Five albums to groove, chill, and definitely not study to this summer
Max Szyc | Fulcrum Contributor
Shaking the Habitual | Mute Records
Sweden’s The Knife joins a wave of artists like David Bowie and Daft Punk who made long-awaited returns in 2013 after lengthy periods of (mostly) silence. While it was evident that the group that once made bubbly electro-pop was going in a more experimental direction with each release, few could have predicted that the brother-sister duo would unleash a mammoth double-album like Shaking the Habitual. Ranging from aggressive industrial-tinged stomps—particularly the brilliant single “Full of Fire”—to a brooding, near-20 minute dark ambient piece, The Knife have decided that 2013 is the year to make listeners uncomfortable, and those who are willing to submit themselves to their noise will be pleasantly rewarded.
The Joy Formidable
Wolf’s Law | Atlantic
North Wales’ The Joy Formidable have been likened to The Smashing Pumpkins at their most melodic and My Bloody Valentine at their most aggressive. These comparisons dogged the band upon the release of their 2011 debut album, The Big Roar, but the group established itself through rigorous touring. Ultimately they’ve raised the bar on properly constructing a sophomore album with Wolf’s Law. Incorporating symphonic flourishes and acoustic moments that showcase a logical evolution of their sound, the album manages to not be a simple rehash and demonstrates just how great modern alternative rock can be.
Yeezus | Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam
While it can be hard to separate an artist’s musical output from their personal life, Kanye West makes it easy with his stellar new offering. With no cover art and minimal marketing, Yeezus introduces us to a darker and more aggressive West that will definitely jolt long-time fans. Taking a cue from recent alternative hip-hop successes like Death Grips and Killer Mike, the disc boasts some surprisingly heavy and abrasive songs that benefit from some of the best production to grace a modern rap album—even though it’s occasionally dented by some cringe-inducing yet hilarious lyrics.
Sunbather | Deathwish Inc.
While the “metal” tag might be enough to scare off some listeners, San Francisco’s Deafheaven have managed to attract fans who wouldn’t ordinarily call themselves metalheads by seamlessly blending black metal, post-rock, and hardcore into a surprisingly accessible stew. Sunbather, the band’s sophomore outing, successfully grabs the listener’s attention with its chaotic wall of sound while offering up enough layers of melody that it becomes hard to not get absorbed in the atmosphere. Throw in unexpected piano parts and eerie spoken-word interludes coupled with brilliant production and you get the best metal album of the year.
The Blackest Beautiful | Epitath
In a climate where modern punk bands tend to have terribly lengthy band names and rely on repetitive chugging guitar riffs, letlive. is a breath of fresh air. While the L.A. group’s latest effort is nowhere near as aggressive as 2010’s start-to-finish masterpiece Fake History, The Blackest Beautiful brings us a more poppy album that satisfies with endless vocal hooks and brilliant songwriting. The muddy production is a bit of a shock, but letlive. prove that they are still the most reliable post-hardcore band active today.
What are your summer jams? Tweet us @The_Fulcrum and let us know!