The Arts and Culture Desk (and a bonus!) shares our most impactful albums from this year
Liz Jacobson, Arts and Culture Editor: “YHLQMDLG” by Bad Bunny
Bad Bunny’s second studio album pays homage to reggaetón’s past and showcases its future with features by the genre’s legends and fellow Latin trap up-and-comers. The album’s title is an abbreviation of “Yo hago lo que me da la gana” (“I do whatever I want”). “Safeara” and “Yo Perreo Sola,” along with the rest of the party album, will have you feelin’ yourself and doing whatever you want.
Allie Bailey, Assistant Arts and Culture Editor: “Circles” by Mac Miller
Only some of the greatest musicians have a strong enough collection of recordings to release an album posthumously. Mac Miller joins this talented crowd with “Circles” — chill, real, at times upbeat and often heartbreaking, the album is an accumulation of Miller’s lyrical intimacy and distinguished sound that transcends anything we’ve seen from him before.
Itzelth Gamboa: “Seven + Mary” by Rainbow Kitten Surprise
There is no comparable feeling to the feeling I got while listening to RKS blast in my 2001 Buggie. My third year in Davis was filled with an immense amount of new music, but “Seven + Mary” was, without a doubt, the best album. The music brings a sense of nostalgia, and will be accompanied by nothing but good memories.
Alyssa Ilsley: “Fine Line” by Harry Styles
Styles’ sophomore album is contemplative and emotional. Inspired by ’70s rock, Styles infuses folk, soul and psychedelic pop influences into an album that promotes a sense of timelessness. Styles is modernizing the pop-rock genre, with “Sunflower, Vol. 6” and “Cherry” demonstrating this best.
Sierra Jimenez: “Traveller” by Chris Stapleton
This album was made by the spirit of scraggly hairs on a wild cowboy’s beard and aimlessly driving to nowhere under a sea of stars in a beaten down truck. It stands along the border with one boot in country twang and the other, a bare foot, in the soil of bluegrass. You’ll definitely need some whiskey when listening to this diamond in the rough — Tennessee whiskey to be exact.
Josh Madrid: “Norman Fucking Rockwell!” by Lana Del Rey
This nosedive into the grey zone of American nostalgia takes place in my hometown of Long Beach, and it’s the type of lyrical poetry that one contemplates in the smoking section of the bar patio while thinking, “What’s next?” The best song on the album is “Hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have — but I have it.”
Livvy Mullen: “Art Angels” by Grimes
More than ever, I really need music that makes me feel absolutely feral. “Art Angels” just gives you that rush! Though I only understand 20 to 30% of the lyrics, I am confident that it is the greatest album in the history of music. My current isolation self-care routine is streaming it in full at 2 a.m. while I try to move things with my mind. Highly recommend!
Caroline Rutten: “Immunity” by Clairo
This young, emerging artist offers us a glimpse into adolescent experiences with love — it’s innocent, it’s intense and it’s heart-wrenching at times. Clairo offers lyrics of perfect simplicity, partnered with the sound of ex-Vampire Weekend’s Rostam. Bedroom pop has reached a moment of beauty with this album.
Ilya Shrayber: “1000 gecs” by 100 gecs
There is truly nothing in our sonic landscape that sounds quite like 100 gecs. Sit back, relax, pour yourself a cup of tea, then stand back up, throw the cup against the wall and start flailing along to the endless array of bangers found on their debut release “1000 gecs.”
Andrew Williams: “Maggot Brain” by Funkadelic
Funkadelic’s third studio album pits all the groove and move of the ’70s against, y’know, “Nam” and all that stuff. Strap yourself in and prepare for a psychedelic eruption of face-melting guitar solos and funktastic basslines — just don’t forget to pack your stinkiest “stank” face.
Added Bonus: Dominic Faria, Sports Editor: “Mirrorland” by EarthGang
This is one of the most creative and expressive albums to come out of the ascendant Dreamville label. Olu and WowGr8 take you on a rhythmic ride through Atlanta that changes course with each unique track. It blends art and imagination with heartfelt poetry, and it begs to be listened to over and over again.
Written by: The Arts and Culture Desk — firstname.lastname@example.org