Top 10: Summer albums

Eric Brown

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Summer is usually the prime time for new music. As with blockbuster movies, bands and record labels like to wait until peak times to put out a sure-fire hit. But unfortunately for you, I haven’t been reviewing music for The Cluster this summer, and you’ve been missing out on my sage wisdom. But now you can catch up to speed with this handy list of the best records to come out this summer.

Death Cab for Cutie — Codes and Keys: As the ninth major release from these indie giants, Codes and Keys might cause some concern for longtime fans. After all, other bands have faded into mediocrity in half the time Death Cab has been around. But Codes and Keys is an absolute gem of an album, perfectly marrying the band’s atmospheric instruments and catchy melodies. Album closer “Stay Young, Go Dancing” is a particularly beautiful testament to new love. Buy this album.

Bomb the Music Industry! — Vacation: The latest release from the bizarro punk collective, Vacation stays true to the band’s frequently insane roots. 8-bit keyboard lines, random ska interludes, and electronic stops and starts all punctuate the record, which stands as one of the most memorable punk albums of the decade.

Wugazi — 13 Chambers: Let’s face it. We all love mashup projects, especially when they combine sources as disparate as Fugazi and the Wu-Tang Clan. A collaboration between DJs Cecil Otter and Swiss Andy, the project expertly drops the rhymes of RZA, Ghostface Killah, Ol’ Dirty Bastard and Raekwon over the music of post-punk legends Fugazi. It’s much more self contained than projects like Girl Talk, but it’s always magical hearing these two worlds collide.

Bon Iver — Bon Iver: This self-titled sophomore effort might go down as the best record of the year. Intimate, haunting, and emotionally moving, Bon Iver expands their signature folk-tinged sound, incorporating a veritable orchestra to flesh out these beautifully crafted confessionals.

F*cked Up — David Comes to Life: The Canadian art punks make their triumphant return after The Chemistry of Common Life. David… is ostensibly a concept album about working class London youth, but you don’t need to follow the liner notes to understand the album’s raw, uncut power. Standout tracks include the blazingly fast “Queen of Hearts,” and the surprisingly melodic “A Little Death.” Like a modern day rendition of Refused’s The Shape of Punk to Come, F*cked Up is reinventing punk rock, and it’s absolutely thrilling to hear.

Laura Stevenson and the Cans — Sit. Resist.: Though she is a longtime member of Bomb the Music Industry!, Stevenson’s solo outings are much more refined affairs. Stevenson’s latest album is a step up from her debut, A Record, with songs ranging from upbeat rockers to sad, soft folk numbers.

Des Ark — Don’t Rock the Boat, Sink the F*cker: Chapel Hill native Aimée Argote sure likes to take her time. The aggressive singer/songwriter, performing under the name Des Ark, put out her last record all the way back in 2006. But whatever her reasons for the creative hiatus, they must have been good, because Don’t Rock the Boat… was definitely worth the wait. Argote is alternatingly vicious, emotional, and reserved, but she’s never boring.

Foster the People — Torches: This is dance music at its finest. The electronic act’s debut record Torches is full of instantly memorable singles, including “Helena Beat.” and “Pumped up Kicks,” both of which will have you shaking your ass for days on end.

David Bazan — Strange Negotiations: Since his days in the dour emo duo Pedro the Lion, David Bazan has been known for his sharp, insightful lyrics. His latest solo record ruminates on politics, religion, and death with the cynical tone fans have come to expect, all while exploring new musical territory.

You, Me & Everyone We Know — Things are Really Weird Right Now: This record is short, but it wins on catchiness alone. Things… is a unique and original pop-punk masterpiece. Unfortunately, the band seems to have broken up right after its release. Bummer.

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