Summer is on the way out and chances are you’re either dragging your feet or doing a happy dance. I think that fall in New England is tough to beat and provides the excuse to indulge in fall spicy/earthy flavors, tailgating, chunky knits and shoes, and an annual trip to the apple orchard where you eat one too many cider donuts. So if you’re looking for some jams to listen to while it takes you longer than expected to carve that pumpkin, keep your playlists fresh with these major releases that dropped this past month.
The Kooks – Listen: The fourth studio album released by this British band marks a slight diversion from their traditional Britpop/rock, guitar-heavy sound moving towards a sound with more of an R&B influence. This time around, The Kooks are experimenting by throwing gospel choirs and a bit of jazz percussion into the formula. Lead singer Luke Pritchard’s voice fares well amidst the change in sound and gives him a chance to play with the delivery of his lyrics. At just under 40 minutes, devout fans and newcomers will be delighted with the different direction found in Listen. Standout tracks: Forgive and Forget, Bad Habit, Sweet Emotion.
Banks – Goddess: The deluxe edition of Goddess expands on her previous releases, featuring a handful of new tracks along with classic singles such as Blame Game and This Is What It Feels Like. Banks’ voice is breathy and gritty; similar to Ellie Goulding and Grimes, but less glittery, less polished. Banks has the top writing credit on every track and a solid group of producers behind her. Her lyrics are stripped down and leave room for some dark and twisty beats that are sure to catch your ears. Overall, Goddess is a solid debut from the rising artist. Standout tracks: Goddess, You Should Know Where I’m Coming From, Begging For Thread.
Jhene Aiko – Souled Out: In this follow up to last year’s Sail Out EP, it’s clear that Aiko is baring it all on her debut album. The concept of Souled Out follows the ups and downs of a woman’s relationship. These experiences are largely drawn from Aiko’s personal life as she provides the vocals and lyrics almost exclusively; only two songs have additional writers and only three have featured artists along side Aiko. Her voice is caramel levels of smooth, soft, and sweet; it’s a perfect match for the alternative R&B beats backing the album. Standout tracks: To Love & Die, Lyin King, Promises
Alt-J – This is All Yours: Despite the loss of lead guitarist and bassist, Alt-J has managed to stay afloat with their highly anticipated sophomore album. It’s hard to find a flaw on This Is All Yours, as it’s a positive transition for the band. It closely follows their signature sound but is also able to stand on it’s own. If you’re looking for the same sense of well-roundedness found in An Awesome Wave and just the right amount of weird sound effects to keep you on your toes then this is the September release for you. Standout Tracks: Every Other Freckle, Warm Foothills, Bloodflood pt. II
Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga – Cheek to Cheek: After ARTPOP came out, I had trouble convincing my parents and grandparents that Lady Gaga is a talented artist and I believe that Cheek to Cheek is the answer to my argument. This album is the perfect reference to show that Lady Gaga is not a product of the pop factory. In a recent Q&A Twitter session, Gaga mentioned that all the tracks were recorded live and each track is one fluid take. Cheek to Cheek covers of popular music from the big band/swing/jazz era and the connection shared between Tony Bennett, Lady Gaga, and the band is magical. Even if you don’t recognize the covers, let this be your introduction to a playful music genre that will have you singing along in no time. Standout tracks: Nature Boy, I Can’t Give You Anything But Love, Let’s Face The Music And Dance
Odesza – In Return: Over the past two years, Odesza is definitely one of the most exciting new acts to hit the electronic and chill-wave genre. In Return feels like a departure from their 2012 debut album Summer’s Gone but maintains that upbeat and lighthearted sound they are known for. The new album relies more on the duo’s talents and swaps out sampling for collaborations with up-and-coming artists such as Zyra and Shy Girls, the latter of which on first listen, I thought was The Weeknd. These are the kind of songs that you’ll want to listen to while you walk around in that crisp fall weather. Standout tracks: Say My Name, All We Need, Sun Models
Cover art used is the property of the following record companies: Virgin EMI Records, Def Jam Records, Infectious Records, Harvest Records, Interscope Records, Counter Records.