A ranked selection of notable recordings we heard in August.
1. DJ Mustard, “10 Summers”
Debut albums rarely double as victory laps, but it’s been an extraordinary year for DJ Mustard, the Los Angeles producer responsible for this summer’s most exquisite hip-hop singles. The twelve songs on “10 Summers” don’t seem tailored for radio like Mustard’s flashier hits, but as a body of work, this thing feels as delightful as it does durable.
2. Naomi Punk, “Television Man”
So if math rock is punk’s answer to prog, is this Olympia, Wash., trio practicing addition or subtraction? Are these tunes being hastily assembled or crudely ripped to bits? Are things speeding up or slowing down? Is color being infused or drained? Will any of this be on the test?
3. Makonnen, “I Love Makonnen”
This former Atlanta hairdresser rhymes and croons with so much left-field magnetism, even Drake couldn’t stop himself from dropping a remix of Makonnen’s creamy “Club Goin Up on a Tuesday,” a ballad about dodging your parole officer and partying hard on hump-day-eve. Keep Atlanta weird!
4. Brad Paisley, “Moonshine In the Trunk”
The country superstar calls his terrific eleventh album “a Mason jar half full,” meaning it might be drunk on its own optimism. But if anyone can pull this stuff off it’s Paisley, who continues to sing about American exceptionalism with humor and heft.
5. FKA twigs, “LP1”
On her debut album, the young British R&B singer delivers a vacuum-sealed bundle of ballads that feel motionless and monolithic. If you came to hear pop songs, keep walking. But if you’re game for something cool, airless and uniquely seductive, settle in.
6. Bunji Garlin, “Differentology”
The Trinidadian vocalist might be the shiniest star in soca music, but his new album throbs with a rich, pulsating pan-Caribbean energy that should translate easily on any dance floor.
7. The New Pornographers, “Brill Bruisers”
Sad how so many rock supergroups seem to assemble with the enthusiasm of college sophomores tackling a joint presentation. Conversely, the sixth album from the New Pornographers — the indie all-star team featuring A.C. Newman, Neko Case and Dan Bejar of Destroyer — has all the casual passion and poetry of a great pick-up basketball game. As it oughta be.
8. Sunny Sweeney, “Provoked”
On her third album, Sweeney sings about lonely hearts, cheating hearts and busted hearts with her chin up, proving she still belongs alongside Miranda Lambert and Gretchen Wilson on Nashville’s A-list of no-guff-takers.
9. Zoot Woman, “Star Climbing”
Quoth the Minutemen: “Do you want new wave or do you want the truth?” New wave? Then rejoice that Stuart Price — producer of Madonna, Kylie Minogue and the Pet Shop Boys — has reunited his group Zoot Woman for another album that smells like Aquanet and heartbreak.
Listen to selections from the months’s best music below.
WARNING: Some songs contain explicit lyrics.