Every May, they start trickling out: the self-proclaimed Summer Albums. They’re the blockbuster popcorn flicks of the music world; flashy, catchy, accessible and widely discussed. In a way, being dubbed the Album of the Summer is a far more prestigious accolade than Album of the Year; It’s a record that gets played to death on commutes, on road trips, at rooftop barbecues and park picnics and sandy half-drunk subway rides back from the beach. It’s a record that we experience together, one that helps construct the identity of the season, a record we learn all the lyrics to so we can shriek them into the sunset. Here are my contenders for the Album of the Summer, 2013 (so far).
Chance the Rapper, Acid Rap
The second mixtape by this young Chicago native seems custom-built to conquer summer. Chance’s liquid flow, the sunshine-psych samples (lifted from classic hip-hop tracks by the likes of Tribe Called Quest and Slum Village, as well as a nod to an early Kanye mixtape cut on “Good Ass Intro”), the playful lyricism all come together to create a slow, humid, easy June late afternoon feel. Even on the album’s darker, more serious tracks like “Acid Rain” and “Pusha Man,” you never stop feeling that Chance is having a ridiculous amount of fun. Think of Acid Rap as good kid, m.A.A.d city’s lighthearted younger brother.
Savages, Silence Yourself
Jehnny Beth & Co. continue to ape Joy Division and Siouxsie & the Banshees with pitch-perfect accuracy, but as I mentioned in my coverage of their CMJ show at Mercury Lounge, this is in no way a bad thing. What Savages lack in originality they more than make up for in propulsive intensity. The songs collected here are highly addictive, especially album opener (and sort-of title track, if you think abou it) “Shut Up,” lead single “Husbands,” and my personal favorite, the exhausted urbanite polemic “City’s Full.”
Various, Garage Swim
Every so often, stoner cartoon mavens Adult Swim take it upon themselves to reassert their coolness with these free compilations. Garage Swim is among the best of these. Jumping from JEFF the Brotherhood’s stoner metal to Mikal Cronin’s anthemic power pop to the Gories back-to-basics blues rock to King Tuff’s synth-assisted goofiness, this mix shows the breadth of modern garage in a similar fashion to Lenny Kaye’s seminal ’72 compilation, Nuggets.
Primal Scream, More Light
About once a decade, Primal Scream takes a break from being depressingly mediocre to make a great album. There was 1991’s Screamadelica, then 2000’s XTRMNTR, and now here’s 2013’s More Light. Leading off with the a-bit-on-the-nose single “2013,” the band proceeds to cannibalize the best parts of their past to make something new and forward thinking. While it isn’t a concept album, the record has a specific sense of flow and narrative arc, almost as if it was a soundtrack. Unsurprisingly, More Light was helmed by producer David Holmes, who is perhaps most famous for his brilliant, old school soundtracks for Steven Soderbergh.
Daft Punk, Random Access Memories
Oh, who am I kidding. The Album of the Summer’s gonna be Random Access Memories. Have I listened to it yet? Naw, it’s not out for like another two weeks. But shit, yo; have you heard “Get Lucky?” If you haven’t, where the hell you been? Nile Rodgers comes on like it’s 1977, Pharrell makes himself relevant for the first time since Clones dropped, an the Daft Punky bunch proved that they could still bring it after eight years of radio silence. The rest of the album could be the sound of insects eating and it’d still be one of the greatest records released all year. Heck, I’d be perfectly fine with the whole album just being this:
And that’s this week’s NTTOD, you lovely lovelies. Follow Simon Lazarus Vasta on Twitter @Hunter_S_Narc, if you’re so inclined.
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