As the mercury begins to soar around the world even before the first official day of summer, it’s a good thing there’s a slew of hot new releases on the horizon to provide the soundtrack to the best season of the year. June will see the release of an array of albums from electronic-music stalwarts and rising upstarts. Listed in no particular order, we present ten releases that should be on your musical radar.
1. GusGus – Mexico (Kompakt)
Formed in Reykjavík, Iceland back in 1995, the once multimember art-music collective GusGus has been slimmed down to a core group consisting of Birgir Thorarinsson, Daníel Ágúst, Högni Egilsson and Stephan Stephensen. Like their homeland and the country their latest endeavor borrows its name from, Mexico is gorgeous, majestic and a little mysterious. The collection’s songs focus on the trails and tribulations of love and run the gamut from the warm electro-soul of “God Application” to “Sustain” whose melody channels The Michael Zager Band’s disco classic “Let’s All Chant.” Featuring fresh musicality and production, GusGus reminds us that electronic music can be at its finest when love is the message.
Essential track: “This Is Not the First Time”
Release date: June 23
2. Martyn — The Air Between Words (Ninja Tune)
Three years after issuing his last album for Brainfeeder, Ghost People, Dutch-born, Washington DC-based producer Martyn joins the fray at Ninja Tune. The Air Between Words finds him evolving well beyond the bold sonic soundscapes he crafted when he was producing drum ‘n’ bass and casually flaunts the progression of styles he’s been exploring ever since. The second track, “Glassbeadgames,” will no doubt intrigue a lot of people as it features Four Tet (the album’s other collaboration is “Love of Pleasure” with Inga Copeland) but the totality of this release shows a producer at the top of his game. “Empty Mind” and “Like That” wield sexy, dirty bass-led grooves as the album climaxing with “Fashion Skater,” a song that distills the lessons he’s learned into nearly six unforgettable minutes.
Essential track: “Empty Mind”
Release date: June 17
3. Worthy – Disbehave (Anabatic)
As one of the co-founders of San Francisco’s Dirtybird Records, DJ/producer Worthy (real name: Sean Worthington Williams) has seen it all. Those life experience have no doubt played a role in shaping his debut album, Disbehave, which freely struts through a range of sounds and styles. “The Words” featuring Audio Angel and “Burned” is his crafty and fresh take on bass music while the title track encompasses the airiness of broken beat doused with a slathering of glitch. “On The Floor” featuring Kevin Knapp is a great vocal romp, but it’s ballsy sample tracks like “Handle It” where Worthy finds his sweet spot.
Essential track: “Dusted Smoke”
Release date: June 10
4. Dave Aju – Black Frames (Circus Company)
Bay Area native Marc Barrite’s creative mojo for his third album was fueled by the end of a relationship and moving away from San Francisco. Drawing upon his background as an MC and skill as an electronic-music producer, Black Frames is thoroughly offbeat but logical in its totality. “Clean St” is fun, engaging party funk while “Vins Noirs” is one of the plain ol’ weirdest house tracks ever produced. This is essential listening for the sonically curious among us.
Essential track: “Nobody Knows”
Release date: June 16
5. Mister Saturday Night – Brothers and Sisters (Mister Saturday Night)
The bespoke Brooklyn house party/label fronted by Eamon Harkin and Justin Carter unveils its first compendium featuring an array of gifted artists — Alex Burkat, Anthony Naples, Archie Pelago, Boya, Dark Sky, General Ludd, Gunnar Haslam, Hank Jackson, Keita Sano and Lumigraph — who’ve already released singles on their imprint. The vibe here is deep, pure and wonderfully uncommercial.
Essential track: General Ludd “Woo Ha”
Release date: June 23
6. Sons of Magdalene – Move To Pain (Audraglint)
How does one cope with tragedy? If you’re Joshua Eustis, of Telefon Tel Aviv fame, you find solace by escaping to your own musical sanctuary. Eustis started Sons of Magdalene in 2007 when his father was diagnosed with cancer, using the tracks he recorded at Loyola University in early 2005 as the project’s starting point. The earliest songs for Move To Pain were finished in late 2008, shortly before the death of his TTA musical collaborator and childhood friend, Charles Cooper. After finishing the album between 2009-2010, Eustis has finally released it. The glistening “Hold On For A Second” is perhaps the best song New Order never wrote during their “Perfect Kiss” era, while the slow burn of “O, Death” and haunting drama of “Unfortunate Phone Call” serve as a poignant catharsis for an artist trying to make sense of the turbulent world around him.
Essential track: “Hold On For A Second”
Release date: June 24
7. DJ Vadim – The Dubcatcher (BBE)
It’s almost ironic that DJ Vadim’s Wikipedia page classifies his musical style as “alternative hip-hop.” The Russian-born beatmaster has been flipping the script since the late ’90s, bringing together a smorgasbord of styles into every record he’s cut during his storied career. On his 11th album, The Dubcatcher, Vadim taps a lengthy list of roots and reggae artists for a sunny record that’s perfect for nonstop summertime consumption.
Essential track: “It Was A Thing”
Release date: June 17
8. Bassnectar – Noise Vs. Beauty (Amorphous Music)
When Bassnectar remixed The Knife’s “When I Grow Up” in 2009, he hoisted himself to the world stage and presented an entirely new blueprint for electronic music. Since then Lorin Ashton has won a legion of fans, taking bass music to a place all his own. The 15-track Noise Vs. Beauty has already made noise in lieu of the hard-hitting “Now” featuring Rye Rye and primes the pump for an album that mixes up hip-hop with shards of dubstep. It all sets the stage for the sugary EDM bliss of “You & Me” fronted by Winter Darling, which will no doubt serve as this season’s summer festival make-out song.
Essential track: “So Butterfly (2014 Version)”
Release date: June 24
9. Blackbird Blackbird – Tangerine Sky (OM)
Often cited for occupying the same woozy musical neighborhood as Washed Out, Caribou and The Postal Service, San Francisco-based artist Mikey Maramag has defined a sound that’s all his own under his Blackbird Blackbird alias. On Tangerine Sky he finesses his ability to write melodically infectious songs fueled by electronic instrumentation. Upbeat songs come to him as easily as Kenyans win marathons, so that’s why the heartfelt digital soul of “There Is Nowhere” reminds us of range and that sad songs say so much.
Essential track: “Treehouse”
Release date: June 3
10. Various Artists – Kitsuné America 3 (Kitsuné)
The third installment of Kitsuné’s America series is brimming with contributions from a plethora of up-and-comers. Rising ice cream truck driving duo Heartsrevolution turn pop on its ear with their anthemic “Kishi Kaisei” who are clever enough to steer clear of pure fromage. Meanwhile, Jerome LOL featuring Angelina Lucero’s “Fool” saunters in a darker direction on the fringe of pop while Brenmar featuring Rush Davis’ “Medusa” draws from R&B, glitch and UK bass like nobody’s business. Here’s wishing Kitsuné’s Class of 2014 lots of good fortune.
Essential track: “Sunni Colón’s 1000 Roses”
Release date: June 2