WRMC’s 2017 Year in Review
by Maria Bobbitt-Chertock, Meghan Daly and WRMC Middlebury College on January 1, 2018
Posted in: Album Review, Blues, Country, Eclectic, Electronic, Folk, Funk, Grateful Dead, Hip Hop, Jazz, Pop, Pop Punk, Rap, Rock, Uncategorized
Here lies 2017, the year she told you not to worry about. And look what came of it: 2017 took your net neutrality, brought Charles Murray to campus, and made your annoying twelve-year-old cousin Bitcoin rich. And what’s your consolation prize? A fidget spinner in your stocking and tide pods for Christmas dinner.
More seriously—2017 tested our emotional limits. We lost many of our musical heroes, including Chuck Berry, Lil Peep, Tom Petty, Chris Cornell, Della Reese, Chester Bennington, and more. The #metoo movement publicly emphasized the ubiquity of sexual violence, especially in the music industry. We felt betrayed by artists we previously cherished (PWR BTTM, Pinegrove, Brand New and more) and rallied for their victims. We rallied for artists who themselves stood up to their abusers (and we listened to Rainbow on repeat).
We started off the year head banging to Downtown Boys in the basement of the Mill (thanks to former General Manager Brandi Fullwood). Sampha, Blanck Mass, Thundercat and 2 (two?!) Future albums got us through the winter. We loved Vagabon and Hurray for the Riff Raff at Sepomana, and though the administration pushed us to the edge, Lil Uzi Vert brought us back at the MCAB Spring concert. Later that month we fogged up the windows of the Gamut Room singing along to Sheer Mag and Cayetana as we prepared to say goodbye to all of our senior DJs. (We miss you guys, for real.)
After a summer of flower boys, Paramore, SZA, and Japanese Breakfast, Noname had us wishing we were all kids again at a packed-out S.O.S. Fest. (And some of us sure did behave like children.) We envisioned ourselves dancing in subways to Cardi B, furrowed our eyebrows at Jake Paul (what’s up Jake Paulers?!), and felt guilty about how much we enjoyed Bhad Bhabie’s music. A few weeks later we got together for our All DJ Mixer to sing karaoke, eat cupcakes, and call each other beautiful (because it’s true):
A month later we danced on stage with Cupcakke at Grooveyard. By the time Thanksgiving rolled around, we were thankful to have Demi Lovato and St. Vincent in our lives again. We closed out the fall semester with a festive and wholesome mix exchange, where we shared our favorite songs and pretended our Senior Feb DJs weren’t leaving us in a few months.
The music of 2017 gave us an opportunity to heal and move forward. It dressed political wounds and amplified marginalized voices. It gave us words to borrow when our own failed and melodies to rouse us and ease us. We listened as we dressed in the morning, walked to class, and did our work, alone (but in concert). We sent each other links, made playlists, took the aux, and sang the same lyrics (usually awfully, but) together. In a sense, the music of 2017 encouraged us to communicate and engage when the political climate did not. It signified a kind of resilience—a more-than-rhetorical one.
The WRMC exec board invites you to scroll through some of our favorite music and music-related content of 2017. We limited ourselves to five items each (it was tough, but we know how you Millennials are with your puny attention spans). At the bottom, you’ll find a Spotify playlist with everything on it. Feel free to blast it at your New Year’s party, or play it very quietly as you fidget-spin and weep with nostalgia.
Here’s to 2018, y’all.
WRMC’s Most Played Albums of 2017:
- More Life – Drake
- Drunk – Thundercat
- This Old Dog – Mac Demarco
- DAMN. – Kendrick Lamar
- Process – Sampha
- Infinite Worlds – Vagabon
- Ctrl – SZA
- Now That The Light Is Fading – Maggie Rogers
- Everybody Works – Jay Som
- MASSEDUCTION – St. Vincent
WRMC’s Most Played Tracks of 2017:
- “Die Young” – Sylvan Esso
- “Drew Barrymore” – SZA
- “Green Light” – Lorde
- “On + Off” – Maggie Rogers
- “The Bus Song” – Jay Som
- “Provider” – Frank Ocean
- “Through the Roses” – Future Islands
- “HUMBLE.” – Kendrick Lamar
- “My Old Man” – Mac Demarco
- “Mask Off” – Future
Meg’s Favorite Hidden Gems
These are some of my favorite albums and EPs by artists whose songs currently have less than 100,000 plays on Spotify. I want to add a disclaimer here that I don’t think searching for obscure music to be cool and pretentious is a worthwhile way to consume music. However, when much of the music we are exposed to is controlled by algorithms dictated by the interests of major labels and brands, I do think we owe it to smaller, independent artists to seek out what our “Discover Weekly” playlists might miss. Listening to music I haven’t heard before is one of my favorite hobbies, so feel free to email me all of the music you wish we talked about more in 2017.
- Duster’s Lament – Yucky Duster
- Oh, My Heart – Shannen Moser
- L’Rain – L’Rain
- Cool & Pretty – Mothpuppy
- Moor x Jewelry: Crime Waves – Moor Mother, Mental Jewelry
Maddy’s Favorite Music Videos
Many sacred institutions may have perished in the year 2017, but sex appeal is not one of them. If this is what the female gaze looks like, then I would like it applied to everything immediately as a relief tactic.
Grimes continues to be the tar-drenched angel of darkness leading the renaissance of our generation. None of that is really new, but I’ve gotta admit that it still does it for me.
2017 taught us that Young Thug’s videos are better when he’s not actually in them.
I’m not historically a big T. Swift fan, but I’ve gotta respect a girl who detachedly places herself atop a writhing mound of her past selves. I’m red dress snake queen Taylor, tag yourself.
*not actually a humble video*
Charlie’s Favorite Bay Area Hip Hop Albums
2017 saw a new wave of rising stars begin to shine in the Bay, not the least of which was Vallejo group SOBxRBE and its break-out crooner, Yhung TO. (Despite his ties to Livewire, Mozzy was considered to be more Sacramento than Bay. Listen to his stuff anyway.)
- Before I Wake – Kamaiyah
- SOBxRBE – SOBxRBE
- Lost in the Streets – Trill Youngins
- On My Momma – Yhung T.O
- Humble Beginnings – OMB peezy
Ethan’s Favorite Auto-Tuned Tracks
In a world that feels increasingly like a scifi dystopia every day, auto-tune has emerged as one of my few comforts in the technoscape, its awe-inducing catchiness providing cathartic guidance through the apocalypse. Here’s a list of some songs that showcased the futuristic beauty of auto-tune in 2017, curated by Sophia the Robot, Alexa™, and myself:
- “Ghostface Killers (feat. Travis Scott)” – 21 Savage, Offset, Metro Boomin
- “passionfruit” – yaeji
- “Undercover” – Kehlani
- “Lens” – Frank Ocean
- “Track 10” – Charli XCX
Songs That Make Bobo Drive Just A Couple MPH Over The Speed Limit
These are some of my favorite high energy songs from 2017 to get you through low-energy moments. These songs won’t get you a speeding ticket, but you will headbang like an idiot at any stoplight. I highly recommend that you check out Brutus’ album Burst, but these songs are listed in no particular order:
- “Looking for Love on Devils Mountain” – Brutus
- “Melt Your Mind” – Mutoid Man
- “No Halo” – Sorority Noise
- “Operation Part II” – Uranium Club
- “Sultan’s Curse” – Mastodon
Jordana’s Favorite Song Titles
Out of all the albums, EPs, and singles that 2017 brought, these 5 songs were the ones that came from musicians I love who put some extra poetic/comedic thought into naming their songs, a move which I think deserves some special recognition. All these songs are by artists who put out really cool projects this year, so check those out if you haven’t come across them yet, and if you look back and find some title-gems, make sure to put them through to me : ) And with that, here are my top 5 song titles of 2017!!!
- “me, my gibberish, & the moon” – Field Medic – Songs from the Sunroom
- “Prune, You Talk Funny” – Gus Dapperton – Prune, You Talk Funny
- “If Blue Could Be Happiness” – Florist – If Blue Could Be Happiness
- “(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano”– Sampha – Process
- “When the God of Love Returns There’ll Be Hell To Pay” – Father John Misty – Pure Comedy
The Saddest Songs According to Jeff
(CW: discussion of heartbreak, death, suicide)
- “Beggar” – Richard Dawson
I sold my shoes so I could buy a chicken / A penance and a treat on her final day. Thanks to Richard Dawson’s passionate musicality and narrative skill, a poor character’s loss of a canine companion feels genuine and much more than just a tear-jerking narrative trope.
- “Cold Apartment” – Vagabon
And we sat on my cold apartment floor / Where we thought we would stay in love. Vagabon’s impassioned voice and simple lyrics evoke the emptiness, coldness, and quietness of heartbreak. There’s no grand romantic narrative here, only a cold apartment floor and a persistent sense of hopeless longing.
- “Smoking Section” – St. Vincent
Sometimes I sit in the smoking section / Hoping one rogue spark will land in my direction. On this closing track of a pop album largely about going mad with desperation and desire, Annie Clark (or her character) dreams about jumping off of buildings and going up in flames. If this album is a rollercoaster, then this song is when the car goes off the rails and crashes into the pavement below.
- “How Many Disasters” – Angel Olsen
All those years I spent chasing a meaning / How unfair to have a heart that’s still beating. You can always rely on Angel Olsen for beautifully-composed bummer lyrics. This stripped-down track—an ode to ennui—cruises for two-and-a-half minutes on Olsen’s sleepy, muttering voice.
- “Swims” – Mount Eerie
We are all always so close to not existing at all. It’s hard to write anything worthwhile about this song or this album; the music and lyrics speak for themselves so beautifully and eloquently that anything I could add seems superfluous. For me, the piano, guitar, and melody on this track are the most beautiful on the whole album, while the lyrics express the devastating revelation of mortality so purely and plainly that I can’t listen to them without tearing up.
Jeremy’s Favorite Songs Whose Capricorn Moons Were Definitely in Their Eighth House
“Your moon is in Capricorn, meaning your emotional self is somewhat repressed in the name of responsibility, seriousness, and rationality. You crave the guidance and comfort of a teacher or parent. It’s is in your eighth house, meaning you find security and safety through darkness, taboos, rebirth, sex, and transformation.”
- “feelings change” – yaeji
- “You Kill Me” – Bedouine
- “Doomed” – Moses Sumney
- “Gabriel” – Yumi Zouma
- “The Body is a Blade” – Japanese Breakfast
Matt’s Favorite Anniversary Albums
- Cornell ’77 – Grateful Dead (released 5/5/2017)
This album marks the 40th anniversary, and first official release, of the infamous 5/8/1977 show at Barton Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.
- This Sweet Old World – Lucinda Williams (released 9/29/2017)
Lucinda Williams has re-recorded the entirety of her 1992 album “Sweet Old World” to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of one of her most beloved albums.
- Compilation LP – Sheer Mag (released 1/1/2017)
A compilation of all the LPs released by the Philly band up to 1/1/2017. The band has since released another album titled Need to Feel Your Love.
- Purple Rain – Prince / The Revolution (original release 6/25/1984)
This iconic album has be reissued by Warner Bros. in an expanded/deluxe version, complete with previously unreleased material to celebrate the 33 year anniversary of the album and the life of an incredible artist.
- Instrumentals – Arthur Russell (released 2/24/2017)
This reissued album celebrates the creative talent of Arthur Russell who passed away 25 years ago.
Cara’s Favorite Album Art
- Ash – Ibeyi
This is a striking image. First, I noticed the cut-out black-and-white photograph layered over the “real” color photograph underneath. Then I learned that the artist “Ibeyi” is a set of twins (Naomi and Lisa-Kaindé Diaz), and I realized that the portrait’s eyes were different—each side of the image is half of one sister, making this album art really cool (beyond looking that way from afar).
- Brick Body Kids Still Daydream – Open Mike Eagle (art by McKay Felt)
I haven’t listened to this album at all (mediocre board member), but based on the album cover, it seems really interesting. From the title and the figures cemented in the buildings, it seems like a political statement. Also, unrelated: the album title is beautiful, like those six word poems. Except five words.
- Drunk – Thundercat
This image is honestly kind of funny, what with the mild anger in his face. His eyes seem extremely concerned about something beyond the realm of the frame. They are so expressive that I can even imagine exactly what the rest of his face would look like, though it’s underwater. This is another album cover that has felt fairly iconic, immediately recognizable from the visuals alone.
- Flower Boy – Tyler, the Creator (art by Eric White)
My friend told me to listen to this album over the summer because they said this is his “coming out album.” I don’t know if it is because of that label, but this album cover has become iconic, emblematic of this possibility in a way, with its saturated colors and the oversized bees that partially obscure Tyler’s figure.
- MASSEDUCTION – St. Vincent (art by Nedda Afsari [photography] & Willo Perron Associates [creative direction])
I first saw this album in CD, and I immediately loved the visuals: the leopard-print leotard, the fuchsia tights that nearly blend into the bright red background. The disc itself keeps this hue with St. Vincent’s face floating in it. This is all as ethereal as scarlet could get, I would say, making this album a truly memorable work of visual art.
Maria’s Favorite Outros
If you crave bops that linger (but think fade-outs are cop-outs), this list should satisfy you:
- “Onanon” – Kelela
Only Kelela could squeeze a fourth (and arguably fifth) hook into a track’s outro without overmilking. The moment her last catchy phrase pulls you in, she lets you go, sending you tumbling into a whirlpool of melodies, layered voices swirling “onanon.”
- “Quarrel” – Moses Sumney
A synthy jazz break, a polyrhythmic drumbeat, a fade to solo piano. Whomst could resist swooning?
- “Back to You” – Bedouine
You might start this track “drowning in summer rays,” but you end up floating through the most unusual string harmonies (of any folk song you’ve heard) and into Bedouine’s romantic dusk.
- “Special” – Angel Olsen
It starts mellow, a bit Lou-Reed-y. Angel’s croon seduces you. Then the last two minutes are all orgasm.
- “Appropriate” – Priests
What, you thought the punk absurdity would stop at the two minute mark? Nay. Priests wouldn’t dream of selling out to your pseudo-schizophrenic, consumerist attention span. This band’s anger needs room.
Nathan’s Favorite Kick Drums
- “The Machinery Chewed” – ATTLAS
My favorite techno floor-filler of 2017. Techno is nothing without the kick, and this one delivers with a bang.
- “IDK About You” – Fever Ray
Every single kick in Fever Ray’s acclaimed album Plunge is a pulsing heartbeat cutting through the mix. This heartbeat reaches a frenetic climax in “IDK About You,” capturing the feeling of crashing headfirst into an unknown love.
- “Nyakinyua Rise” – Jlin
When you make an album consisting solely of percussion, the kick drums better be on point. It’s hard to pick only one of Jlin’s fantastic kicks from Black Origami, as they change in pitch and timbre even within musical phrases, but the rolling, footwork-inspired kicks helped make this one of my favorite albums of 2017.
- “Pre Dawn” – Burial
Burial’s Pre Dawn/Indoors EP was possibly overshadowed by the 10-year anniversary of his opus, Untrue. But caught up in this rave-y, manic romp is a kick loaded with atmosphere and Burial’s classic static crackles and chest-crushing low-end rumbles.
- “Mask Off” – Future
Metro Boomin produced hits by Future, Gucci Mane, Kodak Black, 21 Savage, and Migos in 2017, shaping the trapped-out style now dominating hip-hop. His distorted, wobbling pitched 808 kicks complement the now-iconic flute sample and song’s dark energy. The 808 has been around since the dawn of hip-hop, but Metro Boomin has reinvented it once again to create 2017’s defining sound.