As the trauma of finals becomes just another suppressed memory, and the weather begins to warm up, you might find yourself reaching for your summer essentials. Depending on whether you’ll be jetting off to a remote destination, picking up a job (or two) to save up some extra cash or starting that summer internship that so many covet, what you consider to be essential will probably vary. Nothing against passports and sunscreen, but they’re not going to be useful when you’re spending most of your day typing at a desk in an office building — but maybe I’m projecting.
Individual tastes aside, there is perhaps nothing as unifying to the masses than some solid tunes. It’s never truly summer until you have a seamless playlist to jam out to, regardless of whether you’re doing that jamming while tanning on a beach or driving to your countless summer gigs; it’s only natural to put together a playlist to soundtrack your life during this time. While the market is absolutely saturated with amazing releases and exceptional artists, some musicians’ personal styles are perfect for the sunny atmosphere of summer.
With that in mind, and in no particular order, here are five new artists to add to your summer playlist.
If high energy electro-pop is what you seek, look no further than LA-based Smallpools. By incorporating synth-heavy harmonies and cheeky lyricism into their music, the four-man band has truly zeroed in on the free-spirited nature of the summer experience.
The themes of travel, adventures and young love dominate their music, giving it a nostalgic feel. Smallpools’ sound can be described as a fusion of the Chainsmokers and Two Door Cinema Club, which makes their music fit for almost any occasion.
More chorus-centric hits, such as “Passenger Side,” are predictably ideal for some collective car-singing sessions with whoever is riding in your passenger side. Other, more instrumental-heavy tracks, like “So Social” or “People Watching,” are perfectly suited for poolside listening or similar activities.
No other artist on this list is better suited for a lazy summer afternoon than Lonely Benson. With a well-developed style that remains cohesive throughout his discography, Lonely Benson creates a unique, relaxed, upbeat indie rock influenced by bossa-jazz and iconic tropical sounds.
He intentionally avoids incorporating abrasive sounds into his music, and as a result, all the musician’s songs have a rounded, soothing quality meant to relax. Thanks to a liberal use of groovy guitar riffs and synth-laced vocals, his music also has an undeniable psychedelic flare and the power to transport you into a summer daydream, regardless of your surroundings.
Tracks like “Strawberry Afternoons” and “Peculiar Paradise” are ideal for a bit of escapism; listening to them is the definition of an aural vacation. Calm and evocative, this musician’s work is the textbook definition of chill beach music.
3. La Palma
Folky psych-pop band La Palma released their debut LP of the same name earlier this year, just in time for it to serve as the backing track to summer. With the ample use of guitar harmonies and distinct vocal production, the two-man band creates sounds bigger than their parts.
Integrating a vast number of musical influences, ranging from surf rock to folk, the band has a distinct sound that encapsulates the various moods of summer. Traditional instrumental compositions are mixed with found sounds, making La Palma’s songs an entirely immersive experience. Although there is an undeniably raw, and at times, chaotic, quality to much of their work, it’s not unpolished; instead, it’s cohesive and authentic throughout.
More laidback pieces, such as “Body” or “Follow Through”, serve to kick back and relax. On the other side of the spectrum, bubbly, experimental songs, like “All Fall Down” and “Iceland”, have the animated, finger-plucky quality that makes you want to dance. Through their colorful and atmospheric style, La Palma offers a distinctly nuanced listening experience.
Although they’ve been around for a while, Local Natives, a band with an irrefutably SoCal indie sound, has expanded their style and range exponentially throughout the years. Their newest album release, “Violet Street,” presents their melodically bright style through an innovative and honest lens, making it a worthy addition to any summer playlist.
Although lyrically gritty, Local Natives songs have an airy, ethereal quality to them, making them perfect for slower days.
Most notably, “Café Amarillo” and “When Am I Gonna Lose You” are a fresh return to the band’s original style, presenting clever three-part harmonies that wash over you and present an opportunity for some easy listening.
Meanwhile, “Megaton Mile” and “Munich II” balance out calmer tracks, through cleverly produced and mind-bending compositions that allow for more active listening. With both light and earthy songs in the mix, Local Natives’ new music presents a balanced act to fill both your summer days and nights.
5. Topaz Jones
R&B probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about upbeat summer music. While the genre is traditionally characterized by a slow, soulful quality, Topaz Jones takes that equation and flips it on its head.
By fusing old-school hip-hop beats with upbeat pop melodies and incorporating soulful harmonies reminiscent of early 2000s R&B, the rapper creates a one-of-a-kind sound. These elements are incorporated with fast-paced and autobiographical lyrics to create a funky — and undeniably cool — soundscape that will have you bopping around in no time.
The artist’s extensive repertoire includes songs like “Running Out Of Runway” and “For The Better,” which are evocative of quintessential cruising music, while pieces like “Toothache” and “Powerball” channel a fun, jumpy energy that’s guaranteed to lift your spirits and hit you with the feeling of summer bliss.