Have the biggest 2017 releases finally worn out their welcome? Instead of keying that repeat button one more time, EW rounded up under-the-radar swaps that you might have missed. Read on for alternatives to JAY-Z’s opus 4:44, Taylor Swift’s rumbling reputation, and Foo Fighters’ Greg Kurstin-assisted thrashfest, Concrete and Gold.
LOVE THIS?: JAY Z 4:44
TRY THIS! Vic Mensa The Autobiography
Jay signed Mensa to his Roc Nation label, called him a “once-in-a-lifetime artist,” and brought him on this year’s 4:44 arena tour. It’s evident why. Revered beatsmith No I.D. executive-produced both rappers’ LPs, girding their deeply personal rhymes with dusty blasts of soul.
LOVE THIS? Taylor Swift reputation
TRY THIS! Aly & AJ Ten Years
Swift’s latest juggernaut of an album alternated between electroclash battle cries and tender synth-pop confessions. This EP, from the duo behind 2007’s teen-pop hit “Potential Breakup Song,” feels like a continuation of the latter, with Stranger Things-esque keys and dreamy melodies.
LOVE THIS? Kendrick Lamar DAMN.
TRY THIS! Joey Bada$$ All-Amerikkkan Bada$$
A classicist MC from one of hip-hop’s most hallowed epicenters serving up politically vital rhymes? That could describe Compton star Kendrick Lamar — or rising Brooklyn rapper Joey Bada$$, whose All-Amerikkkan Bada$$ mixes crackling funk with urgent lyricism.
LOVE THIS? Weezer Pacific Daydream
TRY THIS! Rozwell Kid Precious Art
With Pacific Daydream, Weezer largely spurned the guitar-based power pop of their ’90s heyday. Thankfully, West Virginia band Rozwell Kid filled that void with their exhilarating LP, which teems with Ric Ocasek-style harmonies, jittery riffs, and playful lyrics about MADtv, Michael Keaton, and more.
LOVE THIS? Kelsea Ballerini Unapologetically
TRY THIS! Carly Pearce Every Little Thing
These two country singers embrace all the frills of modern pop production, but their songwriting is hardly fluff. With their bottomless supply of hooks and emotionally intelligent lyrics, you’d be hard-pressed to find better celebrations of girl power coming out of Nashville.
LOVE THIS? Foo Fighters Concrete and Gold
TRY THIS! Metz Strange Peace
Although Dave Grohl aimed for classic-rock-indebted grandiosity on the Foos’ recent Greg Kurstin-produced set, his roots rest in hardcore and punk. Assisted by noise-rock legend Steve Albini, Ontario’s METZ put out a pummeling album that channels the Foos frontman’s rawest inclinations.
LOVE THIS? Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit The Nashville Sound
TRY THIS! Tyler Childers Purgatory
As Isbell did on his socially conscious record, Kentucky newcomer Childers finds inspiration close to home. On his bluegrassy album, produced by Sturgill Simpson, he examines the struggles of blue-collar life as well as the opioid crisis ravaging his home state.
LOVE THIS? Lana Del Rey Lust for Life
TRY THIS! Billie Eilish Don’t Smile at Me
If Del Rey’s lush tunes are a little too somnolent for you, let 16-year-old Eilish jolt you awake with her debut EP: She pairs her brooding balladry and cool-side-of-the-pillow harmonies with edgy beats on tracks like the anxious “COPYCAT” and the glitchy “bellyache.”
LOVE THIS? Robert Plant Carry Fire
TRY THIS! Greta Van Fleet From the Fires
It sounds like one person, but Greta Van Fleet is actually a quartet from Michigan. And they share more with Plant than just a fondness for flaming album titles—the group’s soul- and blues-tinged rock evokes the enduring style he originated with Led Zeppelin decades ago.
LOVE THIS? Logic Everybody
TRY THIS! Open Mike Eagle Brick Body Kids Still Daydream
Logic’s “1-800-273-8255” resided on a 71-minute concept album about death and the afterlife. But Open Mike Eagle’s record was hip-hop’s greatest conceptual achievement in 2017, a laser-focused, 39-minute meditation about life in Chicago’s Robert Taylor Homes.