Top 10 Tracks – August 2019

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Top 10 Tracks – August 2019

Jackson Wyatt, Digital Editor-in-Chief

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August is an often underrated month. Referred to as a slog and the untimely end of summer and everything great, you cannot help but feel that all the negativity is undeserved. People like to throw around back-to-school conversations the moment July wraps up, seemingly to push all of August into an unnecessary countdown. The truth is, like every other month, August holds a limitless amount of amazing possibilities, and hopefully the following ten tracks make their mark in the way they also deserve.

 

  1. clipping., ‘Nothing is Safe’

Always chasing after the sharpness of cutting-edge production and intelligent storytelling, Los Angeles hip-hop group clipping. are never ones to disappoint. Their new single ‘Nothing is Safe’ grabs you by the throat like a serial killer hiding in a closet, sending chills down your spine with its pulse-pounding build-up and impeccable, John-Carpenter-inspired instrumental. Cosmetically, ‘Nothing is Safe’ reads as a creatively told horror story, but deeper investigation unpeels a police shoot-out in all of its violent, tense emotions. clipping. have highlighted an often overlooked trauma to its fullest extent, promoting conversation while never letting off the fun. By the time the chorus finally hits in a driving rush, the chase for your admiration is over. Then again, it was hardly fair when ‘Nothing is Safe’ is so killer.

 

  1. The 1975, ‘People’

The 1975 are a band characterized by growth, transforming their sound frequently between albums and even tracks. This chameleon-esque nature is buoyed by a sense of existential angst and ear-grabbing instrumentation, though, providing a through-line of excellence. Their new single, ‘People,’ is another dramatic shift, less ear-grabbing than fully, brutally hair-pulling. Over fountains of fuzzy guitar squeals  and booming drums, frontman Matty Healy screams into the void, touching on everything from climate change to our daily creature comforts. We are all blissfully ignorant, watching the world get torn down around us. ‘People’ is more cathartic than hopeless, though, exploding in all of its knotty, noisy glory as the track progresses. The world may be ending, but The 1975 are going down kicking and screaming.

 

  1. BROCKHAMPTON, ‘NO HALO’

August saw the release of a new album from the self-proclaimed world’s greatest boyband, BROCKHAMPTON. A particular standout is the track ‘NO HALO,’ a surprisingly reserved intro that ends up setting the album’s course. Over pillowy guitar plucks and a thumping beat, each member highlights their own insecurities and disappointments, creating a sobering yet comforting tone in the cloudy, gray haze. ‘NO HALO’ sounds both like an overcast sky and warm blanket, biting and cooling at the exact same time. With additional featured vocalists and some of their most polished production yet, it also sends an important message: No matter how hard they fall, BROCKHAMPTON are always rising.

 

  1. Pixies, ‘Catfish Kate’

Storytelling and music have been an inseparable pair since their respective births, and some things never change. On the legendary Pixies’ new single, the Boston alternative band find themselves spinning a delectably dark yarn about the story of Catfish Kate. Involving a demonic narrator, an accidental drowning and giant aquatic creatures, it feels like a wonderfully macabre combination of The Brothers Grimm and a backwoods campfire story. Black Francis and bassist Paz Lenchantin’s vocals fuse wonderfully on the chorus under warm guitar strums, playing out a catchy melody that sneakily grabs you like a fish on a hook. At the end of the day, one thing is for sure: ‘Catfish Kate’ pans out to be a definite catch. 

 

  1. Rapsody feat. D’Angelo and GZA, ‘Ibtihaj’

In a world where Lil Xan calls Tupac “boring,” respect towards the legends of hip hop is refreshing. On the recent single to her new album Eve, North Carolina rapper Rapsody pays homage through a flip of GZA’s ‘Liquid Swords’ instrumental, securing a guest verse from the Wu-Tang member himself and a fresh interpolation of D’Angelo’s famous hook. ‘Ibtihaj’ still sounds miraculously fresh, though, spring-boarding off of preconceived ideas rather than leaning on them. Referencing U.S. fencing Olympian Ibtihaj Muhammad with the title, Rapsody takes the opportunity to shout-out songs from her childhood, check-in on the culture surrounding her and flex her own stength, both logically and financially. Overflowing with a sense of bravado and armed with a knowing grin, the title for ‘Ibtihaj’ makes so much sense: Just like the gear its titular figure carries, it is extremely sharp and uncompromising.

 

  1. Mura Masa feat. Clairo, ‘I Don’t Think I Can Do This Again’

The tattered edges of bedroom-pop starlet Clairo’s low-key productions and the crisp electronics of British producer Mura Masa’s sound seem at odds when considering the vast differences between them, but the pair’s recent collaboration for a single blows any doubts out of the water. Mura Masa’s streamlined instrumental adds a wonderfully kicking pulse under Clairo, and her soft, airy vocals adds a sweet sense of sentimentality. It is a case of two artists finding a close-to-common ground and uplifting each other’s positive attributes in the best way possible. The result is an oddly charming, acoustic-dance-floor hybrid that packs an equal amount of heart and punch. Despite the title’s sentiments, it will definitely have you hitting replay.

 

  1. WETBACKMANNY, ‘F*** ICE 2’

With the current tension in our nation, one of the top discussion points relating to immigration is the role and morality of ICE agents. Such a topic does not sound like a likely subject for a Latin hip-hop crossover, but rapper WETBACKMANNY hits back at ICE with arguably one of the funniest tracks of this year. Over a punchy beat and sliding string samples, MANNY denounces deportation and shout-outs immigrants, his mother and aunt through references to Shakira, Scarface and everything in between. At just over a minute-and-a-half, ‘F*** ICE 2’ is perfectly short and sweet, revelling in its own ridiculousness and gritty heart hidden underneath all of the jokes. In a frustrating time, WETBACKMANNY has added into an ongoing conversation in one of the most refreshing ways possible: with an amazing sense of humor.

 

  1. Penny and Sparrow, ‘Gumshoe’

Synesthesia is one of the most fascinating conditions due to how it impacts certain individuals’ experiences with music. I do not have it myself, but I would expect Penny and Sparrow’s ‘Gumshoe’ to appear as a deep, mocha brown. From the moment Andy Baxter’s vocals rise up into the forefront over Kyle Jahnke’s patient guitar strumming, images of hickory wood, billowing smoke and dark rooms are conjured. The pair’s lyrics are strikingly melancholic and hopeful, touching on both the impermanence of life and the way love can influence you to open yourself up. It is effortlessly beautiful, distilled down to simple instrumentation because the tune at its core is just that good. When music is this impressionistic, no extra frills are necessary. It will catch your eye either way.

 

  1. Pardison Fontaine, ‘Shea Butter’

If a song’s energy could hit, New York rapper Pardison Fontaine’s new single is an absolute heavyweight. From the moment the beat kicks in, ‘Shea Butter’ grabs you by the hair and does not let go. Over snapping hi-hats, snares and a genius sample of a piano line from rap legend Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s ‘Shimmy Shimmy Ya,’ Fontaine raps about seducing women and getting money. They are familiar topics, but the details he includes, from the pillow cases he has on his bed to the beauty products his girl smells like, make the track. It is all so disarmingly funny and charming, elevating ‘Shea Butter’ as both self-conscious and bombastic. Fontaine keeps a wide smirk the whole time, and with a song so effortlessly fun under his belt, you cannot blame him a bit.

 

  1. Amanda Palmer, ‘Everybody Knows Somebody’

Frank is a perfect adjective for New York singer-songwriter Amanda Palmer, from the uncompromising aesthetic she occupies to the brutal candidness of her lyrics. ‘Everybody Knows Somebody,’ a new addition to her recent string of politically-themed tracks, sees her wearing her heart on her sleeve once again, exposing the fear she feels and the fear everyone else should be feeling in one fatal, beautiful blow. Over simple ukulele strums, Palmer sings about the one thing that unites Americans regardless of race, creed or party: We all have been touched in some way by gun violence. It is both stunningly sad and oddly refreshing, and the fact that she labelled it as a ‘sing-along’ on the YouTube cover makes sense the longer you listen. We are all affected, and to make change, we must all raise our voices.

 

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

For more track reviews:

Top 10 Tracks – March 2019

Top 10 Tracks – April 2019

Top 10 Tracks – May 2019

Top 10 Tracks – June 2019

Top 10 Tracks – July 2019