For our next year-end list, we’ve gone through the most underrated albums released this year that really made their mark, but may have slipped through the net for most and may not have received the attention they really deserve.
Luke Nuttall (Editor / Writer)
5. Brutus – Burst
The transition from Refused covers band to avant-garde post-punk / noise-rockers mightn’t be the most natural transition (actually, on second thought maybe it is), but Belgium’s Brutus show just how well it can be done on Burst. Harsh, stark and abrasive to no end, this is the sort of forward-thinking rock music that’s always great to see, overflowing with imaginative passages that wind and batter in equal measure. It won’t be to everyone’s taste, but it’s definitely one worth investing time into.
4. Lukas Nelson & Promise Of The Real – Lukas Nelson & Promise Of The Real
What appears to be a fairly inconsequential, mild-mannered country album on the surface actually turns out as one that’s rich with layer and melody that makes for an insanely enjoyable listen. There’s an easy-going charm to Nelson akin to that of his father Willie Nelson, and alongside contributions from Lucius and Lady Gaga who lend some soulful backing vocals, and Promise Of The Real themselves, borrowing from brilliantly organic sounds adjacent to country that really makes this album pop, this is an album that deserves far more attention than it got.
3. Felix Hagan & The Family – Attention Seeker
Attention Seeker is exactly what a debut should be – ear-catching and engrossing while establishing a defined sound for its creators. For Felix Hagan & The Family, that’s the intersection between glittering glam-rock and slick, modern pop-rock, a sound that fizzes with gusto all the way through and has all the flamboyance of the acts they so clearly idolise. There’s no hesitation or apprehension; Hagan and his band launch themselves into their work for a collection of tracks that explode in the most glorious fashion as a result. That might be a lot of superlatives, but it’s hard to think of a band who deserve them more.
2. Can’t Swim – Fail You Again
Alongside Movements, Can’t Swim represent the prime candidates to lead the next wave of emo frontrunners. Heavy, heady and packed to the seams with such tangible passion, Fail You Again is an album that almost singlehandedly injects the darkness and brooding attitude into the scene that’s it’s missed for so much of this year, remarkably powerful but unafraid to lay itself totally bare, and wraps all of that in thick, crunching melody. The fact this is the debut full-length only adds to the list of compliments this album deserves, and right now it’s not a case of if Can’t Swim with reach that top-tier status, but when.
1. Sharptooth – Clever Girl
Coming snarling and gnashing out of absolutely nowhere is Sharptooth’s Clever Girl, an album that takes all of the world’s societal ills to task with total fearlessness. If that wasn’t good enough, perhaps the fact that this is the best hardcore album of the year is, burning with a rage that feels totally tangible and justified, but a level of snark and even sass that really does work in its favour. It’s no secret that hardcore has had a great year in 2017, but this tops the pile, going the extra mile lyrically and instrumentally in a way that’s fiery, explosive, and completely relevant.
Georgia Jackson (Deputy Editor / Writer)
5. The Gospel Youth – Always Lose
If Mallory Knox’s latest release has been slept on as mentioned in our Best Deep Cuts list, then it seems that any hope for emerging talent to get the recognition they deserve is probably not as high as it once was. Enter The Gospel Youth, who’ve without a doubt released one of the best British rock albums of the year. Its lyrics are deeply confessional and self-critical, and delivered with a vigour and passion that’s impossible to force. Sometimes these songs verge on pop-punk in feel or emo in content, but the clear identity throughout the wonderful material is more than enough to show The Gospel Youth are set to go places.
4. Vera Blue – Perennial
In pop this year, one of the most underrated albums was the debut from Australian songstress Vera Blue. A world away from her prior career as acoustic singer Celia Pavey who placed third in The Voice Australia, Perennial is made up of a whole range of songs; one with heavy bass wubs at the helm, a delicate piano ballad, edgy catchy radio pop, you name it. While it’s not the most consistent album in the world, it’s full of promise and brilliant songs to boot. Certainly something that deserved more attention this year.
3. Movements – Feel Something
Movements’ debut Feel Something left plenty of emo bands quaking in their boots due to the amount of sheer talent they have, which could let them take any number of crowns in the scene. With their first full-length, they’ve released an album that’s stark, forceful and relatable, and done just as well as peers of theirs who are on their third or fourth album. Like the rest of the albums in this list, the potential is strong with this one, and with a lot of the heavy hitters starting to move away from the genre, they’re a hundred percent set to become a real force to be reckoned with in emo.
2. Cigarettes After Sex – Cigarettes After Sex
Cigarettes After Sex have built up quite the cult following in the last few years, booking and subsequently selling out bigger and bigger venues every time they tour. Their debut full-length seems as though it should be catnip for critics, but there strangely hasn’t been much of the widespread media interest the stunning release should’ve attracted. Singer Greg Gonzalez’s beautifully unique contributions guide you through the twists and turns of Cigarettes After Sex’s minimal musical landscapes through the telling of stories about modern relationships, and to not be instantly drawn in by what’s on offer here is sinful.
1. Decade – Pleasantries
This year, Bath quintet Decade released the breakthrough we’ve all been waiting for with second album Pleasantries. It’s a catchy as hell rock record that sees them advance away from their pop-punk labels of old in a new, tighter guise. Despite just missing out on my personal top ten albums list, there’s no denying that this is a fantastic record and deserved much more attention. Songs like the thundering Peach Milk or sugary Human Being aren’t just filled with promise, they’re at the level plenty of bands are striving to reach, and it’s genuinely exciting to see where’s they’ll end up next year.
Words by Luke Nuttall and Georgia Jackson