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Here Are The Top 10 Most Overlooked Albums of 2015- Dr. Dre, Panda Bear, Death Grips and More

By Ethan First Ethan.first@musictimes.com | Dec 25, 2015 09:00 AM EST

2015 has been a pretty fantastic year for music. Thus, many artists that contributed to the eclecticism and brilliance of this year's best releases have been lauded in various year-end lists. However, many phenomenal albums were overlooked on these lists (including our own), and deserve recognition for their musical quality. Releases from punk bands, rap groups, and electronic artists are all honored below as the best "overlooked" albums. 

1. Viet Cong - Viet Cong

Viet Cong caught a lot of flack over the name of their band (which has since been changed), but that should, in no way, take away from the brilliance of this album. Viet Cong proved that post-punk can't, and won't, go out of style. The album sounds so new while recalling many sounds of the past. Further, unlike plenty of other post punk acts, Viet Cong are consummate songwriters. "March Of Progress," in particular, shows off their pop sensibilities and penchant for experimentation.

2. Death Grips - Jenny Death (The Powers That B)

We always knew Death Grips was a punk band posing as some industrial/noise/rap amalgam. Their first record, Exmilitary features samples from Black Flag, Bad Brains, etc. and their style certainly fits the punk aesthetic. However, until Jenny Death, the band was somewhat unwilling to include the vicious guitar parts that we always knew they wanted. Once the band released "On GP," it was clear that this would be unlike any of the previous Death Grips albums. Reminiscent of fully immersive albums like The Jesus and Mary Chain's Psychocandy and My Bloody Valentine's Loveless, this album completely dominates every single one of your senses until you are forced to surrender. And when you finally give in, it feels so good.

3. Earl Sweatshirt - I Don't Like Sh*T, I Don't Go Outside: An Album By Earl Sweatshirt

The expectations for Earl's second studio album were extremely high. The young rap prodigy wowed fans across the world with the release of his first album Chum and his various guest verses and features. However, for some inconceivable reason, this album didn't receive half the credit it deserves. Earl may not have pushed his style forward in a significant way, or challenged the listener more than was expected, but he still managed to make one of the most lyrically impressive albums of the year, and should be commended for his effort.

4. Heems - Eat, Pray, Thug

It isn't easy to go from a joke to a subject of serious emotional honesty. However, Heems, of the rap group Das Racist, sort of pulled of exactly that in his most recent album. An artist that once rapped "worst rapper on the track/third coolest" is now taking things a bit more seriously. The album covers various topics like Heems' childhood as an Indian-American in an increasingly paranoid post 9/11 America. The album is both personal and honest, and Heems should be celebrated for the bravery he exemplified in its release.

5. Deerhunter - Fading Frontier

Deerhunter is a band sort of like Yo La Tengo, in that they almost always release excellent material and rarely get the credit they deserve at the time of its release. This was certainly the case for Deerhunter's most recent album. While it may not compare to Cryptograms or Halcyon Digest, the songs are extremely well written, and the sound is cohesive. Deerhunter is a band that does not relent in its pursuit of perfectionism, and should receive for attention for their accomplishments.

6.Dr. Dre - Compton

Dre's comeback was truly something to behold. This album has some of the most forward thinking production, lyrical content, and aesthetic of anything released this year. Of course it got plenty of attention upon its release, but was overshadowed by other fantastic hip-hop releases this year. However, this highly-anticipated album lived up to the hype, and becomes more enjoyable upon each listen.

7. Titus Andronicus - The Most Lamentable Tragedy

This New Jersey punk band has had a very difficult time stepping out of the shadow of their sophomore masterpiece The Monitor, which made one of the allusion between a breakup and the Civil War in a way that simply no other band could. While, admittedly, their 2012 effort Local Business did not satisfy fan's thirst for a ridiculously ambitious punk rock opera, their newest album saw the band return to their roots. With 29 tracks spanning 93 minutes, this operatic album certainly fails to disappoint .

8. The Taxidermists - Honesty Box

Many would consider The Taxidermists a "local band." They hail from western Massachusetts (birthplace of Pixies, Dinosaur Jr. Speedy Ortiz, The Magnetic Fields, and many others), and paid their dues in the basements of North Hampton and Greenfield. However, the band is moving up in the world, and their maturity is best exemplified by their newest album Honesty Box. The Taxidermist's provide almost everything one could wish for in a punk band, and will almost definitely be blowing up in the near future.

 

9. Jay Rock - 90059

Let's be honest. Jay Rock's career hasn't turned out exactly as he planned it. I mean, Kendrick used to be his hypeman. But, if honesty is the game, credit has to be given to his excellent album 90059. Jay Rock really pushed himself on this album, and created one of the most imaginative rap releases of 2015. His imagery and storytelling are so dizzyingly original that one cannot help but think some of Kendrick's attention should be redirected at his label mate.

 

10. Panda Bear - Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper

With any Panda Bear album, expectations are high. That is, of course, because the Animal Collective member stunned the entire music world when he released his masterpiece Person Pitch in 2007. Person Pitch was the clear musical forbearer of "chillwave." It is the reason so many bands include Beach Boyesque vocal harmonies in their songs. And it largely popularized sampling in what would generally be considered a form of rock music. Since Person Pitch, Panda Bear (or Noah Lennox) has continued to release mostly fantastic material that has been inevitably overshadowed by his magnum-opus. However, Panda Bear threw us a bit of a curveball with this one, including more electronic and dance beats into his usual ethereal and vocally driven aesthetic. The album may not push too many new boundaries for the immensely influential artist, but in a vacuum, it's damn enjoyable to listen to.

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