The Most Overlooked Albums Of 2017

We Count Down 15 Albums From This Year That Deserve Another Look

On November 10th 2017

Overlooked

When introducing our Most Overlooked Albums Of 2016 list, we noted that there are something like 75,000 albums released every year, or at least that’s the best guesstimate. To keep up with everything, you’d need to listen to more than 1400 albums a week, which is a physical impossibility even if you capped every album at 20 minutes. Which is to say: you do not have enough time to listen to every album you want to—or should want to— in any given period of time. Life is short, time is limited, and you can only spend so much of your waking life listening to music.

The goal of any overlooked albums list—this one included—is to try to pause the deluge of those 75,000 albums coming down the pike, and take some time to re-appreciate some albums that, for a variety of reasons (be they genre, timing, promotion, or otherwise) didn’t get the appreciation we think they deserved. We can’t say for sure that these albums will replace the number one on your list of favorite albums of 2017, but they all deserve more time to be considered than they got.

And like last year, we believe in these 15 titles so much, we’re carrying all of them in the Vinyl Me, Please store right now. You can purchase them by clicking the image below.

Without further ado, here are the 15 Most Overlooked Albums of 2017, as picked by the Vinyl Me, Please staff.

Don Bryant

Don’t Give Up On Love

Don Bryant was a soul singer par excellence and a songwriter to mega stars like Al Green and Otis Clay when he met the love of his life when he was paired with her in the studio: the singer Ann Peebles. Together, they wrote her classic “I Can’t Stand the Rain” and have been married for almost 44 years. Bryant devoted his life to supporting Peebles in her career, but when she had to quit touring in 2012 after a stroke, Bryant was stuck at home for the first time in his adult life. He decided to return to music, and recorded Don’t Give Up On Love, a moving soul album that sounds like it was record at Hi Studios in Memphis in 1972 but released today. Bryant’s voice has always been rich; here it’s as good as its ever been. Like William Bell’s 2016 album Bound To Happen, this one feels like it’ll be a shoe-in for Grammy’s in the Americana category next year.—Andrew Winistorfer

You can purchase the album here.

Dent May

Across The Multiverse

With every new release, Dent May shows a new side of his artistry. After bursting on the scene with The Good Feeling Music Of Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele and then expanding his oeuvre with the tickling and deadly sincere love songs on Born Too Late, he has now found an incredible sweet spot in Across the Multiverse. Is Dent the new Elton John, Harry Nilsson or Randy Newman of 2017? Ultimately, he is simply himself: a sublime mixture of nostalgic pop vibes and fearless experimentation characterize what’s so exciting about this album. Dent May’s music has that elusive element of extra sprinkled over crisp, full instrumentation and incredibly vulnerable and relatable lyrics. There is a refreshing dose of irreverence to basic human worries in his lyrics, which makes this album the perfect retreat for the misanthrope in us all. If you close your eyes, you can almost feel the sand between your toes in Dent May’s multicolored, ‘80s Los Angeles dream land.—Alex Berenson

You can purchase this album here.

Marika Hackman

I'm Not Your Man

British songwriter Marika Hackman made an album that’s quippy and catchy, and I’m surprised it hasn’t taken the world by storm yet. Moving away from her past folky twee work, Hackman found her stride with a raw breed of grungy pop. Not every artist can make a cohesive album that you can cry to one moment and dance around your house to naked the next, but here she is. And honestly, this album deserves a listen off of one song alone.The opening track “Boyfriend,” uses the common cultural undermining of queer relationships between women—the idea that getting with another woman “doesn’t count”—to steal a lover from right under her boyfriend’s nose. This should be a queer anthem; make it happen, folks!—Amileah Sutliff

You can purchase the album here.

Aldous Harding

Party

As part of a genre that’s always reaching back into time for inspiration, new folk releases often run the risk of falling behind, musically. This often means folk releases that slip through the cracks, even the good ones. The balance between finding relevancy and freshness as a folk artist while still upholding folk sound and tradition is a tricky one that Aldous Harding mastered with Party. She takes risks. Her lyrics toe the line between surreally poetic and confessional and her unique voice is capable with any and all experimentation she throws its way. Combined with a modern sonic landscape of horns, drum machines and distant sound, she made something uncannily eerie, chilling and tender. —AS

You can purchase this album here.

Calvin Harris

Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1

It might anger the type of people who get angry about lists on social media for us to put this album on this kind of list, given that it was, briefly, the number two album in America and the U.K. But this album—a simmering, discofied slab of perfection from Taylor Swift’s ex-boyfriend—disappeared from our national consciousness in the time it took for everyone to listen to “Slide”—the Frank Ocean-featuring single that is as aesthetically perfect as a Frank Lloyd Wright building—five times. This should have been the number one album of the summer; it’s got too many singles that are Wrath of Khan-level earworms for it not to have been. Apologize to Calvin for denying him the status he deserved as the king of the summer and bump this one again.—AW

You can purchase the album here.

Jlin

Black Origami

To be completely honest, for what it is, Black Origami isn’t, relatively speaking, overlooked. Especially for such an experimental album, it’s gotten a considerable amount of buzz—all deserved, of course. Despite having just two albums, Jlin is a critical favorite with a cult-like following. But this hasn’t propelled Black Origami into the mainstream by any means. On the label Planet Mu, an English electronic music record label run by Mike Paradinas, she makes her own breed of experimental electronic music that pulls heavily from Chicago’s footwork. Jlin—a steel mill worker from Gary, IN in her day job life—considers RP Boo and the late DJ Rashad among her musical mentors, but has created a sound that’s all her own within the skeletal elements of footwork. It’s a chaotic, epic, difficult mastery and subversion of the tension and releases behind dance and electronic music at its best, making it an unfathomably forward album that’s absolutely worth a listen.—AS

You can purchase the album here.

John Moreland

Big Bad Luv

Until his fourth album, Big Bad Luv, John Moreland was a self-described “sad bastard” making brutally efficient folk, country, and Americana records about his general heartbrokedness and sadness. His 4AD debut finds the Oklahoman grappling with new found love—which he never thought he’d find or deserved—and something approaching self-acceptance. Big Bad Luv is like a HD version of all the things that made Moreland an artist to watch with his last three albums; the lyrics are deeply self-reflective and sometimes self-lacerating, the music has that blend of rock and country and folk that sounds like it could have been produced by the greatest bar band you’ve ever heard, and most importantly, the songs hit you in your gut the same time they hit you in your brain. Put on “No Glory In Regret” and catch all of the feels you can muster all at once.—AW

You can purchase the album here.

Noga Erez

Off The Radar

“This year we were blessed with the most interesting and universally appealing electronic album since M.I.A.’s Kala. Noga Erez, who is a prominent member of Tel Aviv’s burgeoning music scene, has mixed her traditional musical background with her love of electronic beats to bring us a politically charged album full of straight-up bangers. After enlisting as a military musician at the age of 18, Erez used her classical piano and guitar training as a base to learn electronic production and use it as a canvas to mix traditional arabic musicality with futuristic tones. Off The Radar uses its unsettlingly catchy rhythms to give listeners a seriously fun, and effortlessly palatable, taste of her chaotic world.”—AB

You can purchase this album here.

Rostam

Half-Light

Half Light is the debut album from Rostam Batmanglij who is best known for his time in the indie rock group Vampire Weekend. This album will feel slightly familiar to fans of his former band as it still explores the same genre-bending complexities of sound. The difference is that this record has a quality of intimacy and rawness that transcend anything he’s done prior. When he sings on this album, it sounds like an intimate confession to a close friend. This record embraces the duality of looking back on where you’ve come from with a combination of fondness and wistfulness. The elements of his music and production are effervescent—- but contain intentional imperfections. That theme is what makes this debut so relatable and what makes Rostam a formidable musical force in his own right.—Neeru Ram

You can purchase this album here.

Shamir

Hope

For those familiar with Shamir Bailey’s in-your-face, pop-perfect debut album Ratchet, his lo-fi second release Hope is undoubtably a shock. For that reason, it was written off and overlooked. In many respects, he re-emerged as a new, lo-fi artist with Hope and the close follow-up six months later, his second 2017 LP, Revelations. Recorded on a four-track over a weekend, he released Hope independently on his own Soundcloud with a heartfelt message that began, “I was gonna quit music this weekend. From day 1 it was clear i was an accidental pop star … the wear of staying polished with how im presented and how my music was presented took a huge toll on me mentally. I started to hate music, the thing i loved the most! … Im not gonna lie, this album is hard to listen to, but it was even harder for me to share.” Hope is the gorgeous, intimate sounds from the same soulful star of a voice that made him blow up in the first place. To denounce his sonic 180 because it isn’t consistent with our expectations would be to miss out on a deeply moving experience born out of hopelessness and spun into something resembling, well, hope. —AS

You can purchase the album here.

Joan Shelley

Joan Shelley

We often associate the strongest emotions with loudness: a scream, a belly laugh, an agonizing cry, but Louisville singer songwriter Joan Shelley proves on her self-titled fifth album that deeply felt emotions can exist just as comfortably alongside stillness and quiet, potentially more so. Like Townes Van Zandt, Shelley is most powerful telling bedside tales that can unexpectedly level you with a slight twist of phrase. Coming seven years into her career, this Jeff Tweedy-produced effort finds Shelley, who describes herself as an “open nerve,” with the confidence and sigh of relief that often comes in your 30s, able to feel and think all at once without feeling completely overtaken in self-doubt. Drawing skillfully from Appalachian musical traditions, this album is a reminder that great American roots music still exists and that despite a constant feeling of crowdedness in the field, a voice and a guitar can still be more than enough when put in the hands of the right artist.—Cameron Schaefer

You can purchase the album here.

Sinkane

Life & Livin' It

Artists often strive to absorb and transform their personal stories and surroundings into song in a way that hopefully feels both new and familiar at the same time to a listener. The best ones have a way of making you feel as though you traveled to a foreign shore only to realize it’s home. London-born, Sudanese artist Ahmed Gallab aka Sinkane has always been a master at this sort of creative slight of hand, taking African pop, disco, dance elements and re-introducing them alongside more traditionally western styles and structures to create something that feels unique, but right. His latest effort, Live & Livin’ It, released via City Slang, finds him at peak form, establishing grooves, beats & guitar chirps that you want to put on at a party and watch everyone respond immediately to. On “Favorite Song” the refrain of “Won’t you play my favorite song” pays homage to his one-time DJ side gig, but serves as the perfect summary of a deeply hooky album..—CS

You can purchase the album here.

Tei Shi

Crawl Space

For people who are only familiar with Tei Shi’s (Valerie Teicher’s) previous work - she has evolved her minimal, stripped-down style to bring us Crawl Space, an album that not only shows the full extent of her vocal range, but also her ability to write an incredibly catchy pop album. The influences on this record are varied and easily placed; from The Cardigan’s influenced “Baby” to the ‘90s-pop homage ‘Say You Do.’ Regardless of outside influence, this album is consistently Tei Shi. Crawl Space shows off Teicher’s ability to bring the listener on an emotional journey that represents her most complete and mature body of work to date.—AB

You can purchase the album here.

Colter Wall

Colter Wall

Hearing the first creaks of Colter Wall’s voice, it’s impossible to believe that a person born in 1995 could have an instrument that sounds like a boulder being slid across a rock face. It’s deep, it’s worn, and it sounds aged by erosion. Wall’s self-titled debut LP was produced by star country producer Dave Cobb (Isbell, Simpson, Stapleton, etc), but Cobb’s contribution is to mostly get out of the way and let Wall’s impressionistic songwriting, and sparse, windswept instrumentation take over. Wall is never going to be on CMT—his songs are not the kind that get you through a Sunday morning hangover—but he should be a big star in alt-country for years to come.—AW

You can purchase the album here.

Washed Out

Mister Mellow

The move to Stones Throw Records with the release of Mister Mellow—Washed Out’s first album since 2014— ushered in a new iteration of the group that is sample based, chopped and screwed with a dash of his tropical influence. This album is full of low-key, trippy club bangers that feel as though they were meant for ending your night in the early hours on an Ibiza Beach.—AB

You can purchase the album here.

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