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


Your Old Droog

It Wasn’t Even Close

[Self-Released]

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[LISTEN · READ]

Far beyond the common characteristic of wanting to please, Your Old Droog makes the type of music he wants to make. Case in point: It Wasn’t Even Close. Droog is a man so full of fantastic bars they seem to drop out of him at will. And with the aid of executive producer Mach-Hommy, he crafted a record to rival any rap release of this year. Too many lines to quote. Too many impressive features to number. Overall, too many nods to give. But Droog gets the final, overall nod. An observation: what’s most striking about It Wasn’t Even Close is the pure fun and skill of his flow. Also, “Babushka” is song-of-the-year material for me. Just saying.


City & i.o

Spirit Volume

[PTP]

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It’s shitty to suggest this, but: perhaps in just the right (metaphorical) circumstance, carpet-bombing can be a “very effective” strategy? One deft and sycophantic track at a time, the low-profile Canadian pair of City & i.o. assaulted the scant, 34-ish-minute terrain of Spirit Volume with a full blitz of catastrophic but exuberant synth-spray, static-gas, and drum-fire. But what really turned the carnage-ravaged results into a “mission accomplished” was just how sober, thoughtful, and downright meticulous the duo’s stratagems were. The album’s “cinematic slabs of fight-scene tech-noir” were dropped from above in a merciful ebb-and-flow pattern and felt more loving than terrifying, more cerebral than anxious, resulting in nine beautiful firebombs. Do NOT try this at home.


マヒトゥ・ザ・ピーポー (MahiToThePeople)

Yasashiihonyuurui

[Jusangatsu]

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[LISTEN]

GEZAN frontman and lo-fi polymath マヒトゥ・ザ・ピーポー (MahiToThePeople) finds a quiet introspection in solo work that’s all but purged from his band’s frenzied post-hardcore assault. Never before, though, had he so enthusiastically retreated into solitude than in the first half of 2019, which spawned a pair of warm and muffled Mahi LPs in February and April, respectively. While the first was a more traditional foray into wispy chamber folk à la Iron and Wine or early Belle and Sebastian, April’s やさしい哺乳類 (“friendly mammals”) delved headlong into lounge-jazz hip-hop cyphers, post-rock throwbacks, and slowcore-tinged bossa nova. Spreading 8 tracks over roughly 45 minutes, やさしい哺乳類 was a slow-paced entry into the DIY canon that lavished care onto its eclectic whims. Here, マヒトゥ・ザ・ピーポー proved himself an auteur of pocket-sized proportions.


Sarah Davachi

Pale Bloom

[W.25TH]

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Every so often (OK, quite frequently and quite purposefully), I find myself stuck in a YouTube hole of obscure classical music uploads; it’s how I originally discovered La Monte Young and Julius Eastman, two of my favorite composers and two of Sarah Davachi’s obvious predecessors. What I love about getting lost in these loops for hours at a time is how YouTube’s algorithms function as a kind of DJ for all these culturally related pieces that supposedly eschew any such context. After awhile, I hardly know what I’m hearing or what I’ve heard, but it all bleeds together like a tuning at a dress rehearsal. Pale Bloom, like YouTube and its infinite treasures, provokes this spirit of passive wonder through gentle, spiraling piano phrases that beckon deeper and deeper into its drapery until there is nothing left but knots. Tangled in melancholy and smothered in confusion, I retrace my steps each time, always approaching that second I nodded off, but never centering in; always empty-handed but, curiously, always full at heart.


Mukqs

SD Biomix

[Orange Milk]

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[LISTEN · READ]

We’re here dissolving in the drums, waiting transubstantiation by slabs of synth. As the pianos clinked away, we felt that kick pulse. We were invited by skittering electronics to peek over the edge of New Age serenity. We are a collage of moments moving toward yet eluded by the reassurance of solid footing. Some sounds cry out from their origin, others slither from the ooze as a refracted reference points. They like to tussle, interwoven, along ridges and furrows. As sonic memories grow closer in plastic space, they reach out to one another, pursuing smoothness. We oscillate between the two as they become one smooth surface.

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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