BPM’s Overlooked feature is something of an annual tradition. It’s an opportunity to give much-deserved praise to albums that may have slipped through the reviews net for any reason and put some shine on artists and records that may too have slipped under your own radars.

Without the pressure of having to write a full review, we get to simply sing unmitigated praises for these albums that have brightened our first half of 2024 – and we hope they’ll bring some joy to your coming months too.

Listen to our Spotify playlist of highlights from our Overlooked 2024: January to June albums here

basque – Pain Without Hope of Healing

[No Funeral Records]

“They don’t care about you.
None of them.
They don’t even know you.
Because you haven’t shown them.
Every day you’ll wake up and there’ll be less of you.
You live your life for them and they don’t even see you.
You don’t even see yourself.
We don’t get a lot of things to really care about.”

The quote above appears on the astonishing closing track of Kitchener, Ontario experimental screamo act, basque‘s debut LP, Pain Without Hope of Healing. Those words have been living rent-free in my brain ever since I heard them playing out behind a mournfully beautiful post-rock guitar passage just before the rousing climax of “A Funeral for a Mouse”.

The spoken word sample is a well-worn trope in screamo, but this one hits harder than most. I didn’t recognise it but it spoke to me about being unappreciated, being unseen, about sacrifice, and not being true to yourself, about wasted potential and dissociation from one’s own identity, and ultimately about the value of taking the brave step of caring deeply about something. In the context of the song and the album that it’s a part of, it’s an astonishingly affecting moment that caps off what has quickly established itself to be one of my very favourite releases of the year, if not the decade.

Turns out the quote is from a pivotal scene in the 2021 movie, PIG, starring Nicolas Cage. The quote is so fitting for a band that is clearly being true to themselves. They are ready to show themselves and be seen and be known. Pain Without Hope of Healing sounds unlike anything else I can think of currently, save maybe an act like excrucis, who are also melding screamo and emoviolence with more danceable, rhythmic elements. On “Stillness” there’s jerky post-punk that makes basque sound like a more unhinged Black Midi, and the verse instrumentals on “Worry About Everything” and “All Good Things Will Crumble” are begging to be rapped over. There’s endless creativity on display here and a fiercely independent vision, as well as a sense that there is hope that this pain might eventually heal. – Andy Johnston

Bolis Pupul – Letter To Yu

[DEEWEE/Because Music]

Examining heritage and familial roots, Letter to Yu is an attempt to reconcile the strands that make up Bolis Pupul‘s life and music. An exploration inspired by a journey back to his late mother’s birthplace in Hong Kong, Pupul’s solo debut is an extraordinarily fascinating electronic record that fuses Eastern and Western styles while managing to have an affecting throughline of sentimentality.

It goes from self-effacing grief on the Röyksopp-adjacent “Completely Half” to the hard club grind of “Kowloon” to alluring chimes of the Pantha du Prince-evoking and cavern-like “Spicy Crab”. There’s detail aplenty here (field recordings of Pupul’s trip to Hong Kong are peppered across the album), and rarely a moment not to find yourself taken in by the voyage of self-exploration. At the centre of it sits “Ma Tau Wai Road” (written while staying in a hotel on the street where his mother was born and featuring vocals from Pupul’s sister Salah), equal parts swampy gloop and delicate appregiating bells. It captures the push and pull of hereditary influences, all as Pupul looks inwards at their own identity. It’s a celebration as much as it is a reflection. – Ray Finlayson

Bonny Light Horseman – Keep Me On Your Mind/See You Free


In just a few short years, supergroup Bonny Light Horseman (made up of Anaïs Mitchell, Eric D. Johnson and Josh Kaufman) have leveled up their collective ambition at soaring pace. After what many assumed was a one-off album of covers in 2020, the trio returned in 2022 with 10 quietly moving originals. This year, they delivered an expansive, ambitious double album that expanded their sound and heightened the emotive power of their songwriting. On LP standout “Singing to the Mandolin”, they pen a future folk-rock classic; weaving a tapestry of fond, intimate memories into a mournful, bittersweet number that feels instantly nostalgic. – Tom Williams

Camera Obscura – Look To The East, Look To The West


“They told you it was coke / it was ketamine”, Camera Obscura‘s Tracyanne Campbell laments on “Sleepwalker”, prophetically adding, “Don’t wake up in someone else’s arms”. These lines, along with Campbell’s somewhat mournful delivery, reflect a subtle death-awareness, representing some of the more funereal expressions of Campbell’s career. With Look to the East, Look to the West, there’s a shift, not drastic, but a shift all the same, from the more beachy and bubblegum emphases of earlier work. 

The band that made a career of balmy melodies and vocals that unfurled like a sweet breeze on a sweltering day is now made up of people in their 40s and 50s. Life has happened; loved ones have died (including their former bandmate Carey Lander); injustices and inequalities persist. Even with the hooky “We’re Going to Make It in a Man’s World”, there’s a commentary on double standards (“How come I don’t get away with being as rude as you?”), Campbell’s outrage (“Take your report, shove it right down your throat”) softened by her bouncy melody. 

“Baby Huey (Hard Times)” shows the band reembracing their signature pop approach, though Campbell seems wearier, a bit cynical. On “Pop Goes Pop”, when Campbell asks, “who knew we could feel so young and happy in our 40s?”, there’s a slight hesitation, a reticence that points to the possibility or likelihood of sarcasm.

Listeners who have come to expect pop infectiousness from Camera Obscura need not despair. Look to the East, Look to the West brims with dreamy tunes, reverb-splashed and semi-jangly guitars, and bright drums. You can still put the windows down and think: dammit, summer will last forever. When Campbell declares, “All the songs have been sung”, however, we know that she knows it won’t. She vents a fatigue, aware that even crystalline pop ceases to be a surefire counter to anxiety, loss, grief. Death comes to us all; that said, Camera Obscura still know how to dress difficult truths in beautiful and shimmery garb. – John Amen

Carme López – Quintela

[Warm Winters Ltd.]

Cards on the table, I am not versed – nor culturally aware enough – to fully speak on this album. Hailing from Galicia, Spain, Carme López is defending her people’s instrument: the region has a 800-year old tradition of playing their own bagpipe, completely historically and culturally autonomous from the Scottish bagpipe (aka the only one pretty much all of us know).

López may be an academic, but she doesn’t approach her music as an exercise. Her playing across Quintela is adventurous, even eerie. In many ways, she’s a peer of Korea’s Park Jiha: bending the traditional instruments of her country to her will, warping them into a zone of drifting, meandering sonics. It can be foreboding. It’s all enveloping. It kicks ass. – Chase McMullen

Chanel Beads – Your Day Will Come


I don’t even quite know how to describe Chanel Beads’ debut LP, Your Day Will Come, to be honest. Dewy-eyed dream pop with the smirking, yet sincere, attitude of The Smiths? Art pop with a slight post-punk throb? Psychedelic shoegaze with a smattering of Folk? There’s some Set Yourself on Fire energy in there, as well? Hell, I don’t know.

I do know it jams. It’s sleek. It’s too cool for us all, yet wears its heart on its sleeve. – Chase McMullen

Charley Crockett – $10 Cowboy

[Son of Davy]

With his latest album, $10 Cowboy, Charley Crockett blends his affinity for vintage sounds, the surreal, and the tongue-in-cheek. Additionally, he puts his knack for crafting hooks on full display. 

The title song features lounge-y synths, roadhouse-timbred guitars, and Crockett’s droll voice. This is Buck Owens meets Wes Anderson, Hank Williams crossed with the Coen Brothers’ Buster Scruggs. With “Hard Luck & Circumstances”, Crockett is at once sitting around the campfire, participating in an after-work karaoke bash, and crooning tragically in some dim Nashville juke joint. “Lead the Way” revolves round a synthy riff and Crockett’s reverberant vocal. Merging folk and a satirical take on the easy-listening template, Crockett conjures Roy Rogers experimenting with dreampop, Father John Misty playing a down-on-his-luck singer lost in some Las Vegas theme bar.

Throughout $10 Cowboy, Crockett is candid yet sincere, no-frills yet straightforwardly poetic. He integrates diverse atmospheres, tones, and narrative veers, all the while remaining loyal to the country genre.  – John Amen

Couch Slut – You Could Do It Tonight

[Brutal Panda]

NYC filth titans Couch Slut have used black-and-grey pop art imagery on the cover of all four of their albums to date and it works as a perfect summation of their approach: a medium that’s meant to evoke humour and maybe a little discomfort, amplified into something gory, gruesome and truly unsavoury. Another facet that’s been fairly constant through their discography is tales of sexual assault, and it’s no different on You Could Do It Tonight, with the opening track “Couch Slut Lewis” featuring a discussion with a gashed up young woman who pronounces: “Somebody raped me in my dumb car last week / Who cares who they are?”

Perhaps it therefore makes sense that Couch Slut kicked off the campaign for this record by releasing “Ode To Jimbo”, a tribute to their favourite watering hole – but even here it’s a tale of barely-controlled inebriation. How Couch Slut make these tales of shame-filled unhealthy behaviours (at best) and unspeakable criminal horrors (at worst) so enjoyable to listen to is a true act of alchemy. It’s in the combination of their python like musicianship and coiling riffage (this time produced by Uniform’s Ben Greenberg) and vocalist Megan Osztrosits’ inimitable ability to deliver precision storytelling via banshee-like howls and demented growls that still carry an air of humour.

Perhaps there’s no better example of this on You Could Do It Tonight than “The Donkey”, which starts with the intriguingly chucklesome introductory line “here’s what happened when my friends and I got fired from the haunted waterpark”. It then unfolds as a full-on horror story that traverses taking drugs and making stop-motion animation and into self-inflicted dismemberment. Finally, the song winds up with a spoken-word epilogue that is too unhinged to try to describe. It’s a true tour-de-force – and this closes the A-side. 

The ‘President of the B-side’ welcomes listeners to the second half and advises them to “Crank it up!” I would like to echo his words – it’s the only way to properly experience the following songs which are mountains of titanic musicianship that touch on cocks stuffed in tiny wire cages, infections from too much scratching, horrific home invasions and a break out from a detention home for boys who murdered their parents and raped their siblings. There’s no use trying to sleep after listening to this one – might as well just spin it again. – Rob Hakimian

Daoko – Slash-&-Burn


Ever the J-pop trickster goddess, Daoko began to – excuse me while I feel old for a moment – embrace elder statesperson status with 2020’s superb Anima. As integral as any Japanese hip hop artist – and quite arguably the figure – of her generation, she’s remained delightfully bizarre, unruly, and spontaneous with everything she deigns to touch for 12 years now. You never quite know what you’re going to get.

Well, while Anima offered a relatively mature hip hop statement, her latest, Slash-&-Burn, is a wide-eyed, hyperactive mad dash through electropop, house, her own inscrutable, singular brand of hip hop, and more. As ever, she’s refusing to sit still and has teleported the rest of us along for the delirious ride. Condolences if you can’t hang. – Chase McMullen

foamboy – Eating Me Alive


Breaking out from the confines of their pandemic-recorded debut, foamboy‘s sophomore album Eating Me Alive is a much more expansive and colourful affair. More in line with their live shows (which can feature seven or eight musicians on stage), the Portland-based duo make pop music that grabs from other genres generously. You’ll hear disco influences on opening track “Smoke Machine”, glitzy synth pop on “Burnout”, and a sleek R&B side to “Song About You”.

A glance at the song titles might give you the impression that there’s a tongue in cheek tone to the album, and while there’s certainly a biting, occasionally sarcastic edge, tracks like “He Fucking Texts Me”, “imtryingimtryingimtrying”, and “COOL!?!” track the “rise and fall of a very complicated and crushing relationship” amongst anxieties about queer identity and working through the difficulties of grad school. It’s a thorough record that never piles on too much; it’s got a breezy and welcoming air but it’s a mask for the hardships hiding in Katy Ohsiek’s lyrics. It’s a branching out, a building up, and a drawing in of more as Ohsiek curses all the world takes. – Ray Finlayson

Empress Of – For Your Consideration

[Major Arcana / Giant Music]

Not that she’d hesitated before, but For Your Consideration is the fullest Empress Of has thrown her full damn body into pop implosions. Irresistible and joyous at every turn, this is the kind of music that shames anyone not getting down.

In short: how are you not jamming to this? Sincerely, I really needn’t write anything more. She’s doing all the heavy lifting here. – Chase McMullen

Frail Body – Artificial Bouquet

[Deathwish Inc.]

In a turn of events that has shocked absolutely no one, Frail Body‘s five-years-in-the-making follow up to their certified modern screamo classic A Brief Memoriam is really fucking good. Artificial Bouquet is its name and it’s a capital S Statement of intent, a monumental record that will rightfully be battling for the top spot on Album of the Year lists across the internet come December.

For a trio, it’s quite shocking what a gargantuan sound Frail Body can create. Artificial Bouquet is overwhelming in its sonic assault, so much so that it took a few listens for it to click. Like their crushing live shows, it can feel like swimming against a tumultuous ocean of waves rising as tall as skyscrapers and crashing down on you with only brief moments of breathtaking reprieve. Frail Body are all about the passion of performance, the catharsis of giving everything to the song, and that can result in a lot for the listener to process. All of which is to say I was awestruck with admiration during my first listens, but after sitting with and absorbing the lyrics which start out with a macro world-weary perspective before becoming more personal and insular and quietly devastating, the emotional heft felled me and everything clicked into place.

In many ways it reminds me of Infant Island’s masterpiece from earlier this year, Obsidian Wreath (it’s a striking coincidence that the album titles are structurally similar) and with Jack Shirley on board and the general influence of blackgaze on the sound, the comparisons to early Deafheaven will be inevitable too. There’s a world of sound to discover here – at first it feels like peering into impenetrable darkness but as your eyes become accustomed you realise it’s teeming with life and beauty and pain and sadness and humanity. There is nothing artificial about this record, it is pure emotion transposed into music. – Andy Johnston

Frances Chang – Psychedelic Anxiety

[Ramp Local]

Who doesn’t love it when an album title perfectly sums up the content held within? Psychedelic Anxiety is what it says on the tin, a small collection of tracks that capture a feeling of colourful angst, eccentric worry, and agitated nervousness. Frances Chang refers to her music as “slacker prog” and it’s not far off, honing traits from the genres and swirling them into her own world.

Recorded primarily at her home, it’s the sound of an artist constructing their own world, an individual space that won’t feel familiar to everyone. But it’s one that is full of detail and small spectacle. The soft calming roads “Body of the Lightning” takes you down are a balm to any stress you may be feeling, while the sardonic-edged and poetically pondering spoken word finale “Rate My Aura” is like a journey through Chang’s head as she processes the world around her. Her tracks sometimes veer off into unexpected directions, like Chang is darting off to discover rooms in a mansion. Stick close by and explore with her. – Ray Finlayson

Goat Girl – Below The Waste

[Rough Trade]

Previous Goat Girl albums didn’t shy away from the harshness of life, but skirted over them with a youthful zim and irony. On their third full-length, Below The Waste, the London band have done away with the grooves and are instead wading their way through the emotional filth and detritus of life at eye-level – even their cartoony stage names names are gone; this is Goat Girl facing up to the real world. 

By far their darkest album to date, Below The Waste finds the trio of old friends reflecting the reality of living in one of the world’s biggest cities, being dragged down daily by injustices, depression and addiction. The result is the band’s loudest and most unruly to date, Lottie Pendlebury’s breathy and beleaguered delivery relaying her exhaustion at the constant battle to keep her head above the rising tide of injustice and cruelty all around. In amongst the drudgery there is still a strong vein of friendship and togetherness that binds them and their community, an aural representation of the fuel that allows them to keep biting back against the bastards. The struggle seems to have only brought the band closer together and what results is the tightest, most diverse, thrilling, unique and rewarding Goat Girl album to date. – Rob Hakimian

Hantasi – Our Lovelessness


At this point a legendary producer in the vaporwave community, Hantasi has released a whole treasure trove of buried riches, most notably with the haunted liminal Mallsoft album Vacant Places. Never resting on their laurels, Hantasi has explored a vast number of genres and atmospheres, and Our Lovelessness adds yet another strange flavour to their catalogue: a mix of shoegaze and chillwave.

With its muffled electronic beats and oozing tremolo tones, it sounds like the distorted ghostchild of Slowdive’s 5EP and Seefeel’s Quique. As with all Vaporwave, there is plenty of sardonic humor and aesthetic tomfoolery going on (the album’s artwork and songtitles play with Christian imagery), but Our Lovelessness is much more than a one-trick pony. With its elaborate editing and clever choices, it has a more unique sound than most of its current genre-siblings. A smart and beautiful record, it’s a breath of fresh air – now, if only somebody could explain to me why most songs are 4 minutes and 1 second long… – John Wohlmacher

Heavenly Blue – We Have The Answer

[Secret Voice]

The story of Heavenly Blue is one of dissolution and rebirth. They were born from the ashes of Ann Arbor, Michigan screamo act, Youth Novel and We Have The Answer, their debut album, is even built on holdover riffs from the those days. Yet Heavenly Blue feel like quite a different band, and this LP actually sounds quite unlike anything else in modern screamo.

Now a seven-piece band, Heavenly Blue conjure a sound whose immensity is commensurate with the number of band members and touches on hardcore, noise rock and shoegaze, all wrapped in unique production and mixing that creates a paradoxically alienating and fascinating feel. The band’s first release under the Heavenly Blue moniker was on last year’s Balladeers, Redefined compilation put out by Jeremy Bolm’s (Touché Amoré) Secret Voice label; it was one of the standout tracks on there and is reprised here.

From the moment those count-in snare hits kick in on the opener, Heavenly Blue take us on a barrelling thrill ride down the side of a mountain. Their modus operandi is wall-of-sound production, guitars stacked like skyscrapers on the brink of collapse, drums pounding and crashing at a furious rate, disarming melodicism, and vocals produced and mixed in such a way as to make them feel compressed and disembodied. It’s incredible in a way that’s difficult to even articulate, let alone write about.

It would be a fool’s errand to list all of the highlights of the record. The joy of it is not just in the individual moments of brilliance, but in the cumulative effect that comes from listening intently to it front-to-back: it’s life-affirming yet emotionally draining, a blast to move your body to and a treasure trove of lyrics to pore and obsess over. At first listen, it’s overwhelming, an unremitting onslaught of sound and energy, but as you become acclimatised to what Heavenly Blue are doing, the record’s intricacies and beauty reveal themselves, at which point you will be convinced that they do indeed have the answer. – Andy Johnston

Laryssa Kim – Contezza

[City Tracks]

The reactions from friends I’ve passed this album on to have been split between raptorious enthusiasm and unsure shrugs have led me to understand this one is not for everyone. Then, how much great music is?

Currently working out of Belgium, Laryssa Kim hails from Italy, and her music is very much informed by her Italo-Congolese heritage. Even more integral are her two of her primary influences: Brian Eno and Erykah Badu. If these seem like unexpected, even odd, bedfellows: precisely. Contezza is a dense, spindling cloud of sound. It both is, very much, R&B music, and resists the genre entirely. Tirzah would envy how sparse moments of this are. Go ahead, drift away to some unknown place. – Chase McMullen

Mdou Moctar – Funeral For Justice


Nigerien quartet Mdou Moctar make protest music that speaks to the trials of their whole continent. They do it in a style that may have been born out of sounds brought by their colonisers, but could only be created in the hot and endless plains of their homeland and among their rich communities. In eponymous bandleader Mdou Moctar they have one of the finest guitarists seen on any continent, and the rest of the band backs him up with rhythmically demanding and downright impactful playing to create something that cuts through the noise with melodic lightning.

Theirs is a broad canvas that is streaked with passion, both from Moctar’s wailing guitar and from the quartet’s interlinked vocals. Themes of colonisation and deprivation are common, but on Funeral For Justice they are overwhelmed by a need for expression – a desperation to be heard, above all else. This results in songs like “Oh France”, a volcanic eruption of torrential rock after years of building enmity with their former co-habitants, but also in “Takoba”, a more hymn-like approach to expressing their desire to cut down demons that plague their world. Funeral For Justice displays a band deep in the pocket, gliding on the same wavelength, which they beam around the world as an expression of Nigerien identity that is impossible to deny. – Rob Hakimian

meth. – SHAME

[Prosthetic Records]

Chicago multi-metal-sub-genre straddling experimental heavy band meth. started as a grind and emoviolence influenced chaotic hardcore act, but has over time evolved into a many-headed cerberus of noise, sludge, post-metal and metallic hardcore, seemingly hellbent on creating the most nerve-shredding, uncomfortable experience imaginable whilst still being discernibly listenable and often thrilling.

With that in mind, the opening track of SHAME, their first album in five years, functions as a litmus test for the listener: it’s a riff-free exercise in rhythmic bashing, the sound of a lumbering giant chasing you down a tightening corridor, all whilst frontman Seb Alvarez trades screams and growls pulled from the bile-soaked depths of his being about having no sense of self. It’s anti-music, a gauntlet thrown down: get through this and you might enjoy what meth. have in store for you; find yourself turned off by its sheer ugliness, its seeming unmusicality, its inexorable beat like the deafening sound of death’s clock ticking down, and you should probably take it as a sign that you might be a bit too faint-hearted for SHAME.

Across the album’s seven tracks, meth. never let up the intensity; this is dissonant, confrontational music that captures and reflects the emotional and mental turmoil that Alvarez went through whilst grappling with addiction, undiagnosed bi-polar disorder and the consequences of his own resultant problematic behaviour. Whether it’s the exhausting blast beats that drag “Compulsion” across the floor, the nausea-inducing waves of guitar squall on “Blush” or the mathy, anxiety-inducing chaos that opens “Cruelty”, the aim at all times seems to be to disorientate, to discomfort, to disturb. The title track and the centrepiece “Give In” are the highlights here, injecting the noise-rock and grindy industrial post-metal aesthetic with a bit of modern era Swans style post-rock. “It’s growing inside” is the repeated refrain on “Give In”, whilst the band conjures up a perfect storm of oppressive sound that somehow manages to be as emotionally rousing as the lyrics are a terrifying portrayal of giving into one’s worst impulses.

SHAME is, in that sense, a visceral portrait of one man’s extreme sense of alienation from self, of disgust at his thoughts and actions, all soundtracked by intricately sound-designed aural hellscapes, in which songs seems to be in the process of pulling themselves apart as they are being performed. It’s an album that in its monolithic heaviness, uncompromisingly dread-filled and discomfiting atmosphere, and the brutal self-evisceration expressed in its lyrics, earns its portentous title with blood, tears and metaphysical terror. – Andy Johnston

MIZU – Forest Scenes

[NNA Tapes]

Parallel to her own transformation, MIZU‘s Forest Scenes captures what feels like nature growing, adapting, forming and reforming over landscapes. Across 37 minutes the New York-based composer uses her cello, field recordings, and digital processing to conjure topography that invites you in before surrounding you, trees branches and foliage croaking and groaning as it forms new shapes.

MIZU’s compositions are more experimental than on her 2023 debut Distant Intervals, but there are still plenty of entry points. The hypnotic see-saw melody of “Pump”, the cyclic treading of “Pavane”, and the backtracked effects on “Flutter” that conjure glimmers of sunlights through high up canopies; all are mesmerising in their own way. Come “prphtbrd” the terrain turns in on itself, drum samples and backtracked effects whirring like tape machines on fast forward. On the final track “Realms of Possibility” MIZU spreads out across 11 minutes, conducting a new landscape into creation. The transformation of her music isn’t complete, but it’s magnificent to be able to watch this chapter unfold. – Ray Finlayson

Molly Drag – Mammoth


Montreal’s Michael Charles Hansford has likened his Molly Drag project to an old farmhouse, and his new album, Mammoth, to “opening up the windows”. The light has poured in, and what a boon for us that it has. On his seventh record as Molly Drag, Hansford gives us a vision of his music that is more crisp, more direct, and more potent than ever before.

Whereas before his music tended so close to his original DIY bedroom folk, with is terribly sad and candid lyrics and creaky production, Mammoth is bright and airy, with more of an uplift and optimism. This manifests even musically, like on opener “Dogfight” which ascends on an upward swing of piano, or the single “Hell Raiser” with its late-90s PNW “yeah yeah yeah” chorus. Yes, there are still tender and sadder moments, like “Jump”, but then on the other hand you have the gently rollicking “Coming Back for More”. For each lovely yin on this record — Hansford’s best yet — there’s an equally satisfying yang. – Jeremy J. Fisette

Morgan Garrett – Purity

[Orange Milk]

Created in response to finding a neighbor’s corpse, Morgan Garrett’s new album Purity shows the composer and musician employing chaotic sonics and harrowing vocals to convey states of extreme anxiety, dissociation, and isolation.

“Alive” blends erratic percussion, blasts of distorted guitar, and Garrett’s burdened vocal. “I wanna be kept alive by something”, he moans, his voice conveying lethargy, depression, functional decline. Garrett’s voice on “Cost of Living” recalls a cross between Captain Beefheart and Bryan Funck, random guitar riffs spattered like blood across the audial field. With “Sick and Sad”, Garrett reconfigures 90s anhedonia (NIN’s “Hurt”, for example, or Korn’s “Got the Life”), his disembodied voice battered by metallic accents. The sonic world on “Already Died”, meanwhile, is consummately nightmarish: what sound like clanking chains run through a distortion pedal, out of tune guitars stretched and contracted, reverb and overdrive mixed to conjure a disturbing atmosphere. 

Garrett’s seemingly spontaneous process and consistent use of cacophonies bely a keen compositional bent, an ability to forge distinct and fleeting balances. Taken as a whole, his work is notably cogent, well-curated, and relentlessly foreboding. – John Amen

Nadine Shah – Filthy Underneath

[EMI North/Universal]

It’s sort of annoying that alt-pop/post-punk singer and songwriter Nadine Shah hasn’t made as many waves over in the US as she should, but her home base in the UK is oh-so-lucky to have her. On her newest album, Filthy Underneath, Shah gives us another album of groovy, dusky, middle-of-the-night tunes, full of swagger and hot neon. Shah has such a cool confidence, and her deep, vibrato-heavy voice is theatrical but never preciously so. It’s a strong instrument, one she wields like a saber, whether effortlessly showing off her range on opener “Even Light” or sighing beautifully in “Greatest Dancer”. 

Filthy Underneath covers a good tract of emotional landscape, mixing in spiky guitars with jagged synths and 80s drum machines, but it is also the most consistently enjoyable album she’s put out yet. It keeps you guessing but never feels unknowable, luring you in with its slinky and sensuous sway. – Jeremy J. Fisette

RBX – Hibernation Shivers

[Labcabin Records]

Talk about an album that defies the hell out of time. Having been involved with two proper hip hop regimes at their peak – Death Row and Aftermath, mind you – without dropping on either, RBX has long been a hometown hero.

However, his most memorable impact culturally has remained his appearance on The Marshall Mathers LP. Take heart! His latest album, and first in 16 years, scales nearly unbelievable heights to accomplish what it does. Aging rappers trading in nostalgia is far from new, but RBX has the audacity to pull it off. Hibernation Shivers is a pure, classic Cali breeze, drifting seamlessly between Dre-inspired G-Funk and sounds closer to his native Long Beach. Yet, it doesn’t sound dated. It’s both retro and present, urgent and inevitable.

The features, including West Coast luminaries MC Eiht, Spice 1, Tha Dogg Pound, Cold 187um, Ras Kass, Krayzie Bone, and more (not to mention Three 6 legend Project Pat!) all deliver. The West Coast summer banger LP you didn’t know you needed (especially if Kendrick and “Not Like Us” have predisposed you to such a mood 😉). Huzzah for 2024. – Chase McMullen

samlrc – A Lonely Sinner


A mystical and deeply creative journey, samlrc‘s A Lonely Sinner is hard to write about. It uses elements of shoegaze and post-rock, psychedelia and metal, ambient and electronica, without ever becoming derivative or exuding an annoying ADHD vertigo. Sigur Rós or Mount Eerie come to mind, as do Pink Floyd and Animal Collective, but Samantha Rodrigues da Cruz follows her own intuitive writing process to something that feels disassociated of heritage.

There are plenty of arguments as to why her music is so deeply original and defiant of any western classification (da Cruz is Brazilian, has just turned 20 and belongs to the trans community), but the deeply personal tone of her writing ultimately transcends any forced discourse on catholicism, queerness or national culture. Instead, as with many young artist who found popularity on the internet, her album fits a counter cultural zeitgeist that cares more about emotional impact and authentic expression. And in those qualities, it accesses very different memories and associations within every listener.

With its roaring guitar climaxes, sensitive elegies and nostalgic collage compositions, A Lonely Sinner reminds this writer of his initial reaction to Broken Social Scene’s You Forgot it in People. It’s a spectacular record, likely to spawn an immediate cult following, that deserves praise. – John Wohlmacher

sonhos tomam conta – corpos de água

[Longinus Recordings]

Lua Viana has released a number of noteworthy albums as sonhos tomam conta in the past five years, among them splits with Parannoul and Asian Glow. The project’s tone, oscillating between shoegaze, emo and metal, and rich visual imagery (“Serial Experiments Lain” has found a strange second life with Zoomers) has seen the project stand out from the vast slew of post-Deftones acts that rose to minor prominence.

But with corpos de água, Viana has released her first all out masterpiece. With its strong bossa nova influence and softer sonic palette, the record is more accessible, less postmodern than its predecessors. A uniquely Brazilian counterpart to Souvlaki, the record’s melancholia is ultimately what makes it feel so timeless. Glowing bright without any meta-textual ballast, it explores nostalgic urban landscapes, pregnant with the memories of cyberpunk alleys and nocturnal summer nights and beach sunsets. In this light, corpos de água is a dreamlike utopian vision, a soundtrack to teenage bedrooms and first kisses. – John Wohlmacher

Terry Green – Provisional Living

[Zegema Beach Records]

To hear Dave Norman tell it, Terry Green have been intrinsically tied to the history of Zegema Beach Records, the cult ‘music with screaming’ label, since pretty much the very start. The forward-thinking Ontario screamo and post-hardcore act have been around for over a decade, played early Zegema Beach shows and released their first EP and 2017’s stunning LP on the label. And since then? Very little, save for the odd track on a split or ‘Zampler’.

Fortunately, there were a lot of people invested in the return of Terry Green and after a not inconsiderable wait, we have the follow up, PROVISIONAL LIVING, out, of course, on Zegema Beach.

Terry Green, despite their moments of explosive aggression and violence, are a patient and considered band and this new LP has been designed to be consumed in one sitting, as a complete experience. Case in point, “PALING”, is an instrumental mood-setter and multiple tracks have seamless transitions creating a sensation of intense immersion. The band also balances ugliness and beauty with a flawless touch. They can pummel with blast beats on “BLUR”, pivot into Modest Mouse-esque melodic passages before launching into a sludge metal riff that churns like an industrial threshing machine for chewing up bodies, capping things off with a wailing guitar solo.

The highlights throughout are plentiful: there’s the dusty and dangerous wild west feel that opens “SAFETY”; the amazing distorted guitar yelp before that song’s final charging passage; the nail-biting build up of lead single, “FULL LIP”; the The Wrens-esque near-anthemic guitar line that levitates over the mix on the emotionally devastating “PARAMOUNT”; and the brooding menace of “GNAWING” and its gargantuan climactic riff. Terry Green have produced a screamo album suffused with a classic rock sensibility that foregrounds melody and groove; it’s a perfect entry point for those new to what can be a deliberately inaccessible subgenre of hardcore, and it was well worth the wait. – Andy Johnston

Willi Carlisle – Critterland

[Signature Sounds Recordings]

“The heart’s a big tent / Gotta let everybody in”, sang Willi Carlisle on his 2022 debut Peculiar, Missouri. It’s a mantra that he carries forward on his followup, Critterland – an instant country classic that radically expands the country genre’s constraints and challenges its worst, most reductive tendencies.

Across 10 songs, Carlisle pens an ode to a friend lost to suicide (“Jaybird”), speaks to harrowing isolation (“Higher Lonesome”), mediates on his father’s death (“The Arrangements”) and pens a devastating ode to queer love entangled with addiction on “When The Pill Wears Off”. It all culminates in the epic, mostly-spoken outro “The Money Grows On Trees” – a riveting outlaw tale that speaks to Carlisle’s unparalleled skills as a songwriter. – Tom Williams

Young Jesus – The Fool

[Saddle Creek]

John Rossiter’s Young Jesus project has become a bit schizophrenic over recent releases. In 2020 Young Jesus released Welcome To Conceptual Beach, cementing the four-person lineup and free-jazz approaches to experimental art rock – or so we thought. A couple of years later Rossiter was solo on the next Young Jesus album Shepherd Head, a computer-based collection that lacked the free-form and live-sounding approach of the previous records. After that, he quit music.

But only briefly. He was tempted (perhaps tricked) back into it by the great jazz pianist Shahzad Ismaily – and we can be thankful, because The Fool is Young Jesus back on song. Rossiter is still mostly working alone but the organic sound, instrumental flourishes and sheer beauty are back in spades. 

Well, you might not call the words beautiful – for the most part, Rossiter takes on guises or tells stories of unlikeable, even sinful, people. His rich voice brings pathos, but his words paint pictures of those who have strayed from the path of righteousness, who seek only their own gain. Perhaps they’re self-serving elites, perhaps they’re down-on-their-luck drifters, but their motives and views are almost always questionable. The result is a beguiling and truly engrossing collection that plays like a set of short stories on a theme of the corruption of the mortal spirit. It will lure you in with its musical sparkle but trap you inside with its fascinating studies of the human condition. – Rob Hakimian

Listen to our Spotify playlist of highlights from our Overlooked 2024: January to June albums here