If you don't think AwkwardSound doesn't pay attention to its site traffic stats, then shame on you. Ever since Memorial Day weekend, it's been very telling that most of you have understandably opted to shut off the Internet as early as Thursday and enjoy Mother Nature at her best, because summer is here regardless of what the calendar tells you. We're also at the mid-way point in 2013, and the longer days coupled with more time on your hands (certainly not mine, unfortunately) makes for a great opportunity to take advantage of some worth mentioning listens over the past six months AS couldn't fit to review on top of its always busy schedule. It's an annual tradition that it likes to call Required Summer Listening (kind of like assigned reading work for all my fellow Advanced Placement nerds out there, except fun!) where due props are given to a group of albums worth vacationing with in the coming weeks. Make plans to get away with them below...
The Dillinger Escape Plan - One of Us Is the Killer
New Jersey metal-core perfectionists the Dillinger Escape Plan have consistently bent the genre's conventions in their favor over the past decade all for the better on each subsequently more remarkable release. Their fifth LP One of Us Is the Killer is arguably the band's most direct and cohesive display of shifty math-rock time signatures and full throttle breakdowns for any of the school kids out there who yearn to calculate infinity during their downtime from homework. For everyone else, pick your poison: Whether it be Greg Pucciato's visceral vocal intensity or Ben Weinman's adrenaline junkie guitar work, One of Us Is the Killer unleashes the beast in your great outdoors spirit.
Fat History Month - Bad History Month
Lazed, hazed and blazed. I wouldn't know much about getting high since I've been drug-free since 1983 (no judgement, of course,) but Bad History Month, the sophomore effort from Boston BUZZsound and Exploding In Sound darlings Fat History Month, is your quintessential backyard-on-a-Saturday-afternoon-with-nothing-to-do listen that grills up meat-and-potato indie rock classics with a small side of jam band mellow served up in a bowl. It's an LP that probably means more when realized in the company of your beardy bros and old friends as you contemplate impending adulthood, and like the duo's music, Bald History Month is savored best when plans are laid out timelessly simple and IRL.
Gun Outfit - Hard Coming Down
There’s something about the thick summer air that allows Gun Outfit’s sound to breathe better than most. Having already appeared on AS’ very first edition of Required Summer Listening with their slow–rolling thunder storm sophomore LP Possession Sound, the post-punk poster children of the Olympia scene’s latest effort for Dean Spunt’s Post Present Medium label vacations in a familiar fractured climate caught between lonely rays of sunlight and bleak cloud breaks. Life isn't always a beach, and Hard Coming Down plays best when you're in need of some distant warm weather "me" time.
Mikal Cronin - MCII
Mikal Cronin steps out of the shadow of his garage punk cohort Ty Segall to poppier effects with his breakthrough sophomore LP and Merge debut MCII. Sungods and goddesses will have a beach day on this listen as Cronin cruises along the coastlines and sinks his feet into the warm sand with a surf-sided sound and breezy hooks that epitomize an endless summer under a clear blue sky. These aren’t your typical carefree sunbathers, however, as the San Fran songwriter offers up enough lyrical food for thought to keep your head checked while you’re baking under the UV.
Paramore - Paramore
Surprised? You shouldn't be. After losing two members and regrouping as a three piece, post-pop-punk survivalists Paramore have come into their own on their most appropriate self-titled fourth full-length. Helmed in the studio by bass playing renaissance man Justin Meldal-Johnsen (Beck, M83, Nine Inch Nails,) Hayley Williams, Jeremy Davis and Taylor York have recorded their slickest and well collected effort to date by shedding emo derivatives in favor of sugary pop without losing any of their radio-ready rock bite. If you're the type of person who steers clears of the sand and opts for AC-manufactured coolness indoors, then Paramore has more than enough inoffensively modern style and dumb fun to satisfy your ears while looking out the window (and even if you aren't, there's plenty of Best Coast comparisons to go around here, too.)
Pharmakon - Abandon
Gnarling NYC noise artist and BUZZSound Pharmakon has created one of the most rewardingly terrifying listens on her Sacred Bones debut Abandon. Like a screenwriter behind the summer’s most captivating thriller, Margaret Chardiet charters you into unsettling territory of industrial clash and electronic distortion compositions made terrifically scary through her wretched shrills. There’s an ominous mystery lurking out there in the darkness of the night on Abandon. It’s up to you to figure out whether or not you’re brave enough to discover what wicked may come from it.