Under the Radar’s Top 50 Albums of 2017 So Far

Under the Radar’s Top 50 Albums of 2017 So Far

Original Source

50. Dutch Uncles - Big Balloon

Dutch Uncles - Big Balloon
February 17, 2017
Art Pop
Critic Score
72
15 reviews
User Score
70
12 reviews

Ultimately, Big Balloon probably won't gain them many new fans, but while the album suffers just a tad from relentless busy-ness, its proggy ambition combines with Wallis' penchant for gently ambitious, catchy melodies to make a creative work very few artists are capable of achieving.

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49. Real Estate - In Mind

Real Estate - In Mind
March 17, 2017
Jangle Pop
Critic Score
72
21 reviews
User Score
74
164 reviews

With their new album, In Mind, the band aren't reinventing the wheel, but they're expanding their canvas a bit. 

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48. Hoops - Routines

Hoops - Routines
May 5, 2017
Jangle Pop
Critic Score
73
7 reviews
User Score
76
44 reviews

Simply put, this is the best dream/jangle-pop debut since ... Oshin and an absolute must for fans of this genre.

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47. The Jesus and Mary Chain - Damage and Joy

The Jesus and Mary Chain - Damage and Joy
March 24, 2017
Alternative Rock
Critic Score
66
19 reviews
User Score
67
63 reviews

The songwriting and playing here are more assured than their legendarily ramshackle live shows would lead one to believe.

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46. Fazerdaze - Morningside

Fazerdaze - Morningside
May 5, 2017
Indie Pop
Critic Score
72
9 reviews
User Score
73
20 reviews

45. Dirty Projectors - Dirty Projectors

Dirty Projectors - Dirty Projectors
February 21, 2017
Art Pop
Critic Score
76
28 reviews
User Score
75
218 reviews

Complex layered production and funky beats jump off in different directions mixing autotune with tracked voices, everything zeroing back in on the trauma of love lost and love obliterated.

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44. Little Cub - Still Life

Little Cub - Still Life
April 28, 2017
Indie Pop
Critic Score
78
5 reviews
User Score
75
5 reviews

43. Julie Byrne - Not Even Happiness

Julie Byrne - Not Even Happiness
January 27, 2017
Folk
Critic Score
81
17 reviews
User Score
76
242 reviews

Beyond the hushed sounds of the record, Byrne, for the most part, is not timid but in possession of a rich confidence.

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42. Pond - The Weather

Pond - The Weather
May 5, 2017
Synthpop
Critic Score
77
14 reviews
User Score
73
83 reviews

The Weather still ends up being a satisfying psych-rock listen, mostly because the band successfully plays with so many different flavors.

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41. Mew - Visuals

Mew - Visuals
April 28, 2017
Dream Pop
Critic Score
65
7 reviews
User Score
67
21 reviews

This time diminished seems an apt description for an album that feels smaller and more compact, lacking the glorious floating extravagances of the past.

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40. Phoenix - Ti Amo

Phoenix - Ti Amo
June 9, 2017
Indie Pop
Critic Score
69
22 reviews
User Score
70
145 reviews
There's an interchangeability to most of the tracks that is a weakness in some ways and a strength in others. The record might end up sounding similar, but that's kind of the point.
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39. London Grammar - Truth Is a Beautiful Thing

London Grammar - Truth Is a Beautiful Thing
June 9, 2017
Art Pop
Critic Score
71
15 reviews
User Score
71
84 reviews

Whereas their first album kept things a touch too refined, on their long-awaited sophomore release Truth Is a Beautiful Thing, Reid and company enhance their songcraft to stunning, impressive effect.

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38. Mac DeMarco - This Old Dog

Mac DeMarco - This Old Dog
May 5, 2017
Singer-Songwriter
Critic Score
77
27 reviews
User Score
75
282 reviews

With This Old Dog, his distinctly DeMarco brand of baroque-infused folk is still built for the pauses in life but it feels a little steadier, and a little more self-aware.

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37. Ride - Weather Diaries

Ride - Weather Diaries
June 16, 2017
Shoegaze
Critic Score
73
23 reviews
User Score
72
54 reviews

In the scheme of things, Weather Diaries may only be the band's third best LP; however, when it's coming in behind Nowhere and Going Blank Again, two of the most worshiped discs of the shoegaze era, deserving mention within the same breath is no small feat.

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36. Gorillaz - Humanz

Gorillaz - Humanz
April 28, 2017
Electropop
Critic Score
75
27 reviews
User Score
64
326 reviews

While Humanz is the biggest departure Gorillaz has yet attempted, it is also their biggest grower.

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35. Kendrick Lamar - DAMN.

Kendrick Lamar - DAMN.
April 14, 2017
Hip Hop
Critic Score
91
31 reviews
User Score
85
907 reviews
This is a fearlessly bleak, yet subtly downcast album, and Lamar has thankfully attained the confidence and standing not to compromise that vision with party tracks, nor dilute it with swaths of guest stars. It's pure, direct, and bitterly spat. Just like the curse word that is its title.
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34. The Flaming Lips - Oczy Mlody

The Flaming Lips - Oczy Mlody
January 13, 2017
Neo-Psychedelia
Critic Score
69
28 reviews
User Score
66
159 reviews
This time, the music took clear precedence over the concept, and that's worthy of rejoicing.
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33. Kevin Morby - City Music

Kevin Morby - City Music
June 16, 2017
Singer-Songwriter
Critic Score
79
18 reviews
User Score
79
122 reviews

If last year's Singing Saw had the pace and feel of going down river, City Music has that of heading down the avenue. Morby vacillates in both settings comfortably, claiming them as his element.

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32. Goldfrapp - Silver Eye

Goldfrapp - Silver Eye
March 31, 2017
Art Pop
Critic Score
69
18 reviews
User Score
67
78 reviews

Silver Eye mesmerizes and dazzles with intricate and hypnotic electronic foundations adorned with waves of creative melodies and waiflike vocals that will melt your ears.

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31. Algiers - The Underside of Power

Algiers - The Underside of Power
June 23, 2017
Post-Punk
Critic Score
83
20 reviews
User Score
77
150 reviews
This is one of those zeitgeist capturing records, all done without compromise or a hint of triteness. Algiers were once a band with promise; now they've fully arrived.
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30. Kelly Lee Owens - Kelly Lee Owens

Kelly Lee Owens - Kelly Lee Owens
March 24, 2017
Tech House
Critic Score
81
10 reviews
User Score
77
169 reviews

29. Saint Etienne - Home Counties

Saint Etienne - Home Counties
June 2, 2017
Indie Pop
Critic Score
76
12 reviews
User Score
74
25 reviews

Home Counties has much to offer in the way their greatest records always have-infectious hits, interesting soundscapes, nods to musical history, all under the sprawling umbrella of pop.

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28. Joe Goddard - Electric Lines

Joe Goddard - Electric Lines
April 21, 2017
Electronic
Critic Score
69
12 reviews
User Score
70
18 reviews

Granted the Londoner's already got a strong track record, with his defining work from Hot Chip and The 2 Bears, but his second solo album is taking those heights and magnifying them, as we are ricocheted between smoky soul, verdant groove, and tantalizing pop-electronica.

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27. The New Pornographers - Whiteout Conditions

The New Pornographers - Whiteout Conditions
April 7, 2017
Indie Pop
Critic Score
76
18 reviews
User Score
71
56 reviews

At this point, they have their formula down. That formula is, of course, a dozen or so power-pop gems, mostly written by Newman and occasionally sung by the golden-throated Neko Case.

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26. Marika Hackman - I'm Not Your Man

Marika Hackman - I'm Not Your Man
June 2, 2017
Singer-Songwriter
Critic Score
82
15 reviews
User Score
76
99 reviews
There's nothing out of the ordinary found in these personal illustrations. Yet the balance of measure in production (by Charlie Andrew, who has worked with alt-J) accompanying the cool coating effect of Hackman's singing and carriage of writing is disarming.
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25. Little Dragon - Season High

Little Dragon - Season High
April 14, 2017
Electropop
Critic Score
67
16 reviews
User Score
68
45 reviews

With an evolved new collection of tracks that are both hot and smart, Little Dragon has set themselves further apart.

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24. Beach Fossils - Somersault

Beach Fossils - Somersault
June 2, 2017
Indie Pop
Critic Score
76
14 reviews
User Score
75
112 reviews
Beach Fossils are best when they stick with what they know, which is why tracks such as "May 1st" and "Be Nothing," with their spangly guitar lines and easygoing lilt, remain high-points on this laid-back summer record.
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23. Grandaddy - Last Place

Grandaddy - Last Place
March 3, 2017
Indie Rock
Critic Score
76
20 reviews
User Score
74
96 reviews
Grandaddy is no longer a detached soundtrack hovering over life, it's articulating within it, and we are getting it in a whole new way.
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22. The xx - I See You

The xx - I See You
January 13, 2017
Indie Pop
Critic Score
80
33 reviews
User Score
76
630 reviews

Throughout the album you can still hear the band's penchant for complex arrangements, dreampop vocals, and the call and response storytelling between Oliver Sim and Romy Croft. No genre is off limits for the U.K. outfit: the band experiments with pop, R&B, jazz, and even gospel this time around.

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21. Kirin J Callinan - Bravado

Kirin J Callinan - Bravado
June 9, 2017
Art Pop
Critic Score
73
4 reviews
User Score
67
42 reviews

20. Chilly Gonzales & Jarvis Cocker - Room 29

Chilly Gonzales & Jarvis Cocker - Room 29
March 17, 2017
Chamber Pop
Critic Score
70
11 reviews
User Score
71
14 reviews

19. Jay Som - Everybody Works

Jay Som - Everybody Works
March 10, 2017
Indie Rock
Critic Score
79
11 reviews
User Score
77
176 reviews

18. Nick Hakim - Green Twins

Nick Hakim - Green Twins
May 19, 2017
Indie Pop
Critic Score
77
5 reviews
User Score
77
46 reviews

The funneled, slow churning, sample drum-loop rhythms and translucent sheets of filtered guitar, horns, and keys deepen the dimensions where reflections can loiter.

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17. Elbow - Little Fictions

Elbow - Little Fictions
February 3, 2017
Art Rock
Critic Score
76
17 reviews
User Score
71
77 reviews

Cmpositionally Elbow sounds more refreshed than they have since The Seldom Seen Kid, and hopefully Little Fictions is a signal of the beginning of a new creative phase.

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16. Spoon - Hot Thoughts

Spoon - Hot Thoughts
March 17, 2017
Indie Rock
Critic Score
77
27 reviews
User Score
76
222 reviews

Hot Thoughts is no game-changer, and the band risks sounding as safe as Coldplay at times ... Sometimes taking a risk for pop can sound like no risk at all, especially with a band that sounds as effortless as Spoon.

Full Review →

15. Future Islands - The Far Field

Future Islands - The Far Field
April 7, 2017
Synthpop
Critic Score
76
27 reviews
User Score
74
170 reviews

While there isn't a song as massive as "Seasons (Waiting on You)," Future Islands haven't plateaued; they've managed a follow-up record that can look their best work in the eye.

Full Review →

14. Temples - Volcano

Temples - Volcano
March 3, 2017
Neo-Psychedelia
Critic Score
70
18 reviews
User Score
65
88 reviews

Their latest, Volcano, practically sheds the skin of their earlier approach, with the band leaning on their melodic strengths to emerge with a largely new identity that also seems a surprisingly natural fit.

Full Review →

13. Feist - Pleasure

Feist - Pleasure
April 28, 2017
Indie Rock
Critic Score
79
27 reviews
User Score
77
189 reviews

While there's no viral hit like "1234" on Pleasure, Feist exhibits some of her best work with just her vocals and a guitar.

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12. Jens Lekman - Life Will See You Now

Jens Lekman - Life Will See You Now
February 17, 2017
Indie Pop
Critic Score
76
22 reviews
User Score
75
161 reviews

Snapping with flashlight disco, percussive tropicalia, palpable visuals, and devastating pomp, Jens Lekman opens the curtains to life's generous swimming pool with his signature singular musical contemplation and invites us to splash around on the ebullient Life Will See You Now.

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11. Perfume Genius - No Shape

Perfume Genius - No Shape
May 5, 2017
Art Pop
Critic Score
84
25 reviews
User Score
84
370 reviews

There are simultaneous moments of pure beauty and pain, as there have been throughout Perfume Genius' work. Only now perhaps the songs don't search for beauty in suffering, but in vitality despite it.

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10. Broken Social Scene - Hug of Thunder

Broken Social Scene - Hug of Thunder
July 7, 2017
Indie Rock
Critic Score
76
26 reviews
User Score
77
116 reviews

It's an impressive return for a band that set the bar high years ago and continue to clear it with ease.

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9. Mount Eerie - A Crow Looked at Me

Mount Eerie - A Crow Looked at Me
March 24, 2017
Singer-Songwriter
Critic Score
90
16 reviews
User Score
83
408 reviews
With his new album, Elverum managed to put this experience into words to be sung, and the results offer intensely moving chapters of his coping and survival.
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8. Fleet Foxes - Crack-Up

Fleet Foxes - Crack-Up
June 16, 2017
Folk
Critic Score
80
28 reviews
User Score
82
330 reviews

That the album sounds like no one else is a high compliment—no one else comes close to touching Fleet Foxes in this type of music, and the moments the band creates on Crack-Up are some of the finest you'll find on any record this year.

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7. Rose Elinor Dougall - Stellular

Rose Elinor Dougall - Stellular
January 27, 2017
Indie Pop
Critic Score
77
11 reviews
User Score
74
56 reviews
Its greatest strength is that it feels effortless, moving from sleek disco to dark-hued punk and beyond without ever missing a step or losing its charm.
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6. Big Thief - Capacity

Big Thief - Capacity
June 9, 2017
Indie Rock
Critic Score
82
18 reviews
User Score
80
195 reviews

When listening to something as beautifully made and heart wrenching as Big Thief's penetrating sophomore album, Capacity, you are taken somewhere beyond the physical, whether walking or sitting or lying down, moving or motionless.

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5. Foxygen - Hang

Foxygen - Hang
January 20, 2017
Progressive Pop
Critic Score
70
22 reviews
User Score
69
175 reviews

This is a pointedly unhip album, and that's part of what makes it so refreshing. Few other artists would embark on a project so absurdly lavish in fear that one wrong step would result in curdled cheese; Foxygen, thankfully, aren't so damn afraid.

Full Review →

4. Sufjan Stevens, Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhly & James McAlister - Planetarium

Sufjan Stevens, Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhly & James McAlister - Planetarium
June 9, 2017
Art Pop
Critic Score
71
22 reviews
User Score
73
120 reviews

In its entirety, the ambition and scope of the project is matched by the combined talent and imagination of four musical friends whose association seemed to just emerge from the ether.

Full Review →

3. alt-J - Relaxer

alt-J - Relaxer
June 2, 2017
Art Pop
Critic Score
65
28 reviews
User Score
65
174 reviews
Alt-J's fellow alt-rockers will have a tough time breaking into that conversation even as it comes time for everyone to draw up their "best of 2017" lists, seeing as this astoundingly eclectic album is sure to rank high.
Full Review →

2. Slowdive - Slowdive

Slowdive - Slowdive
May 5, 2017
Dream Pop
Critic Score
82
26 reviews
User Score
82
372 reviews
This is one of the strongest comeback albums in recent memories. Let's hope they stick around for a while longer this time around!
Full Review →

1. Father John Misty - Pure Comedy

Father John Misty - Pure Comedy
April 7, 2017
Singer-Songwriter
Critic Score
83
33 reviews
User Score
77
401 reviews

Pure Comedy raises the stakes, moving from an already ambitious personal concept album to a wider exploration of what it means to be human. His trademark lyrics remain; full of intimate observation and wry humor, but the scope has blown out of all proportion. In lesser hands it could have become unwieldy and pretentious. Tillman is simply too good for that.

Full Review →
Original Source: http://www.undertheradarmag.com/lists/under_the_radars_top_50_albums_of_2017_so_far/

Check out our 2017 Year End Summary.