2018: Third Quarter Favorites 25 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

At last, we present our final quarter feature before heading into the year-end festivities. Our favorite releases from 2018’s third quarter — spanning roughly mid-June to mid-September — were culled somewhat informally through staff ratings and individual pitches, resulting in picks that flow right into TMT’s general taste next to ones that feel resistant to the awkward, subsuming implications of a “canonizing” endeavor like this.

This quarter found us listening to pop both fractured (Tirzah) and mythological (Perfume), where synapses and electrical relays fired off in all different directions (Fire-Toolz) while “saw wave” slapstick perked our ears up (die Riehe). There was Greek mythology (Hermit and The Recluse), hallmarks of the singeli sound (Bamba Pana), and transmodern monuments to Western cowboys (Mitski, Jeff Witscher). The apocalypse may have been on the dance-floor (Amnesia Scanner), but so too was a new kind of healing (Upgrayedd Smurphy) and, not to mention, the sexiest voice in music (Channel Tres). And while the list may start with brittle, stagnant majesty (Yves Tumor), it ends with a galactic curtain call (Spirtualized).

Check out the list below, and thanks as always for reading. We appreciate you all. <3

Yves Tumor

Safe in The Hands of Love



With all of us horfing down so much dry food, we got a nerve using “stale” in the perjorative. Stagnant majesty looms large with Yves Tumor’s pleasant surprise of a twisty-turny, gloomy pop record. It’s a brittle thing. A desolate clam shell crunch. Dull brilliance, twitchy, sticky sheen getting heads cozy well zonked. Flashback rock with the traumatic clamor turned up to eye-jellying levels (thanks in part to rowdy guests oxhy and Puce Mary). Every sour rumination grows like time-lapse lichen, climaxing brilliantly with Preoccupations-style throttle when you “Let the Lioness In You Flow Freely,” sealed in your serene stupor. Safe in The Hands of Love is an exquisitely junk-drawer despondent case for ending this 2018 business early.

공중도둑 (Mid-Air Thief)

무너지기 (Crumbling)



Like Elephant 6 East or the Yellowest of Houses, Crumbling by South Korea’s Mid-Air Thief is a masterpiece of autumn psychedelia. It may not quite transcend its influences, but that’s hardly the point. The album is the enchanting sound of a million fireflies lighting your way home through the forest, everything fragmented by this rotten world coming together again as one fantastically buzzing ecosystem. Put this thing on, walk outside, and breathe the crisp air of some idealized forest clearing, so many golden oranges and yellows. “I am alive!” you may scream, never surer of the truth of the statement. “I am aliiiiiiiiiiiiive!!!!!” Its title Crumbling is something of a misnomer. This is music for picking up the pieces and becoming whole again.


Cruel Practice



Oh, I guess you know, just how far I like to go…,” but is the listener brave enough to follow you there? SHYGIRL’s is a shivering yet brutal world of menacing alleyways and the screeching squeak of fingers drawn across PVC, early Tricky hauntology for times even darker than the 90s. Blane Muise’s disaffected spitfire flow floats and dives over an insistent production that’s somehow both grimey and crystalline. Those whiney extroverted introverts should consider themselves lucky they don’t have SHYGIRL’s problems, but on the other hand, Cruel Practice is the sound of her having them and not caring… and it’s stupefying.

Armand Hammer


[Backwoodz Studioz/PTP]


Blurb this shit: ROME is ONE OF THE BEST ALBUMS OF ALL TIME. Its follow-up, Paraffin is, well, its follow-up. As with any Armand Hammer full-length, there are moments of searing brilliance, challenging beats, rhymes that make worlds of everyday observations and mundanities of world events, that make the immediate everlasting and vice versa. It has, however, the unfortunate position of arriving on the heels of ONE OF THE BEST ALBUMS OF ALL TIME. This being repeated for posterity, Paraffin is remarkable in that although it materializes just nine months after ROME, it does not exist only in the shadow of its predecessor. Rather, at least judging by the larger critical response, Paraffin might actually prove to overshadow ROME when all is said and done, when lists are tallied and listeners consider their preferred alt-rap projects. If ROME’s greatness was unlistable in the total awfulness of its earth-scorch, then Paraffin’s is the stuff of which lists are made, the ground upon which critical appraisal must kneel in obeisance. No, no, don’t get up. Simply shrug shoulders and say, yeah, you got us there.


Be the Cowboy

[Dead Oceans]


Be the Cowboy. The title brings to mind John Wayne, Rooster Cogburne, the Marlboro Man, The Sundance Kid — all these alpha male types. The songs are stories, little missives from mostly women narrators struggling with the gulf between their self-presentations and the frailty they feel inside — they grow jealous over exes they mean to be friends, they ask for “one good movie kiss,” they and their husbands are sticking together “at least in this lifetime.” The music mixes Puberty 2’s grunge accents with new wave and the polish of, like, Alright, Still — gleaming on top and a little glowering beneath. Mitski’s tie-in merch has presented whimsical variations on the title — “free the cowboy” on a combination lock, candy apple red; “feed the cowboy” on a hoop spoon, color ditto; “dream the cowboy” on a pillow case. Each slogan a tiny call toward a kind of self-actualization, to a little misguided confidence, to a sure hand, half earned, in a whirlwind. It is as if to say, maybe, for all the issues there are with cowboys, above-named and otherwise, if you could peel away some of the certainty of their being, their ease in the world, like a string off a string cheese, you really might have something.

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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