This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Callan Tansill-Suddath.
The music gods are smiling on students as the fun of syllabus week comes to a close and classes really begin. With a number of releases from multiple genres — big name and independent artists alike — August was arguably the most significant month for music yet this year. Here are some favorites to soften the blow of going back to class:
Angel Olsen – “Sister”
This indie folk singer’s unique, feminine sound is likely to attract more than just folk fans. In the first three singles off her recently released album “MY WOMAN,” Olsen shows off her range in style with the dreamy “Intern” and the intense, powerful, romantic “Shut Up Kiss Me.” In “Sister,” we hear a more reflective, at times delicate, side of the artist and hear her yearning for the identity she has yet to fully form: I want to know you//I want to show you// I want to be there//I want to see her//Piece us together//Know it’s forever//Show me the future//Tell me you’ll be there.
The nearly nine-minute ballad and video is, in a way, a coming-of-age story for Olsen, whose voice may be relatively new to the music world but is already capturing the sentiments of many of the powerful female artists who have come before her — Stevie Nicks, Deanna Carter and Joni Mitchell come to mind.
“MY WOMAN” was released September 2. Olsen will perform at The 9:30 Club on September 15.
Bon Iver – “22 (OVER S∞∞N) [Bob Moose Extended Cab Version]”
Since the surprise success of “Bon Iver, Bon Iver,” winning the Alternative Album of the Year and taking home an additional two awards for “Holocene” at the 2012 Grammy Awards, not too much has been heard from this new project, headed by Justin Vernon. But that’s not to say the artist hasn’t been busy. In the interim, Vernon has collaborated with a diverse group of artists, including Jay-Z, Kanye West and James Blake.
His new song “22 (OVER S∞∞N)” has a sleepy, somber sound that’s similar to much of Bon Iver’s other work, but it’s clear the artist is taking a more experimental turn. His new material utilizes synthesizers, more ominous lyrics – “It might be over soon” is repeated throughout the length of the three-and-a-half minute track – and multilayered vocals, shedding the woodsy feel of his earlier work.
“22, A Million” is set to be released Sept. 30. A tour is expected to be announced shortly after.
American Football – “I’ve Been So Lost for So Long”
“I’ve Been So Lost For So Long” is the first release from American Football since their hit 1999 eponymous album. Many remember the album as the pinnacle of late 1990’s, early 2000’s emo, so this new release had a lot to live up to. Although the overall sound of the track is markedly clearer – a trait some could argue detracts from its quality – and lacks some of the band’s signature instrumental features, like the melancholy trumpet the group made so recognizable, “I’ve Been Lost For So Long” is an exciting release for lovers of the genre.
With its melancholy sound and crestfallen lyrics (“Maybe I’m asleep // This is all a dream // I can’t believe my life is happening to me”) it echoes many of the sentiments that made American Football’s earlier music so relatable. Since many of us were in preschool at the time of their debut, American Football’s new album is sure to draw an entirely new generation of fans.
American Football’s second album is scheduled for release Oct. 21.
Frank Ocean – “Nikes”
In spring 2015, Ocean posted a photo on his website holding a magazine titled “Boys Don’t Cry” with the caption “I got two versions. I got twoooo versions.” More than a year later, the artist delivered in the form of two distinct albums, dropped 24 hours apart.
To say the release of Frank Ocean’s sophomore album was highly anticipated would be an understatement. Between the release of “Channel Orange” and “Blonde,” Ocean collaborated with Jay-Z, Beyoncé and Kanye West while fans waited tirelessly for more solo material. On Aug. 19, Ocean released his 18-track visual album “Endless,” through Apple music, and the following day dropped “Blonde” – the record originally titled “Boys Don’t Cry.”
“Nikes,” the first single off the album, immediately captivated new and old fans alike through it’s visually stunning, racy and trippy video and lyrics that touch on topics as varied as sex, family, loss and police brutality. Frank Ocean’s style is prolific — an icon in modern hip hop, he takes the genre where few have traversed. With the release of “Blonde,” Ocean shed his “one-hit-wonder” status and cemented himself as one of the biggest musical game-changers of the era. It may have taken thirteen more months than originally anticipated to get the two versions, but it was worth the wait.
“Blonde” and “Endless” are both available on Apple Music.