The Best Music of July 2015

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Aye Nako. Photo by Walter Wlodarczyk.

Powerful moments in music can come in vastly different forms, from an epic, life-affirming 93-minute rock opera to the just-kind-of-perfect 50-second bedroom pop ballad. In July, we were intrigued by releases that took both of those forms (the new Titus record, the new Radiator Hospital single). While considering the Best Music of 2015 (So Far), we decided to “prioritize the music itself rather than arbitrary formats” and ultimately put fewer limits on what could qualify for our list: albums, EPs, cassettes, Bandcamp releases, 7-inches, and one-off singles were all fair game. We’ve stayed true to that limitlessness when reflecting on the best music of this past month, too. Ultimately, the first full month of summer gave birth to some of favorite new music of the entire year so far, from the crucial personal politics and intricate guitar work of Aye Nako’s new EP for Don Giovanni, The Blackest Eye, to the sweet-sung indie pop lilt of Florida’s Naps and subtly powerful electronic pop of Philadelphia’s Shakai Mondai.

Adult Mom Momentary loss of happily


In terms of actual full-length albums, our top pick for July was clear: “I really appreciate Momentary Lapse of Happily because so much of it was me needing to cope, needing to write about it, but so much of it was also like, ‘this my saving grace in that this is an archive or monument of shit that has gone down’,” Steph Knipe told us in July, referring to Adult Mom’s debut full-length album for Tiny Engines. Narrative aside, it is an aural time capsule of all the previous Adult Mom releases: a combination of the joyful bubblegum of 2013’s I Fell In Love by Accident and the sentimental wisdom of 2014’s Sometimes Bad Happens.

With that in mind, the record begins appropriately with “Be Your Own 3AM,” a song about being your own source of comfort and validation: “Now I hold my own hands in crowds of bands and my friends / Jen always says to me ‘You gotta be your own 3AM.’” “Survival” is Momentary’s anthem of sorts, highlighting the struggles Knipe has dealt with since coming out—an ode to self care, a reflection on identity anxiety. “I set fire to abusers like a war / I am a terror but I don’t know what it is I fight for,” they cheerfully warn before proclaiming, “I survive because I have died.”

Read more: “Adult Mom survives on their own terms” by Quinn Moreland, 7/28/15