The Abbreviator: Your guide to the most important artists right now

Introducing The Abbreviator, a short, concise breakdown of the musicians who are demanding our attention

Introducing The Abbreviator, a short, concise breakdown of the musicians who are demanding our attention

“I like bullets or I like as little as possible. I don’t need, you know, 200-page reports on something that can be handled on a page. That I can tell you.”

These are the words of soon-to-be-president Donald J. Trump, said just three days before last year’s inauguration. At the time, Trump got a lot of flak for these comments, which seemed to shrug off the long-held tradition of presidents reading lengthy intelligence briefs before beginning their meetings each day.

Listen, we’re not here to criticize. Reading is hard work, and, as Dr. Seuss once said: “So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.” Besides, Trump’s overall point actually has some footing: why would the president, supposedly the world’s most in-demand person, waste precious time on sentences they could do without? He’s simply too busy to tackle that much info each day.

The same could be said for music. Staying up to date with every surprise drop and emerging artist can be exhausting work, and most people just don’t have the time.

Enter your new musical briefing, “The Abbreviator.” It’s a bite-sized, up-to-date rundown of the most important artists right now. Every month, I’ll be featuring five musicians who demand our attention, providing a short bio, a breakdown of their newest releases and an argument for why their music is worth knowing. Check out the first edition below:

Snail Mail

Description: 19-year-old indie wunderkind with veteran guitar skills and enough teenage emotions to make for the smartest Degrassi episode you could ever imagine.

Latest Material: Her 10-song debut album, Lush, was released earlier this month.

Why She Matters: In a genre full of young, immensely talented women, Lindsey Jordan has found a way to stand out from the rest. Her talent is jarring, and not just for her age. “Lush” is an album full of some of the year’s best rock riffs, with lyrics that are refreshingly unafraid of their overall high school-ness.

Must-Listen Track: “Pristine”

Natalie Prass

Description: Critically beloved songwriter with political aptitude and a knack for pulling the funk out of any instrument she touches.

Latest Material: The Future and the Past, the follow-up to Prass’ beloved 2015 debut, came out June 1.

Why She Matters: After a still and soulful first record, Prass returned in 2018 with a protest album for the ages. Her new songs might be explicitly speaking out against the Trump administration, but you wouldn’t know it from the music, which is jam-packed with bass grooves, pounding drums and jazzy piano chords. If that’s not enough, she’s also one of Danny Brown’s favorite artists, and you’re not really going to try and argue with Danny Brown, are you?

Must-Listen Track: “Short Court Style”

Tom Misch

Description: South London R&B genius who shoots 95 percent from behind the arc when it comes to making bonafide jams.

Latest Material: Misch put out his latest album, Geography, in April, and in June he visited NPR’s “Tiny Desk”, where he put on a funkfest for the ages.

Why He Matters: Misch, along with fellow crooner Jorja Smith, is part of London’s exciting, insanely young R&B scene. He’s also one of the most experimental collaborators in music right now, with his latest album featuring guest appearences from Goldlink, De La Soul and little-known jazz artist Poppy Ajudha.

Must-Listen Track: “South of the River”


Description: Dream pop starlet with bedroom floor beats and a sommelier-level mastery of vocal melodies.

Latest Material: Clario’s first official release, the diary 001 EP, came out in May.

Why She Matters: Claire Cottrill, who records as Clairo, produces the sort of electro-pop music you thought you were going to make when you bought that $300 USB keyboard at Best Buy. Her songs are spacey, intimate and unafraid of the more mundane aspects of modern romance.

Must-Listen Track: “4EVER”


Description: Danish superheroes making punk rock just to prove that Scandinavians can literally do anything better than the rest of the world.

Latest Material: Beyondless, the band’s fourth studio album, was released this May.

Why They Matter: Iceage has operated as punk rock’s underground darlings for a few years now, but the group made a major splash  with its latest record. “Beyondless” is full to the brim with bold energy, chaotic drums and just enough melody to win over even the un-punkiest of rock fans.

Must-Listen Track: “Pain Killer (feat. Sky Ferreira)”

Photo: Greg Scranton/Flickr



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