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Top 10 Kansas City/Lawrence LPs/Mixtapes of 2017

Better late than never, right? It's finally time to roll out Shuttlecock's end-of-2017 coverage, and kicking it off is our top 10 LPs and full-length mixtapes. Our list ranges from major indie stars to punk rock power-couples and beyond, all shining examples of what's possible you call the Kansas City metro your home.

Kevin Morby - "City Music"
Singer-songwriter Kevin Morby recently moved into a cozy new home near Downtown Overland Park, but that wouldn't have been possible without the endless national and international touring that inspired the songs of "City Music." Morby considers the album a companion piece to 2016's "Singing Saw" due to the songs being written in the same time frame. The difference is that the songs of "City Music" are much more "rock-n-roll" (in the traditional sense of the term) than the ethereal, folksy nature of "Singing Saw." "City Music" holds Morby's most potent songs yet and channels the power of America's greatest songbooks.

Berwanger - "The Star Invaders"
One of the perks of starting a solo project -- especially one that holds your name -- is the freedom to do whatever the fuck you want with it. While Josh Berwanger was playing with his emo band The Anniversary back in the day, he may have often been at the mercy of his bandmates. Now that Berwanger has had the opportunity to make his own rules, he took it upon himself to make a sci-fi powerpop concept album. And while you may say that the phrase "sci-fi powerpop concept album" sounds like some extremely nerdy shit, let me tell you that it's some of the catchiest rock music to emerge from 2017.

Aaron Alexander - "Memento Mori"
"Memento Mori" was one of the Kansas City hip-hop scene's most anticipated albums coming into 2017. Despite releasing a revamped version of 2014's "Radiant Child" tape in 2016, fans of the KCK emcee were essentially starved of new music until the early months of the year when the singles began to flow. Inspired by the city's jazz past, an anime series, and his first experiences with death, Alexander crafted one of the most impressive and focused local rap albums in the past several years.

Stik Figa - "Central Standard Time"
Despite proudly hailing from Topeka, we're giving Stik Figa the status of honorary Kansas Citian due to his frequent shows here and his high level of engagement within the scene. "Central Standard Time" melds together production and guest verses from both locally and nationally renowned independent hip-hop musicians, all while Stik drops line after line of witty wordplay and triumphant tales from the "J-block." Do you know your favorite local rapper's favorite rapper? It's probably Stik Figa mayne!

Riley PnP - "The Murder Tape"
By almost all accounts, Riley PnP seems to be the crown prince of Kansas City gritter rap. Stamped with the infamous Trapaholics tags, "The Murder Tape" acts as a soundtrack to the town's most gruesome acts and showcases some of Riley's most memorable bars documenting life on the East side. Perhaps the most intriguing part of the tape, however, is how Bruiser3100's menacing production collides with Riley's often understated rhymes, which often include ad-libs placed at the same time and volume as his raps, adding a dizzying and almost hypnotic element to the project.

BB Eye - "Headcheese Heartthrob"
The brainchild of Midwest punk power-couple Olivia Gibb (Warm Bodies) and Martin Meyer (Lumpy & The Dumpers), BB Eye is more delightfully bizarre than any of its creators' previous efforts. The new wave-inspired synth punk tunes on "Headcheese Heartthrob" tackle a range of topics that are mostly self-evident in their titles -- "Cops With Indigestion" and "Marinated Toe" among them -- and give them a good ponder for a minute or two. Part of the fun here is just trying to imagine what might come next.

Rory Fresco - "Teen Spirit"
Nearly two years after Rory Fresco's signing with Epic Records, he is still yet to release a debut album or EP via the label. That didn't keep him from dropping another tape on his own though. "Teen Spirit" did an exceptional job of illustrating the limbo that Rory is currently in, pining for the teenage experiences he missed out on, while looking ahead to the fruits of his inevitable stardom. The tape's bright, synth-riddled instrumentals and sleek, auto-tuned vocals mimic the flashiness of his favorite destinations (Los Angeles and Las Vegas) and carry forward the young rapper's ambitious pop productions.

Dame - "Family & Friends"
Grandview rapper Dame's latest mixtape, "Family & Friends," shows the young artist knowing his strengths and playing to them. This knowledge sits crystal clear on one of the tape's most popular songs, "All I Know." Dame isn't here to twist his tongue like Tech N9ne or brag about icing out every chain that touches his neck. He's here to show love to those who got him where he is and to continue striving towards lasting success. His attention to melody and his ability to sculpt his songs into heartfelt anthems for the whole crew to sing along to show that success isn't too far off.

Jpino - "RedDustGalaxy"
The Intelligent Sound crew is perhaps one of the busiest in Kansas City music right now, constantly churning out new albums and compilations from its countless members. While most of these projects hold a couple of their own hidden gems, one release that is nothing but gems was Jpino's "RedDustGalaxy." The whirring, downbeat soundscapes that Jpino offers up on this album are capable of launching the listener's mind into some unreachable areas of deep space.

Arc Flash - "Carbon Copy"
After nearly four years of being one of the most active live bands in Lawrence, Kansas, Arc Flash finally released its first LP. Much like their sister band Psychic Heat did the year before -- also on High Dive Records -- Arc Flash used their LP to create higher quality recordings and tastefully expand on the sound that they'd spent previous years and releases crafting. "Carbon Copy" delivered every bit of math-y space punk that Arc Flash fans have come to love.

Honorable mentions: Natural Man - "Hi Planet," Salty - "Preservation Blues," Tommy Strauser - "Hypernormal"

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