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The Abbreviator (Vol. 4): October’s most important artists

Featuring Empress Of, Duckwrth and Petite Noir

Welcome back to The Abbreviator, a short, monthly breakdown of the musicians who are demanding our attention

Imagine the following scenario:

It’s 8:58 a.m. on a Friday morning. You’re in a hurry, and it couldn’t be a worse day to be late for work. There’s a company-wide meeting at the office—all of the “big bosses” from corporate are in town—and worst of all, you’re giving the opening presentation.

You’re panting. You’re sweating. You’ve got stains from a yogurt parfait all over your face and shirt. You know everyone will look at you when you sprint into the meeting late, and you also worry they might judge you for picking such a messy breakfast food.

Worst of all though? You’re unprepared. It’s the same reason you’re late, and the same reason you’re so overtired that even now, with infinite “please don’t fire me!” adrenaline coursing through your veins, you can barely keep your eyes open.

But it was new music Friday, what else could you do? You stayed up way too late last night sifting through new releases, scanning your Spotify recommended playlists and browsing every blog’s list of the week’s best new tracks. “Future and Juice WRLD made an album? How did I miss this Kurt Vile record?,” you thought to yourself last night, and before you knew it, the sun was rising.

This dilemma can happen to the best of us. Keeping up with everymixtape, every EP and every emerging artist is, in itself a full time job. Most of people just don’t have the time for it, but, thankfully it’s OK. 

That’s where The Abbreviator comes in. As always, it’s your short, simple and to-the-point guide to most important artists of the moment. Let’s get too it:

Empress Of

Description: Grade-A relationship advice disguised as dance pop anthems.

Latest Material: Her second studio album, Us, came out last Friday.

Why She Matters: Even musical geniuses can get their hearts broken. At least that’s how it feels listening to Lorely Rodriguez, who’s been releasing music as Empress Of since 2012. Like the Ben Simmons of R&B, Rodriguez feels like a truly position-less (and infinitely skilled) talent: transitioning between Lorde-esque dance grooves, sensual EDM heartache and Latin pop tropes, she never loses her emotional core, touching constantly on the type of romantic wisdom Ben Simmons could probably have used a few months back.

Must-Listen Track: “I Don’t Even Smoke Weed”

Petite Noir

Description: South African protest songs coated in a futuristic, indie rock glaze.

Latest Material: Petite Noir released a new EP, called La Maison Noir / The Black House, earlier this month.

Why He Matters: It takes a Jalen Ramsey-level of irrational confidence to invent your own musical genre, but Petite Noir has found a way to pull it off. Over the past several years the Cape Town-born singer has dug deeper into a concept he calls “Noirwave,” which, despite sounding like a pro wrestler’s finishing move, is actually an insightful, innovative combination of political activism and alt-rock jams.

Must-Listen Track: “Blame Fire”

Molly Burch

Description: 1950s pop standards tossed, shredded and mixed into beautiful, Millennial Ninja blender.

Latest Material: Burch’s put out First Flower, the follow-up to her 2017 debut, on October 5.

Why She Matters: Molly Burch is a classicist. Raised on early pop icons like Nina Simone and Dusty Springfield, the singer-guitarist has a voice that belongs more on a 1960s variety show than it does in the Austin, Texas rock scene. The only problem? Burch writes songs like it’s 2018—or maybe 2021—combining modern sentiments with old-school ballad tropes to create something that feels both familiar and truly exciting.

Must-Listen Track: “To the Boys”

Duckwrth

Description: Weirdo alt-rap at its dirtiest, funniest and most innovative.

Latest Material: He’s released two singles, “FALL BACK” and “SOPRANO” over the past two months, and he recently gave an overall-clad freestyle as part of the BET Hip-Hop Awards’ annual cypher.

Why He Matters: Everyone wants to believe their favorite indie rapper is a true original, an incomparable, genre-challenging artist like nothing else out there. Sorry, but that’s rarely ever true—unless your favorite indie rapper is Duckwrth. Combining humor, aggression and flat-out weirdness, the 30-year-old does everything he can to surprise listeners at every turn.

Must-Listen Track: “SOPRANO”

Gus Dapperton

Description: Indie rock electro-jams made by a game-changing oddball.

Latest Material: Dapperton’s latest single, “World Class Cinema,” dropped this Friday.

Why He Matters: No matter who you are, there’s a 99.99 percent chance Gus Dapperton is cooler than you. Unfathomably young, endlessly witty and usually dressed in the type of thrift store sweatshirt it would take the average person 50 Goodwill visits to find, the New York-born singer is dripping in Gen Z swagger. If there’s such a thing as being a rockstar in 2018, Dapperton is doing it.

Must-Listen Track: “Prune, You Talk Funny”

The Abbreviator Playlist: Listen below for more must-listen tracks from this month’s most important artists

Photo: Amir Clark/Flickr

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