By Lane Claffee
December 20, 2017
Another year in music has passed, and while there were plenty of great albums released nationally in 2017, there were also plenty of quality works from right here in Charlotte that may have passed you by. From southern rap and baroque psych rock to alternative country, there’s surely something for everyone.
Here are some of our favorite releases to come out of Charlotte’s vibrant scene this year:
Elevator Jay’s latest album is a perfect example of how Charlotte hip-hop is overly slept on, in a general sense. Ain’t Nothin’ Finer is a laid-back Southern rap gem that hits from start to finish. With references to Charlotte life throughout, it’s both a masterfully crafted collection of bangers, and a vicarious look into life in the Queen City.
Favorite tracks: “Ain’t Nothing Finer,” Get Right, ” ”When You Win,” “Get Fonky”
“Even though this is our second album, it feels like a first album because we really focused on making 11 songs that flow and compliment each other,” said Junior Astronomers frontman Terrence Richard. It’s true; while Junior Astronomers have been around for a minute, this is undoubtedly their most cohesive project, and my favorite album of theirs to date. Body Language is a poignant but fierce indie rock record that shows that the band is only getting better with age.
Favorite tracks: “That’s Why,” “Pyramid Party,” “Favorite Hiding Places”
In April, four-piece Shadowgraphs released their full-length album Venomous Blossoms, a genre-bending aural kaleidoscope of pop and neo-psychedelia. Tracks like “Interstellar” and “Space Medusa” show their psychedelia at its peak, while tracks like “Eastern Holiday” show some John Lennon style, avant-pop songwriting. Having played their last North Carolina show at Snug Harbor a few weeks ago before their move to Portland, they will surely be missed as one of Charlotte’s most remarkable contemporary bands.
Favorite tracks: “Interstellar,” “Space Medusa,” “Countryside”
In September, Dreamville artist and Charlotte native Lute released his highly anticipated debut studio album, West1996 Pt. 2. Featuring tracks like “Juggin,’” Queen City classic “Still Slummin,” and “Home” featuring Elevator Jay, it’s a window into the last five years of his life in the West Side of Charlotte, and it’s another prime example that Charlotte hip hop is definitely on the rise.
Favorite tracks: “Juggin’,” “Still Slummin,’” “Home”
Clocking in at 23 tracks, Dirty Art Club’s latest full-length may seem lengthy, but it never drags or overstays its welcome. An electronic downtempo album that sometimes goes into hypnagogic pop territory, it honestly couldn’t get more apt than the self-description given on the Dirty Art Club bandcamp page: “an encyclopedic sample curator soundtrack[ing] a vibrant psychedelic cartoon dream.”
Favorite tracks: “Pulp,” “Sick Boy”
Indie folk group Elonzo Wesley’s Spec is an intense, emotionally heavy record. Covering dire subjects such as the horrific Charleston shooting, as well as cosmic existentialism, it also does so with an incredible warmth. With beautiful, sincere instrumental melodies and arrangements in each song, it’s an album that finds solace in a speck of brightness in the dark.
Favorite tracks: “Spec,” “Emmanuel”
“This (Chicken Day EP) is reminiscent of Guru’s Jazzmatazz albums, and coming from me that is not faint praise. The tracks on Chicken Day do a rare thing: they manage to be laid back and bright all at once, easing the nerves while simultaneously stimulating them. It’s intoxicating.” – Matt Cosper
Favorite tracks: “Ain’t That Somethin,” “That There,” “Premonitions”
In October, emo four-piece Mineral Girls released their follow up to 2015’s Cozy Body, titled This Is The Last Time Every Time. This release is different than their past material, in the way of its writing process. While the previous releases were mostly all written by member Brett Green, this time the record was written almost entirely collaboratively. Overall, This Is The Last Time Every Time is an inventive and impressive take on a new wave of emo in 2017.
Favorite tracks: “let’s talk about us,” “bridge over what”
Mixing psychedelic rhythm-and-blues with alternative noise rock, Modern Primitives’ Hot Water Woman shows experimentation from one of Charlotte’s best rock outfits. While it still has elements of the dirty, brazen rock ‘n’ roll that the band is known for, the most impressive part of this release is just how well they blend two genres that seem so far apart. Overall, it’s one of the most rugged, adventurous, and engaging albums to come out of Charlotte in 2017.
Favorite tracks: “Feet,” “Big White Van”
Self described as “a band of misfits making bluesy-jazzy-weird-shit,” four-piece Blame The Youth’s debut EP The Hourglass delivers a truly unique blend of blues, jazz, alternative rock, and neo-soul. Citing such diverse influences from Haitus Kaiyote to The Contortionist, The Hourglass is certainly one of the interesting releases out of the Charlotte music scene this year.
Favorite tracks: “ABACA,” “5th Street”
Released in December, Charles Walker’s Whole Again EP was a last minute surprise in the world of Charlotte music. Stating influence from Wilco and Jason Molina, it’s an honest, emotionally complex alt-country record that can be both vulnerable and eruptive. With Whole Again, Walker shows an incredible amount of potential, and being that he is only 19 years old, it’ll be truly exciting to see what he has in store for the future.
Favorite tracks: “Sober I Love You,” “Detox”
Deion Reverie – justbehappy.
Deion Reverie’s latest project justbehappy. is a pleasant mixture of bedroom-electronica and R&B. While drawing some similarities from artists like The Weeknd, this record is much more personal, and that’s not a bad thing; like an entry to a journal that Deion is personally letting you read.
Favorite tracks: “This Is Just The Beginning…,” “Will You?”
We made you a Spotify playlist:
In this article
- Charlotte Music
- Ain’t Nothin’ Finer
- Basement Séance
- best albums
- Blame the Youth
- body language
- charles walker
- dirty art club
- elevator jay
- elonzo wesley
- Hot Water Woman
- junior astronomers
- Mineral Girls
- Modern Primitives
- north carolina
- The Hourglass EP
- this is the last time every time
- Venomous Blossoms
- West1996 Pt. 2
- whole again