Though as an avid music fan I must say that summer is the most enjoyable time to buy new music, the releases stand out in my mind as tied to summer memories. The music means so much to us because it attaches itself to moments in our lives, whether good or bad, they are important and so is the soundtrack. Here are some of the best selections you have to look forward to this summer.
The Beta Band
Heroes To Zeroes (Astralwerks)
Maybe it was the drugs they were taking or maybe they hadn’t really gotten around much, but finally the Scottish boys have woken up and learned to play loud, distorted guitar. However, many of the tracks still have their essentially boring, sleepy-eyed trademark sound that gets old fast. Songs like the opener, “Assessment” and “Out-Side” are departures from the calm sound found on their former discs. Robin Jones on drums and DJ John Maclean provide a back beat that sounds like the funk of The Happy Mondays.
The Complete: Bitches Brew Sessions, Columbia Studio Recordings, Columbia Studio Recordings Of The Miles Davis Quintet January 1965, In A Silent Way Sessions, Miles Davis with John Coltrane (Legacy)
The re-mastering and expanded editions of Miles’ recordings continue with his transition from cool jazz into fusion. While there is something for everyone in Davis’, this here is essentially the best of the best of his work in the 1960s.
A Grand Don’t Come for Free (Vice)
Mike Skinner returns with a cohesive album whose tracks run throughout the days of his life. Although it’s not as confident of an album as Original Pirate Material and he uses two-step garage beats balanced with ballads, which doesn’t make it that accessible to American audiences. However, Mr. Skinner has one of the best voices in hip-hop, while flow obviously might matter more while rapping, the tone and sound of his voice stands out as exemplary. The theme is the course of a relationship – from meet up to break up -all held together by the theme of Mike losing 1000 quid. “Could Well Be In” is a sweet ballad of Mike meeting a girl and rapping, “if she plays with her hair then she’s probably keen.” The closer “Empty Cans” has Mike running through the gambit of emotions after breaking up, ending up finding the money he thought his friends had stole in the first track, and concluding, “something that was not meant to be is done and this is the start of what was.”
Tical O: The Prequel (Def Jam)
The good people at Def Jam are calling to you to vote your hip-hop conscious. The ad campaign for Meth’s new album is Method Man for President 2004. His platform on the website is: Presidential Candidate Meth will not be satisfied until every American who wants weed can find it, to make Hip Hop businesses more profitable and until we turn our economic recovery into lasting prosperity that reaches every corner of the hood. If that isn’t a reason to vote, there might not be any hope for the American election system.
The Empire Strikes First (Epitaph)
Their return to Epitaph with The Process of Belief was a welcome reminder of how important this band is and resulted in the best Post 9-11 album next to Fugazi’s The Argument and Pulp’s We Love Life. They continue to rekindle their fast tempo hardcore sound with tracks like “Sinister Rouge” and “The Quickening” clocking in at two minutes. They balance it out with their more progressive punk sound based in the use of vocal harmonies on “Live Again: The Fall of Man” and “Los Angeles is Burning.
To the 5 Boroughs (Capitol)
They have a political agenda on their mind and a tribute to New York City in their hearts. The question though is do they matter anymore? Hello Nasty came out in 1998 and since then they have re-released their old material, apologized for their misogynistic attitudes when they first started, and compiled all their videos on DVD but left out the songs from License To Ill because they felt they acted politically incorrect. The first single will be “Ch-Check It Out” due to get airplay in May. The social commentary is evident with songs titles like “Time to Build,” “Right Right Now Now,” and “An Open letter To NYC.”
Uh Huh Her (Island)
Polly is back with her first album since Stories From the City, Stories From The Sea. As the most creative female artist around the mainstream spectrum, she is here to show people like Courtney Love how to do it right. I’m sure she won’t disappoint. She also announced she will be joining Morrissey and Sonic Youth on the Lollapalooza tour in August, she is easily the sexist rocker around and just makes you drool if you see her live. I fell in love with her back at a show in fall 2001, I suggest you get as close as possible.
Their experimental era is finally behind them. It began with the magnificent first half of Murray Street, but then of course they just couldn’t help themselves and went back to the noise. It looks like it is totally out of their system now and they return to the hollowed sounds of the days of Daydream Nation and Goo. Songs like “Unmade Bed” and “New Hampshire” are mellow anthems that are vintage Sonic Youth. “Paper Cup Exit” is a hopped up jam that shows a sinister mindset in Thurston’s Mind.
You Know The Flex, Volume 1 – (TBA)
It’s about time he came out with something, Black On Both Sides came out in 1999. Since then he has been on the stage and the big screen but seemingly nowhere near a recording studio. The album is Mos along with Medina Green, a group consisting of his brother DCQ, Jah Born, and Kash.
Ross Whitsett can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.