Ahh, the summertime. The perfect time to sit back in your chair, chow down on some fatty grilled foods and listen to some rockin’ new music. Summer 2007 looks to be pretty bountiful sonically, with a ton of great releases (and not so hot offerings) coming during the hottest months. Plus, if you aren’t content sitting around the house all day listening to your iPod, pack up your car and start driving, because plenty of great music festivals await. So start saving up your cash (or firing up Limewire) for these great summer releases and festivals.
So far, 2007 hasn’t been very kind to rap. Not many great hip-hop releases have surfaced, and the world has been cursed with MIMS’ “This is Why I’m Hot.” But hopefully, along with the cicadas, the summer will bring out some better rap joints. Famed rapper/crooner/self-parody R. Kelly drops Double Up on May 31, an album full of his signature weird works (song titles include “The Zoo” and “Sex Planet”). The biggest rap release of the season comes from one of the genre’s most fascinating figures, 50 Cent, whose Cam’ron-baiting album Curtis hits stores complete with guest spots from Eminem, Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z. Hip-hop wonderkid and Entourage guest Saigon releases his much-anticipated debut disk The Greatest Story Never Told on July 31. The late, much-missed J Dilla’s latest collection of awesome beats and guest rappers, Jay Loves Japan, comes out June 5. Finally, to add some international flair to the mix, U.K. rapper Dizzee Rascal drops Maths and English stateside on June 4.
Several big rock acts who have been mute the last few years hope to make some noise these next three months. Taking a break from his gig with The Raconteurs, Jack White reunites with Meg White for Icky Thump, the White Stripes’ sixth studio album. New York darling Interpol unleashes its third effort Our Love to Admire on July 10. Everyone’s favorite kitchen utensil-named band Spoon follows up 2005’s excellent Gimmie Fiction with the much more repetitively titled Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, out July 10. And cutest cover art of the summer goes to Queens of the Stone Age’s cartoon-lightbulb themed Era Vulgari out June 12. The slightly more indie Art Brut releases its sure-to-be-sarcastic sophomore album It’s a Bit Complicated on June 25. Oh, and if you are into Velvet Revolver, they got something coming out soon too. Though I’d urge you to spend your hard-earned money on something useful, like a lobotomy, first.
Off the beaten path, Australian weirdos Architecture in Helsinki release Places Like This on August 7. Now you can listen to their lead single “Heart it Races” on their MySpace. Toby Keith, who once told terrorists he’d “put a boot up their ass,” unleashes Big Dog Daddy. Say what you will about the man’s ass-backwards political views, but he can write a good pop song. Speaking of pop, beloved American Idol champ Kelly Clarkson follows up whatever that album that had “Since U Been Gone” on it with the not-Linkin Park related My December due out June 26.
Going to Best Buy and picking up the hot new CD everyone is talking about doesn’t define summer, but packing up and going out on the road to hit up the great festivals dotting our fine nation does. There are tons of multi-day music extravaganzas you could attend, so I’ll keep it simple and focus on the big three, two of which are in the Windy City itself.
When classes get out, get moving to Manchester, Tenn., for the Bonnaroo Music Festival from June 14 to 17. One of the largest festivals in the country, Bonnaroo draws some super-huge acts (Radiohead headlined last year). Now, no act this time around compares to Thom Yorke and company, but there are plenty of great acts to catch. This year, the recently reunited The Police take the top billing, while Tool, The White Stripes, and NU-loved Wilco all get big billings. But the undercard includes some dynamite bands as well. Some of 2006’s hottest acts, including The Hold Steady, Hot Chip and The Decemberists will try to keep up the momentum, while Chicago post-rockers Tortoise kick it back real old school, back to the 90s man. Plus, there are a plethora of jam bands to keep you busy.
In our neck of the woods, two massive festivals duke it out for Chicago bragging rights. First up, beloved indie-tastemakers Pitchfork host their music festival, from July 13 to 15. On the opening Friday night, three amazing artists perform their seminal albums in their entirety: Wu-Tanger GZA busts out Liquid Swords, the father of post-rock Slint jam out Spiderland and Sonic Youth just flat out rock with their masterpiece Daydream Nation. The next two days aren’t shabby either. Veteran indie staples like The New Pornographers, Of Montreal and The Sea and Cake rock alongside hot newcomers like Deerhunter, The Twilight Sad and Battles. Rap fans get Clipse and De La Soul, while those looking for something a little more danceable can turn to beloved mash-up man Girl Talk. Oh, and did I mention Yoko Ono headlines? I’d sell my leg to be here…
Lollapalooza follows, but has an equally strong lineup. Running from August 3 to 5, this year’s festival features big-timers like Modest Mouse, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Roots. Indie legend Yo La Tengo appears, as well as fresh foreign faces like Peter Bjorn and John and M.I.A. And, if you want to move your feet, LCD Soundsystem and !!! perform. Just ignore headliner Pearl Jam and everything will be OK.
And that’s summer 2007 sonically. If you don’t shy away from stocking up on new sounds this summer you will come back in the autumn more musically hip than ever. Plus, I’m sure you’ll get a rockin’ tan at a festival.