2019: Second Quarter Favorites 25 incredible 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


Music is just about dead. It’s been in a downtrend for years now, continually re-testing the strength of one of its last major levels of support. But the more you consolidate above support, the more likely it’ll break to the downside for further lows, which is when music fans will start panic selling their music and looking for different markets to pour their money into.

Music needs a catalyst to re-enter a bull market. Will our favorite releases of Q2 2019 be exactly what music fans need to be bullish again on music? The radiance of Erika de Casier? The bonfire ASMR drone of Helm? The dark-comic culture-war metacriticism of Quelle Chris? The interlocking chordal geometries of Ellen Arkbro? The protective plume of Aldous Harding? The gothic tales from billy woods & Kenny Segal? The deadpan tarraxo of Puto Tito? The enigmatic pranksters and fun-seeking carnivalians of CHAI? The beautiful firebombs of City & i.o? The sweet & sour love of Weyes Blood, the bodily love of Tami T, or the straight-up sex music from Carly Rae?

Nope, we’re on a sinking ship. See you at the local bottom for the dead-cat bounce before all-time lows. RIP Music. <3


Weyes Blood

Titanic Rising

[Sub Pop]

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[LISTEN · READ]

Despite the casual insistence to connect Natalie Mering with the Laurel Canyon music scene of the late 60s and early 70s, there is little pessimism and portentousness associated with those West Coast folk on the latest Weyes Blood album. Titanic Rising may address the same failed-hopes ethos shared by eras then and now, but it doesn’t reflect it. Showing a new insight and maturity, Mering’s lyrics are suffused with personal feelings on timeless realities. Sweet love and sour love are romanticized, but never vacuous; the estranged notions of security and freedom are confounding as ever. Her musical range has expanded as well. From stem to stern, there are oodles of goosepimple moments on Titanic Rising. The world boils over, yet Mering keeps a hopeful simmer, reacting to the current state of affairs without fear or rage or even a simple world-weariness, apposite of living in “these times.” With Titanic Rising Mering makes sincerity cool again, and that can sustain lives.


Erika de Casier

Essentials

[Independent Jeep Music]

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Even in its most sun-dappled, starry-eyed moments, Erika de Casier’s music radiates with uncommon strength. Whether her head’s in the clouds, her heart is in the dumps, or she’s losing herself on the dance floor, de Casier knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to ask her partner for clarity, intimacy, or the space to just do her own thing. In echoing the wistfulness of G-funk, the sultriness of 2-step, and the weapons-grade verve of a Timbaland production, de Casier aligns herself with the emotionally heavy, feather-light styles of Brandy, Monica, and Aaliyah without descending into parody and pastiche. Hers is the rare record that quietly lives up to the audacity of calling one’s debut Essentials.


DJ Nate

Take Off Mode

[Planet Mu]

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When Chicago-based DJ Nate tripwires the tail of R&B flow (“Just Be Truu”) and bites off the butt-end of beats (“You Ain’t Ready To Battle”), lucid grip slips then reclines (“Go Krazy”). Stiff alterations of angel suave (“Oh Woooaaah,” “Talk 2 Me”) cross paths over multiple octaves and deny resolve. After death, Nathan Clark suspends your favorite tagline in cold cloud limbo, forgotten soundbites on loan from lost club library. You listen to this footwork through packed earth, following the rise and fall of your voice above the cheek-and-finger-tom thump, as it orbits Planet Mu, adrift and smooth severed. Short palm lines free float off the clock hand.


TREE

We Grown Now.

[Soul Trap Music]

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What I find most striking about We Grown Now. is that, fundamentally, it needn’t exist. The clue’s in the title; TREE’s not growing, but grown. Full stop. “I may never do a show again,” the Trap Genius confesses on “No Lies,” seemingly ready to pull the plug on his music career altogether. And yet, We Grown Now. does exist. This is where TREE’s at circa 2019, and this is what it took to get here. Because growth isn’t linear, nor is it easily definable. You can build a kingdom, lose a few people along the way (“I don’t talk to none them niggas now”), nurture existing relationships, or perhaps strike up a few new ones. TREE’s talked about pursuing “reality rap” in interviews, and by the time the album’s emotional centerpiece “Letter To MY Sons” rolls around, as a father’s advice is delivered with a father’s intensity and directness, it’s clear that his reality animates the very core of his music. He may be grown, on the cusp of fading to black, but on the strength of We Grown Now., there can surely be more overspill — more soul, more trap, more TREE.


Tami T

High Pitched And Moist

[Trannytone]

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[LISTEN]

Do you think you’re better off alone? Would Tami T’s glorious, crushing High Pitched And Moist hit the same? If its opener’s lyrics didn’t describe my one-time-everyday? If her pitched-up voice didn’t sound like how I’d like mine to? I’d recommend Tami even if every single horny, grief-stricken word didn’t ring true. We think she’s got comforting to do. Good luck shaking the “LA-LA-LA” chorus from “Princess” out of your head. Or unshaking yourself after hearing the way she releases anger, transforms it into wisdom or noise. From the messy title to Eero Lampinen’s pink cover, both so femme as to be confrontational (or an invitational!), we were hooked — dancefloored, crying. Yes, here’s some POP with POWER, to imagine a whole new world, confession, anthem, mucous, yolk. There you are, hating to hate to love to love your body in the club, stuck in no ways, shaking the habitual by shaving every single day, chugging dumb b*tch juice, singing! Tami T makes music for — who else? I’ll fly with you.

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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