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21 New Albums To Get Obsessed With This Summer: BUST Playlist

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It's finally summertime, and along with packing up your bag for the beach, it's also the perfect time of year to update your playlists as well. Here's a list of 21 new albums BUST is listening to this summer, featuring Gorillaz, Blondie, Feist, Pom Poms and more.

 

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Feist albumart

FEIST
Pleasure
(Interscope/Universal/Music Group)


FEIST IS BACK – and her first album since 2011’s Metals is an agonizing and thrilling experience, appropriately titled Pleasure. While it takes some sonic cues from early ’90s minimalist grunge (the fuzzy, chagrined “Lost Dreams” channels Dry-era PJ Harvey), it’s unmistakably Leslie Feist at her most vulnerable-yet-assured. Compared with her clean, more commercial output of the late-aughts, Pleasure is an album that wears dirt and scars with pride. Every song is prismatic with feeling – a crescendo from sorrow to fury will ebb back down to exhausted resignation, sometimes within 30 seconds. Like a rough crystal, Pleasure is raw, yet brilliantly multifaceted. It’s Feist’s best work yet. (Listen here) (5/5 BUST rating) – MAURA HEHIR

 

Lauren Barth

LAUREN BARTH
Forager
(Horton)


Think of Forager as the 2017 version of a classic “on the road” story. Lauren Barth’s spitfire debut features the Tulsa-based singer/songwriter following dusty Americana highways with a curious spirit, like Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty kicking around the country to see what they could see. From the galloping, rootsy folk-blues of “Want It Back” and “Mama Don’t Cry,” to the stunning “City High” – a whiskey bar waltz if ever there was one – Barth so perfectly captures the experience of searching for something and nothing all at once, you’ll feel like you’re wandering toward the horizon right along with her. (Listen here) (4/5 BUST rating) – MOLLIE WELLS

 

Blondie

BLONDIE
Pollinator
(BMG)


Blondie’s back, with a little help from their friends. Their new (11th!) album, Pollinator, is a series of collaborations with other writers, including Sia, Johnny Marr, Dave Sitek (TV On The Radio), Nick Valensi (the Strokes), Charli XCX, and Laurie Anderson. There’s the poppy “When I Gave Up On You,” the epic “Fragments,” the danceable “Fun,” and the nostalgic “Long Time,” with its “Heart of Glass” sample. Joan Jett even chimes in on “Doom Or Destiny.” Debbie Harry’s iconic lyrics and vocals are as alluring as ever, and Pollinator is proof that the original Blondie is back in full force. (Listen here) (4/5 BUST rating) – MICHAEL LEVINE

 

Benjamin Booker

BENJAMIN BOOKER
Witness
(ATO)


In a statement published prior to Witness’ release, Benjamin Booker said the album was inspired by processing racism, and a James Baldwin quote about bearing witness to the truth. This would be an ambitious project for an artist at any stage in their career; as the blues/garage rocker’s second studio album, it’s deeply impressive. On Witness, Booker shares his truth on relationships (“Truth is Heavy”), dreams (“Believe”), and the black experience in America (“Witness,” featuring Mavis Staples). Delivered in Booker’s signature rasp, and spanning a variety of traditionally black genres, from blues to soul to rock ‘n’ roll, this is one of 2017’s most essential albums. (5/5 BUST rating) – LIZ GALVAO

 

Beth Ditto

BETH DITTO
Fake Sugar
(Virgin)


After performing for over 15 years as the lead vocalist of the Gossip, Fake Sugar is her debut album as a solo artist, but there’s nothing fake about it; Ditto digs in to her personal history to find inspiration for these dance-rock tracks, showcasing her range as an artist. She embraces Southern-rock on “Fire” and “Oo La La” (Ditto’s originally from small town-Arkansas), belts it out on ’80s-inspired power ballads “Oh My God” and “We Could Run,” and brings it home on the romantic “Love in Real Life.” The highlight, as always, are Ditto’s unmistakable, gravel-tinged vocals. (Listen here) (4/5 BUST rating) – LIZ GALVAO

 

Tica Douglas

TICA DOUGLAS
Our Lady Star of the Sea Help and Protect Us
(Team Love)


If Tica Douglas’ last album, 2014’s Joey, was about a turbulent coming-of-age, then the binary singer’s latest focuses on the skepticism of adulthood. Doubt is the running theme for Douglas, who is getting a masters in divinity, and brings that spiritual curiosity to “Death Comes In Threes,” a philosophical meditation on loss. Semi-optimistic strummer “The Same Thing” urges individualism, while horn-laden “I Won’t Lie” builds to a reluctant crescendo. Douglas is a hopeful cynic who knows finding truth isn’t easy, but proves that writing thoughtfully about the search for it can be rewarding. (Listen here) (4/5 BUST rating) – SHANNON CARLIN

 

Mac DeMarco

MAC DEMARCO
This Old Dog
(Captured Tracks)


Like a good neighbor, Mac DeMarco’s indie drawl is there. But, unlike most neighbors, he’ll ask you to sit on his porch, light up a Viceroy, and talk about the extinction of dinosaurs. His new album, This Old Dog, is similarly familiar. The first single “My Old Man,” starts out strong, a mature, nostalgic, and slightly fearful song about aging. But the rest of the album returns to DeMarco’s old ways, and tracks like “Baby You’re Out” aren’t nearly as exciting. This Old Dog will make DeMarco’s many fans happy, but it’s doubtful to bring in new converts. (Listen here) (3/5 BUST rating) – CLAIRE MCKINZIE

 

Descartes A Kant

DESCARTES A KANT
Victims of Love Propaganda
(Cleopatra)


If Descartes a Kant isn’t avant-garde, then nothing is. Combining a compelling range of styles, the Mexican band’s latest album, Victims of Love Propaganda, is a visceral, romantic rallying cry. Alternating between the sickly sweet tone of a little girl and the fierce scream of a woman not-to-be-fucked-with, lead singer Daphne’s vocals flip the middle finger to the conventional. “Motion Picture Dream Boy” is a wild ride of a song that journeys through surf, cabaret, and noise rock, keeping listeners on their toes. Zany, eclectic, and very loud, this crazy album is certainly not for the tame – but it might be for you. (Listen here) (3/5 BUST rating) – HOLIDAY BLACK

 

Chastity Belt

CHASTITY BELT
I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone
(Hardly Art)


I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone is filled with the twinkling arpeggios and genuine female camaraderie that fans have come to expect from indie rockers Chastity Belt. Julia Shapiro’s vocals sometimes seem hazy, and the songs here often sound jaded, as on “Complain.” The music video for the oscillating, washed-out single “Different Now” features footage of the band on a foggy beach, referencing Temple of the Dog’s 1991 hit “Hunger Strike.” Like the video, this whole album is steeped in nostalgia, looking back on how things have changed, with a sense of humor. (Listen here) (4/5 BUST rating) – MARY KINNEY

 

Delia Gonzalez

DELIA GONZALEZ
Horse Follows Darkness
(DFA)


Musician and multi-disciplinary artist Delia Gonzalez takes us on a journey west on her new record, Horse Follows Darkness. Gonzalez, a Cuban-American artist who recently moved back to New York City from Berlin, has a unique outsider perspective on American history and culture, and it comes through in her music. These five sprawling, instrumental, electronic tracks were inspired by an unlikely source: Western movie soundtracks from the 1960s to the present, and the revisionist themes of those films. Each song tells a story and sets a mood, whether eerie and spooky (“Horse Follows Darkness”), uptempo and roaming (“Hidden Song”), or suspenseful and tension-building (“Vesuvius). (Listen here) (3/5 BUST rating) – LIZ GALVAO

 

Helium

HELIUM
Ends With And
(Matador)


A companion record to the recent Helium LP reissues, Ends With And is a collection of singles, compilation appearances, demos, and rarities from one of the most underrated guitar bands of the ’90s. From the fuzzed out, Valium-dosed pop of the band’s first EP, Pirate Prude, to the medieval indie rock of Magic City, this is essential listening for Helium fans. The woozy distortion of early tracks like “Baby Vampire Made Me” or “Superball” will always be favorites, but newly released Magic City outtakes like “The Dragon #1,” with its NES-game vibe, will delight longtime fans and intrigue new ones. (Listen here) (4/5 BUST rating) – KRYSTLE MILLER

 

Jessica Hernandez

JESSICA HERNANDEZ & THE DELTAS
Telephone/Telefono
(Dead Owl Music/Instant)


Jessica Hernandez has the kind of seductive, affecting voice that, heard once, is impossible to forget. With Telephone, Hernandez and her band the Deltas embark on an ambitious dual release of the same 11 songs in English and in Spanish (Telefono). What follows are tidy pop numbers that could be from any number of female artists – and therein lies the problem. The production criminally masks Hernandez’s roaring alto. Thankfully, the sassy “Oh No,” fantastic “Hot to Trot,” (featuring zombies!) and scintillating “Hummingbird” are bright spots. While Telephone is not as memorable as their other works, Hernandez and her Deltas remain a force to be reckoned with. (3/5 BUST rating) – CAMILLE COLLINS

 

Gorillaz

GORILLAZ
Humanz
(Parlophone)


On Gorillaz’s fifth studio album, Humanz, the animated rock stars bring a fresh take to their classic formula. There’s always been a heavy hip-hop influence in Gorillaz’s work, but on Humanz, it’s pleasantly overstated. Vince Staples adds some solid bars to the Outkast-ish “Ascension,” while the legendary De La Soul bless “Momentz.” Even music’s IT guy D.R.A.M. checks in, on the house-sounding “Andromeda.” And most impressively, the almighty genre-bending queen Grace Jones shows up on the amplified “Charger.” The sum of its parts is what makes Humanz so brilliant, as the cartoon Gorillaz deliver yet another classic to the real world. (Listen here) (5/5 BUST rating) – KATHY IANDOLI

 

Aldous Harding

ALDOUS HARDING
Party
(4AD)


On the romantic “What If Birds Aren’t Singing, They’re Screaming?” Aldous Harding poses the song’s title as a question. It’s grim, she admits, but this oddly amusing insight is to be expected on Party, her sophomore album. The New Zealand-based singer/songwriter’s tender, folk-driven observations on life exist somewhere between Kate Bush and Sufjan Stevens. “Blend” is a spooky story of casual stalking, while “Horizon” is a raw take on desire. On “Imagining My Man,” Harding admits that her dream guy isn’t always a dream, but in time she could love his peculiarities. Luckily, you won’t need much time to fall in love with this album. (Listen here) (5/5 BUST rating) – SHANNON CARLIN

 

Girlpool

GIRLPOOL
Powerplant
(Anti-)


There’s something strikingly nostalgic about Girlpool’s Powerplant. Maybe it’s the subject matter, or maybe it’s the welcome addition of drums to the two-guitar-two-vocalist L.A. duo that will make you want to grab your best bud by the hand and drive into the sunset. On the band’s second full-length album, Girlpool explores themes of friendship, existential angst, and romantic relationships, their voices working together in a beautiful and ever-so-slightly imperfect harmony. Although it’s hard to name a favorite song, “Fast Dust” is a great slow burner about yearning for a new life chapter. Maybe that’s the thing about Powerplant that’s so refreshing: it’s hopeful. (Listen here) (5/5 BUST rating) – EMILIE VON UNWERTH

 

Perfume Genius

PERFUME GENIUS
No Shape
(Matador)


Oh his third release as Perfume Genius, chamber pop artist Mike Hadreas blends together lo-fi electro-pop, retro balladry, bluesy soul, and snippets of other genres into a lush and layered listening experience. His tremendously expressive voice is what sets the mood for every moment. It’s sultry and seductive at time, as on “Sides,” where it blends into gorgeous harmonies with guest vocals from Weyes Blood. At other times, it’s exposed and vulnerable, as on “Choir,” which features trembling spoken word juxtaposed with a haunting string arrangement. With No Shape, Hadreas takes listeners on a journey through dizzying dreamlike, and spellbinding soundscapes. (Listen here) (4/5 BUST rating) – CINDY YOGMAS

 

Joan Shelley

JOAN SHELLEY
Joan Shelley
(No Quarter)


Kentucky-based folk artist Joan Shelley is known for her pared-down sound, just her vocals and acoustic guitar. But on her fifth, self-titled album, Shelley brings in other musicians, including her friend Jeff Tweedy from Wilco. The result is a fuller range of sound, provoking a greater range of emotion. On “We’d Be Home,” Shelley sings bittersweetly, “If you were made for me, then we’d be home.” On album standout “The Push and Pull,” Shelley sings over backing guitar and percussion about a relationship going nowhere. The sorrow in Shelley’s voice and lyrics makes this album appealing, especially on those days when sad songs are just right. (Listen here) (4/5 BUST rating) – ADRIENNE URBANSKI

 

Wavves

WAVVES’
You’re Welcome
(Ghost Ramp)


Wavves’ new album You’re Welcome, feels like a middle finger to the man from Nathan Williams, the singer/songwriter behind the SoCal pop-punk project. After 2015’s clean, darkly hooky V, Wiliams openly said he did not enjoy working with a major label. You’re Welcome is decidedly non-commercial, more lo-fi than Wavves’ sound has been in years, and is influenced by unexpected sources. “Million Enemies” calls to mind Devo and the Knack, while “Come to the Valley” has the whimsy of a full-blown Brian Wilson phase. Long-term fans will find plenty to like in tracks like “Animal” and “Daisy.” Wavves delivers, even when challenging us. (3/5 BUST rating) – LIZ GALVAO

 

Pom Poms

POM POMS
Turn You Out
(MAKE)

L.A. garage-rock band Pom Poms knows how to write one hell of a riff – their scuzzy guitars, teamed with catchy choruses, give their “shoegaze pop” a bite of the blues. With lyrics covering love, loss, and everything in-between, frontwoman Marlene Gold conveys a retro swagger, full of salt and sass with a vulnerable, relatable edge. Single “Gimme You” is a slow-burning earworm with snappy percussion, crackling crescendos, and subtle, sultry vocals, while opener “Go Go” is a rough-and-ready introduction to a band hell-bent on getting your feet moving. The Pom Poms are a welcome blast from the punk past. (Listen here) (4/5 BUST rating) – SAMMY MAINE

 

She Devils

SHE-DEVILS
She-Devils
(Secretly Canadian)


Montreal’s Audrey Anne Boucher and Kyle Jukka built She-Devils from the ground up – Boucher didn’t know how to sing or play guitar at the time of the band’s inception. Their self-titled debut album is full of dreamy, romantic tracks perfect for a ’60s luau. Opener “Come” paves the way for these fun and swoony tracks, while “Blooming” invokes Dirty Dancing. “Make You Pay” is a vicious ode from a lover scorned, and be sure to listen for the xylophone and wind-chime elements in “Hey Boy.” Finally, “Buffalo” cherry-tops this freshman album, a beautiful last song from another time. (Listen here) (4/5 BUST rating) – WHITNEY DWIRE

 

Daddy Issues

DADDY ISSUES
Deep Dream
(Infinity Cat Recordings)


Fans of grunge are sure to love Deep Dream. On their second full-length album, Daddy Issues successfully pays homage to the genre with attitude and warped guitars while never sounding inauthentic. Indeed, all 10 tracks on the Nashville pop band’s latest record are excellent, and often, lyrically memorable, like when vocalist Jenna Moynihan calmly sings, “I hope you choke on your own spit in your own bed,” on “Dog Years.” Even their “Boys of Summer” cover is fresh, coloring a normally upbeat song with darkness. With an album this notable and impressive, it would be a mistake not to check out Deep Dream. (Listen here) (5/5 BUST rating) – KATHRYN HENSCH

TOP PHOTO CREDIT: MARY ROZZI

This article originally appeared in the June/July 2017 print edition of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today!

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