This year deserved praise has been heaped upon Frank Ocean's debut Channel Orange, the Flaming Lips' blood vinyl project and Beach House's Bloom. Meanwhile, works like The Shins' Port of Morrow and Passion Pit's Gossamer have been seriously overhyped.
Lost in the shuffle have been five superb but underappreciated releases, below, some of which you may have seen in your peripheral vision and deserve a longer glance.
The radiant Lineage comes from one-man electronic aficionado Zach Saginaw, known as Shigeto, in which he pays his Japanese heritage and Michigan upbringing gorgeous tribute through focused rhythms and swelling, varied instrumentation. Distant harps and jazzy keys are featured on standout "Huron River Drive," while a crackling backdrop in "Ann Arbor 3 & 4" evokes the sound of an old record player in your parents' basement. Lineage is the soundtrack to midnight drives in your hometown, years after you've last visited.
Chicago's Disappears' terrific third record is Pre Language. Brian Case channels The Fall's Mark E. Smith uncannily with sultry, deadpan vocals, particularly on "Replicate." Heady bass riffs and reeling guitarwork entwine into a distortion-laden opus track after track, complementing the addition of Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley to the band's permanent lineup. Shelley's lean percussion on Pre Language evokes No Wave white noise, with a sound that flirts between concise and enigmatic.