At almost nine minutes, Spiritualized’s “Hey Jane”, from their album Sweet Heart Sweet Light is a sprawling epic that sounds like a long lost Velvet Underground song that combines all the elements that made the VU’s sound so powerful, with clean vocals, buzzing guitars and a penchant for letting a song mutate and change wildly over the course of it. For a band usually known for swelling, cinematic anthems (like almost every track on 2001’s excellent Let It Come Down), Spirtualized delivers in “Hey Jane” a song that retains the same feel of their previous releases, with a sharp, guitar driven sound that provides an excellent background to start a summer day.
The current reigning queen of Tumblr Rap delivers a song that feels like a sleepy, codeine-laced trip through adolescent love. The “Lolita With Rap Skills” persona that Pryde wears with, well, pride, is on full display in this song about unrequited love, drunk dials and obsession.
“Sail”, an aggressive, bleak, dubstep-tinged song that is better than the sum of its parts from the LA-based AWOLNATION.
Despite the nay-saying that took place when Lana Del Rey came onto the scene (a lot of which was completely warranted, considering her disastirous live performances), her album Born To Die seems to sound better in the summer than it did when it hit the shelves in the dead of winter.
Banks has yet to prove if she can match the brilliance that is her debut single, the fun and delightlfully vulgar 212, but let’s focus on the positive things about this new rapper from Harlem. Banks’ flow on this song is incredible, rhythmic and relentless at the same time. The strange juxtaposition of this beautiful, fun-loving 21 year old spitting rhymes that would even the hardest rapper blush is something that she’s obviously going for, but that’s part of the incredible fun of this song.
A free single released as part of Ye’s GOOD Fridays releases, Mercy is formed around a sample of a Jamacian dancehall vocal sample along with a backing of steel drums and a thundering bassline. The funny thing about the song is that Kanye’s contribution to the song is minimal, mostly involving him interjecting with his signature “huhhh?” and a short verse as the song crescendos. The real power in this song comes from the great features from Big Sean and 2 Chainz, along with Pusha T who delivers the immortal line “your Duncan Hines is irrelevant”…words to live by if there ever have been.
What better to cool you off on a hot summer day than a band that originates from the chilly depths of Iceland? Now, their sound is maybe a little derivative of Edwin Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes (OK, they sound exactly like them), but that doesn’t make this song less enjoyable. Full of gorgeous alternating male-female vocals and spirited orchestration, this song just seeps summer fun.
The aggro-rap stylings of Death Grips aren’t what you think of when you think of good party music, but give this one a chance. Unlike the rest of the songs on their incredible album “The Money Store”, I’ve Seen Footage verges on the precipice of being danceable, and actually has a discernible groove to it.
It’s been two years since Arcade Fire have released an album, and it’s been even longer since they’ve embraced the big, soaring anthems that made up their 2004 debut “Funeral”, so it’s good that a group like the Las Vegas based Imagine Dragons came along to fill that void. While their sound is a little more poppy than Arcade Fire, you can consider them Coldplay to Arcade Fire’s Radiohead. Even though it’s more radio friendly than anything Arcade Fire has put out, It’s Time is still a wonderful, anthematic song that reminds you of running down the beach at sunset, even if you’ve never done it before.
This song from Father John Misty, also known as J Tillman, is a grinding, sun-drenched anthem that rides a jangly drum beat to give a rough, shimmery sound. The subject matter isn’t your typical summer fare, with funerals, dead bodies, drugs, and, of course, love. In addition to the great song, the video is a delirious ride into darkness starring the always wonderful Aubrey Plaza.
Frankie Rose has bounced around a number of bands over the years, from girl group revivalists like Dum Dum Girls and Vivian Girls, to the noise rock act Crystal Stilts, but none of those bands could have hinted at the delicate, ethereal sound of her solo debut, this year’s Interstellar. Over minimal, crystalline instrumentation, Rose’s voice soars with plaintive, touching lyrics.
Speaking of delicate vocals, Grimes is quickly establishing herself as one of the foremost acts in electronic music today, as well as one of the wierdest (don’t believe me? take her own line of “pussy rings” for example, or her pre-fame attempt to sail the Mississippi River based on the fact that she really liked Huck Finn). Weirdness aside, Grimes produces layered, complicated collages of sounds and vocals, while cooing like an indecipherable R&B chantuse.
HEALTH is a band perhaps best known for their collaboration with electro-glitch duo Crystal Castles on the song Crimewave, but they stand out well enough on their own on this track. Part of the soundtrack to the action shooter Max Payne 3, Tears builds a sense of dread while simultaneously giving you mental images of slow motion gunplay.