10 Underrated Albums and EPs From the Half-Year

10 Underrated Albums and EPs From the Half-Year

Earlier today, I tweeted a rough, unranked list of my favorite albums of the past six months. There are some years that don't seem to kick into high gear until the fall, where whatever albums I list at the end of June are barely an afterthought by the time the year ends, but I'd be shocked if that were the case in 2024. I've been consistently thrilled by new releases all year, with nary a lull to speak of.

Many of the 13 albums that I've spent the most time listening to in 2024 are consensus critical favorites. Outside of some heavier outliers, most of these albums will probably show up on some publication or another's year-end list. I've come to accept this as an inevitability that I can't do anything to change, even if I wanted to—I'll never be that critic who galvanizes themselves by solely championing music from the margins. Sometimes, I'm powerless in the face of a BRAT summer, or comparable monocultural phenomena from years past, and I'm not a good enough actor to pretend otherwise.

None of the 10 following albums/EPs made my list, but if I expanded it from 13 to 25, they all would. Think of this less as an "honorable mentions" category and more of an "I'm guessing their next album will crack my Top 10" category.

Bedbug - Pack Your Bags the Sun Is Growing

Whether you got into 2010s Northeast emo because you were already a '90s Pacific Northwest indie rock fan, or vice versa, this Bedbug album is for you. It's simultaneously sprawling and homespun, grandiose and ramshackle. It makes me miss hiking.


Cassie Kinoshi's seed. - Gratitude

When I featured half of this album's two-part opener in a newsletter earlier this year, I compared it to my favorite jazz release of the 2010s, Kamasi Washington's Harmony of Difference EP. Lofty, sure, but the Gratitude full-length follows through on the interconnected sweep hinted at by its pre-release singles. I'm a sucker for jazz that features nearly as many strings as it does horns.


Cusp - Thanks So Much EP

I first heard of Cusp on an episode of Endless Scroll, where every host who'd listened to this EP was raving about it. Thanks So Much is, pound-for-pound, the most consistently great 18 minutes of straight-up indie rock I've heard all year. Not a ton of frills, nothing overly complex, just pitch-perfect songwriting and execution.


Heavenly Blue - We Have The Answer

It's been a really fucking good year for screamo. We got Infant Island's majestic Obsidian Wreath (which I reviewed for Pitchfork) just a few weeks into the year, Frail Body's relentless Artificial Bouquet soon followed, and then this Michigan seven-piece delivered something completely unlike the other two. We Have The Answer is more smeary and soft-focus, so much so that it can be hard to make out what each member in the sprawling ensemble is doing at any given moment, but the production really works, adding to the album's "most important basement show of your life" feeling.


J.P. - Coming Out Party

Facts are facts: if you sample Laurie Anderson's "O Superman" in the opening seconds of your ebullient pop-rap debut, I'm going to enjoy that ebullient pop-rap debut. I soon found out that the 1981 art pop gem had recently blown up on TikTok, which took a bit of the spontaneity out of it, but J.P.'s charm remains intact. It may be a stretch to call him "underrated" in the wake of his single "Bad Bitty," which currently has over a million views on YouTube, but at age 33 I've found myself surrounded by friends and acquaintances who can't seem to find modern hip hop that excites them anymore, so in the context of this newsletter's readership, I'm going to guess that J.P.'s not quite a household name yet. Change that!


Mei Semones - Kabutomushi EP

I'm not gonna shut up about this pastoral jazz-inflected indie singer-songwriter until they get the widespread recognition that they deserve. I've featured two singles from this EP on the newsletter in the past, and while the devastating "Inaka" remains my favorite on this EP, all five cuts are worth your time. Kabutomushi combines so many of the most beautiful sounds and styles that I can think of, and Semones does it so effortlessly and unpretentiously.


Papo2oo4 & subjxct 5 - We Don't Miss

New Jersey's Papo2oo4 has a year in his name for a reason—his grimy, silky-gruff bounce is clearly indebted to the Dipset and G-Unit dominated early 2000s—but there's also ample amounts of 2024 in his sound. Producer subjxct 5 supplies a lot of that, interspersing retro fare like "Had 2 Ball" with drum-and-bass-inflected beats on "Chase The Bag" and "Manchester," creating a vibrant, diverse sonic palette that could only exist in the present. This basketball-themed tape, with its constant "Swish!" and "And one!" ad-libs, is a blast.


Prize Horse - Under Sound

The best elevator pitch I can come up with for Minneapolis' Prize Horse is "shoegaze but make it angular." The three-piece have a lot of the pedal-reliant heaviness that defines the still-swelling crop of modern shoegazers, but it's tempered and cast into sharper relief by a distinctly '90s-Midwest sensibility that has noise rock on one pole (think Jesus Lizard) and post-rock on the other (think Slint). I wish this band could've worked with Steve Albini before he died.


Shabason, Krgovich, Sage - Shabason, Krgovich, Sage

Hearing the song "Bridget" from this album for the first time launched me headlong into spiral about the nature of music discovery itself, and it's still probably my favorite song of the year. This album is a weird combination of semi-spoken word deliveries and semi-ambient soundscapes, and a lot of it requires more patience and attention than I often have to spare, but whenever I completely give myself over to it, it's a powerful listen. "Bridget" will never not wreck me, though.


skaiwater - #gigi 

One of the most creative, heartfelt, inscrutable rap albums I've heard in years. I've only spent a week or two with #gigi, so I don't think I've fully digested it, but it was instantly enthralling and remains so on my fifth or sixth listen. I feel like skaiwater's going to be one of the stars of the second half of this decade.


BOI (Best Of Inbox) #33

Archibald Slim - "Count Your Blessings"

Location: Atlanta // Genre: crabby-but-wise-beyond-its-years rap // RIYL: the line "if you smoking dirt weed, you not applying yourself"

Closebye - "Hammer of My Own"

Location: New York // Genre: tastefully updated Britpop // RIYL: Stars making a Stone Roses album // From: Hammer of My Own, out 8/23

Lutalo - "Ocean Swallows Him Whole"

Location: Vermont // Genre: tastefully updated mid-2000s alt-rock // RIYL: Interpol, The Killers, Bloc Party, but all a bit toned down // From: The Academy, out 9/20

MAITA - "break up song x3"

Location: Portland, OR // Genre: emotions-laid-bare folk rock // RIYL: Big Thief, things of that nature // From: want, out 7/26

Scarcity - "The Promise of Rain"

Location: NYC // Genre: experimental black metal // RIYL: anything released by the record label The Flenser // From: The Promise of Rain, out 7/12

All Inbox Infinity picks are available in playlist form via Apple Music and Spotify.

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Jamie Larson