Top 5 Albums Of February 2017
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Top 5 Albums Of February 2017

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Top 5 Albums Of February 2017

1.) Sampha - Process

First, we have the debut album from British R&B singer/songwriter, Sampha. For most, myself included, this record was hotly anticipated, mostly since Sampha has been teasing towards this release for the better part of this decade. Whether he’s making lovely guest appearances on SBTRKT and Drake albums, or penning songs for Solange, Sampha’s ornate and eclectic style has been carefully weaved into popular music for years, all of which came to a head with this fantastic debut release. This record, instrumentally, is very diverse and unique, pulling sounds from a variety of places including orchestral samples, classic soul samples, eastern string instruments, all melded wonderfully with Sampha’s powerful voice and piano playing. Lyrically, the album is very morose and despondent, Sampha definitely draws on more negative than positive emotions to create this record, which might understandably turn away some listeners. But, if you’re in the mood for a forward-thinking, intricate, and well-made R&B release, Sampha’s Process will not disappoint. Sample

2.) Quelle Chris - Being You Is Great, I Wish I Could Be You More Often

Second, we have one of the most interesting hip hop albums to come out in recent memory, Being You Is Great, I Wish I Could Be You More Often by Quelle Chris. While Quelle Chris hasn’t broken into the mainstream, it doesn’t seem like that’s something he’d even like, given how incomprehensible this record can be at times. Thematically, this record is not unlike Danny Brown’s last album Atrocity Exhibition, since both rappers seem to be using their music as a tool of catharsis, turning each and every one of their mental breakdowns into very verbose, standoffish hip hop songs. However, where Quelle Chris and Danny Brown differ is in delivery and instrumentation. Chris adopts a very laid back style of rapping (usually) that can border on spoken word and chooses instrumentals very reminiscent of the work of Madlib, for example. While I really appreciate this record’s unconventional approach to rap music, this is abstract hip hop with a heavy emphasis on the word “abstract.” What exactly Chris is trying to say can take a little bit of digging into the lyrics, making this record worthy of more than one listen. However, if you’re looking for a left-field rap record that’ll flex your mental muscles, Quelle Chris’s latest effort will surely scratch that itch. Sample

3.) Animal Collective - The Painters

Next, we have a surprise EP release from the infamous psychedelic and experimental pop group known as Animal Collective titled The Painters. Unlike the other four releases on this list, this record was the one I was the least excited to listen to, a feeling that had everything to do with last year’s Painting With, which was one of the group’s most lackluster releases in many years. Therefore, a B-sides EP tied to one of my least favorite Animal Collective albums was not exactly the most exciting of prospects. However, this short EP was one of the more pleasant surprises of last month, pulling together four of AnCo’s more interesting tracks this decade, tracks that would’ve greatly benefitted the album they were cut from. On this EP, AnCo deliver a sound very reminiscent to some of their more celebrated 00’s releases like Strawberry Jam. These four tracks are loaded with all of the surreal lyricism, experimentation, and trademark vocal harmonies that usually drive AnCo fans wild. This record brings nothing to the table that Animal Collective haven’t already done on record before, but my hope is that this’ll go down as one of their better collections of tracks. Sample

4.) Jesca Hoop - Memories Are Now

Next, we have the Sub Pop Records debut for Californian singer/songwriter Jesca Hoop, an artist whose craft was honed by the reclusive and mysterious Tom Waits. Given her tutelage, some similarities are bound to be present, though Hoop really comes into her own on this short, lo-fi folk record. Like Waits, Hoop has a strong love for writing lyrics that tell a story to the audience, however, Hoop puts more of an emphasis on song structure, making tracks that have a similar deceptive complexity to them that reminds me of the many projects Phil Elverum has involved himself in over the years. The songs Hoop writes on Memories Are Now are ornate and very pretty, despite being as lo-fi as they are, making the Phil Elverum comparison a bit more real. However, the lo-fi recording of this record does have a tendency to smudge some of the more intricate details of the songwriting in the name of creating that lo-fi aesthetic that many singer/songwriters strive to perfect. Despite that, this record has all of the qualities I look for in a good folk record, and for those looking for a good folk record to work through, this album is definitely a rewarding listen. Its length combined with the interesting songwriting make it endlessly playable, and I look forward to seeing what Hoop can pull together in the future. Sample

5.) Jonwayne - Rap Album Two

Finally, we have the latest release from California rapper and producer Jonwayne simply titled Rap Album Two. It’s very apparent that this past month was a real treat for fans of more alternative hip hop music. While not as heady as Quelle Chris’s latest record, Rap Album Two delivers more on the emotional end of the hip hop spectrum. On this record, Jonwayne really puts listeners into his shoes, almost making this record a bit of a character study of the man who made it. Jonwayne really knows how to pen stream of consciousness verses devoid of hooks that really come together and convey a strong message and mood very accurately. Whether he’s rapping about his reclusive nature conflicting with meeting fans in public, being at rock bottom, or his struggles with alcoholism, Jonwayne really puts listeners through the emotional ringer with this latest release. Held together with Jonwayne’s sparse production that still has obvious roots in the old school, this record is one I keep finding myself drawn to over and over again. Sample

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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