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The Last Rays of Sun 

Savor our staff favorite 2013 summer albums


Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers

Little Sur Records

This album is the perfect antidote to an introspective summer (insert heavy listening to Neko Case here). The self-titled release has a peppy vintage-alternative vibe that feels hopeful without being fluffy or obvious. There are Americana, country, classic rock, folk rock and blues influences, but it's Nicki's voice that ties it all together, drawing listeners in and clutching them tightly. For further proof, see her Van Sessions cover of "I Can't Go For That" on YouTube. Plus—as if that wasn't enough—she's one of very few women on the planet who look smokin' hot in high-waisted jeans. (CG)


The Limousines

Orchard City Books and Noise

Drama: It's an unavoidable part of many romances. San Francisco band The Limousines wrote an entire album on that premise and warned about it up front with the first track, "Love is a Dog from Hell." With every single glittery syncopated synth-pop track from the band's sophomore effort Hush, The Limousines lament the difficulties of passionate dalliances with all the hopefulness of a prom scene from an '80s teen movie (which covers just about all of them). That translates into an album full of sad poetry perched atop glowing gazes into a promising future. (EM)


Jake Bugg

The Island Def Jam Music Group (U.S.)

Looking—and sounding—more like he hails from 1963 than 2013, 19-year-old English singer Jake Bugg sprung fully formed into the London music scene last year (reaching No. 1 in the music charts there last fall), and broke into America this summer. With songs that croon, and songs that rockabilly scoot, Bugg has a voice that comes around only once in a generation, a rich tenor that is equally soft and snappy. He is shortlisted for the coveted Mercury Award against David Bowie, which is essentially the mark for best living English singer! (PB)


Grit and Grizzle


Summers in Bend often mean a plethora of bluegrass hootenannies. Local group Grit and Grizzle aimed to assist with that pastime by unleashing their debut album this July. A fierce collection of rustic blue collar campfire stories, their self-titled release is a barreling freight train of what they call "thrashgrass." Fiery banjo solos and punk style vocals contribute to an Old Crow Medicine Show/Avett Brothers hybrid sound that kicks any concert with enough whiskey being served into high gear. The music itself is a time machine of sorts; complete with images of lasses in flower print dresses and lace twirling around dusty hard working lads. (EM)

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