It’s probably safe to say that we’ve never looked forward to summer as much as we have in 2020. This summer will differ from summers past, but we’ll appreciate it more, as paused options are added back to our menu: shopping, restaurant dining, beaches and parks. The tourism industry will take longer to recover, but we’ve become tourists of our own neighborhoods, taking advantage of whatever bike route, forest walk or pedestrian-only city street that we can find.
Two of this year’s ten tracks come from albums we’ve covered in recent months, joined by eight discoveries from EPs and albums new or upcoming. Together they sing of the season that awaits. We hope they lift your spirits and fill your hearts with hope!
Olan Mill ~ Reconstructing Nature (Bigo & Twigetti)
The Perceptions album is unfolding slowly but surely, with two singles every three weeks leading to a full release on September 3. Olan Mill’s “Reconstructing Nature” is the opener, a bridge from staying indoors to roaming the meadows and fields.
Juliana Barwick ~ Inspirit (Ninja Tune)
We’re finding it difficult to separate our excitement about summer from our excitement about Juliana Barwick’s upcoming album Healing Is A Miracle, set for release on July 10. We were already fans, and then she went and recruited Jónsi, Nosaj Thing and Mary Lattimore as well. Now it’s our top pick for Album of the Season, and we’ve only heard one glorious track!
Polypores ~ Warm Currents (Castles in Space)
We loved Castles In Space’s massive project The Isolation Tapes, and on June 26 the label returns with Polypores’ Azure, a follow-up to the artist’s well-received Flora. This gentle piece is like relaxing like floating ~ in or out of an actual float ~ and letting the warm currents steal one’s cares away.
Southern Shores ~ Saes (Cascine)
Taken from the EP Siena (Part 1), “Saes” is a two-minute track that opens with an exhalation akin to Primal Scream’s “Loaded.” “I like living here because I get to do exactly what I want, when I want!” Another voice answers, “I really feel free for the first time … I’m not scared anymore.” Won’t it be wonderful to experience these times again?
Aukai ~ Akal Ki
A super-early taste of the album Game Trails (set for release on August 28), “Akal Ki” not only produces a feeling of reverence for nature, it sounds like the artist’s name! We’ve already heard the whole album and can’t wait for the general public to hear it too.
Past Palms ~ Rainwater
The artist calls his Vernal EP “music to water plants to,” but when there’s rainwater, one can give the hose a break. The EP was released on the first day of spring, but its last track and lead single draws a straight line to summer. This is the artist’s second year in a row on this list!
Rone ~ Ginkgo Biloba (InFiné)
Room With a View was released in April, and shone as a bright light in the middle of lockdown. While listening, one can imagine children playing and grown-ups laughing under bright blue skies. “Ginkgo Biloba” is the cheeriest of many such pieces.
Inventions ~ Hints and Omens (Temporary Residence Ltd.)
Continuous Portrait is one of many albums whose physical distribution is still forthcoming (July 10) but whose digital presence has already been causing a stir. This enormously positive record combines the forces of Eluvium and a member of Explosions in the Sky, but sounds like nothing you’d expect. Horns and a squeaky toy feature strongly in the opening track.
Greg Foat ~ Symphonie Pacifique (Strut)
That is one gorgeous summer cover, which is why we’ve chosen the art of this upcoming album (July 3) as our featured image. This jazz pianist lives in London, but his release coincides with Independence Day in the States. “Symphonie Pacifique” is the title track.
Sam Prekop ~ Summer Places (Thrill Jockey)
Comma won’t be out until August 21, but this early taste of the album finds the airways just in time. “Summer Places” reminds us of the joy of good friends, relaxing drinks, the sea and cake (wink!). Here’s wishing our own summer places are as ebullient as this.