Summer Songs 2(017)
As another summer winds down and classes begin, I think a good time to reflect presents itself. In this case, although no one cares, I feel that reflection should be on what I’ve listened to this summer. So just like Lil Yachty has his Summer Songs collections, here are my Summer Songs 2(017).
The summer started with something different—“Planetarium.” This project, described as part-electronic experiment and part-classical opus, is a collaboration between Sufjan Stevens, Nico Muhly, James McAlister and Bryce Dessner, as well as an homage to Gustav Holst’s “The Planets.” “Planetarium” is an experience: It combines grand orchestration with eerily beautiful vocals. Stevens’ voice is used as an instrument as much as the piano or strings are. The lyrics in the album are written as poems to the gods which the planets are named for, and although the words seem to matter less than the tone in which they are sung, the lyrics are striking and hauntingly beautiful. On the other hand, the album is quite long, and for the most part has very little tying it together thematically, lyrically or musically. It is a powerful piece of music but tends to drag at times. If you’re looking for something to listen to that’s different from most mainstream music, this is about as different as you can get. “Planetarium” is, above all else, an experiment and should be viewed as such. Although it has its issues, it is a beautiful work of art and deserves to be heard.
Something else that should be heard is the latest single from the indie pop group Future Generations. The single “One More Problem” features the strong guitar and drums that is one of the group’s calling cards, as well as good use of synth. I’m mentioning this single so that I can bring up their first, self-titled album. “Future Generations,” although released last summer, was another favorite of mine this summer. The album features those same strong guitar and drums that are on “One More Problem,” as well as solid production throughout the course of the project. The album and single are great if you’re looking for some music to put on while hanging out with friends or just chilling alone.
Another indie pop project from this summer is “Gone Now” by Bleachers. The album maintains the style that leading man Jack Antonoff curated in “Strange Desire” and “Terrible Thrills, Vol. 2.” Antonoff’s passionate vocals are still present in this album and if anything, the production is even stronger than his previous projects. “Gone Now” is full of fun and exciting tracks such as “Hate That You Know Me” and “Let’s Get Married” as well as more passionate songs such as “Don’t Take The Money.” In “Gone Now,” Bleachers delivers another track list packed with good indie pop cuts, proving once again that Bleachers is a must for any fan of indie pop.
As we’re on the topic of indie pop, the album “Ti Amo” by Phoenix can’t be left off this list. “Ti Amo” is Phoenix’s first album in four years, and it is evident that the time between it and their last album was put to good use. Phoenix continues its use of interesting instrumentation and soft vocals. The lyrics of the album are in a combination of French and English. The transitions between languages are well done, with both finding themselves at place in the record. The strong beat and prevalent use of electronic instruments in the album build an upbeat, energetic and fun vibe in the album.
What collection of summer albums would be complete without a debut project by an XXL Freshman? My personal favorite of those projects was the long-awaited “Booty Tape” by Ugly God. While some may take this as an insult to the rest of the Freshmen, the reason that this project was my favorite was my genuine appreciation for Ugly God. While a good word to describe this project would honestly be “vile” Ugly God’s fun lyrics, solid flow and simple, well-done beats make the 22-minute mixtape a jam. Ugly God doesn’t take himself too seriously and subsequently put out a really fun project.
Last but certainly not least are two of my favorite albums from this entire year. “SATURATION” and “SATURATION II” by the self-styled boy band BROCKHAMPTON are not only filled with amazing tracks, but there is not a bad song between the two of them. Although called a boy band, BROCKHAMPTON has much more in common with the likes of Odd Future than that of One Direction. BROCKHAMPTON contains rappers, producers and other artists, and does all of its music making in the “BROCKHAMPTON Factory” in Los Angeles. “SATURATION” was released at the beginning of the summer and “SATURATION II” was released a few days ago, while “SATURATION III” was recently announced as the final installment of the project.
Each song on both albums has an incredible beat and production to go along with intensely powerful lyrics. Every verse is personal and, throughout both albums released so far, you get to know the members of BROCKHAMPTON. You learn about Kevin Abstract’s struggle with fitting in due to his sexuality, Dom McLennon’s depression and Ameer Vann’s past as a drug dealer. From hard tracks such as “HEAT” and “GUMMY” to more reflective ones like “MILK” and “SUMMER,” BROCKHAMPTON’s artists put together songs with an incredible emotional range. Both albums are personal works of art from all of BROCKHAMPTON. The albums are striking, different and, above all else, filled with amazing music.
This summer saw the release of a myriad of great albums, and I couldn’t cover them all if I wanted to. As summer fades into fall and the weather gets colder these albums will still be fire. So if you’re looking for some music to put on while hanging out with friends or doing work, check out some of these albums.