LOUDER FEATURES- Underrated Albums You Have To Listen To
Here at Team Louder, we decided to band together to show you our Underrated albums, ones you may have missed or overlooked. Take a listen and let us know your thoughts with #louderunderrated over on socials!
'ZOAX' - ZOAX (Charlotte Claber, Editor In Chief)
If you follow me on Twitter (apologies if so!), you'll have seen me tweet about ZOAX many times, and that part of my Twitter I am not sorry for. After two short and sweet EPs, the band released their debut self-titled album. It's a versatile piece of art that blends exciting riffs with chaotic moments. It's formulaic, a stroke of genius; yet so many, have never heard of it, or even given it the time of day. 'Devil Dance' makes you want to stomp around and scream "why so serious?": a great opportunity to get in the pit and get in peoples faces, and a chance to let loose. Tracks like 'KYSCHIA' show the pure talent of the writers behind the project, as it has groove with melodic hardcore undertones. It's refreshing and breaks the mould as an album - it's unexpected and holds some hidden gems, like 'Zuperheroez', a track with raspy vocals but clean and funky guitar lines that will have you bopping around. I had the pleasure of discovering this band live before I heard their records, and my god they were superb! Supporting the likes of Funeral For A Friend and Hacktivist you have to make a noise and a spectacle and they did exactly that! Bouncing along bars and balconies, jumping in peoples faces and creating a memorable evening for all! Sadly, just like every band I seem to enjoy, the band later broke up.
'Take This To Your Grave' – Fall Out Boy (Charlotte Hardman, Deputy Editor)
There were so many contenders for this title that it was difficult to narrow it down – records that lie unappreciated in amongst discographies of stellar work, such as Green Day’s wonderful ‘Nimrod’; and albums that stand out as singularly brilliant efforts, like The Ataris’ ‘So Long, Astoria’. However, as a catalyst for a stellar career that still sees its creators topping festival bills nearly 20 years on, it had to be Fall Out Boy’s debut effort, 2003’s ‘Take This To Your Grave’. Punchy and punk-tinged in its instrumentation, the lyrics are woven from teenage angst, heartbreak, and a sky-gazing desire for something better than your painfully average existence – and, poetically, this record became a ticket out of monotony for the Chicago quartet. The only enduring major single from the record, ‘Grand Theft Autumn/Where Is Your Boy’, remains a fan favourite, but is dwarfed by the likes of ‘Dance Dance’ and ‘Sugar We’re Goin Down’ from the band’s sophomore release. Yet this record contains a whole host of wonderful hidden gems. ‘Homesick At Space Camp’ reaches out across the night sky to their fans, promising that ‘the headphones will deliver you the words I cannot say’, while also establishing a deep-rooted love for their hometown in their music that has never wavered since. ‘Grenade Jumper’ is a touching tribute to their band’s manager, whose tenacity propelled them into the spotlight of the early emo scene; while the sanctimoniously delivered imagery on ‘Calm Before the Storm’ is dripping with spiralling melodrama. And, to this day, Fall Out Boy close nigh on every show with the stunning ‘Saturday’ – in my opinion, the best track the band have ever released, and an affecting monument to the young men who could have only dreamt of the journey this record has taken them on over the past two decades.
'Witchcraft Destroys Minds & Reaps Souls' - Coven (Naomi Sanders, Deputy Editor):
When people discuss the first “metal” album, often names like Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin (to some extent), and Deep Purple are brought up. But what about a band from the US that made metal before all of them? 'Witchcraft Destroys Minds And Reaps Souls' is the debut album from Coven, released in 1969. It does have a lot of similarities with Black Sabbath; including that they have a song on that record entitled 'Black Sabbath', and a member who was nicknamed Greg 'Oz' Osbourne! But Coven should stand on their own and be celebrated as the original metal icons, especially thanks to the band’s heavy psychedelic nature; intrinsic lyrics focusing on dark topics such as people vs religion; and, of course, the amazing vocals from Jinx Dawson, who could enchant and invite the listener into the songs. The band’s sound truly surrounds the listener, drawing them into this dark, mystical world that you wouldn’t want to escape from - felt especially on songs like 'Black Sabbath', 'Wicked Woman', 'White Witch of Rose Hall', and 'Choke, Thirst, Die'. This album is just perfect front to back, it’s practically criminal that not many people know about this album, much less about this band! If you want to dive into metal’s rich history, can’t think of a better place to start than this album. They are definitely the Snow White of Metal... if Snow White worshipped Satan!
'Act IV: Rebirth in Reprise' - The Dear Hunter (Alex Swift, Writer):
Deciding exactly which album by alternative, art-rock project the Dear Hunter to place on this list was a challenge. They are underrated as a whole. Throughout eight albums, five of them tied together into a sprawling concept, Casey Crescenzo has been creating a surreal mixture of theatrical, vaudevillian tendencies with inspired intricacy and progression. For my money, 'Rebirth in Reprise' is an exemplar in complex though stunning songcrafting. Fragments in the story in the vein of ‘The Old Haunt’ and ‘Waves’ reveal a passion for diverse, memorable pieces that are both succinct and dramatized. From a compositional standpoint, the album plays out like a piece of musical theatre. Case in point, the beautifully apocalyptic textures of ‘At the End of the Earth’ and the stimulating swing of ‘A Night on the Town’. If you’re telling a story through your music, contrast is absolutely key, and these musicians carry an atmosphere of rising and falling beautifully. Even the ‘Bitter Suite’ songs, scattered within the track list each have a unique feel. Certainly, the string and brass sections which are prominent throughout the album, carry that grandiose, otherworldly prowess. So why is this underrated? Well, in entering into so-called ‘progressive’ music, I rarely hear these records mentioned as a great starting point, which is a shame as these are some of the most fascinating yet simultaneously humble works that you can find in the genre. Indeed, if you can get into the Dear Hunter – probably starting with this release – that will open opportunities to explore multiple genres, realizing their relation to one another and revelling in the possibilities of what can be achieved musically.
'Instructions' - Heck (Sean Hubbard, Writer):
Heck made their name on the live scene as Baby Godzilla, and several chaotic years and one name change later they released their debut full length record 'Instructions' in 2016. It was, and still is an absolute masterpiece. The band had proved that they could play the most chaotic live shows in the world, and make a musical masterpiece. Finally, we all thought this was the turning point and the moment that they become known as the successors to The Dillinger Escape Plan, backing up incredible performances with impeccable studio records. The critics loved it, fans loved it, it seemed as if Heck were finally on the verge of making it as the big band they deserved to be, and all their years of grifting had paid off.
And then nothing much seemed to change. For two years they still had their legions of dedicated fans, but weren’t bringing in many new ones. Despite putting out one of the best albums of the year they were still playing the same venues. It’s almost as if this went over everyone’s heads. Maybe it was just too abrasive for a more mainstream audience, but then this was the same audience that revered Dillinger, so it couldn’t be that. Some people just saw it as ‘yet another hardcore record’ despite the fact that the album closer is over 16 minutes long and features more complexity than a Tool song. And then in 2017 with one hasty Facebook post a week earlier the band played their last show at Arctangent, and the dream was dead. We might never know the full details behind the split, members of the band have often said they were just tired of the chaotic nature of Heck, but it was certainly amicable enough considering two members went on to form the (also incredible) Haggard Cat, but I’m sure that the lack of success for 'Instructions' did not help the mood in the band. Either way, this was truly a missed opportunity for British music and there has not been another band since who come close to filling that hole.
'Cavalier Youth' - You Me At Six (Simone Barton, Writer):
When it comes to underrated albums 'Cavalier Youth' is one at the top of my list. I remember how most people that I spoke to about the album after its release weren't fond of it, mainly because it didn't sound like previous You Me At Six albums. However, for me it quickly became a soundtrack of my teen years, which was perfect since the release date was on my 16th birthday. 'Cavalier Youth' has a sense of nostalgia, especially in tracks 'Wild Ones' and 'Too Young To Feel This Old' that a lot of young fans couldn't relate to at the time, especially since they were used to the previous pop-punk sounding albums. As I've aged I've gained more appreciation for the tales of youth, romance and fleeting opportunities, whilst reminiscing of the good old days. You Me At Six created stunning ballads, that will make you want to sing your heart out. Josh Franceschi's vocals were able to shine through on this album more than previous releases. 'Wild Ones' and 'Cold Nights' stand out especially because of Josh's vocals melting together so well with the skilled work of guitarists Max Helyer and Chris Miller, to create catchy moments. That being said, their roots weren't completely left behind with 'Fresh Start Fever' having heavier sound and faster tempo. All in all, 'Cavalier Youth' is an album that needs to be revisited as one of You Me At Six's best albums, and a great example of why judging artists for changing their sounds makes you miss out on great music.
'Aggressive' - Beartooth (Courtney Peterson, Writer):
Their debut album having blown all expectations out of the water, Beartooth were in for a rough time with their all-important sophomore record, 'Aggressive'. For most people, this fell short of the mark, as it was not as heavy sonically or lyrically as 'Disgusting'; but because of this it doesn’t get enough recognition as a great album in itself. It's positive themes are not what most fans anticipated, but it does, indeed, serve aggression and still captures Beartooth’s angst and unique musical style. 'Hated', for example, goes down amazingly live, and focuses on negative feelings in the verses and the defiant battle against them in the memorable hook of the chorus. The title track focuses on battling against external negative forces, spreading a positive message of perseverance which encapsulates the majority of the album. It’s no 'Disgusting', but a great album nonetheless.
'American Candy' - The Maine (Sadie Maude, Writer)
As far as underrated artists go, I’d say The Maine are pretty near the top of my list! All of their albums deserve more recognition, but ‘American Candy’ has to be the most underrated of them all. It perfectly tackles the highs and lows of life - but aside from this, musically, it is a pure banger! The songs are catchy and relatable, the lyrics are funny yet meaningful – it is the total package. There is a song for every mood and it is definitely an album I never tire of!
'Melanchole' - Salvia Palth (Tom Lee, Photographer)
Salvia Palth's 2013 album 'Melanchole' - an album that really hasn’t gained any sort of mainstream attention, probably due to its ‘unfinished’ sound, but is very loved within it's small cult following. I stumbled across this album by chance, gave a listen and, admittedly, did think to myself "What on earth is this?". However, after a few listens it had become one of my favourite albums. I feel the unfinished, raw, and amateur sound really makes this release by the 16-year-old unique and intriguing.