Illustration by Alex Gamsu Jenkins

31 Essential Records You Might Have Missed This Year

Here are the releases that may have flown under your radar in a very busy year.

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Dec 13 2018, 4:45pm

Illustration by Alex Gamsu Jenkins

Music! There’s a lot of it. While a few lucky albums, EPs, and mixtapes land spots on coveted year-end lists, they represent only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all the good music that comes out in a year. Here are a few more records we love that might’ve flown under your radar.

See also: The 100 Best Albums of 2018 | The 100 Best Songs of 2018

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A slasher flick-themed hardcore record would typically suffer a fate worse than high school sweethearts taking a midnight skippy dip at Murder Lake. Most bands would probably slap a few Friday the 13th samples between songs, smatter some blood on the cover, and call it a day, but Mark McCoy (Charles Bronson, Das Oath) and James Trejo (Cadaver Dog) have taken their comprehensive knowledge of the horror genre and stabbed it straight into the heart of Deep Blood.

The result is a literal monster of an album, told through the voice of a serial killer as he gnarls and gnashes through 14 tracks. Production-wise, the album does a flawless job of capturing the ambience and tone of a horror movie without beating you over the head with the obvious tropes. Listening to it feels like being alone in the woods—lost, vulnerable, and terrified. —Dan Ozzi | LISTEN

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The ambient music that the California-based composer Emily Sprague makes is humble. Mount Vision, a tape recorded over two days in mid-September, is mostly made up of pieces named after the instruments that birthed them. There’s no overarching concepts or intense thematics laid out in Bandcamp descriptions or press releases, just a few murmuring, slow-moving pieces with titles like “Synth 1” and “Piano 2.” And yet, there are still whole universes contained in these sound, bursts of color and life in every synth sequence or piano melody. The most striking moments appear on the piano-driven pieces, which are mostly simple keyboard live takes, but Sprague gently modulates them electronically, revealing the magic hidden in the mundane. —Colin Joyce | LISTEN

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Ravyn Lenae’s Crush hits you all at once, and it’s over before you’re ready to see it leave. The Chicago singer crafted a 16-minute EP that feels like a brief infatuation with someone who is mildly unattainable. For five tracks, Lenae brings us into sweeping emotions that accompany distant love (“Computer Luv”)—or, conversely, the fear of commitment that can arise once that love is reciprocated (“4 Leaf Clover”). With assistance from The Internet’s Steve Lacy, Crush deftly portrays all the stages of getting to know someone in the digital age. —Kristin Corry | LISTEN

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This German duo cherry-picks from all the best kinds of extreme metal—your black metal, your death metal, your doom, your thrashy bits, some gutter rock 'n' roll, even some puckish Motorpunk and gothic gloom—and conjures up one of the year's more toothsome heavy music offerings with their third full-length, The Modern Art Of Setting Ablaze. Since Mantar first reared its ugly head back in 2012, its most potent weapon has been its ruthless efficiency and commitment to bone-rattling heaviness. Despite their conspicuous lack of bass, Erinc and Hanno reliably lay down complex, destructive tracks that are nothing short of thunderous, and the longtime Noisey faves continue the trend with gusto here. This one should've been huge. —Kim Kelly | LISTEN

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Another Side of the Number Ones is a short EP with only four songs, but they’re four of the year’s very best pop tracks, and continue The Number Ones’ streak as the natural successors to power-pop heroes like Protex, The Exploding Hearts, and Buzzcocks. Combining lo-fi punk aesthetics with pop sensibilities like a Mentos in a Coke bottle, the Dublin band expands here on their cracker of a self-titled debut album (released all the way back in 2014), retaining their sense of humor and self-awareness.

The highlight is “Lie to Me,” a gallop of a tune with two earworm hooks, where the band makes great use of the vocal abilities of all their members. From the wavy-haired “Long Way to Go” to “Breaking Loose,” a steady-footed stomper, Another Side of the Number Ones is a great introduction to a band that has consistently done the hardest thing of all, which is to make complicated, multi-layered music sound exceedingly simple and fun. Let’s hope that next year, it’s a Number Ones album we’re writing about. —Lauren O’Neill | LISTEN

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Just three months after releasing his debut album, Trippie Redd dropped the third chapter in his A Love Letter to You mixtape series, with spectacular results. Opener “Topanga,” which is not an ode to Boy Meets World’s iconic character, turns on a high-pitched sample and church-inspired keys while Trippie sings about gun violence in the small California city. “Wicked,” however, is the gem of the tape, with the rapper bellowing over a winding bassline and hollow synths, “We’ll go to the moon and the stars!” Top to bottom, A Love Letter to You 3 sees its star constantly revising and honing in on his best parts. This one is due for a lot more love and fanfare. —Jabbari Weekes | LISTEN

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It’s a bummer—but also a universal, steadfast fact—that most of our lives will be taken up with hours and hours of menial tasks. Unless you have some particularly exceptional life or job, much of your day is probably just eating and walking and sitting and sleeping. Generally, people like to underplay this aspect of life. Melbourne four-piece Primo—Terry’s Xanthe Waite and Amy Hill, alongside The Shifters’ Violetta DelConte Race, as well as Suzanne Walker—embrace it. Their taut debut record Amici relishes in the tiniest and most mundane moments, whether it’s trying to get around town running errands (“You’ve got a million things to do!” goes opener “You’ve Got A Million”) or going shopping on a public holiday (“Closed Tomorrow”).

Primo’s fascination with life’s minutiae would seem to put them in the same arena as macro-lensed songwriters like Frankie Cosmos’ Greta Kline, but unlike Kline, Primo’s goal is rarely to find joy or metaphor in the mess. Instead, the band hammers home their lyrics through blunt, repeated refrains. Life is always the same, they seem to say; why try hide it? Ironically, Amici itself is never boring; the frantic “Future” manages to make “in the line / out of traffic / got the stapler” sound anthemic, while the winsome melodies of “Ticking Off A List” and “Closed Tomorrow” slowly give way to hooks that stick longer than expected. On the cover of Amici, “Primo” is stylized with an exclamation mark—a gesture towards pure fun that could strike as callous irony on the cover of many other rock records of late. But take Amici for a spin and you’ll probably end up adding an exclamation mark when you talk about Primo too. —Shaad D’Souza | LISTEN

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Five Star Hotel makes volatile music. Per Five Star herself, this record of distorted, digitalist noise-punk is about the trickiness of embodiment, the intertwined tendrils of joy and terror and love and hate that comes with having to be a person and inhabit physical space. She screams at a few different points some things that illustrate this—like on “Cock,” when she yelps something about tearing her skin apart, or on “Hexagoness Rising” when she punctuates a mostly indiscernible chorus with “I don’t know what the fuck is happening to me!” It is tough stuff, it’s not universally crushing. There are also moments like on “Hell Girlz Reunited” where she chants about wanting to persist over squirrelly arpeggiations and distorted kick drums. These are powerful emotions splashing and spilling into one another, and the results are explosive. —Colin Joyce | LISTEN

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Single Mothers mastermind Drew Thomson clearly had some steam to blow off this year, if the band’s Through a Wall LP is any indication. Even the title captures the intensity contained within: through a fuckin’ wall. But Thomson, a prolific writer with no shortage of gripes, needs more space than 14 tracks of pissed-off hardcore will allow. So he made a little EP under the name The Drew Thomson Foundation.

Sonically, the release’s four songs might not put your skull through the sheetrock like his Single Mothers LP—it has more in common with The Hold Steady than Minor Threat—but Thomson’s brash way with words is still on display. Often, he turns lyrics on his own failings, such as when he sings, seemingly into a mirror, “You’ve got to face yourself, shut that fucking mouth / You’re gonna lose everything that you’ve ever held dear, any second here.” Ultimately, though, the EP points to a sobered-up, clear-eyed future: “Diet Coke and lime, don’t know how I became that guy, but it could be a whole lot worse,” Thomson continues. “I’ve got money in the bank, I’ve got gas in the tank, and for the first time the band hasn’t broken up this year.” If Through a Wall is all the regrettable shit you did on Saturday night, Stay is the apology email you have to write on Sunday morning. —Dan Ozzi | LISTEN

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Philadelphia's neo-soul tradition has left its fingerprints on Ivy Sole, a recent transplant, but so have the blues and jazz of her native North Carolina. The Charlotte-born poet mines each of those influences on Overgrown, using a laid-back approach but lacing each word with intentionality, whether she’s rapping or leaning into her smoky singing voice. Across the album’s 13 tracks, she seems eager to find the balance between living a full life and seeking redemption. “Enjoying every pleasure, anticipating the stress,” she raps on “Parables,” employing what seems to be a “Don’t ask for permission, ask for forgiveness” approach. “Les Fleurs,” the closer, is a reminder that forgiveness is a virtue and that you’ve got to be willing to put discretions to the side—even if you’ve committed them against yourself. —Kristin Corry | LISTEN

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Justin Broadrick talks about his techno-leaning efforts as JK Flesh as a form of catharsis. “[Dance music] is an energy,” he said in an interview with Noisey this month. “Seething, white, machine energy. I’m tapping into it to alleviate the pressures of existence. It’s a better release than a guitar—more alien, more out of body.”

Surely he gets some of the spiritual gunk out under his work through other monikers—whether he’s making pummeling metal as Godflesh or soaring guitar ballads as Jesu—but New Horizon shows how machine-music is uniquely positioned to purge the bad shit. The record is cold, dark, and crushing throughout. The melodies—when there are any—are dissonant, occluded by static and grit. Dance music is often talked about for it’s uplifting properties; raves are seen as a place of transcendence. But New Horizon takes the opposite tack. It’s a panic attack in a sensory deprivation tank—techno as exposure therapy. —Colin Joyce | LISTEN

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Cool Sounds’ Cactus Country is made for driving. It’s a big, singalong, windows-down rock record, woozy from minor sunburn and a couple of lukewarm beers in the backseat. There’s some bass, but not a heap, so your shitty car stereo won’t have to work too hard. And it’s pregnant with the wonderful low-stakes thrill that comes from embarking on a leisurely journey, be it a couple of miles down the coast or all the way across the country.

If it sounds like Cactus Country isn’t the product of hard work, think again; the Melbourne seven-piece’s sophomore record is a step up from their debut—2016’s Dance Moves—in nearly every way. Lead singer Dainis Lacey sounds more at home in his own skin now than he did back then, and the songwriting here is meticulous; it takes a lot of work to write tracks as effortlessly catchy as slow-burner “The Beat” or jangling centrepiece “Cassandra.” Lacey’s singing—heavily filtered and hovering high above the warm, warped instrumentals—recalls long-lost vocal takes by some forgotten 70s AM radio crooner; while not quite a concept record, Cactus Country knows what it wants to be and rarely strays from it. Cool Sounds may wear influences on their sleeve (they sound a fair bit like Sheer Mag, Whitney, and Steely Dan), but they also prove that just because something is rooted in a classic sound, doesn’t mean it can’t also feel completely, stunningly new. —Shaad D’Souza | LISTEN

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Social media has obliterated the human attention span, fragmenting most pop culture into bite-sized, digestible portions. (Hell, you don’t even have to watch the opening credits on Netflix anymore.) Fortunately, some veterans of more expansive music like Godspeed You! Black Emperor, City of Caterpillar, Envy, and American Football have pushed back against this state of affairs over the last couple of years, releasing material that reminds listeners that taking your time is still cool.

It’s no coincidence that Toronto’s Respire lists all of the above as influences for their sophomore record, Dénouement. Armed with their epic style of blackened screamo, the band is not afraid to devote more than seven minutes to the album’s sprawling opener—nor are they unwilling to break things down with a softer, three-minute instrumental track in the middle, or close with a sensual saxophone. Dénouement doesn’t immediately fill your need for dopamine hits. It swings big and takes risks to get where it’s headed, however long that takes. —Dan Ozzi | LISTEN

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If you aren’t on board with the fact that a Denton, Texas, band of freaked-out noiseniks calls themselves Gay Cum Daddies, this probably isn’t music made for you. Their new record Metal Beach is a uniformly anxious collection of clattering, rambling, and moans coaxed from humble means. Guitars, bass, drums, a synth, and a sax or two make up the entirety of the credits here, but the sounds they wring from them is uniquely paranoid and overwhelming, a pummeling and scabrous force akin to playing three or four old AmRep records simultaneously. Even the bass and drums, the usual centers of gravity in the tried and true rock band format, are splatter-painted across the tracks here, making everything feel seasick and upsetting. Trust the tin, this one’s not for normies. —Colin Joyce | LISTEN

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Joy von Spain's operatic-level vocal talent is deserving of endless praise. In her main band, Eye of Nix, her voice is by turns fragile and elemental—a soaring Siouxie Sioux-inflected flight and a sepulchral howl of retribution. In To End It All, von Spain's vocal chords partner with unsettling metallic soundscapes hammered out by longtime collaborator and noise artist Masaaki Masao, and take a back seat to the atonal harshness. The beating heart of the duo's debut, Scourge of Woman, is power electronics and spite. Here, the contours of her voice become slick with blood, buried under layers of distortion and stretched into inhuman forms. There is no way out. There is only the end. —Kim Kelly | LISTEN

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Drawing on her years operating on the freakier margins of the SoundCloud underground, the Chicago producer and songwriter Laura Les’ made a record that plays like a Now That’s What I Call Music compilation from another dimension. With the help of like-minded internet buds like the genre-blurring rapper Lil West, the producer and new Mad Decent signee Dylan Brady, and noise-pop songwriter Girls Rituals, she creates a vision of pop music where crystalline club bounciness coexists with screaming and static. It’s catchy and fucked up in equal measure—twisted-up, pitch shifted, and bit-crushed, but still full of saccharine moments that’ll please your lizard brain. It’s a radical recreation: pop music born again, in the image of its creator. —Colin Joyce | LISTEN

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In Freud, the “uncanny” is something that “arouses dread and creeping horror,” typically when something familiar is made one with the unheimlich—the unseen, the concealed. It’s a concept that feels central to Hurting, a full-length project recorded over five years and released this November by London musician Josh Cohen, who makes music as Satanic Ritual Abuse.

Cohen—who also runs the label Memorials of Distinction, which has released music by rising acts like Porridge Radio and JPEGMAFIA—has a knack for taking genres you know and making them feel like they’ve been possessed by a malevolent force. Across Hurting, he gives doo-wop, emo, and chillwave the Exorcist treatment; with smutty basslines (“I.L.Y.”; “Sly”) and spoken audio samples (“George”) disrupting and distorting these familiar-feeling musical types and lending the proceedings a pervasive queasiness. This is a heavy, alluring record which continues to surprise throughout, maintaining the energy of its opening static scream over the course of 47 minutes. For fans of: B-movies, nosebleeds, dissociating. —Lauren O’Neill | LISTEN

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The composer Gonçalo F Cardoso’s new album is a collection of found sounds, woody melodies, and transistor radio static recorded on the Tanzanian island of Unguja. The history of Western music is populated with examples of this kind of project going wrong, of artists and label owners approaching distant lands with a colonialist eye, but Cardoso’s approach is simple and affectionate. The sounds are collaged over one another in ways that run contrary to their natural state—distant birdsongs are spliced together with crackling fires, and droning cicadas with the sideways thrums of elastic stringed instruments. So it’s not just a straight-up travelogue; it’s arranged in a way that’s texturally rich and emotionally resonant, a reminder of the beautiful tenuousness of the natural world around us. —Colin Joyce | LISTEN

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In one of the year’s most unexpected left turns, Kero Kero Bonito—the UK band who came up during the PC Music wave making sugary, J-pop-informed electronic music—decided they were done with glossy synths. The result was Time ‘n’ Place, a loud, weird, distorted record that could only really be described as… bubblegum punk, maybe?

Like the technicolor collage on its cover, the album relishes in strange fusions. On opener “Outside,” game show synth sounds skate atop fuzz-drenched guitars, and vocalist Sarah Bonito’s lyrics can barely be heard. On lead single “Only Acting,” a plasticky drum beat introduces what seems like a classic KKB song, before Josie and the Pussycats-style guitars herald the song’s chorus. That surprise is itself is derailed by distorted screams and, at the song’s end, ear-splitting noise (which is wreathed with Bonito’s heavenly harmonies).

Still, Bonito’s writing maintains a strong sense of emotion throughout; she uses this record like a diary, from “Time Today”’s admissions of self-doubt to “Dump”’s reckoning with loss. Despite what the record’s title suggests, there’s absolutely no sense of grounding to this artistic palette cleanse, and some listeners might find themselves with sonic whiplash after a few minutes. But if you can get past the noise bricolage, there’s clarity, fun, and exhilarating experimentation within. —Shaad D’Souza | LISTEN

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Diana Gordon is finally living life on her own terms. She buried the trauma of her tumultuous childhood and reinvented herself as dance pop star Wynter Gordon. Eight years later, she traded in Wynter’s electric persona for the woman she’s always been: Diana. After years of penning lyrics for artists like Mary J Blige and Beyonce, Pure is the sound of Gordon telling her own story. On the five-track EP, she confronts her dysfunctional relationship with her parents. “Wolverine” recalls her devout Christian mother banging on a tambourine: “And you know she had to make a scene,” she sings. “That's why I left home when seventeen.” “Thank You” is a dedication to her absent biological father: “I don’t remember what you look like / But that’s okay, these days I’m doing alright.” In 17 minutes, Gordon reconciles with the parts of herself she’d been trying desperately to conceal, and now she’s free. —Kristin Corry | LISTEN

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Virginia is currently a wellspring of innovative screamo bands, just as it was in the early 2000s. Leading the pack is Richmond’s Ostraca, who this year released enemy, a record marked by violent shifts and ear-splitting shrieks. Its cover, featuring light peeking through a window into a blackened room, is a pretty good summation of how cathartic this album is. There is an eerie darkness that envelops you, and often it feels inescapable. But occasionally, in the moments when Ostraca builds beautiful, cascading transitions, the glints of hope seep in. —Dan Ozzi | LISTEN

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Screamo can often seem like young person’s game, for a few reasons. For starters, vocal cords were not built to push their limits by hitting impossible ranges for prolonged periods. Additionally, the genre is new enough that there aren’t a whole lot of active veterans. Tom Schlatter is one of the few exceptions. A former member of the pioneering You & I, he’s still performing at blazing speeds in a number of hardcore bands, seemingly intent on going faster and harder as the years go on. The Jersey-based What of Us released a split with Sur L’eau this year, and another project, Hundreds of AU, put out their debut LP, Communications Link Re-established, a thoroughly relentless record. After scorching through six songs, the band takes two minutes to wind down with a brief interlude. Then, as if suddenly remembering their mission, they abruptly come back online and burn through the rest. —Dan Ozzi | LISTEN

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The Australian label Longform Editions is built around the idea that we all need to slow down a bit. Founder Andrew Khedoori told Fact earlier this year that one of the artists on the label compared some music they submitted to “a long soak in a hot bath,” which he found resonant with the overall aims of the imprint. Longform exclusively releases expansive, droney pieces created with the idea that you’ll take a few minutes to listen to them deeply—an experience increasingly at odds with the way people consume music in the algorithm era.

They released an unbelievable trove of music in 2018, but the standout is this 21-minute suite by the Italian synthesist Caterina Barbieri. Her notes for the piece say that the way the melodies overlap is generative, meaning that rather than program each note, she set up a system that sorta composes by itself. She calls the resulting music “very slow and anti-climactic,” but that doesn’t seem quite right. It’s more that the music is unrelentingly tense; the melodies intersect at obtuse and strange angles. But you adjust to it as you listen more deeply, like water in a frigid pool. —Colin Joyce | LISTEN

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The Norwegian field recordist Jana Winderen’s latest album is a document of a dying world. Spring Bloom in the Marginal Ice Zone is packaged with an interview with the ecologist Carlos Duarte, who says, essentially, that it is far too late to save the vibrant life that thrives in the Arctic circle. For this reason, in part, Winderen sought to document some of those species—centering the record on the sounds the spring bloom of photosynthetic algae that provides most of the energy that life in the region thrives on through the cold months. Across 36 minutes, the record crackles, moans, and shivers with the sounds of shattering ice, barking sea lions, and birdsong. It’s cold and foreboding, partially because the place that birthed it is and partially because we know that someday, sooner than you think, these sounds will be gone. —Colin Joyce | LISTEN

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The first 30 seconds of Lost are eerily quiet. The sirens of an ambulance and helicopter blades creep in purposefully. When these are the common sounds of your neighborhood what is often heard as disruptive goes unnoticed, as it does playing at a whisper on the opener of “Why’z It So Hard.” Brent Faiyaz doesn’t spare us on the first track when he contemplates, “Why they want to see me dead? I ain’t even grown yet.” It’s a prompt for “the talk” black parents have with their young children, one that doesn’t include the birds and the bees, and one that might have spared the life of 12-year-old Tamir Rice. “Baby, you got too much to offer / That’s why they want you in a coffin,” he sings. In under 20 minutes, Brent Faiyaz carries the weight of the world on his shoulders, while still managing to talk his shit. It’s the reality of balancing your need to create in a world that too often tells black people they’re disposable, but he is unshaken. Faiyaz has the unnatural ability to make the grim sound beautiful. —Kristin Corry | LISTEN

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The exact origins of the phrase “SoundCloud adderall techno” are kinda nebulous, but DJ Speedsick, the Madison-based proprietor of Snake Eyes & Sevens, is one of its most visible evangelists. The handle could easily describe the tape label’s first batch of releases—it’s all twitchy, low fidelity, fast-as-fuck machine music—but this Julien Andreas tape outlines the form’s possibilities best. It’s eight tracks of chattery hi-hats, anxious arpeggiations, and blown-out drum programming that fly by at what seems an impossibly rapid clip. There are moments that stand out—like the distorted vocal sample that underpins “Thee Iron Incubus,” or the slippery breaks and squealing static on “Seeing Apparitions”—but Trust in Filth is best consumed as a blurry, head-spinning whole as you excitedly grind your teeth to dust. —Colin Joyce | LISTEN

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This release on esteemed experimental imprint Recital contains the work of 16 players, ranging from celestial choirs to gothic string arrangements. Its piecemeal construction is deceptively smooth, and its movements feel practiced and composerly—even if, for example, the nonsense murmurs and rain sounds spliced together in the midst of the opener “Motets” were in fact chiseled by labelhead Sean McCann from larger blocks of sound. McCann treats all the component parts are treated like a patchwork quilt, proudly displaying small but brilliant bits from friends as parts of a warm, enveloping whole. —Colin Joyce | LISTEN

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For Brooklyn, NY’s serpentwithfeet, love is a high-flying affair, filled with peaks and lows, lulls and euphoria. The magic of his debut, soil, comes from the way he crafts lyrics and instrumentals to feel like theater. To that end, “mourning song” functions as a mission statement of sorts, with the artist triumphantly singing, “I don't want to be small, small, sad / I want to be big, big, sad / I want to make a pageant of my grief.” “Cherubim,” with its grandiose strings and heavy grunts, is a contemplation of the dire nature of true devotion and the cost of its “curse.” What sounds like high praise in the name of companionship (“I get to devote my life to him / I get to sing like the cherubim”) is, upon further reflection, a heartbreaking confession of how painful it is to center yourself while connected to someone else. Soil, at its core, is a disturbingly insightful examination of the nuances of human interaction—mentally, physically, and spiritually. —Jabbari Weekes | LISTEN

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It’s been a strange trip for the Tokyo-based psych rock outfit Kikagaku Moyo. Following the band’s third full-length in 2016, its members dispersed to other parts of Japan and to Amsterdam, all while touring extensively around the world. Masana Temples reflects that intercontinental momentum, departing from the sprawling, folkier jams of past records in favor of a journey through a world of the band’s own creation. “Masana,” Kikagaku’s made-up word for the sensation of utopia, is “an existence where everything can interact harmoniously and offer inspiration and understanding.” That’s tall order to live up to, but they pull it off well.

Songs like “Dripping Sun” and “Orange Peel” veer unpredictably from halcyon strums, to rhythmic chants, to explosive guitar solos in a matter of minutes; “Fluffy Kosmisch” and “Majupose” are steadier, but still thrilling because of the band’s ability to siphon tension and momentum from repetition and negative sonic space. It’s less the kind of stuff you commit to memory or subjectivize than music that’s perpetually present and ego-less—the sensation of being inside of something bigger than the sum of its parts. —Andrea Domanick | LISTEN

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Florida-based musician Sunmoonstar’s take on slow-moving synth music has always felt a little stranger than your typical composerly ambient work. Her sounds are full of life and love, as if making them was more like horticulture than traditional composing—raising them up from seeds, then watering them gently until they bud and unfold. Of all her releases, Картины is perhaps most indicative of the biodiversity she’s able to pull from her shimmering arpeggios, which evoke the patterns of certain cruciferous vegetables in their complex, fractal arrangements. It’s the sound of her powers in full bloom. —Colin Joyce | LISTEN

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Over the past few years, Byrell the Great has duly earned that honorific by bending the boundaries of what ballroom music can be. This mixtape is the best full-length demonstration of the producers’ cinematic approach to the sound, spinning snippets from ball culture’s most famous document, Paris Is Burning, around samples from stranger sources, like old Busta Rhymes hits and, uh, that one Drowning Pool song. It’s incredibly hype, as club music tends to be, but Byrell’s aim to use samples to tell a story comes through too. It serves as a reminder that this music isn’t just another dancefloor form—for many it offers a family, and a home. —Colin Joyce | LISTEN

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