As we breathlessly wait to see which Iggy Azalea collaboration — “Fancy” or “Problem” — will be crowned the Song of the Summer, there is a whole lot of indie rock coming out this month. Synths also reign supreme in June, from A Sunny Day In Glasgow’s ace new one to How To Dress Well’s return, which manages to be even more revealing than his debut. Round it out with Miranda Lambert’s ass-kicking fifth LP and some NYC rock striving for classic status from Parquet Courts, and summer’s shaping up.
Miranda Lambert — Platinum (June 3)
Miranda Lambert is to country what Beyoncé is to R&B: a crossover star with the power to introduce young listeners to the concept of empowerment without even having to utter the word “feminism.” Her excellent fifth album, Platinum, possesses all the fun and frills of country-pop princesses (a song about dyeing your hair platinum blonde indefinitely? yes please) while teaching the good ole boys a thing or two about what a queen deserves. Platinum asserts that Lambert is a woman among girls, with more balls than those so-called country outlaws. (Stream it now via Spotify.)
Parquet Courts — Sunbathing Animal (June 3)
Amidst a campaign to become the new great New York — not Brooklyn — band (hey, the Times and Grantland think so), Parquet Courts have crafted a classic sophomore LP that, while not quite matching the CBGB canon, brushes up on a few old tricks of the genre. Songs named after girls get a modern slant with lines like, “you can read about that in her Moleskine” — not merely her diary. They’re like Television, as seen through an Instagram filter. (Stream it now via NPR Music.)
Hamilton Leithauser — Black Hours (June 3)
After ten years and seven albums, The Walkmen announced an “extreme hiatus” late last year. Now, some six months later, comes the solo debut from the indie rockers’ leader, Hamilton Leithauser. It would be fair to say that Black Hours stands up to much of what The Walkmen in their mid-2000s peak (I mean, besides “The Rat”), but really, the feeling is just different. Leithauser on his own is wound less tightly, content to trade the anxiety-ridden intoxication of his friends in The National for middle-aged drunkenness out on the dance floor. Even a song called “Self Pity” gets a groove. (Stream it now via NPR Music.)
Jack White — Lazaretto (June 10)
Love him or hate him, Jack White walks a tricky line with a degree of success that is, all things considered, impressive: he’s one of the few true rock stars the mainstream has, constantly battling his own past accomplishments while working at a self-imposed maniacal pace to rewrite his own history with new approaches to old artforms. On his second solo album — which brings bluegrass, country, jazz, blues, spoken-word, and psychedelia to the rock radio masses — White collaborates with his backing bands (yes, multiple) from 2012’s Blunderbuss as well as a younger version of himself. When White found bad poetry and one-act plays he wrote when he was 19, he decided to use the rough material to inspire fictional characters within Lazaretto. The result is an album that, while far from personal, is like a History Channel special: if you’re in the right mood to retread the past, the tales White weaves can be fascinating. (Stream it now via iTunes Radio.)
Clipping. — CLPPNG (June 10)
The most immediate reference point for Clipping. is Death Grips, which is probably why everyone’s been comparing them to MC Ride, et al. The comparison rather sells this LA trio short, though — for a start, Clipping. actually have songs, and they’re fronted by an MC who’s notable as much for his pretty impressive rhyming skills as he is for his stage presence. Their tracks don’t have the punishing intensity of Death Grips, but they’re also a lot more interesting — there’s an industrial influence, sure, but CLPPNG engages as much as it does mete out punishment to the listener. All in all, this is a pretty impressive debut — prepare for the wave of hype in 3… 2… 1… (Stream it now via NPR Music.) — Tom Hawking
Shamir — Northtown EP (June 11)
Las Vegas singer Shamir Bailey makes a grand entrance with his debut EP. Released on Brooklyn upstart label Godmode, Northtown mixes the discount disco luxury of a thrifted leisure suit with house electronics and the longing of classic R&B and — somehow — country too. The real centerpiece here, however, is 19-year-old Shamir’s voice, an androgynous nasal croon that sounds both sour and sweet, masculine and feminine.
White Lung — Deep Fantasy (June 17)
Vancouver punks White Lung return with their third album and first for Domino, but it’s not just the label change that has brought the band to more accessible levels. Fearless singer Mish Way opens up even further on serious topics, ranging from body dysmorphia (“Snake Jaw”) to addiction (“Drown With the Monster”). But it’s the moments of melody that burrow themselves deep within White Lung’s punishing hardcore aggression that mark a difference here.
The Antlers — Familiars (June 17)
The Antlers created 2009’s most heartbreaking album in Hospice, a concept album that chronicled an emotionally abusive relationship via extended metaphor involving a cancer patient and her hospice worker. It’s a disarming work that is hard to match, but in Familiars, Antlers frontman Peter Silberman looks inward to examine himself. As it turns out, his own mind is nearly as bleak — and almost as interesting to hear about on record. Jazz percussion, forlorn brass, and piano drifters round it out.
How To Dress Well — What Is This Heart? (June 23)
On his first two albums under the moniker How To Dress Well, Tom Krell bared his soul through palpable aesthetics. The music was on trend — PBR&B, a term that has thankfully gone the wayside — and the emotions, of which there were an abundance, were relatable to the overshare generation. His voice, fluttering through an upper register, was the crowning jewel. So it’s nice to return to How To Dress Well on What Is This Heart? after a couple of years and find that, with an even more revealing tone and more aggressive electronics, Krell’s stunning voice can transcend a buzz phase. At times on the record, Krell expresses feelings of not knowing who he is, personally speaking, but his music has never sounded so sure.
A Sunny Day In Glasgow — Sea When Absent (June 24)
This collective has always been a mixed bag, full of shifting lineups and aesthetics ranging from numbed ambient to wall-of-sound shoegaze to frenzied electropop. All of these are on display at once in their excellent third album, Sea When Absent, with a real eye towards writing apocalyptic rock songs with pop melodies at the centerpiece. The juxtaposition — where reverb is the middle ground — creates of the two creates a comforting tension, like when panic attacks start to feel like home.
Also out this month:
Lana Del Rey — Ultraviolence (June 17) LDR returns with her long-awaited third album, this time helmed by the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach. I have not heard this record yet, as it’s being held as closely as one would expect, but the first single “West Coast” has me much more excited than anything off Born to Die.
Priests — Bodies and Control and Money and Power (June 3) DC punks Priests spew some of their most pointed political commentary in the span of 17 unrelenting minutes on this new set for Don Giovanni.
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah — Only Run (June 3) On their fourth album, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah recruit new members and new electronics, putting their confidence in anthems that are more Krautrock than indie rock. Still, the album’s highlight is guitar-driven single “Coming Down,” thanks in part to a rambling assist from The National’s Matt Berninger. (Stream it now via NPR Music.)
Chrissy Hynde — Stockholm (June 10) The Pretenders leader debuts her first proper solo record this month, and it’s sort of surprising: a power-pop slant with guest appearances from Neil Young, John McEnroe (yes, that John McEnroe), and Bjorn Yttling of Peter Bjorn and John (who produces). (Stream it now via The Guardian.)
The Fresh & Onlys — House of Spirits (June 10) The San Francisco garage rockers release their fifth album in six years, grappling with the subconscious via psychedelic sounds more than ever. (Stream it now via NYT .)
Lone — Reality Testing (June 17) Producer Matt Cutler, aka Lone, mixes hip-hop and house beats for a surprisingly sedated (in a good way) trip.
Strand of Oaks — HEAL (June 24) Timothy Showalter, aka Philly’s Strand of Oaks, creates what appears at first to be a solid folk-rock LP of plain-spoken coming-of-age tales for his third effort. Then J. Mascis drops in to jam, the songs get a little gothy, and the harsh electronics flirt with sparse pianos. What a grower.