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Five essential albums for your summer 2014 playlist

Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties - We Don't Have Each Other
Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties - We Don't Have Each Other
Aaron West official website

Every summer follows the same basic pattern. It gets hot, the windows go down, and the high school pop-punk classics get turned all the way up; you spin all your completely worn-down copies of New Found Glory, Fall Out Boy, or The Starting Line albums for nostalgic summer sing-a-longs. Despite the compulsion to revel in the past, sometimes you need a little variation. Put the “oldies” to rest and let some newfangled tunes share the spotlight.

What follows is a simple rundown of some solid new album that will shake up your seasonal selections and add some nuance to the regular rotation.

You can check out each album listed via Spotify and, if you like what you hear, support the artists by purchasing their music.

Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties - We Don't Have Each Other
Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties - We Don't Have Each Other Aaron West official website

Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties - We Don't Have Each Other

As a side project of Wonder Years vocalist Dan “Soupy” Campbell, Aaron West & The Roaring Twenties generated a cult following before releasing his first track. If you’ve familiar with Campbell’s vocal work, then you know he can register anywhere from gentle and heartbreaking to uproarious and, well, still pretty heartbreaking. For the sake of honesty, this is essentially an acoustic Wonder Years record with a nice, fiction backstory and premise to twist things up. Strange enough, the former point is actually a huge selling point that only bolsters the latter. The project has fans swooning and tattooing lyrics on every spare patch of skin. Campbell always writes heart-wrenchingly haunting, yet applicable, lyrics that build the foundation for melodic and catchy pop-punk—or folk rock with a punk bite, in this case. If you want to cry this summer; to scream, yell, or sing your heart out; if you want an album that truly “gets” you just like all your teenage favorites, listen To Aaron West & The Roaring Twenties. You’re welcome.

Stream We Don't Have Each Other on Spotify.

Bleachers - Strange Desire
Bleachers - Strange Desire Bleachers official website

Bleachers - Strange Desire

Bleachers is a spin-off project of fun. guitarist Jack Antonoff. Their debut album, Strange Desire is one of the best 80’s pop albums released in the year 2014. It’s not rare that a band dips their toes into the pool of the past for a refreshing, inspirational rendezvous between the new and old; it is rare that the two are blended so seamlessly, sounding genuine and unique rather than trope-riddled or copy/ pasted from you dad’s old record collection. It doesn’t take more than a few seconds into the opening track, “Wild Heart,” to realize that Strange Desire is something special. If you like your summers glazed in the sweet sweet nectar of the golden age—and you consider the 80’s the golden age—then douse yourself in the pleasing aroma of Bleachers.

Stream Strange Desire on Spotify.

Bad Suns - Language & Perspective
Bad Suns - Language & Perspective Bas Suns official website

Bad Suns - Language & Perspective

For some people, the summer is all about cranking up the bass and letting their pop flag fly to the latest top 40 radio jams. To each their own, but obviously I’m going to recommend an alternative for those who can only swing from so many chandeliers before they don’t quite feel as fancy. Bad Suns are a nice switch up for those who wants to emblazon their days in a shimmery, synth-pop glow. It’s fun. It’s upbeat. It’s deliciously catchy; it’s pop music, ok? Imagine Phoenix went and had a baby with Passion Pit and you’re basically nine-tenths of the way to Bad Suns.

Stream Language & Perspective on Spotify.

Vacationer - Relief
Vacationer - Relief Vacationer official website

Vacationer - Relief

When it comes to music, Kenny Vasoli can pretty much jack any trade. After fronting iconic pop punk outfit, The Starting Line, for almost a decade and the experimental/ psychedelic rock outfit, Person L, he elected to tone things down a bit with his latest project, Vacationer. The self-described Nu-Hula band fuses laid-back beach vibes with heavy seasonal ambience and trace elements of acid-laced trip-hop. The title Relief fits this album perfectly, as it’s not hard to slip into a halcyon daze, daydream, or brief moment of meditation while letting the calming warmth of these tunes wash over your brain. I’m not saying it’s a stoner album, but they did sell a preorder bundle that came with a custom grinder, and also people in Colorado will probably dig it.

Stream Relief on Spotify.

Every Time I Die - From Parts Unknown
Every Time I Die - From Parts Unknown Every Time I Die official website

Every Time I Die - From Parts Unknown

I completely understand that depressing folk songs, stoner jams, and decades-old nostalgia romps aren’t for everyone. Some people like to crank their sound waves and send them out into the scorching heat: to feel the bass line pulsating in their veins and the screeching guitars jack-hammering their skulls. If you like sing-a-longs that end in sore throats and a faint taste of copper, Every Time I Die might be that band for you. With each album, the Buffalo, NY metalcore outfit brings the heat in the most earth shattering of ways: delivering their formidable concoction of face-melting metal infused with searing southern rock licks and several shots of straight chaos. Seriously, why are you still reading this? Just look at the terrible, awesome album art. Go listen to it now.

Stream From Parts Unknown on Spotify.