Our Favorite Album Releases for Summer 2016

Some incredible music has dropped just in time for your summer road trips, parties, and trips to the beach. Dev Hynes, under the alias Blood Orange, recently released his funky, 80’s synth pop inspired Freetown Sound, and just last month, James Blake did a surprise release of his fourth studio album The Colour in Anything. Here are our Favorite Album Releases for Summer 2016, so get to updating those playlists, and have a beautiful summer.

Flume: Skin

Flume Tour Dates: July 30, 2016 – November 17, 2016

FlumeWe couldn’t have anticipated that Flume would outdo himself to this degree on his sophomore record Skinbut our ears are all the happier for it. With the recruitment of Tove Lo, Vic Mensa, Kai, Vince Staples, and more, Flume successfully created a strong, contagious, and uniquely spread tracklist. The power and diversity of Skin is reminiscent of Zedd’s debut record, which similarly uses giant soundscapes on every track, but with careful attention to its character details. By catering to his guests while making each track a landmark creation, Flume makes ascending to EDM pop fame look easy.

Blood Orange: Freetown Sound

Blood OrangeDev Hynes, under the music producing alias Blood Orange, dropped his third studio album this past week. Freetown Soundcharacterized by its 80’s style R&B, vocals that echo the cadence of Prince, and artistic interludes—is more expansive and personal than any of Hynes’ earlier albums. Hynes launches Freetown Sound with a sample from a Black Lives Matter poet, asserting Freetown Sound for exactly what it is: an homage to Hynes’ culture, the oppression of it, and the expression of freedom through music despite the prevailing conditions for African Americans. Freetown Sound is definitely one of the most important albums you’ll hear in 2016. 

Big Thief: Masterpiece

Big ThiefLed by the vocals and songwriting of Adrianne Lenker, Brooklyn-based quartet Big Thief released their debut record, appropriately titled Masterpiecejust last month. Big Thief may have just landed on the music scene this year, but the folk-tinged indie rock group fits right in, and often mirrors sounds similar to The Lumineers. Lenker’s lyricism is something to aspire to, and the band’s sound is consistently attuned to her energy. With powerful, melodic guitar riffs paired against Lenker’s vulnerable and often delicate voice, Big Thief delivers a sound and style that is built to last.

Vic Mensa: There’s A lot Going On

Vic MensaIt’s only been three years since the Chicago rapper made his debut via Chance the Rapper’s Acid Rap mixtape, but it doesn’t feel like it considering the influence Vic Mensa has had on the rap scene. Having already worked with the likes of Chance, Kanye, J. Cole, and Wale, Vic Mensa already had a place amongst the stars before he dropped his debut record There’s A Lot Going OnSimilarly to other Chicago-based rappers, and other rappers in the industry, Vic Mensa has dedicated part of his album’s material to discuss gun violence and general violence towards African Americans by the police. Mensa’s debut is somber at times, grooving at others, and entirely impressive.

Neko Case, k.d Lang, Laura Vierscase/lang/veirs

Neko Case, k.d Lang, and Laura Veirs Tour Dates: July 2, 2016 – September 17, 2016

Neko Case K.D Lang Laura VeirsNeko Case, k.d Lang, and Laura Veirs. You’ve likely heard of these three incredible singer/songwriters individually, and now, they’ve joined forces to create and tour as one of the most powerful female collaborations we’ve seen in awhile, specifically for those who admire lyricism. Their debut album, simply titled case/lang/veirsis primarily an Americana album, with tinges of rock and folk throughout. We would be excited if even one of these songwriters released a record this summer, so it was quite a treat to see fellow artists push their talent to the limit together. 

Corinne Bailey Rae: The Heart Speaks in Whispers

Corinne Bailey Rae Tour Dates: August 4, 2016 – September 24, 2016

Corinne Bailey RaeThough it may not ascend to pop gold like Corinne Bailey Rae’s 2006 debut effort, we would consider her new record, The Heart Speaks in Whispers, her best, most groovy and self-realized material to date. Corinne Bailey Rae’s expansive and flavorful album features Esperanza Spalding, Moses Sumney, and others, but the presence of a collective soul is heard throughout. After experiencing a family tragedy and releasing a not so successful record, Corinne Bailey Rae took off to California, to be amongst the energetic and productive scene of African American artists such as Flying Lotus, Kamasi Washington, and Kendrick Lamar. Not only does The Heart Speak in Whispers groove with expertise, it grooves with newfound confidence and bliss.

Kaytranada: 99.9%

KaytranadaHaiti born and Montreal raised rapper/music producer Kaytranada began remixing in his early teens. After a solid remix of Disclosure’s “January” and grabbing some production credits from Mobb Deep, Kaytranada turned towards the rap industry, collaborating with Vic Mensa, Anderson Paak, and more. Kaytranada—who is only turning 24 this year—has just released 99.9%a proper debut record which mirrors both his EDM and hip-hop interests, in addition to featuring many artists he’s collaborated with in the past. Kaytranada’s debut is truly an incredible, nuanced hip-hop record which echoes Frank Ocean, but is still undeniably new.

Chance the Rapper: Coloring Book

Chance the Rapper Tour Dates: September 15, 2016 – November 20, 2016

Chance the Rapper Magnificent Coloring World TourIt’s been three years since Chance the Rapper’s last mixtape, but he’s hardly been out of sight. Just last year, Chance appeared on Donnie Trumpet and The Social Experiment’s Surf, a playful, experimental hip-hop record which had Chance rapping against some impressive trumpet solos and singing beside a gospel choir. His third mixtape, released at the end of May, if titled Coloring Bookand features some pretty heavy themes alongside appearances by Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Future, Noname, and more. With immense talent and clarity, Chance delivers fans precisely what’s weighing on his heart with heavy gospel and a happiness so contagious you can’t help but smile by the record’s end.

James Blake: The Colour in Anything

James Blake Tour Dates: September 23, 2016 – October 21, 2016

James BlakeJames Blake has been on a steady ascension since his 2011 self-titled debut, especially since his last record—2013’s Overgrown—finally raked in the Mercury Prize, landed the huge single “Retrograde”, and was nominated for his first Grammy. We didn’t expect for James Blake to surprise drop his third LP, The Colour in Anythingbut we’re really glad he did. The Colour in Anything is notably James Blake with his chilly voice, highly textured melancholic landscapes, the overall feeling of blue and grey, but it becomes clear that the landscape is also shifting, tonally and geographically, to represent Blake’s own relocation. With the help of Frank Ocean and Justin Vernon throughout, James Blake pulls off, yet again, a sound and feeling only comparable to himself.

Deftones: Gore

Deftones Tour Dates: July 31, 2016- August 31, 2016

DeftonesBack in ’88, the Deftones had a very interesting response to the rock music being produced at the time, being one of the first bands who chose to alternate heavy riffs and screamed vocals with more ethereal walls of sound and hushed moments. As the Deftones progressed into the early 90’s, they allowed the influences of Tool, Rage Against the Machine, and Soundgarden, all while maintaining that careful balance of heavy and beautiful rock. After the release of the incredible and highly experiemental White Pony, the Deftones took an indefinite break due to the loss of their bassist. Goretheir eighth studio album, has been met with critical acclaim, acting as a reminder that these nu-metal veterans know how to push the boundaries of rock music.

What are you listening to this Summer? Let us know in the comments below!

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