2017: Second Quarter Favorites From Laurel Halo & Ryuichi Sakamoto to Playboi Carti & Chino Amobi

If you haven’t already done so, please stow your carry-on luggage underneath the seat in front of you. (Image: Paolo Čerić)

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


Queen Elizabitch


Saying that this [title with a strong female lead] is anything like MC Lyte or Lil Kim would be as lazy and as sexist as it is glaringly false. Elizabeth Harris (nope, not this one) is a motherfucking kraken on Queen Elizabitch, spitting glittery slime from her furry pink tentacles until you submit. Straight up, Queen Elizabitch is filthy as fuck, hilarious as Hell, and hard as a dick while she’s rapping. Put squarely, this shit is BOLD, and it’s not lost on us that being a female MC in this context requires an impossible balance between class and crass. I can’t deny that cupcakKe’s notorious guttermouth is what pulled me in, but in all honesty, what has kept me coming back is her unmatched consistency in a game dominated by warbling cocks. This shit slays on a Blueprint level. That it would probably still slay on a Kingdom Come level is a reflection of her unsolicited ferocity. However we heard it, I’m glad we listened.

Chino Amobi



Tiny Mix Tapes has been covering Chino Amobi since at least 2012, when he was known as Diamond Black Hearted Boy. As it turns out, 2012 also was the year yours truly started writing for TMT — and my last name really is Diamond, by the way; it’s not a moniker like C Monster. Fun fact: C got me this gig. He was listening to Chino back when Chino was Diamond Black Hearted Boy. I faintly remember him telling me about Diamond Black Hearted Boy, and my reply being something like,”’Diamond Hard Blue Apples of the Moon?’ Dope song, bro.” He definitely told me about Chino Amobi later too, but I just thought he was talking about the guy from The Deftones. The point is, not all of us TMTers are in-the-know experimental music scholars with master’s degrees, and some of us who are are secretly borderline illiterate, but most all of us thoroughly enjoy Chino Amobi’s PARADISO and its arcane references, sudden outbursts, and the way those elements play off of one another, like close friends with similar interests and backgrounds but little else in common. Cages this weekend?

Richard Dawson


[Weird World]

The curtain rises; before us, a paddock of aged grass, overcast with swelling clouds, while somewhere nearby, there lays a whimpering collie “under a whining bush… seized by a fit.” A house sits in the corner of the enclosure, steam escaping through the windows — inside, there keeps “a cauldron of pummeled gall-nuts afloat in urine/ add river-water thrice-boiled with a bloodstone.” On the wall, a painting has begun to drip from the humidity, its seaside pastoral molting into something almost unrecognizable, as if suddenly one can see “in the face of the cliff/ a ghastly doorway.” Beyond the doorway lies a kingdom of gold, a place where “a child can be bought for a year’s worth of grain,” and “fortune wags its tongue along the walkways of the bathhouse.” Innocents lay lifeless on the street corner, and as the music of war begins to stir once again, somewhere far away, “the rolling fields grow dark as the grave/ and I am fleeing for my life.



[Sacred Bones]

Shortly before the release of Contact, Pharmakon played a memorial show for those who lost their lives in the Oakland Ghost Ship fire. The show was also a fundraiser for the Trans Assistance Project in honor of Feral Pines, a transwoman who was among those who died. I didn’t know Feral personally, but many of the people I went to the show with did. Pharmakon played a short set, a single song off Contact. A great chunk of the audience cried. Contact is an industrial-noise record, a condensed chunk of materialized, cut-open human organs, a manifestation of pain and fury and sadness. Terribly abrasive, yes, but it reminds us that such horror-totems are also a locus for contact. There’s a great deal of space in this record, gaps between aural saturation, pockets to curl up and gather and weep in between sheets of oblivion. We can gather around a shared wound. We can hold hands. Contact is an assault and an opening-up.


Birthday Party (Not Our Birthday)


“You would cry too if it happened to you.” INT. MOTEL ROOM — NIGHT. SALEM and GFOTY moved into a vacancy together at the edge of town, a few miles past the last gas station but before you get to the cornfields. It always looks red in their room, because they keep a neon sign glowing all through the clear-blue night. We’re throwing a birthday party for their overdue baby, and we just had to book 99jakes, the holy sacrilegious DJ broadcasting live from the forest using algorithm-free YouTube. The party is for jakes only, sorry, but you’re a jake. You might’ve RSVPd “Going” on Facebook high as fuck at 2:35 AM, but you were not ready for this party. Airbrushed nightcrawlers are scurrying on the walls, moms and ravers are talking Yu-Gi-Oh!, and one of the jakes keeps trying to start a food fight with this cardboard cutout of Magneto. Another jake is genuinely sobbing about their weekly horoscope. It’s a new moon and the party is over, but after the afterparty, we’re playing 7th Guest. For keeps. Watch it, dude.

Aaron Dilloway

The Gag File


Cigarette butts litter the floor. Empty beer bottles are strewn across the room. The walls in the house are that dark-brown, stained-wood paneling of which the 70s were so fond. The carpet might as well be orange if it actually isn’t. Remnants of paraphernalia are on a glass-top table in front of a couch. There’s a stale smell in the air. A low thud lopes along in the background. You can vaguely make out that music is playing, but you don’t know what it is… there’s mostly muddy bass frequencies. Random conversations are taking place in this room, but you’re not really a part of any of them. You’re just observing. Down a hallway and through a bedroom door is a familiar smile. A kind of vaguely eerie, expressionless smile that you pull a string to animate. While pulling the string, a busted speaker inside of it creaks to life, announcing “kill away” with a cackle. You ghost this scene immediately.

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

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