I didn’t want to write a corny summer-to-fall season change introduction, but I fear it’s the only way to encapsulate the essence of summer and how these albums relate to the season, so here we go:
As the leaves change colors and start falling off the trees, reminding us of the cold winter to come, the SoCC writers have compiled their favorite albums of the summer. Whether these albums came out during the summer of ’23 or the ancient era of the 1950s, something about these albums reminds us of the warm (scalding [due to climate change]) summer weather. Hopefully, these albums will remind you of summer and prepare you for the winter to come.
~ Oliviero Zanalda
Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots – The Flaming Lips
My album of the summer was Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots by The Flaming Lips. My summer mostly consisted of living alone at my cabin in the woods of Wisconsin, or doing the opposite and seeing live music. Seeing them live was incredibly entertaining, but when I was secluded at my cabin, their music transformed into something I could channel into my current domain. The album brought a blood flow of beautiful pandemonium to my brain, that accelerated how I thought about today’s technological world and my current state of well-being.
~ Ruben Margolis
Frank – Amy Winehouse
Amy Winehouse’s 2003 album Frank captured the rich spirit and depth of a young soul. Her songs captivated me with how they discussed and explored the vigor of themes like love, loss, sorrow, and honesty. The album is frank. Amy sings out as the subject of the songs, allowing the listener to walk with her in her memories and experiences. The album is cathartic and had me towing the emotional lines that she belted out. Listening to this album over the summer gave me days and nights of feeling potent words resonate in my mind. This 20-year-old album gives for a good listen in any season, giving it an insurmountable stature in the life of music.
~ Avery Carrington
Atlanta Millionaires Club – Faye Webster’s
The only album able to satiate my fierce and unrelenting love for the summer sun at approximately 8:15 pm was Faye Webster’s Atlanta Millionaires Club. From the playful “Right Side of My Neck” to the all-too-real “Pigeon” the album is versatile yet consistent—exciting and nostalgic and reminiscent of a slow, beautiful summer evening.
~ Royce Hinojosa
Hayday – Feeble Little Horse
Feeble Little Horse’s manic summer release of Girl with Fish put their name back on my music map and has left me with no choice but to spend the summer desperately devouring their discography. With pleasant intrigue, Feeble Little Horse’s Hayday 2021 is infectious in their slacker-rock-noise-DIY-shoegaze sound. Taking heavy influence from Alex G and Sweet Trip, they are driven by existential dread and muffled slacker screech. The band is young and restless. Their impulsive attitude is palpable, making it an entertaining humanly listen. Their chaos caresses my humid restless summer. Favorite track: “Chores”
~ Marina Malin
Ganger – Veeze
Veeze’s second solo studio album Ganger invaded my brain this summer. This album continues to prove that Michigan is producing the best rappers in the game. Veeze provides traditional rap punchlines with his unique nonchalant delivery and incessantly confident lyrics. Opening the album with “Not a Drill” and “Overseas Baller” provided a more upbeat opening to the album, which took me back to the careless joy of high school summers, when I wasn’t worried about what internship I could find. Midway through the album, Veeze started to mellow down and allowed me space to breathe. Right as I was adjusted to my new summer life with songs like “SEXY liar” and “7Sixers”, Lil Yachty and Veeze decided to throw me for a loop. On “Boat Interlude”, I witnessed the two rappers slow down their vocals and drown them out in autotune to the point of no recognition. The production sounds like a sci-fi horror movie, and Veeze forced me into a trance by smearing his vocals all over this beat. “What am I doing with my summer? I should get my life together.” This didn’t last long, as the two next songs, “tramp stamp” and “Weekend” rebuilt my confidence. Veeze started to wrap up the album by pulling me out of my summer daze and bringing me back to reality. Summer is ending soon, and he reminded me of my responsibilities and the reality of everyday life on songs like “Gangermatic” and “WHOda1”, but there’s still time to enjoy the warm weather and academic freedom.
~ Oliviero Zanalda
Space Heavy – King Krule
My album of the summer was easily Space Heavy by King Krule. Archy continues to grow and evolve his sound with this being his most narrative and seamless release yet. While there are hints of his signature howling angst in tracks like the haunting self-titled track and the more left-field “Pink Shell”, this album showcases Archy’s personal and artistic growth and maturity. Throughout the album, he deals with the different angles and emotions that come with separating from his partner while not being completely severed from them and still maintaining his love for them. While a younger Archy might’ve sunk into a hole of despair, today he steps back and does his best to understand it and then work through it. I found myself coming back to this album, specifically tracks like “Seagirl,” “Seaforth,” and “That Is My Life, That Is Yours” throughout the summer. Its lazy guitars and synths were in fluent conversation with the haziness and laid-back action of my sluggish summer.
~ Issa Nasatir
Singing The Traditional Songs Of Her Kentucky Mountain Family – Jean Richie
Whether you are actually walking through meadows resplendent with wildflowers, or just pretending you are, this is the album to frolic to. The album relies on Jean Richie’s high and lonesome voice, and includes two different versions of both of my favorites, “One Morning in May” and “The Cuckoo”. It is the optime of simplicity and timelessness, everything a great folk album should be.
~ Sadie Almgren
Graceland – Paul Simon
Graceland by Paul Simon is my album of the summer because I rediscovered it right as the weather began to get warm and I never stopped. When I was younger, my dad played it all the time, and because of that I always despised it. Finally, after 10 or so years, I get it. No matter what mood you are in, you can turn on Graceland and immediately your day will turn around. For summer, I always need something upbeat, something that sounds good playing with your windows down, and Graceland is just that.
~ Maddy Golier
Praise a Lord Who Chews but Which Does Not Consume; (Or Simply, Hot Between Worlds) – Yves Tumor
This album is the perfect blend of funk, R&B, noise, grunge, trip-hop, funk, glam, and shoegaze. Art-pop mayhaps?? No need to categorize, as Yves Tumor’s work exists outside of order. In true disorder and chaos, one finds meaningful songwriting and crafty lyrics. A great album for anyone aching for novelty or sitting in frustration.
~ Mackenzie Wagner
When Horses Would Run – Being Dead
When Horses Would Run by Being Dead may have only come out mid-July, but has already climbed my ranks of being one of the most original releases this year (in tense competition with Mind Palace Music by @, my runner-up album of the summer). The album has an uncontainable sound, and each song is playful and unique–jumping from frantic cacophony to melodic dreaminess, yet not one feels out of place. I think this album is so great because of a simple reason: it is fun. The band’s joy is infectious, and the unpolished sound makes their fun much more tangible. While the mid-summer heat has mostly passed, this album is still a perfect companion to prairie frolicking, dancing atop large boulders, and any long drives with the window down that are still to come.
~ Liv Normandeau
Unreal Unearth – Hozier
Hozier’s newest album, loosely based on Dante’s Inferno, was well worth the wait. A labor of love, this journey through hell is all at once devastatingly heartbreaking and remarkably comforting, with its deeply poetic lyrics and a perfect balance of soothing and intense moments. Opening with a sense of descending into the earth, and ending by emerging, very literally, into the “First Light,” Unreal Unearth takes you by the hand and guides you through a metaphorical night. Be warned: this man was clearly going through something when he wrote this—it’s masterful and tragic.
~ Claire Heskett
Laugh Track – The National
I saw The National live in August, and about halfway through the concert, they prefaced a song saying it was currently unreleased. The song, Space Invader, began as the band’s best-constructed song since at least 2017’s “Sleep Well Beast”.
“What if I’d never written the letter / I slipped in the sleeve of the record I gave you? / What if I’d stayed on the C train until Lafayette? / What if we’d never met?”
The first three and a half minutes were a near-perfect pop song, with some of the band’s lushest instrumentation and best guitar interplay. The second half of the song, especially live, was another beast. The guitars faded not long after the last chorus, and Bryan Devendorf began to drum… and drum, and drum, and drum. This moment was, for him, a reclaiming of the throne – the band had been increasingly relying on drum machines, but that era seemed to come to a close as he led a three minute crescendo with more energy than he ever had before. Triumphant guitar lines came into the mix, and the band built to a new height right before my very eyes.
“Quarter after four in the morning / My heart’s software gore / Why’d I leave it like that? / Why’d I leave it like that?”
Just two weeks ago, The National announced their new album Laugh Track live at a concert in their hometown of Cincinnati – out Monday! I’ve had it on repeat since then. It dwarfs the first album they released this year, the good-yet-underwhelming First Two Pages of Frankenstein. And yes, it has “Space Invader”. I’d of course recommend the whole album front to back, but the highlights also include all three of the album’s collaborations: The title track is their best collaboration with Phoebe Bridgers yet, their 2022 song “Weird Goodbyes” with Bon Iver has found a home on this record, and “Crumble” with Rosanne Cash is the most country-influenced song the band has released in the past twenty years. Finally, the 8-minute closing track “Smoke Detector” is just ridiculous – and maybe even better than “Space Invader”.
~ Katherine Rodbell
Paradigmes – La Femme
I’ve been traveling a lot this summer and La Femme is keeping me moving! This is an album for feeling absolutely swag when you walk around by yourself and brings you a little more pep in your step. Paradigmes has been making me happier and giving me an auditory routine that never gets boring — every song brings a new take on La Femme’s sound and just keeps building. Everyone needs a little more psychedelic French rock in their lives and this is no exception.
~ Sadie Flieg
Across the Spiderverse – Metro Boomin
What makes up a great movie soundtrack? Often, they settle into the background of the visual story, roaring to life to raise heart rates at a moment of conflict, and assuring the audience of a de-escalation with a shift as the conflict ends, initiating the emotion for the following scene. Yet sometimes the music takes charge, shaping the story as much as any visual cue, not guiding the flow of the movie but defining it. Metro Boomin did the latter in this summer’s Across the Spiderverse. Matching the movie’s color explosion animation, the producer created the energy for the whole story with songs like “Hummingbird”, “Annihilate”, “Self Love”, “Am I Dreaming, Link Up”, and more. I was more than hooked as soon as I heard James Blake’s voice on “Hummingbird”, a few minutes into the movie. Metro blended his own producing style with the stunning voice of Blake, whose vocals I can only describe as a stream of ice-cold water infinitely rippling into a crystal clear pond. The speed and energy of the song complement the movie without overwhelming it, and at the right moment, the chorus and bridge come through to stick audiences to their seats. That moment of the movie happens to involve objects floating around a room, a pitch-perfect description of how the bridge pulls the listener into musical anti-gravity. The album has a song for every occasion and carried me through my daily summer life.
~ Henry Shenk
When the Pawn… – Fiona Apple
On her second album, When the Pawn…, Fiona Apple tells a story, without urging us to queue something else ten minutes into the stream. This record holds beefy instrumental themes throughout, while still maintaining distinct dynamics. Traveling through the record, similar nooks and crannies are tied into each song— the synths, piano progressions, lyrics, drums, etc.— allowing for the whole experience to flow. Fiona Apple manages to nail the mobility of this album, each song carrying its own specific “oomph” factor. Crowd favorites appear to be “Paper Bag”, “I Know”, and “Fast As You Can”.
~ Keely Irick
Guppy – Charly Bliss
I discovered Guppy earlier this year through the song “DQ” and upon the first listen, it immediately became my album of the summer. Its glittery, often absurd lyricism and bubblegrunge-esque instrumentals perfectly encapsulate the experience of being a delusional teenage girl in the world. It’s the perfect album for validating yourself when you feel like you’re acting insane!
~ Caroline Woods
The Pod – Ween
it’s borderline disturbing, maybe a little demented. it’s nutty but sprinkled with so much expertise that it just makes sense. it gives you enough that you keep wanting more. enough that u can’t really grasp it. chaos but consistent. it’s curious and fascinatingly free in that way. it doesn’t expect an understanding. it just works that way.
~ Linnea Anderson
Is It You? – Mind Shrine
Is It You? by Mind Shrine has time and time again proven to be what I most want to listen to a lot of the time. It is there for me when I come home after a long day to a drink and the half-conscious process of producing some simple meal, or when I’m driving for hours across the country between an unending sky and an unraveling desert. This is what makes it such a wonderful summer album for me, it is so relaxing without being soporific, it is so fun and energetic without compromising on its soothing properties and it carries you on meandering jams that resemble daydreams after a nice joint and cup of coffee, without pulling you too deep. It just feels like laying in the sun, gazing at the clouds, maybe falling asleep for a few seconds, and doing something fun with friends. Also wow! what fun guitar playing.
~ Owen Cox
III – The Lumineers
This summer marked my first complete listen-through of The Lumineers album III. The album’s throughline of melancholy and uncertainty perfectly soundtracked a rocky summer as returning home from my first year of college brought about the sensation of not truly belonging to the place I once called home. Through questioning why I felt such a deep connection with III, I discovered this lost feeling derived from the fact that I had been away from home so long that I no longer felt I belonged there anymore. This “in limbo” sensation was confounded by the fact that I had not been at college long enough to comfortably call it my home either. Looking back, it seems to be no coincidence all these themes show up in nearly every corner of my album of the summer. Whether it’s the discussion of feeling homesick, lost, and scared in “Life In The City” or the themes of loneliness in “Soundtrack Song” and “Left For Denver”, the strained and wispy instrumentation in tandem with the somber lyricism of The Lumineers third studio album gave me a sense of home and direction during a time that I didn’t feel I had one.
~ Grant Thompson