June is here, and everyone has commenced arguing about what’s going to be the jam of the summer. We wouldn’t kick a good beach-party anthem out of bed, but, call us old-fashioned — we haven’t given up on albums yet, either. The next three months boast a dizzying array of promising records, from indies like Ariel Pink and Lower Dens to legends like Laurie Anderson and Devo to rap stars like Big Boi and Drake. Check out our top 25 picks after the jump.
June 7 Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – (4AD)
Why: Because we’ve already got this album on repeat, and it is great. More polished than most of Pink’s work but also as dark and nostalgic as we’ve come to expect.Stream the entire album here.
June 8 Konono N°1 – (Crammed Discs)
Why: It’s been five years since these Congolese all-stars released their gorgeous debut. We can’t wait to see what they’ve spent the last half-decade working on. We’re especially excited to learn that the album will boast collaborations with a number of African vocalists. Download the epic, 12-minute single “Wumbanzaga” here.
The Roots – (Def Jam)
Why: Our favorite late-night TV house band/versatile hip-hop ensemble is back! This time, they’ve made an album with some of our favorite musicians from the rock side of the aisle: Dirty Projectors, Jim James and the Monsters of Folk, and Joanna Newsom all guest on How I Got Over.Watch the video for “How I Got Over”:
June 15 Laurie Anderson – (Nonesuch)
Why: Because the music world hasn’t had a new full-length from the superstar for a decade. We’re also happy to hear our lady is working in collaboration with husband Lou Reed and a seemingly vast ensemble that includes Tuvan throat singers and igil players, Antony Hegarty, and Kieran Hebden of Four Tet. The album promises to weigh in on American politics, and if there’s anyone we trust to render that kind of opinion, it’s Anderson.Watch Laurie Anderson as her male alter ego Fenway Bergamot, a recurring character who appears on Homeland, here.
Noun – (Don Giovanni)Why:This is a side project by Marissa Paternoster of Screaming Females. People, we would follow those pipes anywhere.Download
the title track
Devo – (Warner Bros.)Why:It’s all about the hype. For months, they’ve been giving us Song Study after Color Study in the pseudo-corporate jargon they perfected back in the ’80s. We can’t wait to find out what they have to show for 20 years of hiatus.Stream“Fresh.”
Drake – (Cash Money/Young Money/Universal)
Why:It has been an ordeal and a half waiting for this album. Plus, any record inspired by Nas and Andre 3000 has our ear.Stream“Light Up” (feat. Jay-Z): ytaudio(BVLLvkElOLI)
June 22 Diddy and Dirty Money – (Bad Boy)
Why:Think of Dawn Richard and Kalenna as Diddy’s Wendy & Lisa. The trio describes their sound as “train music, an electro-hip hop soul funk experience.” Diddy may be a better impresario than rapper, but we haven’t heard from him in a while, and we’re always intrigued to see what he’s got up his impeccably dressed sleeve.Watchthe video for “Hello, Good Morning” (feat. T.I. and Rick Ross):
HEALTH – (Lovepump United)
Why:We know this is just a remix album but, um, have you seen this video, directed by Eric Wareheim from Tim and Eric?
Stars – (Soft Revolution/Vagrant)
Why:The Five Ghosts finds the band reunited with Tom McFall, who produced their fantastic 2005 debut, Set Yourself on Fire.Watchthe video for “Fixed”:
June 29 Scissor Sisters – (Polydor)
Why:Their debut was a show stopper. The follow up didn’t impress us much. We’re hoping that after taking a few years off, the third album will be the charm.Watchthe video for “Fire with Fire”:
Wolf Parade – (Sub Pop)
Why:“More than any previous offering, EXPO 86 works especially well as a complete listening experience: Threads are picked up, guitars ring out and diminish, choruses echo. Songwriters blend. In fact, despite what we just did, it’s best enjoyed when you forget who wrote what, sit back, and just listen. It’s Wolf Parade’s ‘band’ record,” Stereogum gushes.Download“Ghost Pressure” here.
July 6 Big Boi – (Def Jam/Purple Ribbon)
Why:The debut solo album by one half of OutKast? Yes, please. Jamie Foxx, T.I., B.o.B., and some dude called Andre 3000 all guest.Watchthe video for “Shutterbug”:
Fol Chen – (Asthmatic Kitty)
Why:Since 2008, we’ve waited for the next installment of the mysterious combo’s John Shade story. We are suckers for multi-album concepts. And what we’ve heard so far (see below) is exciting as hell.Download“In Ruins”
Kylie Minogue – (Polydor)
Why:Speaking of Scissor Sisters, Jake Shears contributed to this album by the closest thing Australia has to Madonna. And, um, we’re betting that Kylie is out to up the sweatiness/naughtiness ante, judging by the beyond steamy video for “All the Lovers.”Download“All the Lovers (XXXChange Remix).”
July 13 Carissa’s Wierd – (Hardly Art)
Why:Strangely overrated in their own time, Carissa’s Wierd remains a cult band for weird Pacific Northwesterners and those who love them. Oh yeah, and that one dude from the group went on to form Band of Horses. Whatever. That is not what makes these folks fabulous. This is a best-of comp whose time has come.Stream“So You Wanna Be a Superhero” (and peruse the tons of other Carissa’s Wierd tracks available on YouTube): ytaudio(S7zHZrcHdxg)
Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse Present (Capitol)
Why:Chances are you’ve already heard this one. But a legit release is a good excuse to reacquaint yourself with a project that brought together the two top-billed artists, Iggy Pop, the Flaming Lips, David Lynch, Frank Black, Vic Chesnutt, and many, many other huge talents. The untimely deaths of Chesnutt and Sparklehorse’s Mark Linkous imbue the album with a particular urgency.Streamthe entire album at NPR.
M.I.A. – (N.E.E.T./XL/Interscope)Why:Well, unless you’ve slept through the last few months, you’re well aware that the entire lead-up to the annoyingly titled new album has been a mess of controversy. We’re curious about whether M.I.A. has actually made a third great full-length or if she’s simply running her mouth.Stream
July 20 Lower Dens – (Gnomosong) Why:This is the new band from talented Baltimore singer-songwriter Jana Hunter. We caught a few minutes of a New York performance recently and were hooked on her lush, trippy vocal gymnastics.Download“Hospice Gates” here.
August 3 Arcade Fire – (Merge) Why:Listen, we don’t know what’s going on with this retro-rock sound the band has embraced. Maybe we’ll get it when we hear the whole album. But we’re a blog and this is the Arcade Fire. We’re contractually obligated to be enthusiastic.Download“The Suburbs” here.
Wavves – King of the Beach (Fat Possum) Why: The album art is weird. Wavves is indie-rock tabloid gold. And this guy is the missing link between lo-fi punk and chillwave. People are watching his every move. Download “Cool Jumper” here.
August 10 Kathryn Calder – Are You My Mother? Why: We loved her in New Pornographers and are excited to see A.C. Newman’s kin strike out on her own. What we’ve heard so far is high-class chanteuse material. Download “Slip Away” here.
August 17 Chromeo – Business Casual (Atlantic) Why: They’ll get their album out just in time for the end of summer-jam season, which means your dance party just got sweatier. Did we mention that Solange Knowles is on board, lending vocals to a track called “When the Night Falls”? Watch the video for “Night by Night”:
T.I. – King Uncaged (Grand Hustle/Atlantic) Why: He’s now a free (and supposedly evolved) man, and we’re interested to hear what kind of perspective he’s gained post-incarceration. And his new mixtape, Fuck a Mixtape , has certainly whetted our appetite for new material. Stream “Yeah Ya Know (Takers)”: ytaudio(GuTt3Ts4qH8)
August 24 !!! – Strange Weather, Isn’t It? (Warp) Why: The band is calling Strange Weather their “Berlin album,” even though they only recorded some of it in the city where Bowie and Iggy and Eno holed up to make some of the greatest music of all time. Here’s hoping it’s even a fraction as dark and genre-defying as the classics that preceded it. Sadly, the record will also be !!!’s first without late drummer Jerry Fuchs. Stream “AM/FM” here.