There’s so much music released every year, it can seem impossible to keep track of it all. That’s why WRVU Nashville has come up with a list of what we believe to be this season’s essential albums, for those who feel like they aren’t up to date, or for those who are simply interested in discovering something new.
BROCKHAMPTON – Iridescence
I would be surprised to hear someone who isn’t at least somewhat familiar with BROCKHAMPTON at this point. The boyband rocked the music industry last year with their fantastic SATURATION series, combining bombastic flows with dizzying production to make something entirely unique in the rap world. Iridescence marks their fourth studio album and their most introspective record to date. You seriously can’t miss this one.
Standout Tracks: “BERLIN,” “WEIGHT,” “J’OUVERT,” “DISTRICT”
Lil Wayne – Tha Carter V
After seven long years of legal battles, Lil Wayne finally got the rights to release Tha Carter V. It’s not the best album on this list in terms of quality, but if anything, the record should be celebrated for its cultural significance. “Uproar” is definitely one of the best tracks of the year, though.
Standout Tracks: “Uproar,” “Dedicate,” “Mona Lisa”
Noname – Room 25
At this point, it’s very hard to think that Noname is anything but one of the best rappers of our generation. Her new album, Room 25, shows her growth as an artist as she delves into deeper themes of loneliness, blackness, and her relationship with her family. She’s also coming to Nashville in January, so make sure to buy tickets.
Standout Tracks: “Blaxploitation,” “Window,” “Don’t Forget About Me,” “Montego Bae,” “Ace”
IDLES – Joy as an Act of Resistance.
This year, IDLES released genuinely one of the best punk albums I’ve ever heard. The group has crafted a record that’s as thunderous as we’ve come to expect but deals with incredibly poignant themes of death, toxic masculinity, vulnerability, and self-respect. It’s essential listening if you’re walking to class and want to get there really fast. WRVU also got the chance to interview Joe Talbot when he came to Nashville, so be on the lookout for that on the blog.
Standout Tracks: “I’m Scum,” “Great,” “Danny Nedelko”, “Love Song,” ”Television”
Blood Orange – Negro Swan
Blood Orange’s follow-up to Freetown Sound is quieter and funkier than anything in his discography. Dev Hynes paints a panoramic portrait of American blackness, producing a record that is as poignant and effortlessly cool as ever.
Standout Tracks: “Charcoal Baby,” “Nappy Wonder”
Ariana Grande – sweetener
Ariana Grande’s release is certainly one of the most hyped of the year. She is one of the best artists in the pop scene, so it would be wrong to not include this one on the list. She also broke up with her fiance recently, which was a big deal if you care about things like that.
Standout Tracks: “no tears left to cry,” “God is a woman”
Mitski – Be the Cowboy
If you’re like us at WRVU, you think Mitski’s Puberty 2 is one of the better albums of the past 5 years. So naturally, we were excited about this release. Again, Mitski did not disappoint, coming through with a record that’s as heart-wrenching and emotionally mature as ever. “Nobody” is very simply the best song of the year (in my humble opinion).
Standout Tracks: “Nobody,” “Old Friend,” “Me and My Husband”
Yves Tumor – Safe in the Hands of Love
Yves Tumor has truly made something special with his newest record. The musician has flipped the idea of experimental music on its head, toying with traditional Pop or R&B grooves to make something both alienating and commercially accessible. As Pitchfork said, it’s almost like you don’t know where you are or what you’re listening to when engaging Tumor’s music. Take a listen if you want to hear something unlike anything else this year.
Standout Tracks: “Noid,” “Licking an Orchid,” “Lifetime”
boygenius – boygenius EP
When Julien Baker, Lucy Dacus, and Phoebe Bridges announced they were going to be making a joint record, a lot of mouths at WRVU fell agape. Three of the best songwriters out there right now promised us the gift of something ethereal. The result, released last week, is something as achingly beautiful as we could have imagined.
Standout Tracks: “Bite the Hand,” “Me & My Dog,” “Stay Down”
Sheck Wes – Mudboy
Sheck Wes, the darling of every frat party, has released an album which surprised lots of people, myself included. Instead of the bombastic rage anthems we found in “Mo Bamba,” Wes has put together a collection of introspective rap songs that are somehow both angry and contemplative.
Standout Tracks: “Mo Bamba,” “Vetements Socks,” “Live Sheck Wes,” “Gmail”
Robyn – Honey
Robyn is back with another shimmering dance-pop album, the first in eight years. It’s impossible to listen to this record and not want groove around your room, or if you’re like me right now, in the middle of the library. I’ve really been sleeping on her up until this album and I am very ashamed of myself.
Standout Tracks: “Missing U,” “Because It’s In The Music,” “Between the Lines”