Every summer, outdoor speakers blast forth the songs of the season. But apart from the classic songs you’ve always relied on as your soundtrack to backyard barbecues and cool-water getaways, there’s a wide variety of new music each summer for listeners both casual and serious to enjoy.
Whether it’s jammy rock for long fishing trips, sentimental folk songs for late-night campfires, or heavy-hitting hip-hop for evenings on the town, there’s something new for everyone this summer.
Below are the top albums we’re looking forward to, in no particular order.
A hard-rocking follow up to 2014’s La Isla Bonita, famed experimental rockers Deerhoof offer up clean hooks, high energy, and a perfect soundtrack to any hobby involving a motor and water during this year’s hottest months. The 10th studio album from the band is set to continue the group’s legacy of influence — they’ve been cited by St. Vincent, The Foo Fighters, and Dirty Projectors as a pivotal rock outfit — proving to fans, via awesome cuts like the single Plastic Thrills, that some bands really do have an endless well of good material. The Magic comes out June 24 from Polyvinyl Records.
The cooler days of late summer will give way to the seventh studio album from Austin indie-folk darlings Okkervil River, whose recent single Okkervil River R.I.P. is already one of our favorite deep cuts of the year. The product of a somber transitioning period for songwriter Will Sheff, who has been the driving force behind the band since its late-’90s inception, Away was written in an empty house in the Catskill mountains. The first new music from the band since 2013’s Silver Gymnasium, the 9-track record should turn over a new leaf for Okkervil River; Away showcases a revamped backing band, special guests including Marissa Nadler and Shearwater’s Jonathan Meiburg, and the warm analog sounds of a mixing board used by both John Lennon and Steely Dan. The album comes out September 9th on ATO.
Legendary beatsmith DJ Shadow makes his way back to the studio album circuit early this summer, launching his first record in five years with a little help from musical pals like Run the Jewels and Nils Frahm, among others. The Mountain Will Fall looks to be a return to form for the producer, who first rose to fame two decades ago as the first person to ever release an all-sample album (his 1996 debut Entroducing). After creating his own label, embracing modern music software, and racking up live performances with big names like Diplo over the course of the past five years, DJ Shadow’s upcoming record will be decidedly less-sample heavy. But, regardless of the underlying material, it still promises to be as forward-thinking as ever. The Mountain Will Fall is out June 24 on Mass Appeal Records.
Up-and-coming Chicago outfit Whitney have been making big waves since they dropped their first tracks this year, touring with the Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Wild Nothing, and playing buzzy sets at SXSW and various other big-name indie venues. Featuring ex-members of the Smith Westerns in Max Kakacek and Julien Ehrlich, the group has a chilled-out country sound, with clean hooks and cool beats that should propel them to popularity in no time flat. And given how well suited their singles have already been for road trips, we expect more of the same on the remaining cuts. Light Upon the Lake is out June 3 on Secretly Canadian.
Get ready to go fishing. Houston’s Robert Ellis fits into the modern country landscape which has seen superstars being made out of once-hidden songwriters like Chris Stapleton. An American’s American who channels the grease-stained poise of Bruce Springsteen and Hank Williams, Ellis’ self-titled fourth studio album will weave a fully catch-worthy tapestry of classic songs with new-world arrangements. Robert Ellis is out June 3 on New West Records.
Ever-touring Phoenix musician Stephen Steinbrink brings the ethereal late-night vibes to this year’s summer release party, by way of his seventh album Anagrams. A mishmash of sounds which ranges from crystal-clear pop to layered noise rock, the record should have plenty to offer those looking for a bit of mid-year escape. Plus, it will carry with it enough hooks that people won’t ask you why you’re blasting it from the porch stereo. Anagrams is out July 1st on Melodic Records.
Arcade Fire frontman Will Butler is a fiery ball of musical energy — a fact he looks to further instill in fans’ minds by way of his upcoming live record Friday Night. An amalgamation of songs which includes several comedic interludes (and album artwork from Broad City star Abbi Jacobsen), Butler describes his latest work as, “an album based on working out ideas in a room full of people, playing off their energy and expectations.” Given the musician’s prolific history as a live performer, and the overwhelmingly awesome video he has already shared for track Take My Side, there should be plenty of material to look forward to here. Think of it as fuel for a fire of the BBQ variety. Friday Night is out June 17 on Merge Records.
Warm, analog, and classic, Psychic Ills craft decidedly vintage-sounding pop songs out of acoustic guitars, synthesizers, and pedal steel. As such, upcoming album Inner Journey Out promises to be among the greatest road trip jams of summer. No matter how deep the band’s songwriting may be, the songs manage to stay catch and easy on the ears — perfect little morsels which don’t require much attention to digest, but whose sonic energy brings good vibes to all those with a seatbelt. Inner Journey Out will drop June 3 on Sacred Bones Records.
The Southern California giants return this summer with a slap bass-laden group of singles, this time from famed hip-hop producer Dangermouse. Featuring a decidedly more reserved aesthetic (and much more piano) than we’ve heard from the band previously, the new album promises to be an interesting — if somewhat tried-and-true — addition to your new music playlist. The Getaway comes out June 17 on Warner Bros.
A spiritual sequel to 2011’s Grammy-nominated Infinite Arms that was four years in the making, Band of Horses’ Why Are You OK received its final push via a phone call to frontman Ben Bridwell from iconic hip-hop and rock producer Rick Rubin. Based on the first two tracks, the upcoming album appears to be what fans probably most wanted it to be: A classic Band of Horses blend of folk and pop sensibilities. Think of this band as a musical tribute to the South without the “Hey-Ho” and frantic banjo clicks of early Mumford & Sons. Why Are You OK comes out June 10 on Interscope Records.
- The best text messaging apps for Android and iOS
- The best camera apps for the iPhone
- Here’s how to listen to podcasts on Android and iOS
- Apple Music vs. Spotify
- The best iPhone apps (September 2020)