‘Music is reversible. Time is not. Turn back.’ So says the Satanic message embedded in ‘Fire On High‘ when you play it in reverse. And so says me, because when it comes to hearing the secrets of the universe in ass backwards music, I’m a zealot.
Which might explain why we’re taking an ass backwards approach to our new music newsletter. If you need someone to serenade you in purple prose about the latest Post Malone bop, Pitchfork and The Needle Drop exist for a reason. We’re taking the opposite approach, relegating industry scuz and algorithm fodder to the footnotes. Instead, we’re gonna skate to one song and one song only: the least essential music on the Internet.
Sir E.U - NationWidu (全国)
Any words I could use to describe DMV rapper Sir E.U would sound like shit next to the manic wordplay he uses to describe himself. From molesting Michael Jackson in the club to kill[ing] a Totodile in Vermillion City, the living piece of performance art has just released another installment in his self-mythologizing, Viper-deep discography. (23 projects and counting.)
When most rappers tell you it’s all off top like lice, it shouldn’t be taken at face value. But there’s an exception to every rule, and there’s almost no way ‘NationWidu’ is not freestyled. Either that, or a grown man and should-be underground legend jotted down I’m like the Anti Christ / I’m like Auntie Anti Christ / I’m like the aunt of the Anti Christ / they call me Auntie / I’m nice into his notes app and proceeded to record it with a straight face. Which I doubt, because otherwise, he’d be a legend already.
Whatever the case, we’re left with six and a half minutes of meandering, absurd prose that’s nevertheless stronger than half the Western Canon, set to a frantic loop of boss battle music, as fitting as it is unlistenable. Pair that with the vaporwave visualizer and you have the sound of the nonexistent past and/or apocalyptic future, complete with a debilitating migraine and induced delusions of grandeur.
Orchid - Pet
Orchid makes hyperpop, which you might know as the sound of ‘sticking your head into a microwave’ or ‘the Euphoria soundtrack’. A lot of people love it. Some still have self-preservation instincts. ‘Pet‘ (prod. by ddertbAg) is an anomaly, as it bizarrely appeals to both camps. Yes, this is a hyperpop song. But it also sounds like music. It warrants a shoutout for that alone.
s0wing season - gfd idk :////
While we’re on the topic of listenable hyperpop, here’s a song proudly billed as ‘hyperemo’ from an artist who just ‘talked [his] way into Count Your Lucky Stars Records‘ after 11 years of trying. From his track length to song titles to lofi sound, s0wing season is basically the sonic embodiment of Soundcloud culture. (Read: not for everyone.) But CYLS is one of the foremost labels in the emo revival movement, so it’s hard to believe it took so long. Especially when this lil banger happens to contain one of the most moving vocal performances I’ve heard all year.
Aaron May - WOKEUPTHINKINBOUT
I stumbled on this one-man Houston slapper factory through Juicebox Collective’s FRESH THIRTY playlist, curated weekly by some guy El Prof used to black out with back in college. Worth. Aaron May may make straightforward mellow trap, but his pitch perfect melodies make Travis Scott sound like spoken word. Also he’s only 20 years old. His YouTube comments suggest a rabid fanbase. I’d suggest joining it now if you want to be one of the ones who knew him before he was cool.
Sipper - Fuck Sex
Doubling down on both the reticence and fidelity of Elliot Smith’s delivery, it can sometimes be hard to tell what the hell Sipper, heir apparent to the softboi singer songwriter crown, is even saying. Luckily, his comment section is always populated with at least one dickrider down to translate his mumbles into the English language for our viewing pleasure. And, turns out, his superficially soothing songs are filled with trendy one liners ripped straight from depression Twitter. Go figure.
Not an insult, by the way. ‘Fuck Sex’ is the perfect breakup song to film yourself crying to with the selfie cam then post it on TikTok and net a hot ten thousand views. Which is almost definitely its intended use.
Malik Elijah - SMOKEYMIRRORS
The mellowest party song I’ve heard since ‘Coda‘, Maryland storyteller Malik Elijah takes the Kendick approach to debauchery, spinning what could’ve been a straight up banger into a reflection on status, tribalism, and human behavior. Does he sound almost sociopathic casually spitting walk into the party / you don’t know us / well you know us now / analyze the patterns / this is not my first go around? Totally. And it’s what landed him on this list, so. Must be doing something right.
SPLAT. - OZONE//
Foxtails - Fawn
Neither bangers nor bops, the only one word you could use to describe these chunes is ‘good’. Otherwise, you’d have to resort to their genre titles, which, in this case, is something along the lines of ‘progressive screamo’ or ‘bluegrass emoviolence’. So, you’ll have to trust me when I just say ‘good’.
To be clear, I’m not a Brokencyde apologist or anything. Putting a screamo band front and center in our first newsletter is out of character to say the least. But Fawn, the new project by a ‘bunch of fucked up kids from CT’, deserves the spot, delivering on the operatic promise of its myriad of genres. The production is as full and crisp and bombastic as MBV’s, but the featured instrument is a fucking fiddle. The vocals sound like they’ll break into sobs at any moment. And the lyrics convey its gothic, apocalyptic mood perfectly. (When audible.)
On the opening track, a child’s tantrum both lyrically and vocally, they ask: Is this what it’s like to grow up? To realize everything’s fucked up? And honestly? It kind of is. The whole LP has the essence of a herd of impalas hoove steps ahead of a veldt fire, which pretty well sums up the state of our own race’s existence right now, too. It might not be the sound of a generation we asked for, but it’s the one we deserve.
Blue Lobelia - Sometimes I Go
If baroque freak folk is more your speed, it doesn’t get freakier than this. Well, scratch that, it totally does, but I’m pretty sure that’s exactly why I’m fucking with this poetic and lowkey indie composition so hard. It toes the fine, beautiful line between Vashti Bunyan and Sexwitch damn near perfectly. Easier said than done.
Estiphanos - When We Were Young
The reports of Estiphanos’ demise have been greatly exaggerated. Yes, the visionary mind behind Dick Bros is back after dropping off the face of the planet for 18 weeks with yet another lush electronic instrumental designed to make you want to return to the womb from whence you came. And it’s a roaring success, if by ‘roaring’ you mean ‘whispering addictive synth lines galore’ and ‘success’ you mean ‘listening makes me want to curl up in fetal position and binge home videos and childhood Polaroids’.
Too essential for me.
These artists are too popular already to merit their own writeup, but I felt the need to give them a little love anyway. Bubbling just under the mainstream, I hope for their sake they all blow up and I won’t get to write about them at all. One can dream.
Nilüfer Yanya - Midnight Sun
Shouts out my boy Jalen for this one, who simps for the London songwriter harder than I do for Phoebe Bridgers (a big deal, if you know me). Now I can see why. Yanya basically delivers mumble rap flows over acoustic noise rock. Weird, but arousing.