This weekend may have marked the mental and emotional end of summer in the United States (with fall actually commencing on 22 September), but it’s not all doom and gloom. Part farewell to the warmest season, part welcome for the changing seasons, this playlist is made up of some of our favorite summer ’17 jams. Hopefully they’ll ease us all from a wild long weekend back into our most productive selves.
Mr Jukes feat. Charles Bradley: Grant Green
Featuring the sensationally soulful Charles Bradley, Mr Jukes’ “Grant Green” is our pick from his album God First, which officially released today, 14 July. Aptly named after the jazz musician the track samples, the song is spirited and uplifting. Mr Jukes (aka Jack Steadman of Bombay Bicycle Club) is embarking on a European tour in September.
RAC feat. Rivers Cuomo: I Still Wanna Know
From RAC’s fifth LP EGO, “I Still Wanna Know” is a delightful slice of bubbly, indie-electric, summertime dance. RAC (aka André Allen Anjos) has joined forces with Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo for the track, and his immediately recognizable tenor lends itself perfectly to the adventure- and curiosity-themed lyrics. The song was co-written by Anjos, Cuomo and Classixx, and with the release of the groove, Anjos says, “I was the kid at summer camp that would sit in a corner with a walkman trying to figure out how to play Weezer guitar riffs. Never in a million years did I think that I would end up writing a song with Rivers himself.” RAC is embarking on a US tour this September.
Samantha Urbani: Hints And Implications
From her highly anticipated debut solo EP Policies Of Power, Samantha Urbani’s ’80s-inspired jam “Hints And Implications” is utterly addictive. With plenty of retro touches (including power riffs and that drum machine), it’s a punchy track that manages to steer clear of sounding like a throwback. Along with her breathy vocals, Urbani has crafted a piece of power-pop that is wildly catchy—and includes one glorious key change.
Queens of the Stone Age: The Way You Used To Do
With production by the sonic wizard Mark Ronson, one might expect the forthcoming Queens of the Stone Age album Villains (out 25 August) to be a departure from their hard rock soundscape. But, if new single “The Way You Used To Do” hints toward greater expectations from the LP, it’s clear that another rock tour de force is on its way. There are pop flourishes, of course—clap track included. But lead singer Josh Homme’s vocals soar and the instrumentation churns forward with fury.
Beth Ditto: Fire
Gossip’s front woman, the electric Beth Ditto, just released the first track from her upcoming solo record Fake Sugar. “Fire” starts off quieter than many of Ditto’s previous tracks, but builds up in a blaze and to become a booming track. Once again, Ditto proves she’s a force to be reckoned with.
Kali Uchis feat. Jorja Smith: Tyrant
One of the most anticipated albums of the year, Kali Uchis’ forthcoming full length will include “Tyrant,” released today in vibrant video form, directed by HELMI. The singer, songwriter and producer’s dual language track delights with layers of sonic effervescence atop a bouncing beat. A guest appearance from Jorja Smith only amplifies the song’s vocal depths, rounding out a beautiful piece of music.
With elements of ’90s R&B, a sultry bass-line, and lush vocals, Kelela’s brand new track “LMK” is from her upcoming Take Me Apart record. In classic Kelela style, it’s dark and sexy—and her voice is flawless. The slinky track builds effortlessly and certainly bodes well for the album to come.
Prince: Electric Intercourse
As if we needed any more evidence of Prince’s talent, previously unreleased track “Electric Intercourse” (initially intended for Purple Rain) has surfaced, and it’s quintessentially early/mid 1980s Prince—electric piano, falsetto and a super sexy narrative. The song will appear on the reissue of Purple Rain (set for release 23 June) on which 11 previously unreleased songs will appear—six of which apparently haven’t even been distributed as bootlegs. Long live His Royal Badness.
SG Lewis feat. Toulouse: Times We Had
Producer SG Lewis has teamed up with NYC-based vocalist Toulouse for a genre-bending tune that’s as sparkly as it is soulful. “Times We Had” takes tips from multiple genres including R&B, disco, soul and dark dance—with bright synths and a funky bass-line. Toulouse, of course, offers lustrous vocals—the combination of it all creating an infectious groove that’s entirely addictive.
Produced by Maths Time Joy, “Sober” is Leicester-born, Birmingham-based singer/songwriter Mahalia’s most recent release and it’s beautifully sleek and fluid. A little more R&B and boom-bap than her previous releases, it’s a smooth and sultry track—despite it being about a relationship gone wrong. Just 19 years old, Mahalia has already released an impressive body of work, and will be embarking on a UK/Euro tour later this year.
Todd Rundgren feat. Robyn: That Could Have Been Me
The legendary Todd Rundgren’s track, “That Could Have Been Me” features none other than Swedish pop star Robyn. Rundgren (who initially garnered attention in the ’70s) is an adept and highly influential singer/songwriter and producer, and in this track his familiar knack for making an earnest love song without corniness is evident. It’s a little spacey, but ultimately a synth-pop treasure. Rundgren’s upcoming 27th album White Knight will feature a very diverse list of performers—from Dâm Funk to Trent Reznor, Daryl Hall and more.
Nine Inch Nails: This Isn’t The Place
Hot off a riveting “Twin Peaks” cameo performance, Nine Inch Nails have released a second track, “This Isn’t The Place,” from tomorrow’s forthcoming EP Add Violence. As the song’s atmosphere thickens on piano progressions, an emotional climax (one of many) arises almost mid-track, with the introduction of lead singer Trent Reznor’s vocals. As dark and challenging as it can be at times, the song leaves no one behind—rather, inviting the listener on a depressive, beautiful journey.
Kamasi Washington: Truth
Released by the very talented jazz saxophonist, composer and producer Kamasi Washington (who has performed with Herbie Hancock, Lauryn Hill, Nas, Flying Lotus, Thundercat and more), “Truth” is the beautifully transcendent sixth movement from his upcoming Harmony of Difference EP. The 14+ minutes of avant-garde jazz is accompanied by a stunning short film directed by A.G. Rojas that will dazzle viewers. Washington (who also played saxophone on Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly) has made yet another magical piece of music that will surely introduce jazz music to a new generation.
Ladi6: Royal Blue
The title-track from Ladi6’s six-track EP, “Royal Blue” is a sparkly tune that blends pop, psychedelic and dancehall in a way that not only works, but allures with its silkiness. Ladi6 (made up of frontwoman Ladi aka Karoline Tamati, Parks aka Brent Park and Julien Dyne) apparently worked on the songs at shows around New Zealand before heading to the studio.
Image from Kamasi Washington’s “Truth” music video