Top 10 Tracks – June 2019

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Top 10 Tracks – June 2019

Jackson Wyatt, Digital Editor-in-Chief

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June is a month about release. With schools letting out and summer beginning, tensions are dropping and excitement over the coming months’ possibilities is forming. Some may have jobs and other responsibilities to tend to, but you cannot help but feel a collective breath of relief in the air. At least some form of relaxation is upon us, and one of the best ways to wind down is music. Whether you plan to play or simply listen, music is surely going to shape your summer (or at least the memories). Here are ten tracks to make your first month of freedom just a little bit brighter.

 

  1. (Sandy) Alex G, ‘Gretel’

With the lead single to his upcoming album House of Sugar, Philadelphia singer-songwriter (Sandy) Alex G has captured an almost unexplainable essence. First and foremost, ‘Gretel’ is breathtakingly gorgeous, rushing in on a wave of humid, droning instrumentation after its pitch-shifted intro. The song channels a dark, natural energy, letting off the evergreen hue of a forest’s underbrush. There is also a resounding sense of tension, partially resolved half-way through the song but always lingering. ‘Gretel’ feels uncanny and slightly dirty for no apparent reason, existing as a companion piece to the uncomfortableness of Harmony Korine’s Gummo and the claustrophobia of highly personal documentaries. Similar to looking out at a wide-open sky filling with ominous storm clouds,  ‘Gretel’ has a weight and beauty that is difficult to explain or replicate. In short, it is phenomenal.

 

  1. Zach Fox feat. Kenny Beats, ‘Jesus Is The One (I Got Depression)’

What do you get when you cross one of the rap game’s most addictively funny personalities with one of the best producer-extraordinaires? Apparently, an amazing track. Recorded for Kenny Beats’ “The Cave” freestyle series (which you should definitely check out), ‘Jesus Is The One’ is so memorable and quotable that it feels anything but improvised. Kenny’s production is as sharp as always, chopping an old soul sample and cloudy synths in with his classic, head-rattling 808s and kicks. It is the perfect vessel for Fox’s overflowing suitcase of personality and gut-punching lines. Though ‘Jesus’ comes in at just under two minutes, he manages to fit in a crowd of hilarity, giving a premature eulogy to Betty White (she is still very much alive), shouting out mental illness and calling himself “the trap game Abraham Lincoln.” Call it childish if you want, but‘Jesus’’s best attribute is how carefree and goofy it lets itself be. Check it out for the best laugh you will have this month.

 

  1. Girl Band, ‘Shoulderblades’

After searching for their lyrics on website after website and listening closely to try and discern anything from the near-unintelligible vocals, you may be left wondering: What is Girl Band even talking about? The Dublin post-punk four-piece’s new single ‘Shoulderblades’ comes after a tour cancellation and years of relative silence, and as a piece of music, it may be hard to make heads or tails of at first. All-in-all, it is loud, dissonant and difficult to understand. Words slip through the cracks of ear-splitting guitars as vocalist Dara Kiely seems to gutturally shout about oranges, door hinges, getting higher and telling everyone to shush. The oddest part is that the vocals still manage to stick, largely in part to the addictive pattern of screaming on the chorus. ‘Shoulderblades’ is less about clarity and more about the gargantuan, terrifying nature of its composition, similar to finding hidden faces in an abstract painting of red and black streaks. If you can stomach it, it is a remarkable feat of passion and expressive musicality. 

 

  1. Joji, ‘Sanctuary’

Between his long run as a YouTube content creator and quickly grasped prominence in the indie scene, it is sometimes easy to forget that New York singer and producer Joji is relatively new to the craft. His debut studio album BALLADS 1 was so rooted in its own lo-fi, synth-trap cocktail that it felt like a permanent, impenetrable rock for Joji to chain himself to, but ‘Sanctuary’ serves as a breaking of this chain in the name of evolution. It is a glorious one at that, too, blending his romantic complications with a leaner and cleaner structure. For one, his vocals are more stunning than ever, switching from a well-enunciated flow to warming falsetto as the addictive melody blossoms. The production is just as excellent, managing to channel the nocturnal slickness of current pop music without its worn homogeny. Joji’s still interested in making music that registers as dark and spacey; the atmosphere has just lost a lot of cluttering debri. With a song as good as ‘Sanctuary,’ you will not mind floating up there a bit. 

 

  1. Le Butcherettes, ‘nothing/BUT TROUBLE’

Recorded live at Clouds Hill Studios, Mexican punk band Le Butcherettes’ recent rendition of their track ‘nothing/BUT TROUBLE’ manages to knock the excellence of the original out of the water. On a purely technical level, the room’s acoustics and the recording equipment used work against kneecapping the production, providing a surprising amount of clarity and brightness to the band’s aggressive playing. Guitars drone, screech and cry as vocalist Teri Gender Bender sings of the anguish that comes along with a complicated relationship. Sure, it is a tried and true subject, but Le Butchettes make you believe every word. They are serious. At its core, the rendition’s selling point is the passion it exudes. Every band member exhibits a palpable fury in their execution of the song’s elements, playing like it is the last song they will ever play. It is a hurricane, and in the eye is Teri, crooning, shouting and moaning as if her life depends on it. If only for a moment, it is exceedingly easy to believe.

 

  1. Christian Leave, ‘Darling’

If you have happened to sit through a YouTube Vine compilation before, chances are that you have already seen Christian Leave’s face. His wide eyes and unkempt hair are front-and-center on his recent double-single’s cover, donned in a mustard-yellow sweater and pink suit jacket as he sits in the back of a car, looking off with a neutral face. ‘Darling’ itself is overflowing with emotions, though, letting Leave unapologetically cycle through the sappy emotions of new love. Spending time together feels extraordinary, and being apart is like death. Reading the lyrics out, it admittedly comes off a little cheesy, but never nauseating. Leave is just being honest, embodying the wide-eyed tone of the Disney ballads everyone has come to love. The instrumental is magical, too, blending milky guitar strums with showers of piano keys and a pencil-on-tabletop beat. Like most candies, it is a sickly sweet confection that will keep you coming back nonetheless. Christian Leave may have found his start getting laughs, but his music is no joke.

 

  1. Backxwash, ‘Don’t Come to the Woods’

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. It is a phrase properly ingrained in our culture, but on her new track ‘Don’t Come to the Woods,’ Montreal-based rapper Backxwash sounds like she has become hell herself. Her voice stands unshakably strong in the mix of reverbed cries, rumbling bass and rattling percussion as she warns the audience of the titular phrase, emitting so much power that the only possible danger must be her. The lyrics are unmistakably pagan, queer and angry, too, boiling over through tightly-rapped verses writhing with quiet fury. The Sabbatic deity Baphomet is rhymed with homophobic slurs, thrown out at the audience like sharp branches. It all feels very edgy, and many would classify ‘Don’t Come’ as horrorcore. While that genre tag makes sense, Backxwash’s content undeniably puts a spin on it. Many of its typical examples (even surface-level ones like Tyler, the Creator’s Goblin or Eminem’s darker cuts) tend to exploit misogyny for shock factor, but on ‘Don’t Come to the Woods,’ Backxwash is a force no one can exploit. Take the title to heart. 

 

  1. Alex Cameron, ‘Divorce’

Pop music may often be viewed through a gray lens, but it has been known to favor some of the music world’s most colorful characters. Maybe that is why Australian singer-songwriter Alex Cameron’s style works so well. His physical appearance embodies somewhere between an old-school hacker and Blockbuster employee, pairing excellently with his semi-ironic lyrics and 80’s-inspired instrumentation. His recent single ‘Divorce’ is a delicious slice of vintage power-pop à la Elton John or Bruce Springsteen, slamming runaway piano melodies and a raucous beat together with his typically hilarious themes. As the title suggests, Cameron is focusing on premonitions of divorce lyrically, threatening to sleep on his friends’ futon couch instead of being with his lover. All at once, it is dismal, hysterical and memorable. The chorus is fist-pumpingly anthemic, too, snagging itself on the edge of your mind in all of its odd glory. Dancing through the tears has never felt so good. 

 

  1. Shygirl, ‘UCKERS’

Who knew dancehall and horror-movie screams could go so well together? That sentence itself is inherently ridiculous, but London rapper/producer Shygirl seems to make anything possible. On her new track ‘UCKERS,’ she bends high-pitched shrieks behind a subterranean beat and her ice-cold flow, creating an addictive mix that should not work to any extent. It does, though, and its off-kilter production is the leading factor towards the song’s allure. ‘UCKERS’ sounds like someone on the prowl, dodging through pulsing club lights and dark back-alleys on a nocturnal hunt. Shygirl exudes an enormous sense of confidence, brandishing her sexuality as a means of dangerous power in her expertly-rapped verses. While the titular slang word is often used for negative connotations (just look it up), ‘UCKERS’ finds Shygirl being wonderfully shameless and deliciously devilish. She has no time for judgement, and with a track so explosively fun, you cannot help but root for her. The dark side has never looked so good.

 

  1. Caroline Polachek, ‘Door’

New York singer Caroline Polachek knows a little something about song-writing. From a wide array of featuring credits (including Travis Scott and Beyonce) to her long stint as lead vocalist for the acclaimed band Chairlift, Polachek has garnered quite a few accolades and sharpened her skills down to fine points. Her recent single ‘Door’ is as graceful as watching a ballerina twirl on her tiptoes, studied, soft and breathtaking. It also employs a similarly cyclical nature, blooming again and again without coming close to out-staying its welcome. Polachek sings about her own smallness in the city surrounding her and the universe as a whole, wondering who she is singing her songs for and why she keeps chasing those who leave. Refreshingly, though, she seems at peace with these struggles, letting herself melt into the nebulously smooth instrumental with a sense of resounding calmness. Like watching a dancer spin before your eyes, the result is hypnotizing, and you will not mind the dizziness a bit.

 

(All sources from featured artists’ Genius and Spotify pages)

For more track reviews:

Top 10 Tracks – January 2019

Top 10 Tracks – February 2019

Top 10 Tracks – March 2019

Top 10 Tracks – April 2019

Top 10 Tracks – May 2019