2018: First Quarter Favorites From sheaves of harsh noise & asphalt batida to trap-rap hybridity & obscure Japanese video game music

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

The first three months of 2018 are over with, and we’re here to inform you that life is meaningless celebrate with our favorite releases! This quarter’s highlights include everything from sheaves of harsh noise (Prurient) and asphalt batida (P. Adrix) to trap-rap hybridity (cupcakKe) and obscure Japanese video game music (Diggin’ in the Carts). With teen-crush glances (Hannah Diamond) and broken hearts (Barrio Sur), our favorites had us stumbling into otherworldly glitch wonderlands (C. Spencer Yeh) and the scarred imaginary of urban space (Lolina), orienting us through vague reports on the immediate past (Profligate), to the superlative pop of the exclusive present (Charli XCX), to the aliencore toxicity of the future (Big Ded).

The full list — which includes releases from December 2017 to mid-March 2018, give or take — is below. Please also check out this quarter’s shortlist, which features music that may simply need more ears or time to marinate. Thanks for reading!

Shortlist: BbyMutha’s BbyShoe, 700 Bliss’ Spa 700, Bad Gyal’s Worldwide Angel, Quin Kirchner’s The Other Side of Time, DJ Nigga Fox’s Crânio, Robert Haigh’s Creatures of the Deep, Anenon’s Tongue, Mukqs’s 起き上がり, Jerkagram’s All Eyes on Me, Pluto’s Untitled, Black Mecha’s Counterforce, Severed+Said’s Incorporeality, Roc Marciano’s RR2: The Bitter Dose, and compilations by Houndstooth (In Death’s Dream Kingdom) and Allergy Season/Discwoman (Physically Sick 2).


The Smoke



It’s been two years since we first strutted the cruel, weaponsized-ersatz geographies of Live In Paris with Lolina, a grimly funny record that, for many at TMT, defined the downward spiral that was 2016. In the same way that our present moment is still refracting and remaking the aftermath of that year, The Smoke, released unceremoniously via Lolina’s Bandcamp earlier this month, sees a return to the scene of Live’s puzzling crime: still slinking through a contested “Fake City, Real City” in the conspicuous camouflage of a competitively servile self-representation, a deeply unsettled organ bass throb is still its uncanny pulse. But while Live mapped, across discrete movements, a kind of journey through the scarred imaginary of urban space, The Smoke’s eight-odd compositions wander, stuck in the loungey baroques of anxiety, shifting its lyrics to the dilettantish “character-singer” always eluding the center of the Lolina output: “Funny how it turns out there’s not much under the surface.” While The Smoke does little to modify what was already at stake with this project, its unresolved, postscripted dissolution takes on, like smoke, an eerie lingering form.

Barrio Sur

बड़ा शोक (heart break)



Uploaded to SoundCloud in January, बड़ा शोक (heart break) is “Modern Rock orbiting around black ,queer & gang culture.” Predictably, the orbit of Fred Welton Warmsley III is far from predictable. In his first incarnation as Barrio Sur, he views both “Modern Rock” and “black ,queer & gang culture” from a point of view whose distortions are hardly recognizable except as belonging to him. Through surf rock (“Trade&me”), doo-wop (“redemption (7inch)”), and post-punk (“Move (unfinished)”), the figure of “Modern Rock” appears as a scattered heap of the broken, time-stretched, looped, and manipulated pieces of the history of rhythm and blues. At times, rock music melts in the desert heat, into puddles like the wandering and dirgelike “Crepuscular IV” and “Gang Culture” or the humming, monolithic “Dead Market.” Lonesome, rambling and preoccupied, Barrio Sur wears the downcast face of a cowboy, a mask in whose wearing Warmsley’s face joins those of all the overlooked footsoldiers of the American musical tradition. Rock history, usually a misleading optical effect, a mirage, is consulted here as a guide in an unusual exploration of companionship and loss. Managing to recover both the “loving and the fading, the heart and the break,” Warmsley sketches notes for a rock history of his own.

Charli XCX

Pop 2



Q: If you could only listen to one album for the rest of your life, which one would it be? A: Pop 2. Q: If you could only listen to one song for the rest of your life? A: “Tears.” Q: If you could meet anyone alive who would it be? A: Charli XCX. Q: If you were going to write fanfiction, what fanfiction would it be? A: Pop 2 fanfiction about Brooke Candy, CupcakKe, and Pabllo Vittar in “I Got It.” Q: If you were shrunk to the size of a nickel and put in a blender, how would you get out? A: *starts singing* “Rollercoaster ride, in the fast lane…Unlock it” ♬♫♪ Q: If someone you loved was killed in front of you, but someone created a copy of them that was perfect right down to the atomic level, would they be the same person and would you love them just as much? A: ♬♫♪ *humming the Life Sim sample on “Track 10”*. Q: How would humanity change if human life expectancy were significantly increased (let’s say to around 500 years)? A: *still singing* ♬♫♪ “I’ll be your Femmebot” ♬♫♪ Q: Where do you find meaning in your life? A: Pop 2.



[Deathbomb Arc]


Come for the song titles, stay for the impact. JPEGMAFIA’s second album refines his brash, messy, densely experimental production into a defiant (anti)statement that seems to be anti-everything: anti-narrative, anti-effort, anti-reconciliation. Yet somehow it’s still fun as fuck. Rarely does an album start so hot out of the gate (seriously: “1539 N. Calvert” bangs. so. hard.), but even more rarely does a rap album explore the margins like this and still feel like the coherent work of one producer. Touching on some of our favorite sonic palettes with serious irreverence, Peggy comes off as the poet laureate of our fucked-up zeitgeist. By the time album highlight “I Cannot Fucking Wait Until Morrissey Dies” rolls around, we should be desensitized to his shtick. Instead, we find ourselves ready to become Veterans in his war on everything.

Big Ded


[Embalming Lately]


Big Ded’s Joybender beholds the similar rule-breaker feel that alt rock did in the 1990s. The duo plunges into outsider and noise, flipping typically jarring genres with brushstrokes of bathdub, metamorphosing Joybender’s equation with future pagan and aliencore toxicity. Sure, there are games played with Lolina nods, big-show outsider antics that, up until this point, only Dracula Lewis has figured out, and yes, it indeterminately rips and dips of Chicklette feels, but that’s how Big Ded chews you up without actually digesting or vomiting your remains. At its basic, Joybender is like playing Beyond The Black Rainbow clips between bursts of Adult Swim cartoons. At its most brilliant, Big Ded presents a nearly perfect portrait of making art that appears like it’s constantly (almost unintentionally) incomplete. Embalming Lately been fronting Joybender since February. S/o to Cookcook and Brad Hurst for the directions to Big Ded then and ever since!

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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