Alex Eggleston tells you what we've been digging
This past year was a pretty big one for me - I finished my Master’s degree in Music Business at Northeastern University, and just wrapped up a gig with Island Records in their A&R research department. The work was tough but awesome, and it felt like I was moving at a breakneck speed all year that mirrored the pace of the news landscape. Between ever-breaking scandals and perpetual political turmoil, it could be a challenge to stay on top of pop culture and musical happenings this year. However, there were quite a few gems, and I feel lucky to have gotten to dig some of them up as part of my job. Here are a few of the artists, songs, and albums we were digging at Cornerscape this year:
Phoebe Bridgers - Stranger in the Alps
Kristina and I absolutely gush over this 23-year-old singer-songwriter’s debut LP Stranger in the Alps. A beautiful collection of delicate songs about intimacy and consequences that manage to feel at once conversational and deeply significant, Stranger gathers together the moments that make up a relationship, beginning to end and beyond. The nostalgic “Motion Sickness” is one of the loveliest breakup songs of 2017, and “Scott Street” is a rambling anthem of 20-somethingdom that I find completely bewitching. Check out the “Motion Sickness” video below.
Francis and the Lights - “May I Have This Dance (Remix)”
One of the most infectious and groove-able tracks of the year, this superb remix featuring 2017’s Certified Golden Boy, Chance the Rapper, “May I Have This Dance” is getting exquisite oddball producer, songwriter, and frontman Francis Farewell Starlite (performing under the moniker Francis and the Lights) some well deserved critical attention and airplay. Francis, with Chance’s help, enchants with frenetic professions of love and one of the most endearingly choreographed music videos of the year, which you have to check out.
SZA - CTRL
If I thought I had a pretty big year, SZA’s 2017 must have felt unbelievably massive. In the R&B singer’s first major label offering, SZA, born Solana Rowe, pushes the boundaries of her genre while pulling the audience into the emotional and messy intricacies of her love life. And this year, the whole world sat up and took notice. Taking on the late night circuit, a feature on Maroon 5’s “What Lovers Do” (which is never not stuck in my head, by the way), a headlining North American tour, and performing on SNL, SZA went from underground favorite to a member of the vanguard of a new, R&B-infused movement in mainstream pop. On CTRL, SZA turns inwards and mines her experiences in love and growing up for songs that combine stylistic influences as diverse as Mary J. Blige and Jimmy Eat World to create a grimy, effervescent, boundary-pushing album. Watch the video for “The Weekend”, directed by Solange, below.
Maggie Rogers - Now That the Light is Fading
Another delightful debut by a young female singer-songwriter, Now That the Light is Fading by 23-year-old Maggie Rogers is the culmination of a fairytale discovery story that began when pop producer extraordinaire Pharrell Williams first heard her song “Alaska” in an NYU listening session. Pharrell fell in love with it, and so followed a bidding war over the young performer that landed her at Capitol Records. Standouts from the EP are the ballad of self-discovery “Alaska”, and the cool and buoyant “Dog Years”. Watch the “Alaska” video here and check out Pharrell digging on an early version of it below.
HAIM - Something to Tell You
With this long-awaited follow up to their 2013 debut, the Haim sisters don’t just escape the sophomore slump, they leave any notion of it in the dust. The percussive melodies that drive this album and make it so easy to jam along are a nod to the fact that all three sisters got their musical start behind a drum kit, and the dreamy, poppy storytelling on tracks like “Kept Me Crying” and “Want You Back” tell of a diary kept via song. To me, HAIM is one of the most exciting bands to watch because of the way they so effortlessly belay the mantle of “girl band” - they are feminine, fiercely intelligent rock stars who write hooks so catchy they bounce around my head for days. Check out the entirely charming video for “Want You Back”.
Kendrick Lamar - DAMN.
It seems like Kendrick can’t put out an album without it landing on almost every “best of” list around, and for good reason. Kendrick has proven himself as mainstream rap’s master storyteller, and this time around, the story he’s telling is his own. With a more personal lens than he used on 2015’s To Pimp a Butterfly, Lamar raps about love, loyalty, and what it’s like to grow up having to constantly defend yourself from the threats of your daily surroundings. He swings effortlessly from muted, crooney flows on songs like “LOVE.” to sharp, fast, punchy bars on “HUMBLE.” and “D.N.A.” DAMN. is a raw, emotional, gorgeous, and completely addicting statement of self. Check out the video that spawned a million snapchat copycats for “HUMBLE.” here, and the video for “D.N.A.” that’s really gonna put this Don Cheadle guy on the map below.