As summer approaches, you need to start doing your research to compile new playlists for the cottage, the barbecues and the patio hang-outs. There’s already been a plethora of new music released since the start of 2016. We’ve got a great new Lumineers album to listen to, fresh singles from July Talk, the Arkells and Blink-182, and a surprise album drop form Radiohead. But, if you’re looking for some variety, I’m here to suggest some new albums that you may not have heard yet. They might not be what you’re used to, but there’s no harm in trying something new. Here are five new albums to kick off your summer:
#1. Anderson Park – Mailbu
Okay, so this album may not be fresh off the press new, but since it’s release earlier this year, it’s remained on repeat for me. Lately, Anderson Paak has been popping up in a lot of places. If you’re a fan of hip-hop or RnB, there’s no doubt you’ve heard a feature of his already. Paak’s vocals are so versatile and fulfilling that they work on any song they’re used on. For an artist that was relatively little known before the release of his second studio album, Malibu, Paak has been blowing up in a huge way over the last few months. Recently, he signed to Dr. Dre’s Aftermath Entertainment, and since that day it seems like everywhere I turn there’s another track with his name on it. Besides being a singer, and an extremely talented one at that, Anderson Paak is a producer, rapper, and drummer. Truly a man of many talents, Paak’s performance at Coachella music festival last month garnered much well-deserved acclaim and is sure to have pushed his name even further into the masses of the music world. His appearances at the multiple music festivals and shows he’s scheduled to play this coming summer should be a top priority for any music fan. Malibu is a cool, breezy, and fun album. It’s definitely a summer album and one you’re likely to get addicted too.
#2. Sturgill Simpson – A Sailor’s Guide To Earth
A lot of people are sure to be turned off of listening to this album as soon as they realize it’s a country album. But, this isn’t the type of Top 50 country you’re used to hearing when you go for a night out at the Rocking Horse. With this album, Sturgill Simpson shows his ability to take country music and push it’s boundaries, moulding it into something that sounds fresh and new. Like a sailor’s voyage on an unpredictable sea, the album takes us on a journey that at times can be calm, such as when Sturgill croons over soft guitar melodies, and at other times can be chaotic, with wild horn sections bringing the energy to an ultimate high. One of the highlights of A Sailor’s Guide To Earth, is Simpson’s cover of “In Bloom”. Yes, the classic Nirvana song about the primal forces of man. Although the cover may be polarizing to many Nirvana fans, Sturgill Simpson does an outstanding job of making the song his own. You’re sure to be impressed with the other tracks on this album as well, and the positive energy that flows from it.
#3. Kaytranada – 99.9%
Kaytranada is an electronic musician hailing from Montreal. His production has been featured on many songs over the past couple of years, but his debut album finally arrived this year to the joy of many fans of his work. There’s a handful of electronic acts these days that really own their sound. Kaytranada is one of these DJ’s who has been able to separate his music from the masses. His production is predominantly influenced by hip-hop and soul, but his unique use of different synthesizers and drumbeats pushes his sound to new limits. The songs on 99.9% are sure to please everyone. There are some completely instrumental tracks, but also songs on which Kaytranada enlists the help of vocalists to come do their thing on. The aforementioned Anderson Paak is just one of the many features that Kaytranada chose to sing on the album. BadBadNotGood, another Canadian music act from Toronto and one of my favourite instrumental acts of all time, also helps Kaytranada out on the album. You can tell that Kaytranada know what he’s doing. The production is beautifully and professionally done, and what Kaytranada has created here is a feel-good album for the summer to come.
#4. Various Artists – Day of the Dead
As a kid, I spent my summers at an overnight summer camp, one where the jam band genre was idolized. Phish, Dave Matthews Band, and the Grateful Dead were played regularly, and so I have a deep appreciation for the music these bands have made. But I wouldn’t consider myself a “Dead Head”. The Grateful Dead catalogue is just so massive and intimidating, and I enjoy listening to new music so much, that I’ve never taken the time to sit down and become familiar with all the great Dead songs. One of the reasons this new compilation album is so great is that as a 59-track album it’s large, but not too massive to listen to all of it. And so I’ll be introduced to many of the Dead songs that I never had the opportunity to learn to love. Another reason it’s so great is that fans of alternative music who may have never been able to identify with the Grateful Dead’s style, will be able to appreciate their genius in another form. Because the album is a celebration of the band, I’m sure many of the songs will stay true to the Grateful Dead jam style. But if you’re a fan of alternative rock it will appeal to you as well. The 10 songs that have already been released all sound great. My favourites so far include Courtney Barnett’s “New Speedway Boogie” and The National’s “Morning Dew”. The album is also set to feature other acts we know and love such as Mumford and Sons, The War on Drugs, Kurt Vile, The Tallest Man on Earth and many more. With a star lineup like this, the album is sure to be an amazing piece of work and I can’t wait until it’s released.
#5. Billy Talent – Afraid of Heights
It’s another album that we’re going to have to wait for, but the wait has been made a little easier now that we have a taste of some new music. “Afraid of Heights”, the first single off of the new Billy Talent album of the same name, is a great, inspirational first track and an extremely addicting one at that. It’s been four years since the release of their last studio album, but if the new single is a good indication of what’s to come, then the wait will have been well worth it. Billy Talent has been a staple in the Canadian punk/alternative rock music scene since the release of their self-titled debut album. It’s been 13 years since that first release, hard to believe considering how often I still hear some of the tracks being played. And after all this time the band is still going strong, making fans everywhere proud. Part of the reason Billy Talent has such a large fan base is the versatility of their music. Hard rock, punk, pop, emo, the band has dabbled in it all and the amazing part is no matter what sound they choose to explore they sound good doing it. This album will no doubt be a special one for the band. At the beginning of the year, it was announced that drummer and founding member Aaron Solowoniuk was taking a hiatus because of an MS relapse. For the band to be able to come together and release this album in such trying circumstances is a testament to their work ethic and their dedication, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if the record feels more emotionally invested than past Billy Talent works. Afraid of Heights is set to be released in a little over a month from now. As a Canadian music fan, I couldn’t be more excited to listen to and enjoy this new record from a band I’ve been listening to for over a decade. And if you’ve never had the chance to witness the band perform live, you better hope Billy Talent announces a North American tour to go along with the release of the album this summer.