Summertime grooves

Some of the best albums this year that fit the season


The Mavericks have released their first new album in 10 years, “In Time.”

Courtesy of The Mavericks
Published: Thursday, August 1, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, July 31, 2013 at 3:53 p.m.

Summer is a time of carefree grooving, good-time exuberance and outdoor fun-loving. And it deserves some fitting, like-minded music. The year so far has seen no shortage of candidate albums released by artists who, even unwittingly, have risen to the seasonal challenge.

Here's a look at some of the best albums of the year so far that make for great summertime listening; from staff and wire reports.

Bill Dean,

Entertainment editor

The Mavericks, ‘In Time'

Reuniting after 10 years, the Miami-based Mavericks have fully meshed their country beginnings and Latin influences to deliver a musical sonic boom: a genre-busting platter blending country, Tejano, rockabilly and surf-rock that's an easy candidate for their best album ever. The fiesta begins with “Back In Your Arms Again,” which counters the cry-in-your beer country lyrics with upbeat Tejano accordion, and rarely lets up until “(Call me) When You Get to Heaven,” a slow-burn finale that boils over with a crescendoing climax. The standout track, though, is “Come Unto Me,” a killer tune that sounds like Roy Orbison waking up after a Tequila binge only to find himself starring in a Tarantino film.

Bill Dean

Robert Randolph and the Family Band, ‘Lickety-Split'

Virtually any album from this pedal-steel guitarist makes a good summer soundtrack. But “Lickety-Split” lives up to its name with rousing rockers like “Amped Up,” the funky feel-good track “Born Again” (which alludes to Randolph's roots of playing “sacred steel” gospel in church), and “New Orleans,” a groovy, relaxed tune and homage to the Crescent City. And Randolph also leaves room for an energized take on the Ohio Players' “Love Rollercoaster” and The Rascals' “Good Lovin'” — one of the best summer songs of all time.

Bill Dean

Kacey Musgraves, ‘Same Trailer Different Park'

Musgraves writes and sings about a world where “lemonade keeps turning into lemons” on her confident breakout album, a languid, honest and ultimately optimistic country statement. An assured voice who unflinchingly attacks topics ranging from promiscuity to hopeless love, Musgraves brushes off a drunk boyfriend on “Keep It to Yourself,” and on “Dandelion” sings of hopeless love while rich, perfectly engineered instrumentation lifts her words.

Randall Brooks,

The Los Angeles Times

Bombino, ‘Nomad'

A shimmering electric guitar record that no fan of the instrument should miss, “Nomad,” by young Tuareg musician Bombino, is perfect. Overflowing with sonic and lyrical joy, the record, produced by the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach in Nashville, continues to grow with each listen. Fans of Jimi Hendrix and Amadou & Miriam alike can connect through Bombino.

Randall Brooks

Charles Bradley, ‘Victim of Love'

Modern-day soul man Charles Bradley, who was born in Gainesville but moved to New York City at age 8, adds to his growing reputation with an album that instantly conjures soulful summers of years past. Having seen James Brown as a child at the Apollo Theater, the adult Bradley draws on a mix of '60s and '70s influences from early Temptations (“You Put the Flame on It”), heartfelt Marvin Gaye (“Victim of Love”), bouncy Four Tops (“Strictly Reserved for You”) and, of course, the Godfather of Soul (“Love Bug Blues”).

Bill Dean

Various artists, ‘Sound City: Reel to Reel'

Dave Grohl's documentary film, “Sound City,” saluted the L.A. studios where Nirvana recorded “Nevermind” by including an array of artists who recorded there — from Fleetwood Mac and Neil Young to Tom Petty and Rick Springfield. The accompanying soundtrack takes advantage of the film's coterie of jammers by featuring all-new songs in unique pairings with Grohl such as Stevie Nicks on the Fleetwood Mac-ish “You Can't Fix This,” Paul McCartney on the Nirvana-like “Cut Me Some Slack” (also featuring Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic) and Springfield on the all-out rocker “The Man That Never Was.”

Bill Dean

Rhye ‘Woman'

An album that could fool casual fans of Sade into thinking she's gone indie, Rhye's debut record doesn't hide its affection for the smooth sound or candlelit soul music. Rather, it offers whispered seductions one after the other. Some, such as “The Fall,” work on the dance floor, while others, such as the closer, “One of These Summer Days,” are better for romance, reading or relaxing in the bathtub. Taken together, Rhye offers more pleasure per measure than any record in 2013.

Randall Brooks

Thee Oh Sees, ‘Floating Coffin'

Garage rock, punk rock, scuzz rock — call it what you want — but no rock 'n' roll band is firing with as much intensity in 2013. The San Francisco band is incredible live, and even on recordings, lead singer John Dwyer seems genuinely unhinged most of the time. And he can turn off the crazy to go soft on songs such as “No Spell,” which harnesses the clean sound of a Rickenbacker guitar to create tripped-out bliss.

Randall Brooks

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