As the season heats up and the days lengthen, this summer in music is only beginning to sizzle.
June saw some of the best and most anticipated new albums of the summer. New offerings ranged from Jamie xx’s latest feat, “In Colour”, to Florence and the Machine’s fiery, long-awaited “How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful”, and ended with Miguel’s sensuous, bass-heavy “Wildheart”.
Mid-June, Neil Young released his latest compilation focusing on the rise of corporate greed and the predicaments of farmers, hence the album name: “The Monsanto Years”. Young’s lyrics certainly get his point across efficiently as he shakily sings over his guitar, “The farmer knows he’s got to grow what he can sell, Monsanto, Monsanto/ So he signs a deal for GMOs that makes life hell with, Monsanto, Monsanto.”
Two stars-on-the-rise also released albums this June. Kacey Musgraves, a new country music princess known for her not-so-typical and unequivocal lyrics, released her much anticipated sophomore album, ironically named “Pageant Material”. After Musgraves’s song proclaiming independence and self-acceptance “Follow Your Arrow” shot itself into the hearts of country music lovers as well as those not-so-well-versed in the genre over the past year, Musgraves began her rise to fame, which doesn’t seem to have a limit. Another girl on the ascent in the music business is Ellie Rowsell, lead woman of the London-based rock quartet Wolf Alice. Their album “My Love is Cool” was released last month and toes the line between electro-indie and 90’s grunge-rock. Wolf Alice takes the listener to place much more angsty than Musgraves’s inviting guitar strums, but both albums certainly deserve a listen.
As the month of July unfolds, new albums will begin to trickle out at a slightly slower pace than June. However, the month is sure to behold several gems.
July 17 will be the most awaited date this month, as Joss Stone, MS MR, Ratatat and Tame Impala are projected to release new albums.
Tame Impala, having already dropped four songs off their upcoming album “Currents”, has been touring and hitting the festival circuit this summer, building enthusiasm for their first album since 2012’s “Lonerism”. The songs released this summer are more transcendent and synthier than any of their prior music. Front-man Kevin Parker has already confirmed that “Currents” will be much different from anything else the band has released, as the album represents Parker’s own inspiration over the past few years.
Frank Ocean, the former Odd Future member who seems to still be gaining success from his 2012 album, “Channel Orange”, will release a new album this month. According to a photo posted on Frank Ocean’s website the work will be titled “Boys Don’t Cry”.
Along with new albums, July also continues the music festival season. Sloss Music and Arts Festival, held in Birmingham, Alabama, will take place the 18-19 of this month. The line-up is one not to be missed this summer. The headliners include Modest Mouse and The Avett Brothers, along with Cage the Elephant, Purity Ring and First Aid Kit. The same weekend, festivalgoers can endure a slightly farther drive to Louisville, Kentucky for Forecastle festival. Forecastle provides a variety of popular acts on and off the festival circuit this summer. Notable names include The War on Drugs, Portugal the Man and Mississippi native Big K.R.I.T. At the end of July, Birmingham will become a haven for up-and-coming bands. Secret Stages Fest, a walking festival taking place in a number of venues in downtown Birmingham, will feature bands from across the nation whose names aren’t on the radar… yet.
Just this past weekend, a sold-out crowd said a final goodbye to the group that may actually have been the ultimate music festival: The Grateful Dead. The last show of their ‘Fare Thee Well’ tour was played this past Sunday night at Soldier Field in Chicago. Fittingly, this stage was the last to be graced by the Grateful Dead with the late Jerry Garcia almost 20 years ago.