The most underrated albums of 2017

There's some gems out there. You just have to look a little deeper. 

As we reach the end of the year, music fans have found themselves looking back over the literal hundreds of albums that have been a part of the conversation throughout 2017. Of course, for every DAMN. or Melodrama, there's a dozen albums that slipped under the radar. Which, then, were the albums that deserved attention but received the least? Here's a look at the most underrated records to be released this year.

'68 – Two Parts Viper

The second LP from former Chariot vocalist Josh Scogin continued his band's pedal-stomping assault on electric, blues-tinged post-hardcore. Every part as intense and enthralling as their 2015 debut, '68 continue to march to the beat of their own drum – and it's about time everyone else got into the rhythm.

Beth Ditto – Fake Sugar

The former Gossip frontwoman had been uncharacteristically quiet since the demise of her previous band. That changed in 2017 with the release of the fearless, sassy and soulful Fake Sugar – although you wouldn't have read about it, alas. If you ever carried the “Heavy Cross,” this is a must-listen.

Cloakroom – Time Well

2017 was a big year for shoegaze, with returns from Ride and Slowdive as well as the rise of bands like Deafcult. Perhaps its shining moment, however, came in the form of this sleeper Cloakroom LP. Simultaneously a lush, engrossing listen while remaining seismic and devastatingly heavy.

Cornelius – Mellow Waves

You'd think there would have been more fanfare surrounding the return of celebrated Japanese electronic composer Cornelius after 11 years without a new album. Alas, Mellow Waves arrived on shore only to gently retread back into the ocean. The completely gorgeous album was a must-hear for any adventurous listener.

Death Bells – Standing on the Edge of the World

In a bumper year for Australian post-punk, Sydney's Death Bells made their half-hour of power count. Their debut album is robust, sharp, dancey and best experienced played loud. A life lesson for us all: If you're not Standing on the Edge, then you're taking up too much space.

Eisley – I'm Only Dreaming

The family band were darlings of MySpace-era third-wave emo, but fell off the radar in recent years due to personnel changes and years without material. I'm Only Dreaming is as twinkly and serene as any of their 2000s classics. If the name is familiar, you're invited to this return.

Filthy Friends – Invitation

A dream team-up of R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck and Sleater-Kinney's own Corin Tucker should have been on high rotation for way more '90s aficionados and indie kids this year. A brisk, electric rock record.

Foam – Coping Mechanisms

They've cut their teeth on tours with bands like DZ Deathrays and Tired Lion, but Perth's FOAM are sadly yet to find their own audience outside of their home state. Their debut is well-worth a revisit.

Lincoln le Fevre and the Insiders – Come Undone

A former Hobart resident, Lincoln Le Fevre made the move to the mainland of Melbourne after putting out his brilliant 2012 LP, Resonation. His third album deals with everything that came with this move, the ageing process and his own unique perspective on things between people. A remarkable, beautiful unravelling.


Naif Martin may have been the most prolific person in Australian DIY this year. NAIF released three solo LPs, an EP fronting hardcore band Passing and an album with jangle-pop merchants Sports Bra. This, the first of three NAIF albums, started it all in spectacular fashion with its electronic melancholy.

Ratboys – GN

Not to be confused with English punk Rat Boy, this Chicago duo make understated, lo-fi indie rock. They might not make a whole lot of noise on GN, but they still undoubtedly deserve to be heard. For anyone who's found themselves invested in the outer reaches of the emo revival.

The Shins – Heartworms

Normally, new music from these Portland veterans is an event. For whatever reason, Heartworms just didn't click with listeners or critics – even though a scratch below the surface reveals some of the best songs James Mercer has ever written. Maybe not life-changing, but Natalie Portman probably still enjoyed it.

Toby Martin – Songs from Northam Avenue

Perhaps the single most underrated album of the year, Toby Martin's second solo LP arrived within 2017's first few weeks with one hell of a back-story. Collecting stories from Bankstown in Western Sydney, Martin made a spellbinding, mesmerising concept album – a career best in a discography that's already top-tier.

Vices – Now That I Have Seen I am Responsible

It takes just over 20 minutes to listen to Vices' third album, but its impact will last well beyond that. Intensely personal and performed with the utmost conviction, the Sydney post-hardcore crew came through with what is far and away their best record here. A triumph, albeit an overlooked one.

Yes I'm Leaving – Pure Joy

Volatile, boisterous and blistering – that's Yes I'm Leaving in a nutshell. The Sydney trio primarily concern themselves with sneering, thrashing garage rock – and they do it twice as well as most bands while getting half the recognition for it. Don't deny their presence any longer – it's futile.