Summer album encore
The hot summer is all but over, but the heat from this summer’s album releases doesn’t have to end. Here are some of the summer releases that you may have missed.
Other than Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Emotion,” the album I kept returning to over and over again was Kacey Musgraves’ “Pageant Material.” Over the past few years, the country singer has established herself not only as a deft chronicler of small-town America, but one who challenges the expectations that come with being “a girl who grows up in the South.” Her lyrics turns a consistently smart and incisive lens on the subject, whether she’s rejecting the constricting standards of what it means to be pageant material or refusing membership in the industry’s good ol’ boys club. Yet, her criticism is not without empathy, as on standout “Dime Store Cowgirl,” in which she reassures fans that no matter how successful she becomes, she’ll always call Golden, Texas home. This kind of deft songwriting ensured that “Pageant Material” was an album that held up as well at the beach on the Fourth of July as it did while driving through the desert on a road trip in August.
As a fellow intern and I scoured a lunch menu for the cheapest meal on our break, she mentioned a song by Lil Dicky called “$ave Dat Money” that “would totally work as our anthem” — I brushed it off as a reference to some SNL skit or YouTube video. She failed to mention that the song featured Fetty Wap and Rich Homie Quan (fire) and that Lil Dicky released an album on July 31, fittingly titled “Professional Rapper.” The title track features Snoop Dogg as Dave Burd’s (Lil Dicky’s) gateway into the rap business. He explains his suburban background, “funny-type rap” and aspirations, improving his flow with each of Snoop’s rebuttals and gaining The Dogg’s, as well as my own, ultimate mark of approval. The album features hilarious phone conversations with his “overly concerned Jewish parents,” an interlude by proclaimed Lil Dicky fan Hannibal Buress and self-deprecating lyrics delivered in a refreshing way. So go ahead and listen to “Classic Male Pregame” (music video encouraged) while you’re getting ready this Friday and watch the lyrics unfold IRL.
Ever since the “Straight Outta Compton” film was announced, people anxiously awaited the release of N.W.A. and West Coast legend Dr. Dre’s latest project “Compton” to be released. Some people, like myself, even made the switch from Spotify to Apple Music just to hear it (the three-month free trial certainly didn’t hurt). I have to admit, after listening to “Chronic 2001” and wondering for years what the mythical “Detox” might have sounded like, “Compton” was nothing like it. But the project was absolutely a slow-burner — there was an undeniable “new West coast” vibe throughout the project, only further exemplified by Kendrick Lamar’s presence on seemingly every song. Old cohorts Ice Cube, MC Ren, Eminem and Snoop Dogg are there too, and even affiliated west coasters like Xzibit grace the album with a verse or two. Keeping an open mind, it absolutely is worth a listen.
Hiatus Kaiyote, an Australian quartet whose unique sound may only be rivaled by their poetically resonant name, dropped their second album, “Choose Your Weapon,” on May 1. Released independently, the album may have flown under some potential fans’ radars; however, it managed to reach Number 22 on ARIA Charts and 127 on Billboard’s Hot 200 in the United States within the month. The album’s mystical combination of swanky neo-soul, complex worldly arrangements and footwork-referencing production give its 69-minute runtime a very focused sense of variety. Atop the album’s genre collage, lead singer and guitarist Nai Palm’s voice glides like that of her jazz spiritual ancestry. In listening, it’s as if the band travelled through time — carefully picking their favorite sounds from each decade — and coalesced their findings into a fast-moving composition all their own.
Summer means sunshine. Sunshine means boating, beaching and lounging. Boating, beaching and lounging mean country music. Despite a potential cringe from those of you reading this, people can certainly benefit from one solid, summery country album. On April 28, Zac Brown Band released “Jekyll + Hyde” — their most eclectic album yet — featuring a mixture of folk, rock, swing and modern dance beats. The band’s attempt at pushing their own genre’s boundaries flew vastly under the radar. While a few singles pushed their way onto the summer’s top hits, so many of the album’s songs do a great job encapsulating island vibes and good feels. The album’s vast range of songs appeals to all sorts of tastes. The band’s duet with Sara Bareilles — my favorite song on the album — sweetly resembles one of Tony Bennett’s or Frank Sinatra’s swing-music hits. All in all, Zac Brown Band’s very underrated album allots readers the opportunity to relax and reminisce over summer’s greatest moments.