2017 was great and all, but let’s not forget that we also had some high hopes and let-downs. Here’s our verdict:
1. Arcade Fire – Everything Now, [Columbia; 2017]
By Adomas Fabin, Contributor
Arcade Fire unexpectedly stepped back onto the stage last summer with their newest album Everything Now, produced by Thomas Bangalter of Daft Punk (the way cooler silver robot if you’re wondering), creating a wave of excitement for fans craving a follow up to the 2013 hit album Reflektor. Unfortunately, what could have been their greatest album yet will forever hang on the bottom rung of Arcade Fire album rankings. Everything Now isn’t a bad album, it is, however, a bland and disappointing direction for the band to take after years of critical success. A few of the tracks are great jams to belt out in the car, but the album also contains one of their arguably worst songs yet, with the track “Chemistry” being aggressively cheesy and just flat out weird (in a bad way). At best Everything Now will make whatever Arcade Fire releases next seem (hopefully) way better.
Listen for yourself: Arcade Fire – Everything Now
2. Turnover – Good Nature, [Run For Cover; 2017]
By Devon Hannan, Editorial Director
After the unexpected and wildly successful release of Peripheral Vision, Turnover’s latest falls flatter than B.o.B’s understanding of planet Earth. While its predecessor has been described as having shoegaze elements, Good Nature is just plain old boring. In fact, this album isn’t shoegaze at all – it just makes you want to fall asleep. Every single hollow chord progression sounds the same, there are no changes in tempo or energy and the lyrics sound like they are coming straight out of the mouth of a dude-bro surfer.
The most disappointing part of this record is that it was destined to be really great. Peripheral Vision was an absolute banger of an album that literally led an army of other pop-punk and hardcore bands to change up their sound – and Turnover was one of the only ones to really pull it off. After Peripheral Vision, their 2016 double-sided single, Humblest of Pleasures, had a constant driving force, promissory that the band still good material to come. Even Good Nature had potential right up through its FIRST TRACK, “Super Natural”. Unfortunately, that’s where it ends. After such a knockout release, it’s hard to come to terms with the fact that Turnover may just be out of ideas.
3. Mac DeMarco – This Old Dog, [Captured Tracks; 2017]
By Adomas Fabin, Contributor
WARNING: INCREDIBLY UNPOPULAR OPINION AHEAD
This Old Dog is the incredibly disappointing follow-up to the moderately okay mini-LP Another One–that’s right kids, Mac DeMarco is just okay, get the nails and crucifix ready for me. A 13-track album with 12 boring songs, may cause the listener to wonder if they left Spotify accidentally on repeat. “A Wolf Who Wears Sheeps Clothes” has the workings to be a great song in the style of Bob Dylan, but instead sounds like a cheap imitation of the man. And if not already forgotten, there is the lazy filler track “Baby You’re Out”. No thanks. The rest of the tracks on This Old Dog fall exceptionally short except the yearning and keenly creative “Moonlight on the River”. In the end, DeMarco gave us a monotonous album and got a disinterested response. Hopefully, album #4 will be more rewarding.
4. Migos – Culture, [Quality Control / Atlantic; 2017]
By Eli Schoop, Copy Editor
Migos could do nothing wrong following the release of “Bad and Boujee”. They were the impossible kind of cool, the status where everyone knows your name and no one talks shit lest they look like a complete lame in the presence of gods. It felt like it would be an effortless task to release an album in the wake of this untouchability. Unfortunately, Culture turned out to be a re-hash of the weakest qualities known to the group, namely, a reliance on hit singles and a lack of variety. The usual charisma is there, but it isn’t the same as on No Label 2 and Young Rich Niggas, where the trio cockily and easily asserted themselves as the best group in rap. For the culture’s sake, let’s hope they get back to their assured dominance real soon.
Listen for yourself: Migos – Culture
5. Foster the People – Sacred Hearts Club, [Columbia; 2017]
By Justin Cudahy, Columns Editor
Foster The People, many will remember, is an L.A. indie pop group who found mainstream success back in 2010 with their hit, “Pumped Up Kicks”. It was the kind of a song that people would annoyingly brag to their friends about, believing that knowing all the lyrics was enough to be considered “hipster.” Sorry, I’ve been wanting to say that for seven years now.
Sacred Hearts Club is Foster The People’s third full-length album which at the time was looking to improve off their mediocre sophomore LP, Supermodel from 2014. For years now, the band has suffered from what seems like an identity crisis. With SHC, Foster The People go for a ’60s psychedelia approach, resulting in a mishmash of easily forgettable and underwhelming tracks that felt like a sucker punch to fans expecting to hear something more in line to their previous works. Not many songs stand out from the album, except maybe the annoyingly catchy “I Love My Friends” and “Loyal Like Sid & Nancy” which has potential, but even then, these songs emit mediocrity all around. It’s an exceptional album at best, but knowing the kind of potential Foster The People has, they could have done better.
Listen for yourself: Foster the People – Sacred Hearts Club
6. 21 Savage – Issa Album, [Epic / Slaughter Gang; 2017]
By Jon Fuchs, Music Director
Issa Album was a special kind of disappointing. Riding off the hype of previous successful mixtapes (like last year’s Metro Boomin collaboration, Savage Mode), an authentic album from 21 Savage was being anticipated from anyone who heard “No Heart” and realized we had a genius on our hands. But his debut album ended up being a collection of sleepy, underwhelming tracks that barely had anything to say. Sure, there are a few gems on the album, such as the incredibly depressing “Thug Life”, the ultra-hit “Bank Account” and the pop-rap banger “FaceTime”, but the amount of bland (and at times homophobic) lyrics all over the record do nothing to make the Atlanta rapper interesting in the slightest. Even the production credits from the likes of Metro Boomin, Zaytoven, Southside, Pi’erre Bourne and DJ Mustard remain mainly hollow, contributing very little to improve 21’s flow. Also, no one wanted to hear a god-awful 7-minute-long freestyle from this guy. No one.
Listen for yourself: 21 Savage – Issa Savage
7. Weezer – Pacific Daydream, [Crush; 2017]
By Maria Lubanovic, Staff Writer
There are many albums by seasoned artists that were terrible this year, but not many lived up to the disappointment of Weezer’s Pacific Daydream. Long story short, the album is lame. It fails to produce any sort of high point in its mess of fuzz and overproduction. The songs lack substance, and overall, it’s boring. Like I’ve said before, Weezer is supposed to be fun and goofy and lighthearted, but the quirk is totally missing from every track. It was also released in November, so it was hard to get on board with the summer-meets-back-to-school feeling that every track tries to nudge at. It makes for an album that is so forgettable that I had to re-listen to it. RIP me. I really like Weezer, which is kinda in bad taste in the first place, but at this point, after so many lackluster albums, it’s starting to make me look really bad. They used to be a defining voice of a generation, even if the voice was coming out of nerdy ass dudes who clearly enjoy memes. Pacific Daydream didn’t produce a single track with a strong voice and fails to throwback to a time where they had one.
Listen for yourself: Weezer – Pacific Daydream
8. Gorillaz – Humanz, [Warner; 2017]
By Sam Tornow, General Manager
- The Gorillaz announce their first album in seven years
- A ruthless PR campaign makes new fans flock to old fandom, making old fans let everyone else know that Demon Days was their first album.
- An anti-Trump teaser track is released on the eve of the inauguration.
- Collaborators include Vince Staples, Danny Brown, Kelela, Grace Jones, DRAM, Mavis Staples, Pusha T, Benjamin Clementine, Anthony Hamilton, etc.
- Five singles, all with accompanying music videos, are put out prior to the release of the album.
- A world tour is announced featuring a free record with every ticket.
- Humanz is released on April 28, 2017.
- Tracks on the album: 20.
- Full tracks on the album with no guests: 1.
- Publications fear the wrath of fandom and give the album high praise.
- Everyone puts one or two songs on a playlist and Humanz is never listened to in full again.
- The world patiently waits for the Gorillaz to release their comeback album.
Listen for yourself: Gorillaz – Humanz
9. Beck – Colors, [Capitol; 2017]
By Hunter Bych, Contributor
If the music from commercials were able to reproduce, this entire album would be within that litter of commercialized-bullshit. Most of the tracks tend to sound overproduced yet underdeveloped making the listener think, “Was this made to play during a Target ad?”. Nothing truly memorable comes from Colors apart from a couple of earworm choruses that may stick in your head. Even then, those get forgotten quickly.
What makes this truly disappointing is the fact that Beck is behind this. The 13th album from the 30-year music veteran does fit with his style of experimentation, but it plays with none of his strengths or even seems that comfortable for him. Having a few songs that are different from the norm or follow the mainstream is justifiable, especially for a tenured artist. It is extremely risky to focus an entire album on these concepts. As when the album blows up in your face, it really messes up your image people have of you.
Listen for yourself: Beck – Colors
10. Lil Yachty – Teenage Emotions, [Quality Control / Capitol / Motown; 2017]
By Eli Schoop, Copy Editor
It’s one thing to claim yourself as the King of the Teens. It’s another to actually lay claim to that throne. Lil Yachty has had a meteoric come-up recently, with hit singles culminating in a Sprite endorsement. But when it came to his major-label debut, the 21-year-old ran out of steam too quickly regarding the actual music. Credit where credit is due, his vision and ambition is boundless–hip-hop stands next to synth-pop and pop-punk as genre experiments. Yet, Yachty’s creativity cannot match the actuality, and Teenage Emotions results in a hodgepodge of loose ends with no climax in sight.
Listen for yourself: Lil Yachty – Teenage Emotions