Forget the “summer slide,” June was a huge month for music! From upbeat to sentimental, cinematic to practically-pop, the month had something to fill up everyone’s summer playlists. Here are five of my favorite tracks released last month. (And if you’re interested in what else we’ve been digging lately, check out April and May’s lists here!)
The Velvet Teen — “Sonreo”
This Santa Rosa, California power trio always manages to deftly walk the tightrope between disgruntled melancholy and ecstatic exuberance. And their latest effort is just the bipolar dose the doctor ordered. “Sonreo” sways between sultry ballad layered with lush guitars and vocoded pads, and spastic, nearly inhuman beats and bass lines. The sonic diversity would seem insurmountable if it weren’t anchored by the ineffable pop sensibility of TVT frontman Judah Nagler. On All Is Illusory, Judah is yelling into his megaphone louder and prouder than ever before, and this time I think he might finally be heard.
Sharon Van Etten — “Just Like Blood”
Sometimes a sound as lackadaisical as it is devastating is the perfect end to a summer day in the city. Van Etten employs an eerie, almost crooning organ pad under the length of the track, highlighting the haunting theme of the chorus. The mid-tempo rock ballad lightens the heavy lyrical concept with swooning string swells and countermelodies against a steadily trudging bass-drums-piano rhythm section reminiscent of Carol King. The melody saunters and lingers in an evocative yet whimsical manner, never quite betraying itself even over repeated choruses. One to run on repeat.
Son Lux — “You Don’t Know Me”
Son Lux‘s fourth full-length album, Bones, is a brilliantly heavy release, drawing from a host of disciplines. Son Lux frontman Ryan Lott has composed for everything from dance, to ads, to film scores, and he self-produces all his own songs and compositions. He leaves few musical stones unturned with his unique blend of cerebral hip-hop beats and languid bass lines, using chamber music orchestrations, unsettlingly dry vocals, hair-raising horn stabs, ethereal guitar twangs, and experimental electronic elements throughout. Son Lux is on tour now with support from Soundfly friends Landlady. Highly recommended album, and doubly recommended show.
Jamie XX — “Hold Tight”
Though Jamie XX is well on his way to becoming a household name, his latest release In Colour remains true to his tremendous talent of padding nostalgic sound beds reminiscent of, well, almost anything you’re missing from earlier in life. “Hold Tight” has a significantly ambient quality meshed with a controlled dynamic sensibility, swirling in and out of tension-ridden patterns to great cacophonous release. In a mix of 80s synths, strangely rhythmic samples of indiscernible speech and street noise, and vintage drum machines, it’s easy to feel both totally lost and right at home.
Jaga Jazzist — “Starfire”
Norwegian epic math-rock big-banders Jaga Jazzist are masters of contemporary orchestration, with a massive crew including drums, bass, several guitars, various synths, and sometimes employing a full horn section, string section, non-lyrical vocals, and an assortment of percussive additions blasted to the outer reaches of their timbral and technical palettes. The result is a symbiosis of other-worldly textural waves, often churning on a dime between complex rhythmic unisons and soaring, epic themes with a film score energy about them. Buckle in — with most JJ tracks clocking in between seven and eleven minutes, the intergalactic journey is worth every shimmering second.
Any June releases we missed? Share them in the comments below!
And find more great music in the rest of the What I’m Digging Lately series!