As the summer winds down, musicians are showing no sign of stopping. We seem to be getting quite the variety this month, from a return to hip hop, to a familiar name, to a new duo you probably weren’t expecting. There’s something exciting and shiny and new for everyone out there, so let’s see what’s happening!
Iggy Azalea – Survive the Summer
Release date: 8/3
Okay, to be fair, this is an EP, only 6 songs long. It’d be easy to just wait and give you a take on all six songs, but let’s focus on what’s important here – Iggy is back.
I think it was “Lip Sync Battle” that got me into this lady. What a strong female with attitude. She’s fun too (if you watch the episode), and knows just how to service it right.
If “Tokeo Snow Trip” is any indication though, gone are the fun filled days of “Fancy.” This is a harder, edgier Iggy with a blunt feel through the whole thing. Iggy just wants you to hear the words she has to spit out when she wants to give them. “Kream” (featuring Tyga) is very much along the same line. While the production might be a little more done up, it’s still rough and harsh right off the bat. Okay Iggy, I get it – you’re far from the pop princess we may have been geared up for a few years ago.
Other 8/3 releases:
Mac Miller – Swimming
Chvrches – Out of My Head
Jason Mraz – Know
Release date: 8/10
I adore Jason Mraz and his general adorable-ness. My mom found out about him on her own a few years back, and was so proud of the discovery of something happy and sweet, and I get an immediate smile because of that, even aside from the, well, happy and sweet sound.
“Have It All” is the first single to come off of this, and it’s classic Mraz. It’s a love song wrapped up in a general feel good desire for human happiness. The song is just everything, making it completely understandable why we get a sweet acoustic version, plus a reggae version with Easy Star All-Stars & Michael Goldwasser. You need this song in your life if you are ever in doubt.
The second song out of the gate is “Unlonely.” If you don’t want to dance in the sunshine to this, you’re lacking a heart. I mean, this is even making my inner cynical single girl mind melt away with the belief of the fairy tale he’s spinning for us here.
It’s weird how Jason can be reggae without being reggae. There’s a certain sound to the beat of “Might As Well Dance,” at least in the intro, that seems to lead down that road, but then there’s a Beatles (a la Sgt. Pepper times) that brings it closer to pop rock. It’s amazing that someone can call upon so many areas of music, yet basically create their own genre. This is talent and fun in song form.
Meghan Trainor joins for the final album preview we get on “More Than Friends.” Her bubbly voice lends itself perfectly to the feel Jason gives his albums. This becomes the sweet little crush song you play in your head when he walks in the room.
God I hope this is the feel good album we all need right now.
Other 8/10 releases:
Nicki Minaj – Queen
Shooter Jennings – Shooter
Death Cab For Cutie – Thank You For Today
Release date: 8/17
Back after two years, it’s exciting to see this band’s name back on the board again. They shaped so many teenage years for so many people, and you always want to see those bands that helped you through those weird times.
That said, I’ll be the first to admit that “Gold Rush,” the first single, is not what I would have expected here. It’s not bad by any means, but wow production sounds different these days. There are more harmonies, more sounds, and more to take in on this single. It’s even got a Yoko Ono sample in there. Talk about a whole new world.
We got two other hints into the new album, starting with “I Dreamt We Spoke Again.” In the same vein as the first song, there are effects on this one that I would never have, well, dreamt I’d hear on a DCFC album. I’m starting to chalk this all up to musical evolution though because, frankly, I don’t hate the dance-like feel they’re bringing about.
“Autumn Love” is out last taste, and it’s much more guitars and down to earth than the rest so far. It’s this great bridge between the old sound and the new, and I could feel the potential of really digging this new album. Bring it on, old faves.
Other 8/17 releases:
Ariana Grande – Sweetener
Blue October – I Hope You’re Happy
Plain White T’s – Parallel Universe
Release date: 8/24
I don’t want to be that kid, but I like Plain White T’s and always get excited when their music is used on stupid shows that I love to watch, like “Greek.” They’re actually a ton of fun, and I speak from experience of a live show where they were surprise openers for the Goo Goo Dolls a few years back.
“Your Body” came out last year, and it’s actually incredibly sweet and adorable. Maybe there’s a little more to it than I necessarily need (please, bring on the acoustic version boys), but the gentle flow is more or less wonderful when you ignore the sound effects that I hope are attached to some video I’m not seeing (because they’re entirely unnecessary).
“Bonnie I Want You” has this odd electric vibe to it, and remains somewhat simple musically throughout. It’s a fine song, but feels like concert filler more than something to draw me in. It’s a little harsher and sure to be a b-side favorite of others when they hear the whole album.
Third up thus far is “Light Up the Room.” Okay, if nothing else the production and the sound is consistent, if not necessarily the fun pop punk sound I had once grasped onto. This one though may be a good hit. It’s fun and, while I’m not sure how this translates outside of a rock concert, can still draw you in to get your body moving.
Last one to temp us into the album is “Low.” I may really be biased to old sounds, but I just want to hear the stripped down acoustic version of this, and well, every song. I don’t need all the beeps and fitzes throughout this experience. I’ll give the album a shot but will also be eagerly awaiting the Spotify Sessions versions of these tracks.
Other 8/24 releases:
The Devil Makes Three – Chains Are Broken
White Denim – Performance
Big Red Machine – Big Red Machine
Release date: 8/31
Like Bon Iver? Like The National? Welp, Justin Vernon and Aaron Dessner have teamed up on a whole new project, and the name has nothing to do with WWE (extra points to those who get where I was going with that thought).
If you read my review on the last album, you might think this is not going to be up my ally. You might be right, because I hate the things technology can be used for in music sometimes – I prefer a raw sound. But at least this time I’m going into it with an expectation, so a song like “Lyla” makes complete sense. It drags with this very controlled beat but keeps things sort of interesting in that movement along.
“Hymnostic” does much of the same, almost seemingly dark until this gorgeous piano comes in to save the day. Oh and those vocals. Okay, all right, I could be hooked here, because this is just downright pretty. The voices almost don’t seem like they should go together, but trust me when I say they absolutely should.
The next one is elusively calming, “Forest Green.” If you close your eyes, it’s about what I’d ever expect form Bon Iver, answering my question about if every song is meant to mesh, or if we’re going to get some one-sided sounds along the way. “Gratitude” closes out our preview more on the combo-side, album toying with our ears on the initial auto-tune effects. Basically? I don’t know what to tell you guys here, except that this could be an interesting ride once we do get the whole picture.
Other 8/31 releases:
Meghan Trainor – Treat Myself
Amos Lee – My New Moon