Popular music this summer proved to be an interesting grab-bag of sounds and styles. There was the usual quasi-tropical hit (“Rude” by MAGIC!), DJ Mustard appeared to be on almost every beat and a certain Australian rapper made sure everyone knew how to spell her name. In recent weeks, several female artists have released tracks that have a jazzy retro vibe: Taylor Swift clearly ditched her cowgirl boots for good with the punchy single “Shake it Off” and newcomer Meghan Trainor brought back doo-wop with her song “All About that Bass.” Perhaps it is sign that the music industry is finally ready to move away from the dance-heavy hits that have ruled radio in recent years (and listeners are also welcoming the change).
Of course, here at Jasper Jams we like to highlight music that may have slipped under your radar, no matter the genre or popularity of the artist. Without further ado, here are 10 songs that you might have missed during the recent warm and sunny summer months.
1) “American Kids” by Kenny Chesney
Country legend Chesney delivered a standout track during a relatively lackluster summer for country music. Snappy, upbeat and catchy, “American Kids” is a great summer track full of classic Americana references and fun.
2) “Forgotten Man” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
While the aging rock stars are a far cry from the peak of their success in the 70s and 80s, Petty and the Heartbreakers proved that classic rock can still pull its own weight. Their recent album “Hypnotic Eye” debuted at number one on the charts — surprisingly Petty’s first ever top of the charts debut. Most of the album is solid, guitar-heavy rock, but “Forgotten Man” was one of my personal favorites.
3) “Just One of the Guys” by Jenny Lewis
Longtime actress and indie singer Lewis released a new album this summer after a five year break from her last solo work. The single off the album, “Just One of the Guys” is a tune that balances beachy West Coast rock and a catchy chorus with downbeat lyrics and frequent tempo shifts.
4) “Kanye” by The Chainsmokers
The Chainsmokers may never reach the viral popularity of “#SELFIE” again, but they are clearly trying to replicate that success with their latest dance anthem. Catchy house beats and tongue-in-cheek lyrics about the egotistical rapper everyone loves to hate make this song almost just as fun/annoying (take your pick) as their previous hit.
5) “Rafael” by Beatenberg
The opening notes of this fantastic song should immediately remind listeners of Paul Simon’s 1986 album “Graceland” (especially if they gave it a listen after it was featured on Jaspers Jams’ Albums You Should Borrow from Your Parents). It’s no surprise that the skillful drums and guitar work of this track bear a resemblance to that album. Beatenberg is a new group out of South Africa, the country where Simon also recorded “Graceland” with the help of some local talent.
6) “When A Fire Starts to Burn” by Disclosure
British electronic group Disclosure’s “Latch” received a huge amount of radio play this summer in The United States. Yet, the interesting part is that the song is nowhere near new. It comes from the album “Settle,” which was released over a year ago during the summer of 2013 to widespread critical acclaim. “Latch” itself was a successful single in the UK way back in the fall of 2012! The whole album is worth checking out and I included this lesser-known track just to show that even in the instant communication of today’s world, it can still take a while for good music to get around.
7) “Don’t Wait” by Mapei
Technically this song has been around for a little while too, but it’s a crime that more people don’t know about it — which is why I’m including it in this list. Powerful vocals and a sound so unique that it grabs your attention right away, expect Mapei to make a name for herself in the coming months.
8) “Wonderful, Everyday” by Chance the Rapper
In between headlining countless summer music festivals and concerts, Chance decided to drop a cover of the theme song from the television show “Arthur.” Yes, you read that right; the animated PBS children’s educational cartoon about an aardvark and his other animal friends. The rapper once again proves his ingenuity and quirkiness while delivering a heavy dose of nostalgia to his college-aged fans.
9) “The Dealer” by Stevie Nicks
Although this song was recorded during the late 70s, it was only released this summer. “The Dealer” is the first single from a new album of previously unreleased music by the lead singer of Fleetwood Mac. It’s no “Landslide” or “Dreams,” but it gets the job done for Fleetwood fans hungry for new music.
10) “Blush” by Mr Twin Sister
We’ll finish off our list with a laid-back track from a somewhat local indie band out of Long Island. Rich instrumentation, jazz grooves and a closing sax solo make this song a winner.
Note: “Jasper Jams” is a bi-weekly column designed to provide you with a regular dose of new music and old hits either forgotten or never known. Each week, I will include information on up and coming artists, new music trends or a themed playlist.