2015: Third Quarter Favorites 20 picks from the third quarter of the year

This feature is made possible by Cymbal, a music-sharing app powered by friends, not algorithms. Download and join Tiny Mix Tapes, Domino, Spotify, The Needle Drop, Def Jam, NPR, and many more. [What is this?]

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


Elysia Crampton
American Drift

[Blueberry]

Terrence Malick’s The New World opens with an incantation by Pocahontas: “Come spirit, help us sing the story of our land. You are our mother; we, your field of corn. We rise from out of the soul of you.”. Elysia Crampton’s American Drift also begins with a prayer: “Here, limit with us, narrow place, stretched and frightfully flayed, oh thing, toad whose home is the rib cage/ Water clench the rock, river run footless, trace the bend, oh bluff wrapped in light, oh talice sloped speared summit, oh earthwork and eyeball, varicose and branch/ Garden, night, cup, calcified/ Garden, night, cup, calcified, here… here.” American Drift is itself an invocation, a culled bustling of a nature whose elements are not all quite natural: of borders drawn from seas before their watery graves were sketched, of attempts at reclaiming what grows within those imagined borders, of ageless rivers rushing with ever-mutating microbes. Rather than explicitly politicizing these so called “Virginial” spaces already shaped and reshaped and fucked by colonization, Crampton lets each atom speak for itself on American Drift, calling into focus a messy, violent, and ultimately true picture of collision at every level. Elysia, help it all sing as it washes over our feet, wiping away our dirt as it wraps our feet in weeds.

Khaki Blazer
Moontan Nocturnal

[Hausu Mountain]

An inconsistency in design, an aesthetics of illegibility, a mutation within a mutation. Do you know anything about techno? Moontan Nocturnal, Pat Modugno’s latest album as Khaki Blazer, is a metaheuristic optimization algorithm in repose, a playing out of sloppy, suffocating loops, samples isolated in frozen chambers, clanky beats breathing life into themselves before transmutating into rhythmic holograms at the event horizon. Khaki Blazer is primal and headed for cosmic, a psychotically-calibrated, electronically-executed, digitally-compressed, toxic-screening journey through sonic grooviness: a distorted chord played with pained expression. The world is coming to an end, but we feel the b[e/u]rn, because we’re moontan nocturnal, vinyl-consuming animals controlling the vibe, manipulating the madness, and sucking in the energy. Hardcore neutronic mutilation. Text out of order. Copy+paste as evolutionary paradigm. Our pointer fingers erect, saying: “just one sec.”

L’Orange & Kool Keith
Time? Astonishing!

[Mello Music Group]

In a recent TMT interview with L’Orange, Samuel Diamond began by asking about the jazz samples (specifically ragtime and gypsy) used in the Kool Keith MC’d release of Time? Astonishing!. The beat-maker responded by explaining that he liked “the lo-fi recording and the sloppiness of not only being able to do it once, but the precision to be able to do it once.” Not only does L’Orange’s admiration for musical talent fit hand-in-hand with Kool Keith’s breathless lyrical flow, but also the effort he most likely spent digging, ripping, producing, and mixing these samples can be compared to the refined skill and talent of Django’s left hand. And the album is (loosely) about time-travel, giving L’Orange room to explore dream-state rhythms and melodies, while Kool Keith is allowed “to be abstract and indulge in his non-sequitur style.” Yes, Time? Astonishing! is conceptual and old-school, two musicians getting together and proving faith-based music-making still works. Fuck with it when you have the time.

Carly Rae Jepsen
E•MO•TION

[Interscope]

Are you ready for the future? Sponsored content. Data-driven work and play. The internet is nowhere and nothing, my void, my home. The first banality most rock critics will tell you about modern pop music is that it’s “all about the shareholders.” Return on investment. Middle of the road. Data-optimized. Still, I feel like the easiest way to make a lot of money in entertainment is to make really funny Vines. In the future, every normie will get a Tesla for their 16th birthday. But actually: modern pop music is, like, the most liberal-democratic music ever. I listen to bangers, Interscope™ peeps my data, CRJep makes more bangers. The body politic. Is that how it works? idk. Universal themes get boring. Why did anyone ever think it made sense to compare culture to a road or a system of roads? Still, this music whispers and shouts of moonlit backstreets, lovers’ lanes of resistance, in every American town. The “real” environment beyond the right-swipe. The flesh obscured by data, 5’11”, Christian, not looking for hookups. Private places to practice the cultural vulgarity of some vulnerable, truthful utterance. I Really, Really, Really, Really, Really, Really Like You!

In Media Res
リンキンパーク: Quindecim, Triginta Septem, and Viginti Sex

[Exo Tapes]

The pathway through Whatever into the middle of things: This trinity/trilogy contains within each of its entries the codes to its entirety. 15, 26, 37, and the secret affective interzones between chanting and looping and sampling. Quindecim (EXOCDR005): You’re young, you love creation. “Vereda” means sidewalk, its offset (stolen?) sequenced strings map/dream your self-becoming pace. Viginti Sex (EXOCDR006): You’re older, you love destruction. “It’s a damn cold night” for some Eccojaming, and you’re pretty sure the song resembled something else before it was reassembled. Triginta Septem (CDR007): You’re older still, you had to find God. The order and disorder exist within the cloudy (vapor-ous) confines of the transparent (checkered) sleeve, a vessel of confession that betrays clarity for confusion, a mess of intention and carelessness. But the sequence of all numbers above is a little too neat for our/their purposes. Repeatedly, and delayed. An infinite body reaches out its giant claw to cradle our spirit. In Media Res makes this cradle a capsule that inspires devotion to the suspending sprawl of Whatever. But we don’t feel numb, when there’s all that we can do with this emotion.

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


This feature is made possible by Cymbal, a music-sharing app powered by friends, not algorithms. Download and join Tiny Mix Tapes, Domino, Spotify, The Needle Drop, Def Jam, NPR, and many more. [What is this?]

Most Read