Often I find myself raising my eyebrows in bewilderment that certain albums aren’t getting the recognition they deserve. It’s not that I’m one of those people that hates popular albums and loves unknown ones, it’s just that sometimes I feel that albums have slipped under a lot of people’s radars. In the last ten years, an assortment of quality projects have of course been released, and while the likes of To Pimp A Butterfly, Aphex Twin’s Syro, FKA Twigs’ LP1, or My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy will quite rightly scoop in the initial acclaim, believe me they’ll be some that you’ve missed.
Octave Minds – Octave Minds (2014)
Octave Minds is the incredible debut project from the electronic duo of the same name. Comprised of renowned composer Chilly Gonzales and electro-producer Boys Noize, the LP is a grand fusion of two fairly oppositional genres. Gonzales’ drawn-out landscapes of sound, crossed with Boys Noize’s firery bass and drum patterns contort into colossal anthems where chills meet thrills. Full review here.
Asher Roth – Asleep In The Bread Aisle (2009)
While a lot of the albums of this list many will think ‘oh yeah that is a pretty good album actually’, my devotion to Asher Roth’s poorly-recieved debut appears to be isolated. While many cite Asleep In The Bread Aisle as a misguided hazy LP from a stoner freshman, it’s actually a deeply layered emotional project…with a few misguided hazy tracks. His Dream speaks of a father figure whose hopes and dreams have been put on hold so that his son can fulfil his, while As I Em, is a frustration-filled retort at critics’ continued comparisons to Eminem. Full review here.
Wolf Parade – Apologies To The Queen Mary (2005)
The beauty of Wolf Parade was always the trading vocals of madman Spencer Krug, and the slightly more grounded Dan Boeckner, their two very distinct styles seem to clash and spark rather than merge, but that is the joy of the album. The energy that both singers put into each song is electric, particularly Krug on songs such as I’ll Believe in Anything and Fancy Claps. It’s hard to resist the energy pulsating throughout the album, even now as I’m sat here writing this I’m struggling to sit still, particularly the one two punch of Dear Sons and Daughters of Hungry Ghosts and I’ll Believe in Anything, two of the most apologetically uplifting songs of the past ten years. When this album was released all those years again it did receive widespread critical acclaim and many people rating it as one of the indie albums of the 2000’s, but I feel like now its being neglected as just another indie album from the mid noughties, Wolf Parade seem to have faded from people’s memories slightly which is a shame as well, they deserve as much credit as the passion they put into their albums.
– by Ed Jones
Tame Impala – Currents (2015)
A while back, The West Review’s very own Ed Jones had a lot of positive things to say about Tame Impala’s third studio album, Currents. After his glowing review, I gave the LP a whirl, and it was pretty much all I listened to for the following month. Draped in sultry 80’s synths and baselines, Currents was an infectious, heartbreaking, acid-inducing, psychadelically-styled piece of genius. Expertly crafted and intricately perfected, Kevin Parker has crafted in my opinion, one of the best albums of the decade. Full review here.
Kids These Days – Traphouse Rock (2012)
I was heartbroken when the news of Kids These Days’ break-up first hit me. One of the few truly inventive groups around at the time, one who offered something more than a hit. Comprised of a few now-familiar faces such as Vic Mensa or Donnie Trumpet among others, the criss-crossing collective fused the boundaries of hip-hop, jazz, indie, soul, rock, funk, pop and electronica to create a hugely experimental project, all with producer at the helm. Featuring samples from an abundance of influences including Radiohead, Portishead and Pixies, Traphouse Rock really shouldn’t be slept on. Full review here.
Perfume Genius – Learning (2010)
Perfume Genius‘ first album is, to my mind at least, his best. While 2014’s Too Bright achieved wide-spread acclaim thanks to a captivating performance of lead single Queen on Letterman, his first album seem to slip under the radar. A shame when listening to the album again as it’s such a gem. The simple recordings are intimate and welcoming, belying the tough subject matters focused on throughout the album; domestic abuse, homophobia in contemporary society, sexual abuse. It can be a tough album to listen to, but like most things, there is beauty hidden in among the hardships. Even if it’s just a Hadreas’ (singer/songwriter/piano player) piano twinkling in the background of the song. I think this is a particularly important album as it does paint a very stark picture of what it’s like to be a gay man in modern society, but all the while keeping that glimmer of hope that things will change.
– by Ed Jones
Chase & Status – More Than A lot (2008)
Seriously underrated and massively slept-on piece of music. In my opinion, Chase & Status’ More Than Alot is one of the most essential British electronic albums of all time. Featuring an array of computer-based production, spanning drum and bass, dubstep and jungle, while flirting with the idea of other unfluential genres such as grime, Chase & Status have crafted an essential and integral album to the British music scene, one that continues to portray its influence today. Full review here.
The Black Keys – Turn Blue (2014)
I think it’s fair to say that El Camino and Brothers are the go-to Black Keys albums. However, my favourite is actually their most recently released project, Turn Blue. Featuring a lot of the same stylings found on the aforementioned Currents, the project is a nostalgic trip down the rock memory lane. With exquisitely layered production and intricate song-writing, Turn Blue is in my opinion home to some of The Black Keys‘ best material. Full review here.
Childish Gambino – Camp (2011)
As an unknown over here in the UK, comedian Donald Glover wasn’t know as such, he was purely known as Childish Gambino. This gave us no distractions when it came to the actual music once his debut album Camp came along. Bleeding into an array of genres, flirting with others such as trap and rock, Gambino’s fierce raps combined with symphonic hooks pushed Camp into the exclusive indie-rap genre. Agonizingly poetic and notably pained songwriting crossed with firery production and an indie flavouring, Camp was a stellar album that seems to have been wrongly overlooked. Full review here.
Cupid Deluxe – Blood Orange (2013)
Dev Hynes, formerly of Lightspeed Champion, seemed to reinvent himself from the introverted indie folk of that project into the 1980’s-infused R&B extroverted funk of Blood Orange. Whereas Lightspeed focused on cleverly written personal stories, Blood Orange casts the net much wider and focuses on tales of teenage homelessness, transgender issues and other big issues in today’s society. If that all sounds like a particularly challenging listen (which it can be) Hynes manages to keep things feeling bright and positive with funky, catchy disco synths. Much like Perfume Genius, Hynes is an important modern singer, bringing important issues to the forefront of his singing, that while personal, are much bigger than him. Well worth checking out, especially for the old school R&B, which is nailed on opening track Chamakay, and feeds the album with style until closer Time will Tell.
– by Ed Jones