Top 5 EP’s of 2017

5. Vic MensaManuscript

manuscriptMensa decides against reinventing the wheel here, and instead presents a tight, four track effort which simply bleeds Chicago style. Sporting a dense rhyme structure, Manuscript is heavily reminiscent of Rap’s golden age, as well as looking forward with more complex themes. Most notably, Mensa chooses to forgo the trap style for the majority of the EP, a decision which I believe will be revealed to be quite wise in a few short years and the trap phase finally dies off.

Ultimately, fans likely aren’t looking to this EP as an indicator of the future as Mensa already boasts an impressive discography. Manuscript is simply a quick, hard hitting, Rap project which fulfills it’s purpose of being fun hype music quite effectively.

4. WristmeetrazorI Talk To God…wrist

I’ll be the first to admit that I am woefully undereducated when it comes to the modern state of hard rock and heavy metal music. I couldn’t tell thrash from death from black metal no matter how hard I try. That being said, I know a fantastic and emotional record when I hear it, and Wristmeetrazor’s debut EP is just that.

Sporting only four songs, the record is a forceful, melodic, and a fun listen! Heavily reminiscent the hardcore rock of the mid to late 90’s, this EP. and likely it’s forthcoming sequel, is a perfect experience for fans of groups like Pantera, who have had trouble taking to modern metal music.

3. Allison YoungOld Friend

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This EP is just fun. Young is quite clearly influenced by classic female country artists like Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn, most notable on her cover of The Andrew Sisters’ 1941 single, “I’ll Be With You In Apple Blossom Time.” The project is highlighted by whimsicalinstrumentation, impressive lyricism, and one extremely enjoyable vocal performance after another from Young.

The aesthetic of this record is consistently pleasing and enjoyably nostalgic. With the promise of other, larger projects on the horizon, one can only hope for an equally light-hearted tone and respect for the roots of country music.

2. Kamasi WashingtonThe Harmony Of Difference24kamasi1-articleLarge-v3

The modern king of Jazz music, saxophonist one extraordinaire, Kamasi Washington came through in the final moments of this year with an incredibly tight and motif heavy project that simply built upon an already impressive early career. Obviously, the much longer closing track was a highlight, but the rest of the record offered quite an interesting listen.

As far as a future full length project, Harmony provides little in the way of foreshadowing. In many ways, the record is just a shorter and more accessible form of the ideas which Washing put forward on his debut LP, The Epic.

1. Denzel Curry13denzel

After 2016’s Imperial, Denzel was on the top of the upcoming freshman class and enjoying a massive amount of hype, which he didn’t disappoint when he started 2017 with the 13 EP. Dark instrumentals, sparse hooks, and Denzel’s signature, hyper-aggressive flow drive a fantastic five-track piece. Lyrically, Curry is in top form, allowing his dense rhyme schemes to drive and his violent lyrical content to steer for an excellent project overall.

If this EP is any indicator, fans can expect a long and powerful run from the young Florida rapper. Standing out worlds above his contemporary’s, Denzel stands to be the most successful artist to come from the 2016 Freshman class, and to, hopefully, join the ranks of Kendrick, Chance, Cole, and a select few others who are at the very top of the genre.

MANUSCRIPT:

OLD FRIEND:

I TALK TO GOD:

THE HARMONY OF DIFFERENCE:

13:

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Top 5 Albums of 2017, So Far

5. From A Room – Chris Stapleton

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Alt Country Superstar, Chris Stapleton shocked the music world in 2015 with his debut album, “Traveller.” The record was truer to the country form than any record that had hit the mainstream in the past decade, and refreshed many old school country fans. Stapleton’s hotly anticipated follow up features much more original work and is arguably even better than his debut. Though the ending was a bit of a whimper, the record overall is one of the most enjoyable of the year so far.

4. Lemon Cotton Candy Sunset – Richard Edwards

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Full disclosure, I have a soft spot for subtle records, and with the first solo release of his decade and a half career, Richard Edwards of Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s comes through with a beautifully somber collection. When the record wants to whisper, it makes you lean in, when it wants to scream, it blows your hair back. Overall, the record explores the topics of sadness and melancholy with the care and softness the topics demand.

3. Nashville Sound – Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit

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One of the greatest songwriters of our time, Jason Isbell has been a part of enough classic country and Southern Rock projects in the past few years that this piece of excellence doesn’t even crack his top 3. Even still, with tracks like “White Man’s World,” and “The Last Of My Kind,” Isbell again blesses us with soft vocals and lyrics that will stand the test of many years.

2. Brutalism – IDLES

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2017 has so far been a year returning pop-infested genres to their roots. Country music started it’s pilgrimage with the likes of Stapleton and Simpson, rap with Lamar and Curry, and with IDLES March release, punk rock began this journey as well. The vocals of Joe Talbot would make Johnny Rotten proud, while leaving the likes of Billy Joe Armstrong shaking in their combat boots. Brutalism is one of the most vulgar, angry records of the year, but hell if it isn’t music to my ears.

****************************Honorable Mentions***********************

Wolves – Rise Against

“Awaken, My Love!” – Childish Gambino

Pure Comedy – Father John Misty

Is This The Life We Really Want? – Roger Waters

Graveyard Whistling – The Old 97’s

****************************Honorable Mentions***********************

  1. DAMN. – Kendrick Lamar

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More so than any artist creating today, when Kendrick drops a new record, the world stops spinning. “DAMN.” Was no exception. Throughout the record, Kendrick comes after Donald Trump, Fox News, gang culture, and materialism all with a hard hitting lyricism that places him, unquestionably in the discussion of the greater rappers of all time. Throw in an intriguing feature from none other than U2’s Bono, and listeners are in for one hell of a roller coaster ride.