Wow, where do we begin? 2017 has already proven itself to be a phenomenal year for new music, but the month of October alone has seriously kicked it up a notch (or three). Who, for instance, could have foreseen the return of Fever Ray, nearly a decade after her massively-influential debut? Or that Gucci Mane and Ty Dolla $ign’s latest projects would actually be some of the most cohesive, mature work of their respective careers?
Add to that a radically-redefining single and video from producer SOPHIE, a surprise collaborative mixtape from Future and Young Thug, the long, long-awaited debut from Kelela and a Migos track that puts two of our generation’s biggest female MCs together as one, and you’ve got what might be 2017’s best month for new music yet.
All of those picks and more can be found below, in our 10 best albums and tracks of the month:
Fever Ray – ‘Plunge’
Surprise! Arriving eight years after her self-titled solo record, the return of Fever Ray was a musical blessing we didn’t even deserve in a year already chock-filled with musical treasures. And it is clear from the first few seconds quite a bit has changed in the meantime; where her previous work (as both Fever Ray and in The Knife) was marked by pitch-shifted vocals warped beyond comprehension and dense, abstract melodies, Plunge is characterized by extremely danceable music with bona fide, sing-along-able choruses. All together now, “I want to run my fingers up your pussy!”
Future & Young Thug – ‘SUPER SLIMEY’
For all the hullabaloo made over rappers having beef, or charting the rise of an up and comer, there is sometimes nothing more pleasurable in this world than watching two titans at the top of their game just go to town. Call it the Watch the Throne effect if you will. And while SUPER SLIMEY may not carry the seismic cultural influence that spread from the former record, it does have two big things going for it that are unique to this project: ladies and gentlemen, Future and Young Thug.
Gucci Mane – ‘Mr. Davis’
“Mr. Davis’ most powerful moments are split between “Lil Story” and “Tone it Down.” While the ScHoolboy Q-assisted “Lil Story” is a deep cut that tips its hat to the classic era of the Gucci Mane who made his claim to fame from his hankering for gloriously gutter and grimy narratives, “Tone it Down” has an immediate commercial appeal but also finds Gucci commanding the track with a barrage of bars with absolute precision alongside Chris Brown. It’s safe to say, Gucci Mane has found his sweet spot.”
Read our review.
Kelela – ‘Take Me Apart’
We deem releases as “highly anticipated” a little too frequently perhaps, but this time we actually mean it. After collaborations with the forward-thinking Night Slug crew and her excellent Hallucinogen EP from 2015, Kelela has presented us with a long-awaited, fierce sonic manifesto. The dynamic duo of Kelela and Jam City, who produced most of the album, is akin to a Missy Elliott and Timbaland pairing, but a little more abstract and millennial-friendly, illustrated by late night DM-slide anthems like “LMK.” The entire album is simply sublime, like a fog-filled, neon-lit room filled with velvet pillows.
King Krule – ‘The OOZ’
More or less everything Archy Marshall does is incredible, and his new album The OOZ is no exception. From the surf rock meets jazz of “Dum Surfer” to the echoey groove of “Half Man Half Shark” to the lingering smoke of “Logos,” we’re obsessed. With a whopping 19 tracks, you might expect there to be some lulls or low points, and although many songs are laidback, they’re anything but snooze worthy. We highly recommend giving this one a spin on a cold, grey, rainy day, and letting the feels come through.
L-Vis 1990 – ‘12 Thousand Nights’
After a slew of forward-thinking dance music EPs and a pop album, Night Slugs co-founder L-Vis 1990 released his debut mixtape this month. He’s come up with 11 collaborative tracks folding in hip-hop, R&B, dancehall and pop music, with effervescent and unexpected results. L-Vis recruited some of our favorite emerging artists like grime experimentalist Gaika and afrobeat maestro Mista Silva – who we interviewed alongside L-Vis last week. If it’s globally-influenced bangers you’re after, look no further than L-Vis’ latest, which will definitely soundtrack your next ‘12 thousand nights’ (at least).
Majid Jordan – ‘The Space Between’
We must admit – Majid Jordan’s sophomore album was a grower for us. The ’80s-inspired R&B groovers on The Space Between are so simple that we almost couldn’t compute them, but now we’ve accepted they’re brilliant, and besides, carving out one’s own sonic niche doesn’t necessitate completely reinventing the pop-R&B hit. With infectious tracks like “Gave Your Love Away,” “OG Hearthrob,” and “Body Talk,” it couldn’t be more clear why the likes of Beyoncé and Drake have enlisted Majid Al Maskati and Jordan Ullman to write their songs, and why they deserve their own share of the spotlight.
OMB Peezy – ‘Humble Beginnings’
Finding an emerging talent who delivers such a stellar, perfectly-packaged persona is like getting a new best friend. In this case, our BFF is OMB Peezy, a fresh-faced MC from Atlanta with one of the most irresistibly catchy flows we’ve heard in ages. His debut project, the mini-mixtape Humble Beginnings, fizzes with barely-contained glee, from each giddy yelp of ‘Peezy!’ to the glossy, bass-squelchy production, every bit of this listen if filled with the joy of discovery.
St. Vincent – ‘MASSEDUCTION’
Sleek, sleek, sleek. Both aesthetically – in the arresting artwork and videos – and sonically, St. Vincent’s latest full-length takes her already formidable oeuvre and covers it in stretch-tight, candy-colored latex. A pop-sheen coats every minute of MASSEDUCTION, allowing songs like the title-track and “Los Ageless” to crackle and pop in ways that her music never has before. And don’t even get us started on “New York,” which is the most singularly gorgeous, pretty song she has ever written.
Ty Dolla $ign – ‘Beach House 3’
“At 20 tracks, Beach House 3 is lengthy, but offers up a mix of sounds to keep listeners too busy jamming to notice that it’s near an hour play time. In its entirety, the album feels more like a playlist in the vein of Drake’s More Life: a handful of really dope songs that don’t necessarily follow one singular story. If Ty’s true motive for music-making these days is to not only put R&B back in the forefront but also see its resurgence on the charts, then a few of the offerings on this record are a good start.”
Read our review.
Aminé – “Squeeze”
Contrary to what some might think, making a short song – one that clocks in at under two minutes for instance – can be far more challenging than cranking out your standard pop song. Aminé however, makes it sound as easy as pie. Weaving deft wordplay over a sinister yet enticing beat, the Portland-rapper embodies an essential tenet of showbiz with this track: leave them wanting more.
Duckwrth – “Tamagotchi”
With wailing guitar, Tamagotchi bleeps, a sick beat, and a healthy dose of sarcasm, Duckwrth’s latest song is one of the most infectious rap songs we’ve heard in a while – as addictive as taking care of a Tamagotchi itself. If you’re digging this one as much as we are, keep your ears peeled for his XTRA UUGLY Mixtape dropping Friday, November 3.
Fischerspooner – “Togetherness” ft. Caroline Polachek
How the OG electroclash wizards hooked up with Caroline Polachek, recently departed from her beloved band Chairlift, is a mystery to say the least. But that doesn’t come close to the mystery of how, nearly a decade after their last release, Fischerspooner are suddenly making some of the most innovative, experimental electro-pop in a music scene where everyone is trying to accomplish that exact goal. Guess they’re legends or something.
Joji – “Will He”
Move over Yung Lean (but don’t actually because there’s room for everyone), there’s a new sad boy in town. The internet prankster turned R&B musician Joji released the heartfelt jam “Will He” earlier this month, fixating on his ex-lover’s new boo, asking gut-wrenching questions like, “Will your tongue still remember the taste of my lips?” In case you’re sick of listening to Drake’s “Marvin’s Room” post breakup, might we suggest this one on repeat instead?
Lil Wop – “Paid in Full” ft. Gucci Mane
Your new favorite undead rapper Lil Wop dropped his Wopaveli 3 mixtape last Friday, just in time for Halloween. The entire thing is pretty darn spooky, but we’d like to bring your attention to “Paid in Full,” featuring none other than Wop’s mentor, Gucci Mane. Big Wop decided to surprise his protégé with a guest verse, and the result brings an iced-out breeze through the haunted house that is his latest mixtape.
Migos – “MotorSport” ft. Nicki Minaj & Cardi B
Where to begin finding the words to describe the majesty of this collaboration… Actually, you know what? We’re not going to find them. This is litness incarnate, just press play and enjoy.
SOPHIE – “It’s Okay to Cry”
One of the biggest musical evolutions this year was the sudden shift in the work of Arca, the ubiquitous producer who began singing over his work for the first time. SOPHIE has managed to pull off a similar feat, but where Arca’s vocal chops add a layer of excellence to his output, with SOPHIE it is a revelation. It is as if her persona has never fully made sense or become clear until now, with this heartbreakingly simple pop-ballad. You go girl.
Ty Dolla $ign – “Ex” ft. YG
Ty Dolla was playing fast and loose with his single releases leading up to his surprisingly self-assured Beach House 3, but of all the songs he teased ahead of the full-length’s release, this was the one that stuck in our minds the most. Over a beat that manages to be both subdued and hella turnt, Ty and YG spin tales of sudden break-ups that should be enough to finally get you off your ass and dump that dead weight in your life.
Yaeji – “Drink I’m Sippin On”
We have been ecstatically observing the rise of Yaeji this year, and her track “Drink I’m Sippin On” is definitely a high point. Incorporating her own Korean and English vocals into a smooth, trap-inflected banger than creeps up on you in the best way possible, it’s easy to see that Yaeji is about to blow up in a big way, and we’re stoked.
Yung Lean – “Skimask”
Described by the Swedish rapper as a “dark Evil club anthem,” Yung Lean gave us another taste of his upcoming album with the turnt-up “Skimask.” In contrast to the uplifting pop vibes of the full-length’s first two singles, Leandoer’s latest cut takes things back to a dimly lit basement lair, with wonky beats courtesy of fellow SadBoy GUD.
Be sure to check out our picks for the best music of September right here.
- Cover Image: Paras Griffin / Stringer / Getty Images
- Text: Jake Boyer, Bianca Giulione, Ashley Monaé