Summer may be coming to a close, with hemlines dropping and day-drinking becoming less socially acceptable, but that doesn’t mean the fun has to stop—at least not where your ears are concerned. With the changing of seasons comes the best-of-the-best music releases to help ease the pain of summertime withdrawals. With choice efforts from phoenix-like indie goddess Cat Power, who did some major soul-searching and self-inventing on her latest album, swagger-centric hip-hop head A$AP Rocky who’s destined for mainstream acclaim, to the unusual pairing of an art-rock veteran and an indie darling sonic ingénue, this year’s must-listen albums run the gamut of aural awesomeness. Without further ado, tantalize your ears with our editor-approved picks of the season.
A$AP Rocky – LongLiveA$AP
Named after one-half of the legendary rap duo Eric B and Rakim, A$AP Rocky (neé Rakim Mayers) dominated the headphones of hipster hip-hop fans with his debut mixtape LiveLoveA$AP. After whetting the collective sonic appetite of the blogosphere A$AP Rocky is back with his rhyme-tastic full-length debut LongLiveA$AP, which features a cameo from pouty seductive songstress Lana Del Rey.
Cat Power – Sun
After enduring serious heartbreak (a bad breakup with actor Giovanni Ribisi) Cat Power chanteuse and multi-instrumentalist Chan Marshall decided to put the pain to music. The resulting sound on Sun, Cat Power’s stellar new album, is electronic-infused, soulful without being contrived, and full of lush melodies, and heart-on-sleeve lovelorn lyrics. Highlights include opener “Cherokee” and the power-pop laden “Ruin.”
St. Vincent and David Byrne – Love This Giant
While this may seem like an unlikely pairing, the Talking Heads front man and St. Vincent’s Annie Clark make beautifully artful music together. Filled with a bombastic horn section, catchy hooks, and cerebral lyrics, Love This Giant revels in its own innovation and redefines the notion of a super group. Music nerds rejoice!
The xx – Coexist
Purveyors of moody make out music, London’s The xx are back with the long-awaited sophomore album Coexist. Filled with the stunning sonic textures and slithering sensuality you’d expect from this Brit trio, Jamie xx and company deliver songs with more-fully formed lyrics, like the love-longing ambience of “Chained.”
Grizzly Bear – Shields
The sometimes-precious indie crooners Grizzly Bear are back with Shields, the follow up to 2009’s critically acclaimed Vekatimest. Staying true to the spacious dreamy layers from past efforts, Shields combines ethereal harmonies, psych-infused guitar riffs, and lush soundscapes making for a perfect Sunday morning sound.
Kendrick Lamar – Good Kid, Mad City
With the lyrically dexterous Good Kid, Mad City, up-and-coming rapper Kendrick Lamar offers up his signature philosophical-heavy rhyme style to masses. On this major label debut Lamar collaborates with avant-popstress Lady Gaga and cleverly pontificates on the highs and lows of inebriation on the hip-shaking bagger “Swimming Pools (Drank).”