Believe it or not we are half way through 2017. Yes only half way. We started this year with Barack Obama as President. We think Moonlight won the Best Picture Academy Award. The world learned that 2016 was the hottest year on record (that is not a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese). There was a Muslim Tavel Ban. Then there wasn’t. Then there was if you have no connections in the U.S. Serena Williams becomes greatest Tennis player of all time while pregnant.
The FBI remains front page news. Black Sabbath retires. Adele declares her love for Beyonce (who should have won Album of the Year). Mr. Beyonce, Jay Z, becomes the first rapper inducted into Songwriters Hall of Fame. Dylan finally received his Nobel Prize. Tupac was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Macron (easily) wins election. The world falls in love with Trudeau and continues to worry about North Korea, Syria, Iran and Russia. Musicians united to pay tribute to Manchester.
Like Billy Joel said, “We didn’t start the fire, It was always burning since the world’s been turning.” It’s been a wild 6 months and we assume it will be an even crazier next 6 months. Here are our choices for best albums of 2017 (so far). We decided to put this list together because we are not sure any of them will end up on our list at the end of the year because the first half of the year has seen some fucking awesome music. Interestingly, we have not seen any tweets from President Trump on any of these albums (yet). Perhaps he does not like music as much as we do?
Here are our “winners” in their own words.
DAMN. – KENDRICK LAMAR
“I like to put a lot of different things and wordplays and messages in my music because I want it to live further than two weeks…”I always felt like God used me as a vessel, whether to share my flaws, my intellect, my pain…[I’ve] always been a vessel. I can say the nastiest thing on record but I still feel like that’s [being] a vessel. You need to hear it. I can’t sugarcoat the reality.” – Kendrick Lamar to Zane Lowe of Apple’s Beats 1 Radio
BISHOP BRIGGS EP – BISHOP BRIGGS
“I sat in my car and listened to a voice memo that I had from our first session which was a song called “River.” In that moment, I just thought even if no one hears this I feel so fulfilled because it was the first time I actually felt like myself in my music and in my writing. I’ve been writing for so many years but it wasn’t until I started working with [Mark Jackson and Ian Brendon Scott] that I felt like I was authentically myself.” – Bishop Briggs to Sonic Highlark, Highlark.
BIG FISH THEORY – VINCE STAPLES
“It’s not something that I think people will truly comprehend right away” – Vince Staples to Joe Coscarelli, The New York Times
MELODRAMA – LORDE
“It was just ‘melodrama,‘ that’s what it was. It’s like this spooky universe picks the day and gives it to you, and you can’t imagine it being anything else.” – Lorde to Alex Morris, Rolling Stone
DEEP DREAM – DADDY ISSUES
“We wanted to sound a lot cleaner because we rushed through a lot of our first tracks on our first tape Can We Still Hang. We wanted it to sound perfect, almost, this time. I think we wanted the songs to be a little more mature but still have the same attitude behind them. We wanted to push ourselves to do better musically and try new things that even though they were hard when we were writing it, the more the played we’ve played it, we’ve gotten better at it. Overall, we just wanted it to sound like a step up from the last thing we put out.” – Jenna Moynihan to Stephanie Stoneback, UPROXX
CTRL – SZA
“I never really talked about relationships in a direct way…I used to be very metaphorical, very figurative, and also just kind of scared to talk about the way I felt in a literal way.” – SZA to The Breakfast Club
SOMEWHERE IN BETWEEN – VÉRITÉ
“Sometimes I just have this feeling where I think I’m never going to write again…There was actually a period of time where I felt I would never write another song again. I thought, ‘I’m not capable of writing!’ But the album had to be done, so I sat down and wrote like, two songs in ten minutes. I had this panic attack and crisis where I was like, ‘I’m worthless!’ But then it comes quickly all of a sudden.” – VÉRITÉ to Erica Russell, Pop Crush
SWEETSEXYSAVAGE – KEHLANI
“A lot of people are so pressed about certain weird titles and weird accomplishments that really don’t mean shit, that you can’t take with you after this life. I’m just trying to be successful in my own terms and be happy and be healthy and that’s it. I’ve definitely grown up faster, and seeing a lot of crazy shit go down definitely just made me focus on the bigger picture.” – Kehlani to Dan Hyman, ELLE
THE ORDER OF TIME – VALERIE JUNE
“It takes time when you’re going toward a dream. It’s a journey more than it is immediate gratification, especially when the songs create worlds for me… each one has a world that I go to when I write it, and I hope that when I share it with people that they can get a taste of what the world that I visited was like, you know? And all of that is part of the time and the process of waiting and getting it right.” – Valerie June to Ilana Kaplan, Nylon
COLLIDING BY DESIGN – ACCEPTANCE
“If you’re just reuniting for reunion shows, that’s gonna lose its luster pretty quickly…We took money from the shows we were playing and invested it into self-funding the record; we booked [producer] Aaron Sprinkle and started writing songs… As those funds started to get low, we partnered with PledgeMusic and people pre-ordering the record helped us finish it.” – Christian McAlhaney to Chris Payne, Billboard
I SEE YOU – THE XX
“The fact that there’s not a huge amount of business or things going on, it kept us pretty clear…It’s an inspiring place to be. The beautiful skies, the earth… We were united.” – The XX on recording in Marfa, TX to Madison Vain, Entertainment Weekly
INTERPLANETARY CLASS CLASSICS – THE MOONLANDINGZ
“A soundtrack to all the other people you love dying in 2017. It’s a very sexy album!” – Adrian Flanagan to Cecilia Dinwoodie, Cool Brother
“[What] I’m really excited for my fans to know about this album is how outrageously much of a control freak I really am…I haven’t slept in six months, but it’s totally worth it because everything [will] hopefully make [my fans] so happy. I hope that they’re proud of me when they hear it, and they know that it came from my heart, and that it was all real and me.” – Halsey to Nicole Mastrogiannis, Iheart.com
HOT THOUGHTS – SPOON
“Some of the lyrics came to me after watching attack after attack of one sort or another, be it just strictly guns or terrorism or whatever. Seeing attack after attack and just feeling a lot of, you know, sadness and empathy.”
“I was kind of flat-lined “I think that if it weren’t for Taylor, the band would be over. I’m tired of losing friends; I’m tired of doubting myself. Maybe if I’m not doing it at all there won’t be anything to doubt. My heart is tired.” – Hayley Williams to Zane Lowe for Apple Music.
DRUNK – THUNDERCAT
“Being black has always been a job of having to prove your worth. There’s a joke I always have when stuff is getting weird: “It’s because I’m black, isn’t it?” And sometimes it’ll make somebody laugh, and sometimes it’ll really stick like, “Oh, crap, it really is because I’m black.” I do think you have to laugh to keep from crying as a black man.” – Thundercat to Torri MacAdams, Fact Magazine
CITY MUSIC – KEVIN MORBY
“I’ve always been really interested [in fiction]. I’m a big fan of The Mountain Goats, for example, because [John Darnielle] writes [from the perspective of] a lot different characters. When you’re a writer, obviously if you’re writing fiction, there’s bits of yourself or bits of people you know, or your day-to-day life in that. But you can explore that and move a little bit freer inside of it.” – Kevin Morby to Leah Mandel, Fader
NEAR TO THE WILD HEART OF LIFE – JAPANDROIDS
“We wrote more songs and recorded more songs, and when it came down to putting it together again, it was just kind of the same thing. You take one off there and another one off there and it just kind of glues itself together in a way where it is just a better listen start to finish. Technically it’s our longest record. It’s actually longer than our first two records. Somehow the eight song formula just kind of worked for us.” Brian King to Michael Tedder, Stereogum
SOMETHING TO TELL YOU – HAIM
“We literally do what we do. There is no other way we can write songs. There is no other way we can produce songs. We won’t finish a song until it sounds exactly like how it sounds in our brains.” – HAIM to Nolan Feeney, Entertainment Weekly
WHAT NOW – SYLVAN ESSO
“It was like remembering how to ride a bike a little bit, while playing a bunch of new stuff at the same time, but we were so ready to change gears and feel a chapter-change happen” – Sylvan Esso to Roisin O’Connor, The Independent
 REFLECTIVE (PART 1) – BASSNECTAR
“I just want to catalyze human connectedness, health and happiness in a general way across platforms and let people run with it as they see fit. You’re never gonna save the world. You’re never gonna achieve all of your dreams at once the way that you dream them, so I kind of let go of the specifics.” Bassnectar to Kat Bein, Billboard