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Top Album Picks for Summer 2014

Cassandra Zahran Cassandra Zahran Top Album Picks for Summer 2014
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As the summer sun begins to sunburn our shoulders and sprinkle freckles on our faces, our spirits lift a little higher and everyone seems to carry a particular spring in their step. With the excitement of swimming pools and barbecues, it’s seemingly easy to lose the organic beauty of summer. Too often do I see cut-off shorts that too closely resemble denim-underwear or faux-flower headbands that shower music festivals. It leaves a bitter taste in my mouth when I see the organic beauty of summer dissolve into the looks of an Urban Outfitters catalogue.

As the city of Columbus continues to flourish in the most beautiful of ways, I’m constantly reminded that the city we habitat is passionate in culture. I understand this growth to have been fostered and advanced by the common thread of music. The legendary David Byrne coined the term “Music of Generosity,” meaning sharing for the purpose of sharing. I’ve seen this term of “Music of Generosity” more-so this (2014) summer than I have my entire existence. Music is something that is integrated into our every day lives,  and amid summertime, it certainly has a sweeter taste. The inspiring element is that we are all here to celebrate music together. With the largest community festival (Comfest) having just ended, and mid-summer local festivals creeping around the corner, the support for local music(ians) is sustaining stronger than before.

The outdoor LC starts hosting concerts bi-weekly, thousands of individuals cram into one venue for one common reason. Patios at dive bars fill-up with a hodge-podge of Columbus folk, individuals bumming smokes off one another and chatting about their band’s latest side projects. Columbus begins to feel smaller, and we all continue to develop attachment to this layered musical community of ours. How fortunate are we?

Opinions, personal experience and supportive feedback in respect to the Columbus music scene is encouraging, infectious and vibrantly wide-spread influence between friends, strangers and music enthusiasts. Further, I’ve my asked fellow music cohorts to recount their four favorite records at the moment, the records that are blasting from their turntables during the hot, humid summer days. I set zero limitations, as I found myself eager and excited to enable creative freedom and artistic integrity. And so, I am featuring the these five remarkable Columbus-ers as they share with us what music is vibrating in their ears and inevitably putting a beaming grin on their face.

I bring to you: Lesley James of CD102.5FM, April Kulscar, Angela Perley of Angela Perley and the Howlin’ Moons, Chris Steris and Dallin Stevenson of Turtle Island.

Give them a listen, put a grin on your face.

leslie-jamesLesley James- CD102.5 Radio Personality

The xx – The xx (2009)

This album is a perfect example of ‘less is more.’ It is simple, captivating and may be one of the sexiest albums ever made with the dual lead vocals of Romy and Oliver. It’s a great record for those summer nights relaxing at home or hanging out on a patio with good friends.

J. Roddy Walston & the Business – Essential Tremors (2013)

This album screams summer! It’s a rocker that’s sure to keep one wide awake during long road trips. Make sure your windows are down and the volume is turned up to the max!

Cut Copy – In Ghost Colours (2008)

This is one of my desert island picks. I find myself turning up the volume with each track. It’s a feel good album that will make you want to tap your toes or better yet, shake your hips on the dance floor. It never gets old!

My Morning Jacket – Evil Urges (2008)

When I think of summer, I always think of MMJ and their amazing live shows. I connected with this record from the get go, and from that point I was hooked on all things My Morning Jacket. The band evolved on this fifth studio release; showcasing their love and passion for multiple genres. It’s compelling and enjoyable… even on those hot and humid days!

AprilKulscarjpgApril Kulcsar- Brothers Drake, Booking / Promoting

Lucius – Wildewoman (2013)

Raw and enigmatic talent. The vocal abilities and harmonies between the two leading women are a breath of fresh air in a world where vocals are constantly manipulated on recordings. It’s hard to keep my ears or eyes off these girls. Wildewoman is one of my top two albums to wake up to. It puts you in the mood for a good day, a good life. These songs will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up:  “Go Home” and “How Loud Your Heart Gets”.

O|A|R – The Rockville LP (2014)

As an O.A.R. fan who has remained with the band from their early and most humble days at Ohio State, some might say it’s hard for me to be biased over this new record, but after 18 years O.A.R. has produced their best studio recording yet. Just seven days after the album dropped the band has half their crowds singing every word to the song on their Summer tour. Show me another band pulling that off. The Rockville LP is catchy, feel good music. “Two Hands Up” is a great song to wake up and get moving to, and “I Will Find You” is in my Top 3 favorite songs they’ve ever produced.

Blueprint – Respect The Architect (2014)

Blueprint gets bolder with age. If you, like me and many, are one of his loyalists then you can feel his sense of urgency to express that he knows who he is and the impact he’s had on us, and he’s here to tell the rest of the world it’s time to catch up and Respect. This album is brilliant, period. Buy it. Songs leaving me in awe: “Overdosin,’” “Silver Lining” and “Perspective”.

Angela Perley & The Howlin’ Moons – Hey Kid (2014)

With multiple tracks from this record in regular rotation on CD102.5 FM, Angela Perley is dominating local ears and hearts, rightfully so. Angela’s songwriting is clever, thoughtful and personal which makes it easy to connect to. Opening track “Athens” must be the most beautiful song ever written about Ohio living, and it’s reprise at the end of the record kicks hard as hell, especially when experienced live. Check out Angela’s song writing diversity with “Hurricane” and “Down and Drunk,” this girl sure knows how to deliver any mood you’re seeking.

Angela-PerleyAngela Perley – Angela Perley & The Howlin’ Moons

Nikki Lane – All or Nothin’ (2014)

As far as recent music I have been listening to, I am in love with this new record from Nikki Lane. Every song is perfection. Perfect for road trips, long nights, lounging by the pool, and anything involving whiskey and/or cheap beer. Favorite track= “You Can’t Talk To Me Like That.”

Chrissie Hynde – Stockholm (2014)

There is only one Chrissie Hynde. I have been rocking this new record a lot lately. Love her laid back swagger and lyrics. Favorite summer track = “Dark Sunglasses.”

AC/DC – High Voltage (1976)

Sometimes you just want to rage and this record always does that for me. I grew up with my dad blasting this record wherever we went. I feel like it just gets better every time I listen to it. A record meant for blasting… literally every song is a rock single…

Lana Del Rey –  Ultraviolence (2014)

Probably the newest record on this list but it fulfills my darker and dreamier side of summer. “West Coast” is for sure my summer guilty pleasure song right now. Makes me want to take pictures of birds, pick flowers, and dance in slow motion.

ChrisSterisChris Steris- Bummers / A&R Bar Manager

Mac Demarco – 2 (2012)

This guy has a knack for catchy hooks and great guitar tone. There is something about the production that has this 1980’s Miami Beach vibe and I find myself having a new favorite song off this album every time I listen. I either want to make out to this album or listen to it on vacation.

Parquet CourtsSunbathing Animals (2014)

It’s like The Strokes and Pavement had a four-headed child named Parquet Courts, and I want to adopt it. I was introduced to these guys some months ago and I can’t get their catchy riffs and in your face melodies out of my head. The drummer and bassist flow together in a way I haven’t heard since the New York bands of the early 2000’s. Bump this album.

Future Islands – In Evening Air (2010)

Why didn’t these guys blow up years ago? Future Islands took everything that I loved about 80’s synth pop and made it better. You then add Samuel Herrings voice and you have this genre of music that no one has ever heard before. Listening to this album gives me flash backs to the first time I saw them live and I never want that memory to fade. I promise if you listen to the album you will be dancing like Herring in no time.

Jacuzzi Boys – No Seasons (2009)

I get pissed off every time I listen to “No Seasons”. I am so damn frustrated that I didn’t write this album. It pulls from every single influence that I pull from when trying to create. Bottom line is I am a sucker for reverb and garage rock, plain and simple. If you feel the same way I do, Jacuzzi Boys bring that shiz.

DallinStevensonDallin Stevenson – Turtle Island

Connan Mockasin – Forever Dolphin Love (2010)

This album is the perfect blend between esotericism and guiltily pleasurable pop. Questionably catchy atonal riffs and unknown textures create the choice companion to cure and confuse the mind that’s already spun backwards by the swampy Ohio heat. My (current) favorite tracks are the 10 minute opus that is the title track, Forever Dolphin Love, and the psychedelic and potentially sexual tune, It’s Choade My Dear.

Panda Bear – Young Prayer (2004)

This album intrigues me on so many levels beyond just the music. Albums with powerful archetypical themes or highly personal stories seem to get to me on a whole new level and this incorporates both. Songs were written to Lennox’s dying father and performed to him in the last weeks of his life. After his passing he recorded the tracks in the very same room that his father passed in. The album lacks in track names as it’s supposed to be listened start to finish and admittedly that’s how I prefer to listen. A great album for early mornings or late late nights or when you’re feeling sapped and introspective.

Tobacco – Ultima II Massage (2014)

The frighteningly anonymous front man from Black Moth Super Rainbow’s album just came out. Aptly named, the album is comparable to receiving a massage from a cross dressing escaped convict. Their strong hands give quite the satisfying massage, but you still can’t get it out of your head that you’re receiving a massage from quite the disturbing individual. Weird way to put it I guess… but honest to god, that’s how it makes you feel. My favorite tracks are Father Sister Berzerker and Streaker. 

The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses (1989)

I had to put this on the list as it’s a definite classic. A precursor to shoegaze and my favorite alternative music of the 90’s, this 1987 release sounds years ahead of it’s time. Seriously. I recently picked up a vinyl repress of this and it’s made it’s way back into my daily listening. I want to pick out my choice tracks but this album shines through as incredible from start to finish. As with all the aforementioned albums,  the undeniable pop and the shimmering moments of eclectic genius make the album damn near perfect in my taste.

CassandraZahranCassandra Zahran – Columbus Underground Music Reviewer

Ty Segall – Goodbye Bread (2011)

Truthfully, I could’ve listed any Ty Segall record: Twins, Melted or Sleeper. The man is a rock ‘n’ roll god. While maintaining his garage-rock, post-punk roots, Ty Segall took a sedated approach to Goodbye Bread. The record is relatively placid, accompanied with uncut, exhaustive guitar solo’s that make you lose any sense of control. I’ll casually slip on the record at a bonfire or gathering and watch as Ty Segall slowly intoxicate the scene. I see my friends tapping their foot and having personal rock-out sessions while offhand chatter fills the space. The first track, “Goodbye Bread,” is all it takes for you to fall long and hard for Ty.

Animal Collective – Feels (2005)

I asked a buddy of mine what his favorite record of all time was, and after much thought and indecisive banter, he answered with, “I can’t answer that, but I can tell you that my favorite track of all time is Banshee Beat.” The lyrics of the sixth track on the record is the embodiment of a summer bursting with youth. My mind drifts in thoughts about heartache, seeking new adventure and discovering beauty in just about everything and everyone I set my eyes on. Although, I myself, cannot pick a favorite album of all time, Feels makes me feel and feel and feel until my eyes are glazed over with tears. Such beauty held within every grove of the record.

The War on Drugs – Lost in the Dream (2014)

After taking a trip up to the infamous Grog Shop in Cleveland, Ohio, I witnessed one of my favorite shows of all time. Standing in the very front row, I shut my eyes for the entirety of the set and danced like Molly Ringwald in Sixteen Candles. With a tasteful combination of 80s synth pop and Americana Rock, The War on Drugs released one of the most critically-acclaimed albums of 2014. I partook in such a pure, carefree experience, something I think about every time I spin the record.

Mutual Benefit – Love’s Crushing Diamond (2013)

Maybe it’s because I’ll be seeing Mutual Benefit in a matter of weeks at Pitchfork Music Festival, or the fact this record is one of the most effortlessly romantic albums I’ve heard in a while, I’ve had Love’s Crushing Diamond on repeat for months now. Jordan Lee, the Columbus native, vulnerably shares his experiences with loss, confusion and defenselessness in his folk oriented, orchestrally diverse record. With second track “Golden Awake” leading into “Advanced Falconry,” I realized all of the tears I haven’t shed this past decade were surrendered when I listened to this record. I enjoyed this cathartic release.

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