Summer is here and that means we’re in for some of the biggest releases of the year soon.
The king culture vulture himself, Drake, has already assaulted our ears with “Honestly, Nevermind”. Beyonce has a new record due at the end of the month. There are rumors of a new Arctic Monkeys album that could be with us before the leaves start turning again.
So as I’ve done before, here are 7 albums I’m excited for heading into the heart of the season.
As always, I’m only listing albums with titles and hard release dates (otherwise that Arctic Monkeys record would absolutely be on this list) and this is not every single album I plan on listening to this summer. Honorable mention to Lizzo, dropping on my birthday with her new album “Special” next week.
Brent Faiyaz – “Wasteland” – July 8th
Once again, I’m surprised at how much I’m looking forward to a Brent Faiyaz album.
Over the last half decade he’s had enough moments like his most recent single “PRICE OF FAME” to get my hopes up, but more moments like the single before that “Mercedes” to let me down once his full projects come out.
Without the rest of Sonder to save him from himself, Faiyaz’s solo work has been over-indulgent, often carrying itself as if it’s a lot more cutting edge than it is. Which is a shame, because he genuinely sounds like he’s onto something interesting sometimes. Hopefully “Wasteland” is finally where he pulls it all together.
Metric – “Formentera” – July 8th
Another album releasing later this week, Metric’s latest LP “Formentera” has me excited almost entirely from early-discography nostalgia and recent single “Doomscroller”.
Metric’s music hasn’t been particularly interesting since the early 2010’s, but if they’re putting out 10-minute singles in 2022 that are actually worth the 10 minutes, I have to pay attention.
The other singles have been much less ambitious. Listenable – nothing worth coming back to. If the rest of “Formentera” leans more in the direction of “Doomscroller”, it could be a return to form for Metric.
Steve Lacy – “Gemini Rights” – July 15th
“Gemini Rights” will be dropping in Cancer season, and if Steve Lacy’s last couple singles are any indicator, astrology will be a core theme.
As nauseating as that is to me, I’ll put up with it if the whole album is as fleshed out as “Mercury” and “Bad Habit”.
Steve Lacy found a really compelling sound back in 2017 on “Steve Lacy’s Demo”, then spent the next 5 years failing to match the quality of his songwriting to the quality of his idiosyncratic production ability. “Apollo XXI”, his debut full-length was hugely disappointing. Last year’s “The Lo-Fis” was solid but lived up to its name way too much – the longest song was 2:24, and very few cuts went beyond a verse and a hook.
The 2 singles leading up to “Gemini Rights” have been by far the best-written songs Lacy’s done since “Dark Red”. He may finally have the stamina as a writer to keep that up for a whole album.
Jack White – “Entering Heaven Alive” – July 22nd
Jack White’s 1st release this year “Fear of the Dawn” was a lot better than I expected it to be based on the singles and the fact that it was the first in a duology set to be released in 2022.
“Entering Heaven Alive” is the 2nd half of that duology. Where “Fear of the Dawn” was stuffed with high-energy guitars and riffs reminiscent of White’s past hits “Lazaretto” or “Sixteen Saltines”, “Entering Heaven Alive” will be much more stripped back, like “Love Interruption”.
The jury’s still out as to whether an album full of softer Jack White cuts will be good – his balladry has often been the weak point of his projects – but White has been on a hot streak lately. I’m optimistic.
Black Thought & Danger Mouse – “Cheat Codes” – August 12th
Do I really have to sell this one? It’s a Black Thought album produced entirely by Danger Mouse. What else is there to say?
Danger Mouse is personally responsible for: Gnarls Barkley, “The Grey Album”, most of Beck’s “Modern Guilt” and pretty much every Black Keys record that’s actually good. Black Thought is a regular top 5 dead or alive candidate.
Even if they both play things safe (as they admittedly did on lead single “No Gold Teeth” released a few weeks ago) there’s too much talent and pedigree for this album to be bad.
Panic! At the Disco – “Viva Las Vengeance” – August 19th
Last week I said Paramore was the only pop-punk band that’s aged well. And I stand by that statement even with Panic! making this list, because they haven’t been a band for almost ten years. Panic! At the Disco is basically just Brendon Urie’s stage name now.
I didn’t like “Pray For the Wicked”. The production was way too overblown to the point where every song’s instrumental palette just melted into itself. The title track to “Viva Las Vengeance” released as the album’s lead single a couple weeks ago actually sounds fairly similar to that album, except the instruments are allowed to breathe and be distinct.
On top of that, Brendon Urie’s vocal ability is only getting better and better. I would be more than ok with him leaning fully into show-tune level theatrics for a full album as he does on the title track.
Rina Sawayama – “Hold the Girl” – September 16th
I am not a fan of the two singles that have already come out since the announcement of Rina Sawayama’s sophomore LP.
“This Hell” and “Catch Me In the Air” aren’t necessarily bad. You’ve just heard everything interesting either song has to offer after 90 seconds, and there was barely enough to get me that far. Ok they were bad.
Still, Rina’s debut “Sawayama” was so sonically diverse, unique and polished that it’s going to take a few more duds for me to jump off the hype train for “Hold the Girl”.