The summer was filled with new releases from artists that span the genre spectrum. From alternative to electronic and indie rock to hip-hop, this summer offered a wide variety for the eager listener. Vampire Weekend’s Chris Baio and The Strokes’ Albert Hammond, Jr. both produced new solo material, R&B artist Miguel dropped another fun, alluring album that took critics by storm and DJ Snake produced more hits similar in style to his past production “Turn Down For What.” Even now as summer comes to a close, singles from CHVRCHES and Neon Indian are being released. Dr. Dre’s first album in 16 years is shaking the foundations of hip-hop and revitalizing his career. There are too many releases to cover them all, but here are some of the albums that shouldn’t slip under anybody’s radar.
Jamie xx’s debut album In Colour focuses more on Jamie’s production rather than the vocals and lyrics listeners came to expect from his band, The xx. The entire album reminds one of old-fashioned rave music mixed with contemporary dance and electronic styles. “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times),” ft. Young Thug and Popcaan would work great in a party environment because the three artists blend their perverse humor to pump up a crowd.
It is the experimentation within these songs, however, that really put you into Jamie xx’s head. Everything in this album is a culmination of his experience as a producer over the years, and you can hear his yearning for house music’s resurgence echo in your head. Once “Loud Places” finishes, the album has painted a picture of crowded dance halls and a person who is desperately still searching for that special someone, all the while maintaining danceability. Synths slowly grind samples and the bass grooves to an abrupt conclusion that leaves the impression that there is more to come from Jamie xx.
Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment
Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment’s Surf came out a day before Jamie xx’s debut, and the album doesn’t “Wanna Be Cool” as Chance the Rapper — who was featured on Sunday Candy which dropped earlier in the year — proclaims. “Sunday Candy” dropped earlier in the year featuring a Chance The Rapper track accompanied by organs, pianos, and a chorus in what felt like an entertaining Sunday service. But, Chance isn’t the only other artist lending his voice to the album.
Surf also features B.O.B., J. Cole, Big Sean, Jeremih and Quavo from Migos, just to list the most prominent names on the album. Though there are standout songs with both fast-paced and soulful, lyrical verses, the album must be listened to as a whole to experience the slow grinding R&B influence that lies at its heart. Furthermore, this experiment was released as a free download on iTunes — the Social Experiment just wanted to tell their story.
Vince Staples is a hip/hop artist in the eyes of many since last year’s EP “Hell Can Wait.” His monotonous style and methodical flow reflect his past in street gangs, which he stepped away from to pursue his career in rapping.
It’s a story you’ve heard before, but one that still begs to be told. Vince doesn’t hold back, and offers pump-up refrains while still spitting his own message. He started his rap career through features on Earl Sweatshirt’s debut album, but now has his first, full-length debut of his own.
Coming in at a whopping 20 tracks, Summertime ‘06 is just under an hour long. Staples offers everything he has, delving into the details of his experience in gangs of Long Beach, Calif. Each track runs very fluidly into the next, but can stand alone as well. “Norf Norf” has a production that brings to mind broken, wailing police sirens and is very bass heavy, while follow-up track “Birds & Bees” is equally heavy in treble but invokes imagery of sirens from all around encroaching quickly.
Staples’ Summertime ‘06 is a tour de force that succeeds in putting the listener in the chaotic environment and actions Staples himself still struggles with. Summertime ‘06 details Staples’ transformation from a drug-dealing “Street Punk” to the man he is now.
Lastly, Tame Impala’s new album Currents is controversial. “Currents” post-release has proven to be a big hit or huge miss for fans. Nonetheless, band frontman Kevin Parker has finally allowed his wide range of influences to impact his art. After a recent breakup with his girlfriend, Parker has had time to reevaluate his actions and the result is another introspective album. This time he acknowledges his own faults in the tongue-in-cheek track “‘Cause I’m a Man.” He details the cyclical journey he finds himself often following: boy meets girl, girl is uninterested, boy falls apart, repeat.
This time around, though, Parker works at overcoming this fault he’s found within himself. On the standout single “Eventually” he sings — amid sudden crashes and blaring guitar riffs — “I know that I’ll be happier, and I know you will too.”