Summer 2015 is so packed with highly anticipated album releases that it’s nearly overwhelming. Below is a list in chronological order of the ten I’m looking most forward to. From big name pop artists to indie metal groups; these are the albums I’ll be listening to during my summer road trips, camping excursions, and lazy afternoons.
Wilder Mind – Mumford & Sons – May 4
Mumford & Sons has done the unthinkable and switched out their banjo for an electric guitar. I’m always intrigued when a band decides to work outside of their comfort zone, especially when their existing formula sells. Mumford & Sons’ first two albums, Sigh No More and Babel, were incredibly successful in sales and radio play. However, after over two dozen tracks of mostly acoustic guitar chords, banjo solos, and quarter notes on a bass drum, many have begun to feel a bit of fatigue.
If their first two singles from their upcoming album Wilder Mind are any indication, it seems they have retained their signature folksy lyrics and U2-esque grandiosity while venturing into more raw alternative rock styles akin to Kings of Leon and even Foo Fighters. Regardless, I have never doubted that the members of Mumford & Sons are talented musicians, so, I eagerly wait to hear what they all bring to the table with this change in sound.
The Waterfall – My Morning Jacket – May 4
Psychedelic and angelic yet raw and powerful, My Morning Jacket has a sound that isn’t heard every day. From what I’ve heard from their upcoming release The Waterfall thus far, it seems the world will be getting more of that unique indie rock goodness early this May. The track “Big Decisions” hearkens back to their catchy, chord-heavy tune “I’m Amazed” from their 2008 album Evil Urges while “Spring (Among the Living)” is more surreal and ethereal like “Wordless Chorus” from 2005’s Z.
What makes me even more excited is that another album is soon to follow in 2016; My Morning Jacket seems to be confident in their songwriting skills, and I think The Waterfall’s singles have proven that that confidence is justified. In fact, I think the only thing that could get me more excited for this album is if they were to appear in another episode of American Dad and play it for Stan Smith and company.
The Desired Effect – Brandon Flowers – May 18
This is the second solo album from The Killers’ lead singer Brandon Flowers. The first—appropriately titled Flamingo—embraced a colorful 1980’s synth-pop flair, and The Desired Effect seems to be taking that even further. The upcoming album’s first single “Can’t Deny My Love” feels like Depeche Mode crossed with Latin pop, and the most recent one “Lonely Town” sounds like something off of the soundtrack to a John Hughes film. All the while, Flowers’ signature voice soars majestically and even playfully at times.
With a new album from The Killers seemingly a while off, I have a good feeling The Desired Effect will fill a void in the meantime and then some.
True Colors – Zedd – May 19
I have never been a huge fan of electro-house music, but there is something about the fun yet entrancing energy that Zedd brings to his dance tunes that is simply irresistible and not quite as tiresome as similar artists on pop radio.
His upcoming album True Colors looks as if it will feature a sizable handful of collaborations just as his first album did. The first single “I Want You to Know”—something of a party anthem with vocals from Selena Gomez—already feels well on its way to becoming a club staple. The second is entitled “Addicted to Memory,” and it is darker sounding and more subtle. These two very different tracks seem to suggest a significantly varied range of sound for True Colors, and it will have my attention come May 19th.
Last of Our Kind – The Darkness – June 1
There is absolutely no song out there that puts such a hysterical smile on my face like The Darkness’ 2003 hit “I Believe in a Thing Called Love.”
Over the years the neo-glam rock group has produced pure, unbridled, ridiculous fun with borderline obnoxious falsetto vocals and over-the-top electric guitar solos, and I hope their newest album Last of Our Kind brings more of that. The first single “Barbarian” tells a melodramatic story of violent Vikings, so, I have a feeling that The Darkness hasn’t changed one bit. Their second single “Open Fire” is equally reassuring, with a chorus Def Leppard would be proud of.
How Big How Blue How Beautiful – Florence + the Machine – June 2
Like My Morning Jacket, Florence + the Machine has an uncommon sound. Drawing from indie pop, neo-soul, and art rock, their first two albums Lungs and Ceremonials still stand as rather unique and compelling works. This summer marks the release of their third: How Big How Blue How Beautiful. Despite being more guitar-driven thus far, it sounds like Florence + the Machine are about to make waves once again.
Their lead single “What Kind of Man” is beautifully loud and punchy like an Interpol tune, and Florence Welch’s voice oozes confidence as usual. Another single “Ship to Wreck” is a bit speedier than most of their older tracks, channeling a gothic but accessible rock sound nearly like Blue Öyster Cult’s “Burning For You.” Hopefully the rest of How Big How Blue How Beautiful takes similar subtle risks to push their already innovative sound even further.
Drones – Muse – June 9
With a catalogue of songs that range from alternative metal to orchestral pop, Muse is full of surprises. Their newest album Drones seems to draw from a bit of everything they’ve done so far. Their first single “Psycho” is blunt and gritty, complete with a drill sergeant’s abrasive orders echoing in the background. It is arguably comparable to their 2009 hit “Uprising” except without the sense of restraint or subtlety. Their second single “Dead Inside” draws from more of their electronic experimentation seen in songs like 2012’s “Madness,” attacking authority much more covertly in its lyrics.
So, I’d argue at this point that the overall direction and sound of Drones remains a mystery. Muse’s typical political themes are there, but they have presented them in two very different ways thus far. Considering Muse’s track record, however, I consider this far more exciting than disconcerting.
Beneath the Skin – Of Monsters and Men – June 9
Of Monsters and Men brought folk rock to American pop radio alongside Mumford & Sons in 2012. They’re returning with a new album this summer, too—just like Mumford & Sons—but their sound appears to be maturing instead of making a drastic shift. Their singles “Crystals” and “I of the Storm” demonstrate incredible control without losing that Arcade Fire-esque theatricality. It is this balance that truly raises my hopes for Beneath the Skin as there were moments in their first album My Head is an Animal that felt a bit forced.
Beneath the Skin seems as if it is aptly titled, then, as what I’ve heard from it so far promises much more natural, soulful, and even personal music.
Cauterize – Tremonti – June 9
Perhaps the most obscure pick on my list, Cauterize is the sophomore effort from metal guitarist Mark Tremonti’s self-titled solo project. Mark Tremonti saw major success as the guitarist of Creed, but he didn’t have the opportunity to display his jaw-dropping skill until he formed the metal band Alter Bridge. Now as both the lead singer and lead guitarist of Tremonti, he’s simply outdone himself.
Tremonti’s first album All I Was brought his speed metal and thrash metal influences to the forefront. Judging from the previews of Cauterize, he seems to be drawing from those genres once again with brutally fast riffs and blisteringly complex solos. This time around, however, he seems to be taking further advantage of his strong hard rock voice by including even more infectious, soaring choruses.
I’ll be seeing Tremonti live on my first weekend of summer vacation, so, that’s probably sufficiently demonstrative of how much I’m looking forward to Cauterize.
The Grand Romantic – Nate Ruess – June 16
Nate Ruess’ work with Fun. showcased him as one of the most distinctive and eccentric voices in pop music in recent memory. Combining unorthodox indie melodies with an impressive range reminiscent of the one-and-only Freddie Mercury, I hope his first solo album The Grand Romantic doesn’t shy away from this characterization.
The first single “Nothing Without Love” is incredibly promising of this notion, letting Ruess’ runs take center stage over a beautiful, tender piano accompaniment. The second single “AhHa” is a bit more jarring at first, but the sheer variety of phrasing and vocal styles is right at home when coming from Ruess. I hope these trends continue for the rest of The Grand Romantic.
These new releases alone will keep me busy during these next three months. Between them and the numerous others that I didn’t include on this list, it sounds like the soundtrack of the summer of 2015 is going to be something to remember for years to come.