2017: Third Quarter Favorites From Avey Tare & Angelo Badalamenti to White Suns & White Poppy

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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



[Double Double Whammy]


Like the simple sensation of unfolding a map by the side of some barren rest stop along I-70, Thx is a small reminder of the innocence that comes with not knowing exactly where you are. Across the album’s 10 tracks, Lomelda’s Hannah Read sings songs you’ve probably heard before, her high whinny a familiar tone to anybody who’s grown up on folk music and acoustic guitars. But the quivering sounds here aren’t in service of some purposefully skewed vision; Read’s music meanders about with a calm, stately uncertainty, drifting along in its search for whatever it is that’s really out there. Songs that begin in plain view slowly dissipate into rustic sound, and countryside ballads that seem to weave a story leave us out in the wilderness before we’ve been able to piece together what the strands really mean. It’s in that absence of answers that Lomelda finds a reason to sing, offering Thx to whatever highway spirits might be listening, her wandering voice echoing softly against the breeze.

DJ Escrow

Universal Soulja Vol. 1



I sit still. Silence I can't see. I have no eyes? At least an I. Listen. At least silence. At least unspeaking. Breathing, unhinging. The heave of the not me not mine. It starts in. Noise that gnashes listening nerves. Silence shatters. Next, noise looks to mouth. It seeks teeth. Mouth mine, teeth me. And me, now no see no speak. Noise wants me. Will I? "Yeah.” Voice through noise scopes us. “You think I don’t see you but I fucking do.” Voice of “yeah” affirms the unstill I and the terrible subliming noiseness of it all, shout in dark. “Yeah” is a shriek of what I cannot shriek of and without. Silence oppresses so “yeah” and Escrow improvises rides, unstills I through you. Noise opposes silences. “A mind is a terrible thing to waste,” so scrap scraping by. Chew back and devour stillness. Get terrible, get it in. In the breaks? Beats, you and “yeah.” Universal Soulja Vol. 1, alive and a riot, that great unsilenced thing has backs. Its voice feeds noise. Its noise needs voice. I needs noise. No frame without. No thing in silence. I affirm. I acclimate. “Yeah.

The National

Sleep Well Beast



The National’s Sleep Well Beast is the band’s darkest and most ambitious album, in many ways surpassing its predecessor Trouble Will Find Me. Blending glitchy guitars, compellingly-executed electronics, dramatic woodwinds and strings, and deep-pocket drumming, this one is a major triumph in keeping rock music sounding interesting and fresh. Singer Matt Berninger’s moonlit ruminations on the topics of drug use, familial woes, and general despair are never too dry or maudlin — no, this is an album by adults and for adults, which is a rarity today. You probably won’t find a better record about loneliness in 2017, so maybe put the kids to bed or take a night away from the significant other before turning this one on — not for their sake, but for yours.



[Noumenal Loom]


From August to October 2016, New York’s Signal Gallery hosted Madeline Hollander’s Drill, a durational dance performance scored by Celia Hollander, a.k.a. $3.33. Drill, released on cassette by Noumenal Loom this past July, is $3.33’s 31-minute adaptation of her own live score, with all album proceeds going to prison-abolition organization Critical Resistance. The cassette begins with 10 minutes of atmospheric fuzz, some flappings, a heavy bass beat, and what, to me, sounds like a dull, wailing siren. Slowly, these parts begin to cohere into techno, and with the addition of some extra kicks, things feel more clubby than gallery midway through. The pieces that $3.33 arranges and layers are simple and cavernous, like bodies. Bodies swiped like a shoe along concrete, or charcoal on paper. Pressing rewind, see bodies slowed, warped, hulking forward, shrugging back, imagined. Imagining the dancers in the gallery as they reinterpret the floor and walls; dancers moving to this in a club, subtly, wildly; inmates moving through halls, opened gates, in lines, each day a series of drills toward the next, as that vague siren howls until the end.

Giant Claw

Soft Channel

[Orange Milk]


Blooming, blossoming, Bliss

Imagine a room: blank and empty ... Soft white senility Save the walls, so studded with switches "The damn TV keeps switching changing channels!" All unlabeled, but you know they all do something:::::::::::something A dislocation so severe it constitutes its own space … Each thing you use is an extension of you ;by that logic, what are you an extension of??? … A profusion of symbols one each of which Signals its own of profusion symbols sometimes ifearthat allofours peechisan a man of thin filament … actofself He's glows glows amputatio glows glows Perhaps we should just stop talking and cracks

Tyler, The Creator

Flower Boy



“I kind of didn’t want to rap a lot on it,” Tyler, The Creator said of his fourth studio album, Flower Boy. “So I kept all my rap verses short, and everything I said, I made sure it was really, ridiculously important.” Upon its release, critics made much of Tyler’s openness on Flower Boy, describing it as a welcome step toward emotional maturity for the 26-year-old rapper. Sincere lyricism aside, Tyler’s warm, jazz-heavy production work is the real star here. The album’s sound is expansive and unpredictable, as string flourishes and sticky melodies fill the empty spaces. At 47 minutes, Flower Boy is also the least bloated of Tyler’s albums, supplying a balance of melody-driven tracks and more straightforward rap cuts (“Foreword,” “Pothole”). The influence of Frank Ocean’s Blond(e), which Tyler has admired publicly, extends to the album’s loose, wandering structure. And while instrumental outro “Enjoy Right Now, Today” is a rare instance of filler, Flower Boy represents a step forward for Tyler, The Creator in every sense. At 26, the obnoxious kid genius has figured out how to make music as an adult.

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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