My most underrated albums of 2015

Culture Music

Eartheater — Metalepsis

Metalepsis is an album by Alexandra Drewchin that earned praise on Bandcamp and in Britain’s Fact magazine but truly deserves more recognition. The album is an ambient hybrid of multiple genres, drawing in casual conversation, crackly distortion, enticing female vocals, and even nature clips. The experimental album is consuming and irresistible, guiding you through technological and natural soundscapes. Drewchin focuses deeply on the various sound episodes within a single track, while seamless connections bring together diverse genres and random sounds. Throughout the album, there’s an inexplicable but trance-like centre. “Youniverse” is my favourite track; it begins with a lo-fi pop feel and melds into a rainforest-style soundscape, entering an obscure hip hop realm, and eventually finding an ambient sound.

Find the album on Bandcamp:

Arca —  Mutant

I’ve seen people react unfavorably to this album, but it’s tough not to appreciate Arca for his progressive challenge to music in general. Mutant deconstructs preconceived ideas about the framework of a song, and the project parallels Arca’s desire to steer away from society’s dominant ideals. With sporadic metallic sounds shooting from left to right in the listener’s ears, Mutant can seem to completely give in to sonic obscurity. Elsewhere, a comforting chime behind wildly random sounds ignite a hypnotic experience. The elicited emotions are surprising, but never distressing. That’s why this album is perfect background or foreground music. I’ve felt meditative and virtually blanked from reality while listening but I’ve also felt inspired and able to focus. Those who get it, love it. “Front Load” is my favourite track.

Find the album on Soundcloud:

Mylo Mu — Absurd Romance

Absurd Romance features real instrumentation behind rap and electronic beats — the ‘90s-style saxophone and trumpet get me every time. Mu is an intellectual rapper, and his slow-paced flow is easy to follow, but his vocals are sometimes distracting when they get overly loud. The moments I enjoy most are when his rapping sounds more like rhythmic slam poetry. The rap elements are nicely lo-fi, with vinyl crackling and distorted speech, but the hip-hop electronic overtones are sometimes predictable and overdone. Overall, the lyrics and evocative instrumentation outweigh the album’s faults. “Angelia” is my favourite track; it’s relaxed and centres on a strange trumpet sound.

Find the album on Soundcloud: 

Ty Segall — Mr. Face

We can always expect greatness from Ty Segall, but this EP stands out as a refreshingly chill regeneration of the ‘60s. The album’s psych rock and pop happiness coexist with Segall’s sharp guitar and distinctive vocals. Some moments are heightened and fast-paced, but overall, the album makes you smile; there’s no doubt that Mr. Face could be compared to the Beatles — with more abstraction, that is.

Pitchfork called the EP “the world’s first playable pair of 3D glasses,” likely because of its trippy but grounded, old but modern style. My favourite track is “Drug Mugger” because it’s faster paced and I love Segall’s guitar style, but “Picture” is also an amazing and dazed track that conjures a relaxed scene from romanticized decades past.

Find the album on Bandcamp: 

Crosss — Lo

The best thing about Crosss is their prominence in multiple music categories as a successful generic hybrid, with Andy March writing the music and performing as both lead guitarist and vocalist. Lo is a dark, psychedelic, and overall heavy experience with memorable hooks and melodies. While the grungy and metal elements are (nicely) overwhelming, there’s a followable momentum to each track. Although each song is catchy in a strange, dark way, March’s voice is a key, distinguishable component for the band, with a cool distance and a uniquewly higher-pitched voice. It’s difficult to understand what he’s saying at times, but even that mystery creates a poetic quality. As the only Canadians on the list, watch out for the next time they play in Victoria. My favourite track is “Interlocutor.”

Find the album on Bandcamp: