Popular music is called popular for a reason. Everyone seems to know the hits that big artists like Ariana Grande or The Chainsmokers release, but that obviously leaves tons of artists in the dust. I’ve compiled a list of five wildly different albums in genre and style that definitely need more recognition. Warning: Some of these albums are pretty strange, but try to leave your biases aside and I’m sure you’ll find some enjoyment in them.
“Oliver Appropriate” by Say Anything
Stand out of the Album: “Send You Off”
Anyone who’s talked to me in the past four months knows how obsessed I am with this album. It’s one of my favorite albums of all time. For those who aren’t already aware of the musical genius that is Say Anything, they’re a pop punk band, similar to the likes of blink-182 and All Time Low. Interestingly, though, they stray from the genre in the strong lyricism of the lead singer, Max Bemis. He uses honest, raw and often crude language to reveal his soul’s truth. “Oliver Appropriate” is also a rock opera. It tells an overarching story with each of the songs which is why I strongly recommend listening to it in the album order. In this album specifically, being the band’s last one for a long time, Bemis talks about his bisexuality though the character from his 2005 rock opera, “…Is a Real Boy,” but you don’t need to know the first album to get the full experience of “Oliver Appropriate.”
“The Big Freeze” by Laura Stevenson
Stand out of the Album: “Dermatillomania”
Stevenson’s newest album is an absolute dream. She is a singer-songwriter, and her style is hushed and introspective. It’s full of quiet acoustic instrumentals and waves of unedited emotion. Stevenson’s voice is strong but soft, sad but hopeful, and it comes rolling in and out like a summer storm. She clearly had a strong vision for the album. The album goes deep into Stevenson’s flaws, fears and struggles, and it almost feels like you shouldn’t be listening to it. The songs are so personal and beautifully sung that you can’t help but feel shivers go down your spine just listening to it.
“Ardipithecus” by Willow Smith
Stand out of the Album: “Marceline”
“Whip My Hair” was released nine years ago. Although that 2010 song has gotten some recognition, her other music is severely glossed over, and I’d argue that it’s much better. Smith does indie music with hip hop and R&B inspirations. I’d compare her music to a dreamy mix between Erykah Badu and Ravyn Lenae. Her lyrics speak of the cosmos and love and the accompanying instrumentals are smooth and refreshing. The songs on “Ardipithecus” beg the listener to move their body along with the music. This is the perfect dance-around-the-house-when-no-one-is-home kind of album.
“Come On and Slam” by Sledding with Tigers
Stand out of the Album: “Take it from Me, Michael Jordan”
I had to have one album that was completely out there. Sledding with Tigers is a bluegrass punk band which means their songs feature instruments like banjo, violin and a strong acoustic guitar mixed with whiny punk vocals. This album is impressive because the overarching theme is the 1996 family classic, “Space Jam.” All of the songs start with a bit of the dialogue from the movie that allows the listener to know what part of the film the song is about. The album is lighthearted and genuinely funny, and each song is well-crafted. This album is a must-listen for “Space Jam” fans like myself.
“Transgender Street Legend, Vol. 1” by Left at London
Stand out of the Album: “I Don’t Trust U Anymore’
This last album is the shortest, as it’s only an EP, but it holds its own against the others. Left at London was a popular user of the app, Vine, when it was in its heyday, but now that it has been deleted, she has moved to music. Despite this only being her second album, she has shown quite a bit of potential. The album, as its name suggests, talks about her experiences being a transgender woman, but it also talks about love, politics and self-acceptance. Each tiny tonal change in her vocals enhances the powerful impact of the songs.