Ahh, once again it is my favorite time of the year. The weather is finally cooling down, the hipsters are buying their pumpkin-spice lattes, and I’m trying to remember where I put all my socks.
There was a very real possibility that no music could satisfy me this summer, knowing that so many of my favorite artists are in the studio with impending albums (ahem…SafetySuit, Tool, Dayshell…). However a few clutch releases made this pre-album-release-purgatory impressively bearable. And with most genres contributing exceptional albums, there was a little something for everyone. Here’s my roundup of the best of the best. And check back later this week for my official fall playlist!
If you like Paramore: Tonight Alive, The Other Side – September 17th
Warped Tour alum Tonight Alive haven’t always impressed me – at their worst they’ve felt like a poor man’s Paramore or Flyleaf, blending into a sea of other second-tier and often poorly produced warped artists. But this latest release from the Aussie-born quintet feels so much more mature, with highlights including The Ocean, Lonely Girl, and The Other Side. Haley Williams watch the f*ck out.
(Photo credit: http://www.tonightaliveofficial.com)
If you like Lupe Fiasco: Wale, The Gifted – June 24th
To be real honest, King Kendrick Lamar is owning this genre for me right now, so picking out a winner was a challenge. However I was pleasantly surprised by this sophomore release from Wale, trading in his status as a featured guest spot with 2 Chainz (ugh) for an album full of collabs with an R&B feel. I’m a sucker for Ne-Yo, so naturally Tired of Dreaming was a favorite for me. But don’t miss LoveHate Thing, with a killer vocal from Sam Dew and a Marvin Gaye sample, or Bad featuring Tiara Thomas. And yes, that’s a bed creaking. Naught-ay.
(Photo credit: http://www.blackenterprise.com)
If you like The Lumineers: The Civil Wars, The Civil Wars – August 2nd
If you don’t know the backstory here, it’s a real heartbreaker. These two voices were just meant to go together, and though I imagined it would be hard to top 2011’s Barton Hollow, this self-titled release does not disappoint. Joy Williams is more prominently featured over John Paul White, (likely due to the aforementioned tension), but her vocals just soar. In particular Eavesdrop and Smashing Pumpkins cover Disarm give me the chills (in a good way).
(Photo credit: http://www.vh1.com)
If you like Imagine Dragons: X Ambassadors, Love Songs Drug Songs EP – May 7th
Unfortunately for the X Ambassadors, the only plug they really got for this EP was a song featured in one of the most hilariously terrible movies I’ve ever seen, The Host. It wasn’t until I saw them open for Imagine Dragons that I began to appreciate their originality. Way outperforming the higher-billed The Neighborhood, their catchy-as-all-hell single Unconsolable was in my head all summer. Title track Love Songs Drug Songs is also worth a listen.
(Photo credit: http://www.swaggernewyork.com)
If you like August Burns Red: We Came As Romans, Tracing Back Roots – July 23rd
These guys have been such a sleeper hit for me, with their single Understanding What We’ve Grown to Be from a previous release holding a firm spot on my regular playlist for the better part of a year. The new album has that same metal energy, with tracks like I Survive and Tell Me Now. What’s different about these guys is that they weave some insanely catchy pop-esque hooks into the screamo metal background. WCAR could rival hook-writing in any genre including pop, no question.
(Photo credit: http://www.last.fm)
Honorable mentions: Sara Bareilles, The Blessed Unrest – July 12th // Ben Rector, The Walking in Between – August 20th