October 2018: Album Review Roundup

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Now that we’re most of the way through 2018 I feel like it’s safe to say that this has been an incredible year for music. Maybe I’m just paying more attention than usual through these monthly roundups, but lately I’ve felt absolutely overwhelmed with a wealth of music, both new and old. It’s always easy to be hyperbolic and say “this year has been the best” while you’re in the middle of it, but October certainly made a strong case for itself. 


TTNG - Animals Acoustic

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Few bands ever find themselves in the privileged position to celebrate the tenth anniversary of anything. Even fewer bands can boast the unique distinction of having crafted one of their genre's most defining works for an entire generation of fans. When TTNG released Animals back in 2008, the band themselves probably didn’t even know what they had put out into the world. One decade down the line TTNG is celebrating with a fully-acoustic re-recording of their seminal math rock LP, and the songs sound just as fresh as the day they were recorded. Whether it’s the careening vocals of “Gibbon,” the heart-rending piano of “Crocodile,” or the jagged string section on “Badger,” every song is breathtaking. On Animals Acoustic TTNG was able to retain the original album’s brilliance while simultaneously adding just enough flourishes to make this release feels like a genuine celebration. Here’s to Animals and everything it stands for. 


St. Vincent - MassEducation

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Feels like there’s no better time to admit it, but St. Vincent’s MASSEDUCTION was just barely edged off our best of 2017 list. In fact, I spent days agonizing over its 21st placement, almost going as far as turning the list into a top 25 just so I could give myself the opportunity to write about it. Needless to say, when I heard that St. Vincent was revisiting one of my favorite albums from last year in a stripped-down/reworked style I was ecstatic. While the new versions of the songs work excellently on their own, one of the more impressive aspects of MassEducation is its sequencing. Re-ordered from top to bottom, the tracklist now flows in a completely different way, delivering the same core message but somehow telling a more impactful story in the process. A beautiful companion piece to one of last year’s most impressive musical statements.

 

Kurt Vile - Bottle It In

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If you were to look up the phrase “stone cold chiller” in the dictionary, you’d find a picture of Kurt Vile. While he initially made a name for himself contributing guitar to heartland rockers The War On Drugs, he quickly broke out through fantastic solo work and (more recently) sunny indie rock collaborations. Centered around his melting guitarwork and even-keeled vocal delivery, Bottle It In is picture-perfect Vile. From enthusiastic hoots and hollers on “Check Baby” to a smoldering solo on “Skinny Mini,” there are countless peaks on the record, but even the baseline is an ever-enjoyable laid-back slacker rock. The perfect soundtrack to a crisp fall morning or a day spent in a hammock drinking beers and taking advantage of the last warm days of summer. 


Haley Heynderickx & Max García Conover - Among Horses III

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After releasing her emotionally-devastating debut earlier this year, Haley Heynderickx has been on a whirlwind of tours, press coverage, rave reviews, Tiny Desk performances, and more. Capping off her eventful 2018, the Portland, Oregon native now also gets to add “collaborative project” to that list. Teaming up with Portland, Maine-based songwriter Max García Conover, the two created Among Horses III; a six-song, seventeen-minute mindful jaunt of folky goodness. Whether weaving thoughtful narrative webs or showing off their acoustic chops, Among Horses is an aggressively-pleasant and wondrous release that leaves you wanting more. A perfect encapsulation of pensive fall weather and homesick love. 

Destroy Boys - Make Room

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Destroy Boys rock. I could stop the review there, but there’s simply too much to gush about on Make Room. Ever since Spotify served me up the careening “American River” over the summer, I’ve been bumping the group on a regular basis in anticipation of this album. Featuring thrashing guitars, snarling vocals, and thunderous drums, the group’s sophomore record is picture-perfect 90’s garage rock. The band manages to capture the grungy essence of groups like Toadies, Bikini Kill, and Green Day while also putting their own spin on things for a release that feels more like a long-awaited announcement than an undiscovered punk force. Lovely, powerful, and crushing music that will leave you emotionally and physically decimated. 


Gunna and Lil Baby - Drip Harder

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I love me some good trap, but it’s never a genre that I go to for artistic fulfillment. While both Gunna and Lil Baby have had a banner year of hits, viral moments, and career-elevating collabs, they rarely ever produce music that’s worth hanging your hat on. On Drip Harder the two up-and-coming rappers team up for 38-minutes of banging beats and boastful bars. While the final result won’t wind up on any end of the year lists, it’s absolutely perfect for those moments when all you need is some hyped-up background trap.

This Will Destroy You - New Others Part Two

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While I feel like I just got done digesting the post-rock forebearer’s previous release, This Will Destroy You have already outdone themselves not 18 days later with a surprise follow-up to last month’s New Others Part One. While ‘Part One’ should have been a dead giveaway, the sequel’s unceremonious Tuesday release took me by complete surprise. Capping off an already-eventful year, New Others Part Two seals off the group’s 2018 into a duology of thrilling instrumental rock that’s steeped in urgency and immediacy. From ripping opener “Sound of Your Death” to slow-mounting closer “Provoke,” Part Two finds the band unfurling in exciting new directions that are both spiritually and artistically satisfying. 

The Wonder Years, Shortly, Oso Oso, and Have Mercy - Tour Split

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When I first saw the announcement for this split on Instagram, I had to stand up and physically leave the room out of excitement. Featuring my favorite band of all-time, and two of my standout discoveries from this year (Shortly and Oso Oso), Tour Split finds the fall tourmates covering each other's songs in an affectionate familial style. While I already raved about Shortly’s new EP last month, hearing The Wonder Years cover one of her songs in their heartfelt style is both jaw-dropping and incredibly affirming as a fan of both parties. 


Minus the Bear - Fair Enough

While I saw them earlier this year on their victory lap of a tenth-anniversary tour, Minus The Bear’s breakup announcement this summer blindsided me and sent waves of shocked texts through my friend groups. I understand not wanting to endlessly play the same songs you wrote when you were a teen, but Minus The Bear was a band I just assumed would “always be there.” 

“Seventeen years goes by in a flash” lead singer Jake Snider admitted on-stage during an October performance of the band’s Farewell Tour. As he said this, my mind flashed to all the ways Minus The Bear has touched my life. They were my gateway to entire genres. They gave me and one of oldest friends something to bond over. They created my favorite song of all time. Minus The Bear’s music has soundtracked some of my most formative years, phases, and feelings of my life, and that makes the group’s final release all the more bittersweet to write about.

Now that I’ve had time to properly process their end (and that phase of my life along with it) I found myself emotionally-ready to enjoy the band’s newest release, and as much as I wish there were more, it’s fantastic. Featuring three new tracks and a remix to one of their biggest late-career hits, Fair Enough is a four-song send-off to nearly two decades of beauty. A wonderful punctuation mark on an entire musical lifetime. 


Quick Hits

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  • Kim Petras - Turn off The Light, Vol. 1: The pop princess serves up eight fresh bops on her first full release.

  • Titus Andronicus - Home Alone on Halloween: A seasonal EP featuring two new songs alongside a spooky rerecording of a track from A Productive Cough

  • Kero Kero Bonito - Time ‘n’ Place: The music that Knives Chau would have made if she were in a band. 

  • Phoebe Bridgers - Stranger In the Alps (Deluxe Edition): One year after her emotionally-shattering, list-topping debut, Phoebe Bridgers gifts us a deluxe edition that adds a heart-rending Tom Petty cover and a spellbinding stripped-down demo

  • Clarence Clarity - THINK: PIECE: Part funk, part electronic, part hip-hop, part rnb, Clarence Clarity’s newest LP is a bombastic and eclectic assault on the senses that must be heard to be believed.

  • Adrianne Lenker - abysskiss: Ten lower-case folk songs that showcase an isolated soul trapped in amber and held up into the light.

  • High On Fire - Electric Messiah: Ass-ripping, face-melting metal that’s more thrashy and anthemic than I was expecting. Like a spiritually-updated Iron Maiden. 

  • mewithoutyou - Untitled: The follow-up to August’s equally-unnamed EP is far more lively, a little more pissed off, and a pinch more punk.

  • Jim James - Uniform Clarity: The acoustic re-recording of Uniform Distortion that, when combined, showcases the exact range that Jim James and My Morning Jacket thrive within. 

  • Sheck Wes - MUDBOY: Yet another viral success story, Sheck segued two mega-hits and a “SICKO MODE” name-drop into a forceful and explosive hip-hop release that can barely contain itself.

  • T.I. - DIME TRAP: While he may not receive the credit he deserves when it comes to the creation of the trap genre, Dime Trap is picture-perfect proof why T.I. has endured and influenced for this long. 

  • Atmosphere- Mi Vida Local: With impeccable beats and effortless flows, Slug and Ant dish out 48-minutes of hip-hop that comes pre-rolled and ready to smoke.

  • Fucked Up - Dose Your Dreams: Relentless and pounding punk music featuring gnarled vocals and dancy beats. A soul-affirming odyssey on-par with Titus Andronicus. 

  • Ron Gallo - Stardust Birthday Party: Self-conscious post-punk with a laid-back flavor.

  • WNYC Studios - 27: The Most Perfect Album: In an effort to educate voters (and themselves) in the lead-up to Election 2018, More Perfect created a free compilation about all 27 amendments. 

  • Black Peaks - All That Divides: A bold step forward into a soulful and swirling new direction for metalcore.

  • Kikagaku Moyo - Masana Temples: Jazzy and light psychedelic music that lifts you up and pushes you forward. 

  • Quavo - QUAVO HUNCHO: The figurehead of the Atlanta trap trio steps out into his own 19-track outing of hard-hitting bangers, emotional auto-tune, and decadent flexes.

  • Yowler - Black Dog in My Path: A dark and rainy-day counterpart to yesterday’s unbridled optimism. 

  • Basement - Beside Myself: Tasteless and formulaic indie pop-punk.

  • Future & Juice WRLD - WRLDONDRUGS: After putting himself on the map with one of 2018’s most unexpected hits Juice WRLD teamed up with Future for a quickly-turned-around collab of drug use and emotional abuse. 

  • Greta Van Fleet - Anthem Of The Peaceful Army: It’s not that bad

  • Lil Yachty - Nuthin’ 2 Prove: After kinda reaching my tipping point with Lil Boat 2, Yachty returns with a half-step in the right direction and a focus on bangers over everything.

  • Empress Of - Us: Bilingual indie music with pop production and endlessly-accessible delivery.

  • Open Mike Eagle - What Happens When I Try To Relax: Hyper-aware hip-hop that inhales pop-culture and lobs it back at you before you can even react.

  • Cloud Nothings - Last Building Burning: Hard-charging punk music that springs back and forth from spiraling darkness to boundless optimism. 

  • Trent Reznor & Atticus Rose - Mid90s (Original Soundtrack): Short but sweet, Trent Reznor and Atticus Rose team up yet again to provide sparkles of pensive, instrumental moments in between the time-appropriate hip-hop of Jonah Hill’s directorial debut. 

  • Will Oldham - Songs of Love and Horror: Music for the spiritually-exhausted.

  • Ashland - misc: Rise Record’s newest signees release a three-song teaser of their hard-hitting anthemic balladry. 

  • R.E.M. - Live at the BBC: A decade-spanning five-disc collection of the band’s BBC performances, all of which amount to 7.5-hours of classic alternative radio hits. 

  • John Carpenter, Cody Carpenter, Daniel Davies - Halloween (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack): Just in time for the holiday itself John Carpenter and Daniel Davies team up yet again alongside Carpenter’s son for a fast-paced piano-laden return to one of Horror’s most iconic scores.

  • Khalid - Suncity: After managing to become a global pop star overnight with his debut record, the American Teen is back with a mini-album of fresh songs to keep the die-hard fans satisfied. 

  • MØ - Forever Neverland: One of pop music’s best-kept secrets finally gives fans her long-awaited sophomore album, and it’s a colorful and perfectly-produced work of art. 

  • Weakened Friends - Common Blah: Weakened Friends offer up slightly-punky throwback garage rock tunes that transport you back in time two decades with minimal effort. 

  • Petal - Live at Studio 4: The Run For Cover indie rocker continues to shake my emotional state with a three-pack of live songs from this year’s Magic Gone

  • Advance Base - Live on Audiotree: A relaxed stroll through the singer/songwriter’s most impactful songs to date. 

  • Thom Yorke - Suspiria Soundtrack: The Radiohead frontman scores a (mostly) instrumental horror movie for a distorting out-of-body 80-minutes.

  • Antarctigo Vespucci - Love in the Time of E-Mail: Jeff Rosenstock and Chris Farren team up for one of indie music’s most vivacious supergroups of the year.

  • Unknown Mortal Orchestra - IC-01 Hanoi: A collection of wonderfully-weird instrumental tracks that provide a counterpoint to this year’s satiating Sex & Food.

  • MadeinTYO - Sincerely, Tokyo: Lively and youthful bangers with more ad-libs than any man can handle. 

  • Julia Holter's - Aviary: 90-minutes of spaced-out feelings and drip-fed emotions.

  • William Shatner - Shatner Claus - The Christmas Album: The man recorded “Jingle Bells” with Henry Rollins, and if that doesn’t excite you, then I don’t know what will.

  • John Legend - Legendary Christmas: It’s “Adult Contempo” as hell, but Legend definitely gets points for original songs. 

  • Daughters - You Won't Get What You Want: Noisy and industrial rock that soundtracks the mass-destruction of society. 

  • The Berries - Start All Over Again: Jangle-heavy tunes that rumble with a spiritual ferocity.

  • Stand Atlantic - Skinny Dipping: Bouncy female-fronted pop-punk that’s as catchy as it is relatable. 

  • Ty Segall - Fudge Sandwich: His third release of the year, Furdge Sandwich sees the prolific multi-instrumantalist covering everyone from John Lennon to Amon Düül II in an extremely-brown style. 

  • Robyn - Honey: Robyn returns for her first release in eight years, offering up a cleanly-produced slate of nine immaculate electropop songs. 

  • Mick Jenkins - Pieces of a Man: Humanizing hip-hop.

  • The Browning - Geist: The Missouri-born metal act add some much-needed poppy and electronic metalcore to the genre’s landscape.

  • Arlington - A Walk Through Jackson County: One of Rise Records’ most perplexing signees dole out a catchy batch of country-flavored alternative rock.

  • Laura Gibson - Goners: Warmed by coffee and filled with winter air, the Oregon-born folk artist crafts ten rural love songs.

  • Blocboy JB - Don’t Think That: The greatest Memphis glow-up of the year heats up the winter with an EP full of ignorant bangers.

  • Curren$y, Freddie Gibbs, and The Alchemist - Fetti: A spiritual successor to their GTA contribution continuing the collab for another jazzy and free-flowing 23-minutes.

Plus new singles from Charli XCX, Pusha T, Anderson .Paak, Pond, Lil Pump, Courtney Barnett, Kurt Vile, Soccer Mommy, Pond, Hovvdy, Regrettes, Flight of the Conchords, Girlpool, Weezer, FIDLAR, Kodak Black, Billie Eilish, Post Malone, Toro y Moi, Denzel Curry, Protomartyr, Lil Peep, Powers Pleasant, Saves The Day, Vulfpeck, Citizen, Cardi B, Bring Me The Horizon, Takeoff, Tyler, The Creator, Tides of Man, Fleet Foxes, Varsity, Deerhunter, Thundercat, Flatbush Zombies, Beach House, Young Fathers, Slipknot, and Pedro The Lion.

Does Offset Own A Patek Philippe? - A Journalistic Investigation

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It starts off innocently enough: a reference here, a metaphor there, maybe even an allusion or a  simile if things get really extreme. But what happens when an artist becomes so infatuated with consumerism that an individual purchase becomes a recurring theme in their work? We’re about to find out. 

Formed in 2008, most readers will probably be surprised to learn that Atlanta-based trap superstars Migos have been around for over a decade. Comprised of rappers Quavo, Takeoff, and Offset, the group has been releasing a steady stream of mixtapes and albums ever since 2011. While the trio quickly made a name for themselves among hardcore hip-hop heads, they only recently achieved mainstream success thanks to the astronomical popularity of songs like “Bad and Boujee” and “Walk It Talk It.”

Chart-topping songs aside, the group has also proven their strength as a force in pop culture, often credited with popularizing the now-ubiquitous “triplet flow” as well as the (quickly-ruined) dab. While the group’s songs often revolve around the award-winning formula of money, women, jewelry, and drugs, they occasionally do venture into deeper waters... but that’s not what this post is about. 

Following 2017’s immensely-popular Culture, the group dropped a long-awaited sequel earlier this year and after multiple listens an interesting through-line emerged: Offset can’t stop rapping about his Patek Philippe. 

While rap as a whole drops name brands more than any other genre, this level of specificity is unheard of, especially at this frequency. As a bit of a spiritual sequel to 21 Savage’s obsession with food, I’m proud to present: Does Offset Own A Patek Philippe? - A Journalistic Investigation.

We Are The 17%

According to lyrics.com (which is far from comprehensive) there are precisely 180 songs that contain the word “Patek” as of October 2018. At a grand total of 30 references, this means that Offset has cornered roughly 17% of the total Patek-referencing market.

Due to the sheer abundance of Patek name-drops, I’m choosing to focus solely on those contained within the group’s most recent release. For the sake of completeness, I’m going to cite all of Offset’s other Patek references at the end of this article, but for now, let’s jump straight into the madness that is Culture II’s Patek-based hellscape.


“Narcos”

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Culture II’s first Patek Philipe name-drop comes in at track number three. Featuring some of the album’s more visceral Patek language, Offset embraces the slang “water” (an abstraction of ice) to describe his bejeweled timepiece. Through this potent bout of descriptors, Offset explains that his watch is so expensive it’s practically overflowing with excessive adornments. 

 

“Auto Pilot”

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It seems that if Offset happens to own a Patek, it may bear a two-tone design. To fully flesh out this pied timekeeping flex, he draws a direct comparison between the multiple colors of his watch to the multiple colors of women who are throwing themselves at his feet. 

 

“Emoji A Chain”

Much like Ororo Munroe, Offset possesses the ability to change the weather by merely strapping his trusty Patek to his wrist. While (presumably) not literal, this line once again draws back to the water-based well for an elemental flex of wealth and opulence.

 

“Stir Fry”

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In one of Culture II’s more illusory lines, Offset utilizes mucus-adjacent slang to illustrate how fancy and tricked-out his Patek is. Either that, or he has run out of Kleenex and we’re meant to read these words at face value. 

 

“White Sand”

In this star-studded mid-album cut, Offset comes in hot with a straightforward boast in which he explicitly states the amount he paid for his Patek Philippe. It seems we have confirmation, folks. 

 

“Beast”

In a moment of gender equality, Offset throws the listener for a loop as he explains how someone else’s Patek made him feel. Perhaps the inciting incident for his own purchase, this lyric offers a glimpse into the rapper’s consumer-friendly mindset while simultaneously acting as a subliminal criticism of capitalism and the dangers of following the crowd.

 

“Motorsport”

Venturing back once more to the “water” slang, Offset elaborates that not only is his Patek adorned with jewels, but his Audemars Piguet as well. Hopefully they’re waterproof, because at this point he’s practically submerged!

 

“Top Down On Da Nawf”

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In Offset’s final Patek namedrop on Culture II, he takes a slightly more pensive approach to the jewelry flex, using it to contrast his current level of wealth with his previous life of crime. This confessional exposition illustrates Offset’s desire, nay, need for luxury. A stark contrast indeed.


In Summary

There you have it. All of Offset’s Patek references contained on Culture II. In addition to these eight references from Migos’ latest album, there are an additional twenty-two references below that come from Offset’s features, collaborations, and other Migos releases. Given the scope, size, and sheer number of Patek references, I think it’s safe to say that Offset owns at least one Patek Philippe.

You can thank me for my service in the comments.

In all seriousness, much like Lil Pump and his grandma, I think this is just a case of a rapper revisiting the same topic because they don’t have a lot to say… and that’s perfectly fine. The Migos have produced music for an entire decade, so it’s not surprising any one of them has said the same thing more than a few times. Additionally, nobody goes to Migos for deep cerebral bars. As long as their songs have a dope beat and clean flow, the lyrics are essentially the least important aspects of their music. 

If anything, this exploration proves that the closer you listen to the words, the more you start to realize how unimportant they really are. What’s impressive is how little this lack of lyrical depth actually detracts from my enjoyment of the music. God knows that discovering this specific quirk has only made me like Offset more if only because I’m now listening for Patek name-drops in every song and feature. Here’s to another decade of explosive success and many more Patek purchases. 


Comprehensive Philippe

1. “Balenciaga Challenge” - 6LACK

  • Got a bust down Patek, a plain bitch (Patek)

2. “Bosses Don't Speak” - Migos

  • Hop in the frog and leap (leap) / Patek Philippe (Patek Philippe)

3. “Call Casting” - Migos

  • Spent you a hundred, Philippe on your wrist (Patek)

4. “Drip” - Cardi B

  • Patek on my wrist, and it's glistenin' (drip, drip)

5. “Do Not Disturb” - Smokepurpp & Murda Beatz

  • For the Patek, I Rollie the watch (for the Patek)

6. “Fucking Up Profits” - Migos

  • Rollie, the AP, the plain Philipe (plain)

7. “Ghostface Killers” - Metro Boomin, 21 Savage, Offset

  • Thot and addy (thot), love the Patek on my arm (Patek)

8. “Hook Up” - Lil Baby, Offset

  • Pateks on fleek, got baguettes in my neck (hey)

9. “Iced Out My Arms” - Dj Khaled

  • This is a hundred Patek, 20 more for Piguet

10. “Interlude” - Lil Yachty & Offset

  • I show my Patek so much, say I'm petty (petty)

11. “Lost it” - Rich The Kid

  • 44 millimeter iced out Philippe (ice)

12. “Major Bag Alert” - DJ Khaled

  • Patek Philippe with the snow in the wind (Patek) (Oh)

13. “No Drama” - Tinashe

  • Got Patek on her wrist, in her panties (Patek, hey)

14. “Peek a Boo” - Lil Yachty

  • Look at my Patek, I'm flexin', I'm petty (I'm petty)

15. “Rap Saved Me”

  • His and her Pateks (his and hers)

16. “Ric Flair Drip” - Metro Boomin, 21 Savage, Offset

  • Bought my first Patek, it got some rain on it (Patek)

17. “Slippery” - Migos

  • I gave her her first Philippe (Philippe)

18. “Still Serving” - Metro Boomin, 21 Savage, Offset

  • Rich bitch, and yeah my bitch got a Patek

19. “Taste” Tyga

  • And she got the Patek on water moccasin (water moccasin)

20. “Violation Freestyle” - Offset

  • Bust down my wrist, bitch I'm Patek'd up (bust up)

21. “Wrist Thunderstorm” - Offset

  • Patek, the diamonds do backflips (woo)

22. “ZEZE” - Kodak Black

  • She an addict (Addict), addict for the lifestyle and the Patek (Patek)

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September 2018: Album Review Roundup

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I’mma keep it real with y’all. In the month of September I landed a new job, moved across the country, and basically started a new life. As a result, Swim Into The Sound has (expectedly) fallen by the wayside more than I’d like to admit. On top of these major life changes, the month of September was super back-loaded in terms of new releases, so it took me a bit longer than usual to listen to everything and compose my thoughts. This is all a long-winded explanation up front to excuse the fact that this post is late, but I won’t waste any more time with personal updates, let’s just get straight into the real reason why you’re here: good music.


Noname - Room 25

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Depending on who you ask, Noname may be the first poet of a new generation, or the last one we ever need. Not quite hip-hop, not quite R&B, not quite spoken word, Noname has been a tangential member of Vic Mensa’s SaveMoney collective for about as long as they’ve existed. Initially making herself known on tracks with Chance the Rapper, Mick Jenkins, and Saba, it took until 2016’s Telefone for Noname to fully-unveil herself to the world. Now returning with Room 25, she’s delivering 11 fresh tracks of explosive colors, heartfelt rhymes, and spellbinding deliveries. In one of the album’s more illuminating songs, she raps alongside Saba and Amino: “Labels got these niggas just doing it for the clout / I'm just writing my darkest secrets like wait and just hear me out” before going on to extol the virtues of vegan food. Lines like these stand in direct contrast to the wave of substance-abusing, attention-grabbing rappers we’ve seen rise to prominence as of late. Noname stands alone as a single woman with a strong voice and defined sense of self. Room 25 is just one piece of a much larger movement.

 

Yves Tumor - Safe in the Hands of Love

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There’s a single, ill-defined line between weirdness and accessibility. Between art and commerce. Between living and dying. While most music finds itself firmly on one side of this divide or the other, a select few artists able to tread this ever-shifting boundary carefully enough without tipping too far in either direction. With Safe in the Hands of Love, Yves Tumor has proven he’s strong enough to join their ranks. Coming to us clad in green-skinned alien garb, Yves Tumor is one of many alter-egos used by Sean Lee Bowie. Embracing spacy soundscapes, intermittent guitar, and ethereal R&B-style vocals, Safe is an exploration of the inevitable apocalypse. Lead single “Noid” is a jammy bit of guitar funk, “Hope In Suffering” is a particle-shifting ambient piece, and “Licking an Orchid” is a borderline-trip-hop love song that erupts into searing distortion. Everything sounds different but adds on to the larger narrative. It’s beautiful and disgusting. Unexpected and ever-flowing. Pitch dark and blindingly bright. Safe in the Hands of Love embodies the exact sort of contradictions we’ve come to adopt in this lead-up to the end of the world.


Shortly - Richmond

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I’ve been waiting a full calendar year for this EP. After witnessing the marvel that is Shortly’s live show back in November, I called her (then-untitled) upcoming album my second most anticipated release of 2018. Now that it’s here, I was able to catch Shortly live a second time (in her hometown no less), and I’m more sure than ever that she’s going to change the world. Bearing heartfelt tales of self-harm, depression, and loss, Richmond is far from a light listen, but those that go in with their eyes, ears, and minds open will emerge from the other side changed. 


Young Thug - On The Rvn

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As a Young Thug superfan it’s weird to admit, but the rapper born Jeffery Lamar Williams is most effective in small doses. It’s not that his full-length projects are bad, it’s that his shorter albums always leave you wanting more. They allow him to be his most free and experimental without the requirement of forcing the songs fit into an “official” album. This short but sweet dichotomy is perfectly exemplified with On The Rvn. Whether he’s twisting a sample of Elton John’s “Rocket Man” into an intoxicating ode to drugs or getting an assist from Jaden Smith for one of the most infectious flows I’ve heard all year literally everything works when fit under the umbrella of Thugger. There’s never been a bad time to get into Young Thug, and On The Rvn offers a wonderful sample platter of his brilliant absurdity.


BROCKHAMPTON - IRIDESCENCE

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After producing an entire trilogy of albums in one year, BROCKHAMPTON’s worryingly-prolific output hit a wall after sexual misconduct allegations led to a key member’s departure. Now having taken some time to recover, America’s Greatest Boy Band is back with their fourth official album, and it’s just as vibrant, wacky, aggressive, surprising, and flamboyant as you’d expect. I’ve started to realize one of the biggest appeals of BROCKHAMPTON (aside from the DIY origins) is that you never know what you’re gonna get. One song can be a straight-up gym-ready banger, and the next could be a soulful tear-shedding ballad. In fact, sometimes there’s a tearful ballad in the middle of one of those bangers. The point is, the breadth of different genres and flavors on display in any one BROCKHAMPTON release is more than enough to gorge out on, even if it can feel like the equivalent of musical whiplash at times. The fact that the same group of people can create such a wide variety of music is the real marvel, and it’s no wonder why they’ve managed to cultivate one of the most rabid and devoted fan bases on the internet. 


This Will Destroy You - New Others Part One

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There is always room in my heart and schedule for well-conceived instrumental music. Often brought up alongside the genre’s greats like Explosions in The Sky and Mogwai, This Will Destroy You have cemented their place as one of the scene’s most essential acts. They made a name for themselves early on with picture perfect post-rock and awe-inspiring cinematic works. Eventually they went on to tackle the ambient darkness of death, put out one of the greatest live albums of all time, and even had an innovative electronic phase. Having just wrapped up a tenth-anniversary tour for two of their best records, the band now looks optimistically toward a distant point on the horizon with New Others Part One. From warm, airy key-laden landscapes to demonic horror, and pulsating space music, the album draws a little bit from every phase of their now-decade-long career. It’s sublime, magical, and quite possibly a new high bar for the band. 


Microwave - keeping up 

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While I normally wouldn’t write a full-on mini-review for a two-song release, Microwave’s keeping up absolutely floored me, so I now feel the need to extol its virtues. I queued this album (single?) up knowing absolutely nothing about the band, and was smitten within seconds of “Georgia On My Mind.” The soft-spoken track builds into an incendiary finish that smolders with equal amounts of passion and regret. Meanwhile, counterpart “keeping up” provides a beaten-down work-a-day perspective that writhes in an equal amount of sadness and sorrow. Keeping up is an absolutely jaw-dropping and astounding release that managed to connect with me at the exact right time.


Pinegrove - Skylight

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Shelved for over one year thanks to multi-layered accusations and background drama that I don’t care to comment on, Pinegrove’s long-awaited Cardinal follow-up was surprise released at the tail end of the month. While those admittedly-negative headlines may have deterred many from listening to Skylight, the album itself is just as carefully crafted as we’ve come to expect from the group. Early-album single “Intrepid” perfectly embodies the record’s more pensive loud/quiet dynamic and careful lyricism. Similarly, “Rings” is a low-lying song that opens up into a vast expanse of amber colors and melancholy intricacies. There are also a handful of frisson-inducing bitesize tracks like “Thanksgiving” and “Amulets” that offer only brief glimpses into a world-weary yet wonderous existence. Drama and unanswerable questions aside, this album is being sold for a good cause and is undeniably still worth a listen, especially if you are a longtime fan. 


Lil Wayne - Tha Carter V

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Literally half a decade in the making, Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter V has become the stuff of legend. Up there with Guns n Roses’ Chinese Democracy and Dr. Dre’s Detox, Wayne’s long-awaited fifth entry in The Carter Series has been promoted, delayed, and fought over more than any one person can even explain. Having recently emerged victorious from a long legal battle with perennial father figure (and more recently musical captor) Birdman, Lil Wayne is now a free agent and wasted no time in announcing the album’s release just in time for his 36th birthday celebration. Unlike most albums that spend this long in release-limbo, The Carter V lands gracefully and should satiate both long-time fans and curious newcomers. With a near-perfect mix of vivacious dance tracks, narrative epics, violent gangster rap, and revealing personal tales, Lil Wayne’s magnum opus feels like it has a little bit of everything. I never thought I’d say it, but Tha Carter V was worth the wait.

Quick Hits

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  • Graduating Life - Grad Life: Mom Jeans’ resident shredder Bart enjoys an affirming, cathartic, and anthemic solo outing.

  • I Hate Heroes - Save Yourself: Clean and punchy metalcore that’s ready for emotional flight or fight.

  • Hozier - Nina Cried Power: A four-song EP of soulful, sinister, and sexy songs from the reclusive Irish pop star.

  • Joey Purp - QUARTERTHING: Wide-eyed and defiant life-tackling hip-hop songs shouted from a rooftop over Chicago-flavored jazz.

  • Spiritualized - And Nothing Hurt: After a five-plus year break, the space rock-torchbearers return for an operatic, lush, and surprisingly-warm release.

  • Mothers - Render Another Ugly Method: With sharply-recorded instruments, slow-moving vocals, and pensive imagery, Mothers’ sophomore album jumps out at you and demands you to sacrifice your sanity on its behalf. 

  • Waxahachie - Great Thunder: Indie-flavored ever-searching acoustic- and piano-based balladry.

  • Colleen Green - Casey's Tape / Harmontown Loops: A collection of early cassette-based recordings from the sunglasses-clad Colleen Green.

  • Aphex Twin - Collapse EP: Inward-facing electronic music that also manages to retain a level of humanity and natural beauty. 

  • Guerilla Toss - Twisted Crystal: “Music is easy” the Boston natives proclaim on their opening track, before pushing the listener down a twisted plastic slide of jagged colors and cylindrical rhythms. 

  • Low - Double Negative: In what I’d call “appointment listening” Low’s newest work is a project that’s best digested in isolation, with minimal distractions, and enough time to fully-sink into it. 

  • The Chills - Snowbound: Bouncy and inoffensive alternative music that slides across the stage of your mind.

  • 6lack - East Atlanta Love Letter: Drowsy PBR&B.

  • Bhad Bhabie - 15: Meme, rapper, and trashy guilty pleasure Danielle Bregoli dropped her first official release which is already packed with platinum singles.

  • Fire Is Motion - Audiotree Live Sessions: Still without a full-length, the solo project of Adrian Amador runs through a greatest hits of his emo-tinged indie.

  • Joyce Manor - Million Dollars To Kill Me: Pop-punk icons and known lovers of short songs, have returned for another bite-sized full-length of lovesick pop songs. 

  • Story So Far - Proper Dose: A half-hour expedition of shimmering pop-punk that’s trying its damnedest to hold onto the last remaining moments of summer.

  • Metric - Art of Doubt: Well-polished alternative music that manages to thrive in the seemingly-contradictory position between accessible modernity and throwback-grunge.

  • Mutual Benefit - Thunder Follows The Light: Hopeful, dreamy, ornamental folk music that satiates the ear and soothes the soul.

  • Mudhoney - Digital Garbage: One of the few remaining bastions of the grunge movement continue down their acid-washed, jean-ripped path of muscular distorted rock

  • Ratboys - GL (8-Bit Version): A charming 8-bit rework of GL from earlier this year featuring four songs that sounds like they’ve been taken straight from a long-forgotten NES game.

  • French Montana - No Stylist: A three-pack of excitable trappy bangers from everyone’s favorite Moroccan rapper. 

  • Advance Base - Animal Companionship: Folksy indie tunes with a minimalistic electronic tinge and a delivery that borders on Bill Callahan at times. 

  • Lupe Fiasco - DROGAS WAVE: A feature-length album worth of hyper-lyrical bars spit over brightly-colored beats. 

  • The Devil Wears Prada - Audiotree Live Sessions: Five live songs of emotional and physical restlessness.

  • SOB X RBE - GANGIN II: The last hurrah of the bay area hypebeasts and hyper-lyrical paramedics.

  • Logic - YSIV: While most of Young Sinatra IV is exactly what we’ve come to expect from Logic (for better or worse) a full-on Wu-Tang cut and unexpectedly-lively jazz track elevate the tape into the upper-echelon of the rapper’s discography.  

  • Tilian - The Skeptic: Even though it can feel like boneless Dance Gavin Dance at times, Tilian’s voice is so strong that it doesn’t even matter.

  • Beartooth - Disease: Having started music at the age of 14, we’ve now watched Caleb Shomo develop musically for nearly half of his life. Disease is another hardcore, yet melodic development in his aggressive Beartooth project. 

  • Well Wisher - This Is Fine: Personal statements, fears, and concerns recorded directly to shreddy fuzzed-out pop-punk.

  • Marissa Nadler - For My Crimes: Dark and haunted sparsely-instrumental gothic folk Americana.

  • Tim Hecker - Konoyo: Death-ridden soundscapes and long-stretching instrumentals that reflect a trip to Japan, a personal loss, and a meditation on normalcy. 

  • The Living End - Wunderbar: Dressed in leather jackets and accompanying bedhead, the punkabilly standby gives the world 11 hard-charging and anthemic rock tracks.

  • Polyvinyl - Polyvinyl 4-Track Singles Series, Vol. 3: Featuring the likes of Owen, Japanese Breakfast, and Modern Baseball, Polyvinyl’s communal cassette project is now available on all streaming platforms for the entire world to enjoy. 

  • Pixies - Live from the Fallout Shelter: Just one piece of the Surfer Rosa 30th anniversary celebration, Live from the Fallout Shelter features a 40-minute performance of the band in their hungriest form right before fame and success would strike like lightning. 

  • Justus Proffit & Jay Som - Nothing's Changed: A laid-back 11-minute collaboration between indie up-and-comers Justus Proffit and Jay Som. The sound of a crisp fall morning spent mostly in a hammock.

  • Silverstein - The Afterglow / Aquamarine: In a showcase of musical dexterity, Silverstein offers up two renditions of two singles done in both acoustic and electric styles.

  • Hippo Campus - Bambi: Diverse and dancy indie tunes with wonderfully-absurdist electronic elements.

  • Roosevelt - Young Romance: Pivoting from DJ-centered electronica, Marius Lauber contributes more vocals for an album that ands up sounding like a long-lost 80’s classic.

  • Colin Stetson - The First Original Soundtrack Vol. 1: After disturbing me with the soundtrack to Hereditary earlier this year, Colin Stetson has returned for another deeply-reverberating soundtrack for a new Hulu Original about the first group of humans to visit Mars.

  • All Them Witches - ATW: Heavy riffs, bluesy guitar, and confident delivery. Sometimes that’s all you need, and All Them Witches has ‘em in spades on ATW.

  • Doe - Grow Into It:  Cheery and magnetic indie rock that demands to be shouted from rooftops in between PBRs.


In the month of September we also heard brand new singles from Kanye West, Death Cab For Cutie, Clairo, Petal, Indigo De Souza, Ty Segall, Lana Del Rey, Lana Del Rey, Lil Uzi Vert, Cloud Nothings, Action Bronson, Minus The Bear, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, St. Vincent, Broken Social Scene, Lil Baby, Saves The Day, Half Waif, Fleet Foxes, Jaden Smith, Thom Yorke, Kero Kero Bonito, Juicy J, Kurt Vile, Yaeji, Weezer, Open Mike Eagle, The 1975, BADBADNOTGOOD, Cloud Nothings, and Vulfpeck.

InCrest - The Ladder The Climb The Fall

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Sensory overload has become a fact of life in a post-smartphone world. We live in a time where binging and excess have become the norm while pause and reflection have fallen by the wayside. It’s not that history isn’t valued, it’s that we literally don’t have time to revel in it. When the entirety of recorded music is a single click away, there’s a weird pressure to stay “up to date,” and it often feels like we don’t have enough time to look back and reflect on what has brought us here. In the midst of this hyper-consumer culture, there are a select handful of artists who possess a unique ability to shake us by the shoulders and remind us of what we’re missing, and that’s precisely what InCrest is offering up on The Ladder The Climb The Fall.

Hailing from Copenhagen, Denmark, InCrest is here to ensure no one forgets the majesty of the 90’s rock greats. Inspired by some of the genre’s best like Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Pearl Jam, InCrest’s newest album acts as a 39-minute time machine, a full-bodied reminder of how and why this era of music worked so well. 

The record starts off like a powderkeg on “No Second Chance” where an explosive drumline and lively riff throw the listener headlong into the band’s fast-paced style. They up the ante even further on “Nightcrawler,” the album’s lead single which boasts a hard-charging instrumental that builds up to an anthemic chorus.

Lead singer Malte Slywest’s vocals are immediately reminiscent of Scott Weiland’s grungy rasp; meanwhile the guitar, bass, and drums fuse together into an impactful force. The entire instrumental feels tightly-honed but also has enough of an edge that it retains that “throwback” style while simultaneously feeling uniquely-modern. 

Throughout the album, every band member gets a chance to show their respective chops on various tracks whether it’s the rapid bassline on “Aces” or the crashing cymbals on “100 and Ten.” More than that, the band as a unit show their range on songs like “Highway” and “Neversleep” which provide the audience a temporary breather as the album’s two slower-paced tracks. 

It’s nice to know that in today's fast-paced, ever-moving, always-online world there’s a band like InCrest carrying the torch of a seemingly-forgotten genre. The Ladder The Climb The Fall serves as a reminder of a simpler time in music, and a simpler time in the world. They say those that don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it, and InCrest are here to make sure we never do.

Symmetrix - Being There

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Everyone’s truth sounds different. For some, it’s poetic confessions placed over a single acoustic guitar. For others, it’s expansive instrumental music that encapsulates what words cannot. For Marita Ryan, it’s hypnotic electronic music, soulful instrumentals, and inspiring words of personal belief.

Hailing from Melbourne Australia, Ryan began recording under the name Symmetrix back in 2013 with a vision of creating something that could combine both her love of electronica and indie pop, with a bit of rock music thrown in for good measure. Influenced by everything from 80’s synth-pop to alternative and shoegaze, Symmetrix has evolved into a unique fusion of indie and electronica in the vein of Half Waif or Hatchie.

Musical influences aside, Symmetrix’s upcoming album Being There is a wholly-unique and ever-shifting release that’s sure to surprise listeners of every musical background. Whether it’s the betrayal of a close friend, an ongoing battle with inner demons, or the impact of technology on our culture, Ryan’s lyrics run the gamut but offer a comprehensive sketch of everything that’s on her mind. 

All recorded over precise instrumentation, each song is a self-contained journey that sounds nothing like what’s come before it. From a radiant synth beat on “From Here On End” to a downright Frusciante-esque guitar solo on “Where Have You Gone,” the range of influences on display is vast and comprehensive. 

Everyone's journey is different, as is how we present it to the world. We’re lucky to live in a world where artists like Symmetrix can crystallize their truth for the rest of us to live through.