2017’s Most Underrated Albums

With 2017 being an absolute whirlwind of incredible music, many great records were subject to being swept under the rug. This year saw the return of superstar’s such as Kendrick Lamar, Lorde, Father John Misty and Paramore – leaving incredible records from the likes of Yung Lean, Enter Shikari (and many more which I’ll get into), off of your playlists. I’ve never known such an exciting year for music, and now, with albums of the year lists popping up all over the shop (check out our’s here if you missed it), we saw it a good time to discuss amazing records that undeservingly didn’t make these lists. A few of our writers have put their heads together to bring you a selection of essential slept on records to wrap your ears around.


Kicking things off in style, we have the stellar debut from LA duo ho99o9 (pronounced Horror):

ho99o9 – United States of Horror

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Easily one of my favourite and most listened to albums of the year, ho99o9’s debut record is an invigorating, ferocious and quite frankly, bat-shit crazy record with it’s perfectly executed blend of experimental hip-hop and hardcore punk (think Death Grips meets Trash Talk).  This record is extremely fast-paced from front to back and will leave you feeling delightfully confused. The LA duo are notoriously known for their live shows: wearing wedding dresses, onstage nudity and getting kicked off stage for enticing too rowdy a mosh pit is just another day for the pair.  United States of Horror is unique in that whilst making its listener feel uncomfortable it also stands as a call to arms. It’s gritty, it’s political, it’s anarchic, it’s punchy. It’s violent imagery and anger soaked tracks tackle inequality, broken society and racial tension as the listener is taken on a horrifically fun road trip. The duo are a voice that needs to be heard, now more so than ever.

FFO: Death Grips, Black Flag

Best Tracks: “Street Power”, “Hydrolics” & “War Is Hell”


(sandy) Alex G – Rocket

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The eighth full-length release from the Pennsylvania singer-songwriter is his most accessible yet however still retains the fun loving, peculiar storytelling that was at the heart of his previous efforts. This record is jam packed with elegant instrumentation, pristine harmonies and a bedroom pop sensibility – I always found myself coming back to this, it keeps you on your toes and leaves you wanting more. The lyricism here is almost unsettlingly emotional, a perfect record for a sad day in bed. Rocket is the newly monikered, (sandy) Alex G at his most daring – thus providing us with a continually thrilling ride. It’s country, it’s indie, it’s psychedelic at times, it’s emo, it’s bloody brilliant.

FFO: Elliott Smith, Built To Spill

Best Tracks: “Proud”, “Powerful Man” & “Bobby”

 


Yung Lean – Stranger 

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The Swedish rapper’s third studio album really encapsulates the array of talent he possesses as the ‘sad boy’ mentality that made Yung Lean who he is today is pushed to the side and emotion is pushed to the fore. Stranger sees the 22 year old take a step in a new, more mature direction and showcases some of his catchiest songs to date. Despite it’s differences to previous releases, this record is still appealing to fans of Lean as his delivery and lyricism is at times reminiscent of his past work. The record is overflowing with immaculate production and immersive emo inspired outros. The best moments on this album are when Lean decides to sing rather than rap, particularly so on “Agony” where he takes to the piano. This is an album for all those who saw the Swedish youngster as a gimmick act, as he proves he really is the real deal.

FFO: $uicideboy$, Lil Peep, Joji

Best Tracks: “Red Bottom Sky”, “Drop It / Scooter” & “Iceman”

 


 

Enter Shikari – The Spark

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I’m not going to lie, this was a record that I slept on for quite some time and one that I did have to force myself to listen to at first but it’s a grower that’s for sure. The drastic change in sound put me off, and I’m sure it did the same for many others. But, once you see past that, this record is actually really brilliant. The Spark is Shikari at the most melodic to date, and has gained them many a play on the likes of Radio 1, and deservedly so. The band have worked their asses off for over ten years now and this new sound is definitely a natural progression for a band with four records already under their belts. This record features some of Rou’s best vocal deliveries to date, taking the band to the stadium-filling heights that they’ve always deserved. This record is electronic, it’s pop, it’s catchy, it’s fun.

FFO: New Order

Best Tracks: “The Sights”, “Live Outside” & “Undercover Agents”

 


 

Converge – The Dusk In Us

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The ninth studio album from the metalcore legends shows a band with no signs of slowing down any time soon. Any other band who were nine albums deep would be easing off the gas a little, but not Converge. The vocals and instrumentation are just as aggressive and gritty as ever, providing some of the best songs the band have written to date. This record is a confined juxtaposition of death metal elements and the power of hardcore, so if you’re into either of those things WHY HAVEN’T YOU LISTENED TO THIS RECORD?! 2017 was the year of metal, with Code Orange getting a Grammy nomination and pretty much taking over the world. The Dusk In Us reinforces Converge’s position of power in the genre and sets an example for all that is to come next.

FFO: The Dillinger Escape Plan, Capsize, Trap Them, dank riffs n brutality

Best Tracks: “Trigger”, “Eye Of The Quarrel” & “I Can Tell You About Pain”

 


 

Girl Ray – Earl Grey

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This debut record from 18-year old, all female London three-piece is an immaculate ode to 90s indie. The range of sounds on this album are ambitious and the eleven tracks are consistently quirky and thoughtful – allowing the band to stand out like a breath of fresh air. Earl Grey is a wonderful array of 60s psychedelia pop, Britpop and pub indie, intertwined to make one hell of a strong debut from such a young band with incredible potential to be huge in years to come. Despite only coming out this summer, the record already feels timeless due to it’s sheer emotional power. I’ve found myself sticking this on as I wake up every morning for the past few days; it’ll make you laugh, it’ll make you smile, it’s infectious, it’s funky., it’s DIY, it’s charming, it’s pop.

FFO: Pavement, ABBA, Goat Girl, The Big Moon, Fleetwood Mac

Best Tracks: “Don’t Go Back At Ten”, “Monday Tuesday”, “Ghosty” & “Where Am I Now”

 


 

The Cribs – 24/7 Rock Star Shit

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The seventh release from the British indie rock pioneers is a lot of fun, to say the least. The band have taken themselves back to their scrappy roots on this one, and they sound just as electrifying and exciting as ever, if not more. The record starts with eclectic force on “Give Good Time“, an absolute belter of an opener. This is The Cribs at, arguably, their punchiest to date, with frantic guitars and pounding percussion shining bright throughout. 24/7 Rock Star Shit is simultaneously raw and ferocious, finding a fine balance between snarl and elegance.  It’s melodic, it’s poppy at times, it’s sludgy, it’s fast, it’s slow. Don’t give this one a miss.

FFO: Milburn, The Enemy, The Pigeon Detectives, Nirvana (In Utero era)

Best Tracks: “Year Of Hate”, “Dendrophobia”, “Rainbow Ridge” & “Broken Arrow”

 


 

The Drums – Abysmal Thoughts

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The Brooklyn indie pop outfit’s fourth release is a HUGE record and sadly one that went majorly under the radar. Abysmal Thoughts is Jonny Pierce at his most honest – tackling subject matter such as loneliness and the daily struggles of life.  This record is a fun, captivating one from front to back, with The Drums’ signature concoction of bittersweet melodies and dark lyricism shining bright as always. If you’re into emotionally powerful music and dreamy surf pop instrumentation,  then this one’s for you.

FFO: Beach Fossils, Wild Nothing, DIIV

Best Tracks: “Mirror”, “Heart Basel”, “Under The Ice” & “Blood Under My Belt”

 


 

Life – Popular Music

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If you don’t know who Life are, consider this a warning. The Hull punks first caught my attention when I saw them supporting Slaves last year, and the sheer electricity they brought to the stage really, really blew me away. This record is ferocious, it’s fast, it’s political. The main thing I like about this record is the feelings of comfort and support it provides with it’s fuck the system mentality and brutally honest lyricism. The band are incredibly observant of society and have rolled up all of that post-Brexit rage into one hell of a debut record. Popular Music is riddled with frantic guitars and pulsating drum work, complemented brilliantly by the frighteningly charismatic vocals from frontman Mez. If you listen to any record on this list, MAKE IT THIS ONE!

FFO: Slaves, Idles, Yak, Cabbage

Best Tracks: “In Your Hands”, “Go Go Go”, “Euromillions” 

 


 

The Killers – Wonderful Wonderful

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The Killers’ fifth album certainly did not disappoint this year and is undeniably a standout point in their musical history. From the moment the shockingly powerful, commanding lead single: “The Man” bursts onto the scene, it was easy to see this record would take the band back to their roots. They became sonically creative and displayed a highly emotional side to themselves through sentimental ballads “Have All The Songs Been Written?” and “Some Kind Of Love”. It’s unarguably a highly successful album, and one that has earned the band a year full of surprises from their John Peel set to headlining Hyde Park’s BST. 2018 will be an exciting year for Brandon, Ronnie and the boys as they have major stadium shows and headline sets lined up that’ll see them play to thousands of adoring fans. (Words by Caitlin McMillan  – @gianttpeach on Twitter)

FFO: Franz Ferdinand, The Kooks, but hey who doesn’t know The Killers?!

Best Tracks: “Out Of My Mind”, “The Calling”, “Run For Cover”

 


 

The Murlocs – Old Locomotive

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As part of Australian independent label Flightless Records, psychedelic revivalists The Merlons are very much cut from the same cloth as their Melbourne counterparts, now alternative superstars, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – even starring resident harmonica *cough cough* wizard Ambrose Kenny-Smith on vocals. After fine-tuning their lo-fi, garage-driven sound on the burgeoning Aussie circuit, 2017 saw the five-piece release their hotly anticipated third album – the blues-rock angled Old Locomotive. Doom-y spaghetti western guitars linger alongside up-tempo percussive cracks and Ambrose’s refined vocal screech (“Noble Soldier”, “Daily Agony”) elevating the record a head above the scene clutter. Whilst we fuss and fret at the insufferable notion of a “gizz-free” 2018, why not let Ambrose and co fill that microtonal-shaped hole in your heart. (Words by Joe Bulger – @autoneutron_ on Twitter)

FFO: King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Meatbodies, Wand, Ty Segall

Best Tracks: “Noble Soldier”, “Violent Dreams”, “Snake In The Grass” & “Daily Agony”

 


 

Billie Eilish – don’t smile at me

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Pop legend in the making, Billie Eilish found herself on BBC’s Sound of 2018 list at the age of just 15. The LA based youngster writes all of her music in her brothers bedroom and wrote her first song at the age of 4. 2017 saw the raging rise of DIY bedroom pop, with the likes of Clairo – who’s overnight hit “Pretty Girl” is now at nearly six million on Youtube. Eilish is on the road to being the next big thing, drawing influences from the likes of Tyler, The Creator and Drake, she makes gloomy, deep and catchy songs with a fire within. The real mind-blower though, is her age, and her capability to write such immaculate and profound songs proves her insane amount of talent that is certain to grow and grow.  The crystal clear vocals and silky smooth R&B/jazz tinged instrumentation and production of Eilish’s debut puts us all to shame. I hate to make comparisons, but don’t smile at me walks a similar terrain to Frank Ocean’s blonde, and that’s a mighty good thing. This is just the beginning for the young singer-songwriter, her latest release featured none other than hip-hop giant Vince Staples. Get to know this.

FFO: Frank Ocean, Clairo, The Japanese House

Best Tracks: “Ocean Eyes”, “Bellyache”, “Copycat” & “Watch”

 


 

Temples – Volcano

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The second record to come from Kettering, psychedelic band Temples. Volcano further implies that classic 60s, ‘Byrds’ infused sound that Temples offered on their stunning debut album Sun Structures, yet the band have embedded, embraced and encouraged an evolution in their sound with the introduction of loud synths, heavy drums and a more modern take on the psychedelic genre. It’s classic Temples, but their trip and colourful universe has been expanded beautifully. (Words by Piran Aston – @PiranAston_ on Twitter)

FFO: Tame Impala, The Byrds, Pond, Melody’s Echo Chamber

Best Tracks; “All Join In”, “(I Want To Be Your) Mirror”, “Open Air”, “Roman God-Like Man”

 


 

Twin Palace – Standby

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Now hear me out, yes this is a mini album lasting just under 20 minutes but it really is bloody brilliant. Bristol based band, Twin Palace, mix elements of The Cure (“Seventeen Seconds”) and the shoe gaze loudness of bands such as Slowdive and Ride, creating an airy, dreamy and spacey sound which leaves you craving more. Standby is noisy, vibrant and full of life, energetic in places, and collective in others. The band supported shoe gaze icons Slowdive at The Fleece in Bristol earlier this year, showing that they are catching the eyes of some of the genres biggest names. This is a small, but impressive step from a band with a great future. (Words by Piran Aston)

FFO: Slowdive, FEWS, The Cure, Ride, Diiv

Best Tracks: “Waking World”, “Standby”, “8am”

 


 

Jay Som – Everybody Works

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An emphatic debut album which resonates through the minds of everyone who’s listened. It’s a true statement of intent from Californian singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Melina Duterte. After releasing demos and bedroom tapes onto Bandcamp in the early 2010s, Duterte finally released her debut album this year, still keeping that slacker/bedroom style which has made Jay Som so unique and stylish. Everybody Works is full of gorgeous, melodic bedroom pop, with stunning instrumentals and beautifully crafted lyrics. The record is lush and powerful, and a truly stunning listen. (Words by Piran Aston)

FFO: (sandy) Alex G, Soccer Mommy, Alvvays, Car Seat Headrest, Beach Fossils

Best Tracks: “The Bus Song”, “1 Billion Dogs”, “Baybee”, “For Light”

 


 

Words by Ben Davies (unless stated otherwise)

 

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