2018: Second Quarter Favorites 26 incredible music releases from the last three months

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

emamouse X yeongrak

mouth mouse maus

[Quantum Natives]


Hey, not to bring this up here, but borders, am I right? Why do we even have these invisible lines dividing my side from yours? We can get so much more done without them, not to mention the added benefit of not having to split up families in real life as they cross the imaginary demarcations. Who on earth has the chutzpah to enact stupid shit like that? Not emamouse — no way. No, emamouse had the opposite in mind as she commented from her Tokyo base of ops, “What’s this thing keeping me out of New Zealand? An ocean? Screw that!” And thus, the BORDER between Japan and New Zealand was erased forever — whether through the magic of the internet or the ocean suddenly turning into a jello trampoline is anyone’s guess. But emamouse was no longer separated from NZ sound slinger/cartoon centipede yeongrak, and together, through the magic of Quantum Natives, mouth mouse maus was born, a sticky, gooey, sugary, epilepsy-inducing strobe blast of video-game grit and played-with-too-much pink slime from a plastic egg. Cookcook, in her review, inferred that utopias can emerge from collectivity, highlighting the compatibility of these two artists. I think what she meant was “Fruitopia,” which someone obviously spilled all over the mouth mouse maus backup hard drive. Remember Fruitopia? That was Coca-Cola’s own attempt to eradicate borders, except they were the borders between taste and… OK, between them and your money.

Félicia Atkinson


[Geographic North]


I once went to New Mexico but mostly stayed inside. Reasons why. Félicia Atkinson’s Coyotes, inspired by her own trip to New Mexico, maps a journey I may have taken, among other wonders. The crafted narrative and its exploratory form gestures toward an experiential unknown. Her travel log collages echoes, maps, receipts, dried leaves, sand stuck in the crevices of shoes, plaques, diary entries, signposts, mythology, spirituality, and the facts and facets of the land’s native and colonial histories into a total atmosphere, something approaching a direct translation of a lingering impression. It’s so effective and affecting, because the whole is actually a scrap: “a slip of paper, something/tiny & torn off/lifted by the wind” writes poet Christian Hawkey in Citizen Of. Atkinson lineates her memories into similarly moving verses.

Pusha T


[G.O.O.D. Music]


DAYTONA by Pusha T is hard work. It’s this blurb being written at 5:20 AM on the 7-train to “the office” a day after having led 46 tweens on a non-stop four-day Boston field trip. It’s teaching about heterosexism and female empowerment, leading sixth grade field day, and handling logistics for eighth grade graduation in a single day. It’s your body feeling like a crash-test dummy on a Wednesday, having left in the early, early morning, putting in 12 hours of sweating gallons for money, and arriving home at 8:30 PM. It’s wearing Terminator shades on 125th Street talking Spanish to people you never met. It’s the endurance of confidence while facing every fear you’ve experienced — focused — diving straight into the freezing water. DAYTONA proves Pusha T and Kanye are relentless professionals that continue to transcend literary and sonic aesthetics in space and time. We need role models like these, forever.

DJ Koze

Knock Knock



Many publications have referred to Stefan Kozalla as a “trickster” or a “prankster.” While there are freckles of truth on the face of that assessment, much of his affability comes from his most mistaken quality: his earnestness. It’s what makes him such a delightful musicmaker. Being earnest, of course, is the perfect foil to the kind of negativist universalism that plagues the psychedelics/mindfulness landscape in which DJ Koze so often finds himself (and, also, finds himself). Koze’s House is perfect (see: “Pick Up”) and his plunder-pop turns weird into sublime and vice versa (see: the wails incorporated into “Scratch That”), but it’s his unpresuming and gracious approach to influences, samples, and collaborations that push this record into extraordinary territory. It’s not alien; it’s absolutely Earthly, and it reflects so well the modest subject that is Koze. After all, Koze never changes, except in his affections.

Elysia Crampton

Elysia Crampton

[Break World]


Elysia Crampton opens in media res, with a nativity. And then it revs up, restlessly — its machinic gears grind like plant medicine visions; water flows and burbles; disharmonic chords take us in unanticipatable directions. And through it all, the oscollo, the feline guardian of people outside gender binaries, oscillates wildly. Elysia Crampton’s maximalist approach takes it beyond the strings and cackles of 2016’s Demon City, yet Golgotha remains always present. Standout track “Moscow (Mariposa Voladora)” was inspired by Ofelia, a Bolivian mariposa (“femme revolutionary”), and it judders roughly, darkly. Crampton’s Aymara and trans identity are her displaced subjects, particularly in light of the gestural movement between her origins in Bolivia and her current home in the US. But this is not any straightforward folk music revival — rather, it’s a deconstruction that reconstructs. The difficulties and contradictions of critical theory, in particular writers such as José Muñoz and his exploration of queer brown-ness, are braided into the work. The first written reference to queers as mariposillas (“little butterflies”) is from Pedro Cieza de León, in the 16th century, in which he compares “sodomites,” subject to punishment by burning at the stake, to moths drawn to the flame. The suffering of our ancestors can’t be recuperated, but through art, we may yet dance grotesquely but triumphantly on the pyre.

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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