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Well, it’s been an adventurous third quarter around here. Question marks in reviews have been fixed! You can see entire release dates! All album art and images uploaded between November 2017-the Great Power Surge of 2019 have disappeared into the ether, never to return!

As a Loaf of Meat once power balladed: two out of three ain’t bad.

We’re getting geared up for not just the 2019 year-end list (to be published in late December, as is tradition), but the Top 100 Albums of 2010-2019 feature (to be published in… TBD? Probably the tail-end of Q1 2020!).

In the meantime, we have a nice slab o’ tracks from July-September for your listening pleasure, with thanks to Atari, BlushfulHippocrene, DrGonzo1937, insomniac15, Rowan5215, SowingSeason, Voivod, and Willie.

What albums would top your list for this quarter? For all of 2019? For all of 2000-2019? Let us know what we inevitably forgot!


 

34

3TEETH – “Pumped Up Kicks”
Metawar
Listen if you like: Youth Code, Nine Inch Nails, KMFDM

For me, Metawar is easily the most disappointing album of 2019 so far — I can’t emphasise that enough — but the quality speaks for itself when one of the LP’s strongest numbers is a cover of Foster the People’s “Pumped up Kicks”. This is a bloody excellent reinterpretation of Foster the People’s dark and bouncy indie-rock hit, one that shrewdly integrates 3TEETH’s industrial DNA into the piece whilst remaining faithful to the source material. I can’t overlook the fact that this more downbeat rendition loses some of the impact and overall message its original composition masterfully portrays, but it’s a fun song that quickly becomes one of the most memorable takeaways from 3TEETH’s third effort. –DrGonzo1937

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65daysofstatic – “trackerplatz”
replicr, 2019
Listen if you like: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, Ben Frost, Explosions in the Sky

‘trackerplatz’ is the rather emotional conclusion to the band’s most abstract album. Venturing far from their explosive math/post-rock output, 65daysofstatic present us a mournful tune that makes good use of minimalist structures. The melancholic piano lines beautifully lead the song, while synths, guitars and loops grow densely in the background. The uneasy atmosphere is characteristic to replicr, 2019 and the post-apocalyptic tone is really compelling. –insomniac15

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Apparatus – “Flux”
Yonder Yawns The Universe
Listen if you like: Mayhem, Portal, Bolzer

Regarding its rock/metal yield and regardless of sub-genre, Denmark’s calling card lies in that it always manages to provide alternatives that come as relevant and provocative, even though the rest of the Scandinavian peninsula and other countries were instrumental in leading the way. Take Apparatus, for instance. Their new album Yonder Yawns The Universe is poised to appeal more to the portion of black metal fans who frown at the perception of extreme metal mazes such as Mayhem’s Ordo ad Chao. Its song structures are moderately convoluted, so as to favor repeated listens, yet they remain adequately “avant-garde,” as they borrow elements from a variety of extreme music genres. On another note, the album’s top-notch sound work is a much needed alternative to the thick layer of mud encompassing the kind of extreme metal Portal and some of their less-skilled ilk are proficient at getting across. Being significantly better than the first album (the Cthulhu string of EPs are yet to be heard), Yonder Yawns The Universe feels like a stepping stone towards more-involved releases from these Danes. –Voivod

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Bat for Lashes – “The Hunger”
Lost Girls
Listen if you like: Tycho, Com Truise, Daughter, Madonna, The Midnight

Natasha Khan’s latest project involves heavy ’80s pastiche with current synthwave/retrowave aesthetics. Besides her gorgeous voice, the smooth, mid-tempo, funky bass-led rhythm is one of the main factors ‘The Hunger’ steals the spotlight on the LP. It’s not one of those flashy singles, however, it easily gets under your skin and asks for several repeats. –insomniac15

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BATS – “Old Hitler”
Alter Nature
Listen if you like: Adebisi Shank, Alpha Male Tea Party, Tera Melos

Alter Nature isn’t slated for release until October, but after a 7-year absence and fairly successful Kickstarter campaign, BATS haven’t missed a beat if “Old Hitler” and the recently-shared “Ergot” are our initial litmus tests. A cursory glance at the rest of the tracklist suggests that the groove-oriented post-hardcore quintet will continue to dabble in lambasting pseudoscience with break-neck shifts and near-reckless abandon. By BATS standards, “Old Hitler” starts off as a slow burner, but the track’s last minute — from thick, crunching guitars to frenetic, manic shouts and snarls — is akin to pouring accelerant on the fire in what’s palpably a certifiable banger. –Jom

bt14

Big Thief – “Not”
Two Hands
Listen if you like: Angel Olsen, Nadia Reid

This is Big Thief’s year. U.F.O.F. opened the door to a wider audience for the band with a more expansive sound and dreamier song structures. And now, we have “Not”: a brooding preview of what’s to come for the unexpected double-down effort, Two Hands. Any apprehension that the band would stumble with two releases in such a short time span is immediately put to rest by the most haunting performance of Adrianne Lenker’s career. In contrast to the floating sensation of U.F.O.F., this is a much more depressing, unsure dive into a heavy mind. It’s a release of built-up tension; every time Lenker’s voice cracks, it’s sort of chill-inducing — just a bit too real. It’s probably the most cathartic track by Big Thief to date, leaving little doubt that Two Hands will be a worthy companion piece to its predecessor. –Atari

Borknagar-True-North-Cover

Borknagar – “Lights”
True North
Listen if you like: Ihsahn, Solefald, Enslaved

So, this album came out of nowhere. Even if you’ve been following Borknagar’s progress since the beginning, this was probably totally unforeseen. True North is a very diverse album, and one of the more ‘out of left field’ songs also happens to be the best. “Lights” features Lars Nedland of Solefald fame (although he’s arguably more well-known because of this band) doing all of the clean singing, as well as featuring the types of vocal melodies Solefald excels at. Despite the occasional black metal vocals, “Lights” is essentially a chill progressive rock song at heart. –Trey

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clipping. – “La Mala Ordina”
There Existed an Addiction to Blood
Listen if you like: Twelve Reasons to Die, campy horror flicks

Lead single “Nothing is Safe” had me worried. I thought, perhaps, that clipping. had gone soft on me. That There Existed an Addiction to Blood would be a toothless venture into a more streamlined sound via the subtle incorporation of trap beats into Hutson and Snipe’s increasingly soporific horror production. Not that clipping. were ever particularly experimental, but what’s always intrigued me about the group is their seamless blend of rap and horror (and, on Splendor & Misery, sci-fi) tropes into increasingly accessible packages. When, on Daveed’s second verse in “La Mala Ordina”, then, shots of static begin to penetrate and, eventually, totally overwhelm lines like “Rock, paper, gunshot / Classic out in some spots”, I can’t help but smile. –BlushfulHippocrene

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Cloudkicker – “Void”
Unending
Listen if you like: Intronaut, Pelican, Animal as Leaders

After a 4 year absence, Ben Sharp surprised us with a brand new album, Unending. Featuring some great tunes, closing epic, ‘Void’ is the most powerful and offers just about anything we’d expect from Cloudkicker. Melodic leads over sustained guitar notes mash with “broken” bass/drum grooves, growing steadily to an immersive, hypnotic coda. Everything is carefully crafted and executed like you’d expect. –insomniac15

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Danny Brown – “Dirty Laundry”
uknowwhatimsayin?
Listen if you like:
Danny Brown

Danny Brown calls himself The Hybrid on account of having two entirely different rapping voices he can activate at will: a high-pitched, ear-grating yawp and a low, weed-blunted mumble. He’s far from the first in this (think Biggie on “Gimme the Loot”, or ODB using about five different vocal styles in every song), but Brown was the first to ingeniously turn it into a marketing technique. Which is also the problem, as Danny’s skill had recently started to feel like a party trick; moving away from the mind-melting vocal acrobatics of a song like “Blunt After Blunt” and towards including a few token low-voiced songs on records drenched in his high-pitched squeal, a la 2016’s Atrocity Exhibition. That is until “Dirty Laundry”, a song which starts with the words “the hybrid” as if to remind us; a song where Brown fuses his two voices – finally – into an actual hybrid, a bizarre speak-rap that sounds a grown man imitating a child and sometimes vice versa. Even over Q-Tip’s scratchy ’90s loops — a far cry from the impenetrable spirals of noise on Atrocity Exhibition, though production credits for Paul White and JPEGMAFIA suggest those aren’t gone entirely — Danny Brown still raps like he’s from the future. –Rowan5215

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Darcy Baylis – “Describing a Pattern”
A House Breaking
Listen if you like: Fantasy Camp, Lil Zubin

I’ll be honest, I’m far more excited for what Darcy Baylis will do than what he has done. Though he makes some of the most impressive electronic music coming out of Melbourne… well, I wouldn’t call that much of a feat. “Describing a Pattern”, nevertheless, shows a tremendous amount of promise: having honed many of his skills as a producer on debut Intimacy & Isolation, the first single off the upcoming A House Breaking hints at Baylis’ first full-length foray into cloud-rnb nonsense à la GBC and Misery Club. And if the song’s propulsive drum patterns and affect-laden vocal crooning – its messy structure and infectious hook – are any indication, it’s gonna be a damn good one. –BlushfulHippocrene

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Jael – “Done With Fake”
Nothing to Hide
Listen if you like: Lunik, Lene Marlin, Chill Female Fronted Pop

Jael was the front woman for Swiss trip hop turned indie pop band Lunik. Eventually the band dissolved and Jael went solo. Nothing to Hide is Jael’s solo album, and “Nothing to Hide” is the first single from the album. “Nothing to Hide” goes back to what always endeared me most to Lunik — chill, melodic pop carried by Jael’s beautiful vocals. The song is about being yourself and not hiding behind the clothes and makeup, and the video literally shows that. The song starts with Jael completely done up and as the song goes on, she sheds her make-up and undoes her hair, and even undresses (sorry, no nudity) until she is 100% naturally Jael. –Trey

lr5

Lagwagon – “Bubble”
Railer
Listen if you like:
Millencolin, ’90s punk

“Bubble” is one hell of a throwback and the main reason Railer remains my most anticipated album on the horizon. It’s a bold statement, but I genuinely find it to be the best track I’ve ever heard by Lagwagon. Revisiting their classic sound of Let’s Talk About Feelings, it manages to be highly nostalgic, yet oddly refreshing in a world of chaos. Many of the band’s peers attempting to relive the sound of their golden days has resulted in inconsistent material, but Lagwagon are an unwavering exception. Joey Cape and co. have never really sold out; it seems they couldn’t care less about public opinion. As always, “Bubble” is Lagwagon making the music they want to make, and it’s an insanely addicting pinnacle of the band’s 20-plus year career. Full of a youthful energy and thumping bass, this song will transport you right back to 1992 with ease, utilizing one lyrical gem and hook combo after another. –Atari

laots9

Lisel – “Bloodletting”
Angels on the Slope
Listen if you like: Julia Holter, Sarah Louise

Lisel’s sonic intellectualism presents itself in a multifaceted way; it’s not all glitch beats and electronic demonry, although those things do still exist on her brilliant debut, Angels on the Slope. Bagg is a skilled multi-instrumentalist, and it shows in spades with Angels‘ burgeoning classical elements. The best example of this may be the pristine pianos that cascade down “Bloodletting”‘s scenic mountainside, intertwining with fluttering strings and sliding easily across its ambient gaze. Limber synths contour around Bagg’s mathematical vocal chirps, giving us something of a Radiohead-meets-Julia Holter-meets classical vibe. This song and album will inevitably never get the sort of recognition that they both so richly deserve, but they’re jaw-droppingly gorgeous experimental pop efforts that are worthy of anyone’s 2019 year-end playlist. –SowingSeason

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Moron Police – “The Phantom Below”
A Boat on the Sea
Listen if you like: Diablo Swing Orchestra, Dog Fashion Disco, Styx-meets-Magic Pie

Eschewing all conventional labels, Norwegian now-quartet Moron Police’s third LP is delightfully quirky, with impeccable musicianship across its whirlwind genre-bending soundscape (complemented by the vivid album art) in a neatly-consolidated 32 minutes. At times it can feel absurd to have stern political commentary interwoven with “Run-Around”-esque harmonica, an abundance of synths, and jovial musicianship that sounds suited for video games, but if nothing else, A Boat on the Sea‘s gusto will energize you. –Jom

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Numb – “Complicit Silence”
Mortal Geometry
Listen if you like: Skinny Puppy, Front 242, Front Line Assembly

After twenty years of silence, Numb have returned from seemingly out of nowhere. I didn’t see any news about it anywhere, there were no posts from anyone, even their new label seemed to be silent — and then we suddenly had a promo. On Mortal Geometry, Numb come back like it’s still 1995 while returning to the abrasive, atmospheric industrial-goes-dance sounds of their best (and classic of the genre) release Wasted Sky. No track shows more of that hypnotic rhythmic industrial sound than ‘Complicit Silence’ — a song that will get stuck in your head even if you can’t stand the genre. –Trey

sf8

Shura – “BKLYNLDN”
forevher
Listen if you like: Lorde, Robyn

“BKLYNLDN” floats in ecstasy atop experimental synths, Shura sounding like she’s no longer grounded in reality. That’s exactly how it feels to be in love; emotional attachment and sweltering summer lust intertwined. “BKLYNLDN” — a mesmerizing ode to Shura’s girlfriend and perhaps unintentional gay rights anthem — is as beautiful as any art-pop song released in 2019. Fans of bedazzled electronic art-pop will want to make this song — and Shura’s superb sophomore effort forevher — a top priority. –SowingSeason

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Strung Out – “Ulysses”
Songs of Armor and Devotion
Listen if you like: A Wilhelm Scream, Propagandhi, Good Riddance

Last year’s acoustic EP Black Out the Sky was fantastic, but it was tough to shake the thought that it was the beginning of the end in what’s been a storied career and discography. Jason Cruz’ seasoned vocals sounded road-weary, as if cutting their teeth on an all-acoustic EP would hold back the hands of time. Couple this with the departure of longtime drummer Jordan Burns and… it was all a red herring, a smokescreen? Devotion fuckin’ rips, my dudes. Chris Aiken and Jake Kiley still bring the riffs, with laser-focus shredding and harmony, and new drummer RJ Shankle’s work propels the band’s rhythm section with bombastic flair. As for Cruz? He sounds better than ever creatively. Other highlights include “Hammer Down”, “Daggers”, and “Politics of Sleep”. –Jom

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The Agonist – “In Vertigo”
Orphans
Listen if you like: Arch Enemy, Infected Rain, Jinjer

Personally, The Agonist has always straddled the line between terrible and tolerable, with occasional moments of decentness — and that was with Alissa White-Gluz on vocals. When she jumped ship and they picked up Vicky Psarakis, the hotness factor went up and the musical quality somehow got worse. That finally changes on Orphans, and opening track “In Vertigo” is easily the best of the bunch. Quite simply, “In Vertigo” is the song the band never even hinted at being capable of delivering. Super aggressive, high speed, metalcore mixed with hints of death metal that is easily one of my favorite songs of the year. Also, Vicky Psarakis has finally come into her own with soaring cleans, an aggressive rasp, and even some death growls. –Trey

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The Early November – “Perfect Sphere (Bubble)”
Lilac
Listen if you like: Lydia, Copeland

The Early November’s comeback cycle was borderline flawless, a duo of 40-minute albums which perfectly offset Ace Enders’ massively improved vocals against colossal hooks and delicate ballads. It seemed the band would continue tweaking the formula of In Currents and Imbue for the foreseeable future, a totally feasible option if they could keep updating the whiny pop-punk of the For All of This days with a more mature sensibility and cleaner sound — and then Lilac happened. It’s by far his darkest work since The Path, with Lilac revolving heavily around the addiction issues of a family member, and yet simultaneously it sees The Early November exploring an underdeveloped indie pop buoyancy which recalls the mid-career work of Lydia and Copeland. Results are inconsistent, but the opener “Perfect Sphere (Bubble)” spins absolute gold out of a delectable hook and shimmering guitar work that sounds like how bubbles floating by in the afternoon sun looks. Enders is the rare frontman who seems to excel at everything he touches as long as he can see the results through; for one song, Lilac achieves utter pop perfection in the simplest of places. –Rowan5215

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Tides from Nebula – “Dopamine”
From Voodoo to Zen
Listen if you like: 65daysofstatic, sleepmakeswaves, Tycho

Pick your genre of choice and I’m sure you’ll find article after article about how it’s becoming stale, not evolving, having grown stagnant — I mean, while we’re at it, you might as well feel free to pick a similar ubiquitous criticism here. Like the adage about being the statue vs. the pigeon depending on the day, post-rock’s appraisal of late seems to be more the former than the latter. With From Voodoo to Zen, though, Polish trio Tides from Nebula demonstrate an appreciable stylistic evolution in their trademark cinematic sound, emphasizing synths and electronics to a resplendent degree. If “Dopamine” is considered cheating for purposes of this playlist (having shown up as Side A on a double single with “Paratyphoid Fever” last year), then penultimate track “Nothing to Fear and Nothing to Doubt” is an obvious selection. –Jom

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Torche – “Admission”
Admission
Listen if you like: Helms Alee, Red Fang, Big Business

The title track from Torche’s excellent latest album, Admission is also one of their strongest so far. The shoegaze and The Cure influences are definitely welcomed, adding a new dimension to the band’s output. The powerful guitars and bass riffs are just as impressive as they are infectious, whereas the lovely, melodic leads gorgeously contrast them. –insomniac15

Torche – “Infierno”
Admission
Listen if you like: Red Fang, Big Business, Black Tusk

It’s rare a song pulls my jaw down in awe by what it is doing, but that’s exactly what “Infierno” proudly claims to do. From a production standpoint alone, the sheer density of the piece is enough to warrant your undivided attention — equipped with enough clotted low-end frequencies to trigger irreparable structural damage to the building it’s being played in, if set at the right volume. Since its release, the disturbing truth has revealed that it isn’t just production fluff either, translating itself impeccably live. “Infierno” is a testament to the band’s capabilities, both on a technical and compositional level. The song itself is a crunchy, sludgy assault on the senses that numbs you for just the right amount of time, before shifting into a tease of body-shifting guitar licks that command the song’s rhythm, and some really effective drum fills that add spice to the explosion. It’s quite possibly the heaviest song of the decade, but it sounds all the sweeter coming from a band that has returned with fire back in their bellies again. –DrGonzo1937

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Western Settings – “Charmian Carr”
Another Year
Listen if you like: Titus Andronicus, Alkaline Trio, tongue-in-cheek songs about drug use

Sounding very reminiscent of ’90s Alkaline Trio with more of an instrumental kick, “Charmian Carr” is one of the most enjoyable songs I’ve ever heard about cocaine and you should listen to it! –Atari





SowingSeason
09.30.19
Nice work as always on the feature everyone. I spun this on my drive home from work and enjoyed what I heard (out of the songs I didn't contribute). Shout out to Jom for making everything look pretty.

Willie
09.30.19
I've never heard their earlier albums, but I really liked the 2019 3TEETH release. What about it made it so disappointing?

Unfortunately, it was the Lagwagon release that was kind of disappointing. It's still good, and I don't know what exactly I was expecting, but it was not what I got.

Atari
10.01.19
Big cheers for putting this together

Willie, ur breaking my heart. That Lagwagon album is FIRE

Dewinged
10.01.19
Some strange choices but really interesting list. Saved up for reading/jamming later. Good job staffers!

Willie
10.01.19
--Willie, ur breaking my heart. That Lagwagon album is FIRE--

It's Lagwagon. I'm definitely giving it more listens.



Atari
10.01.19
Yeah I’d hope so considering your profile pic, haha :]

Anyways I’m looking forward to jamming this playlist tomorrow

Willie
10.01.19
Yeah, I'm going to go through these songs in the next day or two, too. Ha ha. I kind of forgot that was my profile picture. There's no doubt Lagwagon are top 3 punk for me

Rowan5215
10.01.19
that Big Thief song is absolutely fucking fantastic thanks for bringing it to my attention

insomniac15
10.01.19
Great job everyone, I'm curious to hear the tracks

Atari
10.01.19
Yess Rowan. That track is so haunting and pretty much perfect for the fall. You can thank Jom for being so patient with putting this together as that blurb almost didn’t make the cut

nightbringer
10.02.19
Another excellent feature!

DrGonzo1937
10.03.19
"I've never heard their earlier albums, but I really liked the 2019 3TEETH release. What about it made it so disappointing?"

It was my most anticipated album of the year, so I was expecting something really special from it . What I got was a solid, albeit generic, industrial metal album. "Pumped up Kicks" is the only song on it that jumps out of the band's comfort zone.

Voivod
10.03.19
Excellent work Jom and everybody, will catch some of those songs, eventually.

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