Exclaim!'s Top 10 Underrated Records 2017 in Lists
Published Dec 07, 2017Look, we all know democracy is flawed. And so, in our annual voting for Exclaim!'s Top 20 Pop & Rock Albums, Top 10 Soul and R&B Albums, Top 10 Metal and Hardcore Albums, Top 10 Folk and Country Albums, Top 10 Hip-Hop Albums and Top 10 Dance and Electronic Albums of 2017, there are always going to be those beloved, incredible albums that just missed the cut. It feels unfair.
Thus, today we're taking a break from our official Best Albums of 2017 to shine a light on those records that made us feel a way — even when the rest of the world didn't quite agree. The list is arranged alphabetically below.
Top 10 Underrated Records of 2017:
(Season of Mist)
With Relentless Mutation, Vancouver, BC's Archspire present a modern, experimental take on technical death metal. The band's third full-length is fast and complex, featuring layers of jazz-infused guitar work and dense, staccato riffage all counterbalanced with melody, atmosphere and dystopian sci-fi themes — and delivered in a succinct 30 minutes.
Stranger in the Alps
Though she's just 23, the poignant lyrics and classic songwriting on Phoebe Bridgers' Stranger in the Alps suggest the work of a veteran. "Motion Sickness" is Fleetwood Mac-esque brilliance, but it's "Funeral," on which Bridgers has the emotional wisdom to check her own sadness by remembering "someone's kid is dead," that shows her talent's true depth.
Charly Bliss pick up where the 1990s' brief infatuation with sugary-sweet alt-rock left off. On this unabashed throwback, the Brooklyn four-piece lean into their influences without sounding beholden, marrying crunchy and catchy riffs to Eva Hendricks' biting, ex-excoriating lyrics. Bursting with earworms, Guppy is an unrelenting joy.
When it was released in June, Iteration sounded warm and familiar, geared more towards refinement than development of Com Truise's distinct sci-fi sound. And it's more assured than ever here — the restlessly yearning synth line at the end of "Propagation" is alone worth the price of admission.
Audible Songs From Rockwood
Part Smithsonian Folkways homage, part literary non-fiction, Audible Songs From Rockwood finds Toronto songwriter Simone Schmidt (aka Fiver) delivering a deeply researched collection of crackly, austere folk songs written from the perspective of women incarcerated in Kingston's Rockwood Asylum for the Criminally Insane. Culled from the mid-late 1800s, it sheds light on issues still painfully relevant today.