NPR: July 2018

It feels like there's a bit of a lull with music right now, but somehow I still found 14 things that I like enough to write a couple sentences about. I think the lower volume overall helped me look into things a bit differently and appreciate them more. Hopefully you have a similar experience! 

For July, though, it's kinda dark. Of my favorites, only Kimbra has more levity than heaviness. The Low is beautiful, but almost sits in the same industrial landscape as the NIN and Death Grips at times. For electronic music, Jon Hassell won't bum you out, and Ross from Friends is peppy. Khotin and Eleventeen Eston are chill, and the others are impenetrably dark for most.

Also! I made a Top 20 of 2018 so far, with my usual system, but combined all in one list. If you're looking to catch up on the year so far, I recommend this.


But here's July Songs:

Low - Double Negative - This album feels like a step forward for Low in a way that I’ve been hoping for since C’mon. The textures and minimalism are perfectly suited for their voices, subject matter, and raison d’etre.

Kimbra - Primal Heart - Lovely synthy art pop that takes on a lot of different production and vocal stylings from track to track. There are moments of huge major key choruses, but then there's a lot of headphone ear candy, too. I keep catching myself singing tracks in my daily life, and I've now been humming about six different ones in the past couple weeks.

Nine Inch Nails - Bad Witch - This makes me wish I was a big enough fan to go catch them at the Wang in October. I might actually try to become a big enough fan, we'll see.

Death Grips - Year of the Snitch - Year of Nate liking Death Grips! I'm finally on board with this weird blend of hip-hop, insane percussion, and industrial beats. This is a well sequenced album whose standouts don't detract from the overall energy.

Drake - Scorpion - It is a mixed bag and deserving of mixed reviews, but there’s a lot to like on Scorpion. Songs are shorter and pithier than before, and there are more hits than misses. It does play straight through pretty well too, if you have 90 min to spare.

Tierra Whack - Whack World - The mp3s are nice to have, but watch this:
The Internet - Hive Mind - Funky full band alt-R&B with consistently good hooks. They're no The Roots, but they use enough notes from them to make a convincing record.


And Electronic: 

Jon Hassell - Listening to Pictures - I don’t feel like I have enough context to fully appreciate this record from Brian Eno peer Jon Hassell, but this record stands on its own very well. It is melodic and complex in a way that abstract music usually cannot be. Or perhaps it is weird and textured in a way that jazz usually cannot be.

Ross From Friends - Family Portrait - Full bodied house that somehow is still getting labeled as Outsider. I don't really mind, cause it's on Brainfeeder, so that means the whole Outsider movement is gaining traction on larger labels. Hopefully everyone will be not dancing to house music in a house near you soon! Definitely worth some listens!

Khotin - Beautiful You - A whimsical, self-released ambient tape that shimmers and glides along, improving upon last year's New Tab with even weirder bits of found vocals. With so many of the good tape labels slowing down, it's nice to see Khotin carrying the torch of the Outsider genre himself.=

Abul Mogard - Above All Dreams - I haven't gotten through to the other side with this one, but I've been enjoying it so far. I think it’s a lot about being ready to take in something massive and beautiful.

Eleventeen Eston - At the Water - A day at the new age ambient house beach. Background music for cool events.

Lotic - Power - J'Kerian Morgan is experiencing a somewhat similar trajectory to Daniel Lopatin. Where Lopatin set trends in vaporwave and progressive electronic, Morgan peddles in Deconstructed Club. Morgan tries to package these crazy sounds as songs this time around in a more intentional way, grounding them with their own vocals to imbue some humanity.

SØS Gunver Ryberg - SOLFALD - Heavy and intense techno and dark ambient experiments. The length leaves you wanting more, especially if you miss Demdike Stare like I do.