Album Picks

June Hill, Executive Editor

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Each month, I (the one and only June) like to recommend some of my favorite things to all of you avid Spartana readers out there. I’ve done books, local restaurants, summer essentials and much more, but this month I am tentatively writing about my taste in music.
I was putting off making a music J List for two main reasons. #1: I honestly don’t know a lot about music, but I really really like it. I know what I like and I know what I don’t like and I sort of just go with it. Reason #2: A fear of being judged for my taste, I guess?

So, yep, music. In case anyone is looking for some hip new tunes, here are some of my favorite albums that I have been listening to recently. I think some of these albums are already pretty well known, but I am not one of those people who explicitly listens to unheard-of indie bands because I think it makes me look cool. At least I don’t think I am one of those people…

I’m not going to go into what every single album is about; that would require research, and I am not up for that. I should also mention that some of these albums are new, and some have been around for a while, but I promise you, they are all vibrant, genuinely great albums that will make you want to dance in your car. Enjoy!

Lately by Still Woozy

I guess this is an EP album, but it’s too good not to mention. Lately is made up of five dreamy jams that instantly ease the mind. The songs are all sort of slow moving, and if I had to categorize Lately, I would call it fuzzy bedroom pop – you can decide what that means. Still Woozy is just one guy, and he does this really interesting thing with his voice where he layers a bunch of breathy, falsetto vocals on top of each other. It comes off sounding sheerly smooth and relaxed. If you haven’t already, please go listen to “Habit”, it is sooo good and it’s probably stuck in my head right now.

Close it Quietly by Frankie Cosmos

Greta Kline (Frankie Cosmos is a stage name) has the weirdest, most unique voice. This is her fourth album. It’s brand new; she just released it on Sept. 6. I think Pitchfork (an online music review site) described Close it Quietly best. They say Kline’s language has always been the “tightly coiled heart of her work, and here she offers a wealth of indelible imagery that smears together the winsome and the grotesque.” Pitchfork is right – Kine has some pretty out-there lyrics. On the chorus to “Windows,” she sings, “Spit out diamonds/Cough up rubies.” Yeah, it’s just fun and different in the best way.

Being as Normal by Peach Pit

Okay, I absolutely love Peach Pit, and not just because they are from Canada. Being So Normal is catchy and sympathetic without being depressing, and listening to it feels comfortable and nostalgic. Peach Pit is a unique, carefree brand of indie rock, and they describe themselves as “chewed bubblegum pop.” It’s a strange way to think of themselves, but after listening to the album, I’m sure you will agree. The instrumentals work very well with the group’s vocals, which are very laid-back. Overall, it is a solid  album; if you already knew about Mac DeMarco, you should definitely consider checking out Peach Pit.

Happy Camper by Summer Salt

I had to paint my bathroom the other weekend and this album made that experience much more enjoyable. Some friends of mine sang “Driving to Hawaii” (from a different album) all summer, so that’s how I found out about Summer Salt. I would say they are an aptly named band – most of their music, especially on this album, is very lighthearted and summery. It is kind of the perfect soundtrack for hanging out by the pool. Yes, I realize it is September and pool days are long gone for most of us, but Happy Camper is still such a relaxing and happy sounding album that will bring you right back to summer. Listen to “Revvin’ My CJ-7” if you just want to get a taste of Happy Camper. I think it’s probably my favorite one on there.

Nonagon Infinity by King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard

This album is definitely a bit of an outlier here. I was friends with this guy last year who told me to listen to this band and I have to admit their band name alone threw me off. But I listened to Nonagon Infinity all the way through and loved it. They make crazy, loud, psychedelic music. One thing I really like about King Gizzard is that they drop new music all the time. Seriously, they have released 12 full albums (at least I think so – they were surprisingly hard to count) since 2010. Their music is definitely trippy, and I think Nonagon Infinity is probably a good entry level album to get familiar with their wacky style.

I Need to Start a Garden by Haley Hendrickx

In I Need to Start a Garden, Hendrickx vaguely questions ideas about God, which I think is interesting. You have to listen for it. She weaves this theme throughout her imaginative songs, the lyrics being satisfyingly weird at times. For example, in “The Bug Collector,” she sings, “And there’s a praying mantis/Prancing on your bathtub/And you swear it’s a priest/From a past life out to getcha.” Yes, strange, but in a way that makes you laugh. Her voice is stunning, melodic, honest and emotional. Top song: “Oom Sha La La”.

Forever Turned Around by Whitney

As an avid fan of Whitney’s first album, Light Upon the Lake, there was a lot of nervous anticipation surrounding the second album for me, yet Whitney did not disappoint. Forever Turned Around was just released in August. The album is a bit more welcoming, dialed back to a gentle lull in comparison to his previous album (also very good). Honestly, Forever Turned Around and Light Upon the Lake are similar, but in a way that is still pleasantly exciting. Whitney’s music is brilliantly uniform without being boringly similar. I expect he will keep releasing more beaming, falsetto-friendly, soft rock albums.

Salad Days by Mac DeMarco

Salad Days is from 2014, but it is by far my favorite Mac DeMarco album. Okay, maybe it’s a tie between Salad Days and This Old Dog – they are both stellar. But I chose Salad Days and I’m sticking with it. Mac DeMarco is a very strange guy and by listening to this album, you get the feeling that he does not care what you think about his songs. You can hear how much he loves writing and performing by just listening to Salad Days. When listening to this album, you get a taste of his goofy and carefree personality, and it is a joy to listen to.

Reneé Dominique

This woman doesn’t even have an album but I had to include her. I found her on YouTube and have been in love with her covers ever since. She has a few original songs on Spotify which are beautiful, although some are a little too Disney for me. She has this gorgeous, soft and sweet voice, and most of the time she just sings with a ukulele, making the covers so simple, but so effective. Unfortunately, her covers are not on Spotify, but like I mentioned before, her YouTube channel is packed full of music. My favorite songs she covers are “Close to You” by the Carpenters and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You”.