Monthly Music Madness: January 2017 Edition

January 2017 was certainly a busy month when it came to music. There were many that I was anticipating, some that I wasn’t, and some that I had no idea was dropping at all. Each release that I mention are releases that I either really enjoyed or enjoyed some aspect to it. There will be some releases that I will like more than others, and there will be some releases that do not stand out as much as the others, but that should not take away from what they are.

Also, keep in mind that with the releases that I mention in later paragraphs, there are so many other releases that I either missed or just completely looked over. Just because a release did not make it onto this post, it doesn’t mean that it won’t end up on one of my top ten lists at the end of the year. Also, please remember that just because I like a release and mention it here, does not mean that I will still like it at the end of the year. That is a sad thing that comes with listening to music, and hopefully, it will not come to that.

So, without further ado, I will begin listing off the many albums that I listened to in January.


Natalie Hemby: Puxico (83 / B-)
Label: GetWrucke Productions
Genre: Alternative Country / Americana / Folk
Release Date: January 13, 2017


This was an album that I was kind of anticipating when I first found that she was going to release a debut this year. She ifs perhaps best known for her songwriting, writing for the likes of Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood, and more recently Jana Kramer and Kacey Musgraves. This album sounds so unlike most other Contemporary Country albums, which is one of the biggest reasons why I enjoyed it so much. Hemby brings a bit of a folky feel to the music of each track, and it gives off a bit of a simplistic vibe. The first four tracks of this album are really solid and the opening track really starts the album off on a high point. The albums closing track “Return” finishes off the album with a high point as well.

Favorite songs include: “Time Honored Tradition,” “Lovers on Display,” “Grand Restoration,” “Cairo, IL,” and “Return.” I would say that “This Town Still Talks About You,” the album’s seventh track, is my least favorite on the album, but it is still a fairly decent song.

The McClymonts: Endless (82 / B-)
Label: Universal Music (Australia)
Genre: Contemporary Country / Neotraditional Country / Pop Rock
Release Date: January 13, 2017


This album was one that just sort of popped up out of nowhere for me. While I consider myself to be somewhat of a purist when it comes to Country music, but I really enjoy it when artists fuse different genres together to make a very interesting one. This is the main reason why I don’t fully hate all of County music today. And this album fits that category. While the Australian group sings like they’re from the late 90’s/early 2000’s era of Neotraditional Country music, but their music is very reminiscent of modern Pop-Rock music. And the two sounds really well together on this album. This is a very solid modern Country album.

Favorite tracks include: “Like We Used To,” “House,” “Nothing Good Comes Easy,” “Endless,” “When We Say it’s Forever,” and “Bad for Us.”

Lauren Alaina: Road Less Traveled (82 / B-)
Label: 19 Recordings
Genre: Contemporary Country / Country Pop
Release Date: January 27, 2017


The American Idol alum has grown up a lot since her debut studio album in 2011. With her sophomore release, Lauren really shows her more mature side, and it really makes the album shine. Starting off with the strong opener, “Doin’ Fine” is a really inspirational song that might draw from Lauren’s personal experiences, as she co-wrote this track along with the other eleven. “My Kinda People” is another strong track from the album, a Country Pop anthem about the people you are related to or hang around with. The album’s title track is also another strong track. Lauren shows off her vulnerable and mature side with the track “Painting Pillows.” “My Next Boyfriend,” in my opinion, sounds very similar to Sam Hunt’s “Ex to See” and another song that I simply cannot remember the name of, though I still find it very catchy. The album’s closing track “Pretty” is another inspirational song and is very uplifting.

Favorite tracks include: “Doin’ Fine,” “My Kinda People,” “Road Less Traveled,” “Think Outside the Boy,” “Painting Pillows,” and “Pretty.”

I just want to say congratulations to Lauren because this album really surprised me. It could very well make my Top Ten Country Releases for this year, as I will most likely be constantly listening to it throughout the year.

Hip Hop

Dope KNife: NineteenEightyFour (88 / B+)
Label: Strange Famous Records / SFDigi
Genre: Industrial Hip Hop / Trip Hop / Underground Hip Hop
Release Date: January 27, 2017


This was an album that almost flew under my radar. I had never heard of this rapper before, much like many of the rappers I listened to last year and most likely I will listen to this year. Dope KNife is an underground rapper who is apparently one of the best freestylers. While I haven’t listened to his freestyles, I did listen to this album, and what a listen it was. His rhyme scheme and wordplay is otherworldly, and, every now and then, he gets into some conscious material. He often alludes to nineties rap songs – especially on the opening track “Nothing to Lose” and the third track “Fear and Loathing.” These nineties rap songs include: “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and “Fuck tha Police.”

All the tracks on this album are fantastic. I really don’t understand why I only gave it an 88 when every single song on here is great, in my opinion. Nonetheless, if I were to choose my ultimate favorites on this album, I would most likely choose: “Fear and Loathing,” “Your Tombstone,” “Unperson,” “Name Up,” “Memory Hole,” and “Squad Go Hard.”

P.O.S.: Chill, dummy (81 / B-)
Label: Doomtree Records
Genre: Alternative Hip Hop / Industrial Hip Hop / Underground Hip Hop
Release Date: January 27, 2017


This album really took me by surprise. I hadn’t heard of P.O.S. before this year, and when I saw the album cover, I was intrigued. So I just had to listen to it. And man, what an exhilarating listen it was, too.

It has an underground sound that will appeal to even the most obscure hip hop fans. It also has a bit of an industrial sound to it as well, which makes it all the more unique and eclectic. When listening to the album, I made the comment that P.O.S. sounds a little bit like El-P, an American rapper and producer, and has the vocabulary and rhyme scheme of Aesop Rock, another fellow underground rapper. Overall, this album is very refreshing to hear after hearing so much “hip hop” on the radio and is a good step away from that.

Favorite tracks include: “Born a Snake,” “Wearing a Bear,” “Thieves / Kings,” and “Gravedigger.”

Migos: Culture (76 / C)
Label: Quality Control / 300 / Atlantic
Genre: Southern Hip Hop / Trap
Release Date: January 27, 2017


I debated for the longest time whether I would review this album. I honestly really did not want to, but I kept hearing everyone say that it actually wasn’t that bad, so I, begrudgingly, decided to listen to it. Honestly, it wasn’t that bad. Every beat on here is really headnodic and even the features, which include the likes of Lil Uzi Vert, Gucci Mane, 2 Chainz, Travis Scott, and DJ Khaled, were not that bad. The production on each track is top quality, as is almost expected for a commercial hip hop album. While I praise those aspects of the album, I gave this album a solid C because it doesn’t offer much more in substance than the usual subject matter in trap music.

Favorite tracks include: “Bad and Boujee,” “Get Right Witcha,” “Slippery,” “Deadz,” “All Ass,” and “Out Yo Way.” I feel as though Lil Uzi Vert’s verse in “Bad and Boujee” could have been either improved or completely taken off.


John Mayer: The Search for Everything: Wave One – EP (89 / B+)
Label: Columbia Records
Genre: Adult Alternative / Blues Rock / Pop Rock / Soul
Release Date: January 20, 2017


A nice and short pop-rock EP. John Mayer has pretty much dominated the pop rock circuits over the past fifteen years or so, and this EP really shows that he still knows how to write a really good and catchy song all the while combining pop-rock music with his signature bluesy rock sound. “Moving On and Getting Over” is a wonderful opening track, really showcasing Mayer’s vocals and his fantastic guitar work. “Changing” probably should have been the promotional single for the EP instead of “Love on the Weekend,” though I still really enjoy the latter. “Changing” tells a really nice story about change, specifically Mayer’s musical evolution throughout his time as a musician. While I really enjoy “Changing,” I can understand why “Love on the Weekend” was chosen as the lead single because it really does showcase John Mayer’s strengths and his talent with songwriting. “You’re Gonna Live Forever in Me,” another fantastic track that rounds out this EP, sounds like a song written a long time ago. It’s a simple piano track with an orchestra and is simply a great closing track for a really solid and well-put together EP.

Tom Chaplin: The Wave (88 / B+)
Label: Island Records
Genre: Alternative Rock / Piano Rock / Pop Rock / Post-Britpop
Release Date: October 14, 2016 (Initial release) / January 13, 2017 (American release)


I know that this album was technically released in October of last year, but I wasn’t able to listen to it until a couple weeks ago. Plus, I had no idea that this album was happening, so…there.

Tom Chaplin had a rough few years during the transition between being the frontman of the English rock band Keane and the recording of his first solo album. Apparently, he had obtained a drug problem, because of the anxiety for his album, and almost everybody gave up on him. Ultimately, he cleaned himself up and recorded a modern masterpiece.

Favorite tracks include: “Still Waiting,” “The River,” “Bring the Rain,” “Quicksand,” and “Solid Gold.”

The xx: I See You (77 / C+)
Label: Young Turks
Genre: Dream Pop / Electronic Rock / Indie Pop
Release Date: January 13, 2017


This album started on a really high note, but it basically kind of fizzled out around the middle, and picked itself up a bit more by the end. The first two tracks are, in my opinion, the best ones on here. While there are many good songs on this album, there are some that just do not seem to do anything for me, specifically “Performance.” This album is at points enjoyable, but slightly inconsistent at best.

Favorite tracks include: “Dangerous,” “Say Something Loving,” “Replica,” and “On Hold.”

Train: A Girl, A Bottle, A Boat (74 / C)
Label: Columbia
Genre: Pop / Pop Rock
Release Date: January 27, 2017


So, this album happened. Coming off their cover album Train Does Led Zeppelin II, Train has recorded this on a completely different spectrum. This album is perhaps their poppiest yet. While they have always had some pop influences, especially with “Drops of Jupiter” and “Calling All Angels,” they have always had a sort of pop rock and roots rock sound to incorporate with it. This album does not have those other sounds at all. It is purely a pop album with some, and I use that with italics for as much emphasis as I can use, pop rock-incorporated sounds. While this album is not bad and not the worst album to ever be released, it does not offer the same aesthetic that made Train so popular.

Favorite tracks include: “Play That Song” and “You Better Believe.”


Kehlani: SweetSexySavage (82 / B-)
Label: Atlantic / TSNMI
Genre: Contemporary R&B / Hip Hop Soul / Neo Soul
Release Date: January 27, 2017


I really like this album. It is a soulful hip hop-induced R&B album, and as my past blog posts have revealed, I enjoy when so many genres are mashed together. Each track on here offers up to the listener personal stories by Kehlani, though it might become a little bit repetitive to some listeners. Upon my first listen, I didn’t seem to realize that she would repeat many of the subject matters on the album throughout many of the songs, but that’s not a big turn-off for me. Because, while she may repeat herself, she sings over a very eclectic set of beats and production that it can be overlooked. Besides, the subject matter is very interesting to hear.

Favorite tracks include: “Keep On,” “Distraction,” “Piece of Mind,” “Advice,” “Do U Dirty,” “Escape,” “Too Much,” “Hold Me By the Heart,” and “Thank You.”

Bell Biv DeVoe: Three Stripes (82 / B-)
Label: eOne
Genre: Contemporary R&B / Hip Hop / New Jack Swing
Release Date: January 27, 2017


Sadly, this was my introduction into a full-length Bell Biv Devoe album. I have, of course, listened to their 1990 hit “Poison,” but I just haven’t listened to much else by them. I would say that this is a solid release by a 1990’s group trying to bring their sound and music into the 2010’s. The intro track “Ready” is a great opener, featuring skillful beatboxing by legendary beatboxer Doug E. Fresh. The vocals one each track are still very fresh and sound as though they were recorded in the mid-1990’s.

Favorite tracks include: “Find a Way,” “I’m Betta,” “Hot Damn,” “Run,” and “Don’t Go.”

Matt Martians: The Drum Chord Theory (79 / C+)
Label: Three Quarter
Genre: Alternative R&B / Experimental Hip Hop / Neo Soul / Psychedelic R&B / Trip Hop
Release Date: January 26, 2017


This is a very trippy album. It might be off-putting to a new listener of this particular genre, or even Matt Martians himself. I will admit that I was a bit cautious when listening to the first track “Spend the Night / If You Were My GF” that I actually considered stopping altogether, but I am glad that I didn’t. While I wouldn’t consider it the best album in this particular genre, it is still very good. There are definitely some experimental aspects to it, and it even has a bit of a psychedelic vibe to it, as well. Matt’s vocals mesh really well with each beat on the album, especially when it reaches a very high pitch. This was a very solid debut album, and I am very excited to hear what he has to offer in the future and to see if he can capitalize on his style.

Favorite tracks include: “Baby Girl,” “Alotta Women / Useless,” “Dent Jusay,” “Callin’ on Me,” “Diamond in da Ruff,” and “Elevators.”


Deaf Havana: All These Countless Nights (88 / B+)
Label: SO Recordings / Silva Screen Records
Genre: Alternative Rock / Hard Rock / Heartland Rock / Pop Rock / Post-Hardcore / Power Pop
Release Date: January 27, 2017


An album that was highly anticipated, All These Countless Nights really impressed me in countless ways. This was perhaps one of the most solid rock releases for January. The British band has released an album that really sound sonically pleasing. Tracks like “Trigger” really show the band’s anthemic side while tracks like “Happiness” show James Veck-Gilodi’s more soft and tender vocals. This is rated highest among all the rock releases for the month for a very good reason. Each song on here is fantastic, and it would be a crime not to listen to at least one of them. “Seattle” is possibly the album’s best track.

The Regrettes: Feel Your Feelings Fool! (87 / B+)
Label: Warner Bros.
Genre: Garage Pop / Garage Punk / Power Pop / Punk Rock
Release Date: January 13, 2017


Over the course of January, I constantly wondered what album would be my favorite for the month. This one. It’s this one. This is my favorite album of January 2017. Period. There’s nothing more I need to say. From the obvious Punk Rock sounds to the 1960’s girl group vibe the band gives off with the feminist lyrics, it is just a freaking great album. This one will definitely be in rotation throughout the rest of the year. Each track is worth multiple listens. If you are just going to listen to one album on this whole post, then let it be this one. I have never been so excited about any one album in a long time, and this album is excellent. Just…just listen to it.

Foxygen: Hang (87 / B+)
Label: Jagjaguwar
Genre: Baroque Pop / Glam Rock / Indie Rock / Jazz Rock / Progressive Rock / Psychedelic Rock
Release Date: January 20, 2017


This album can really take you back in time. It sounds as though the album could have been recorded any time during the sixties, seventies, or the eighties. You can hear some influences in Sam France’s vocals, such as Mick Jagger, and maybe even Jim Morrison to a lesser extent. It also has many sounds throughout. Over the eight tracks (and thirty-two or so minutes), you can definitely hear some Glam Rock, Progressive Rock, Psychedelic Rock, and even a little bit of Jazz Rock. The album also has an overall Baroque Pop sound.

Favorite tracks include: “On Lankershim,” “Trauma,” and “Rise Up.” Every track on here, though, is really good and definitely deserves a listen.

Japandroids: Near to the Wild Heart of Life (86 / B)
Label: Anti- / Japandroids Recording Inc.
Genre: Alternative Rock / Garage Rock / Heartland Rock / Indie Rock / Noise Rock / Post-Punk / Punk Rock
Release Date: January 27, 2017


Nope, they’re Canadian, despite what their name might indicate.

This was an album that I was anticipating for this year. When I first heard the album’s lead single “Near to the Wild Heart of Life,” I was instantly hooked and could not wait for January 27 to arrive. This album is very sonically pleasing, with many different sounds throughout the album, such as Punk Rock, Heartland Rock, Garage Rock, and Indie Rock. The first three tracks – “Near to the Wild Heart of Life,” “North East South West,” and “True Love and a Free Life of Free Will” – really open the album on a strong note. The next two tracks – “I’m Sorry (For Not Finding You Sooner)” and “Arc of Bar” – are not on the same level as the first three, but are still very enjoyable. The last three tracks – “Midnight to Morning,” “No Known Drink or Drug,” and “In a Body Like a Grave” – bring the album back to the high note that the first three tracks did.

Overall, this album is another fantastic release for January. Originally, this album was rated lower for some reason, but I felt that it needed to be higher than what I initially gave it, which was an 83. All the tracks on here are great, and there’s only eight of them.

Cloud Nothings: Life Without Sound (85 / B)
Label: Carpark Records / Wichita
Genre: Indie Rock / Noise Rock / Post-Hardcore / Post-Rock / Power Pop
Release Date: January 27, 2017


Another reason why I was so excited for January 27 to arrive, this band is in a similar vein to a band mentioned previously mentioned: Japandroids. While they share the Noise Rock / Post-Hardcore aspects, Cloud Nothings incorporate a Post-Rock and Power Pop feel that brings a lot of feeling to the album. With only nine tracks on the album, there was very little room for error, and for the most part, there were no flaws. Each track on here is very solid and enjoyable to listen to, but the fifth track “Enter Entirely” is certainly one of the album’s highlights.

Colony House: Only the Lonely (85 / B)
Label: Colony House, Inc. / RCA
Genre: Alternative Rock / Heartland Rock / Indie Rock / Southern Rock
Release Date: January 13, 2017


Natives of Franklin, Tennessee, this band mixes Indie Rock with Heartland Rock, with some traces of Southern Rock. The outcome is a very sonically pleasing album. The first two tracks “Cannot Do This Alone” and “1234” are very anthemic in their own rights and are very explosive tracks. “Lonely” has a bit of a Blues Rock feel to it. The rest of the album seems to have the same sound as the previously mentioned tracks, but they all have their own style individually.

Favorite tracks include: “Cannot Do This Alone,” “1234,” “Lonely,” “I Want it All,” and “Follow Me Down.”

Sundara Karma: Youth is Only Ever Fun in Retrospect (85 / B)
Label: RCA / Sony Music UK
Genre: Alternative Rock / Garage Rock / Indie Rock / New Wave / Post-Punk Revival
Release Date: January 6, 2017



This album seemed to creep up on me. I had no idea who the band was or that it was going to be released on January 6th this year. When listening to the album, I thought I heard traces of eighties’ new wave mixed with garage rock music. Add that with some Post-Punk Revival and I think that it what makes this album so enjoyable. Also, Oscar Pollock, the band’s lead vocalist, sings with such emotion and intensity that you feel every part of the album. Plus, the music is very light and springy and makes you want to nod your head right along with it.

With this album being so consistently solid, I find it difficult to pick a few tracks on here to list off as favorites, so I will say that all of them, with the exception of “Flame,” are really good and deserving of listens.

Dropkick Murphys: 11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory (84 / B)
Label: Born & Bred
Genre: Celtic Punk / Folk Punk / Oi! / Punk Rock
Release Date: January 6, 2017



When you mix Punk Rock with traditional Celtic music, you wouldn’t expect the outcome to be anything but terrible, but this is exactly what has made Dropkick Murphys very popular over the past twenty years. The album leads off with a mostly-instrumental track (it has vocals that are basically “oh-whoa” or some variation of that). The album’s third song “Blood” is actually a very catchy track where the bagpipes can be clearly heard. Who would have thought bagpipes would make a Punk Rock album sound good? “Kicked to the Curb” is a somewhat comical narrative of a man being “kicked to the curb” by his former lover, whom I think is named Sally. The album’s closer “Until the Next Time” plays the album off almost like a drinking song being sung in a bar. This album is really a fun listen.

Favorite tracks include: “Rebels With a Cause,” “Blood,” “Sandlot,” “Kicked to the Curb,” “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” and “Until the Next Time.”

Louden Swain: No Time Like the Present (84 / B)
Label: 3 Car Wreckords
Genre: Alternative Country / Alternative Rock / Indie Rock / Roots Rock
Release Date: January 13, 2017



One of the few television actors to release a very enjoyable and listenable album, Rob Benedict channels into his southern roots to bring a solid Alternative County / Indie Rock album. “Present Time” kicks off the album like a punch to the face and offers up some very unique lyrics. Tracks like “Amazing,” “Over Before it Began,” and “This is How” are certainly high points.


Starset: Vessels (84 / B)
Label: Razor & Tie
Genre: Alternative Rock / Cinematic Rock / Electronic Rock / Hard Rock / Neo-Progressive Rock / Pop Rock / Post-Hardcore
Release Date: January 20, 2017


Starset follows up their acclaimed debut album Transmissions with a highly immersive follow-up. Combining Hard Rock music with a new Progressive Rock sound as well as some Electronic Rock elements and some Post-Hardcore instrumentation, Vessels is a very cinematic album. Throughout the album, the listener will marvel at the electronic element of each track. Dustin Bates vocals really work well within this mix of music that he has chosen to play; and Brock Richards, the band’s lead guitarist, really emphasizes his abilities on the guitar to make this album feel more complete. Overall, this album is a very hard rocking album. You either really love it, or you just don’t. I, for one, really did, and I do think that it deserves a listen.

Favorite tracks include: “Satellite,” “Frequency,” “Die for You,” “Ricochet,” Starlight,” and “Telepathic.”

Cherry Glazer: Apocalipstick (83 / B-)
Label: Secretly Canadian
Genre: Garage Punk / Grunge / Indie Rock / Noise Pop
Release Date: January 20, 2017


This album was very solid all the way through for me. Much like The Regrette’s Feel Your Feelings FoolApocaipstick offers the same Garage Punk sensibilities but with a more Indie Rock and Noise Pop twist to it. There are even traces of 90’s Grunge music sprinkled throughout the album. The content on the album is very satirical and I often found myself laughing at some of the lyrics on here. On “Trash People,” Clementine Creevy belts out the line “we wear our underpants three days in a row.” Very comical, if you ask me. Definitely an album worth listening to. Each track on here is very solid and deserves some listens.

Menace Beach: Lemon Memory (80 / B-)
Label: Memphis
Genre: College Rock / Indie Rock / Punk Rock / Surf Punk
Release Date: January 20, 2017


Another Punk Rock release, Lemon Memory serves up something I never would have thought I would want. The mixture of Indie, Punk, and Surf Rock. The three different genres fuse together really well. And it somehow sounds, along with Ryan Needham’s voice, a bit like Green Day did in their early to mid-90’s period. The opener “Give Blood” is a very strong track, and it definitely showcases Needham’s Billie Joe Armstrong-esque voice. The next track “Maybe We’ll All Drown” is very slow-moving but very progressive in its instrumentation. The only gripe I have about this album is that the last three tracks on here are perhaps a couple paces behind the first seven, but they are still fairly enjoyable tracks.

Favorite tracks include: “Give Blood,” “Maybe We’ll All Drown,” “Sentimental,” “Lemon Memory,” “Get a Haircut,” “Darlatoid,” and “Suck it Out.”

You Me at Six: Night People (80 / B-)
Label: Infection Music / BMG
Genre: Hard Rock / Pop Rock
Release Date: January 6, 2017


A predominantly Pop Punk band gone Hard Rock, You Me at Six shows off their more Rock and Roll side with their 2017 release Night People. Fairly solid and consistent throughout, this album really showcases the band’s ability to really rock out. Tracks like “Plus One” and “Swear” really emphasize that. Tracks like “Heavy Soul,” “Spell it Out,” and “Give” show that the band can still tap into their vulnerable side. “Can’t Hold Back” has a bit of a bluesy feel to it.

Favorite tracks include: “Plus One,” “Brand New,” “Can’t Hold Back,” “Spell it Out,” and “Give.”


This one was a long time coming. So many albums came out in January, and I didn’t want to miss any one of them. That being said, I probably missed out on so many of them. I would love to hear some recommendations in the comments.

Stay tuned for the February 2017 edition of Monthly Music Madness. I promise that this one will be more appropriately released.

Thanks for existing,



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