The 10 Albums You Need to Hear In July


We’re in a weird stretch of the summer that’s not only a typical dead zone for albums, but also sees the music industry shifting its weekly release day from Tuesday (in the US at least) to Friday world-wide. This means that the first releases for July aren’t out until next Friday, and pre-release streams won’t hit until last this week. So, in the meantime, get excited for these albums, which include strong showings from Tame Impala, Jason Isbell, Mas Ysa, Lianne La Havas, and a reunited Veruca Salt.

Veruca Salt — Ghost Notes (July 10, El Camino)

In 1998, the singers of MTV alt-rock favorites Veruca Salt — Louise Post and Nina Gordon — had a fight so bad, the Chicago quartet broke up after just two albums (including 1994’s all-time classic, American Thighs). Post would use the Veruca Salt’s name with new musicians to release two more albums, but it’s only in the last year or so that the band’s original lineup have reunited and eventually made Ghost Notes. The album is at its best when Gordon and Post use their vocal harmonies to lead kick-down-the-door rock anthems, which are in no shortage here on an LP that comes at a good time given music’s current fascination with attitude-filled grunge that boasts pop hooks. — Jillian Mapes

Jason Isbell — Something More Than Free (July 10, Southeastern Records)

Former Drive-By Trucker Jason Isbell is one of alt-country’s most reliable voices, particularly in light of his modern classic Southeastern. To follow-up that 2013 LP, Isbell reunited with its producer, Dave Cobb, for a collection of songs that examine life’s small details and big questions with the same level of astounding sincerity and humble wisdom. Isbell oftentimes sounds like frequent tourmate Ryan Adams during his Cardinals era, particularly when Isbell strips down his sound and lets himself get real blue in the spirit of the Southern literary tradition (see “Speed Trap Town,” then have a good cry). But he also sounds quite different (and traditional, in a classic country sense) when backed by a full band, oftentimes topped off by a piano, a fiddle, and strings. —JM

Four Tet — Morning/Evening (July 10, Text)

OK, so Kieran Hebden has technically already released this — he snuck it out on June 21 via Bandcamp, apparently to “celebrate the summer solstice” — but physical copies aren’t due until July 7, so we figure it still qualifies as a July release. Anyway, technicalities aside, it’s a beautiful record — it’s only two tracks, each of which will go on a side of vinyl, and their names (“Morning Side” and “Evening Side”) give a pretty good indication of their moods. Both are extended, seamless collages, coming off like the DJ sets that might get played at clubs in other, more beautiful worlds; together, they add up to one of our favorite records of the year. — Tom Hawking

Tame Impala — Currents (July 17, Interscope)

The month’s most anticipated release, at least from our perspective, is Tame Impala’s third LP, Currents. The Australian psych-rockers broke through to the mainstream with 2012’s Lonerism, but Currents takes the band’s warm and warped experiments in space pop to new levels. There are odyssey-like jam sessions, vocals distortion, electronic interludes, and more far-out sounds that nod to the ’80s as much as the ’60s and ’70s. Plus, the first two singles — “Let It Happen” and “Cause I’m a Man” — are both contenders for alternate, alternative-leaning Songs of the Summer. — JM

The Chemical Brothers — Born in the Echoes (July 17, Virgin EMI)

The idea of a new Chemical Brothers in 2015 seems somehow incongruous — in the age of Skrillex EDM and drops that are best approximated by jumping out of an aeroplane, Tom ‘n’ Ed’s brand of big beat suddenly feels, well, antiquated and quaint, and it’s hard to imagine anyone dropping one of these tracks into a DJ set any time soon. That said, Born in the Echoes isn’t bad — indeed, there’s an argument to be made that it’s the best collection of tracks we’ve heard from them since their late ’90s glory days. It follows a similar trajectory to those records — bangers on side one, a slow wind-down to a reflective closer — and as ever, its best moments involve unlikely collaborations (especially “Under Neon Lights”, which features St Vincent and would fit nicely onto side one of Surrender.) — TH

Flo Morrissey — Tomorrow Will Be Beautiful (July 17, Glassnote)

Flo Morrissey is a 20-year-old, London-based pop singer who reminds me of Sharon Van Etten trying to sound like Adele. There’s a certain properness in Morrissey’s lithe voice and an orchestral hugeness in her sad songs, which together can make them difficult to place in terms of an era. Tomorrow Will Be Beautiful is a strong enough debut to break Morrissey, so keep your eyes peeled on this one. — JM

MS MR — How Does It Feel (July 17, Columbia Records)

Synth-loving New York duo MS MR were part of dark pop’s mainstream explosion in recent years, alongside the likes of Charli XCX. Their aspirations of pop domination become clear on sophomore album How Does It Feel, where quirky electronics and emotional pleas become polished, would-be hits. — JM

Mas Ysa — Seraph (July 24, Downtown Records)

With this debut, Mas Ysa’s Thomas Arsenault has done a remarkable job matching his variegated electronic palette with an intimate, lyrical world. “Look Up,” in particular, conjures the universal intimacy of a letter to a disappearing friend. — Jonathon Sturgeon

Ducktails — St. Catherine (July 24, Domino)

For nearly a decade, Real Estate’s Matt Mondanile has maintained a solo project called Ducktails that’s grown from bedroom pop to something more polished over the course of five albums. While 2013’s The Flower Lane mined ’80s pop, forthcoming LP St. Catherine is Mondanile’s most psychedelic trip yet. Elliott Smith producer Rob Schnapf assists as Mondanile sprawls out into baroque instrumentation that few would have guessed based on where Ducktails started, and for the most part, keeps it on track. — JM

Lianne La Havas — Blood (July 31, Nonesuch)

British soul singer and multi-instrumentalist Lianne La Havas follows up a promising debut with a sophomore album that is, as its lead single suggests, “unstoppable.” La Havas feels refreshed and emboldened here, as her voice effortlessly skates through various styles ranging from Feist-y folk-pop and throwback R&B while her band tries to keep up. — JM