“Worst” Albums of 2017

2017 offered up some amazing albums (click here to check out our best albums list), but the year also regurgitated some less-than-stellar releases. While we have no definitive list for the “worst” albums, we do have a handful of picks for the most disappointing and most overrated full-lengths. As always, this is just my personal opinion, and keep in mind that theses lists are in no exact, particular order since my views fluctuate relatively frequently.

Most Disappointing Albums of 2017

These artists have set some pretty high standards with their past discographies, but their albums unleashed in 2017 did not live up to those expectations. These albums are not necessarily terrible by any means but are simply underwhelming compared to the artists’ earlier releases.

8. Ultralife by Oh Wonder

Alt-electropop singer/songwriters Oh Wonder’s self-titled debut in 2015 was atmospheric, stirring, and entertaining. It put them on the map as an up-and-coming indie pop act, but Ultralife failed to pack the same punch with its forgettable melodies and poor, overcrowded production quality.

7. Gossip by Sleeping With Sirens

Sleeping With Sirens loosely maintains their rock edge for certain tracks on Gossip but just ever so slightly. A vast departure from their previous efforts, Gossip loses everything that gave the band their “melodic hardcore” or even “rock” label … and credibility in the scene. I don’t even know if “pop rock” is remotely suitable here; it’s pop, I think. It’s something.

6. Something to Tell You by HAIM

2014’s Days Are Gone delivered energy, vibrancy, and angst, proving that HAIM was a promising newcomer in the alternative pop scene. With their ’80s throwback sound and youthful attitude, we expected their follow-up to be even better, something more mature and expansive. But Something to Tell You didn’t really leave us with much to say after all. The emotion and sonic gusto felt muted, to say the least, and nothing kept me coming back to this album, which was frankly a let-down.

5. Going Grey by The Front Bottoms

Going Grey marks a change of pace for The Front Bottoms, signifying a tonal shift to a more colorful array of electronic tinges throughout their indie pop rock blend. Still retaining their organic instrumentation, The Front Bottoms crafts a savory kaleidoscope of sounds begging for repeated listens. … However, I just wasn’t truly impressed. After a couple spins, none of the melodies or lyrics really stuck with me. The sound didn’t work for me after going back and listening to their earlier releases, and I’m ultimately disappointed by Going Grey. Seems as if Fueled By Ramen is attempting to transform another rough-around-the-edges band into a more pop-friendly act, and I’m honestly not here for it.

4. Evolve by Imagine Dragons

Imagine Dragons burst onto the alternative pop scene in 2012 with their debut LP Night Visions. It scored them multiple hits and also big points with me personally. (“Selene,” “Amsterdam,” “Hear Me,” “The River,” all amazing, timeless songs.) 2015’s Smoke + Mirrors put them on rocky ground among critics, including myself, but most let it slide as the almost inevitable sophomore slump. I didn’t have high hopes for Evolve upon listening to the singles, but I held out a little longer and wished for a return to form, a revival of the sincerity, passion, and exploration of Night Visions. But no. It’s an uninspired pop record. A big skip for me.

3. Pacific Daydream by Weezer

For me, Weezer has always been a hit-or-miss kind of band. One year they put out a fantastic album and then they put out a mediocre album the next. Their discography is like a checkerboard of alternating qualities, but after 2014’s exceptional Everything Will Be Alright In the End and 2016’s self-titled “white album,” I actually set my standards pretty high for Rivers & Co. Really, I can’t say I was immensely surprised that Pacific Daydream was relatively second-rate considering my past experiences with their other releases. (And the fact that I’ve never been one to favor yearly full-lengths.) Still, I was expecting Weezer to keep up their positive winning streak and yet…

2. Last Young Renegade by All Time Low

Pop rock veterans All Time Low transition to a more electropop rock vibe for their seventh studio album Last Young Renegade. The band clutches on to their organic instrumentation for a number of tunes, but many are dazzled by synth-driven melodies and artificial beats. While there were some outstandingly redeeming songs on this record, Last Young Renegade overall is a weak, unoriginal outing for All Time Low. If this was a debut effort from a new band, I’d be pretty impressed and interested to hear more. But taking into account All Time Low’s history, this is a veritable misfire in their catalog.

1. ÷ by Ed Sheeran

From our full review of the album: “Ed is acclaimed for his diversified styles, from upbeat hip-hop to syrupy sweet love ballads to acoustic campfire singalongs. His earnest lyricism and authentic intimacy is one of the many reasons to love this amiable redhead. ÷ is a typical Ed Sheeran album, a mixture of those various approaches and then some. But unfortunately, ÷ plays it extremely safe in personality, although he does tiptoe outside of his comfort zone on a few moments. This is his most noticeably commercial record to date, which thus sacrifices risk-taking and is ultimately underwhelming. After 2014’s phenomenal ×, touring the planet, and taking a year off social media, we set the bar high for Ed. We expected something more personal, something introspective and astonishing, but ÷ really does not meet those standards. It’s the same-old-same-old but yet not as stunning and gripping as his earlier material. Of course, ÷ is alright; it’s not a terrible release by any means, but it certainly is disappointing in multiple categories.” Continue reading the review here.

Most Overrated Albums of 2017

Before we finally delve into what I think are the most overrated albums of 2017, let’s discuss what it takes to make this list. For me, a record must have garnered positive ratings or mainstream attention when it was not entirely deserved. These LPs have some decent songs sprinkled throughout (well, some of them do) but the quality of the albums as complete works is overall weak and contradictory to mass reviews or public perception.

4. hopeless fountain kingdom by Halsey

Is this even alternative? Halsey’s edginess and blatant desire to make some kind of, um, statement has always crept on my nerves a bit, but at least I could enjoy a few moments throughout 2015’s Badlands, like “Castle,” “Drive,” and even bigger hits like “Hold Me Down” and “Colors.” But hopeless fountain kingdom aims to be a Romeo & Juliet-influenced concept album with all the edgy, modern-day melodrama. Her vocal delivery sounds like a poor man’s Ellie Goulding impression, and the atmospheric production seems so overblown. It’s a cringe-worthy record, but yet it seems to be faring pretty well in the “alt”-pop circle.

3. Evolve by Imagine Dragons

Imagine Dragons utilizes their knack for creating bombastic, robust tunes with pounding percussion and over-the-top energy like on “Believer,” which was the prevailing lead single for their third album Evolve. While this track isn’t terrible, it does grow to be quite grating after multiple listens. “Thunder,” the other big hit, is artlessly annoying between its pitch-shifting and lyrical repetition. The clumsy experimentation on Evolve causes it to fall flat on its face and conjures a feeling of disjointedness throughout the record.

2. The Click by AJR

I mean, this album isn’t too overrated considering most critics perceive it to be infernal excrement and it didn’t seem to be a popular success, but yet, AJR fans will fiercely defend The Click as some of their best material to date. The Click, the sophomore effort from those guys who somehow incorporated a SpongeBob sample in their biggest single in 2014, is a mixed bag of electronic “indie” pop music and God knows what. Supposedly (messily) drawing influences from Jon Bellion and fun., AJR tries to be experimental and fresh but The Click really just doesn’t click. The lyrics are mediocre and at times childish and the production sounds like it was done in their living room. Oh, wait. It was. I’m not against that DIY, homemade attitude, but God, couldn’t it have been executed better than this? (Especially on that Warner Brothers budget.) I will give them credit where it is due; I did find myself getting some of the more enjoyable melodies stuck in my head. But when the best thing I can say about an album is, “Well, some of the hooks were nice,” does it really deserve to be espoused as a masterpiece? (Also, those high-pitched vocal harmonies sound like a bunch of crooning cats in an alleyway.)

1. ÷ by Ed Sheeran

(Read my full review of ÷ before you decide to tear me apart for this.) Listen, I’m not saying Ed doesn’t deserve his success. He’s crafted a very accessible, easily listenable, pop-oriented record, arguably his most commercial outing to date. He’s scored big #1 hits from ÷ and all of the tracks charted in one way or another. But I think that coupled with my personal disappointment is why I find ÷ to be overrated. “Shape of You” and “Perfect,” the two prominent chart-toppers, are some of my least favorite tracks on the full-length. While most critics are predominantly lukewarm on ÷, a major portion of Ed’s fanbase touts this record as his magnum opus. For me, I always enjoyed Ed at his most vulnerable and authentic. I adored cuts like “The Man,” “Nina,” “Runaway,” and “Afire Love” from his antecedent × largely due to their intimacy and personal subject matters. They felt like pages from his diary, snapshots of his deepest thoughts and experiences. However, those songs were unfortunately overlooked by mainstream casual listeners, and Ed even regrets including “The Man” on × because it was “too personal.” So I can’t say I was exceedingly shocked to realize that ÷ was brashly insincere, disingenuous, and slanted for a more pop-desiring, widespread audience. So yeah, I guess Ed accomplished what he loosely set out to do: take over the charts and earn some monstrous radio hits, sell millions of copies, and capture that general audience. But from an artistic standpoint, ÷ is hugely underwhelming and frankly overrated. I’m not saying Ed “sold out,” but he really didn’t hit the mark concerning the true quality and potential of his songwriting, especially in comparison to his previous releases.

Keep in mind this is all my personal opinion. Let us know your most disappointing or overrated albums of the year down in the comments below!


15 Most Underrated Ed Sheeran Songs

Ed Sheeran, the lovable redhead from Suffolk, England, has become the modern-day mainstream poster child for the singer/songwriter genre through his soulful acoustic ballads and energetic hip-hop-influenced jams. Between lyrics of love, heartbreak, drinking, internal struggles, and familial issues, Sheeran is unquestionably recognized by many as one of the most genuine and heartfelt songwriters of the 2010s. He seems to get more and more popular with every release, but yet, many of his songs don’t garner their deserved attention. Here are our top 15 most underrated songs from this amiable musician! (Stick around for honorable mentions and unreleased songs at the end!)

15. “I Will Take You Home” from Bloodstream – Single  (2015)

Casual acoustic strumming and endearing libretto defines “I Will Take You Home,” which was released as part of the “Bloodstream” single in 2015. Between a harmonica solo and unique vocal layering, “I Will Take You Home” is an enjoyable, serene track that showcases Ed’s humble lyricism and simplistic attitude. It’s an entrancing song that easily allows the listener to relax and turn off the rest of the world.

14. “Shirtsleeves” from ×  (2014)

“Shirtsleeves” appeared as a bonus track on Ed’s 2014 full-length album ×, pronounced “multiply.” Ed has always worn his heart on his sleeve and that is clearly noticeable on “Shirtsleeves” … literally. The upbeat percussion creates a sense of energy while the guitar-commanding singer croons and whispers his feelings through metaphors related to water and drowning.

13. “Grade 8” from +  (2011)

Ed’s major label debut + was a game-changer in the singer/songwriter industry. His perfect mixture of hip-hop and acoustic consonance was something not many artists had consummated before, and it is incontrovertibly apparent on “Grade 8,” an animated cut from + ornamented with piano chords, buoyant percussion, and electric guitar accentuations. The chorus is addictive and yet also pleasingly sentimental.

12. “Touch and Go” from ×  (2014)

The opening riff of “Touch and Go” is nothing short of infectious. This tune has an insatiable groove that is simply undeniable. The vocal theme is catchy, especially in the chorus, and nonchalantly rolls off the tongue, which testifies to Ed’s songwriting and melodic sensibility. “Touch and Go” was attached as a bonus track for ×, causing it to not earn proper attention.

11. “Save Myself” from ÷  (2017)

Though our review of Ed’s third major label release was not extremely positive, “Save Myself” undoubtedly stands out as one of the best songs on ÷. The gentle piano melody coupled with Ed’s emotional vocal delivery bolsters the already poignant lyrics, making for a self-reflective tearjerker. The tune was included as a bonus track though it was initially intended to be an a-side, and it’s a shame it did not receive its due recognition.

Click here to read our full review of ÷!

10. “English Rose” from ×  (2014)

Another bonus track from ×, “English Rose” is an exceedingly unique song for Ed’s discography. Ed crafts a Mumford & Sons-esque stadium-rattler with a chugging, progressive percussion beat and folky attitude. “English Rose” features another harmonica solo, presumably the same one from (or at least very similar to) the aforementioned “I Will Take You Home,” among a full-sounding array of diverse instrumentation not typically exhibited on an Ed Sheeran tune, who is known for being a one-man band.

9. “You Break Me” from Want Some?  (2007)

“You Break Me” is the effervescent opening track from Ed’s recondite third long-player titled Want Some?. Unleashed on his parent’s independent art consultancy named Sheeran Lock at the young age of 16, Want Some? is Ed’s fourth non-major-label release and is mostly forgotten and overlooked by general listeners. “You Break Me” is authentic evidence of Ed’s early musical talent and euphonious potency that would eventually manifest itself on stages in sold-out stadiums across the globe. (Of course, we’re all enthused by Ed’s adorable “fetus” voice.)

8. “Even My Dad Does Sometimes” from ×  (2014)

Ed has always cited John Mayer as a notable inspiration for his career, and that is certainly obvious sonically on the deep cut “Even My Dad Does Sometimes” from ×. Featuring a downtrodden electric guitar melody and stirring piano refrains, “Even My Dad Does Sometimes” is a heartrending tune reminding the listener that it’s “alright to cry” and “shake” because it means we are human. Ed tells us it’s “alright to die” but to just hold on for today and live on no matter what. Being human means feeling emotions, which is exactly what this song makes us do.

7. “Gold Rush” from +  (2011)

On a more positive note, “Gold Rush” is an upbeat, singalong-ready tune that was included as bonus material on Ed’s major label debut titled +. The instrumentation is characterized solely by an acoustic and electric guitar, but the catchiness of the vocal melody renders this number to be more musically captivating and challenging to get out of your head. Ed has a way of crafting simple yet memorable, fun compositions that are irrefutable earworms.

6. “The Man” from ×  (2014)

A standard edition a-side from ×, “The Man” is a steady rap-inflicted tune that demonstrates Ed’s ability to create sensitive rap sequences which allow him to squeeze more lyrics into his arrangements. This track is one of Ed’s most personal and internally contemplative pieces, causing him to appear overcome during an intimate acoustic performance. “The Man” is a song of loss, heartache, self-disappointment, bitterness, sadness, and overall unhindered honesty, all attributes that most mainstream artists don’t typically delve into, which sets Ed apart from the bunch as a more introspective, heartfelt songwriter.

5. “Fire Alarms” from Songs I Wrote With Amy – EP  (2010)

“Fire Alarms” is a mellow yet spirited article from the Songs I Wrote With Amy EP released in 2010. Amy Wadge is one of the main remarkable songwriters that Ed has collaborated with on numerous tunes, including some of his most monumental hits like “Thinking Out Loud” and “Galway Girl.” “Fire Alarms” is carried by a propulsive acoustic guitar melody with electric strains sprinkled throughout and subdued percussion. The song gently develops and broadens with the repeated line “We are waving our lives away.”

4. “Nina” from ×  (2014)

Similar to “The Man,” “Nina” is another impassioned cut from × that attests to Ed’s expressive lyricism and unapologetic tendency to openly display his heart. “Nina” also testifies to his inclination to include personal details, which gives his music an exclusively intimate touch, like a page from his diary. The track is characterized by piano-directed assonance, fervent vocals, ebullient percussion, and deep guitar strumming.

3. “One Night” from Loose Change – EP  (2010)

The rich instrumentation and production quality paired with the catchy vocal cadences and interesting libretto makes “One Night” an intriguing and momentous song in Ed’s catalog. The repetitive chorus is bound to get stuck in your head, along with the electric guitar refrains dazzled throughout the mix. The verses are down-to-earth and overall entertaining to follow along with, like when Ed sings about needing money to purchase fast food but the person he’s with buys him “chips and cheese” so “she’s all [he] need[s],” or how she “turns [his] cheeks the color of [his] hair.” “One Night” distinctively substantiates Ed’s operatic ability and how he can craft lyrics that are both warmly thoughtful and amusingly charming.

2. “Runaway” from ×  (2014)

A song with a groove that Taylor Swift vehemently praised, “Runaway” is emphatically one of the catchiest, most rhythmic numbers on × with the production help of Pharrell Williams. On top of the musical efficiency, the lyrics illustrate a son’s struggle with his father’s alcoholism and inclination to abjectly run away from home, claiming he “love[s] him from [his] skin to [his] bones” but sadly doesn’t “wanna live in his home.” Ed further portrays his internal maturity by accepting that no one is perfect when he says, “None of us are saints; I guess that God knows that.” It’s a grim depiction but an honest, sincere emotional presentation of a real-life situation that many people experience and can subsequently relate to.

1. “Top Floor (Cabana)” from Hotel Cabana with Naughty Boy  (2013)

Oddly enough, our top pick is a collaborative project with Naughty Boy. The song is titled “Top Floor (Cabana)” from Naughty Boy’s 2013 full-length Hotel Cabana. “Top Floor” is a seemingly simple tune which opens up with sounds of a bustling city, allowing the listener to truly feel like they are in the moment and place the song attempts to set. Instrumentally, “Top Floor” is characterized by nothing more than Ed’s acoustic guitar and a soft backing piano. The lyrics are ardently captivating and strangely ethereal, painting a scene of an empty soul contemplating suicide—his “sweetest goodbye.” The delivery is overall chilling and arouses feelings of hopelessness and sorrow. The boisterous honking of car horns at the end and lack of worded closure causes the listener to wonder if the writer chose to fall from the top floor of the hotel. It leaves a sense of despondency and grief and a longing to aid the forlorn singer, which is an emotional connection that not many songs can accomplish. Despite this level of masterful songwriting and heartstring-tugging, the brief piece unfortunately did not gain its deserved attention.

Well, there you have it, the most underrated songs by Ed Sheeran! Tweet at us or let us know in the comments below what songs you think are overlooked!

Honorable Mentions:

March 2017 Alt Col Picks

Plenty of great albums appeared in March, so here are our favorite releases of the month! (In no particular order.) Want a Spotify playlist? Click here!

  • Ed Sheeran – ÷

Singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran’s third major label release ÷ attests to his stylistic diversity, shifting from hip-hop occasions to sugary love ballads to casual acoustic serenades. While it is certainly not his best work, ÷ still does not fall flat on its face as another “white guy with an acoustic guitar” outing. Standout tracks include “Castle on the Hill,” “Galway Girl,” and “Supermarket Flowers.” ÷ will appeal to fans of Chris DuPont, Julie Byrne, and Noah Guthrie. Maybe.

Read our full review of Ed Sheeran’s ÷ by clicking here!

  • Can’t Swim – Fail You Again

The hard-hitting debut from New Jersey’s Can’t Swim is sure to put them on the map and solidify their position in the modern rock and pop punk scene! Rough vocals and impassioned musicality meld together for a compelling listen, bound to keep the record spinning for weeks to come. Standout tracks include “What’s Your Big Idea?,” “Quitting,” and “We Won’t Sleep.” Fail You Again is sure to attract followers of Seaway, Have Mercy, and Like Pacific.

  • Temples – Volcano

Psychedelic, spell-binding, and mesmerizing, Volcano grips you from track one to the end in a positively lenitive haze. Temples incorporates some electronic inflections to keep this emollient record fresh and separate from their previous material that echoes musical manners of the 1960s. Standout tracks include “Certainty,” “I Wanna Be Your Mirror,” and “Born Into the Sunset.” Volcano will capture listeners of The Shins, Hippo Campus, and Palma Violets.

  • Spoon – Hot Thoughts

The latest release from alt-rock band Spoon is sweltering and blistering, impish and jaunty. It’s sonically rich and lyrically captivating as it transports you to moods and places you can only imagine. Groovy at times and hushed at others, Spoon’s still got it. Standout tracks include “Hot Thoughts,” “Can I Sit Next to You,” and “Do I Have to Talk You Into It.” Hot Thoughts is sure to interest fans of The War on Drugs, Beck, and Silversun Pickups.

  • A Will Away – Here Again

Riveting melodies that blur the line between pop punk and indie rock infect this album from start to finish, in a good way, of course. From boisterous percussion and eccentric guitars to fervent songwriting and catchy hooks, Here Again is a pleasing change of pace in the world of pop rock. Standout tracks include “Caroline,” “The Shakes,” “Pay Raise,” and “Well-Adjusted.” Here Again will appeal to followers of Moose Blood, Boston Manor, and Turnover.

  • Heavy Things – Goner

Goner, Heavy Things

With sentimental libretto and singalong-worthy chants that make you want to shout the words with the windows down on the highway, Goner is animated and exhilarating at times and introspective all throughout. The blend of acoustic and electric guitars makes for a delectable texture and sound. Standout tracks include “Sold,” “Badge of Honor,” and “33.” Goner is sure to satisfy followers of A Will Away, Moose Blood, and You vs. Yesterday.

  • Creeper – Eternity, In Your Arms

Considered to be the saviors of modern rock, Creeper’s irresistible debut shakes you by the shoulders and doesn’t let go. From anthemic choruses to rhapsodic guitar melodies, Eternity, In Your Arms is a stellar release outlined by conviction and robustness all throughout. Standout tracks include “Hiding With Boys,” “Black Rain,” and “Suzanne.” Eternity, In Your Arms is bound to attract listeners of Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, Trash Boat, and Tiger Army.

  • Sorority Noise – You’re Not As _____ As You Think

You’re Not As ____ As You Think is intense, sincere, and unhinged. This is Sorority Noise’s most moving record to date and certainly a slice of pop punk emo you don’t want to sleep on. It discusses suicide, religion, loss, and self-esteem, trademarks of the heartfelt emotive genre. Standout tracks include “No Halo,” “Leave the Fan On,” and “Disappeared.” You’re Not As ____ As You Think will capture fans of The Wonder Years, Modern Baseball, and Citizen.

Honorable Mentions
  • The Shins – Heartworms

Mellow and hypnotically smooth psychedelia. Standout tracks include “Name for You,” “Mildenhall,” and “Dead Alive.” For fans of Deerhunter, Temples, and The Decemberists.

  • Stolas – Stolas

Piercing rock with an adventurous bite. Standout tracks include “Bellwether,” “Damage Division,” and “Catalyst.” For fans of A Lot Like Birds, Sianvar, and Adventurer.

  • Real Estate – In Mind

Entrancing, fluid soft indie rock. Standout tracks include “Darling,” “Stained Glass,” and “Holding Pattern.” For fans of Wild Nothing, Atlas Sound, and Ducktails.

  • Minus the Bear – VOIDS

Radiant alternative math rock. Standout tracks include “Last Kiss,” “Invisible,” and “Robotic Heart.” For fans of Bloc Party, Shiny Toy Guns, and Fang Island.

  • Knox Hamilton – The Heights

Velvety alt-rock bound to mesmerize you. Standout tracks include “Pretty Way to Fight,” “Washed Up Together,” and “Work It Out.” For fans of CRUISR, Colony House, and Bad Suns.

  • Remo Drive – Greatest Hits

Gravelly alternative punk with slick guitar melodies. Standout tracks include “Art School,” “Crash Test Rating,” and “Eat S**t.” For fans of Unturned, Yellow Ostrich, and The Noise FM.

  • Cold Climb It – Fade (EP)

Straddles the line between alt-rock and pop punk. Standout tracks include “There’s No Energy For Trying” and “Center City.” For fans of Modern Baseball, The Dangerous Summer, and With Confidence.

  • Softspoken – Pathways (EP)

Epic post-hardcore that demands your attention. Standout tracks include “Something I’m Missing” and “I Feel Fire.” For fans of Pierce the Veil, SycAmour, and Chasing Safety.

Let us know what you think of March’s releases down in the comments below!