The songs and CDs we listened to are what, for many of us, define our memories of a given summer ? the soundtrack to our lives. Summer 1997 might conjure up memories of Matchbox 20, and summer 2001 will always be “Bootylicious” to some of us. Below are what our writers consider to be the most important or interesting albums of this past summer. Some blockbuster albums will be missing, but that is not to say they weren’t of any importance, simply that given the choice of only one or two albums, people like Eminem and Sheryl Crow didn’t make the cut. If you don’t own these albums, we suggest you round off your summer by adding these to your collection
Counting CrowsHard Candy
The Counting Crows have never been able to replicate the magic they created with their Grammy-winning 1993 release, “August and Everything After.”
The albums that followed contained a lot of experimentation, which resulted in less-than-stellar reviews from music critics.
Their newest release, entitled “Hard Candy,” seems to be the closest in style to their original album. While most of the songs are more upbeat than the eleven soul-bytes on “August,” the songs on “Hard Candy” are not as hard as the songs on later CDs, “Recovering the Satellites.”
The first hit to emerge from “Hard Candy,” “American Girls,” is the second tune on the album. The lead singer, Adam Duritz, wrote both the music and lyrics to this song, as he did for most of the album.
Songs like””Good Time” and””Goodnight, L.A.” are reflective, calm and brooding. The only song that seems a little contrived on the album ? as though it’s trying too hard to be a pop song ? is “Butterfly in Reverse.”
However, for the most part, Duritz’s poetry ? which fits nicely with the array of music in this album ?? results in a first-rate CD.
ColdplayA Rush of Blood to the HeadBritish gods of gentle rock release this sophomore offering high off the success of their debut “Parachutes.”
“A Rush Of Blood To The Head” is timely and roams within the safe boundaries of its predecessor.
The first single and MTV2 favorite “In My Place” is sure to capture with its smooth emotion, while tracks like “Politik” satisfy the fans of heavier beats.
As a whole, the album merges from number to number with plain, yet gripping Coldplay melodies evident in the title track and the soft “God Put A Smile On Your Face.” However, the track that glistens the most is “Clocks,” which is a beautiful urban ballad, bound to be a hit. This is a summer record made for the autumn.
DJ TiestoIn Search of Sunrise 3
“In Search of Sunrise 3” shows why DJ Tiesto is regarded as one of the finest DJs today.
Tiesto’s mixing skills are shown off in this album, with flawless beat matching and a tracklist that starts off with a bang and never loses steam.
The tracks flow perfectly one into the next, and slowly build into a harder trance sound, the second track “Hear You Now,” being a particularly high point, with a good melody and superb vocals that give a great overall feeling to the album.
Tiesto has created a strong mix and uses songs that are not common in other mixes, which gives the album a sense of originality.
An excellent trance mix to own.
“Details” is the second release from Frou-Frou, the british band fronted by Imogen Heap.
A departure from the rock of her last album, this is a set of rich pop songs with strong beats, unexpected intrumentation and refreshingly intelligent lyrics that leaves other pop albums painfully wanting. You’ll never be able to contentedly listen to Britney Spears again.
Opening with a string motif that an electronically modified ‘cello crescendos into, the album announces from the very start that it’s different.
The second track is also the hit European single, “Breathe-in.” Opening with a bouncy guitar lick, it moves into the easy groovability that makes this CD such a pleasure.
Even the dark “Psychobabble” seems oddly reassuring.
Widely acclaimed and lacking in any particularly weakness, check out Frou-Frou for something new.
Red Hot Chili PeppersBy the Way
The Red Hot Chili Peppers’ new album “By the Way” proves that even bands who have been around for a while can still hold their own.
The new album moves toward a mellower theme as a whole, as many reviewers have stated, and with which I agree. I especially like the first half of the album, with the radio-friendly title track and “The Zephyr Song” as standouts.
The Chili Peppers have seemingly left behind their roots of harder, edgier rock and beginning with their last album “Californication” have progressed toward a smoother and calmer sound as a whole. Perhaps it is because the band members themselves are aging and maturing, but whatever the reason, “By the Way” comes across as an album of substance.
The only flaw may be extraneous songs, as the album is a lengthy 16 tracks. The second half fades out somewhat, and while it has a few odd, more unique songs, it tends to meld together without any tracks standing out.
Overall, the album is listening worthy and maybe even worth spending the money to buy.
The Chili Peppers have not let us down with this latest edition to their repretoire.
OK GoGet Over It
With a couple of CD singles out and an album coming out Sept. 17, soon-to-be-megaband OK Go is going to make waves in the national music scene.
You may have heard their latest single, “Get Over It,” off of their upcoming album by the same title. OK Go, composed of frontman Damian Kulash, bassist Tim Nordwind, drummer Dan Konopka and keyboardist Andy Duncan, started in the Chicago scene and quickly gained cult popularity. Their lyrics ? often humorous ? combine with their talent as musicians to create a quality sound. Look for their forthcoming record “Get Over It” on the EMI label.
John MayerRoom for Squares
Every year, Elton John discovers young talent and brings it into the national spotlight, this year was no different. John Mayer was introduced to the spotlight after a quiet buzz had developed from people downloading his music off the internet.
This debut album is a blessed with clean instrumentation, not suffering from the dense re-orchestration many artists endure when they are signed by major labels and suddenly money doesn’t limit them to a guy and his guitar.
One of the few complaints uttered about this album is that Mayer sounds too much like Dave Matthews. Perhaps their breathy singing voices bear some resemblance, but it ends there. The musical style of Mayer is completely removed from the more jazz and jam-band influenced Matthews.
The entire album has tracks of quality that equals the radio singles “My Stupid Mouth” and””No Such Thing.”
I suggest careful attention to “Your Body is a Wonderland.”
Fitting into the recent Britney-backlash of performers like Avril Levigne, Michelle Branch and Vanessa Carlton, Mayer writes his own music and performs it essentially alone.
For a strong album of well written and executed songs that are both sensuous and playful, one can’t go wrong with Mayer’s “Room for Squares.”
Boy GeorgeYou Can Never B2 Straight
Gender-bender is back with the comeback of the summer. After a short stint at deejaying for clubheads and co-writing his London musical “Taboo,” the frontman of Culture Club is done with trying to rekindle the band’s former success with bound-for-failure reunions, and back as a solo artist and a talent in his own right. Boy George ? real name George O’Dowd ? approaches heteronormity, trans-issues and childhood memories all with his distinctly witty and confessional lyrics with, surprisingly, a very acoustic ambiance to the sound of “You Can Never B2 Straight.” The album is a definite grower, howeve
r, and some tracks stick out from the first listening like the latin-flavored “She Was Never He”and the sorrowful “Letter To A School Friend.” This album will probably be forgotten considering the market ? but if so, it will be the most underrated albums of the year.
The Chicks’ new CD, “Home,” is a warm, syrupy-sweet collection of songs that showcase the group’s typical blend of instrumental skill and heartfelt vocals. The first track on the new release, “Long Time Gone,” is one of the perkiest ? with the exception of “White Trash Wedding,” a quick-paced and humorous piece written by the Chicks themselves.
While a majority of the songs on this new CD can be classified as ballads, “Long Time Gone” has moxie. This opening song no doubt excites fans who were anxious to see the Chicks’ return from their break. The next song, “Landslide,” is a much slower piece, by the legendary Stevie Nicks, that evokes feelings of love and disappointment.
Lead singer Natalie Maines shines in the twelve songs on this CD, but background singers and stringed instrumentalists Martie Maguire and Emily Robison round out her melodies to make “Home” another great CD by the three-chick team.
In the club scene throughout the world, Sasha is regarded as one of the finest trance/house DJs.
His newest album, entitled “Airdrawndagger,” was highly anticipated, and certainly does not disappoint. This CD seems to go back to Sasha’s roots and is very reminiscent of the style of the classic “Xpander.” The style of the album came as somewhat of a surprise, as it is a bit of the opposite end of the trance spectrum as the now-typical Sasha.
Overall, the album gives a fairly psychedelic feeling, and is likely the purest trance music you can find. The melodies are what take over the songs, which is refreshing to find in a time where most trance music is harder, with more concentration on the bass rather then the lighter pieces of melody.
Here you will not find the high beat-per-minute style that Sasha often mixes live, but rather a clean compilation of excellent songs.
For anyone even remotely interested in trance music, this album is an excellent addition to any music collection.
Page design b Ravish Patel and Thomas Paris
Counting Crows written by Jennifer WeissColdplay written by Nasser Al-QatamiDJ Tiesto written by Stephen ReFrou-Frou written by Thomas ParisRed Hot Chili Peppers written by Kerri LindenOK Go written by Lewis PowelJohn Mayer written by Thomas ParisBoy George written by Nasser Al-QatamiDixie Chicks written by Jennifer WeissSasha written by Stephen Re