Here are a handful of records released this summer that deserve a little love before you close the book on the season.
Unearth / Grasscut / Label: Ninja Tune
Sitting squarely between the worlds of pop and orchestral electronic music isUnearth, the sophomore album from Brighton UK duo Andrew Phillips and Marcus O’Dair who record together as Grasscut. Unearth incorporates ambient guitar and well composed classical electro-movements that when paired with Phillips’s ice-cold and sometimes auto-tuned pop vocals become air conditioning for your ears. Songs like “Stone Lines” and “Reservoir” are perfect for soaking up an afternoon breeze while the more upbeat tracks “Pieces” and “From Towns and Fields” are good for that sexy nighttime pool party. The influences of European electronic music are all over Unearth, and are a welcome respite from the dark grinding beats that currently dominate the genre.
A good summer album is one that evokes the happy childhood parts of summer like the freedom of playing in the sun and the early-adult themes of chasing girls, awkward sex, hijinks and maybe getting thrown in the tank for being a public nuisance or blowing up someone’s car. This summer, the youthful rock album Hypnotic Nights from Nashville’s Jeff the Brotherhood accomplished just that. Actual brothers Jeff and Jamin Orrall were able to strike that perfect summer chord with a release that is garage and scuzzy. It’s a tightly spun and sometimes bent collection of pop melodies. SCOTT AYCOCK
Before I go on and on about the fabulous Carry Me Back—the latest album from Old Crow Medicine Show—I should admit I went to high school with their upright bass player, Morgan Jahnig. As a result, I've long been a fan of the bluegrass band, which gained national attention with their uber-hit and now Americana anthem “Wagon Wheel.” On "Carry Me Back," the Nashville Tennessee band cleanly manifests their jubilant and authentic Appalachian hill-country sound with furiously fast harmonica-hoedown tunes like “Mississippi Saturday Night” as well as heartfelt acoustic tracks like “Ways of Man.” As is the OCMS norm, rapid-fire fiddle and banjo blissfully compete throughout the album. Carry Me Back is a beer-drinking, gin-soaked masterpiece that is more than just a great summer album—it’s one of the best records in recent years. JAMES WILLIAMS
Swedish singer-songwriter Kristian Matsson croons your summer into abandon on his newest release, There’s No Leaving Now. Matsson has become an indie favorite who is often compared to Bob Dylan. His songs primarily feature little more instrumentation than a guitar, allowing his folksy poetic lyrics and nasally and casually thrown vocals to take center stage. However, Matsson’s third studio album has some subtle additions. The guitar standard is abandoned in favor of piano on the title track, a lap steel whines in the background of “Bright Lanterns,” and stretched vocals on songs like “Wind and Walls” add depth and create powerful moments. There’s No Leaving Now oscillates between the new and old sounds of The Tallest Man On Earth, incorporating worldly undertones and classical folk reverence into a good-natured summer album. BRIANNA BREY