It would seem that each year we wallow in a momentary music drought where, following a few months where each week was rich with new tunes to lighten our day or prove cathartic, we gradually slow into a lull. Kacey Musgraves continues to be a 2018 favorite and Janelle Monáe’s Dirty Computer seems destined to not be celebrated at the length or with the enthusiasm it deserves and we’ll continue to wait in the wings as the upcoming Mitski album teases us from the backend of August.
That doesn’t mean the month has been without merit and the highs have been undoubtedly so. This is across all genres too, though there’s always room for improvement in just how eclectic your summer playlist can be. Here are seven songs to add to your summer mix.
Foxing – “Nearer My God” (Nearer My God)
If this flavor of music hasn’t been your taste in the past, “Nearer My God” may be a pallet cleanser as it offers something that strictly toes the line of power pop with the band trading in their trademark emo angst in favor of something broader. Melodic and sounding like lead singer Conor Murphy’s solo project, they’re happier than they’ve ever been and it’s that mood of sweeping optimism that strikes us the hardest in the wailing crescendo of a bridge which threatens to topple you like a wave. For, perhaps, the first time, they’re fearless in letting their ambition run the show, showcased nicely in the song being released in five different languages.
Years & Years – “If You’re Over Me” (Palo Santo)
We need more singers like Olly Alexander in the world, whose frank demeanor and celebration of his sexuality is a welcome relief. With his band’s second feature length album Palo Santo, Years & Years have no shortage of songs to dance to, but it’s “If You’re Over Me” that truly encompasses that magic wink and nudge that is their band’s nature. The heartache is clear and rich in Alexander’s vocals, but they never once forget the crucial playfulness.
Mitski – “Nobody” (Be the Cowboy)
“Nobody” might go down as 2018’s most sardonic song; it bathes itself in irony, a true blue anthem about what it means to be alone. A slow burner, as so many of her best are, the song hosts a terrific music video while allowing the singer-songwriter to play with the dance and disco genres. It only further demonstrates Mitski as an artist constantly evolving as a songwriter, further solidifying her upcoming release as the most anticipated of the year.
If that wasn’t enough, she even has Iggy Pop’s seal of approval as he praised her earlier this summer on his BBC 6 show.
“She’s a great talent. For me, she’s probably the most advanced American songwriter that I know. But this young woman is really really really…she can do whatever she wants. She writes and sings and she plays too; her name’s Mitski.”
Brockhampton – “1999 Wildfire” (The Best Years of Our Lives)
Brockhampton, the self-proclaimed “best boy band since One Direction” (a moniker they clearly hold near and dear to their heart) were facing an uphill battle with their latest song ,”1999 Wildfire.” The source of that trouble was it being the first release following the troubled exit of ex-lead singer Aneer Van, who had been accused of abuse. “1999 Wildfire” eliminates any worry of what the band would do moving forward as they channel peak OutKast all the while doing what they do best, hitting hard beats and being melodic, striking a sweet spot by creating a song for every type of listener without ever coming across as pandering. Their youthful energy is infectious as we watch them take what is a positive step forward in their ever developing, ever moving, music careers.
Dirty Projectors – “Break Thru” (Lamp Lit Prose)
Following what essentially was a solo break up album which largely lent itself to wallowing, “Break Through” is a happy return to jubilant, electro-pop. This indie group continues pursuing the band’s fascination with glitch heavy hip hop productions and voice modification, but this time in a decidedly catchier and pop friendly tone than ever before.
Deafheaven – “Glint” (Ordinary Corrupt Humans)
This is far from where my musical exploration typically lands, and fans who already had trouble with the label of “black metal” will have a tough time welcoming the new songs with open arms, but pushing aside any musical biases, you might just have something beautiful on your hands. It continues to do what the band does best while shearing off all of the prior rough edges, stripping away some of the heavy and morose nature that drowned some of their older songs. Gone are the blast beats in favor of interesting, operating turns.
“Doesn’t Matter” by Christine and the Queens (Chris)
There is no question that French singer-songwriter Christine and the Queens has a distinct style which borrows from the sleekness of ’80s pop. Capitalizing on the longevity of that sound while simultaneously filling the gap for fans of groups such as MUNA, “Doesn’t Matter” is a refreshing take on an old genre, equally sweet as it is punchy. It also, most importantly, makes the listener eager to explore the artist’s full discography after being so swept away by a single song.