Overlooked Albums 2017

Treble staff
Overlooked albums 2017 Idles

This year’s been at times inspiring, often exhausting, and frequently frustrating. But we’re now getting to the fun part where we get to talk about all the best music we listened to. In fact, right now we’re getting to the really fun part: The music that was overlooked in 2017, both by a wider audience and (gasp!) us. Yeah, sometimes we overlook great music and don’t get around to covering it as it’s released. (There’s so much music out there—so much!) But this is where we try to make up for that by covering a sampling of great albums that we definitely missed and you might have also missed, but deserve a fresh listen. So to kick off our year-end season, here’s our list of 10 great overlooked albums of 2017.


overlooked albums 2017 Yazz AhmedYazz Ahmed
La Saboteuse

(Naim)

London trumpeter Yazz Ahmed is part of a rising jazz scene in the UK that also features the likes of Shabaka Hutchings, whose clarinet makes some prominent appearances on Ahmed’s sophomore La Saboteuse. The album is like few other jazz releases in 2017 in that it’s boldly psychedelic, exploring strange realms while holding tight to its strong melodic core. Ahmed’s ensemble balances Arabic motifs with complex time signatures and an almost Reich-ian pulse in standout “Bloom.” La Saboteuse is alternately intense and atmospheric, immediate and otherworldly, and contains more than its share of surprises, including a cover of These New Puritans’ “Organ Eternal.” – JT

Listen: Bandcamp


overlooked albums 2017 Couch SlutCouch Slut
Contempt

(Gilead)

Gilead Media had a pretty impressive year of releases, from the epic, emotionally-charged metal of Cavernlight and Yellow Eyes to the cathartic post-hardcore of Less Art. Yet in another stylistic sphere lies Couch Slut, a New York noise rock band that pairs the darkness of black metal with the muscular chug of The Jesus Lizard and the screech-and-skronk of no wave. Contempt, the band’s sophomore release, pairs a painful guitar churn with the anguished shrieks of vocalist Megan Osztrosits, the combination of which is both vile and amazing. This is pain made melodic, a pit-ready exercise in misanthropy and primal screams. – JT

Listen: Bandcamp


overlooked albums 2017 Earthen SeaEarthen Sea
An Act of Love

(Kranky)

San Francisco producer Jacob Long has been releasing atmospheric dub techno and ambient records as Earthen Sea for a dozen years, building up an impressive catalog of consistently underrated gems. An Act of Love is his strongest to date, balancing a persistently hypnotic ambience with beats that bubble up under the mist. It’s an album that reveals itself in slow, measured paces, as on the gradual ascent into lushly layered techno in “About That Time” or the eerily soothing wash of “Exuberant Burning.” There’s a darkness about An Act of Love that’s undeniable, but it’s also the kind of album to provoke ASMR tingles or take one away from the present moment to some blissful, far-off place. It’s rorschach dub. – JT

Listen: Bandcamp


Flagland best albums of July 2017

Flagland
Two Brothers and a Ghost

(ECB&B)

Flagland’s curtain call epic is unfortunately the last we’ll hear from Kerry Kallberg’s gone-too-soon project. Two Brothers and a Ghost is a record swimming with cult-classic potential, but in December 2017, only time will tell. Clocking it at just over an hour, Flagland’s swan song LP is an ambitiously sprawling prog-punk experiment, containing influences across the post-hardcore and punk spectrum, featuring two 10-plus minute tracks for good measure. Kallberg’s writing perpetuates anxiety, reaching its peak hysteria on “Get Up” as he sings, “Inside your own skull clawing at the walls/Don’t kid yourself kid, everybody falls.” As a whole, Two Brothers and a Ghost piles a slew of intricate, engaging movements and stylistic shifts into a flowing musical narrative, best consumed front to back and without pause. – PP

Listen: Bandcamp


best albums of july 2017 Glue

Glue
ST/MLP

(La Vida Es Un Mus)

Austin punks Glue returned this year with the frantic and gritty ST/MLP, their first release since 2014. The band’s latest finds a home on La Vida Es Un Mus, the host to exciting hardcore and punk acts such as Limp Wrist, Haram and Lumpy and the Dumpers. Opener “Hunger” shreds hardcore cliche in two and a half minutes, while pop-tinged “Flowers of Friendship” trades double-timed BPM on juxtaposed verses, making it a soon-to-be highlight in Austin’s bubbling weirdo-hardcore scene. ST/MLP matches the the band’s raw, high-energy performances, searing through two sides of manic warped punk in this noteworthy release. – PP

Listen: Bandcamp


overlooked albums 2017 GnodGnod
Just Say No to the Psycho Right-Wing Capitalist Fascist Industrial Death Machine

(Rocket)

Well, it’s certainly difficult to see how one could overlook a record with a title like that. And indeed, Salford noise-rock collective Gnod make music that doesn’t easily fade into the background. This set of anti-fascist, anti-capitalist drones, shrieks and driving krautrock rhythms seems to echo a collective feeling of anger and frustration while turning it into an undeniable and devastating series of grooves. There are parallels to be found in bands like Lungfish, who use a similarly meditative repetition technique. But this is much more brutal, much more visceral. It’s a manic, frayed and screeching affront to oppressive bullshit that feels unexpectedly wonderful. – JT

Listen: Bandcamp


overlooked albums 2017 IdlesIdles
Brutalism

(Bailey)

Or just take the ever-loving piss out of the Right-Wing Capitalist Fascist Industrial Death Machine. The 13 pummeling post-hardcore tracks on this Bristol band’s debut take a snarky tone against conservative Britain, whose complicity in pushing Brexit has jeopardized the future of its youth. There’s genuine anger and compassion alike packed into their furious anthems, as well as white-knuckle climaxes that can out-intensify some of the heaviest records of the year. Still, within all of the band’s hooks is an equally incisive punchline: “Why don’t you get a job?/Even Tarquin has a job“; “The best way to scare a Tory is to read and get rich“; “One miscarriage/Two abortions/One degree/Seven jobs.” Idles are the real Future of the Left. – JT

Listen: Spotify


overlooked albums 2017 MIKEMIKE
May God Bless Your Hustle

(Self-released)

MIKE is only 18 years old, but he’s already proven himself a formidable new figure in hip-hop. His debut album is a strange, psychedelic journey through his inner monologue, dealing in surprisingly mature meditations on loneliness and depression, in addition to some expected feats of playful lyricism. He’s clearly studied up on his Earl Sweatshirt and MF DOOM records, but MIKE offers his own weird hybrid, with production that sounds like Madlib submerged in acidic chemicals. It’s vibrant, sensory stimulation that sounds like nothing else in hip-hop right now, which isn’t that surprising given MIKE’s short career. He hasn’t been around in the industry long enough to be weighed down by expectations. – JT

Listen: Bandcamp


best albums of August 2017 Sudan ArchivesSudan Archives
Sudan Archives

(Stones Throw)

It’d be easy to reach the surface-level conclusion that a project titled Sudan Archives would likely be a compilation of lost recordings from Northern Africa. In reality, it’s the name under which Los Angeles violinist and singer/songwriter Brittney Parks records and performs intricate-yet-intimate electronic pop that bears a heavy influence of Sudanese folk violin. The six songs on her brief but brilliant debut EP are alternately boisterous and meditative, balancing an ambient streak with a dose of psychedelia on highlights such as “Come Meh Way.” Parks’ songs are accessible, beautiful, hypnotic, but easy to classify? Never. – JT

Listen: Bandcamp


overlooked albums 2017 Jane WeaverJane Weaver
Modern Kosmology

(Fire)

Jane Weaver’s not a household name but she’s far from a newcomer, having built up an impressive catalog of underground gems over the past decade and change. Modern Kosmology is her latest and most ambitious album, a genre-spanning foray into krautrock, space rock, psychedelia and synth-pop that traces lines from Neu! to Stereolab to Broadcast to M83. It’s gorgeously hypnotic stuff, a hallucinatory journey through danceable rhythms and disorienting effects that never stray far from accessibility but still keep a safe distance from the mainstream. Whether it’s through the heady pulse of “The Architect” or the ethereal dreamscape of “Did You See the Butterflies?”, Weaver is charting an exciting, strange path for neo-psych. – JT

Listen: Bandcamp

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