Listening Ahead: Upcoming Music Releases for June 2015

Catch an early glimpse of new albums from Jamie xx, Sun Kil Moon, and Hudson Mohawke.

June’s release calendar sets up nicely for the summer, offering plenty of worthy candidates for your soundtrack of the season, be it standout efforts from production whizzes Jamie xx and Hudson Mohawke or the dramatic pop of Florence + the Machine. Just as eagerly awaited are intriguing new works by critical favorites following up career high-water-marks, namely Sun Kil Moon’s Universal Themes and Miguel’s Wildheart. It’s also a month highlighted by new releases from musical icons as wide ranging as Giorgio Moroder, Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard, and Neil Young.


Artist: Jamie xx

Album: In Colour

Label: Young Turks

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June 2
Jamie xx
In Colour

Few contemporary acts have been so consistent in articulating a single, consistent vibe and artistic vision as the xx have, and producer/percussionist Jamie Smith has had a big hand in creating that distinctive identity. But in striking out on his own, Smith (better known as Jamie xx) has opened up a more vibrant diverse musical profile on the aptly named In Colour: Compared to the xx’s slow-burning black-and-white aesthetic, In Colour is brightly hued thanks to Smith’s polyglot tastes for melodic elements and deft touch with textures and rhythms. That shift reveals itself on Smith’s collabs with his xx mates, which bear a family resemblance to the group’s work just with the drama and energy turned up a few notches, especially noticeable on “Seesaw” as Romy Madley Croft’s familiar vocals are complemented by a brisker beats and a more kinetic feel. Indeed, In Colour‘s play with contrasts really stands out, like the way the opener “Gosh” balances out bottomed-out, almost menacing bass pulses with a whimsical, shuffling rhythm or how the patient “Loud Places” breaks open when its choir-like vocal treatments add an element of soul. It’s an album that has space for the vacuum-sealed dub experimentation of “Sleep Sound” and the jubilant harmonizing of “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)”, at the top of the shortlist for song of the summer if only for the camaraderie forged between Smith and guests Popcaan and Young Thug. Yet as much as everything that’s happening on In Colour, what’s most impressive about it is Jamie xx’s ability to synthesize it all with a steady and still hand, which is something that brings to mind his main gig.


Artist: Sun Kil Moon

Album: Universal Themes

Label: Caldo Verde

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June 2
Sun Kil Moon
Universal Themes

With the almost metaphysical implications of the title Universal Themes, you might be expecting that Mark Kozelek has come up with a different kind of album from last year’s Benji, one that’s more concerned with the big picture rather than the day-to-day details that made Sun Kil Moon’s 2014 work so fascinating and compelling. Instead, the naming of Universal Themes might a bit of misdirection from Kozelek, since his latest seems to pick up where Benji‘s stream-of-consciousness memoir left off — heck, there are even cameos from his friend Ben Gibbard. On Universal Themes, Kozelek’s first-person narration is as searching as ever, tracking what’s going on in his head as he travels back and forth from his home base of San Francisco, to his old friends and family in Ohio, to a film shoot in Switzerland where he plays himself in a Paolo Sorrentino film. But then again, maybe the title does apply to what the album is about: Kozelek is trying to find the greater meaning out of the connections between everyone and everything that comes into his sphere of influence, in song-stories that tie together an injured possum and Godflesh’s Justin Broadrick, or an Indian immigrant 7-11 clerk and Jane Fonda on the set of the Sorrentino project. In these vignettes that tell of illness, mortality, and perseverance, that convey stoic suffering and hard-earned joy, Kozelek offers grief, sympathy, and something more — understanding. If there’s one noticeable difference from Benji to Universal Themes, it’s that Kozelek’s musical palette opens up on a set of adventurously introspective pieces, as tempos and textures change and switch out abruptly, ranging from gritty electric guitar romps to chamber-folk flights of fancy. Take that into account and Universal Themes isn’t so much a continuation of the thoughts and feelings explored on Benji, but an expansion of them.


Artist: Jenny Hval

Album: Apocalypse, Girl

Label: Sacred Bones

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June 9
Jenny Hval
Apocalypse, girl

Jenny Hval’s Apocalypse, girl is not an album for the faint of heart or anyone who’s easily offended. Musically challenging and lyrically in your face, Apocalypse, girl doesn’t fade into the background and give you much of a chance to get comfortable. That might be because the social problems that Hval tackles on the album are just as unrelenting and unnerving, and she has a lot to say about them, be it gender inequality and sexual repression, neoliberal social policies and capitalist exploitation. The question of how to take care of yourself in a world that makes it hard for you to hang on to your individuality is a recurring theme on Apocalypse, girl, as the Norwegian artist seeks out different ways to answer it for herself. Hval’s personal protest can take on the form of scandalizing accepted mores about sex and how to talk about it, as the stark imagery and potty-mouth language she uses right at the beginning of Apocalypse, girl lets you know. But Hval’s strategies of resistance can also come in more refined sneak attacks, often dressing up her laser-sharp critical perspective in some of the prettiest and most ethereal art-scarred pop you’ll ever hear. She can be sly and seductive, drawing you in to get her pointed message across as she does on the St. Vincent-y “That Battle Is Over”, or she can be as transcendent as she is transgressive, like when she finds spiritual awakening and a physical connection hearing a church choir on the experimental-pop/R&B hybrid “Heaven”. At its best, Apocalypse, girl is everything that political art should be — and politics mostly isn’t — provocative, thought-provoking, and personally invested.


Artist: Hudson Mohawke

Album: Lantern

Label: Warp

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June 16
Hudson Mohawke

In the past few years, Hudson Mohawke has gained attention for his production work for Kanye West, but he wouldn’t be one of the men behind the man if he didn’t stand out on his own. That’s certainly the case with his long-awaited second album Lantern, on which Mohawke (given name, Ross Birchard) showcases a virtuoso command over a broad range of dance and electronic styles. Making the most of all the resources available to him, which included bringing in live players to complement his production work, Mohawke moves all over the musical map with ease, from lush, overblown hip-hop gestures to smooth R&B rave-ups to high-concept electro-pop. As the one running the show on Lantern, Mohawke finds vocal contributors that draw out different facets of his skills as an arranger: While collaborations with Parisian singer Irfane and R&B heartthrob du jour Miguel only confirm Mohawke’s rep for ambitious, maximalist pop productions, he’s also adept at toning things down, as with the way he creates an artsy moodiness out of the melancholy techno accompanying Antony Hegarty’s guest spot. But it might be Hud Mo’s instrumental pieces that say the most for his wide-ranging artistic vision, as he can take on any scale and tone in his projects, whether he’s absorbed in futzing around with glitchy bits of minimalist experimentation or creating an EDM big tent, most obviously with the triumphant, grandiose “Scud Books”. What pulls everything together on Lantern is a palpable sense of exuberance for weird little details and massive pop soundscapes alike, a quality that gives Hudson Mohawke’s technique the sense of soul that makes it all cohere.


Artist: Bully

Album: Feels Like

Label: StarTime International/Columbia

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June 23
Feels Like

Sure, you’re already familiar with Bully’s feminist-punk power-pop moves, be it in their resemblance to those of ’90s alt-grrrl forbears like Veruca Salt and Hole or more contemporary comparison points — think of, say, Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino crossed with White Lung’s Mish Way. Yet there’s a sense of volatility to frontwoman Alicia Bognanno’s performance that sets Bully’s debut Feels Like apart: Having worked as an intern for Steve Albini, Bognanno would know the finer points of soft-loud, slow-fast dynamics, — plus, Feels Like was recorded at his Electrical Audio studio. But those acquired skills only help to make the most of the rare explosiveness of Bognanno’s voice and her instinctively on-edge songwriting. Take the opener “I Remember” for starters, which revs up to a grunge-pop melody that you’re trying to place, until Bognanno’s visceral imagery describing “throwing up in your car” and “the way your sheets smell” gets you too caught up in the moment to, well, remember who or what Bully reminded you of. On the single “Trying”, Bognanno starts out cooing in a gentler register feeling like she has to explain herself, only to have her give up and spontaneously combust in the chorus, “Trying to hide from my mind, I am.” Full of details that are too vivid and too personal to be part of anyone else’s vision but Bognanno’s own, Feels Like feels like it could become a reference point that’ll be tough for others to compare to.


Selected Releases for June 2015

(Release dates subject to change)

June 2

Algiers – Algiers (Matador)

Barenaked Ladies – Silverball (Vanguard)

Kail Baxley – A Light That Never Dies (Forty Below)

André Bratten – Math Ilium Ion EP (Smalltown Supersound)

Bruce Brubaker – Glass Piano (InFiné)

The Budrows – No Bad Whiskey EP

Tom Chapin – 70 (Sundance)

Civil Twilight – Story of an Immigrant (Wind-Up)

Cusses – Here Comes the Rat EP

Damaged Bug – Cold Hot Plumbs (Castle Face)

The Darkness – Last of Our Kind (+180)

Dawes – All Your Favorite Bands (Hub)

Jason DeRulo – 4 (Warner Bros.)

Dfalt – Dflat (Plug Research)

Drainolith – Hysteria (NNA Tapes)

Eternal Summers – Gold and Stone (Kanine)

Expert Alterations – Expert Alterations EP (Kanine)

Five Knives – Savages (Red Bull)

Flesh World – The Wild Animals in My Life (Iron Lung)

Florence + the Machine – How Big How Blue How Beautiful (Republic)

Francesca Belmonte – Anima (False Idols)

Friend Roulette – I See You. Your Eyes Are Red. (Goodnight)

Melody Gardot – Currency of Man (Verve/Decca)

Robin Gibb – Saved by the Bell: The Collected Works of Robin Gibb, 1969-1970 (Reprise)

Daughn Gibson – Carnation (Sub Pop)

Girlpool – Before the World Was Big (Wichita)

Goatsnake – Black Age Blues (Southern Lord)

The Great Discord – Duende (Metal Blade)

HÆLOS – Earth Not Above EP (Matador)

Half Light – The Lost Album (Knick Knack)

Heyrocco – Teenage Movie Soundtrack (Old Flame)

Holychild- The Shape of Brat Pop to Come (Glassnote)

Husky – Ruckers Hill (Nevado)

In Camera – Era (4AD)

Indigo Girls – One Lost Day (Vanguard)

Iron Butterfly – Ball expanded edition (Real Gone)

Jaga Jazzist – Starfire (Ninja Tune)

Jamaican Queens – Downers (Freakish Pleasures)

Kinski – 7 (Or 8) (Kill Rock Stars)

Ben Lee – Love is the Great Rebellion (Warner Bros.)

Major Lazer – Peace Is the Mission (Because/Mad Decent)

Malportado Kids – Total Cultura EP (Dead Labour)

Maribou State – Portraits (Counter)

Alexa Melo – Alexa Melo

The Melvins – Electroretard and The Birds and the Bees reissues (Ipecac)

The Mike + Ruthy Band – Bright As You Can (Humble Abode/Thirty Tigers)

The Mothmen – Pay Attention! reissue (On-U Sound)

Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard – Django and Jimmie (Legacy)

New Dog – Classic Ballroom Dances (Kill Rock Stars)

Northern American – Modern Phenomena (Heist or Hit)

Nozinja – Nozinja Lodge (Warp)

O-Face – Mint EP (Father/Daughter + Miscreant)

Ola Fresca – Elixir (Pipiki)

Christopher Owens – Chrissybaby Forever (Turnstile)

Jonah Parzen-Johnson – Remember When Things Were Better Tomorrow (Primary)

Porcelain Raft – Half Awake EP (Volcanic Field)

Ravi Shavi – Ravi Shavi (Almost Ready)

Simply Red – Big Love (East West)

Soak – Before We Forgot How to Dream (Rough Trade)

Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin – The High Country (Polyvinyl)

Chris Stamey – Euphoria (Yep Roc)

Suneaters – Suneaters II: Loving Relationship (Lotuspool)

Tenement – Predatory Headlights (Don Giovanni)

Trails and Ways – Pathology (Barsuk)

Various Artists – An American in Paris Original Broadway Cast Recording (Masterworks Broadway)

Various Artists – The King & I 2015 Broadway Cast Recording (Decca/Universal Music Classics)

Rocky Votolato & Chuck Ragan – Kindred Spirit (SideOneDummy)

Wild Yaks – Rejoice! God Loves Wild Yaks (Ernest Jenning)

Paul Williams – A Little on the Windy Side Expanded Edition (Real Gone)

Zerbin – Darling (Fontana)

June 9

Ancient Sky – Mosaic (Wharf Cat)

Annabel – Having It All (Tiny Engines)

Ash – Kablammo! (earMusic)

Between the Buried and Me – Coma Ecliptic (Metal Blade)

Amy Black – The Muscle Shoals Sessions

Brontosaurus – Our Animal Ways (People of Paper)

COIN – COIN (Sony)

Container – LP (Spectrum Spools)

Corsica Arts Club – Corsica Arts Club EP

The Deslondes – The Deslondes (New West)

Kurt Elling – Passion World (Concord)

Faith No More – The Real Thing and Angel Dust Deluxe Editions (Rhino)

The Fall – Sub-Lingual Table U.S. release (Cherry Red)

Falling Stacks – No Wives (Battle Worldwide)

FFS (Franz Ferdinand + Sparks) – FFS (Domino)

Fight Amp – Constantly On (Brutal Panda)

Montgomery Gentry – Fools Like Us (Blaster)

Heartless Bastards – Restless Ones (Partisan)

Hints – No Regrets in Old English

Charlie Hunter Trio – Let the Bells Ring On

The Hunts – Those Younger Days (Cherrytree/Interscope)

Insect Ark – Portal/Well (Autumnsongs)

Institute – Catharsis (Sacred Bones)

Sammy Kershaw – I Won’t Back Down (Cleopatra)

Sonny Landreth – Bound by the Blues (Provogue)

Les Discrets – Live at Roadburn (Prophecy)

Muse – Drones (Warner Bros.)

No Joy – More Faithful (Mexican Summer)

PINS – Wild Nights (Bella Union)

Prinzhorn Dance School – Home Economics (DFA)

Quiet Lions – No Illusions EP

Nicolas Winding Refn – Bronson Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Milan)

Adrien Reju – Strange Love and the Secret Language

Round Eye – Round Eye (Ripping)

Antonio Sanchez – Three Times Three and The Meridian Suite (CAM Jazz)

The Sandwitches – Our Toast (Empty Cellar)

Seoul – I Become a Shade (Grand Jury)

Sightings – Amusers and Puzzlers (Dais)

Songs of Water – Stars and Dust (Freshwater)

Sumo Cyco – Lost in Cyco City

Sunset in the 12th House – Mozaik (Prophecy)

Teen Men – Teen Men (Bar/None)

Daby Touré – Amonafi (Cumbancha)

Uncle Lucius – The Light (Thirty Tigers)

Uniform – Perfect World (Alter/12XU)

Sharon Van Etten – I Don’t Want to Let You Down EP (Jagjaguwar)

Michael Vidal (ex-Abe Vigoda) – Dream Center (Couple Skate)

Dale Watson – Call Me Insane (Red House)

Denny Zeitlin & George Marsh – Riding the Moment (Sunnyside)

Ben Zimmerman – The Baltika Years (Software)

June 16

Active Child – Mercy (Vagrant)

Air – Virgin Suicides Original Soundtrack Deluxe Edition (Warner/Parlophone)

Alpine – Yuck (Votiv)

Babymetal – Babymetal U.S. re-release (RAL/Sony)

Imam Baldi – III (The End)

David Benoit – 2 in Love (Concord)

Ken Camden – Dream Memory (Kranky)

Evan Caminiti – Meridian (Thrill Jockey)

Cold Cave – Full Cold Moon (Deathwish)

Cornelia – Balun

Sarah Cracknell – Red Kite (Cherry Red)

Nick Diamonds – City of Quartz (Manque)

DJ Koze – DJ Kicks (!K7)

Dog Party – Vol. 4 (Asian Man/Burger)

Fist City – Everything Is a Mess (Transgressive)

Fucked Up – Year of the Hare (Deathwish)

Galantis – Pharmacy (Big Beat/Atlantic)

Jaakko Eino Kalevi – Jaakko Eino Kalevi (Domino)

KEN MODE – Success (Season of Mist)

Adam Lambert – The Original High (Warner Bros.)

Brian Landrus Trio – The Deep Below (BlueLand/Palmetto)

Lane 8 – Rise (Anjunadeep)

Amos Lee – Live at Red Rocks with the Colorado Symphony (ATO)

Sam Lee – The Fade in Time (Thirty Tigers)

Left Lane Cruiser – Dirty Spliff Blues (Alive Naturalsound)

Little Racer – Foreign Tongues EP (Papercup)

Calvin Love – Super Future (Arts & Crafts)

mewithoutYou – Pale Horses (Run for Cover)

Giorgio Moroder – Déjà Vu (RCA)

Zak Nelson – New Once (Styles Upon Styles)

Peptalk – Islet (Home Assembly)

Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys – Voyageurs

Billy Shaddox – I Melt, I Howl (Folkwise)

Slash, featuring Myles Kennedy & the Conspirators – Live at the Roxy 9/25/14 (Eagle Rock)

The SteelDrivers – The Muscle Shoals Recordings (Rounder)

Christopher Paul Stelling – Labor Against Waste (Anti-)

Vicktor Taiwo – Juno EP

James Taylor – Before This World (Concord)

Tempel – The Moon Lit Our Path (Prosthetic)

Third Eye Blind – Dopamine

Pat Thomas & Kwashibu Area Band – Pat Thomas & Kwashibu Area Band (Strut)

The Wooden Sky – Let’s Be Ready (Nevado)

Various Artists – Buy this Fracking Album

Various Artists – Shirley Inspired 3-CD, interpretations of Shirley Collins songs (Earth)

Walleater – I/II (Tiny Engines)

Ryn Weaver – The Fool (Mad Love/Interscope)

Yonder Mountain String Band – Black Sheep (Frog Pad)

Yukon Blonde – On Blonde (Dine Alone)

June 23

The Armed Collective – Untitled (No Rest Until Ruin)

Meg Baird – Don’t Weigh Down the Light (Drag City)

Black Mountain – Black Mountain 10th Anniversary Edition (Jagjaguwar)

Leon Bridges – Coming Home (Columbia)

The Cairo Gang – Goes Missing (God?)

Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams – Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams (Red House)

Carlson – Never Easy Never Been Easier (Driftless)

Cayucas – Dancing at the Blue Lagoon (Secretly Canadian)

Citizen – Everybody is Going to Heaven (Run for Cover)

De Lux – Generation (Innovative Leisure)

Desparecidos – Payola (Epitaph)

Lee Ellis – Me and This Army (No Sleep)

Emerald Park – Go! Go! Go! EP

Fist City – Everything Is a Mess (Transgressive)

Fogg – High Testament (Tee Pee)

Carl Hall – You Don’t Know Nothing About Love: The Loma/Atlantic Recordings 1967-1972

High on Fire – Luminiferous(eOne)

High Risk – High Risk (Greenleaf)

Imaginary People – Dead Letterbox

Instant Empire – Lamplight Lost

Rickie Lee Jones – The Other Side of Desire (Other Side of Desire/Thirty Tigers)

Jutty Ranx – Discordia (The End)

Last Days of April – Sea of Clouds (Tapete/Bureau B)

_Linden – Rest and Be Thankful (Slumberland)

Matchess – Somnaphoria (Trouble in Mind)

T. Hardy Morris – Hardy & The Hardknocks: Drownin’ on a Mountaintop (Dangerbird)

Kacey Musgraves – Pageant Material (Mercury Nashville)

The National – A Lot of Sorrow vinyl boxset from MOMA PS1 collaboration with Ragnar Kjartannson (4AD)

Noah – Sivutie

The Orb – Moonbuilding (Kompakt)

Parlour Tricks – Broken Hearts/Bones

The Relapse Symphony – Born to Burn (Standby)

Jamison Ross – Jamison (Concord)

Nate Ruess – Grand Romantic (Fueled by Ramen)

Oscar Scheller – Beautiful Words EP (Wichita)

Corey Smith – While the Gettin’ Is Good (Sugar Hill)

Smokey – How Far Will You Go? The S&M Recordings, 1973-1981

Son Lux – Bones (Glassnote)

Sugar & the Hi-Lows – High Roller (Ready Set)

Richard Thompson – Still (Fantasy)

Tough Age – I Get the Feeling Central (Mint)

Various Artists – Bali High Original Soundtrack (Anthology)

Various Artists – OIM: Vol 1 (OIM)

Various Artists – Wondaland Presents: The Eephus EP (Wondaland)

Video Beast – Gooch

June 30

The Appleseed Cast – Mare Vitalis reissue (Graveface)

Bilal – In Another Life (Entertainment One)

Cafe Lanai – Paradise (Hybridity)

Dew-Scented – Intermination (Prosthetic)

Ecstatic Vision – Sonic Praise (Relapse)

Failure – The Heart Is a Monster (INgrooves)

C. Gibbs – C. Gibbs Sings Motherwell Johnston (Eastern Spurs)

Gnarwhal – Shinerboy (Flannel Gurl/Exploding in Sound)

Goblin Rebirth – Goblin Rebirth (Relapse)

Good Old War – Broken Into Better Shape (Nettwerk)

Fraser A. Gorman – Fraser A. Gorman (Milk)

Fannie Lou Hamer – Songs My Mother Taught Me (Smithsonian Folkways)

Jeen – Tourist Deluxe Edition

JOBS – Killer Bob Sings (New Amsterdam)

Left Lane Cruiser – Dirty Spliff Blues (Alive Naturalsound)

Lone – Lemurian (Magic Wire/R&S)

Los Manglers – Between Worlds (Last Bummer)

Love Amongst Ruin – Lose Your Way (Ancient B)

Mad Satta – Break Me Free EP

Miguel – Wildheart (RCA)

Mocky – Key Change (Heavy Sheet)

Ocean Carolina – Maudlin Days (Old Hand)

Matt Pond PA – The State of Gold (Doghouse)

Refused – Freedom (Epitaph)

RP Boo – Fingers, Bank Pads and Shoe Prints (Planet Mu)

The Velvet Teen – All Is Illusory (Topshelf)

Wharfer – Acadia

X Ambassadors – VHS (KIDinaKorner/Interscope)

Neil Young + Promise of the Real – The Monsanto Years (Reprise)

Youth Worship – Youth Worship (Self Harm)