20 summer jams for 2019

Kibi James, Chris Devoe, Warm Red, and more music to beat the heat


Mattiel | Satis Factory (ATO Records) Attitude? Mattiel has it to spare on her first major label release, Satis Factory. Her propulsive combination of rock ’n’ roll, glam, and blues songwriting comes to a fine point in powerful numbers such as “Rescue You,” “Millionaire,” and the album’s first single, “Keep the Change.” These idiosyncratic rockers are perfect for the stage and Mattiel’s extensive world summer tour gets them there.
— Hal Horowitz

Sequoyah Murray

Sequoyah Murray | Penalties Of Love | (Thrill Jockey Records) Sequoyah Murray’s label debut is the kind of music to get lost in. With his emotive baritone as a guiding light, Murray navigates heartbreak and uncertainty through deep house grooves, jazz, and soulful R&B. Penalties of Love is a compelling look at the soul of a young artist, offering a borderless approach to music that’s as inspiring as it is infectious.

—Jake Van Valkenberg


Kibi James

Kibi James | Hi, How Are You? (Self-released) Kibi James’ breezy garage pop is a document of aimless summer afternoons off the clock and on the town. The group’s music saunters effortlessly between psychedelia and tropical music — a welcome lo-fi sedative to the mania of city life. Though the band formed just last fall, they’ve already garnered a sizable following, leading the way towards a bolder and more inclusive local scene.



Warm Red

Warm Red | The Way It Feels (State Laughter) New post-punk outfit Warm Red brings elements of ’90s experimental and indie rock out of the dead of night into the break of dawn. Vocalist Tony Gary makes simple pleas, like “I just want to touch something real,” over jerky riffs, crackling bass, and quickfire drums. The band forgoes the need to be overly analytical and are perfectly themselves: raucous, fun, and to-the-point.

—Aja Arnold


Night Cleaner

Night Cleaner | Warrior (State Laughter) Matt Lambert (All the Saints) returns as Night Cleaner with Warrior, collaborating with other artists including Frankie Broyles (Omni, ex-Balkans) and Valentina Tapia (Celines, Big Ded). Where Even was dark and gritty with trip-hop and goth nuances, Warrior takes on a lighter load with more room to enjoy the trip. Lambert rides in and out of pop, dub, psych-rock, and Western, creating a perfect unknown-destination road trip soundtrack.




Shouldies | :) (NeverNotGoth) Electro-punk trio Shouldies come out of the woodwork with their debut album, :), bridging a gap between Krautrock, dance electronica, and post-punk. Standout tracks “U Die I Die” and “Useless,” with detached vocals hovering over dark synth-pop and angsty guitar, exemplify the group’s ability to embrace the brinks of melancholy reflection and upbeat movement. Shouldies' debut gives listeners a soundtrack to feel comfortable with themselves, and dance all through the summer.

— AA


Chris Devoe

Chris Devoe | With the Moon (Adult Swim) "Preliminary" opens Chris Devoe’s With the Moon in backlit minimalism — empty space as a blank canvas for something else. A thump in the distance kicks up dust, catching bits of audio samples in the light. The effect is a nearly perfect marriage of John Carpenter's propulsive dirges and the futuristic sounds of Actress, Dabrye, and Equiknoxx. "Return Home" is a fitting close to the vulnerable dynamism of the album, matching Devoe's dazzling production style with Pumashock's siren-like voice.

— Bobby Power


Jeff Crompton

Jeff Crompton | Duets (Southern Crescent) Duets features Atlanta-based reed specialist, composer and bandleader Jeff Crompton in tandem on two tracks each with three different collaborators: Stuart Gerber (percussion), Peter Sloan (trombone), and Chris Case (piano). A bonus “live” session with drummer Jaimie Shepard completes a baker’s dozen of sophisticated jazz performances dedicated to the late, great guitarist and professor of improvisation, Davey Williams.

— Doug DeLoach



BASrelief | BASrelief (Past Now Tomorrow) An engaging mix of structured avant-jazz and free-wheeling improvisation, BASrelief is the eponymously titled debut album by Atlantans Ben Shirley (cello), Majid Araim (mandolin), and Julian Scott Bryan (percussion). Enveloped in an engaging acoustic ambience, the music exudes iconoclastic charm and imaginative playfulness even when it ventures into anarchic chaos.

— DD



W8ing4UFOs | Starlight/W8ing4UFOs (Past Now Tomorrow) The two songs on this 7-inch from Ben Shirley’s recently launched label cast in sharp relief the darkly alluring, antidisestablishmentarian trajectory of W8ing4UFOs, Bill Taft’s urban gypsy troupe. “Starlight” was partly inspired by a book of poetry by Sun Ra, while “W8ing4UFOs” pays tribute to guitarist Coleman Lewis (Smoke, Cat Power) who passed in 2014.

— DD


Stephen Wood

Stephen Wood | Untrammeled (Self-released) Atlanta-based composer Stephen Wood’s Untrammeled evokes the ineffable beauty and mystical wonder of natural wilderness in a series of works for small chamber ensemble. Inspired by residencies in remote backcountry locations including the Okefenokee Wildlife Refuge and Nantahala Wilderness Area, Wood transforms primordial contours and textures into pleasurably immersive sonorous excursions.

— DD


Flwr Chyld/James Tillman

Flwr Chyld/James Tilllman | Luv 2 U (Self-released) A collaboration between producer Flwr Chyld and multi-instrumentalist James Tillman, “Luv 2 U” is an ode to falling in love in the summertime. Flwr Chyld once again proves himself a production wizkid, imbuing the track with a warm airiness that matches Tillman’s idyllic and picturesque verses. ”Luv 2 U” encapsulates the quintessential summer romance experience, accentuated with flourishing keyboard melodies, breezy vocals, and laidback beats.

— Will Cardwell



Karaoke | How to Make You Boil (Irrelevant Music) Throughout this chronicle of dreams, Karaoke, the quintet that has quickly proved itself a master of the subconscious, guides listeners through a resonant and reverberating wonderland. Ranging from intergalactic eeriness and cinematic enchantment to mischievousness, this series layers each element of sound with such complexity that the result extends beyond reality. Whether it’s the whimsical tambourine, percussive whip, or ominous toms, the drums, vaguely analogous to the classic ’60s kick and snare pattern, almost vocalize undertones within each song, speaking what cannot be sung. Floating above it all are Grace Bellury’s dangerously enchanting vocals, which reveal to the listener that this is no ordinary karaoke.

— Sophia Rubin



Future | Beast Mode II (EPIC) When Beast Mode 2 arrived last July, trappers everywhere rejoiced. Already baited with nostalgia, the EP saw a return to form for Future. His shortest project since his unstoppable run in 2015, Future powers through Beast Mode 2 with characteristic swagger and raw performances. Regardless of whether the long-awaited sequel lives up to its predecessor, Future and executive producer Zaytoven's chemistry proves to be as fresh as it's ever been. An album to drop the top (or roll down the windows) to, Beast Mode 2, like Future's wifi, is lit.

— Joshua Robinson


Young Thug

Young Thug | On the Rvn (RCA) After spending a majority of 2018 on artist development with his YSL imprint and its underwhelming compilation album Slime Language, Young Thug finally shared what listeners had been clamoring for: a solo project. With September came On the Rvn, a six-track offering that featured guest appearances from Offset, 6lack, Jaden Smith, T-Shyne, and Elton John. His shortest project yet, Thug leverages its brevity with a mastery of his sound. A polished and cohesive record that doesn’t sacrifice his trademark quirkiness, On the Rvn still has legs eight months later.

— JR


Childish Gambino

Childish Gambino | Summer Pack (RCA) Overshadowed by the success of his Grammy Award-winning record “This is America,” Childish Gambino’s Summer Pack EP was seemingly lost in translation. Only featuring the two breezy cuts "Summertime Magic" and "Feels like Summer," it was an easy one to miss. Last year, "Feels Like Summer" was the talking point due to its viral animated music video. Now, thanks to Gambino's short film, Guava Island, Summer Pack has gained a second wind, with "Summertime Magic" holding the reins. Where "Feels like Summer" told you the vibes, "Summertime Magic" makes you feel them.

— JR


Tyler Key

Tyler Key | Local Support (Standard Electric Recorders) Spitting out songs on corn liquor and Xanax, via Indian Creek and Nashville, Tyler Key’s Local Support is the anti-country album you didn’t know you needed. Using beautifully crafted wordplay and imagery of the rural Southeast, Key navigates us through existential crisis and rebellion against Southern Baptist roots, all the while waning guitar chords cry out in the background. This folksy blues album running-from-country is reminiscent of Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited. It’s perfect for anyone who loves homey chords but is tired of hearing about girls and beer.

— Narah Landress


The Twotakes

The Twotakes | With Your Love (Self-released) Local pop/alternative rock band The Twotakes (think The Killers, Fall Out Boy, Atlas Genius) has your catchy summer anthem ready with their new single “With Your Love.” The intro draws you in with dark and dreamy synths and classic electric guitar, before building to a fast-paced, jump-up-and-down beat. The lyrics are also simple and perfectly singable. Remember the words “With your love,” jump up and down, and you’re ready to go.

— NL



Peeko | I’m Always Moving Tiny Things (1206626 Records DK) Peeko, a local indie rock band with similarities to First Aid Kit and Lunar Vacation, recently released their first album I’m Always Moving Tiny Things, an ode to the coming of age and sting of heartbreak. Filled with varying instrumentals, song lengths, and moods, I’m Always Moving Tiny Things is one you can listen to over and over without feeling like you’ve merely listened to one long song. The album begins with the punchy, upbeat “For Kurt,” a candid take on a mediocre-at-best date — “I hope you don’t remember my address” — before making a stark transition into the disgust and infatuation of “Conversation #10,” contrasted with a soft pace and simple guitar chords. The album’s theme is set from then on out: an honest yet poetic analysis of the ups and downs of love and life.

— NL


Rose Hotel

Rose Hotel | I Will Only Come When It’s A Yes | (Self-released) For all the joys summer can bring, its golden haze also provides a moment or two of bittersweet reflection. Such is the case with Jordan Reynolds’ “Running Behind,” from her recently released full-length debut, I Will Only Come When It’s A Yes. The track and its accompanying video elicit seasonally appropriate road trip imagery, with Reynolds’ memory of taking the wheel while her partner slept passenger-side, stirring up feelings of both longing and regret. Tyler Jundt’s trumpet adds a majestic quality to the highway-ready tune that’s perfect for those long drives with windows down and lots on the mind.

—Andy Barton


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