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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Higher temps, hotter tunes: Four mainstream-bucking albums albums to spice up summer playlists

    John Konstantaras
    Yeasayer performs to a cheering crowd during Lollapalooza ‘s first day at Grand Park on Friday, August, 1, 2008, in Chicago, Illinois. (John Konstantaras/Chicago Tribune/MCT)

    It’s April and my iPod and I have a serious case of spring fever. The music industry’s upcoming releases seem to rival Hollywood’s blockbuster season, with Chris Brown, John Mayer and Justin Bieber all slated to release highly anticipated albums somewhere down the line.

    While that’s all in good fun, these next few months present the perfect opportunity to move beyond safe pop favorites and explore new artists for your already epic summer playlist. Here are four upcoming albums from acts that subvert the mainstream with music cool enough to brace you for the heat:

    Santigold, ‘Master of My Make Believe’

    Buzz began to build around Santigold’s sophomore release months ago, but the 35-year-old set blogs and Twitter accounts ablaze once she released the album cover. The image is so ornate it looks like a shadowy screenshot from Kanye West’s unforgettably grandiose “Power” music video.

    Add that to rumors that she’ll be collaborating with rap prodigy Earl Sweatshirt and the recent announcement of a North American tour with Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Santigold’s set an impressive platform for female artists looking to represent pop separate from the likes of Lady Gaga and Katy Perry (whom she seems to blatantly diss in the video of single “Big Mouth”).

    “Big Mouth” is vaguely creepy, but in a refreshing, dance-ready kind of way, while the pulsing beat of “Disparate Youth” generates excitement for everything else Santigold has up her sonic sleeve.
    Read one interview with her and it’s clear she has one very big thing going for her: She’s all about the music. And that’s all too rare these days.

    Anticipated release date: May 1

    Check out an interview and some of Santigold’s music videos here.

    Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, ‘Here’

    Just when you thought you couldn’t stomach one more car commercial or 5-year-old girl grossly over-performing the group’s 2009 single “Home,” Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros are back with not one, but two, LPs this year.

    Lead singer Alex Ebert expressed in a press release that the band’s 12 members produced so much new music in the four-year gap since Up From Below that releasing two separate albums will allow them to fully “express a varying and so relatively living portrait of our lives.” To translate from hippie-speak, listeners can expect the same hand-clapping, foot-stomping, effortlessly upbeat songs they’ve come to expect from the group. Bottom line, this album will surely be a ready-made soundtrack for summer road trips.

    Anticipated release date: May 29

    Check out a track listing and listen to one of the songs off the album here.

    The Walkmen, ‘Heaven’

    This New York City-based group is solid across the board, with driving guitars and percussives that dial down to expose frontman Hamilton Leithauser’s raggedly emotional vocals and soft, rambling instrumentals. If there was a Grammy for “Band Most Likely to Consistently Give You Goosebumps,” I’d do everything in my power to personally nominate them.

    Heaven, the band’s seventh studio album, was produced by Phil Ek (who’s worked with The Shins, Modest Mouse and Fleet Foxes, to name a few), meaning it’s practically decreed by musical law to deliver to fans both new and old. And with a title like that, how could it disappoint?

    Anticipated release date: June 5

    See the band perform the title track off its new album here.

    Yeasayer, Title TBA

    It’s hard to find a group that makes experimental rock as infectiously weird as Brooklyn-based Yeasayer. Its 2007 debut, All Hour Cymbals, injected the genre with bizarre ‘80s pop influences, prehistoric chanting and complex synth that draws comparisons both futuristic and spiritualist. And while its 2010 release Odd Blood was a bit meandering, the single “Tightrope,” (Yeasayer’s contribution to AIDS charity compilation “Dark Was the Night” back in 2009) still awes with its atmospheric chorus and a profoundly simple message-turned-mantra: “If you want to get it big time, go ‘head and get it big time.”

    When asked about the upcoming release, singer and keyboardist Chris Keating told Spin magazine that it could be likened to a “demented R&B record,” with club-friendly singles that will try to “get away from all this David Guetta bullshit.” If that alone doesn’t get you excited, then you’re better off playing it safe with Usher’s new album (out May 22, by the way).

    Anticipated release: Summer

    Check out an interview with the band here.

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