7 albums to listen to this summer

Clockwise from top left: Kristin Hersh (Courtesy Pete Mellekas); Bong Wish (Courtesty Ty Ueda); Meshell Ndegeocellom (Courtesy Charlie Gross); Activity (Courtesy Ebru Yildiz); hex gf (Courtesy CJ Moy); Genesis Owusu (Courtesy Bec Parsons); Darlingside (Courtesy Shervin Lainez
Clockwise from top left: Kristin Hersh (Courtesy Pete Mellekas); Bong Wish (Courtesty Ty Ueda); Meshell Ndegeocellom (Courtesy Charlie Gross); Activity (Courtesy Ebru Yildiz); hex gf (Courtesy CJ Moy); Genesis Owusu (Courtesy Bec Parsons); Darlingside (Courtesy Shervin Lainez

Summer is unofficially underway, and it’s time to indulge. Stay awake that extra hour. Have that 5 p.m. cocktail. Get the large ice cream cone. It’s what Gemini season is all about. And as your trusted Gemini representative, I’ve been indulging in some new releases for you, searching far and wide for your new favorite album. You are welcome for this selfless favor.

There’s a healthy handful of local albums that deserve your attention. Each of the four local releases come from veterans of various New England music circuits. The opulent Massachusetts folk scene and the grassroots psychedelic community are represented; a few of the other albums are emerging from the remnants of bands with established followings in the area. Elsewhere, you’ll find bold experimentalists and sprawling, compelling albums arising from rich countercultures. On one of the more varied guides I’ve put together, you have everything from indie-pop, West African-tinged soul, noise rock and brooding folk to dogear for your summer playlists. Enjoy discovering, and remember that no ice cream cone is too large this summer.

hex gf, 'Haters'
June 9

The duo of Justine Bowe and Sam Vanderhoop Lee, formerly of Magic Man and Boston’s Photocomfort, created hex gf to rekindle their longstanding creative partnership. Their debut album, “Haters,” is a collection of reaching indie-pop that illustrates how deep their shared language is. The dreamy and anthemic “Knife” perhaps best sums up the album: deeply melodic and driving with a healthy dash of cynicism. It falls somewhere on the spectrum between The War on Drugs’ “Lost In The Dream” and Jenny Lewis’s “The Voyager.”.

Meshell Ndegeocello, 'The Omnichord Real Book'
June 16

Since the early ‘90s, multifaceted sing-songwriter Meshell Ndegeocello has built a storied legacy of soulful and meaningful music. “The Omnichord Real Book,” her thirteenth studio album, expands upon this legacy. Inspired by the immediacy of the omnichord, an eccentric electronic instrument, “The Omnichord Real Book” is a sprawling listen where Ndegeocello plays with elements of modern jazz, soulful folk and West African psychedelia. It’s a thrilling experiment from one of the more adventurous songwriters of our time.

Bong Wish, 'Hazy Road'
June 23

Boston’s Mariam Saleh has been ripping around town as Bong Wish for nearly 10 years. You’ve probably seen her live at the Lilypad or Deep Thoughts, whether solo or playing in a different band. We’re finally getting her debut album, the ‘60s-tinged “Hazy Road,” and it’s well worth the wait. The album’s title track, one of the oldest songs in the Bong Wish catalog, burns with the kind of energy you’d hear
streaming from a San Francisco garage in 1969. Think Ween meets Jefferson Airplane.

Darlingside, 'Everything Is Alive'
July 28

Darlingside, the Massachusetts folk quartet known for their vocal interplay, have shifted to a more stoic and singular sound on their forthcoming album “Everything Is Alive.” Each of the group’s vocalists trade off singing lead throughout the album’s gauzy tracklist, singing intimate and softly textured songs about loss, struggle and redemption. The album challenges the notion that Darlingside couldn’t possibly get any deeper and closer to matters of the heart. It’s a personal triumph in their discography.

Activity, 'Spirit in the Room'
Aug. 4

In the New York lineage of notable noise music, you have Suicide in the ‘70s, Sonic Youth through the ‘90s and Liars in the aughts. Brooklyn’s Activity are picking up where their predecessors left off on the arresting “Spirit in the Room,” the group’s reverberant second full-length release. Mashing parts of ambient, hushed shoegaze and glitchy electronic beats, the album recalls the edgy and brooding countercultures of New York that made the city a refuge for abstract experimentalists.

Genesis Owusu, 'Struggler'
Aug. 18

Following a strong debut in 2021, Ghanaian-Australian artist Genesis Owusu returns with “Struggler,” a smoky and slinking collection of industrial pop-rap music. Falling in somewhere with the likes of Yves Tumor and Death Grips, Owusu’s new album is confessional, but it’s not soft. The gritty beats and occasional pockets of funk feel best suited in a seedy underground dance club. It’s the kind of album to get lost in on a racy night out.

Kristin Hersh, 'Clear Pond Road'
Sept. 8

Kristin Hersh has earned a prominent place in the annals of New England music with the seminal grunge-era group Throwing Muses. In the years following, Hersh has found success as both an author and solo musician. Her forthcoming album “Clear Pond Road,” exemplifies the softer, more bookish side of her artistry. On “Dandelion,” the album’s lead single, Hersh’s rustic poetry is accompanied by a poignant acoustic guitar and woody string section, and her voice is warmly weathered and earnest.


Charley Ruddell Music Writer
Charley Ruddell is a freelance music critic and contributor for WBUR.



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