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2017 goes down as a good year for music

We asked local rappers, singers, songwriters, drummers, emcees, et al: “What was 2017’s album of the year?”
Here are their answers.

Dialtone, Magnum
As musicians we inspire. Ourselves. Other musicians. The world. Dialtone gave any musician that follows him the push they needed at the top of 2017. Myself included. With production by Papa, Magnum came on a USB in the form of a bullet and gun with the rumor of a short film to follow. The short film came and looked like nothing we’d seen as a local rollout for an album. It reminded me of The Wall. Magnum’s marketing showed artists in Tulsa and surrounding areas that execution is everything. From it came festivals, a movie, and an impromptu art show called “No Parking,” also the work of Tone—all executed with Magnum in mind, with success at every event—proving that nothing is impossible and anything can happen. –Pade, rapper

JD McPherson, Undivided Heart and Soul
I just love this band, musically and personally. They are the real deal. Also, being a drummer, listening to Jason Smay on this record is thoroughly enjoyable. –Paddy Ryan, drummer

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Flying Microtonal Banana
Introducing various Turkish instruments and custom-built microtonal guitars, keyboards, and harmonicas for one record is a bold move, but one that has caught my ear and taken hold. With an obvious krautrock influence, I love hearing that world collide with garage rock and traditional Turkish music in a lo-fi setting. While the rhythmic complexity is very different than in their other albums, they make up for it with exotic quarter tones, putting the wrong notes in the right places. –Conor Robb, The Dull Drums, Cucumber and the Suntans, Contra

DeJohnette, Grenadier, Medeski & Scofield, Hudson
I looked forward most to Hudson, and it did not disappoint. Hudson is the superband comprised of jazz legends Jack DeJohnette, John Scofield, Larry Grenadier, and John Medeski. On this recording, they pay tribute to many of their own musical heroes, like Hendrix, Dylan, Joni Mitchell, and The Band, reworking cover material as jams and free jazz improvisations. There are also a few well-crafted originals contributed by DeJohnette. Jazz, rock, peace, and protest: just what we need. –Jared Johnson, drummer

Pond, The Weather
As much music that came out this year, and as much as I love King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, I’ve decided to give The Weather by Pond my favorite of the year. It’s such a fantastic and lush record. They dropped the “harder-in-comparison” pysch rock for more synths and grooves, and it really pays off. With his lyrics and melodies, Nicholas Allbrook has once again taken the next step in evolving into a better singer/songwriter. –Nicholas Delesdernier, Contra

Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, Diaspora
Naturally, I would pick a jazz record for my favorite. Christian Scott is an amazingly gifted trumpeter and musical stylemasher. If you could aggregate 100+ years of jazz tradition with trap, neo-soul, and an imaginative re-working of late ‘80s Miles Davis, then you might come close to describing this record.  But, more importantly, you get virtuoso improvisations, growls, and anguish leading us into the jazz future (sans “smooth jazz”). Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah is part of the new wave of jazz, along with artists like Kamasi Washington, Thundercat, Esperanza Spalding, Robert Glasper, and Cecile McLorin Salvant–Dean DeMerritt, Dean DeMerritt Jazz Tribe

SZA, Ctrl
I enjoyed this album because it’s FEARLESS! The way the artist allowed herself to express personal insecurities along with satisfactions within her relationships (or situations), her style is unique and unapologetic. I was introduced to SZA earlier this summer and learned that she wrote songs for a few major artists, such as Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj, and Rihanna, before releasing her own album, which sparked my interest in her work even more. Being a writer myself and hearing the freedom of the new talent that has arisen the past few year is extremely encouraging. The world of hip hop and R&B has definitely come back to life. –Tea Rush, singer/songwriter

Jesca Hoop, Memories Are Now
Jesca Hoop has been my favorite artist for ten years now. I found her in the days of Myspace, quite by accident, by continually clicking on number 1 on “top 8 friends.” Remember that? Anyways, her new album just does not disappoint, and everyone needs to hear it. –Rachel Bachman, singer/songwriter

Scott Cook, Further Down the Line
Scott Cook’s 2017 release Further Down the Line is an introspective journey into what it is to travel and entertain for a living. Stories of loss, love, protest, and joy paint this album in a light reminiscent of his past works but with an ever-increasing acuity. I love it. The song “Fellas, Get Out the Way” holds a particular poignancy in times like these, and his perspective is something many of us would do well to hear. –Chris Blevins, singer/songwriter

Bjork, Utopia
This music is a soundtrack to an M.C. Escher painting. There is such depth to the production on this album, and I wasn’t hip to her mate Arca before this. Acoustic and synthesized instruments, neo-‘80s effects, and minimalist compositional style all serve as a medium for her surreal and emotional storytelling. I think [William S.] Burroughs would enjoy taking a hit to this. –Mike Cameron, Mike Cameron Collective, Count Tutu

Dialtone, Magnum
For album of the year I choose Dialtone & Papa’s Magnum because it’s a 100 percent rap album. It was long-awaited for myself, so when it came out it was everything from a classic Dialtone album I wanted. The bonus is that it’s a conceptual collaborative effort comprised of seven tracks solely produced by Papa. The title comes from the show “Magnum P.I.” Papa got the idea to sample its score after watching the series on DVD. Favorite track: “Cruising USA.” –Keeng Cut, rapper

Drab Majesty, The Demonstration
I heard this is what the goth kids in South Park are listening to. –Nathan Young, noise artist, visual artist, composer

Keeng Cut, World Culture Keys
Representing North Tulsa and Black Wall Street, Keeng Cut and Seriously K 5IVE have their own style. A mixture of intricate rapping patterns along with harmonizing and dope production keep you interested the entire time. The album starts off with the song “Better Everyday”—an anthem for bettering yourself. It leads into “Own It,” which is 3 minutes of tellin’ you to own your moment when you get it. With features from some of the hottest local artists in town, you won’t skip a song if you start it, and you might just be inspired to make some ginger pineapple tea and asparagus for dinner, ride bikes, start a business, and take better care of your kid. Ha. –Trak, producer, filmmaker, rapper

Cameron Avery, Ripe Dreams, Pipe Dreams
This is a 21st-century big band/crooner record. Sweeping melodies played by strings reinforce feelings of loss and longing. Avery croons stories of unrequited love and disappointment over tasteful compositions reminiscent of the Rat Pack. The album speaks to the naïve hopes and misunderstandings of our romantic lives. The fluctuating dynamics illustrate the crests and pitfalls of romantic desire, ending ultimately with an acceptance of the lessons set before the listener. –Josh Ricks, Colouradio, Molten Sun Projections

Dave Dondero, Inside the Cat’s Eye
Dave Dondero’s succinct, clever lyrics are coupled with a simple sound that’s punchy and beefy yet unintrusive, rhythmically rolling always. His imaginative storytelling sounds like traditional folk with punk sensibilities and straightforward, carefully-crafted melodies. Dondero’s rich, resonant voice has an unaffected, pleasing vibrato that he doesn’t over-exploit. The guitar drives the tunes with spacious riffs and rhythms; bass and drums are subtle and sturdy. “Country Cliché,” bold in sound and lyric, opens with saloon-style piano. It has a light, humorous vibe slapped with searing lyrics that cut deep and are deliciously dark. –Adrienne Gilley, singer/songwriter

Blood Cultures, Happy Birthday
It’s very pop, but it’s smothered in dreamy, ethereal sounds and voices. They play with synth and vocal pitch tuners in a way that totally blows my mind. It’s one of those albums that stimulates all your senses. It was my go-to album for long car rides this year. I can’t wait to hear more from them. –Lindsey Wessinger, Girls Club

Wu-Tang Clan, The Saga Continues
Sonic nostalgia. Involuntary head-bobbing. Serious wordplay. The good old days. The golden era. Familiar tempo. No mumbling. Multi-syllabic polyrhythms and unexpected cadences from the lyricists. The proven formula = more MCs than a six-shooter can hold. Sean Price. The gawds. The wisdom. The math of it all. The topical relevance and timeliness and timelessness. Absolute brilliance. Wu Tang: The Saga Continues. Album of the Year. –D.G. Rozell, trumpeter, host of The Situation

Kesha, Rainbow
My favorite album of 2017 is Rainbow by Kesha. It’s her triumphant return to the musical landscape. If you think you know what Kesha sounds like, think again. This album is a beautiful anthem of a woman who is just a little bit freer than she was when we first heard her voice.  There are layers to this woman, and she isn’t afraid to show that. –Casii Stephan, singer/songwriter

Nature & Madness, Where Will We Go
I was fortunate enough to meet Ryan Pickop, the man behind Nature & Madness, earlier this year in Arkansas. Though this was a 2016 release, these songs were important for me in 2017. I have spent generous amounts of time combing through his lyrical and musical compositions while driving the turnpike between here and OKC. Solid gold, through and through. He recently transplanted to Tulsa with his family, and I look forward to what he does next. –Kalyn Fay, singer/songwriter

IDLES, Brutalism
I cannot go on enough about Bristol’s IDLES. They are cooler than they even know. They’re labeled as “art punk”—I’m not a big fan of labels and just describe them as evolved-distorted bass-driven 2017 punk. Well done! –Ty ClarkTTV writer, The Bourgeois

Rapsody, Laila’s Wisdom
Some of you may have noticed that Roy Moore was recently delivered the most satisfying ass-kicking of 2017. To the benefit of all women, black women voters in Alabama made sure Moore stayed out of office. These and other recent events solidified my choice for album of the Year: Rapsody’s Laila’s Wisdom. Jazzy, soul-laden beats provide the backdrop to some of Rapsody’s most impressive and poignant lyrics to date. Songs like the Maya Angelou-inspired “Sassy” celebrate the confidence of black womanhood, and the entire album reveals the tough vulnerability inherent in the feminine experience. While there is still a long way to go, Rapsody helps women to love themselves through the journey, in both the ups and downs. –Mary Noble, TTV writer

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s entire 2017 catalog
If forced to choose just one album for the year, it has to be Kendrick’s DAMN., but if we’re talking about a year’s-worth of musical output, 2017 belongs to King Gizzard. With the range shown on the four Gizz records released this year so far (they promised five before year’s end)—Eastern-influenced experimentation on Flying Microtonal Banana, high-concept prog-metal on Murder of the Universe, freewheeling, jazz groove on Sketches of Brunswick East, and the swirling, cerebral triumph of Polygondwanaland—and the fact that none of them suffers from the weight of the band’s prolific output, they’ve cemented themselves among the best and most fascinating bands playing. –John Langdon, TTV digital editor, Cucumber and the Suntans, The EarslipsThe Dull Drums, Who & The Fucks