During this quarantined summer, I spent a lot of time digging deeper into older artists and musical landmarks of which I had been ignorant. The inability to physically attend concerts also slightly discouraged me from paying closer attention to new releases. As November rolled around, I realized that this year is almost over and a lot of great music came out this year. In this new seasonal column, I’ll be highlighting some of the best music that may have flown under your radar.
For the optimal fall experience, I recommend strolling outdoors while you listen to the playlist below.
Fleet Foxes: ‘Shore’
Since Fleet Foxes have been a major hole in my musical knowledge for quite some time, I was thrilled to experience their newest album as it was released. “Shore” is a wholesome splash of indie-folk, making for a bright and romantically pleasant listen. Songs like “Sunblind” and “Can I Believe You” exude gentle and playful grooves, accompanied by euphorically melodic releases. This album clearly demonstrates just how skilled Fleet Foxes are at songwriting — I found myself noticing new compelling moments with each relisten. Out of all the albums mentioned in this article, “Shore” has a distinct calmness and ease that perfectly compliments autumn.
Oneohtrix Point Never: ‘Magic Oneohtrix Point Never’
If you feel like you’ve looking for something totally new, Oneohtrix Point Never’s (OPN) newest avant-synth-pop project is an otherworldly listen. In his new album, OPN blends nostalgia-infused synth sounds with forward-thinking vocal distortion and bizarre, ephemeral rhythms. Some highlights include “Long Road Home,” “Bow Ecco” and “Auto & Allo.” OPN thrives in his more abstract, ambient landscapes, but he sometimes fails to blend the atmospheric moments with structured pop. Despite these occasional flaws, “Magic Oneohtrix Point Never” is still certainly worth listening to. Also be sure to check out OPN’s wacky Jimmy Fallon performance for this album’s promotion.
Action Bronson: ‘Only For Dolphins’
Action Bronson is one of my favorite personalities in hip hop, and his newest album is a great example of his musical genius. “Only For Dolphins” is a playful album that features hazy, mellow and diverse beats. One of my favorite songs, “Sergio,” has an intoxicating Jackie Wilson sample and the repeated line, “Feeling good the only thing I know”, which I simultaneously interpret as both a flex and a deadpan admission of depression. Other songs like “Capoeira” feature the sounds of a bright and shiny 1980s disco, or “C12H16N2” which has a pleasant samba-jazz sample, mixing playfully with Bronson’s hilarious and metaphorical lyrics. At times, “Only For Dolphins” can be a bit disorganized and unrefined, but I think Bronson relishes in this type of raw mixtape style.
Benny Sings featuring Mac DeMarco: ‘Rolled Up’
“Rolled Up” is nostalgic bliss in a song. The playful and twangy guitar is distinctly DeMarco’s style, but Sings’ more mature and traditional songwriting is what makes this song shine. After DeMarco’s mellow introduction, Sings’ voice sounds beautiful and angelic coming in, blending the emotions of a fall three-day weekend where you feel relaxed, but also a little sad for some abstract reason. DeMarco and Sings are a perfect fit for each other. I’ve had this song on repeat since its release and it’s one of my favorite singles this year.
Lowertown: ‘Best Person You Know’
Lowertown has been an exciting fresh face in the indie scene, employing traditional indie bedroom techniques but also venturing into more sophisticated acoustic instrumentation. The two members, Avsha Weinberg and Olivia Osby, have created a distinct blend of indie noise-folk, mathy guitar and jazzy bass. Osby’s vocals are gritty and impassioned, complementing Weinberg’s layered guitar and bass interplay. These seemingly opposing forces of rough and fuzzy noise with sincere vocals and clean acoustic instrumentation are reminiscent of legendary noise-folk like Microphones or Neutral Milk Hotel, but Lowertown makes sure to use this style through a lens of forward thinking indie-pop. “Best Person You Know” is a single for their upcoming EP, “Honeycomb, Bedbug,” releasing Dec. 11, and this is certainly a promising sign of things to come.