Top 10 best summer albums
10. “Canal & Richvale” – D-Pryde
Filipino-Canadian rapper Russell Llantino, or D-Pryde, made his mark in the rap scene with enormous Internet buzz. Fans who remember young Pryde spitting bars on YouTube Cyphers have now borne witness to two of his biggest solo projects, “MARS” and “Flagship.” Presenting a short EP may be an underwhelming setup to a third full-length project, but D-Pryde delivers dark, introspective tracks alongside radio-friendly bangers. Hip-hop fans should keep their eyes peeled on this up-and-coming artist.
Listen to: “Lifted,” “Nightmare” and “Chinatown.”
9. “Demi” – Demi Lovato
The pop artist has matured and much of that has flawlessly seeped into this album. The pop and rock themes on “Demi” are strong, and it’s no wonder why radio stations have played “Heart Attack” all summer. It also helps to note that Lovato doesn’t hold back on addressing some of her past demons in this project. Alongside artists like Selena Gomez and Taylor Swift, Lovato is an artist who brings beauty and importance to her songs through past struggles.
Listen to: “Heart Attack,” “Neon Lights,” “Never Been Hurt” and “Fire Starter.”
8. “The Universe Made of Darkness” – Tesla Boy
People who find Michael Jackson songs a thriller may want to lend their ears to Tesla Boy, a Russian new wave band, and its recent full-length LP released in May. “The Universe Made of Darkness” screams ’80s funk-pop. The album is filled with distinctive, heavily present drums that guide along melodic sounds and old-school synthesizers. Coupled with some electronic and atmospheric synths, Tesla seems to be one of the most slept-on bands that plays still today. Toro Y Moi and STRFKR fans are sure to appreciate this gem.
Listen to: “M.C.H.T.E,” “Split” and “Stars.”
7. “Collapsible Lung” – Relient K
Don’t be fooled by Relient K’s pull away from their punk-rock roots, nor lay concerns on the length of their new album “Collapsible Lung.” The band offers some great experimentation with guitar sounds and eclectic amount of deep lyricism throughout. Their switch to incorporate a pop-rock sound in this album should be praised for its well-driven, beautifully written song choices. Relient K has shown improved wisdom when composing.
Listen to: “Don’t Blink,” “Boomerang,” “If I Can Take You Home” and “Sweeter.”
6. “Paracosm” – Washed Out
After listening to “Paracosm,” you’ll feel like you traveled back to the 1970s. A giant step up from “Within and Without,” the album sounds like a huge psychedelic rollercoaster ride, filled with sensual chords, hip-hop drums and cloudy vocal effects by Ernest Greene. The album’s song transitions are seamless. Its production is top-notch and provides an atmosphere that listeners can get lost in.
Listen to: “It All Feels Right,” “All I Know,” “Paracosm” and “Weightless.”
5. “Nanda Collection” – Kyary Pamyu Pamyu
If you need a good reason for why Japanese pop artist Kyary Pamyu Pamyu should be mentioned, go to YouTube and search her name — any video will do. One glance at her aesthetic, and you’ll see that her repertoire is cute but weird. After a huge success with “Pamyu Pamyu Revolution,” Kyary has become an international artist who has broken through the language barrier and managed to appeal to everyone. “Nanda Collection” features repetitive melodies, chiptune sounds and high-octane dance tracks. Under the genius production of Yasutaka Nakata, every song is fun, brilliantly structured and downright addicting.
Listen to: “Invader Invader,” “Fashion Monster” and “Furisodeshon.”
4. “Random Access Memories” – Daft Punk
The entire album is filled with sultry electronic sounds that make you want to either hit the dance floor or isolate yourself and get away from it all. “Random Access Memories” is sonically astounding, dreamlike and full of messages and out-of-this-world imagery. Alongside Pharrell Williams, the two-man crew definitely had some influence from Sade and Above and Beyond while composing this album, but it remained their own stylistically. The fusion between dance-pop and jazz has never sounded better.
Listen to: “Lose Yourself to Dance,” “The Game of Love,” “Get Lucky” and “Doin’ it Right.”
3. “Born Sinner” – J. Cole
“Born Sinner” has taught listeners that there are both good and bad sides to the spoils of fame. Despite some disjointedness and a moderate lack of flair, the album’s production and the features from TLC, Jhené Aiko and Kendrick Lamar are pretty solid. Cole is a great storyteller and a fine lyricist, but he needs to bring more energy. This solid album deserves a place in your “summer jams” playlist.
Listen to: “Runaway,” “Forbidden Fruit,” “Let Nas Down,” “Born Sinner” and “New York Times.”
2. “Magna Carta Holy Grail” – Jay-Z
The always-confident and always-prominent Jay-Z put out a great summer rap album. Alongside wittily arrogant verses, the themes of faith and slavery pervade the album, and Hov let listeners get inside his head. The production on some of these tracks is to die for, which begs the question of whether an instrumental version of the album will be released.
Listen to: “Picasso Baby,” “Oceans,” “Heaven,” “La Familia” and “Nickel and Dimes.”
1. “Watching Movies with the Sound Off” – Mac Miller
Lyrically, sonically and aesthetically, Rostrum Records’ Mac Miller has improved more than any other rapper who released a project this summer. That’s saying a lot, but don’t forget to also credit him for his hand on the beat production, which is a talent to behold by itself. “Watching Movies with the Sound Off” sounds nothing like the cheesy rap artist we’ve heard countless times before. Miller brings everything together with some of his best lines, harboring an introspective take on his latest challenges as well as giving listeners an itch for grandiloquent wordplay.
Listen to: “I’m Not Real,” “S.D.S” “Objects in the Mirror,” “Red Dot Music” and “Aquarium.”