Best Albums of 2017: Staff Picks

Best Albums of 2017: Staff Picks

2017 is fast meeting its maker — while we happily say goodbye to a year of political and social turmoil, we're glad that it's been a full year of incredible music. We pick out our personal favourites. 

Clarence Chan, Founder
thundercat, year end list, album of the year, 2017, maroon 5, bonobo

Thundercat  Drunk
As a closet aspirational jazz musician, I’ve always had a liking for music with intriguing chord progressions. Thundercat has always been a favourite. You never know where each tune’s gonna go.

It’s got elements of 70s funk, soul, his distinct falsetto vocals, and it's not too esoteric for easy listening. Drunk features a stellar line-up of collaborations with Kendrick Lamar, Kamasi Washington etc. 'Show You The Way' which features Kenny Loggins (!!), happens to be one of my most played tracks of 2017 too. 

PJ Morton Gumbo
I’ve never had gumbo, but I heard it's a killer stew from Louisiana. Similar to its food references, this album has a great blend of feel-good R&B/Soul with hints of gospel and New Orleans-type chops. PJ Morton’s had quite a stellar career as an instrumentalist, playing with the likes of Stevie Wonder, Maroon 5, India.Arie etc.

In this solo offering, you’ll hear inspirations and references from Stevie, Marvin Gaye, Al Green etc. For those craving for something familiar, you might wanna check out his soulful laid-back rendition of Bee Gee’s 'How Deep is Your Love' in the album. 

Bonobo  Migration
Bonobo nails it for me with a real meditative, dreamlike, organic sounding album. It’s my pick-up when looking to focus or clear my mind. Each track builds up slowly, with lush backdrops that make you feel like you’re amidst nature, accompanied by beats and unique sounding melodic elements that take you someplace peaceful.

I started appreciating Bonobo's stuff even more when I read deeper into his philosophy of making music. Moving away from digitally created sounds, he samples real noises, and displaces his beats in a way that seems odd in this day of quantized electronic music, but yet it does so much to convey that ethereal natural feel that stands out when you hear his music. All the tracks are highly recommended, but for those who want to go straight to that stand-out song which best represents what I described above, I’d recommend 'Kerala'. Enjoy! 

Daniel Peters, Editor
brockhampton, saturation, tyler the creator, odd future, thee oh sees, year end list, album of the year, 2017

Brockhampton — Saturation II
Rarely any act captured my ears this year as "The Internet's first boy band" — or (my personal favourite) the "Southside One Direction" —Brockhampton did, whose trilogy of Saturation albums were not only pushed out within a single year, but are all captivating and infectious. 

For all the collective's efforts to write songs that can serve as monstrous party numbers, deeply-affecting ballads or socially-conscious diatribes, their ability to craft albums that can house such numbers together is rounded up excitingly by such raw energy and a unique understanding of pop music. They may not sound like One Direction or 5 Seconds Of Summer, but they're less like a traditional boy band than an in-house collective of rappers, singers, producers, graphic designers, managers, and the absolute mastery of their craft shows on all three albums, but especially on this middle "chapter".

For hip-hop's continued dominance over the cultural conversation, along with a slew of stellar albums that reflect it, Brockhampton remains firmly in their own world, and you'll get sucked in easily by the first track. If there's only one album by them I'd dispense to curious friends, Saturation II is the prime choice: where all their talents coalesce into an inexplicably fun and inclusive romp.

Oh Sees — Orc
Swans are often the example used to cite a band whose post-reunion work rivals, or even bests, their classic material. While I'm eagerly awaiting Swans' next chapter, Oh Sees have proved a very similar case that's just too hard to ignore.

Orc is stunningly adventurous, urgent, hypnotic, bold and unlike any other rock record I've heard this year. Another album that's been on regular rotation is their 2014 live LP Live in San Francisco — which is worth a listen if you like what you hear here — and it's simply baffling how the band can not only equal the amount of energy in that live show on this release, but they also bring to the table a psychedelic ambition that perfectly builds upon what they've done over the past decade or so.

The band's leading man John Dwyer has had such a good streak of internalizing past rock styles to make exciting new records, but he's truly outdone himself here.

Tyler, The Creator — Flower Boy
After Cherry Bomb, I was well and ready to move on from Tyler, The Creator's music (and antics). But what sounded to me as a messy, convoluted and unnecessary album in 2015 now sounds like a necessary (albeit underwhelming) transition in 2017, with the release of Scum Fuck Flower Boy (or simply Flower Boy).

Cherry Bomb showed Tyler wrestling with his past self — an edgelord skater in all his pastel, role-playing glory — with a newer identity, one that isn't entirely different, but one whom we can actually take seriously. He's entirely liberated in Flower Boy, and the result is nothing short of beautiful. There were plenty of questions formed by fans after its initial release, the loudest regarding his sexual identity, but outside of the recording studio, there's really nothing else to be said that isn't already addressed by the album.

Flower Boy is Tyler's most honest, intricate and arresting album, and it's simply amazing to see him grow and evolve. 

Honourable mentions: Kelly Lee Owens' stellar self-titled debut, Iglooghost's wild and fun Neo Wax Bloom, Kendrick Lamar's DAMN. — a Billboard sermon doused in fire and brimstone, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard's vicious Murder Of The Universe (shoutout to all the albums they've put out this year), Tzusing's fiery floor-stomper 東方不敗, Father John Misty's subversive opus Pure Comedy, and two bombastic comebacks by Feist and Fleet Foxes.

Marianne Chang, Business Development
father john misty, pure comedy, moses sumney, aromanticism, cigarettes after sex, year end list, album of the year, 2017

Father John Misty Pure Comedy 
The world’s most beautifully sung social commentary — there’s something about Tillman’s voice and deceptively easy listening tunes that hook you before your mind starts to ruminate over lyrics that leave you with an uneasy smile.

And that’s the beauty of the album — you’re willing to let 'Ballad of the Dying Man' play on repeat so it keeps your inflated sense of self-importance in check, and you allow Pure Comedy to become your nightly dose of satire so you don’t forget how much more we have to strive for in the human race. I hear hints of Don McLean’s 'American Pie' and to some extent, Gilbert O'Sullivan’s 'Alone Again (Naturally)', and it’s oddly comforting to know we’re all still struggling. 

Moses Sumney Aromanticism 
Shoutout to Natasha for first introducing Sumney in the Bandwagon office - I was hooked from the beginning. In Aromanticism, loneliness is the underlying theme while Sumney’s enchanting falsetto holds the tapestry together. Favourites in this album: 'Quarrel', a six-minute forty-five-second soul trip across a fusion of styles, colours and sounds, and 'Plastic', which makes you feel like your soul has fused with the cosmos.

There’s just something about this singer-songwriter’s use of silences and natural musicality that pushes you into the ethereal. It’s no wonder he hangs out with the soulful likes of Solange Knowles and Sufjan Stevens. 

Cigarettes After Sex self-titled
Dreamy Noir is the backdrop of the lazy young love/lust stories Greg Gonzalez draws you into with his warm, enveloping vocals. While the songs are not entirely new, the album in its entirety is quintessential Cigarettes After Sex; it draws you into a bubble created by dreamy electronics and echoes into your soul.

There’s an easy timeless charm that makes this the perfect album on a rainy day/night, the soundtrack to your first & last glass of red wine, and the music that holds you as you slip between black & white dreams and technicolour in real-life. 

Natasha Hassan, Design Lead
princess nokia, 1992, moses sumney, aromanticism, the war on drugs, laneway, kurt vile, a deeper understanding, year end list, album of the year, 2017

Princess Nokia – 1992 Deluxe
Been anticipating for Princess Nokia’s debut album and I’m glad to say I was not left disappointed. The 25-year-old NY native has definitely proven herself to be one of the most eclectic rappers right now.

In 1992 Deluxe, Destiny Frasqueri passionately and transparently rapped about her troubled childhood, racism, mysticism, New York City and being an outlier. One can’t help but to find the album a little bit peculiar yet relatable and empowering. I really enjoyed tracks that were more brash sounding and had a dark undertone like 'Goth Kid', 'Kitana' and 'Brujas'. These are the type of songs that you put in your self-confidence booster playlist.

I do find myself mumbling lyrics to the more fun tracks like 'Tomboy'. “My little titties and my phat belly / That girl is a tomboy, that girl is a tomboy!” Come on, that shit is catchy af. Her ability to go from serious to dorky is what makes me so drawn to her.

Princess Nokia is not just a brilliant lyricist and an icon for the weirdos, she’s also a hot soup thrower unafraid to call people out when she needs to. Thank you for existing, you are indeed a G.O.A.T.

The War on Drugs – A Deeper Understanding
Following the huge success of their third album Lost in the Dream, came one of the most enthralling The War on Drugs’ releases, A Deeper Understanding. There were many beautiful moments in this record, one of which is the grandiose guitar solo in ‘Strangest Thing’. The riffs accompanied with Adam Granduciel’s emotional voice, slowly built up and unleashed itself like a tsunami crescendo. I feel emotionally overwhelmed every time I listen to this song.

Another moment was in ‘Holding On’. The six-minute long track is composed of shimmering rhythms, upbeat melody and a Dylan/Springsteenesque voice. I truly love the dazzling xylophone hooks in the background. It is the epitome of what The War on Drugs is: lustrous, intricate and nostalgic.

I can go on forever about the album but this is my A Moon Shaped Pool of 2017. One thing for sure I’ll be at the front during their Laneway set crying.

Moses Sumney – Aromanticism
Aromanticism was another debut album that I’ve been looking forward to for a while now. The 34-minute long LP is as exactly how Moses himself described it, “a sonic dreamscape.” I liked how he moved away from his usual lo-fi production and developed a more refined but still kept to his spacious sound. His voice completely flourishes from beginning to end. It is an instrument on its own that could be compared to a melodious sound of a harp or violin.

If I have to pick a record to accompany my space travel, this would be it. In a world obsessed with lust and romance, rarely do I find myself being able to fully relate to a love song. Hence, I truly appreciate Moses Sumney’s efforts and clarity in the theme. 

Standout tracks: 'Make Out in My Car', 'Indulge Me' and 'Plastic'.

Honorable Mentions: LCD SoundsytemAmerican Dream, Hyukoh23, BrockhamptonSaturation (series), WikiNo Mountains In Manhattan, Yellow Days – Is Everything Okay In Your World?, JlinBlack Origami, Anik Khan – Kites.

Daniaal Adam, Events Lead
damn, kendrick lamar, top dawg, antililly & phoniks, atc, amateur takes control, laneway, year end list, album of the year, 2017

Kendrick Lamar DAMN
Kendrick really showcases the mastery of his craft on this album. It's a marker for one of the great hip-hop albums which will be remembered for generations to come. 

Anti Lilly & Phoniks  It's Nice Outside 
Blown away on the first listen. There's a bit of 90s jazz, hip-hop and soul which compliments very well with Lilly's engaging delivery. 

Amateur Takes Control  ATC EP2 
The new line-up shines brightly in this new record. It's an exciting new direction, one that has seen them make a leap in terms of songwriting and production.

Surej Singh, Writertrivium, flower boy, odd future, missio, edm, tyler the creator, year end list, album of the year, 2017

Trivium – The Sin And The Sentence
After the disappointments that were 2013's Vengeance Falls and 2015's Silence In The Snow, I found myself losing hope in Trivium, along with the majority of their fan-base. Vengeance Falls was too heavily influenced by Disturbed's David Draiman, who served as the record's producer, and Silence In The Snow was largely uninspired with lackluster performances across the board and the painfully noticeable absence of screamed vocals.

However, this year's The Sin And The Sentence was a return to form for one of the most promising metal bands today. Trivium find themselves creating their best studio effort since 2008's Shogun thanks to new drummer, Alex Bent's technical prowess, coupled with producer Josh Wilbur's keen ear for sound quality. With standout tracks like 'Betrayer', 'Sever The Hand' and 'The Revanchist', Trivium have truly crafted a record that is the culmination of every record they've released so far.

Missio – Loner
I was introduced to Missio with the track, 'Bottom Of The Deep Blue Sea' earlier this year and I was captivated immediately. The electro-rock duo switch it up on nearly every track, leaving us with a very diverse album. Tracks like 'I Don't Even Care About You', 'Bottom Of The Deep Blue Sea' and 'Kamikazee' stand out, but the rest of the album are strong enough for me to not skip through them.

Months after listening to this album, I still find it exciting on every listen. This being the duo's debut record, I can't wait to see what else they have in store.

Tyler, The Creator – Scum Fuck Flower Boy
Flower Boy is probably Tyler's best solo record to date and I think it shows right from the start. Standout tracks like 'See You Again', 'Where This Flower Blooms' and '911/ Mr. Lonely' see Tyler embracing and exploring his emotions in ways that we've never seen him do before and it pays off well. A fairly personal record coupled with great production and sick beats, Flower Boy truly deserves every bit of praise it has received.

Honorable mentions: Brockhampton – Saturation (series), YelawolfTrial By Fire, MastodonEmperor Of Sand, ConvergeThe Dusk In Us, Kendrick LamarDAMN. 

Louisa Chan, Writerharry styles, one direction, dean, her, dpr live, korean, kpop, hyukoh, highgrnd, millic, 23, oh hyuk, year end list, album of the year, 2017

Harry Styles — Harry Styles
Harry Styles did a whole 180 with his debut album, shedding his image from his One Direction days and one-upping himself by solidifying his brand new status as a former boyband member-turned-rock star.

His self-titled debut album was absolute gold with its retro charm, the acoustic guitars and his voice — ah yes, his wonderful voice. Also, I'd like to think the album brought 70's rock/soft-rock back in trend a little — have you ever seen a concert hall full of teenage girls collectively singing/semi-screaming out the lyrics to Fleetwood Mac's 'The Chain'?

I delved deep into the Korean R&B and hip-hop scene this year, and somewhere along the way I discovered DPR LIVE. (I'd like to thank DEAN for collaborating with him) I thoroughly enjoyed his debut album Coming To You Live and to be completely honest, I didn't think anything could top that, until Her dropped and I was completely blown away. The album starts off mellow, but slowly builds to an upbeat tempo as the album progresses; every track is different, yet altogether, they manage to form a perfect album.

Given the fact that he only debuted this year and has already managed to impress with not just one, but two albums, I'd say DPR LIVE ranks pretty high not just on the albums of the year list, but artist as well.

"I like their older stuff better" - words I'll probably regret saying for a while. When HYUKOH dropped their album 23 in April this year, I hadn't thought much of it, until I (very fortunately) got to catch them live this year. In comparison to their previous releases, 23 leans towards indie rock, with elements of country and other genres blended in some tracks, which may seem like a mess at first, but somehow, it works, and brilliantly at that.

Moreover, they've managed to retain their "dark and heavy sound" — in fact, 23 might just be their darkest album yet. All in all, 23 may be different from their previous releases, but a good different.

Izzy Ingham, Video Interniamddb, grime, lenzman, king krule, the ooz, joey bada$$, amerikkkan bada$$, hip-hop, rap, archy marshall, year end list, album of the year, 2017

King Krule — The Ooz
Even darker and more immersive than 2013’s 6 Feet Beneath the Moon, King Krule’s anticipated return exceeded all my expectations. The Ooz delivers what it promises in the name; the uglier side of the human mind and emotion combined with beautiful instrumentals and lyricism.

Joey Bada$$ — All-Amerikkkan Bada$$
This album is extremely important for its comments on the injustices within the States and its backing of the Black Lives Matter movement. Joey Bada$$ tackles such issues with a brilliant flow and beautiful voice. I fear that this accomplished commentary on politics will be unfairly overlooked when Eminem drops his new album.

IAMDDB — Hoodrich Vol. 3
The third instalment of the Manchester rapper’s EP series is packed with trap anthems. Released alongside a series of music videos, IAMDDB grows more confident and slick with each release. I am highly anticipating her future releases as she continues to blend an array of different sounds and genres with great skill.

Fiona Teo, Sales Interndaniel caesar, dpr live, offonoff, highgrnd, korean, k r&b, r&b, freudian, fkj, year end list, album of the year, 2017

FKJ – French Kiwi Juice
If you want to listen to some chill, mellow, jazzy and head bobbing songs, try FKJ. I absolutely love the fact that most of the songs have little or no lyrics, which makes it easy to listen to when you’re doing your work or when you’re studying. This album is just filled with pure goodness and I just couldn’t get enough of it. 

Standout tracks: 'Better Give You Up', 'Lying Together', 'Why Are There Boundaries' and 'Go Back Home'.

Daniel Caesar – Freudian
As a huge R&B and soul junkie, I can’t bring myself to not include this album. This album sets a great ambiance for a rainy day when you’re all snuggled up in your blanket while looking at the rainfall on your window.

Standout tracks: 'Get You', 'Best Part', 'Hold Me Down', 'Take Me Away' and 'Neu Roses'.

offonoff – boy.
Yes, this is a Korean album and a really good one. The duo is in the same agency as Hyukoh, who recently came to Singapore for their tour and is really underrated. Even though this is their first full album, all 12 tracks is a masterpiece of its own. I’ll say that this album is more of a hip-hop and R&B style album so if you’re looking for something different in Korean, try listening to them!

Standout tracks: 'In The Car', 'Moon 12:04am', 'Good2me', 'Midnight', 'Dance'.

Lim Yao Jie, Developerjpop, wednesday campanella, roel, oneokrock, year end list, album of the year, 2017

REOL — Endless EP
I have been listening to REOL since the lead singer's debut album and their latest offering is as exceptional as the others: chic, poppy and really exciting to listen to. From the upbeat 'New Type Tokyo' to the fierce yet cute 'B12', Endless EP covers all bases of really entertaining electronic songs, which sets themselves a cut above the rest. It is my most played album of the year by a huge margin.

ONE OK ROCK — Ambitions
ONE OK ROCK's album release at the start of the year kept me going back to it time and time again. The songwriting covers a myriad of emotions and personal topics like family, life and coping with depression, which makes every song in the album really engaging to listen to. 

Wednesday Campanella — SUPERMAN
SUPERMAN is the epitome of fun and nonsensical music masterpieces. I mean, who else can sing about armpit hairs flowing in the wind but Wednesday Campanella? Every track was entertaining and interesting, and a breath of fresh air from the usual J-pop music.

Fizah Hatman, Staff Writersza, ctrl, grammys, calvin harris, year end list, album of the year, 2017

Sabrina Claudio — Confidently Lost
If you have to listen to one track of this album/EP, please drop everything and listen to 'Orion’s Belt'. Everything about this EP, as described as a friend of mine, is simply flawless. The lyrics, the slow R&B beats, and Sabrina’s silky yet perky voice makes it easy for you to ease in into this EP without sounding too forceful.

I’d imagine the best way to enjoy this EP would be through the speakers in your home, with the smell of fresh coffee in the air, curled up on your couch with your warm cuppa, on a rainy Sunday morning. If that’s not your thing, then you can always plug in your headphones and listen to it on your commute to work or school.

Calvin Harris — Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1
There’s a lot to love about this album but let’s talk about one big reason why it’s so dope – the collaborations. Calvin Harris worked with the likes of Frank Ocean, Pharell, Future, Travis Scott, Khalid, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. It’s the type of album you need when you’re looking to listen to something fun.

If you’re worried that the album is going to sound heavy with the electronics (and that you can only listen to it while you’re drunk and in a club), you have nothing to worry about. From the first track to the last track, the album just keeps bringing groovy back. Calvin did good in naming the album funk wave — it just about sums up its sound.

SZA — Ctrl
If you’ve heard of SZA then you must have heard the buzz around her hit single 'Love Galore'. Where do I begin with SZA? She’s recently been nominated for a Grammy and also went platinum with 'Love Galore'. Her lyrics are raw and honest, almost like she’s saying the things that we don’t dare to admit.

In my opinion, the concept of control (a running thread in the album), in whatever shape or form it may be, is what makes her music so relatable. Couple that with feelings of heartbreak, hookups, and stories of failed relationships, you have the perfect recipe to make a successful album that anybody who has loved and lost can relate to.

Camille Castillo, Country Rep (The Philippines)

Lucy Rose — Something's Changing
I was really looking forward to the new album because of her short film of the same title, and we were given the privilege of hosting her Manila visit last September. Before I listened to the record, I watched her track-by-track on Facebook live where she gave fans the story behind each song and answered a few fan questions.

I was deeply touched (a.k.a. I cried) while watching the short film, which I recommend everyone should watch before listening to Something's Changing. This is her first record under Communion Music, and it's my favourite one so far. Each song is real and honest, and after working with her twice, I can say that this is the most Lucy record to date. I especially loved 'Moirai', 'No Good At All', and 'I Can't Change It All'.

Phoenix — Ti Amo
I waited four years for this album (and for the band to return to Asia, but that's another story). While 2009's Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix is still my favourite album, Ti Amo was easier to get into than 2013's Bankrupt (which was a hard listen, but an album I grew to love). It's an easy listen and the first thing I thought about after hearing 'Tuttifrutti' was "I would like to throw a house party and have this playing in the background."

While Bankrupt had so many layers and so much was going on at the same time, Ti Amo just seemed more relaxed and effortless. Thomas Mars singing in a mix of French, Italian, Spanish, and English was a pleasant surprise, it's as if they finally fully embraced their European roots — with the songs, the overall aesthetic, and even the promotional material of the album. The 'J-Boy' music video was shot in the style of a retro Italian TV show, their quirky merch came in vending machines, and even released a music video exclusively on VHS. 

Harry Styles — Harry Styles
I will confess that I was not a One Direction fan until Zayn officially left the group. I heard Harry Styles's first single, 'Sign of the Times' and was pleasantly surprised with the direction he has decided to take in his solo career.

'From The Dining Table', 'Two Ghosts', and 'Meet Me In The Hallway' are constants in my 2017 playlists and his Behind the Album documentary was one of the reasons why I kept my Apple Music subscription. 

Honorable Mentions: Lorde's MelodramaCalvin Harris's Funk Wav Bounces Vol.1She's Only Sixteen's Whatever That Was

Ginny Palma, Editor (The Philippines)

Jay Som – Everybody Works
Melina Duterte knows what’s up; at 22, she’s made an album that encapsulates what it’s like to be an adult in this dreadfully mundane yet painfully chaotic world, wherever in your twenties (or even thirties?) you may be. Her lyrics are simple in that they drive straight to the point as plainly as they can, without being bland; meanwhile, the music is a delicious blend of pop and indie rock that serves an interesting twist with every track. I’m excited to hear more.   

Standout Tracks: 'Lipstick Stains', 'Everybody Works'.

Japanese Breakfast – Soft Sounds from Another Planet
If Jay Som’s album speaks the listener’s truth, Japanese Breakfast’s Soft Sounds from Another Planet serves as the voice that, probably unwittingly, guides you through. It’s an album about life on Earth from the perspective of someone who’s now a little wiser, but precisely so that they understand how much about life they would never know.

Initially envisioned to be a science fiction concept album, Safe Sounds retains some of its original intents in its arrangements, which further lends to its near-omniscient feel. Michelle Zauner weaves her lyrics with a poetic expression that is never ostentatious, each line stemming from a diligent thought process that makes the album feel personal without being confessional, so it’s all the more solemn. 

Standout Tracks: 'The Body is a Blade', 'Till Death'. 

Lorde – Melodrama 

There’s something particularly gratifying about seeing a single-mindedly edgy teen grow into herself as she enters adulthood. In Melodrama, Lorde sheds the pretentions of her debut album without losing what made the record special: the raw, unmistakable power of her voice and the addictive wryness of her lyricism.

While in Pure Heroine the 16-year-old Lorde boldly attempts, in inconsistent rhythms, to tell the world all the ways it has done itself wrong, in Melodrama she appears to recognize her role in all this and brings us a solidly unsteady album that feels like a much more heartfelt, honest journey to finding ways to make things right. 

Standout Tracks: 'Hard Feelings/Loveless', 'Writer in the Dark'.

Honorable Mentions: Wednesday Campanella's Superman, SZA's Ctrl, Harry StylesHarry Styles.

MV Isip, Videographer

Goldfinger — The Knife
"Am I deaf? / Or am I just a little left / of what they listen to today?" is how I feel about my list this year since I barely explored 2017 releases. The exception is this total jam of a ska/pop-punk record. Comeback albums from 90s bands have been pretty sad lately, so it was a pleasant surprise to hear how Goldfinger transformed into this John Feldmann x blink-182 x MXPX x Story of the Year hybrid.

The Maine — Lovely Little Lonely
You know how there are artists your friends like, whose sound you kinda dig, who you've seen as proper down-to-earth celebrities, but you still won't consider yourself a fan of them? That's how I feel about The Maine until LLL came around.

Personal reasons aside, the entire tour surrounding this album (e.g. free M&Gssuper casual Bandwagon TV content, and intense Bazooka Rocks encore) opened my mind to how they are genuinely nice people and amazing performers who deserve my support 100%.

Neck Deep — The Peace And The Panic
As much as I hate with a capital HATE the lead single 'Where Do We Go When We Go' and the deeply personal, probably mournful but, to be honest, generic 'Wish You Were Here', I'll be lying if I don't include TP&TP in my Top 3 because I've kept the other nine songs on repeat since its release.

With enough listens, you'll realize the tracks are quite distinct, unlike Neck Deep's previous stuff. And with a few more, they'd probably get stuck in your head like the pop-punk anthems they're meant to be!

PB Hermoso, Writer 

BTS — Her/Love Yourself
By establishing their foundation in the international music scene, these boys have showcased their creative chops as a Korean group. They've gone beyond wearing bandanas and running around Seoul with their bright-colored (or sometimes, Paisley-printed) outfits.

Reflective of various music styles such as electronic pop and a slice of ballad on the side, this album reminded me that love starts from how we treat ourselves. Tracks such as "Pied Piper" and "MIC Drop" take us to those times when we let "the haters" sit by the corner. 

Nevertheless, a little self-love goes a long way.

Bleachers — Gone Now 
After all the controversial issues that made 2017 into a whirlwind of mayhem, "feel good" songs usually make the perfect remedy. My personal favorite from this album would be "Don't Take The Money". Simple as it is, it reminds us that life isn't defined by our finances.

It is about our favorite color, dream job, and our thoughts on today's funny papers. Jack has shared his personal thoughts about love, marriage, and other things that fall under the spectrum of it all. Gone Now speaks various feelings that will make you think twice about not talking about what completes your day. 

The Maine — Lovely Little Lonely 
Watching your favorite musicians grow up with you create tremendous feelings such as fear and excitement. The Maine have done their part in experimenting with music like a kid in the chemistry lab. What I particularly enjoyed about this album is how it sounds entirely new but reminiscent of the band's iconic outfit. The transition from 'Don't Come Down' to 'Taxi' is very theatrical. If you need an unnecessary trip down memory lane, you should listen to this.

Derra Sagara, Country Representative (Indonesia)

The xx — I See You
This album has received a lot of attention, both positive and negative. But this album expands The xx's horizon — it's their way of saying: "I see you, we have the same social anxiety as you do."

They have evolved so much that even though the awkwardness has stayed the same, they can shyly sneak a smile to us in the crowd. This album is a thank you note for the fans. As much as I did for the past year, it reminds us to keep true to ourselves when the spotlight hits us.

Sampha — Process
A lot of young artists are fighting for a spot in 2017. But not for Sampha Sisay. He is fighting for his own spot, his own struggle, his own demons, and his own self. All of these are amplified through Process.

The title itself defines what millennials keep forgetting: you can not speed up the process. Instant is good, but you will lose yourself in the process. This album feels personal for me because I have been struggling with the same thing this year: being vulnerable, flooded with a sense of being lost.

Slowdive — Slowdive
Hardly any innovations have come up for shoegaze this year — its roots are still alive, but it is in a state where none of its traditional shoegaze sound has been heard this year. That changes when one of its pioneers drop an album. In their classic form, they charm their way into this seamless, engulfing sound. It does not feel like a comeback album — stomping their own ground to retain familiarity.

Aditya Ari Prabowo, Country Representative (Indonesia)

Calvin Harris — Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1
The collaborators, I must say! With so many artists like Pharrell, Khalid, Future, Katy Perry and more, Calvin Harris really wrapped the album with so much funk, yet it still tastes like the old Calvin that we once knew — just not heavy on the electronics. Interesting way to wrap the new with the old — especially funk and new wave music — and it works superbly.

Kendrick Lamar — DAMN.
Gotta say that Kendrick is the tip of the iceberg of hip-hop albums this year. The songs and collaborations really make him stand out. His energy and personality truly represent the best of this generation.

BTS — Her/Love Yourself
The breakthrough artists of this industry! I’m glad that somebody introduced me to their music — watching them grow to international stardom seemed predictable, given how good they have become. Their varied styles, from electro-pop to smooth ballads, definitely has something to do with it. They're flying their flag high in the world.

Listen to the full playlist below: