The summer is usually big-bang time for the music industry:
Traveling festivals, ubiquitous summer jams, and huge releases
dominate the landscape. Looking back, however, this summer was a
little, well, lame. Sure, there were some high points: indie rock
made a mainstream comeback and hip-hop — despite a lack of
strong singles — managed to release several excellent albums.
The cancellation of the summer’s most promising festival, as
well as a lack of one truly fantastic album, made this summer feel
a little too endless for our liking.

 

Enter the Wu

The scattered forces of the Wu-Tang Clan have given their
adoring fans a mixed bag of solo albums, and recently,
they’ve been tipping the scales toward disappointing a lot
more often. This summer, however, saw the release of two stellar Wu
solo albums: Ghostface’s Pretty Toney Album and Masta
Killa’s No Said Date. Method Man’s Tical 0:
The Prequel
wasn’t on the same level as his
Wu-mates’ releases, but it was still one of his most
consistent works. Steeped in great beat-making and reinforced by
three of the Wu’s better lyricists, the Shao-Lin show hints
of returning to its former dominance.

 

Hot indies

The summer has always been known for its killer singles: Last
summer, after all, we got Beyonce’s “Crazy In
Love” and OutKast’s “Hey Ya.” In fact, the
hot singles have been coming out of hip-hop for so long that it was
a huge surprise this summer when the two best summer staples came
out of the indie underground. Modest Mouse’s “Float
On” and Franz Ferdinand’s “Take Me Out”
bounced out of their college-radio dungeons and into the mainstream
buoyed by hyperactive basslines and anthemic choruses.

 

Lollapalooza sputters

There were huge amounts of optimism for the summer’s
Lollapalooza festival. Jane’s Addiction frontman Perry Farrel
had revived his traveling culture show after a half-decade hiatus.
But where he left off – with Metallica and mook-rock
throwaways — wasn’t nearly as important as where he
ended up: with the summer’s most promising lineup of
underground bands. Headliners like the Pixies and Morrissey were
supported by indie faves like Broken Social Scene and The Walkmen.
Weekend-long festivals — like Bonnaroo and Coachella —
drew well, but Lollapalooza was forced to cancel due to extremely
lagging ticket sales. Several of the bands — Modest Mouse and
The Walkmen included — still managed to put together
successful summer tours, but the cancellation of Lollapalooza put a
damper on the entire summer concert scene.

 

Summer soundtrack

Of course, the summer is littered with huge releases.
Here’s what the Daily had to say:

 

The Beastie Boys, To the 5 Boroughs

To the 5 Boroughs works as both a classic Beastie Boys
record and a bold political statement. Party tracks in the spirit
of “Fight for Your Right to Party” and the Boys’
trademark pop culture references are seamlessly juxtaposed with
unabashedly liberal politics and nods to New York City.

 

AC Newman, The Slow Wonder

Here, the compositional savvy that made Newman’s
songwriting for The New Pornographers so gorgeous shows clearly. He
still densely stacks instrumental lines, but instead of the
synthesized layers in much of his previous work, Newman plays it
cool with a more pointillist approach, interlocking guitar and
rhythm lines.

 

The Streets, A Grand Don’t Come for Free

His thick accent and quirky rhymes make for a distinctive style
that often sounds more like spoken word than traditional rapping.
But once patient listeners have cleared the hurdle of simply
getting used to Skinner’s style, they will be treated to one
of the year’s best records.

 

Sonic Youth, Sonic Nurse

Nurse is the most forgettable record Sonic Youth has ever
made, yet while listening you’d swear it’s the most
captivating record of the year –– or at least the
month.

 

!!!, Louden Up Now

!!! pulls you into the darkness and heat of their surroundings
just as much as they convey the bright lights and fast pace of the
streets outside the dancehall.

 

Lloyd Banks, The Hunger for More

Banks’s voice rumbles far beyond raspy and deep; it sounds
like the man has a subwoofer next to his larynx. His flow spawns
long verses packed with hissing threats and flashes of real
storytelling.

 

The Fiery Furnaces, Blueberry Boat

Eleanor’s sultry vocals cascade over Matthew’s
slinky guitar lines on the start-stop rhythms of “Straight
Street,” creating an astonishing combination of soulful
conventionality and audacious invention.

 

Wilco, A Ghost Is Born

A Ghost is Born again finds Tweedy tweaking Wilco’s
sound, scraping away the sonic blur of 2002’s epic Yankee
Hotel Foxtrot
. What results is an organic record that proves,
above all, that Wilco is human.

 

— Compiled by the Daily Music Staff

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