2014: Third Quarter Favorites From Suzi Ecto and Suki Girlz to The Abyss of the Dark Web

For each year's first three quarters, we celebrate by sharing a list of our favorite music releases. Unlike our year-end lists, these quarter features are casually compiled, with an aim to spotlight the underdogs and the lesser-heard among the more popular picks. More from this series

At least compared to the 1st and 2nd quarters, this summer’s release schedule was pretty weak. But we didn’t care. Sure, the last few months may have been short on “big” albums, but we were too busy falling in LOVE with the 20 releases below (and, notably, to list-resistant stuff like PC Music). While we didn’t have time to properly digest key late-September releases like Aphex Twin’s Syro and Perfume Genius’s Too Bright, we did happily find enough time for the collaboration between Dustin Wong & Takako Minekawa (out this week) and Giant Claw’s Dark Web (out next week). The rest ranges from the usuals (James Ferraro, Jason Lescalleet) to the unusuals (Gem Jones, Nima), with unexpected collaborations (Jenny Hval/Susanna), unexpected divisiveness (FKA twigs, Kane West), and even an unexpected co-sign (posted on the same Tuesday that we put up our review, coincidentally).

But before we head into the list, here are some well-deserved shout-outs: James Hoff’s Blaster, Lorenzo Senni’s Superimpositions, Mumdance’s Take Time EP, Keiji Haino/Jim O’Rourke/Oren Ambarchi’s Only Wanting to Melt, Lil Bibby’s Free Crack 2, Guy Akimoto’s BaeBae EP, M.E.S.H.’s Scythians EP, Bitchin Bajas’ self-titled, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s Pika Pika Fantajin, Moonface’s City Wrecker, Kero Kero Bonito’s Intro Bonito, Circulatory System’s Mosaics Within Mosaics, Tonstartssbandht’s Overseas, Chinx Drugz’s Cocaine Riot 4, DJ Mustard’s 10 Summers, Jerry Paper’s Feels Emotions, Earth’s Primitive and Deadly, Shellac’s Dude Incredible, Cymbals Eat Guitars’ Lose, Katie Got Bandz’s Drillary Clinton 2, and, while it’s not an EP or LP, it’d be weird to not at least give props to both sides of SOPHIE’s “Lemonade” single.

iLoveMakonnen [EP]


Gather up all the sensationalist intel about iLoveMakonnen’s personal life — from the details of his former day jobs, to his roots in New York’s DIY scene, to his accidental manslaughter charges — and then clear it from your mind. Forget the naked Lil B smiling down from his perch on the horizon, and ignore Drake’s co-signing tentacles as they thread their way back through the underground. Put on the iLoveMakonnen EP simply to delight in spending time with Makonnen. Although the Atlanta-born MC compresses enough confessions, criminal activity, and allegations of infidelity into his seven-track narrative to fuel our tabloid-core daydreams indefinitely, his idiosyncratic delivery (see: emotive YouTube poet; confident karaoke jammer) morphs every morsel he spits into an objective curiosity, leagues apart from the coiffed and compensating hardness of the stars with whom he now shares radio airtime. Smile (or cringe) when his croon dips between octaves in the chorus to “Too Much,” as Metro Boomin’s colossal bass line shakes the subs. Raise a glass for Sarah, Brianna, and that girl behind the wheel of the dirty Impala. On the off chance that you see him out on the boulevard, don’t ask him to sell you molly.

Giant Claw
Dark Web

[Orange Milk/Noumenal Loom]

Dark Web doesn’t sound “like the internet.” It sounds like therapy for a generation who grew up with the internet, where the density and modularity of music has flourished at such a rate that we never get time alone with just one song or idea anymore. A latticework of strangely cohabitant pop partials, trap clicks, and piano rolls skipping around in bottomless MIDI-space; a clipped and thrifty collage, reflection, and superimposition of pop art through a trippy mash-up mechanism made of recycled SoundCloud footwork singles and YouTube R&B remixes. Dark Web’s fractured sonics work according to our current economy of space — they uncover shared emotional resonances across a variety of genres (trap, pop, classical music, vaporwave, footwork) at a stunning quickness. For a generation that by necessity has to be selective in its listening habits, this is less experimental than savvy. Dark Web is a document of bubbly eclecticism in 2014 passed from web guru Keith Rankin to a listener in need of a digital tour guide. A distinctly instructive art object, a confident curation of the weirdest parts of the now age.

Kane West
Western Beats

[PC Music]

House music is so stupid. A kick drum, a hi-hat, a B+ voice singing some general idea about love, and that’s it? As you stand in the club with half a whiskey in your hand watching some kid seriously mess with Serato, it just seems precious. But by harnessing all that stupid energy, Western Beats both critiques and celebrates the reality of the genre as it exists today, ultimately reminding us why we actually spend energy listening to house music. PC Music’s Kane West uses every awful trick in the book and some equally annoying new ones too (can we talk about that Super Smash Bros. sample?), but as much as he’s reading house music for filth, he’s more so celebrating how commercial un-specificity can be reappropriated to be bizarre poetry. And like any good house producer, West goes in deep, making sure danceability is never ignored. There’s even another PC Music muse, Sarah, who may be real or may be a computer, but she’ll never tell, because she’s too busy instant-messaging the Lipgloss Twins.



Hanz is the Plato to DJ Shadow and Wax Tailor’s Socrates. The elements of atmosphere are clear in Reducer: people are drinking tequila in a parked car, hazed by a sticky resin cloud, and fiending on some pal-vibez. Practicing social etiquette is dying in modern society; CUT TO: Tinder, REMOVE friend request, “follow me back.” “BUT, OLIVIA!! I LUVVVV YOU” *atop plastic slide* and miles of middle fingers. Although Because I’m Worth It dubbed NYC the fuck out at Cameo Bar sometime when I was shaking my head, copeland’s album appeared, and everything was completely post-BUG-dub from then on. Like, the current and before/after Duppy Gun: Hanz creates bathdub in Reducer that gets spatial while caving in your skull with PG-rated b-/cleats of sampling. Hanz has taken your worst childhood nightmare and turn’t it into an audible hallucination of adventure, leading you down corrosive corridors of music that were only familiar in a dimension of yourself. We are all planets/islands of our own being. Here’s Hanz’s space in the form of Reducer. Will you take the quest?

Kevin Drumm / Jason Lescalleet
The Abyss


Once upon a time, It was formless and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep. It was very good. But Light shone into the darkness and illuminated It. Form reached into the void and imaged It. Otherness, intolerably, separated It and breathed life into It. It seems as though It couldn’t have been otherwise. It frowned. It was. It walked around, looking and wondering. It was troubled. Light and Form and Otherness demanded companionship, but It didn’t want their companionship. It walked away, away, away. It cried out, longing for its primal inheritance: “I believe in formlessness and void, darkness and deep.” But It was too late. It would spend its remaining days alone, remembering and remembering what was.

For each year's first three quarters, we celebrate by sharing a list of our favorite music releases. Unlike our year-end lists, these quarter features are casually compiled, with an aim to spotlight the underdogs and the lesser-heard among the more popular picks. More from this series