By Jackson Tarricone
Bar some obvious flops, 2019 has been an astounding year for all types of music from hip-hop to pop punk. This article will cover some of the best releases from this past summer. However, the main purpose is to highlight the ones that you may have missed. For this reason, some of your favorites might not be here. In their place, here are a few summer releases from some incredible artists that you should definitely check out and/or revisit!
The main reason why these releases didn’t make the cut is because there’s a greater likelihood that you’ve heard them (or because I’ve already covered them in the case of Maddie Jay). Nevertheless, they are still more than worthy of being recognized!
Maddie Jay-I Got You
This jazzy dream-pop banger is my pick for the song of the summer. I wrote a separate article reviewing this track, which you can read here.
Brittany Howard-He Loves Me
This song is off Alabama Shakes’ frontwoman’s debut solo album, Jaime, which came out in late September. This track features some very interesting harmony, booming drums and bass, and of course Howard’s signature powerhouse of a voice. The descending guitar during the chorus makes this section huge and creates a lovely contrast with the more spacious verses.
There’s a good chance that you’ve heard Clairo’s debut record already. However, that doesn’t make it any less incredible. On Immunity, Claire Cotterrill transitions seamlessly from the queen of bedroom pop into a fully-fledged artist. The album is also insanely versatile, ranging from calm ballads like “Alewife” to the bouncy blend of Comedown Machine era Strokes and pop, “Sofia.” Clairo’s songwriting and vocal delivery along with Rotsam’s production prowess make Immunity an instant classic.
Big Thief-Not (first)
Off the back of their latest album, U.F.O.F., Big Thief announced that they’d be dropping another album this year with “Not” as the lead single. The sparse instrumentation and lack of any overdubs allow for plenty of dramatic dynamics. While there is not much to the song itself, which definitely shows in its lengthy 6 minute run time, it is a complete journey of catharsis. The simplicity of the lyrics, with every line adhering to the form of “it’s not” followed by a variety of general things and ideas (the crowd, a ruse, heat, etc.), conveys the raw sincerity of these emotions; this sentiment was not modified to be more poetic or interesting, and this makes the song even more profound as a result. The guitar solo at the end really ties it all together, giving listeners time to apply the song’s deceivingly simple abstractions to their own experience. The full length album, Two Hands, dropped a few weeks ago. It’s amazing as well!
JPEGMAFIA-Jesus Forgive Me, I Am A Thot
This is truly Peggy at his best. Peggy’s flow at first has a slightly lethargic triplet feel—as a lot of flows do and have done in recent years—which sways comfortably over the spacious beat. However, he soon switches it up by shouting, which gives the verse momentum even though the instrumentation beneath him does not change. The chorus takes on a poppier brand of hip-hop with a very hooky melody. One of the most memorable parts of this song is when the instrumental briefly pauses during the chorus as Peggy warns “you better count your blessings for real,” making this vocal slide very dramatic. The lyrics, as is typical of Peggy, are equally fantastic and funny, although—also typical of Peggy—most are a bit too NSFW for this article. The song concludes with approximately ten seconds of chaos, ending very similarly to how it started. This song is one of several highlights on JPEGMAFIA’s latest album, All My Heroes Are Cornballs.
The Must Listen Music from Summer ’19–The Singles:
The slightly odd but still melodic chord progression at the beginning along with the sweetly syncopated drums really draw you in. Once the song expands, you simply can’t help but listen. The many elements of intrigue in this song are masterfully placed; each twist and turn leaves you wondering what’s next. Eva Lawitts’ vocals are beautifully haunting during the verse and the chorus until she suddenly changes her approach to a scream, asking “is that how you say goodbye?” before the song explodes into a frenzy of aggressive instrumentation. Lawitts’ lightning fast but ultra smooth bass is also great on this track, especially during the peaks. This song captivates you with every listen despite not having a tangible hook. Every note and every beat of this song fill your ears with intrigue. “Painted Smile” is an amazing combination of harmony and dissonance.
Horace Bray’s jazz background really shines through in his singer-songwriter work. This gives a distinct quality to his sound, which he describes candidly as “bummer folk” on his Spotify page. All of his instrumentals command your attention; “Truth” is no exception. Bray’s phenomenal guitar tone and playing ability leave you with no choice but to hear what he has to say. There are hints of Fleet Foxes and some of the mellower Radiohead albums, such as A Moon Shaped Pool on this pensive track that asks “are we living in our truth?” The instrumental passages give the listener time to think about this thought provoking question of universal proportions. The music and the words are both equally lyrical, which is what makes this such an incredible song.
beabadoobee-She Plays Bass
This is the latest single from Bea Kristi, better known by her playful stage name, beabadoobee, which sounds like a liberal adaptation of something Fred Flinstone might say. The sentiment of this song could not be more simple; the protagonist has a crush on a girl who, as the title suggests, plays bass. The approachability of the song’s themes leaves you empathizing with the protagonist. In addition to that, the mixing on this track is excellent, allowing the meandering bassline to cut through the mix without overpowering or taking away from the lush guitars. The last 30 seconds introduce a heavier instrumental with a new refrain, “wish I was more like you,” again drawing the listener closer in. This song is almost certain to get stuck in your head, but this is one of the rare cases where you welcome it in and hope that it stays for as long as possible.