It’s finally getting warm in the Midwest and there are exciting musical moments ahead, friends. Some of music’s biggest names are set to release albums within the next two months, as well as some lesser-known artists. That’s not to say, however, those releases will mean less to the fans; they may even mean more. Granted, new albums are always dropping, but sometimes there are periods when a slew of great bands decide to bless us with their talents at once. I am thinking of three artists in particular whose albums are expected to be released by the end of summer, and will certainly receive some rotations on my iPod.
I will not spend too much time on this under-celebrated hip-hop group simply because I recently featured some of their new singles in a recent Saying Something article. An overwhelming majority of Americans have undoubtedly not heard of Atmosphere. Hailing from the snowy state of Minnesota, Sean Daley (Slug) and Anthony Davis (Ant) comprise the hip-hop duo. Slug is the rapper and Ant the producer; Ant has produced (aside from a couple tracks on Lucy Ford)every Atmosphere track since their inception.
Atmosphere’s last full-length album, The Family Sign, came out in 2011, staying in line with the three-year hiatus-period Atmosphere has adopted as of late. While The Family Sign did not offer as many triumphant anthems like When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold, the album still pleased the Atmospheric fan base with quintessentially-Sluggish tracks like “She’s Enough” and more poignant numbers, like “The Last to Say.” The most impressive feat of Atmosphere, is the duo’s ability to appeal to young people, despite the fact that Sean Daley will turn 42 this fall.
While not on the forthcoming album, Southsiders, Atmosphere released a single last summer that solidified hope for fans of the Minneapolis hip-hop group with “Bob Seger.” Using a soulful hook, as Ant has mastered over the years, “Bob Seger” was a loud statement to Atmosphere’s prominence in “underground” hip-hop. Also not found on the track list, Slug seemed to be priming listeners for Southsiders with a collaboration “Color in the Snow,” which employs a playful piano hook and features many rappers from the Rhymesayers label. Both tracks lead me to believe that Southsiders will be a strong showing from Atmosphere, even though neither will be on the album. The two singles from Southsiders, however, have instilled a similar confidence.
Both “Bitter” and “Kanye West” have been released as singles for the forthcoming album. I included the videos below. Take a listen and enjoy.
When? May 6
The Black Keys
It’s a hipster’s worst nightmare. The Black Keys are arguably the most recognizable and well-known contemporary rock band. However, the ubiquitous nature of the band did not fully materialize until the release of El Camino in 2011, although they have been making music since 2001. Naturally, many people who liked The Black Keys in the early 2000s now cry “sellout” and “mainstream garbage” (damned hipsters) at some of 2008’s Brothers, all of 2011’s El Camino, and God forbid should you mention the forthcoming album Turn Blue. *In Louis C.K.’s snobby voice. I mean, is that even the same band? It’s sooooo mainstream.
The Black Keys are a derivative of 1960s and 70s, mostly African-American, music; their influences include Muddy Waters, Junior Kimbrough, R.L. Burnside, and Jimi Hendrix – to name a few. The two members, Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney, met in grade school in Akron, Ohio. Although they associated with different crowds throughout high school, they were eventually connected at the behest of a mutual friend, who thought they might enjoy making music with together. Upon graduation from high school, they briefly attend the University of Akron before dropping out to record their first album, The Big Come Up, in Carney’s basement with an 8-track tape recorder in 2002. Since then, The Black Keys have steadily gained recognition, putting them in their current position.
Despite what some people think, I don’t think The Black Keys have “gone mainstream.” I can understand how many people could listen to the band’s first single from Turn Blue, “Fever,” and hear a radio-hit because of the repetitive lyrics widely-appealing sound, but just because the track doesn’t sound like Thickfreakness doesn’t make it inherently bad. Artists adapt and change their style and sound to convey their messages from a fresh perspective. Beneath it all, it’s still Auerbach and Carney at the heart of the track. And, if you listen to the song, you realize it is a lot more complex and challenging than a “mainstream” track would be. Although “Fever” employed the use of a synthesizer and put the guitar on the backburner, the track still feels like The Black Keys and that’s enough for me.
The second single off the forthcoming album, “Turn Blue,” is a more soulful song, opening with a simple, but memorable guitar riff. The lyrics remind the listener of mortality of all people – seemingly a theme of Turn Blue. Regardless of what “hip” people are saying, Turn Blue is an album to look out for.
Who? The Black Keys
What? Turn Blue
When? May 13
Speaking of bluesy/ garage rockers from the Midwest, everyone’s favorite (almost) albino/ grade-A weirdo/ musical genius is scheduled to release his second solo album, Lazaretto, the beginning of June. Mostly known for his large role in other acts, such as the White Stripes, The Raconteurs, and The Dead Weather, Jack White released his first solo project, Blunderbuss in 2012 and, it shouldn’t come as too much a surprise, it was really good. White, also heavily influenced by predominantly African-American artists from decades ago, gave listeners a guitar-centered, soulful, and fun-to-listen-to album in Blunderbuss. Judging by the first two singles from Lazaretto, I’d say that his latest project is going to be a treat as well.
“High Ball Stepper” was Jack’s first single from Lazaretto and it accomplished its goal: to pump up his fans. If you have yet to watch the official music video for the song, be sure to watch below. Actually, why don’t you do it right now?
Yes, that’s the right one. “High Ball Stepper” is an instrumental track, mostly a display of Jack White’s tasty guitar playing and creativity. Who knew it would be so enjoyable to watch paint be contorted in all-which-ways in speakers? Apparently, Jack White. It’s a safe bet that “High Ball Stepper” is a good indicator of what Lazaretto will sound like. A master of guitar, White’s talent will be put on display with high-energy tracks that utilize larger-than-average bands (expect violins and lap steel guitars) and a bunch of funky sounds you didn’t realize you could make with the guitar; his specialty.
White’s second single from Lazaretto, “Lazaretto,” confirmed my aforementioned suspicions. Though there will always be a trace of White Stripes in Jack’s work, “Lazaretto” highlights an entirely new entity – a brainchild of White’s that he has to answer to no one for. And guess what? His judgment can be trusted.
Who? Jack White
When? June 10
That’s right, the popularizer of pop-punk is rumored to be in the process to release their first full-length album since 2011’s Neighborhoods by the end of the summer. If you were one of those people that were skeptical of the influential-band’s return album, I’m here to tell you that it was great. Neighborhoods, while not a “typical” Blink album, was (in my opinion) a refreshing amalgam of Blink-182, Angels & Airwaves, and +44. Makes sense, right? All bands showed merit in their own right, and I think the trio figured out how to blend the styles together and make enjoyable music.
Furthermore, Blink released an EP, Dogs Eating Dogs, at the end of 2012 which was a homerun in my eyes. The EP contains a track for each stylistic avenue Blink has explored in the past, and made sure every track was great. I also recommend listening to that. Unfortunately, no one knows too much about the forthcoming album. No singles have been released, nor has a date been set. Nonetheless, whenever Mark, Travis, and Tom get together, fun ensues. It could very well not happen, but why have a negative attitude like that?
Brent Glass is a Michigander who graduated from Eureka College in May of 2013. He spent time at the Sagamore Institute in Indianapolis, IN (a non-partisan think tank) where he worked on political economy pieces for Detroit, MI and Elkhart, IN. Additionally, he spent the summer of 2012 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, CA, working on social media management. Currently he is creating a social media management business (Connect You Consulting) and working full-time as a Management Assistant to the owner of a car dealership. He plans to further his education in the fall of 2014 in pursuit of a Ph.D. in Urban Development.