BSR Web Staff: Underrated Albums of 2016
Written by BSR Web Staff on December 31, 2016
In addition to our list of the top 10 albums of the year, the Black Squirrel Radio web staff collaborated to highlight some of the most underrated and underappreciated albums of 2016. This mix of lesser discussed pop music and undiscovered indie darlings will hopefully clue you into artists you should know in 2017.
‘Lean & Neck’ – RetcH
Tyler Thompson: RetcH is one of my favorite current underground rappers. Lean & Neck offers a slew of dark trap bangers and hints of cloud rap satisfaction. This album represents his next best piece of work since his gangsta rap album Polo Sporting Goods in ‘13. There’s promise for the upcommer RetcH. Great album to lift with.
‘Lost Time’ – Tacocat
Brooke Forrest: Any album that not only features an ode to X-Files goddess Dana Katherine Scully, but also includes an anthem for horse girls and a song about mansplaining is truly something worthy of praise. Seattle punk band, Tacocat, makes that very magic happen on their third album, Lost Time. Sure, with a name like Tacocat and with such unusual song inspirations this album isn’t the most serious piece of music in 2016. But they don’t just excel at clever and entertainingly kitschy titles and inspirations. Tacocat actually backs it up with some truly solid and catchy garage rock. Though this may be their most polished album to date, it still feels reminiscent of their slightly more rebellious and lo-fi roots. Tacocat has been one of my favorite new bands, and Lost Time is a great display of their brand of witty and creative feminist punk.
‘7/27’- Fifth Harmony
Akii Butler: Fifth Harmony’s sophomore album was the gift that kept on giving. The album was more focused than the first yet still had a range of different sounds. If you thought “Work From Home” was amazing just wait until you hear “I Lied”, “Not That Kinda Girl” and “Dope”. If you’re a fan of pop music, this is definitely an album you wanna check out.
‘Big Mess’ – Grouplove
Erin Keller: I first heard “Do You Love Someone” on the newly added tab of Apple Music. I dig the song so much that I investigated Grouplove’s catalog. I enjoy every single song on Big Mess. The album is packed with chill jams and well written lyrics.
‘Slime Season 3’ – Young Thug
Conor Battles: Young Thug put out three mixtapes this year, and they’re all very good. But while I’m Up is brought down a peg by the presence of weak throwaways like “My Boys” and “Special” and JEFFERY is brought down a peg by having a track called “Harambe,” Slime Season 3 is eight tracks of lush, atmospheric perfection from one of rap music’s most undefinable iconoclasts. It’s easy to dismiss Thugger’s erratic flow as just “mumblerap,” more akin to Lil Uzi Vert and Lil Yachty than the great lyricists of hip-hop past. But the increasingly obvious fact about Young Thug is that his music exists in a space where clarity is of little importance. There are moments on Slime Season 3, like the hypnotic dirge underpinning “Memo,” or Thug’s sustained howling on the hook of “Drippin,” that say more than words ever could. The vibe Young Thug continues to create with his terse, moody squelches; bolstered by brooding, murky post-trap production from London on da Track and a few other choice collaborators; makes for some of the most fascinating, inscrutable music coming out of rap music’s New School.
‘Death of a Bachelor’ – Panic! At The Disco
Brandon Bounds: This album was highly anticipated by many fans and kicked 2016 off on a great note. Brendon Urie reflected on all the fun memories he had while he was a Bachelor and decided to pour his feelings into the band’s fifth studio album. While there are a couple songs that are a little more emotional and melancholy, Urie and the others gave each song everything that they had to hype up their audience. For example, “Victorious” was a reminder for everyone to celebrate the good things in life and not to let the bad things get you down.
‘The Birds Outside Sang’ – Florist
Erik Svensson: The Birds Outside Sang is an impressive work by the band Florist. Most stories of the album recount it as beginning shortly after singer and songwriter Emily Sprague was hit by a car. Indeed, Sprague recounts on the first song on the record all the ways in which their body is injured. The first song, “Dark Light,” begins with a single synth making up the instrumentation, and each song seems to expand both in instrumentation and in scope of lyrical content, while still feeling strangely minimal and bare. The Birds Outside Sang gives off a feeling of cohesiveness in terms of narrative, seeming to span the recovery of and moving on from Sprague’s injuries. The entire album feels meditative and ethereal, calling to mind the styles of transcendentalist writers. This album was one of my favorites of 2016, and it stuck with me throughout the entire year for these reasons.
Cover image of Florist via Sterogum