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Dark horse alternative albums | Kendrick Lamar, Björk

Not every album is destined to be a classic. No matter how much a band might like to recapture the magic every now and again, there are always projects that fly under the radar. If you look at the classics, though, you’re missing out on some of the best material that these bands have ever made. These selections may not be as celebrated as the mainstream albums, but they’re chock-full of your next favorite songs.

Read more: 20 albums that paved the way for alternative as we know it

Warning – Green Day

For all the pop-punk fans who were looking for Green Day to return to the sounds of Dookie, this felt like a slap in the face, with acoustic tunes influenced by classic rock. If we’re looking solely at the music, though, this might be the most experimental they’ve ever been, from the power-pop sounds of “Waiting” to “Misery.” This might not be the most single-friendly Green Day album, but without “Minority,” we probably wouldn’t have American Idiot as we know it today.



Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie – Alanis Morissette

Before this record came out, Alanis Morissette was doomed to be criticized. Considering how much Jagged Little Pill resonated with people, this is death by comparison, but that doesn’t make Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie a bad record. After the raw anger of the last album, this is a much more thoughtful version of Morissette that most of us weren’t ready for. In this realm. though, Morissette has only gotten better at her more vulnerable side as the years have gone on.



Midnight Marauders – A Tribe Called Quest

As A Tribe Called Quest made their way into the ‘90s, it looked the times weren’t working in their favor. Considering Dr. Dre was about to drop The Chronic, it looked like it was 187 on any other brand of hip-hop. This is Tribe, though, and there was still room for some chill alternative hip-hop, especially when the flows hit as hard as “Award Tour.” There may have been some beef that came with the gangster-rap wave, but there was still some middle ground to vibe to every now and again. 



The Hunting Party – Linkin Park

As the 2010s were dawning, Mike Shinoda started to complain that rock ‘n’ roll had started to lose its edge a little bit. While Linkin Park had been flirting with electronics for a while, this record saw them tapping into their aggro side again, with songs that felt like they took a few lessons from the metallic side of the spectrum. For all of the venom that spewed on this record, this feels like the lost album that should have been released right after Meteora. Linkin Park may have been mainstream, but they could still hang with the big guns of metal music.



The Now Now – Gorillaz

For the past few years, Gorillaz either take too long to make albums or put them out so fast you don’t notice. It happened with The Fall, and it still feels like The Now Now never got its due, being released after Humanz. While this does feel like a solo album for singer 2-D, the laid-back approach is a lot more digestible than other songs. The zaniness of past Gorillaz projects isn’t here, but it’s not trying to be. This is the kind of music that you put on when you need a comedown from all of the stress in your life.



Liz Phair – Liz Phair

There have been many a critic lining up to drag this record through the mud for not being Exile in Guyville part two. It’s not like they didn’t have reason to be upset, either, with Liz Phair getting more poppy this time around compared to the snarky persona she had early on. For trying on pop, though, this kind of sound fits well on her, sounding like it could compete with Nelly Furtado from back in the day. You might be able to find a lot better Phair material out there, but if you’ve got a hankering for 2000s-era pop, these are top-tier songs. 



untitled unmastered – Kendrick Lamar

Practically anything released after To Pimp a Butterfly was going to get swept under the rug, and it seems Kendrick Lamar knew that when crafting this comp. untitled unmastered is a look at the demos that were made during Butterfly. What we have left is a bunch of jazzy rap tracks where it feels like Lamar is rattling these bars right off the dome. This comp may be forgotten by some, but other MCs would kill to have these “throwaways” in their catalog.



Medulla – Björk

Compared to the rest of the albums on this list, this one almost feels like it wasn’t looking to be mainstream at all. Here we have an experimental rock album by Björk, with 90% of the instruments all being provided by the human voice. As much as this sounds like a wild art project, the tracks on here are absolutely spellbinding, like hearing “Triumph of the Heart” in full or the ominous noise in “Who Is It.” For all of the directions that Björk has gone in throughout her career, it would be amazing for her to switch back to this Pentatonix phase. 



808s & Heartbreak – Kanye West

This is likely the first and last time that you can call something by Kanye West underrated by any stretch. As Ye came off Graduation, this is the left turn no one was asking for, with most of the record being composed of singing and no real rapping to speak of. If you look at what’s come up in the meantime, though, Ye was pretty ahead of the curve. After all, this is the sound that birthed artists such as the Weeknd and Drake. Out of all the classic albums in Kanye’s back catalog, this is the one record that seemed to get better over time. 



Chuck – Sum 41

Now this was the kind of switch-up that no one saw coming. While we all knew that Sum 41 had all been pretty big metal fans, hearing them go full aggro for a project was pretty jarring the first time around. As much as fans may have been mixed, Chuck might be the most important record Sum 41 ever made, giving them the chops to go even more metallic on their newer records such as Order in Decline. The days of “In Too Deep” might be a thing of the past at this point, but “The Bitter End” still remains one of the best songs Metallica didn’t write.



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