2016: Third Quarter Favorites 22 picks from the last three months

This feature is made possible by MusicRogue, a music app that swaps out crappy on-hold music with your favorite songs. Your Music + Your Choice + Your Call. Download MusicRogue from the App Store and blow those on-hold blues away. [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



Frank Ocean

Blonde/Endless

[Boys Don’t Cry/Def Jam]


Up to our waist in the wave of the year, we hear the parsing rush of fluids. Half-fashioned biles sneer assaultive thoughts and the phlegm of prophesied tonics promise resolve. But despondency is messy: how do we hydrate a soul? Past the flood of quiet is the pulsing throat, a blood and a voice and “what can I do to show my love?” It’s an Endless unwinding, a life in round, the soul of unity one letter at a time. It’s rain, glitter; it’s Blonde on Blond, a trans-conjugation balanced in betweens, a kiss and a twist. Like water, the voice fills the grain, washes without definition. The voice is everything, the many-gendered human soul between a static of a self’s “what’s your name?” and a universe’s “how far is a light year?” In the unbound wash is the voice. It’s Frank, a life, a soul, and it’s more than a voice; at its best, it is love.



G.L.O.S.S.

Trans Day of Revenge

[Self-Released]


Identity is a source of political power, even as it remains tied to the structures of oppression that provide its source. G.L.O.S.S. understand this, starting from a rejection of cissexism and a police state rather than the location that these forces place them in. In the spirit of classic hardcore, transgender here is a term of resistance, and the inclusion in the community that the EP inevitably builds is structured on those terms. With sneakily catchy shout-alongs and tried-and-true d-beat at the base of this flawlessly executed piece, its unironic call for violence and call-to-action against cissexism and the police state acts all the more strongly alongside the invitation to a community of refusal and difference provided by its delirious sonics. Injecting the distinct timbre in vocals and affect that their subject positions provide to the hardcore continuum, G.L.O.S.S. says “fuck you” to respectability politics and nearly everything else while still letting the rest of us in. It’s no wonder that Epitaph, that major label icon for the young and rejected, wanted them, and it’s no wonder G.L.O.S.S. said no, but the news that they’ve broken up still comes as a sad surprise. But with this last release, they’ve suggested a path forward for hardcore and, perhaps, gotten out while the path still remained a potentiality rather than yet another overcoded node of marketable identity. Here’s to the new community.



Gucci Mane

Everybody Looking

[1017 Records]


Gucci Mane enters and exits with [La]Flare. That is, a uniquely brilliant, creative spark. A dynamic dynamite that makes rubble of your preconceptions, clearing the way for his vision. Whatever else that may be, it’s also a bridge between Project Pat and Harmony Korine, bumping perennially like suboxone or the sub-octaves of this interned artists’ interim releases’ intros and outros. Now, though, those sounds abound. Gucci Mane may not actually be a clone, but make no mistake; he has been cloned, and his clones run rap. If that feels like science fiction, then let’s drop some science on it. Everybody Looking is a litmus test for your tastes. It’s either the ultimate comeback album or your last chance to stop staring.



Ian William Craig

Centres

[130701]


As water bleeds ink, Ian William Craig bleeds his voice, draws the space between recorded worlds into runs of color and incidental stains. What’s gone and what stayed still? Centres is unfinished, thrown to time, a process-album. His words say what the music had been all along, “These hands are set to lapse/ Never knowing to say when.” It’s captivating for the clarity of Craig’s voice in a brokedown choir, for the decay drowning out every moment of clarity, for the collapse of audition in the live room headspace that these songs sustain a portal to. A forgetting-machine, like us, that traces a bounding circle around listening. It contains the draw-distance geography of Mount Eerie, the gravity of Ravedeath, 1972, the field life of Will, the memory translation of An Empty Bliss Beyond This World, the quieting space of A Forgetting Place. But it will never contain you, won’t contain anything at all. Everywhere at the end of time, stretches of heart reveal themselves where before there was background noise. Everything in decay, everything in generation, on arrival and becoming. Obsessed with the drift to void, something in the way Craig’s sketches sing out their endings promises relief. Exhalation, expiration: It need not be hopeless.



Jefre Cantu-Ledesma

In Summer

[Geographic North]


In Summer beautifully sums up and condenses what Jefre Cantu-Ledesma got so right on his last two full lengths, A Year With 13 Moons and Love Is A Stream. It stutters to life with a wash of keyboards and Linndrum samples, then swings in with a gorgeous guitar melody that sounds like it’s collapsing into itself. When it finally peters out nearly eight minutes later, he segues perfectly into the field recordings and drone of “Little Deer Isle,” giving the listener respite from the noise — with a different kind of it. Replacing the textural guitar with field sounds (actual birdsong, wind rustling) makes literal on record the connection to nature that bands like Slowdive hinted at in their videos. If you follow this site, you by now hopefully know and love JCL's modus operandi. In Summer offers that up in miniature as one of his finest creations.



KA

Honor Killed the Samurai

[Iron Works]


On August 13, Ka quite literally self-released Honor Killed the Samurai. After announcing his intention to do so via social media, the Brownsville-based rapper-producer brought his album to the people, setting up on a New York City sidewalk to sell his brand new album out of the trunk of his car. In a year where we've endured Apple Music/TIDAL exclusives, Kanye changing The Life of Pablo 87 times, and album teases that would make the Enigma machine blush, Ka's method feels refreshingly real. It's with that same approach that Ka envisions himself like the titular Japanese warrior, bound by a code to live a life of morality, discipline, and integrity in a world that has none. Over simple yet affecting beats, he delivers a masterclass of rhymes and wordplay, detailing a life besieged by drugs and violence. But whether it's the kung-fu movie-esque synth of "Destined" or the haunting guitar of "I Wish (Death Poem)," everything serves to elevate Ka's message: There can be a salvation in it all; there can be more to life than the forces of evil that threaten to consume it. We have a word for people like this, those who by protecting others are able to save themselves. They are known as samurai.


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 MusicRogue, a music app that swaps out crappy on-hold music with your favorite songs. Your Music + Your Choice + Your Call. Download MusicRogue from the App Store and blow those on-hold blues away. [What is this?]

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