Top 10 Tracks – July 2019

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Top 10 Tracks – July 2019

Jackson Wyatt, Digital Editor-in-Chief

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July is a month in the middle of things. That can be a good or bad attribute, depending on how you look at it. On one hand, it is the peak of everyone’s carefree summer attitudes, far from the ending school schedules of early June and starting school schedules at the end of August. On the other hand, though, it is capable of being a slog, inhabiting a lazy in-between state many attribute to the easier target of August. Choosing songs this month has felt slightly more like a slog than usual, with many sub-par cuts being released by more-than-capable artists. With every beige wall, though, there is a colorful one, so here are ten beautifully decorated tracks to bring some pep to your July.

 

  1. Ashnikko, ‘Hi, It’s Me’

After taking one look at Ashnikko’s Instagram, it is hard to call her anything but charming. Between her self-aware sense of humor and pictures in insane outfits with her slurpee-blue hair, she has a strong presence that leaves you hoping that her music is just as memorable. The verdict: It 100% is. The titular track off of her new EP Hi, It’s Me serves as a perfect introduction, showcasing an excellent blend of breakup blues and uplifting pop sonics. Ashnikko shines brightly in the center of the stomping beat and thundering bass, singing, rapping and sighing through feelings of regret over letting the same guy back in. The territory is familiar, but talks of burning T-shirts and wanting a babysitter to help prevent any more slip-ups are quirky enough to elevate it into hilarity. In short, ‘Hi, It’s Me’ is an electrifying, personality-filled cut that deserves to be a pop hit. Ashnikko may just be introducing herself, but the bar has already been set.

 

  1. Rosalía, ‘Milionària’

Who wants to be a millionaire? According to Rosalía’s new track, she does…kind of. The Spanish songstress’ new double-single (fittingly titled F***ing Money Man) balances both sides of her relationship with wealth, shifting from a positive to critical position between tracks. ‘Milionària’ sees her dreaming about all the things she could do if she was rich, from driving Bentleys to taking trips to Mumbai and Malta. It is purposefully naive but not insincere, more reminiscent of child-like wonder than narcissistic daydreaming. There is a definite charm to all of it, surely due in part to Rosalía’s magnetic vocal performance. She has an undeniable sense of showmanship and versatility carved by her many years of flamenco singing, and the bouncy drums here are a perfectly minimal backdrop to let her shine. She certainly does, and ‘Milionària’ comes together as a syrupy, bright yellow confection that is just as substantive as it is sweet.

 

  1. A$AP Ferg, ‘Floor Seats’

If there was one word to describe A$AP Ferg’s new single, it would be tough. That may be familiar territory for the self-proclaimed “Trap Lord” from Harlem, but he has a true grit to his music that many fail to embody. ‘Floor Seats’ sees Ferg in an excitingly experimental mindset, with producer Roofeeo warping booming kicks and 808s around a Bollywood-esque sample and addictive ad-libs (the bark that pops up every other line practically makes the song). It is a sound that rests in the typical trap conventions while providing its own sense of vibrancy, graffiting walls instead of pointlessly knocking them down. The chorus is an added bonus, too, featuring overly abrasive vocals that may turn some off but offer an extra ear-catching jolt to the mix. ‘Tough’ may be a defining factor of A$AP Ferg, but one thing is for sure: No one does it quite like him.

 

  1. Brutus VIII feat. YOUR ANGEL, ‘The New You’

In the age of Genius lyric breakdowns and Reddit boards dissecting songs, a greater understanding can be reached about our favorite artists’ material. Some of the mystery is lost in the process, though, and that is what attracts people to any act with an air of enigma. Brutus VIII (aka Slow Hollows’ vocalist Jackson Katz) has exactly that appeal, and his songs are similarly tight coils of confusion and atmosphere. The titular song to his recent EP The New You escapes any average descriptions of genre. Sonically, it sounds like an obscure 80s cassette tape drenched in ectoplasm and chloroform. Katz’s voice rises out of the mix in gothic rumbles, warping with pitch shifts and sugary harmonies with YOUR ANGEL. All at once it sounds primordial, inhuman and heartfelt. Is that a confusing combination? Yes. Is that what makes it great? Well, that is no mystery.

 

  1. Rico Nasty, ‘Time Flies’

After her aptly named Kenny Beats collab project Anger Management, Maryland rapper Rico Nasty needs a quick cool-off. That is the genius of ‘Time Flies,’ a woozy cut that harkens back to the aesthetic of her career-building Sugar Trap mixtapes. While it is a sound she is already well-versed in, Rico’s vocals have only strengthened over time, flawlessly flowing and dripping with autotune as she croons her way through the extremely catchy chorus. It manages to feel sweet, sentimental and playful at the same time, which is surely due in part to the chameleon of an instrumental. It is overflowing with kicking bass and glimmery synths in a Lil-Uzi-esque volcano of angst and hype. ‘Time Flies’ is simply adaptable, upbeat enough to get your head bobbing and emotional enough to get in it. Time may fly, but it is only because this song is so much fun.

 

  1. Red Hearse, ‘Half Love’

What is the difference between cash-grab pop and well-crafted pop? Much of it falls to personal taste, but is hard to call Los Angeles trio Red Hearse a simple cash-grab. Composed of singer-songwriter Sam Dew and mega-producers Sounwave and Jack Antonoff, Red Hearse has enough collective industry experience and hit-making talent to appreciate the finer qualities of pop music, and that is on display on their new single ‘Half Love.’ It is an addictively bright track, blending together electrifying synths, string samples, vocoded voices and a solid beat under Sam Dew’s powerful vocals. He sings about relationship troubles around commitment, quite possibly the number one catnip for the genre’s lyrics. The song’s melody, though, is the biggest hook, and its combination with the pressure-cooked chorus is sneakily addictive in the way all good pop is. All-in-all, it adds up to make ‘Half Love’ an excellently glossy, repeat-worthy and well-composed hit.

 

  1. Joanna Sternberg, ‘Nothing Makes My Heart Sing’

If you were to ask New York singer-songwriter Joanna Sternberg to describe their music, they would not classify it by genre, want to call it music or even say they make songs. Their Bandcamp profile puts quotations around the words ‘feelings’ and ‘musical instruments,’ hinting that labels for those are questionable, too. Some may find such practices annoying and pointless, but it points to a greater freedom that Sternberg showcases in their ‘music’. Much of it is sparse in instrumentation and tethered to a sense of immense emotional openness, similar to listening in on someone’s therapy session or breakdown. ‘Nothing Makes My Heart Sing’ is no different, detailing the mental numbness Sternberg often ‘feels’ and the ‘feelings’ of nostalgia towards a time when everything was brighter. There are so many positive descriptions to give it, but that goes against Sternberg’s spirit. It would be best to simply listen.

 

  1. Uniform & The Body, ‘Penance’

Catharsis is a word heavily intertwined with the idea of music. Songs make us feel and react, releasing important emotions and providing a sense of clarity to anything from anger to sadness. The recent single from Uniform and The Body’s upcoming collaborative album definitely feels cathartic, but in a way similar to standing inside an echo chamber and screaming your heart out. Over grinding guitars and synths so crunchy that they almost tickle your eardrums, vocalist Michael Berdan seems to rip his vocal chords to shreds, letting loose shrieks into the heavy stream of instrumentation. When that pulls back, he even shouts into the absence. It is endlessly invigorating, equally fist-pumping and hellish in nature that will leave you wondering why it fills you up with so much excitement. Catharsis can be hard to explain, but there is just no faking it.

 

  1. IDK, ‘24’

As far as immediacy goes, Maryland rapper IDK’s new single ‘24’ does not play around. Clocking in at just under two minutes, it is a quick burst of energy unmatched by almost any track this month. Over a head-rattling beat and booming piano chords, he flexes all the money he has gained over the years, almost taunting his competitors to catch up. It is a typical theme that many hip-hop listeners will recognize as a cliche talking point, but IDK never feels stale in his bragging. His sense of bravado chest-pumping and smirking flow is reminiscent of Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Humble,’ staring excess in the eyes with a knowing grin. Rap rarely comes more bombastic than this, and if you are looking for the audio equivalent of an excellently palatable espresso shot this month, ‘24’ is the track for you.

 

  1. Jenny Hval, ‘Ashes to Ashes’

One of the most challenging facts for people to accept is that we are all going to die one day. Whether you believe you will live on or become one with the dirt, it is a difficult thing to confront. That is what makes Norwegian singer-songwriter Jenny Hval’s new single so satisfying. On ‘Ashes to Ashes,’ she seems to greet her mortality with open arms, singing of burials and ashes serenely over beautiful synth flourishes. It is definitely a more polished instrumental than she usually gravitates to, but no magic is lost. The driving trance beat feels glossy in the same way a healing stone does: shiny, but full of power. As the track progresses in its linear fashion, Hval builds on phrase after phrase, comparing all of the things a pair of hands can do. By doing so, she manages to weave mysticism, eroticism and absurdism into a beautifully transparent tapestry. Like such an all-knowing fabric, ‘Ashes to Ashes’ is a song you will want to wrap yourself in, and it is a wonderful warmth you should not deny yourself of. 

 

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

For more track reviews:

Top 10 Tracks – February

Top 10 Tracks – March

Top 10 Tracks – April

Top 10 Tracks – May

Top 10 Tracks – June