Great Records

Great Records You May Have Missed: Spring 2018

22 de agosto, 2018 0 Por Artes & contextos
Modo Noturno

Catch up on the best of under-the-radar hip-hop, dance, rock, and more

It’s impossible to hear all the music that comes out everyday, but with this list we hope to direct your attention to generally overlooked albums our writers and editors have been returning to over the last few months. None of these releases were named Best New Music and, in most cases, they didn’t appear as our headline review for the day. But they’re all worth a listen.

Argonauta artwork


The folk singer-songwriter Aisha Burns first rose to prominence in Austin as a violinist, but over the last five years she has become almost singularly focused on the power of her voice. On her sophomore album, Argonauta, she shows off the full range of her vocals, swerving easily from howling cowboy croons to baroque coos. The effect brings to mind acts like Angel Olsen or Big Thief, but Burns’ songs are often slower and sparser in their instrumentation, which thankfully still includes her peaceful violin stylings. There is a cathartic weight to Argonauta, the air of it thick with grief as Burns wrestles with the loss of her mother. It’s a poignant album full of heavy questions, and on the standout closing track “Where Do I Begin,” Burns asks the universe to deliver some of that hope promised on the other side of tragedy. –Jillian Mapes

DNA Feelings artwork

DNA Feelings

Electronic music’s spiritual dimensions are often assumed to begin and end with the dancefloor, but what if they went further than even the most deeply felt Friday night epiphany? What if transcendence were encoded in the very waveforms of sound? That’s the animating question behind Swiss producer Aïsha Devi’s DNA Feelings, which recasts electronic futurism in unusually curious terms. Harnessing the jagged rhythms and brittle timbres of extremely left-field club music, she lays down a daunting landscape of trance stabs and broken glass before sending her agile voice soaring over the top like a space probe. It all comes to a head with “Time (Tool),” which has quickly become a staple of out-there DJ sets this season, and with good reason. “You will smile when you die,” she intones, her voice turned ominous and metallic, like a stern but benevolent god. “You will not name me/I am the prophet and you are me.” –Philip Sherburne

Remain in Light artwork

Remain in Light

Talking Heads’ 1980 masterpiece Remain in Light was born under the looming threat of Reaganism and the shadow of the Cold War. Under that harsh light, 2018 feels terribly familiar. The Beninese singer Angélique Kidjo reimagines Remain in Light in this vein, transforming the iconic New York band’s gonzo, African-inspired art rock into invigorating Afrobeat. Alongside Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig, Blood Orange’s Devonté Hynes, and Afrobeat icon Tony Allen, Kidjo rewires Talking Heads’ nervy polyrhythms and paranoid soundscapes into celebratory compositions, topping it all with her beautiful pipes. But Kidjo doesn’t just remake these songs, she recontextualizes them completely. Where David Byrne was elliptical in his political messaging, Kidjo is unsparing. She adds new lyrics, singing frankly about skin bleaching, attention span-killing tech, and the history of slavery. Kidjo’s take on Remain in Light is more than just a powerful tribute: It’s an essential piece of political pop music that speaks to the dread of today. –Kevin Lozano

Improvisations on an Apricot artwork

Improvisations on an Apricot

Talk about low-key origins: Akron, Ohio’s Aqueduct Ensemble came together after Kit Freund’s neighbor, Stu, started tuning the piano used to record Freund and Linda Lejsovka’s self-described “DIY shitty classical tunes.” Impressed by Stu’s scales, Freund proposed some sessions inspired by the atmospheric yearning of the iconic jazz label ECM, and Improvisations on an Apricot is the dreamy result. It’s not jazz so much as open-window chamber ambient with shades of Talk Talk and Penguin Café Orchestra, its languid piano melodies fleshed out with horns, electric bass, and pastel-tinged synthesizers. The album was recorded in summer and sounds like it: The textures are as soft and lush as a well-watered lawn, the mood as relaxed as a breeze across the back porch. It might just be the most beatific dinner-party music you’ll discover this year. –Philip Sherburne

  • TWIN
Baylor Swift artwork

Baylor Swift

Seven years ago, a pre-pop Taylor Swift rapped five seconds of Nicki Minaj’s “Super Bass” during a radio interview. At the time, it was a WTF viral clip; now, it feels like an urtext for our current genre-splicing musical moment. Take Baylor Swift, the latest release from 20-year-old Atlanta artist Bali Baby, a pink-confetti explosion of campy emo, kiss-off hip-hop, and heartbroken synth-pop. Like Grimes’ similarly omnivorous Art Angels, this record weaponizes sounds and styles that have been considered gauche (Avril-type pop-punk, Valley Girl vocal tics), spiking them with a wonderfully unhinged edge. Throughout, Bali preens like a killer cartoon—an estranged member of Josie and the Pussycats, maybe—her signature “mwah!” ad lib doubling as a kiss of death for anyone who dares to get in her way. –Ryan Dombal

Hollow Ground artwork

Hollow Ground

You can tell right away if Hollow Ground will hit your sweet spot. The hooks are immediate, the retro influences are overt, and the 8-track recordings sound like they were recently unearthed after spending decades stashed away on a dusty shelf. In the middle of the album sits a killer three-song run invoking Roy Orbison, the Roches, and the Everly Brothers. But Max Clarke, the Brooklyn singer-songwriter behind the project, isn’t offering lo-fi homage to his favorite songwriters so much as he’s uniting the wistful sounds of a 20-year stretch of musical history, spanning the late ’50s to the ’70s. This debut lives in a dreamy place where surf rock, girl groups, and downtown folk meet lonesome lap steel and jaunty piano pop, as Clarke sings about uncertainty and longing in love. –Jillian Mapes

Miro Tape artwork

Miro Tape

Duppy Gun, the L.A.-based dancehall label run by Cameron Stallones and M. Geddes Gengras, has cultivated a deep relationship with the music of Jamaica. Their compilation Miro Tape stitches together 23 tracks of mostly unreleased material from the island; its far-out, exploratory dub melds into a strange, almost alien collage of Caribbean voices and riddims without losing the eccentricities of its individual artists. Performed by locals like Sikka Rymes, I Jahbar, and Lopo over production from breakout talents like D/P/I and Butchy Fuego, Miro Tape is nonstop kinetic energy, blending insider and outsider visions of dub and dancehall into something immense. –Sheldon Pearce

Constant Image artwork

Constant Image

The Washington, D.C., trio Flasher spend their debut album, Constant Image, bouncing between joyful butterflies and anxious jitters. Fusing new wave pop pep, off-kilter post-punk, and subdued shoegaze, they never seem to rest. Instead, they race through songs about relationships thwarted by Adderall, living politically on a practical scale, and more. It’s a wild ride that thrives off the tightly woven instrumentation of guitarist/singer Taylor Mulitz, bassist Daniel Saperstein, and drummer Emma Baker, high school friends whose synchronicity shines. –Quinn Moreland

Sextape artwork


Cameron Mesirow’s Glasser has always been a titillating project, but it’s never before reached such pervy heights. Sextape is somewhere between a song, an album, and a piece of audio art. Its squidgy beats will go over well in clubs, but it may work best as a headphones experience, as it features recordings Mesirow collected of people talking about sexual experiences (mostly having to do with consent). An illicit religious-school story is especially insane to hear, if you can make it out: She breaks up the voices—both her own questions and the responses—into shards, sometimes keeping fractions of narratives, sometimes looping words or phrases. Bet you did not think your favorite lyric of 2018 would be “gay-dot-gay-dot-gay-dot-com.” –Matthew Schnipper

Hank Wood and the Hammerheads artwork

Hank Wood and the Hammerheads

Hank Wood and the Hammerheads have a reputation as one of New York’s most exciting punk bands. Peep this live performance from 2014: With two drummers pounding away at a chaotic clip, the crowd engulfs Wood and the band in a giant, sweaty, shoving heap. The energy of this scene is a lot to live up to on record, yet the Hammerheads dunk on their own hype with their self-titled third album, barreling through some of their best songs yet with wild energy and boundless charisma. Hank Wood oozes confidence, punctuating every other line with an “UH!” or a “BABY!” Practically every song has him screaming about being lonely and wanting to dieand needing to lay down on the floor for awhile. Through all that writhing tumult, he’s a livewire presence, yammering over faux-organ keyboard melodies, speed punk drums, and bluesy guitar solos. It’s a high-water mark for rock records this year—fuel for the musty moshing masses. –Evan Minsker

Kiss Yr Frenemies artwork

Kiss Yr Frenemies

Clothes that smell like Parliaments, the thrill and trepidation of romance, conversational lo-fi fuzz pop written and produced by a studio engineer: This is Illuminati Hotties, the solo project of Sarah Tudzin. The young polymath’s debut album, Kiss Yr Frenemies, shows her to be a discoverer. Her songs bounce with wonder and bemusement, free of clichés and the cynicism the comes with overthinking. She crafts with a tinkerer’s care; her arrangements burst open with fuzz and noise into charming sunshine pop and wilt into whispered, bucolic melancholy. Writing like this is uncommon: It’s not the big picture, it’s just a bunch of detailed, weird, funny theories about the heart that don’t really need to be true in the long run. They just feel true in the moment. –Jeremy D. Larson

–Mark Richardson

Steamroom 40 artwork

Steamroom 40

Jim O’Rourke’s Steamroom series consists of instrumental records that he makes mostly by himself and releases without a label on Bandcamp. The 40th entry sounds so simple at first, it’s easy to miss what’s special about it: It’s a drone album with a single, 41-minute track that braids together tones of sine-wave-like clarity. The flow of the music mirrors the feeling of a gently modulating emotional state, where one sits lost in thought for an extended period, thinking about what it all means and what went wrong and what might still save us. So O’Rourke’s gently wavering held notes have a dreamy quality at first, but as he slowly adds additional layers of harmony, the feeling moves from a pleasantly stoned reverie to a deep, nameless emotional yearning. Like Keith Fullerton Whitman’s landmark PlaythroughsSteamroom 40 feels like it’s been generated from a complicated patchwork of mathematical equations, but, a few layers down the matrix, we find a steady breath and a gently beating heart. –Mark Richardson

JP3 artwork

Junglepussy doesn’t have time for hand-holding anymore. In the past, her raps were exasperated sighs maligning the state of men (“How you gon’ say you love me?/You don’t do nothing for me,” she snarled on 2015’s Pregnant With Success). These days, though, the New Yorker’s interactions with faceless partners in songs are amusingly dismissive and pleasantly curt, delivered with a liberating nonchalance; she’s focusing on self-care. On her groovy, salacious mixtape JP3, the onus is on the men in her life to figure shit out—and when they don’t, she’s happy to replace them with someone who gives better head. “This nigga think I keep my pussy in a vault for him,” she scoffs on standout “I Just Want It.” “Damn, these niggas really is dumb/What’s love got to do with makin’ me cum?” Throughout the project, Junglepussy spends more time exploring her impulses, even singing a bit, putting her desires first and ensuring they’re met. –Sheldon Pearce

  • HELLO!
  • D.O.T.S
777 artwork

Despite being active for nearly a decade, first as a founding member of Two-9 and then as a soloist and go-to utility player among oddballs in the mainstream (A$AP Mob, ILoveMakonnen), Atlanta rapper Key! has remained an under-the-radar prospect. But working in near-obscurity has given him the freedom to create one of 2018’s greatest hidden rap treasures, 777. “Thank you for ignoring me,” he croaks on “Love on Ice,” adding later, “I don’t wanna be famous.” One of the best-produced rap records of the last few months, 777brims with personality, huffed flows, casual boasts, and slippery earworms. Key! shares a co-star billing with Kenny Beats, the producer behind Rico Nasty’s Nasty and Freddie Gibb’s Freddie—and just like those recent name-defining mixtapes, 777 unlocks all of Key!’s charms. –Sheldon Pearce

The Smoke artwork

The Smoke

The fear in femininity drives Inga Copeland, formerly of Hype Williams, in her latest release as Lolina. On “The River,” she removes her heels and runs “like no tomorrow” to the bus stop, an act that could be confused with exhilaration were it not for the serrated strings, sparking synths, and war-cry drums behind her—hers is a sprint of terror, the London artist’s frantic thoughts presented at the same rapid clip. Much of The Smoke shares this kind of stark narration, with an undertone of predation narrowly avoided; cheap 8-bit effects stack up and clatter to heighten her sense of displacement. It’s electronic music at its least buoyant, and most moving. –Stacey Anderson

Hundreds of Days artwork

Hundreds of Days

Mary Lattimore has made a career out of reinventing the harp, releasing two solo albums and writing and recording instrumental pieces for artists like Meg Baird, Thurston Moore, and Jarvis Cocker. On Hundreds of Days, though, she expands her skill set to other instruments, incorporating synths, piano, guitar, and her own voice to create a portal to a shimmering new world. Her music is lush and sprawling, speckled with birdsong, and this album is a cinematic feast that begs for meditation. –Dani Blum

  • R&S
Rejuvenate artwork


Paul White is best known for his work as a hip-hop producer—specifically, as Danny Brown’s go-to beatmaker. But he’s also cultivated a side gig as a chromatic shaman, leading listeners through weird trips via his fuzzed-out solo sounds. On Rejuvenate, he crafts an album that uses psych rock as its base and mixes in R&B vocals to create the kind of hazy atmosphere often best experienced with a jazz cigarette in hand. (As it turns out, this is not the point: The rebirth in the title refers to White’s, who has quit his former stoner lifestyle in favor of a clearer head.) Whatever your preferred mental state, Rejuvenate will give you a decent buzz. –Matthew Schnipper

Cruel Practice artwork

Cruel Practice

Don’t be fooled by her name: Shygirl’s debut EP is a bold move, a fully immersive world that echoes like a haunted robot disco. The 25-year-old DJ from South London sings mainly in snarls and monotone, catatonically repeating lines like, “I’ve got you right where I want you…No one to help you” and “If I was feeling you before/I’m not feeling you today/Or any other day.” Her beats are equally blunt, full of mechanical screeches and creaks. The effect is eerie and enchanting, with each track landing like a surprise. –Dani Blum

Only Love artwork

Only Love

I have a note on my phone from watching the Armed live last month: “Guy in crowd starts doing three-card-monte routine to a man in a full ghillie suit while seven guys play art-hardcore onstage.” For their entire set, the astoundingly good Detroit hardcore collective froze a shocked smile on my face; their lead vocalist Randall Kupfer tilt-a-whirled through the crowd while the ghillie-suit guy ambled around with Armed co-vocalist Cara Drolshagen, taking selfies. (The Armed may or may not be the brainchild of Converge guitarist and yeoman engineer Kurt Ballou; it’s unclear, as the entire band traffics in excruciating subterfuge.) Their latest album, Only Love, is a dazzling puzzle, at once couch-hurling and beautiful, the kind of thing that should kill you if you ingest for too long. –Jeremy D. Larson

The Golden Octave artwork

The Golden Octave

When the Toronto singer Witch Prophet, aka Ayo Leilani, released The Golden Octave in May, her pride for her Ethiopian/Eritrean lineage was clouded by the longtime conflict between the two East African nations. “Visualize, write it down, and I’ll find my way back home/Away from the war,” she sang soulfully on album highlight “Manifest.” But now, with a resolution called to that two-decade standoff, Witch Prophet’s full-length debut can be heard anew, with its rich complexities basking in fresh optimism. Pulling from jazz, house, trip-hop, and more, she sings about her experience as a queer artist and mother, contrasting her roots in Africa with her experience living authentically in the diaspora. Every track is a sleepy surprise, each beat gracefully narcotic and topped by effortless trills. Get to her before Drake does. –Stacey Anderson

Vol. 4 artwork

Vol. 4

Atlanta moaner Yung Bans warbles his raps at a low pitch, largely using lyrics as a conduits for vocal patterns. Ushered into the public eye by videographer Cole Bennett, who is quickly becoming the SoundCloud rap generation’s Hype Williams, the 18-year-old Bans provides a natural evolution of the sound being offered up by his contemporaries. He muffles his flows, letting his immutable melodies seep into blurry beats. His six-song, 16-minute EP, Vol. 4, is a potent sampler of his methods. Yung Bans’ hummed style works best in tandem, which is why Vol. 4 is his most interesting music yet: His fun exchanges with Lil Yachty, Rejjie Snow, and JBan$2Turnt maximize his utility as a rallier. –Sheldon Pearce


O artigo: Great Records You May Have Missed: Spring 2018, foi publicado @Pitchfork
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