Summer Music Preview: Over 40 Key Albums

  • Comments: ↓ 7 user comments
  • Publish Date: May 9, 2012

Mission of Burma
Unsound July 10

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Audio:
"Dust Devil"

Post-punk legends Mission of Burma are famously one of the least prolific bands ever to gain the respect of music fans, with just a single album and one EP released during their early 1980s tenure. But an unlikely reunion a decade ago has turned into an even more improbable fruitful period that has produced four additional LPs, including the new Unsound, due in July. Following 2009's The Sound The Speed The Light 74 (actually, the worst-reviewed of the band's three post-reunion albums), the new disc finds MoB on a new label (Fire Records) but looks to retain the urgency of all of their recent work. Unsound finds the group working once again with producer/unofficial fourth member Bob Weston (Shellac) but finds the band members experimenting by writing their songs on instruments they normally don't play.

Nas
Life Is Good July 17

Video:
"The Don"

Nas's final Def Jam album (and 10th LP overall) should finally drop in July. Life Is Good, the rapper's first official release since 2008's Untitled 71, may include collaborations with Odd Future members Frank Ocean and Tyler, the Creator, as well as Kanye West, Dr. Dre, RZA, Jay Electronica, Salaam Remi, and more. A Lost Tapes II compilation is also a possibility for the year ahead.

Willie Nelson
Heroes May 15

The 79-year-old music legend has enlisted some famous friends (and his own family) for his latest album, produced by Buddy Cannon. Guesting on Heroes are Merle Haggard, Sheryl Crow, Kris Kristofferson, and, well, Snoop Dogg, the latter lending a hand to "Roll Me Up." The LP includes a mix of originals and covers, including songs originally by Coldplay ("The Scientist"), Pearl Jam ("Just Breathe"), and Tom Waits ("Come On Up To The House").

POP ETC.
POP ETC. June 12

The Morning Benders are dead; long live Pop Etc. After only recently discovering that the word "bender" doesn't always mean "robot with a shiny metal ass," in some countries, the Bay Area indie trio adopted the more generic Pop Etc. as its new moniker, which will be inaugurated with the upcoming album of the same name. Not everyone is fond of the new name, but the group did attract fans with its sophomore set Big Echo 72 in 2010. Whether it keeps them around after adopting a much poppier sound with the new album is another question, though having Danger Mouse on hand to supervise the recording couldn't hurt.

Public Image Ltd.
This Is PiL May 29

The final studio album for John Lydon's post-Sex Pistols project Public Image Ltd.—certainly, an accomplished band in its own right—was 1992's extremely forgettable That What Is Not, which barely registered with music buyers. But there's always another chance to make a last impression, and Lydon has reunited the band for This Is PiL, their first album in two decades, which could benefit from a continued interest in the kind of post-punk that PiL pioneered in the late 1970s. "Reunite" isn't entirely accurate, as PiL has always really been about Lydon and whoever happens to be playing with him at the moment, though current drummer Bruce Smith and guitarist Lu Edmonds were with the band for 1987's Happy? (and Smith also for the follow-up, 9, PiL's last good record).

Rick Ross
God Forgives, I Don't July 31

Delayed from its original December release date (partially due to Ross' medical problems last fall), the rapper's fifth album finally has what appears to be a firm release date. T.I., Lil Wayne, and Nicki Minaj are among the confirmed guests on God Forgives, I Don't, the follow-up to 2010's Teflon Don 79. Mary J. Blige, Big K.R.I.T., Alicia Keys, Dr. Dre, and Jay-Z may also appear on the new album, though a final tracklist has not been announced.

Rush
Clockwork Angels June 12

While the veteran Candian rock band hasn't released an album in five years, it takes about that long just to set up Neil Peart's drum kit. The trio produced Clockwork Angels along with Nick Raskulinecz (returning from 2007's Snakes & Arrows 73), and the album features a loose steampunk concept about a young man on a quest in a world of "lost cities, pirates, anarchists, an exotic carnival, and a rigid Watchmaker." A 33-city tour kicks off in September.

Saint Etienne
Words and Music by Saint Etienne May 22

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Audio:
"Answer Song"

Video:
"Tonight"

The long-running British pop group Saint Etienne are finally back with their first album since 2005’s strong Tales from Turnpike House 79. Words and Music by Saint Etienne is the band’s eighth album overall and once again features the lovely vocals of Sarah Cracknell and sophisticated pop music from Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs. Prolific UK dance producer Richard X (Annie, Goldfrapp) lends a hand with the new album, whose advance singles “Answer Song” and “Tonight” are swoonworthy.

Scissor Sisters
Magic Hour May 29

While Scissor Sisters had numerous troubles during the lengthy recording process that eventually resulted in their third album Night Work 72, the group fronted by Jake Shears and Ana Matronic had a somewhat easier time with the upcoming Magic Hour, though the inclusion of numerous producers and guests meant that the recording process still stretched out over a year and two continents. That roster of collaborators includes Calvin Harris, Diplo, Azealia Banks, and Pharrell Williams. Up next for the band? Composing the soundtrack to an upcoming feature film adaptation of Fraggle Rock.

Sigur Rós
Valtari May 29

Though we did get the concert documentary/live album Inni last year, atmospheric Icelandic band Sigur Rós hasn't released a new studio set since—say it with us—2008's Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust 81. (In the interim, frontman Jónsi has established himself as a successful solo artist.) But this summer brings their sixth studio album Valtari (English translation: "steamroller"), and a chance for reviewers to trot out adjectives like "ethereal," "haunting," and "emotive."

Simian Mobile Disco
Unpatterns May 29

Simian Mobile Disco have now surpassed their original band, the more rock-oriented Simian, in number of original albums. The nine-track Unpatterns is their third album, and finds duo James Ford and Jas Shaw once again crafting interesting techno. Their last album, Temporary Pleasure 70, was perhaps too packed with guest appearances from people like Beth Ditto, Jamie Lidell, and Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor, and just missed the mark. But advance singles “Seraphim” and “Put Your Hands Together” from the new disc get the head nodding and hint at what could be the band’s most satisfying album to date.

Paul Simon
Graceland 25th anniversary box set reissue June 5

Paul Simon's Grammy-winning 1986 album, which has already sold over 14 million copies worldwide, will get the deluxe reissue treatment next month. Expect multiple versions of the remastered Graceland, all of which will come with a DVD of the new documentary Under African Skies, which follows the singer as he reunites with the South African musicians who contributed to the album. The sets will also include never-before-released alternate versions of some of the album's tracks.

Smashing Pumpkins
Oceania June 19

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Much like Guns N’ Roses, Smashing Pumpkins now pretty much just consists of its lead singer. Former members James Iha, D’arcy Wretzky, and Jimmy Chamberlin are long gone, and various folks have rotated in and out of the band for years. Originally conceived as a 44-track concept album called Teargarden by Kaleidyscope, the new album Oceania is said to be an album within an album that, according to Corgan, is his best effort since the band’s classic 1995 double album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.

Patti Smith
Banga June 5

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The rock legend has been busier in recent years as an author (her award-winning 2010 memoir, Just Kids, reportedly has a big-screen adaptation in the works) and an actress (in Jean-Luc Godard's Film Socialisme) than as a recording artist. But Banga, which is her first collection of originals since 2004's trampin' 74, will arrive in June and include contributions from Television's Tom Verlaine as well as a tribute to the late Amy Winehouse on "This Is the Girl."

Regina Spektor
What We Saw from the Cheap Seats May 29

Over the past decade, it has become increasingly difficult not to hear the music of Russian-born singer-songwriter Regina Spektor—she has become a go-to artist for movie and TV music coordinators, among other things—and her last two albums have sold over a million copies apiece around the world. So what can we expect from sixth LP What We Saw from the Cheap Seats now that Spektor is an international star? For one thing, new versions of some of Spektor's earliest songs, like "Ne me quitte pas" from 2002. But the album, produced by Mike Elizondo (who was worked with artists ranging from Fiona Apple to Eminem) also includes some new touches, like the excellent lead single "All the Rowboats" and its booming electronic beats.

Squarepusher
Ufabulum May 15

After an atypically lengthy break, glitchy electronica master Tom Jenkinson returns with his first full-length studio album since 2008's Just A Souvenir 66. Like that LP, the new Ufabulum was inspired by a dream, but unlike recent releases it contains no live instrumentation whatsoever; instead, expect complex, aggressive electronic programming. (And, if you see him live on his current tour, throw in an intense, futuristic LED light show to match the beats; watch the video above for an idea of what to expect.)

Tenacious D
Rize of the Fenix May 15

The comedy-rock duo of Jack Black and Kyle Gass haven't been heard from—musically, at least—since their 2006 soundtrack to their film The Pick of Destiny, neither of which received much in the way of critical acclaim (though the album sold reasonably well). But, like the mythical—er—Fenix, the pair are rising from the ashes with a third album, which emphasizes rocking tunes over spoken-word bits and once again features Dave Grohl behind the drum kit.

Usher
Looking 4 Myself June 12

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Video:
"Climax"

Preceded by one of his better singles in years—the Diplo-produced "Climax"—Usher's new album Looking 4 Myself promises to be more adventurous than the singer's disappointing (but Grammy-winning) 2010 effort Raymond v. Raymond 57. Indeed, the singer has used the term "revolutionary pop" to describe the sound of his seventh LP, which features production from Salaam Remi, Swedish House Mafia, Empire of the Sun, Max Martin, and the Neptunes and collaborations with Pharrell Williams and Rick Ross. A deluxe edition of the new album adds four tracks.

Waka Flocka Flame
Triple F Life June 12

Friends, fans and family are the F's in question as the rapper returns with his second solo album and first release after last fall's collaboration with Gucci Mane, Ferrari Boyz 57. Drake, Trey Songz, Ludacris, Nicki Minaj, and Meek Mill are among the guests on the new album.

The Walkmen
Heaven May 29

The Walkmen follow up their acclaimed 2010 album Lisbon 83 later this month with their fifth album, Heaven. The band is celebrating the 10-year anniversary of their debut Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me Is Gone with the release, and a decade in, The Walkmen just keep getting better and better. Their new album is produced by Phil Ek (The Shins, Modest Mouse) and will feature Fleet Foxes vocalist Robin Pecknold on track “No One Ever Sleeps.” Advance tracks “Heaven” and “Heartbreaker” may garner the band an even bigger following.

Bobby Womack
The Bravest Man in the Universe June 12

After a late-career resurgence from appearing on the third Gorillaz album Plastic Beach 77(most notably on lead single “Stylo”), soul singer Bobby Womack is releasing a new album against all odds. Womack, who was recently diagnosed with colon cancer, once again teams with Gorillaz’ Damon Albarn, who’s producing The Bravest Man in the Universe with head of XL Recordings Richard Russell. Womack’s first original material since 1994 will also feature a collaboration with polarizing singer Lana Del Rey on the song “Dayglo Reflection.”

Neil Young & Crazy Horse
Americana June 5

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Video:
"Oh Susannah"

If you are anticipating a Neil Young cover of the 160-year-old standard "Oh Susannah" to be on the mellow side, then you are ignoring the "& Crazy Horse" part of the equation for Americana, the artists' first album together since their concept album Greendale 64 in 2003. As the album title suggests, Americana (perhaps Canadiana was too tough a sell) is filled with covers of folk standards, including "Clementine" and "This Land Is Your Land," though expect far more electrified takes on those songs than you may be accustomed to. In other words, this is definitely not a folk album.

What do you think?

Which albums are you looking forward to this summer? Let us know in the comments section below.

Comments (7)

  • LamontRaymond  

    I'm curious about the new Rush, and I'm sure I'll pick up Tenacious D for a few laughs, but I'm more truly excited about the new Heavy Cream (Super Treatment) and the upcoming Bella Novela.

  • jasher  

    Excited about the possibility of new Missy/Timbaland work, but not getting my hopes up too high.

  • Dingo  

    Nice feature. Going to be a good summer.

  • HazimHaemoglob  

    Nelly Furtado?

  • Perspicacious  

    Jason Deitz says about Fiona Apple's upcoming The Idler Wheel, Little is known about the new album, including who produced it.

    Well, Every Single Night has Van Dyke Parks written all over it. That's my guess. And my hope.

  • IsaacHale  

    Great feature! One correction: "Delicacies" was the last Simian Mobile Disco album, not Temporary Pleasure.

    Albums I'm excited for:

    Hot Chip - In Our Heads
    Simian Mobile Disco - Unpatterns
    Metric - Synthetica
    Sam Sparro - Happiness
    Scissor Sisters - Magic Hour
    Van She - Idea of Happiness
    Gossip - A Joyful Noise

  • laurencesmb  

    What about Twin Shadow?

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