2017 Albums of the Year: Honorable Mentions

Earlier this year, I made an effort to keep track of every album (regardless of release date) I listened to in 2017.  I gave up around May, but maybe I’ll try again for 2018.  By the time I called it quits, I’d listened to 122 albums, and upon reviewing the list, I did see a bunch of albums I did really enjoy but forgot about.  My best-of list will feature my top picks of albums that stuck with me from the time they came out until now, but these honorable mentions were also pretty great albums that I feel deserve some recognition.  In no particular order, some of the other great albums from 2017 are:

Lil Peep-Come Over When You’re Sober (Part One)

The morning I found out about Lil Peep’s death was strange.  I’d liked some of his songs, but his music hadn’t really grabbed and held me like it had for others.  I still felt sad, mainly just seeing someone younger than me die of an overdose.  I went back and listened to this album again that day, and I was surprised by how much it resonated with me.  Lil Peep is the sort of artist I wish I had when I was fourteen, because it’s relatable and catchy.  It really makes me upset that I wish I could’ve seen what else he could’ve done, not just for music, but for young sad kids that I do see a lot of myself in.

Black Kids-Rookie

Black Kids’ first album in nine years was a lovely return to form.  It’s an easily danceable indie-rock record with a bunch of quotable lines.  “Iffy” and “Obligatory Drugs” are perfect examples of how Black Kids maintain the same energy that could’ve left them an indie one-hit-wonder.  Continue reading

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Adult Mom-Soft Spots

When Soft Spots was announced, I’d just about forgotten about Adult Mom.  Sure, Steph Knipe’s project had some catchy tunes, and they released one of my favorite records of 2015, but looking back on Momentary Lapse of Happily, it’s replay value was limited save for a few songs.  Knipe has not only improved as a songwriter, they’re much more vulnerable and personable on Soft Spots.

The most noticeable change to this Adult Mom album is the warmth of the production.  “J Station” is incredibly homey, while narrating a despondent breakup.  Even the closing track, “First Day of Spring,” despite Knipe discussing their not being ready for warmth, sounds like a friendly record to play under your covers on a cold day.  “Full Screen” has many more fleshed out tones than the barebones of Happily.  The touches of xylophone and synthesizer expand the track in the minutest way to perfectly compliment Knipe’s melancholy acoustic song.  “Drive Me Home” is another example of a song that builds around Knipe’s repetitive, manic vocals.

Besides being a better sounding record, Knipe is much better as a lyricist on Soft Spots.  There are much fewer cheeky, cliché references like “it’s okay to kiss girls!” on Happily, but there’s still a tongue-in-cheek nature to a song like “Full Screen,” which begins with Knipe asking:

“Do you full screen your porn?

Do you think about me

as you watch her crawl across the floor”

A song like “J Station” shows Knipe developing stories through their songs recalling one more go with an old lover, but ends with perhaps the coldest line of the album: “I’ll be sad you were ever in my life in the first place.”  Knipe’s vocal performances on these songs are much more emotive than on their debut or Sometimes Bad Happens, and it really puts Adult Mom ahead as an interesting artist within the punk community.

On their second full-length, Adult Mom really takes the next step into creating remarkably comforting music.  Listening to this record sounds like the way Chris Gethard describes The Smiths during Career Suicide, as the type of music that could only grow and the meaning could expand through the ages, as a constant spot that only grows to take on new meanings as you grow older.

James Crowley

Tiny Engines raises donations for Planned Parenthood and Southern Poverty Law Center

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The independent label has followed in the footsteps of Run For Cover Records and Aaron West and placed all their music on Bandcamp to “pay-what-you-want” with proceeds going to Planned Parent Hood and The Southern Poverty Law Center.  Tiny Engines has released music by The Hotelier, Dikembe, Adult Mom (who was on our post-election playlist), and many more.  Listen and donate via Bandcamp.

10 Songs for 4 years: A Playlist for a Trump Presidency.

Now, the polls have closed. Clinton won the popular vote, but Donald Trump received the majority of electoral votes. He will be our next president. Eight years of progress will be undone once Trump takes office in January. While I legitimately do hope that Trump is a good president, my better senses tell me he won’t be. Even though it seems that no good can come of all of this, some of my favorite music came out of anger for politicians. Here are some songs for a Trump presidency:

Green Day-“Holiday”


American Idiot has been in heavy rotation today. Even though the title track is often used as the marker for discontent, “Holiday” is easily the most political fueled track on the album. Billie Joe has recently been altering the lyrics to include “Pulverize the Donald Trump Towers,” and just as Green Day amplified a nation’s disgust in 2004, this song still rings true. Continue reading