Music Review: SWMRS, Lumineers Release Some of Best Non-mainstream Music of Past Two Years

For me, the last two years had some great – or at least interesting – releases in music. I tend to stray just a bit outside the normal music interests, though with a few exceptions, and I found a few interesting less sensationalized albums and artists that rose up over the last two years that I greatly enjoyed. What better time to take a look at the last two years in music than at the start of this New Year?

First up in 2016 is an album I never expected to be into, let alone write about in an article of my favorite albums from the last two years. Drive North was released on February 12###sup/sup### by Californian band SWMRS (Swimmers) that gained a very quick following, and even got them a spot on the Late Late Show with James Corden. While the band had already gained a following under a different name, this was their first record under a more popular record label that allowed them to reach a wider audience and experiment more with what direction they wanted to take their band. While it’s not the best thing I’ve heard, I still like it.

Next up is the second studio album by The Lumineers called Cleopatra released on March 25###sup/sup###. One might recognize the lead single “Ophelia” as it made its rounds on the radio for a long while after release. The album features varied tracks and consistent performance throughout. Also featured on the album is “Gale Song” from the movie The Hunger Games: Catching Fire from back in 2013.

The band Kings of Leon, known mostly for their song “Use Somebody,” released their fourth album after a short hiatus. It’s titled WALLS and was released on October 14###sup/sup###. It did a great deal to change their sound and make their music more accessible to a wider audience due to its style and presentation. Another debut of 2016, new rapper Post Malone released his album Stoney on December 9###sup/sup###, to massive public appeal and popularity.

Over in Britain, The Last Shadow Puppets came off their eight-year hiatus and released their second album, Everything You’ve Come to Expect on April 1st. There’s more varied instrumentation and phenomenal lyricism on this album, flowing well with the band’s signature style of mixing guitars and drums with a string and horns section. Skipping ahead to June, an Icelandic band Kaleo released A/B on the 10###sup/sup### with their songs “No Good” and “Way Down We Go,” reaching international audiences and even landing them on the HBO series Vinyl. In Ireland, indie artist EDEN released his debut EP i think you think too much of me, launching a world tour and a career.

There were admittedly fewer albums I was interested in during 2017, but there are still a few of note. Ed Sheeran released his third album, Divide, on January 6###sup/sup###, which was another hit for the young artist. An upcoming band from England, Amber Run, came out with their second, band-saving album, For a Moment, I was Lost. This album made their music much more radio-friendly and accessible to different audiences, giving them a little more spotlight than they had previously. In America, a small artist named Alexandria Savior’s debut album, Belladonna of Sadness, a psych-rock experiment was produced by Alex Turner of the Arctic Monkeys and gained her a small fan base at a rather young age. After a long hiatus, John Mayer released his seventh album, The Search for Everything, to public appeal, awakening a somewhat dormant fan base. Finally for 2017, an independent artist, Joji, also known as George Miller, came out with his first EP, In Tongues on November 3rd. This launched his music career after a long reign on the internet under the name Filthy Frank, moving from comedy to a more serious brand of low-fi hip-hop music.

All-in-all, 2016 and 2017 were good years for music in my book, and I hope 2018 is just as fruitful. With more releases in this year announced by Vance Joy, EDEN, and Arctic Monkeys, I can certainly say I have a lot to be hopeful for.

            

Senior at Cedar Cliff High School. I really like music and writing.

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