“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!

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June 2017 Alt Col Picks

A lot of great albums were released in June, so here are our favorite records of the month! (In no particular order.) Want a Spotify playlist? Click here!

  • Lorde – Melodrama

Four years after her groundbreaking debut album, Lorde returns more lyrically mature and musically expansive than ever. Youthful yet mellow, Melodrama doesn’t hold back its emotions. Between songs of break-ups, struggles in the industry, and friendly endeavors, Lorde has certainly grown, and this record was well worth the wait. Standout tracks include “Green Light,” “Liability,” and “Perfect Places.” Melodrama will appeal to fans of Broods, Alessia Cara, and CHVRCHES.

  • Broadside – Paradise

Upbeat cadences and gritty guitar riffs outline Broadside’s sophomore effort titled Paradise, and it’s paradise indeed. This album is chocked full of pop punk songs ready for a sunny summertime drive with the windows down, but it has its softer, more cultivated moments as well. Standout tracks include “Hidden Colors,” “Paradise,” and “Laps Around a Picture Frame.” Paradise is sure to attract followers of Seaway, State Champs, and Waterparks.

  • All Time Low – Last Young Renegade

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. Standout tracks include “Last Young Renegade,” “Nice2KnoU,” and “Dark Side of Your Room.” Last Young Renegade will capture listeners of We Are the In Crowd, Against the Current, and Set It Off.

  • Bleachers – Gone Now

The ’80s-inspired pop rock of Gone Now is thunderous, charming, and undoubtedly entertaining. Jack Antonoff, former member of the hit band Fun., takes on his second full-length project with impassioned gusto and a love for the past. After working with artists like Lorde, Carly Rae Jepsen, and Taylor Swift, Antonoff delivers his own pop sensibility. Standout tracks include “Don’t Take the Money,” “Hate That You Know Me,” and “I Miss Those Days.” Gone Now is sure to interest fans of Passion Pit, Smallpools, and Fun.

  • Rise Against – Wolves

With revived political apprehension, Rise Against lives up to their name through diligent angst and exasperation on their eighth long-player. Fiery guitar melodies and resentful libretto characterize Wolves, solidifying it as another coterminous release in the band’s catalog. Standout tracks include “The Violence,” “Welcome to the Breakdown,” “House on Fire,” and “Mourning in Amerika.” Wolves will appeal to listeners of AFI, The Menzingers, and Sum 41.

  • Royal Blood – How Did We Get So Dark?

Granular distortion and crisp percussion grant this two-piece some fervor and ferocity, which is impressively pulled off with only a bass guitar and drum set. Royal Blood cemented themselves as a dark, sabulous duo on their 2014 debut album, but How Did We Get So Dark? elevates that charisma to new heights. Standout tracks include “Lights Out,” “I Only Lie When I Love You,” and “Hook, Line, & Sinker.” How Did We Get So Dark? is sure to satisfy followers of Highly Suspect, Wolf Alice, and Nothing But Thieves.

  • Phoenix – Ti Amo

The spellbinding dreaminess of Ti Amo attests to Phoenix’s dynamic musicianship and stylistic charm. Four years after 2013’s cool and glamorous Bankrupt!, Phoenix expands upon that glimmering and irresistible timbre on their sixth studio album. The synth-pop and relaxed appeal causes this release to be undeniably alluring. Standout tracks include “J-Boy,” “Ti Amo,” “Goodbye Soleil,” and “Fleur de Lys.” Ti Amo is bound to attract listeners of Atlas Genius, Passion Pit, and Foster the People.

  • LANY – LANY

Indie electropop band LANY unleashes their debut long-player detailed by glittery synth inflections and catchy, savory choruses. Through liquidy vocals and youthful lyrics, this self-titled project is colorful, vibrant, and lively, each song bringing a new spectacular attitude to the table. Standout tracks include “ILYSB,” “Super Far,” “Pancakes,” and “The Breakup.” LANY will capture fans of The 1975, Heart of Gold, and The Japanese House.

  • Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas – Telephone

Impish and beguiling, this bilingual frontwoman delivers a scorching sophomore full-length that is bound to bring you coming back for more. Telephone is spirited and jaunty between its buoyant, energetic anthems and rollicking choruses, but the more leisurely moments provide this album its devilish bite. Standout tracks include “Oh No,” “Bad At Loving You,” “Hot Damn,” and “Break Your Heart.” Telephone will appeal to followers of Catey Shaw, Elle King, and Lake Street Dive.

  • Cigarettes After Sex – Cigarettes After Sex

The mellow, daydreamy intonation of Cigarettes After Sex’s self-titled debut is entrancing and emotional. The heartfelt lyrics of this LP are captivating and compelling, which is complemented by the mesmerizing smoothness of the instrumentation. Standout tracks include “Apocalypse,” “Each Time You Fall in Love,” “Young & Dumb,” and “K.” Cigarettes After Sex will satisfy listeners of Bombay Bicycle Club, Lana Del Rey, and London Grammar.


Honorable Mentions
  • Fleet Foxes – Crack-Up

Mellow folk alternative bliss. Standout tracks include “Third of May/Ōdaigahara,” “Fool’s Errand,” and “Cassius.” For fans of The Oh Hellos, Julie Byrne, and Sea Wolf.

  • The White Noise – AM/PM

Piercing rock with impassioned vocals and a lot to offer. Standout tracks include “Bite Marks,” “Picture Day,” and “I Lost My Mind (In California).” For fans of A Day to Remember, Issues, and I Prevail.

  • Noah Guthrie – The Valley

Calming singer/songwriter folk beatitude. Standout tracks include “Pardon Me,” “I Would Die 4 U,” and “Leaving California.” For fans of Chris Dupont, Little Chief, and Trent Dabbs.

  • Hey Violet – From the Outside

Groovy, captivating pop rock. Standout tracks include “Brand New Moves,” “Break My Heart,” and “O.D.D.” For fans of DNCE, Before You Exit, and Masketta Fall.

  • Imagine Dragons – Evolve

Energetic pop rock with an electronic tinge. Standout tracks include “Walking the Wire,” “I Don’t Know Why,” and “Believer.” For fans of AWOLNATION, X Ambassadors, and Coldplay.

  • Volumes – Different Animals

Solid rock with a hip-hop verve. Standout tracks include “Finite,” “Feels Good,” and “On Her Mind (ft. Pouya).” For fans of Issues, Slaves, and Palisades.

  • Rancid – Trouble Maker

Gravelly punk rock with a convivial attitude. Standout tracks include “Where I’m Going,” “Ghost of a Chance,” and “Farewell Lola Blue.” For fans of NOFX, Teenage Bottlerocket, and The Bouncing Souls.

  • alt-J – Relaxer

Expressive, experimental indie alternative. Standout tracks include “In Cold Blood,” “Adeline,” and “3WW.” For fans of Bon Iver, Future Islands, and Arcade Fire.

  • London Grammar – Truth Is a Beautiful Thing

Minimalistic indie alt-pop. Standout tracks include “Oh Woman, Oh Man,” “Truth Is a Beautiful Thing,” and “Big Picture.” For fans of Banks, Elbow, and Foals.

  • Color Film – Living Arrangements

Fun, sprightly alt-rock. Standout tracks include “Even If It Did Exist,” “52 Minds,” and “Small Town.” For fans of Don Broco, Divine Fits, and The Social Animals.

  • Currents – The Place I Feel Safest

Exhilarating metal with a bite. Standout tracks include “Apnea,” “Night Terrors,” and “Silence.” For fans of Novelists, The Healing, and Delusions of Grandeur.

  • Portugal. The Man – Woodstock

Jovial indie alternative vibes. Standout tracks include “Feel It Still,” “Rich Friends,” and “So Young.” For fans of Atlas Genius, Cage the Elephant, and The Districts.


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