July and August were flat-out hot this year. I live in Texas where sane people shut it down, stay in, and chill to good tunes in July and August. Below are my favorite albums from this year’s dog days.
In The Wild – The Interrupters
Aimee Allen is pure energy and has developed one of rocks’ best vocal rasps. The Interrupter’s new album races through 14 tracks in less than 43 minutes. It’s a ska-punk joy ride. The song “Raised by Wolves” might be my favorite The Interrupters tune to date. “As We Live” is a great pumped-up ska jam. I particularly enjoyed the more straight-ahead rock track “Afterthought.’ If you need something a touch more reggae the song “Love Never Dies,” which happens to feature The Skints, fits the bill. Not a lot of summer vibes in this album. It’s just a really good album that happened to be released when it was really hot out.
Emotional Creature – Beach Bunny
Too many good tracks on this album. Song-for-song this is one of the most solid albums I’ve listened to this year. Lili Trifilio has the unique talent of singing catchy tunes while making almost every word very easy to understand. This could be damning if the lyrics weren’t so relatable. The opening track, “Entropy,” has a steady beat that allows Trifilio to vocally bounce up and down throughout. “Weeds” is the album’s catchiest earworm. It also has some of the more memorable lyrics. “He’s not the problem/The problem is you think you’re only viable for love when someone makes you feel complete.” The song “Karaoke” is a sentimental tune that is just the right amount of sweetness. I’m partial to the track “Love Song.” It, for me, represents most of the things this album does well and I found it odd that it was slotted at the end of the album.
Surrender – Maggie Rogers
This is a very different Maggie Rogers album. A rich mature voice has replaced the once airy vocals, the production leans more to the rock side of pop, and the lyrics have matured as well. “That’s Where I Am” is a great example of each of these changes. The song is pop with a rock edge and lyrics that stick with you. My favorite tune on this album is “Horses.” The longing to get away is real. The emotion is heavy. The song is produced and delivered so well. Finally, check out the song “Shatter,” This rocking bop is such a fun tune.
Reset - Panda Bear/Sonic Boom
Panda Bear/Sonic Boom is the project by the duo Noah Lennox and Peter Kember. This has album grown on me with each listen and may be my favorite album from the summer. The more I listen the more I love all these great retro sounds. The first thing you’ll notice is the Beach Boy vocals. It’s inescapable. The production also harkens back to the Sixties and early Seventies sounds. The opening tracks, “Getting to the Point” and “Go On” make it clear the band is playing with layers of sounds. Both songs are terrific. By track 4, “Edge of the Edge,” the band has gone full Brothers Wilson and layered in all kinds of crazy off-beat sounds and included doo-wop backup vocals (“now, now, now”). The tune is a killer. This is such a cool album. The songs build until the final cut, a full-scale electronic Pet Sounds tune, aptly titled “Everything’s Been Leading to This.” Check out this album. It’s a great way to discover something both new and old at the same time.
10 Tracks to Echo in the Dark – The Kooks
I love the Kooks. Like Maggie Rogers, they are evolving and coming out with more complex music and lyrics. This album kicks off with the song “Connection: with has a great full sound. Not the bouncy style that we usually hear from The Kooks. The second track, “Cold Heart,” is the only song on the album that has that Kooks bop to which we’ve become accustomed. But by the time you hit the bridge the band drops into a laid-back psychedelic groove and you just have to accept the band is doing something new. The good news is that the band is doing it very well. I love the bridge in this song. When the third song, “Jesse James,” starts Luke Pritchard’s accent is front and center. It’s such a trademark for the band. “Beautiful World,” a tune featuring Milky Chance, and Pritchard’s vocal homage to Bob Dylan, is a wonderful tune that gets better with each listen. Just to keep everyone guessing the band throws in an Eighties synth-dance tune called “25.” I used to say The Kooks was a guilty pleasure. But now with the new mature sound, they are just a pleasure.