MusicJanuary 31, 2013 at 5:53 am

Under the Radar

Street takes a look at the best underrated albums of 2012.

“Kaleidoscope Dream”—Miguel

There’s a reason why John Legend, at the recent Penn MLK Day lecture, shouted out Frank Ocean and Miguel for being some of the few legitimately great artists in this “ratchet” era of Juicy J and 2 Chainz. People are already familiar with Miguel’s debut single “Adorn,” a knee–weakening track, but what about the rest of the album? After playing “Kaleidoscope Dream” on repeat, I can confidently say the rest of the album is just as great as “Adorn.” With smooth and sexy hits like “Don’t Look Back” and “Candles in the Sun,” “Kaleidoscope Dream” will certainly not disappoint.

— Shayla Cole

“An Awesome Wave”—Alt–J

Named for the delta symbol (∆) you get when you hit “alt + j” on a Mac keyboard, Alt–J could be blamed for being too cerebral and pretentious. It could, but it shouldn’t, because this British indie rock band delivers a truly awesome debut album. Trippy, lush, intricate, frenetic, sensuous, overwhelming, restrained: all these words and more can be used to describe the sort of sound experience that Alt–J provides. Perhaps the sensory overload that is “An Awesome Wave” could be taken as overwrought and forced, but songs like “Tesselate” and “Fitzpleasure” are so enjoyable to listen to, that all of that’s excused, at least for this writer.

— Michelle Ma

“In Our Heads”—Hot Chip

Hot Chip returned with their unforgettable brand of disco last June with their fifth album, “In Our Heads” While it got some criticism for not surpassing their last album, “One Life Stand,” Hot Chip’s newest album has serious funk. Throughout the 11–track album, this London–based band fuses minimalist techno and tasteful jazz to crystalline perfection. The ’70s funk vibe showcased in “Don’t Deny Your Heart” is a perfect complement to the trance bass lines in “Flutes.” All the while, the pop–infused, dance–floor–ready vocals remain consistent throughout “In Our Heads.” Listen to “Let Me Be Him” when you’re ready to get groovy.

— Ariela Osuna

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