Top Albums of 2017: Take Me Apart

The music supervision team at PlayNetwork saw over 6700+ albums, EPs and compilations added to our extensive music library in 2017. With so much amazing music to pick from, our Music Supervision team finally narrowed down their top 10 albums of the year.

Continuing our theme of top album write ups, we’ve enlisted Music Supervisor Alex Ruder who has over 15 years’ experience in the music industry. Besides his work here at PlayNetwork curating music for brands, you can find Alex hosting variety and electronic on-air shows at KEXP or mixing it up behind the decks in nightclubs around Seattle. If that’s not enough, he also runs his electronic label Hush Hush records. Alex writes on why the new Kelela release was one of his favorites of 2017.

Artist: Kelela

Album: Take Me Apart

Twitter: @kelelam

Track: LMK

It was five years ago when I first heard the stunning voice of Kelela Mizanekristos. She appeared on arguably Teengirl Fantasy’s best song ever, “EFX,” from their 2012 album Tracer. A year later, her name popped up once again, this time as the featured guest vocalist on arguably Kingdom’s best song ever, “Bank Head,” the title track off his 2013 EP. Fresh off these massive collaborations, Kelela’s debut mixtape Cut 4 Me arrived later in 2013, cementing her as one of the premier vocalists in the expansive, exploratory, and evocative R&B/electronic/pop landscape. Iconic UK label Warp Records signed her in 2015 to release the Hallucinogen EP, yet another brilliant release and my favorite EP of that year. Over these releases, her style consistently proved to be flawless, pushing a bold aesthetic that is forward-thinking, free of boundaries, and instantly magnetic.

This all goes to say that expectations were extra high when she announced her official debut album Take Me Apart earlier this year. The album’s confident take-no-prisoners lead single “LMK” came out in fierce fashion and exceeded these steep expectations, yielding one of the top songs of the year. “LMK” is sequenced right in the middle of Take Me Apart, and its surrounding tracks prove to be just as captivating, with Kelela leading the listener on a dynamic journey through club-ready jams, brooding emotional ballads, and seductive mid-tempo grooves that consistently deliver. She’s once again attracted a top-tier roster of producers – Jam City, Arca, Kwes, Kingdom, Ariel Rechtshaid, Bok Bok, Dubbel Dutch, Terror Danjah – to help assist in the album’s creation, but Take Me Apart is Kelela’s vision front-to-back, and she’s delivered my personal favorite album of the year.

Alex Ruder

About Alex Ruder

Hi, I am Alex Ruder, a music supervisor at PlayNetwork with over 15 years of experience in the music industry.

I have had a passion for music since I was a kid, growing up listening to Seattle’s KUBE radio station (RIP) and creating mix tapes from radio recordings that I would then share with my friends. Thanks to the Internet, I soon found a passion for finding underground artists that weren’t played on the radio, and my obsession for discovering and sharing music by artists from all over the world blossomed.

My love for electronic music enabled me to break into the radio world: first volunteering at the UW’s Rainy Dawg Radio, and later interning at KEXP in Seattle—both experiences that ultimately led to hosting a weekly overnight variety show on KEXP in 2008, a time slot that I held down for over 8 years. I’m still involved at KEXP, hosting variety and electronic on-air shows, assisting the music director with reviewing new music, as well as booking and producing KEXP’s weekly guest DJ mix show ‘Midnight in a Perfect World.’ With this background, it’s natural that I landed at PlayNetwork. I love the ability to listen to music from the unique perspective of what works for retail, from up-tempo club music to spacious ambient music, all depending on the brand’s sonic direction. Plus, it doesn’t get much better than working with a bunch of other music nerds that share the same passion for music that I do.

When I am not at PlayNetwork or at KEXP, you can find me every now and then mixing it up in nightclubs under the alias DJ D’Nelski (a play on my middle name) or overseeing my independent electronic music label called Hush Hush Records, which unveiled its first release in August 2012.

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