted art pop, beautiful singer-songwriter, and anthemic electropop. She's really becoming a powerhouse in modern pop music, and anyone could've seen this coming since "Royals". Best song: "Liability"
9Shamana
outdamud


(Genre: Plunderphonics/Experimental Hip-Hop/Instrumental Hip-Hop) Great to see that Cleveland can still produce a fantastic musician or two (shout-outs to Chxpo). You might know Shamana for "Dolphin Splash It When I Whip It" or "SAINT LAUREN", but even though neither of those beasts end up here, this is still a marvelous work. The beats are all lo-fi, but they're very well-crafted, and the atmosphere the album possesses is intoxicating. One of the weirdest, but surprisingly effective things he does is include samples from ASMR (talking, stepping on leaves, etc.) which gives a strange, but sort of trippy feel to the tracks they appear on. The sample work here in general is fantastic, and the juxtaposition of these samples with the production is, again, intoxicating. Definitely one of the coolest beat tapes out there, and it doesn't seem like Shamana's going to slow down anytime soon. Best Song: "3 Days 3 Days"
8Yung Lean
Stranger


(Genre: Cloud/Alt-R&B/Ambient Pop/Art Pop) This is more or less just ambient pop according to Yung Lean and it's incredible. This is the most mature project he's ever conceived, not just from a songwriting standpoint but from a lyrical one as well; his observations and emotional explanations give a more frank look into who Jonatan Holstead is as a person. While Warlord explored the dark, vice-driven side of Lean, this record explores the more introspective and level-headed side of him. He's never done anything quite like "Agony", and though the description of it as a "Yung Lean piano ballad" may be off-putting to some, he pulls it off so well it's like he'd been doing it for years. And of course, Gud and Sherm do their thing (especially Gud, my goodness) and give the record that classic personality everything they work on has. Best song: "Agony"
7Mount Eerie
A Crow Looked At Me


(Genre: Indie Folk/Singer-Songwriter/Slowcore) I find it hard to write about or even listen to this kind of stuff. It's not because it's not great; it totally is, but I just feel like this is just so personal and bare that it just feels weird assigning an arbitrary number to it. It's like I'm reviewing a eulogy or something. So in lieu of writing about it, I just want to say that it's really moving, and it's something I think everyone who's interested in indie should hear, just because it's one of those rare albums that capture grief at its most potent and stark. R.I.P. Genevieve Elverum. Best song: "Soria Moria"
6Julien Baker
Turn Out The Lights


(Genre: Singer-Songwriter/Slowcore/Indie Folk) Julien is bae. I don't care if she doesn't like men. I'd heard Sprained Ankle about a year after it was released, and what I didn't expect was for the music to be about drug addiction and depression. Can't judge a book by its cover, right? I generally knew what to expect this time around and I was still floored by it. That's an incredible quality to have: if your audience can tell what the general direction is going to be and you wow them anyway, you've got some serious skill. What Julien Baker skills are is obvious: singing that makes you tear up, lyrics that make your heart ache, and the songwriting to make sure it all flows out perfectly. She's one of the most gifted singer-songwriters around today, and she's still so, so young. I'm looking forward to more. Best song: "Everything That Helps You Sleep"
5Converge
The Dusk in Us


(Genre: Mathcore/Hardcore Punk/Sludge Metal) This is the safe choice for AOTY, but I'm not about safety right now, so don't fasten your seatbelts and get ready for another phenomenal Converge record. At this point, if you were expecting anything less from these four wonderful dudes, you're beyond help. Converge is to metalcore what Tom Brady is to football and what Lebron James is to basketball: no matter how old they get, they never seem to lose a step or skip a beat, and if they do lose something, they compensate by fine-tuning everything else they do. I'll admit, I wasn't all that hot on "Reptilian" when it first came out, but after "A Single Tear" came rushing through the speakers, any lingering doubt they couldn't pull it off again was annihilated with prejudice. The amount of passion, of just sheer determination to continue driving forward, is absolutely ridiculous, especially when they've been going for nearly twenty-five years. All hail. Best song: "A Single Tear"
4Chief Keef
Thot Breaker


(Genre: Pop Rap/Drill/Alt-R&B) Of all the rappers in the game who've had a successful year, I'd have to give it to Sosa over anyone else. Two Zero One Seven had some fantastic highs though it was inconsistent (it just barely missed this list), I talked about The W already, and Thot Breaker? This is the most important thing Sosa's made in three years. Basically, this is Sosa beating some of the newest popular rappers in the game at their own game, while adding a twist all his own. Case in point: you could argue (and you'd be right) that this single-handedly rendered Lil Yachty completely redundant the second it dropped. And have any of those goofies made a beat half as memorable and strange as "Whoa"? The answer is no. Sosa re-affirmed himself as one of the biggest influencers and most high-quality artists in hip-hop today with this one. Need I say more? Best song: "You My Number One"
3Adamn Killa
I Am Adamn


(Genre: Cloud/Drill/Alt-R&B) This was my AOTY for the longest time. I talked about Killavesi more the last time Adamn showed up on this list because his time is right now, at number 3. Adamn Killa is a massive outlier in Chicago's rap landscape. Just by taking one look at him you know he's made it a point to be different and stand out, but that's not merely an image. He lives life with that philosophy, and his music is a marvelous product of this. With production handled by the likes of Shlomo, 8tm, Dolan Beats, and Ryan Hemsworth, it's incredible that the album sounds as cohesive as it does, with Adamn acting as the glue that holds it all perfectly together. His vocals are at their best here, especially on fan-favorite "Piss In The Sheets", and he works with a decent amount of flows plus a single ad-lib as memorable as it is omnipresent. Basically, ol' boy is one of the most idiosyncratic players in the game today, and if you gotta respect that. Best song: "Roseland Baby"
2City of Caterpillar
Driving Spain Up A Wall


(Genre: Screamo/Post-Rock) Never thought I'd ever hear anything from these guys ever again, but every year has its surprise comebacks. The studio version of "Driving Spain Up A Wall" is probably my least favorite song from them if we're only counting this EP and the LP, and that's really only because the playing isn't as passionate and the production isn't as gritty. The songwriting is still phenomenal, though. The real treat here is "As The Curtains Dim (Little White Lie)" which is such an amazing song that it could've fit on the LP perfectly. Everything that made City Of Caterpillar the most emotionally potent of those screamo/post-rock bands is on full display here, and it's breathtaking. With that said, it's definitely my track of the year, and it also makes this EP the EP of the year when combined with the title-track. Best song: "As The Curtains Dim (Little White Lie)"
1Uli K
Goodbye + Goodnight


(Genre: Cloud/Alt-R&B/Latin Electronic) I wasn't in a good place when this tape was released, but it helped take the edge off. The main thing that draws me into it so thoroughly is that Uli's description of depression is nearly parallel to my own experiences. The production, handled by the likes of Mechatok, Malibu, and others is hard to describe. It sounds like everything's happening in a dark room, with each little synth line or piano key putting a barely luminous light of varied colors in the room, all the while revealing the sad, broken person that lies on the floor staring at the ceiling, too low to even move. It’s music that sounds like the person who made it has already made their mind up: they're unfixable, and eventually, likely soon, they will die. And the worst part is, coming to terms with that brings a peace they haven't had in a long, long time. In many ways, Goodbye + Goodnight sounds like that peace. And it's absolutely heartbreaking. Best song: "Anyone But You"
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