Still-hot summer releases
This past summer saw the return of a number of terrific artists, from indie rockers to pop stars and rappers alike. The past few months have been electrified by interesting and stimulating releases. The following are a few highlights from the summer of 2014.
Jack White, “Lazaretto” (June 10)
Former White Stripes frontman Jack White drew on definite influence from various hard rock and country legends, including Led Zeppelin, The Stooges, The Band, and even Loretta Lynn, with the release of his latest LP.
Lazaretto, White’s first release since 2012’s Blunderbuss, is an exemplary collection of grungy roots rock. With its greasy guitar phrasing and gritty vocals, this record is an important rock release for 2014.
Standout tracks include the fierce garage-rocker “Three Women,” the twangy “Temporary Ground,” and the dark, operatic “Would You Fight for My Love?”
Lana del Rey, “Ultraviolence” (June 13)
The twenty-nine year old’s third LP can best be described as bubble-gum dream pop laced with poison.
More discrete than del Rey’s breakout sophomore release Born to Die, but equally as ambitious, Ultraviolence is nothing short of a sumptuous group of tunes concerning heartbreak, desire, and disillusionment with vintage Americana.
Although del Rey may come across as pretentious and aloof sometimes, it is inarguable that her arrangements can be swanky and arresting. Her languid vocal approach and preoccupation with jazz-infused orchestration delivers listeners to a dream-like, pensive state.
Memorable tracks include “Ultraviolence,” a spacious piece drowned in lush audio effects; “West Coast,” a shimmery, reverb-laden pop number; and the theatrical lounge singer-esque “Old Money.”
Phish, “Fuego” (June 24)
Jam rock maestros Phish – masters of odd time signatures, cohesive instrumentation, and rather incomprehensible lyrics – released their twelfth studio album in late June.
Fuego, the band’s first release since 2009’s Joy, is a noteworthy amalgam of reggae, soul, ‘70s jazz fusion, and progressive rock.
Playful, creative, and intricate, this record is one of 2014’s more colorful collections of songs.
Among Fuego’s significant moments are album-opener, title track, and 9-minute epic “Fuego;” “The Line,” which features an electric organ showcase by keyboardist Page McConnell; and “555,” with its prominent slinky bassline and psychedelic guitar riffage.
Spoon, “They Want My Soul” (Aug. 5)
Sporting their own original record label, as well as brand new keyboardist/guitarist Alex Fischel, veteran indie rockers Spoon released their eighth studio album early last month.
They Want My Soul is arguably the group’s tightest production yet, featuring the witty lyricism of frontman Britt Daniel, the solid electric instrumentation characteristic of the group, and highlighting the added resonance which newbie Fischel brings to the record.
Notable cuts include the spacey single “Inside Out;” “Rainy Taxi,” which is driven by distorted guitars and nearly sinister vocals; “Do You,” a throwback to the jangle-pop of the early 1990s; and “New York Kiss,” a catchy rock number infused with a tincture of cynicism and heartbreak.
Kimbra, “The Golden Echo” (Aug. 15)
Eccentric electropop star Kimbra, best known for her 2011 collaboration with the Australian pop artist Gotye on his hit single “Somebody That I Used to Know,” released her second studio album in mid-August.
Combining a good deal of indie R&B with retro ‘80s synthpop, The Golden Echo is one of the most unique records that 2014 has seen so far. Kimbra successfully weaves quirky lyrics with both vintage and modern grooves, without ever coming off as pretentious or phony.
Tracks like “Teen Heat,” “Goldmine,” “As You Are,” and “Nobody But You” are just some of The Golden Echo’s focal points.
More New Releases
Robert Plant – “Lullaby And…The Ceaseless Roar” (Sept. 8)
Interpol – “El Pintor” (Sept. 9)
Death From Above – “1979 The Physical World” (Sept. 9)
This Will Destroy You – “Another Language” (Sept. 16)
Erasure – “The Violent Flame” (Sept. 23)
Julian Casablancas + The Voidz – “Tyranny” (Sept. 23)
Steve Aoki – “Neon Future I” (Sept. 30)