Best Albums from NYC 2017
Originally published via Salute Magazine on Nov. 24, 2017
It has been quite an eventful year in “the city that never sleeps.” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio paid tribute to the birthplace of Hip-Hop by renaming a portion of Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx to “Hip-Hop Boulevard” in honor of DJ Kool Herc’s legendary after school jam in 1973. The event is credited with giving way to other Hip-Hop pioneers like The Cold Crush Brothers, Grandmaster Flash, and Kool DJ Red Alert.
But, 2017, has also been a very solemn year for many New Yorkers. This year we stood together in the face of tragedy after a man in a rented pickup truck killed 8 people along the Westside Highway. We also came together during the 2017 Women’s March, a worldwide protest advocating for legislation regarding human rights, and helped to send aid to Puerto Rico following the destruction caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
The Village Voice, once one of the largest alternative newspaper in the country, also ceased publication of its print edition, this year, shifting its focus to cater to the digital readership. Founded in 1955 by Dan Wolf, Ed Fancher, and Norman Mailer, during a period of time when folk music and beat poetry were giving way to a renaissance in Greenwich Village, The Village Voice has always been at the forefront of arts and culture in NYC — from the early goings of punk rock and ’80s new wave, through the ’90s grunge and club music scenes, to today’s pop culture.
But, like Bob Dylan once wrote, “The Times They Are A-Changin’” and hopefully things will perk up for the city after a rather difficult year.
Given the rich musical history of New York City, this week #SoundingOFF takes a different approach at picking out the “cream of the crop,” setting sights specifically on the best new albums to come out of “The Big Apple.”
20 BEST ALBUMS FROM NEW YORK ARTISTS
#20) Bash & Pop — Anything Could Happen
It has been more than 24 years since Bash & Pop, a side-project created by The Replacements founding bassist Tommy Stinson, has put out a track. Now, shortly after reuniting with the ’80s alternative rock pioneers in 2015, Stinson returns with 12 brand new punk-rock tracks that remind us of the band in its hey-day.
#19) Guerilla Toss — GT Ultra
The DFA Records-signed art-rock band has made quite a name for itself, having been listed as one of Rolling Stone Magazine‘s “10 Great Modern Punk Bands” in 2016. Their latest project, GT Ultra, takes its name from Project MKUltra, a CIA mind-control program that administered LSD. Even the album cover is tripped out, using brightly colored “blotter” paper, which the drug is administered on.
#18) Bynoe — Sweet Sight For Sour Eyes
Far Rockaway Riot Squad’s Bynoe dropped what may be his most “New York” mixtape to date. Sweet Sight for Sour Eyes features verses from Tony Yayo, Bobby Shmurda, Maino, F1JO, Meetsims, Chase Billions, Db Bantino, MonE Yukka, Silverspoon Brun, Rowdy Rebel, Alejandro Lah’Flare, and Pardison Fontaine. It also features tributes to the legendary Tupac Shakur, Queensbridge rapper Prodigy of Mobb Deep, and posthumous verses from Chinx Drugz & Stack Bundles.
#17) Hot Curl — Late Bloom EP
Prescott Horn and the emerging Brooklyn-based surf-rock group, Hot Curl, has erupted on the indie scene with their three-song EP, Late Bloom. The band formed in 2015 and is the amalgamation of several other side-projects that Horn had been working on at the time. Drawing inspiration from bands like Tame Impala and Beach Fossils, they’re sure to be a must-listen for any fans of the genre.
#16) Wolkoff — Who Wouldn’t Fall EP
Canadian musician Joanie Wolkoff moved to Brooklyn more than 10 years ago and has since tapped into the core of the New York independent music scene. With the help of producer/composer John Cleary, who has previously scored more than a hundred short films, video games, and a feature-length film with legendary Hip-Hop producer DJ Premier, her new EP, Who Wouldn’t Fall from the indie label, GODMODE, delivers a much more introspective style of electronic dance music that seems to be missing from today’s more mainstream sound.
#15) Starcadian — Midnight Signals
Following the success of his single, “Sunset Blood,” the Brooklyn synth-wave artist, Starcadian, returns with his debut album, Midnight Signals. But, don’t fear… you’re not caught in an episode of Stranger Things, although the album artwork and ’80s retro-wave sound might make you think otherwise.
#14) Lil Peep — Come Over When You’re Sober
Long Island rapper Lil Peep would blend today’s contemporary rap music with yesterday’s “emo” rock vibe to create a sound that was getting a lot of attention. Unfortunately, two months after the release of his debut album, Come Over When You’re Sober Vol. I, the 21-year-old rapper died of a drug overdose while on tour in Tuscon, Ariz.
#13) Quicksand — Interiors
Post-hardcore rockers Quicksand return with their first full-length studio album in more than 22 years, Interiors, from Epitaph Records. The album peaked at no. 7 on the Billboard Independent music charts and no. 9 on the Top Alternative charts.
#12) Charly Bliss — Guppy
The power-pop group, Charly Bliss, have been making a name for themselves in New York City, since 2014, when they released their debut EP along with a three-part music video and a comic book trilogy. Naturally, their full-length debut album, Guppy, is nothing short of brilliant. The A.V. Club even went as far as calling it “an instant classic.”
#11) Big Thief — Capacity
The sophomore album from Saddle Creek-signed indie rock band, Big Thief, might just be their best work yet. The Brooklyn-based quartet first made waves with their 2016 debut, Masterpiece, and have continued to muster critical acclaim from NPR.
#10) Bleachers — Gone Now
Pop singer-songwriter Jack Antonoff has pretty much dominated 2017 — having co-written songs for such best-selling pop singers as Lorde, Taylor Swift, St. Vincent, and P!nk. However, Antonoff also shines on his own with his latest album, Gone Now from RCA Records.
#9) Kool G Rap — Return of the Don
Kool G Rap of Corona, Queens, is back with his first studio album in six years, Return of the Don. The album features a bevy of guest stars, including Freeway, Noreaga, Cormega, Raekwon, Sheek Louch of The L.O.X., Saigon, Termanology, Fame, KXNG Crooked, Conway, Westside Gunn and the late Sean Price.
#8) Princess Nokia — 1999 Deluxe
Apart from becoming a viral “soup-er” star after spilling a hot bowl on a racist subway rider, Princess Nokia pretty much dominates with a pop-infused flair and lethal lyrics. She has done this past year to prove that she is the “Kitana” of Hip-Hop… and let’s be serious, you might be better off playing her in Mortal Kombat because you wouldn’t stand a chance going bar-for-bar.
#7) Cigarettes After Sex — Cigarettes After Sex
The ambient pop group’s self-titled debut album is simple in nature but brilliant in execution. Greg Gonzalez, the band’s principal songwriter, recorded the 10 song studio album with Phillip Tubbs on keyboards, Randy Miller, the band’s graphic designer, on bass, and Jacob Tomsky on drums. The album has also been ranked no. 6 on Rough Trade Record’s Albums of the Year list.
#6) Sufjan Stevens — Greatest Gift
Singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Sufjan Stevens returns with outtakes, remixes, and demos from his 2015 album, Carrie & Lowell. Labeled a mixtape, The Greatest Gift, is a much different look at the artist’s process and even features raw iPhone recordings, put to tape for the first time.
#5) Blondie — Pollinator
Who would’ve thought that the eleventh studio album from Blondie would be so damn good? Pollinator even features production by Johnny Marr of The Smiths, pop singer-songwriter Sia, Joan Jett, and voice actor/comedian John Roberts, who plays Linda Belcher on FOX’s hit TV show, Bob’s Burgers.
#4) LCD Soundsystem — American Dream
“You wanted a hit?” Well… LCD Soundsystem have definitely hit it big with their fourth studio album, American Dream.
The album is the group’s first in seven years and is their most successful album commercially, earning them a spot at no. 1 on the Billboard charts for the first time ever. It was also listed as no. 1 on Uncut Magazine‘s Best Albums of 2017 list.
#3) A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie — The Bigger Artist
Bronx rapper A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie might have too long a name, but his major-label debut wasn’t long enough. The Bigger Artist does not come off sounding like it was crafted by someone who is just starting to make a name for himself. If he keeps it up, A Boogie has a bright future ahead of him.
2) The Chainsmokers — Memories… Do Not Open
The Chainsmokers are a tour de force. The EDM-pop production duo laid claim to the Billboard 200 charts and has continued to rise in popularity.
Whether you like them or not, it’s hard not to tune into any of today’s mainstream/pop radio and not hear them.
1) Jay-Z — 4:44
Last, but certainly not least… there is Hov.
Jay-Z certainly put out the best album from any New York artist this year. Feel free to debate in the comments below, but we stand firm that this claims the no. 1 spot.
Be sure to stay tuned to Salute Magazine as we prepare to bring you more of the Best of 2017.