Summer is over. It is time for students to get back to the grueling schedule of everyday academia. What better way to alleviate the stress than with music? Most students suffer from stress at some point but do not fear, there is a cure! The remedy is easy listening, and this compilation will give a suggested dosage for individual genre tastes. Many artists produced great albums over the summer, and here are a few.
The eighth solo studio album from American singer-songwriter Andrew Bird was released June 3. The dual melodicism of a violin and a whistle came together as far back as its release date, thus showing promise to the summer’s many anticipated albums. “Things Are Really Great Here, Sort Of…” continues to boast Bird’s signature style while existing as a collection of cover songs from The Handsome Family, some obscure Americana, husband and wife duo from Chicago.
Bird’s album provides a picked-up pacing to some otherwise traditionally slow-played songs, and other songs feature an intense arrangement of instruments with intricate sounds. It is a poetic album full of excellent easy listening melodies.
To completely reach a spectrum of differences in artists, days later, Willie Nelson released his album, “Band of Brothers,” on June 17 through Legacy Recordings.
Needless to say, Nelson continues his artistic intelligence in another entry into the country music genre. As old as the man is, his new album offers newly written pieces that occupy more than half of the album. “Band of Brothers” is traditional in essence, stylistically encompassed with the twang of steel guitar and harmonica, but Nelson manages to keep the arrangements rather poignant and elegant.
To stray from the solo acts, indie-folk band The Antlers released its fifth studio album “Familiars” on June 17, as well. This album is the follow up to its critically successful album “Burst Apart” from 2011. Along the way, The Antlers brought an EP that endeavors into new-age territory with an entry into the rising genre of “dream-pop” with “Undersea.”
The EP was exceptional, and fared well against their more traditional previous albums, however “Familiars” truly manages to encompass the past and present perfectly, and still display new ideas. We find the band at a much more controlled pace with a fluidity of melodies that are utterly brilliant and beautiful. It offers a dramatic vision that had been yet unseen by The Antlers with an album as happy as is sad.
Old Crow Medicine Show
Some larger musical entries came in July with the rise of Tom Petty and Old Crow Medicine Show once again.
On July 1, the Americana string band Old Crow Medicine Show released its album “Remedy.” There have been riffs and harmonies the group has been able to present over the years and this album continues that experience. Sharp jangling of drum-kicks and guitar beats underlie the smashing sounds of mandolin and harmonica.
“Remedy” certainly offers one of the best and creatively well-organized arrangements in this musical line-up and does so with its heavy use of stringed instruments. Old Crow manages to bring the old-fashioned sound back once more.
On July 29, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers ventured back out with its 13th studio album “Hypnotic Eye” to an expansive amount of critical acclaim. The album managed to debut at the number one spot in on the Billboard 200 chart, and it is not hard to understand why.
“Hypnotic Eye” burns with the intense fervor that Petty has presented in his music for years now. Some of the songs are possibly his greatest and have potential to be as memorable as songs from 1989’s “Full Moon Fever.”
Petty has the catching hooks of both guitar bridges and lyrical choruses, which existed in previous recordings, and he still brings the energy of his youth to the forefront in “Hypnotic Eye.”
Lastly, we have the release of the punk-rock country band Lucero. Its new album “Live from Atlanta” was released August 12. Despite being a live-recording of songs from their past albums, it has interestingly enough put the band on tour again. One of their stops on tour will be at Carbondale’s own Hangar 9. This event will be held Sept. 5, and thusly brings this outside acclaim and prestige of a much larger world of music into the microcosm that is Carbondale. The show will cost $15 in advance or $18 at the door, for ages 19 and up. Look forward to that, as it is also a component of the fourth annual Carbondale Rocks Revival music festival.
Jake Saunders can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @saundersfj