Whether you spent all summer working at your job or internship or getting some well-deserved rest, hopefully you had time to enjoy all the fantastic music released this summer ’17. As we all return to UCSB, Artsweek wants to look back on a few of our favorite sounds of this season past.
Flower Boy, Tyler, The Creator
Tyler, The Creator, the controversial co-founder of the hip-hop collective Odd Future, has lately been known more for his no-fucks-given attitude and his trendy style than anything else. His latest project, Flower Boy, is a more mature offering that might signal a new style for the rapper and producer. On his new record, Tyler knows when he’s needed, and when to step back and let his production and guest singers take the spotlight. In the end, he strikes a perfect balance. While guest appearances by Kali Uchis, Rex Orange County and Frank Ocean stand out, they don’t overshadow the rapper/producer, as his vision and influence is still strongly felt throughout every track. From the silky smooth vocal performances on “See You Again,” to the hard-hitting rap-focused tracks like “I Ain’t Got Time!,” to songs that manage to integrate both seamlessly like “911 / Mr. Lonely,” this album has everything you want from a popular rap album in 2017.
Abysmal Thoughts, The Drums
The lo-fi indie pop outfit returns with their fourth studio album, Abysmal Thoughts. After The Drums co-founder Jacob Graham left the group in 2014, frontman Jonathan Pierce found himself working alone under The Drums moniker. The result is a deeply personal album that explores Pierce’s insecurities and doubts, a record that lives up to the standards The Drums have set with their three previous albums. Singles “Blood Under My Belt” and “Heart Basel,” as well as the song “Rich Kids” stand out as some of the catchiest tracks of the summer. Overall, this album’s synth-centric, surfer rock-pop sound made it one of the standout summer soundtracks and is definitely worth a listen if you missed it.
Brick Body Kids Still Daydream, Open Mike Eagle
Released just a few weeks ago on Sept. 25, Brick Body Kids Still Daydream is the biggest outlier among our list. Don’t expect Open Mike Eagle’s trademark humor to come through very strong on this one. There is no appearance from frequent collaborator and stand-up comedian Hannibal Buress or a song about hosting a fake late night show. Instead, the art-rapper explores subjects like gentrification, race and the normalization of the insanity of the modern day through personal experiences regarding his childhood home, the Robert Taylor Homes in Chicago. The end product is an introspective tour through Eagle’s memories and unique view on the world over relatively low-key but engaging beats. While it is understated, the songs are still catchy like the sweet nostalgia of Eagle’s remembered childhood on “95 Radios” and “(How Could Anybody) Feel At Home,” in which Mike’s flow impresses over a captivating DJ Nobody instrumental with haunting flute-like synths and quick percussion. If you’re a fan of Open Mike Eagle or like your rap music more personal than showy, this is the album for you.
Saturation and Saturation II, BROCKHAMPTON
The spiritual successors to Odd Future take the last two spots on our list, which we admit is sort of cheating, but the summer of 2017 was the summer of BROCKHAMPTON. Led by Kevin Abstract, the collective of over a dozen members, which began as a group of friends who met on a Kanye West fan forum, now lives up to their self-given moniker of “the Internet’s first boy band.” It’s not common for a group to release two albums of equally stellar quality back to back, but that’s the case with Saturation and Saturation II. Boasting six rappers that appear on nearly every song, each rapper of BROCKHAMPTON brings their own unique styling to each track, from Dom McLennon’s technical flow to Merlyn Wood’s manic, energetic personality, to Matt Champion’s undeniable swagger. It’s impossible not to root for these guys after watching their amateurish, handheld music videos and seeing how much fun they’re having. I haven’t even mentioned the excellent contributions from JOBA, Ameer Vann and Abstract or the extensive list of in-house producers and managers that make up the rest of the group. With the upcoming release of the group’s third album of the year, Saturation III, this group is just getting started. If you like bangers, Artsweek suggests “Heat,” “Gummy,” “Gold,” “Star” and “Junky” … and maybe “Swamp,” too. But actually, just listen to all of it. You’re welcome.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JmexbtaIIqo