Summer is in full swing, and if you haven’t melted yet, you’re probably looking forward to getting hold of some of the surfeit of new music that’s being released over the next month. In all honesty, July is shaping up as something of a strange month for music — lots of album releases, but not a whole heap of really, really exciting ones. But happily, we’re here to help — we’ve sorted the wheat from the chaff, the diamonds from the rough, the sheep from the goats, and all that. And so after the jump we’ve selected what we reckon are the 10 compulsory releases to hear this month, along with a suitably pithy roundup of everything else out there. Let us know what you love/hate/reckon we missed.
Motion Sickness of Time Travel — Motion Sickness of Time Travel (July 3)
Rachel Evans’ two 2011 releases — Seeping Through the Veil of the Unconscious and Luminaries and Synastry — were two of our favorite records in ages, so to say we’re excited for this new double album is something of an understatement. It contains four tracks across two LPs — one track per side — and we’re very much looking forward to getting our hands on a copy, because this is just as good, if not better, than its predecessors. If you’re at all into drone/atmospheric/ambient music, we suggest you do the same.
Mike Patton — Laborintus II (July 3)
It’s hard to keep track of what the endlessly prolific Mike Patton is up to at any given moment, but even for a man who’s pretty much defined the word “eclectic” over the last couple of decades, this sounds like an interesting project — it’s apparently a tribute to Italian composer Luciano Berio, is based on a poem by Genoese poet and politician Edoardo Sanguineti, and according to its press release, it “highlights the timelessness of love and mourning and is told in three voices.” He’s come a long way since “Epic,” hasn’t he?
Dirty Projectors — Swing Lo Magellan (July 10)
“Offspring Are Blank,” the opening track of the follow up to Dirty Projectors’ wildly popular 2009 album, Bitte Orca, starts off much like the songs on that record — band leader David Longstreth croons searchingly, vocalists Amber Coffman and Haley Dekle coo in harmony, and the music subtly swells and fades. Then, about a minute and a half in, a slice of electric guitar cuts through like a chainsaw, disrupting our expectations and preparing us for an album that finds Longstreth and co. stretching their languid style to encompass everything from high-energy rock ‘n’ roll to off-kilter folk.
Beak> — >> (July 10)
Geoff Barrow’s jam band proves that the idea of three friends improvising together in a room doesn’t have to be the catalyst for epic Phish-style wankery. As with the band’s debut, this was recorded in a series of single takes, and it recaptures the original’s driving immediacy. It’s not out physically for a couple of weeks, but you can stream/download it via Bandcamp right now if you like.
Nas — Life Is Good (July 17)
Call us hopelessly romantic and idealistic, but there’s a part of us that holds out hope that one day, Nas might recapture the form that yielded Illmatic, which as far as we’re concerned is a serious contender for the title of best debut album ever. So we look forward to every new record, and we’re inevitably disappointed. There’s some hope that this might be some semblance of a return to form, though, so fingers crossed. (Also: we do very much like Nas’ reflection on parenthood, above, including how to react when your daughter posts a picture on Instagram with a pack of condoms captured in the background. Yikes.)
The Very Best — MTMTMK (July 17)
All this talk about songs of the summer of late has had us recalling our favorite summer song of the last couple of years — The Very Best’s exuberant “Warm Heart of Africa,” which dropped at the tail end of summer 2009 and soundtracked many a rooftop drinking session both that year and during 2010. If first single “Yoshua Alikuti” is anything to judge by, this album may well do the same.
Purity Ring — Shrines (July 24)
Speaking of quintessential summer songs, this writer is in absolute agreement with his learned colleague Russ Marshalek regarding the credentials of Purity Ring’s standout single “Belispeak” — we’d take it over bloody “Call Me Maybe” (hi, maybe!) or “Somebody That I Used to Know” any day of the week. While the rest of Shrines doesn’t quite live up to the standard that “Belispeak” sets, it’s a fine, if belated, debut.
Baroness — Yellow & Green (July 24)
And if exuberant summer songs aren’t your thing, you could just terrify the neighbors with this — there’s nothing quite as guaranteed to break up a respectable middle-class barbecue as a spot of apocalyptic sludge metal. And anyway, we’ve always had a soft spot for Baroness, a band who write the sort of guitar riffs that sound like the musical equivalent of that oleaginous tarry stuff they use to seal roads with.
Lawrence Arabia — The Sparrow (July 24)
An heir to the fine musical tradition of winsome New Zealand indie, ex-Brunette James Milne — aka Lawrence Arabia — has released two records that fit somewhere between classic Dunedin types like The Clean and The Tall Dwarfs and the somewhat more fey sounds of bands like Antipodean near-compatriots Crayon Fields. This is his third record, and lead single “Travelling Shoes” promises more of the same — which is fine by us.
Micachu & the Shapes — Never (July 24)
The return of one of music’s most idiosyncratic talents. We’re intrigued to hear what Mica Levi does next — her debut Jewellery was great, but frankly it also kinda gave us a headache. What we’ve heard so far from this album sounds somewhat less abrasive than her previous work, although it’s not exactly a walk in the park. This all bodes well.
Also out this month:
Modeselektor — Modeselektion 2 (July 3) Thom Yorke’s favorite producer makes more head-meltingly complex electronic music. Bravo.
That Violent Asshole Who Beat Up Rihanna — Fortune (July 3) If only the world had an “ignore” function.
Múm — Early Birds (July 3) Early demos and unreleased tracks from the Icelandic daydreamers.
Stevie Jackson — (I Can’t Get No) Stevie Jackson (July 10) Puntastic solo project for reverb-lovin’ Belle & Sebastian guitarist.
Mission of Burma — Unsound (July 10) Strange fact of the day: Mission of Burma have now made four times as many records since re-forming as they did in their early-’80s heyday.
Marina & the Diamonds — Electra Heart (July 10) NME readers, rejoice!
Twin Shadow — Confess (July 10) Brooklyn Vegan readers, rejoice!
Serj Tankian — Harakiri (July 10) Angry earnest teenagers, rejoice!
Frank Ocean — Channel Orange (July 17) Serious question: when did it become OK to like R&B again? We’ll be addressing this in due course.
Matisyahu — Spark Seeker (July 17) If only his music were as interesting as the politics of his beard, or lack thereof.
Jimmy Cliff — Rebirth (July 17) Believe us, we love The Harder They Come as much as anyone, and possibly substantially more so, but if Cliff’s recent work is anything to go by, this won’t need to be a rebirth as much as a fully-fledged renaissance.
Laetitia Sadier — Silencio (July 24) We were glad to see Laetitia Sadier carrying on in the wake of Stereolab’s tragic breakup — and even more glad to discover that her solo work sounds awfully like, well, Stereolab.
Passion Pit — Gossamer (July 24) Soon to be heard soundtracking “heavy petting” sessions in a dorm near you.
Slug Guts — Playin’ In Time With the Deadbeat (July 24) Angry, angry music from Australia. Excellent.
Foals — Tapes (July 24) DJ mix type thing, apparently.