by Richard Southard
Since December has arrived, I thought I would go ahead and share my personal favorites of this year. Yes, I know that the year isn’t actually over yet, and there could very well be a release this month that could change my feelings. But it’s close enough, and since I won’t be an editor by then, it’s probably the best time.
If you’ve kept up with the previous “Musical Fridays” posts up to now (good on you, if you have), then some of these choices might be familiar to you. In fact, I’ve actually foreshadowed some of them to be “album of the year” contenders. Other choices are more sudden, especially the ones that have released this semester.
Of course, compiling these into a post was difficult, even after months of contemplation. I believe the final choices (which I’ve actually put into order) are the best in which I can come up with. I’ve gauged each album by its overall quality and how much I’ve enjoyed it (which I do believe is separate from quality). While many albums I’ve heard this year have been new to me, the ones in this list are all released in 2017. They are the choices from this year, after all.
Without further rambling, here’s my best-of-the-best
5. Bing & Ruth – No Home of the Mind
This is my newest discovery on this list. I’ve only been listening to this album for a few weeks, but it has made enough of an impression on me to where I can confidently place it as number five. The ambient piano arrangements on this are astounding. Every track has a calm, yet strangely intense atmosphere that is distinct and moving. If I had more time to listen and meditate on this one, it may have been higher up. But at this point, it is more of an instant favorite. I don’t see anything wrong with putting it among the others.
4. Mount Eerie – A Crow Looked at Me
Of these five, this is the album I’ve replayed the least. As I’ve mentioned in “My Musical Safari” post, it is tragic on a level that is sometimes difficult to handle. But I also find it difficult to not mention as a highlight, as I can’t think of another album that has made such an impression on me. Instrumentally, it is simplistic and raw. Lyrically, it is outstanding. There are lines that have stuck with me only after one listen. It is a depiction of grief that is bleak, painful, and crushing. And for those reasons, it is also one of the truest.
3. Ulver – The Assassination of Julius Caesar
As I was going through some of my favorites from this year, I didn’t expect this one to stand out as much. It turns out I’ve replayed it more than many others. I had not heard an album from Ulver until this one (as it turns out, they have many styles to hear), but it stuck with me none the less. It’s an excellent, synth-lined new wave album with great vocals and rhythms. Some of the more electronic moments even have a dance vibe, and at other points, it’s more experimental. There is a very surprising variety in only eight tracks.
2. Brockhampton – Saturation
I knew this would be up here. The question was if it would be number one. While I proved to like the next album more, it’s still a hip-hop project at its finest. Seven members all contribute to seventeen tracks that bang, bump, or otherwise flair with excellence. If you would like to hear more on this album, check back in time to my hip-hop post a few months back. I could go into pages on how awesome it is. But I’ll leave it at that.
1. Various Artists – Mono No Aware
Sixteen artists, sixteen tracks, all highlights of this amazing compilation. Every artist contributes something unique making this album a real experience to listen to (even after the fifth time, in my case). Since it has many contributors, I pondered if that makes it fair to put it as number one. But I’ve come to see that as just another quality. And since the tracks on here are exclusive to it, it’s not really a “greatest hits” or anthology album. The genre is listen as ambient, but that word feels very loose considering the different sounds throughout the project. I haven’t said much on the actual sound because I find it difficult to describe in words. All I can confidently say is that it’s my musical highlight of the year. Beyond that, I’ll leave to you to discover.
It’s been fun making these posts throughout the semester. I have enjoyed music for a long time, and being able to share and write about it has been something I’ve looked forward to. While this won’t be my final post of the year, it will be my last one on music. Next week, it will be more of a “farewell” sort of post.
Thanks for read, and I hope you have enjoyed the music!