twelve on 12: July 2018

Between 7 track albums, Instagram-exclusive rollouts, and 2-disc Rap Caviar(™)-ready releases, the music landscape is going through a bit of a #moment. Not quite original enough to be considered anarchy, but *just* creative enough to lend some hope that when the hype dust settles, the artists actually putting in the work to make something heartfelt and worthwhile will surface loud and clear.

This month’s playlist features quite a few artists who are, in my opinion, abandoning what’s become of the trashstorm illusion of album cycle relevancy and instead committing to creative risktaking via refreshing collaborations and releases. Let’s get into it:

twelve on 12: July 2018

1. MITSKI – “Nobody”

Cover art for Mitski's "Nobody"

I explicitly remember how honored I felt to come across “Your Best American Girl” just in time to include in March 2016’s #twelveon12. Without hesitation I slid the track to the very top, feeling lucky that if someone gave my playlist the time of day, the sweltering opener would alone impress them and keep them engaged for at least the next 10 minutes. In a familiar affair, “Nobody” was the easy frontrunner to open up July’s mix. Although Mitski’s work ethic and sheer grit are as essential to her deity as her lyricism or delivery, you can’t help but feel proud of her. She’s like the Type A friend who runs marathons and climbs 14ers and while you cheer from the sidelines in complete awe, you know their insatiable ambition has not a single shroud to do with how much you believe in or even give a single shit about their success. As illustrated by singles “Geyser” and “Nobody”, Mitski continues to catapult further into her reign on greatly anticipated 5th studio release Be The Cowboy, due August 17th.

2. RYAN BEATTY – “Bruise”

3. ROSIE THORNE – “Slick”

There’s a specific energy tracks like “Slick” harness that warrant their own category in one’s listening repertoire. A poor man’s metaphor of course being the precious time directly after Diet Coke is unleashed over a few unsuspecting minty boys– it’s not the explosion itself that’s significant; it’s instead the unnerving anticipation that somehow sustains the entire 2:58, driving static electricity down the back of your neck and transplanting you into the cool girls’ convertible from a 90’s teen movie. You may recognize the vocals channelling undiluted chaos from Mannequin Pussy lead Marisa Dabise, who announced the “secret” pop project via Twitter earlier this month. The group plans to release monthly singles on Bandcamp.

4. CHARLI XCX – “Focus”

One of many strokes of genius from 2017’s Pop 2 is Charli XCX’s unmatched ability to invite features that polish her exact desired mood while making it sound as if she’s essentially just documenting basement collaborations with best friends (Tove Lo, CupcakKe, Pablo Vittar, list goes on.) Masterful yet effortless. What other bitch out here is gaining status by genuinely elevating fellow artists she believes in thus ultimately furthering the pop agenda??? Her “The motherfucking future” playlist just published on Spotify plans to stay updated with artists and tracks she deems progressive/interesting/the future of pop (of which she’s undeniably at the throne.)

5. DEEPER – “Message Erased”

6. SOPHIE – “Is It Cold In The Water?”

7. TIERRA WHACK – “Bugs Life”

“Probably would’ve blew overnight if I was white,” opens the second track off Whack World, surreal storybook debut LP from 22-year-old East Coast prophet Tierra Whack. “Bugs Life” closely resembles the tempo and delicacy that her brand boasts best, often shared casually to her Instagram:

t herbo.

A post shared by Tierra Whack (@tierrawhack) on

Required homework is to watch the prolific 15 minute audio-visual album dreamed up, directed by, and acted in by the prodigy herself. Whack, on Whack: “People compare me to the people I listen to, the people I’m influenced by, André 3000, Missy, Busta. That’s about it.”

8. THE MARY ONETTES – “Cola Falls”

9. TREVOR POWERS – “Ache”

For those quietly waiting for a follow up to Youth Lagoon’s 2015 Savage Hills Ballroom, permission is officially granted to mourn the notion. Instead of another conceivably incomplete, misdirected expression of Trevor Powers genius by way of a YL record, the singles anticipating his LP Mulberry Violence breathe a renewed identity and focus. “Ache” showcases skin freshly shed, the tender pink beaming into Powers’ reclaimed power in untouchable, promising fashion.

10. SEAN HENRY – “Imperfection”

11. LAUNDER – “Keep You Close feat. Soko”

12. ANNA WISE AND JOHN BAP – “nova”


Off to a rainy Pitchfork this weekend which always pans out to be an enchanting time. Looking forward to catching a few #twelveon12 alum (Big Thief, DRAM), #twelveon12 Chicago hometown alum (Paul Cherry, Noname, Ravyn Lenae, and Kweku Collins), and other favorites I’ve yet to catch live (Lucy Dacus, Smino, Kelela.) Heart is swelling. Palms are sweating.

ttfn, ellen

Special credit to Anne C for the graphics. 

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