30 Awesome, Underrated, Sweet, Snobby Albums

I like having a place to send people for music recommendations they might not have heard. This post is the place.

This is a categorized list of 30 albums I really love, that you might not have heard of. If you’ve heard every single one, you can feel free to let me know and I will try and come up with even more obscure suggestions just for you.

I personally recommend every single one of these albums, and have included a mini-review to help you decide if it’s the type of thing you like.

Organized into categories for your listening pleasure:

~ 60’s-70’s ~

1. Stan Getz – Focus: Instead of coasting on the fame of his Bossa Nova megahit album Getz/Gilberto, he did all kinds of other great work. In Focus, Stan commissioned a whole string arrangement, and then improvised saxophone over it the first time he heard it. It’s honestly goddamn thrilling.

2. The Youngbloods – Elephant Mountain: Youngbloods, the one-hit wonder who did “Come On”, also did this incredibly beautiful, pastoral rock album with a gorgeous vibe. Very slept on.

3. Funkadelic – Maggotbrain: Everyone’s heard of this, right? This one’s a “just in case” because it’s so damn good. Starts off with a long “best ever” guitar solo (George Clinton reportedly told Eddie Hazel to play like his momma died), then three ROCK SOLID funk songs that are truly unfuckwithable, then an amazing symphony of noise and destruction. Of of the best albums of all time.

~ hip hop ~

4. P.O.S. – Never Better: Bush-era Minnesota rap, POS was literally never better. Truly dizzying raps and razor sharp wit over beats that slap your mom.

5. Qwel & Maker – Owl: Totally slept on rock-solid bars on bars on bars 90’s style. Found this on a reddit thread of slept on albums and it’s been a favorite ever since.

6. Why? – Alopecia: Weird nasally white dude rap but some really classic, quotable unforgettable lyrics and jams

7. Tierra Whack – Whack World: 15 minutes, 15 incredible 1-minute rap songs. just watch the video:

~ noise / electronic / ambient ~

8. Four Tet – There is Love in You: Just one of the most beautiful electronic music albums of all time.

9. Ben Frost – By the Throat: Dark, horror-ambient. Guttural, sinister electronic sounds.

10. Andy Stott – Luxury Problems: Crunchy ugly-beautiful beats that sound different than anything anyone has ever done.

11. Untogether – Blue Hawaii: Super etherial beats and fragmented song structure. Gorgeous and haunting.

12. Weval – Weval: Cool, almost danceable beats, usually with one well-placed vocal sample. I can put it on almost any time.

~ dream-pop-y ~

13. Youth Lagoon – The Year of Hibernation: Tender yearning personified. One of my favorite bedroom recordings of all time. To me there aren’t even individual songs, just one beautiful mood.

14. Sunny Day in Glasgow – Sea When Absent: Explosive quiet/loud dynamics and just in general an evolution from Loveless that I think is enjoyable.

15. The Clientele – Suburban Light: The sunday album you put on when you don’t know what to put on after Blonde? A timeless, hazy gorgeous album that feels like looking out a rain-clouded window.

16. Real Estate – Real Estate: Also one beautiful mood. I’m honestly misclassifying this as dream pop. It’s more like a kind of dreamy surf rock with singing. Production is a little lo-fi but that only adds to its charm.

17. Cocteau Twins – Heaven or Las Vegas: Probably part of the early genesis of dream pop. A heedlessly beautiful album that sparkles with actual magic.

~ country / americana / folky ~

18. Ohio – Over the Rhine: A crushingly beautiful double album. A husband and wife team makes a towering work very few people have heard of.

19. Neko Case – Furnace Room Lullaby: To me this is the ultimate Neko Case album. An unparalleled vocal powerhouse at the height of her songwriting powers.

20. M. Ward – Post-War: Songs I’d sing to my kids, if I had any. Timeless.

~ weird ~

21. kissed her little sister – HIGHandLOW: I think this one is Bandcamp only. A truly weird and hilarious low-fi mix of turntablism and singer-songwriteriness. Truly among the most hidden of gems.

22. Mr. Bungle – California: A singular album. A bizarre mish-mash of styles roughly based around a kind of demented surf rock. Mike Patton is a genius.

~ rock / jam ~

23. Plants and Animals – Parc Avenue: A band that never made another masterwork quite like this again. A beautiful journey

24. Okkervil River – The Stage Names: Some seriously deep and funny and passionate rock and roll.

25. The Dodos – Visiter: Gorgeous singing, hilariously touching songs, balls out messy percussion, heart, spirit.

26. White Denim – Last Days of Summer: White Denim is a crazy experimental Austin rock band that has done a lot of interesting work. For pure pleasure, however, nothing they’ve done is as good as Last Days of Summer. It’s like caramel poured over fresh strawberries and still just enough musically experimental to be amazing.

~ mellow / soul / chill ~

27. How to Dress Well – Can’t See My Own Face: The Eternal Love 2: Some of the genesis of lo-fi “PBR&B”, but hardly ever done as well. Later this same dude started making very clear recordings, but it’s this early, distorted, hopeless music that made me love him.

28. Mija – HOW TO MEASURE THE DISTANCE BETWEEN LOVERS: Criminally slept on EP of ethereal electronic / neo-soul.

~ pop adjacent ~

29. Kelis – Tasty: Everyone knows the song “Milkshake”, but not everyone knows there’s an incredible album built around it, along with an awesome Andre 3000 feature.

30. Sia – Healing is Difficult: Before Sia even bothered to hide her face, she made this brilliant album. No one has a voice like hers, and no one knows how to make dark, thorny, vulnerable songs like her. This album is a treasure.

categories: Albums
link to this post: Tuesday, January 26th, 2021

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