The end of summer is when the weather adversely turns for San Francisco, getting slightly warmer during the day and getting cooler in the evenings. My work schedule had me working some mornings and some evenings during the week…and I found myself not really bothered by that as I’d thought? Considering the closeness of the Day Job and the lack of mental and emotional burnout, I realized I could get away with adjusting by the week with whatever creative work I had on hand…whether it was journaling, writing, or just posting on one of my blogs, I didn’t feel any stress. And that, I think, was a very good sign.
Ducks Ltd (feat. Jane Inc), “In Between Days” single, released 2 August. A sunny and straight-ahead cover of the classic Cure tune that tones down the original’s bounciness but maintains its summery sheen.
Cheekface, Too Much to Ask, released 2 August. “We Need a Bigger Dumpster” was definitely my Song of the Summer. I mean, as a Gen-Xer I can only laugh and carry on living despite the world going up in flames, right? The entire album is full of deadpan goofiness and it’s a super fun listen.
Art Moore, Art Moore, released 5 August. Moody dreampop mixed with a lonely alt-folk sound that comes across a little bit like Beach House mixed with Sharon Van Etten, but that’s not a bad thing. The whole album is a pleasant and relaxing listen.
Erasure, Day-Glo (Based On a True Story), released 12 August. The duo takes tracks from their 2020 album The Neon, reconstructs them, and creates an altogether new and surprisingly experimental record in the process. It just goes to show that Andy Bell and Vince Clarke are brilliant songwriters.
Sylvan Esso, No Rules Sandy, released 12 August. Their albums have always been full of quirky and catchy dancepop, and while this one is no different, it’s even more leftfield than usual. No rules indeed.
Kasabian, The Alchemist’s Euphoria, released 12 August. Their first album in five years (and the first after former singer Tom Meighan’s departure, with guitarist Serge Pizzorno taking his place) sees the band going in an altogether different direction, away from its fuzzy post-punk and further into danceable alt-rock. It’s definitely an unexpected direction for them, but they pull it off perfectly.
Collective Soul, Vibrating, released 12 August. This 90s band is still going strong years later, and the new record shows they can still write great rock-out tunes and lovely ballads.
Hot Chip, Freakout/Release, released 19 August. “Down” is firmly in my top five favorite songs of the year, and their new album is high up there as well. They’ve always been just that little bit weird and embracing their inherent nerdiness, but the difference this time out is that this new album goes well beyond that. It’s hard, twitchy, and even a bit dark.
Silversun Pickups, Physical Thrills, released 19 August. Many bands released what was their ‘pandemic’ record over the last year or so, and the theme for theirs is about the desolation of being apart and finding alternate ways to connect to our loved ones. It alternates between deeply sad moments and tense irritation and the end result is amazing.
Royksopp, Profound Mysteries II, released 19 August. The second of three albums from this great electronic band sees them looking back to the influences of their youth, giving the record a very 80s synthwave sound. All three albums are highly recommended.
Karate, Guns & Tanning, “Enchanter” single, released 23 August. This band is one of my favorite new finds of the year (and yes, it was found on KEXP), their sound borrowing heavily from the classic wall-of-sound shoegaze of the 90s and the moodier post-punk of the 80s while still sounding fresh. A band to watch for.
Blondie, Against the Odds: 1974-1982, released 26 August. I grew up with this band always playing somewhere on the radio, yet I never quite got around to listening to them any deeper than their well-known singles. They dropped an eight-disc box set this year featuring all of their classic 70s and early 80s albums including two discs of demos. I look forward to finally giving this one a thorough listen!
Duncan Sheik, Claptrap, released 26 August. I’ve been a fan since his 1996 debut, as he’s a fantastic and very underrated songwriter. He’s been busy with stage and musical work as of late, but it’s great to see him back with a new album after so long!
Altered Images, Mascara Streakz, released 26 August. Speaking of classic bands returning after far too long, this group was best known for their bubblegummy pop in the early 80s and their unexpected return was welcomed by may longtime fans.
UNKLE, Ronin II, released 31 August. James Lavelle returns for a second Ronin volume that’s not quite tied in with the original and not quite a remix album either. As with most UNKLE albums, it’s moody and adventurous, and well worth a listen.
Coming tomorrow: September tunage!