1. Hot Cheetos & Takis: Y.N. Rich Kids
If the afterschool-program-turned-rap-collective Y.N. RichKids has not rocked your world yet, hop on over to YouTube quick. “Hot Cheetos & Takis” is a rare treat, the kind of infectious, in-your-head-for-days summer jam that comes but once a year. A slew of precious guest verses, a bumpin’ bassline and a shout-along chorus make this song as crunchy and addictive as the high-calorie gas station treats it describes. Munch on it.
2. Heaven: The Walkmen
Who said brooding indie rockers can’t have team spirit? Try telling that to The Walkmen, a Brooklyn-based five-piece that celebrated their tenth year as a band this May with the release of Heaven, their tightest, catchiest and most accessible album yet. The title track is a commemoration of their decade-long friendship that sees the suited-up group letting loose for the musical equivalent of a group high-five. “Don’t leave me, oh, you’re my best friend/ all of my life, you’ve always been,” frontman Hamilton Leithauser pleads before mounting into an energetic, surf-rock chorus worthy of a fist-pump.
3. Adorn: Miguel
One of my favorite music critics called this song “our generation’s ‘Sexual Healing,'” and I’d say he was right on the money. “Adorn,” the single off of R&B savant Miguel’s upcoming Kaleidoscope Dream: The Water Preview, is an inventive soul classic in the vein of Frank Ocean and Marvin Gaye. Employing throbbing bass, hiccupped vocals and layered harmonies, “Adorn” is a creative take on the classic “come-on-over plea” that strikes a perfect balance of smoothness and texture. It sounds familiar in good ways and fresh in even better ones. If you’ve not been introduced to Miguel yet – his big break feels inevitable – this is the perfect place to start.
4. Pyramids: Frank Ocean
Odd Future’s silken-throated Frank Ocean made a huge statement this summer with Channel Orange, an absurdly creative neo-soul album that peaked at #2 on the Billboard charts. Arguably the best song off of it, “Pyramids” is an R&B epic poem and a nine-minute masterpiece. It sounds like the super beautiful sonic baby of Prince, Stevie Wonder and Jimi Hendrix. The story’s distinctly Ocean’s, though, and from what I can gather, it involves a very sad man who is desperately in love with a prostitute. Relinquish your need to understand what, exactly, is going on, and let “Pyramids” work its weird magic–nine-minute songs this consistently exciting don’t come around every day.
5. The Very Best: We OK
For those disillusioned with this summer’s Top 40 offerings, here’s some international electro-pop with plenty of uplift to go around. The Very Best is a collaboration between London-based DJ/production duo Radioclit and Esau Mwamwaya, a singer from Malawi. “We OK,” the single off of the group’s new album MTMTMK, was co-written by chart-topping wizard Bruno Mars and heavily features international hip-hop star K’Naan. It’s an unpredictable, flavor-packed delight that will have you dancing before you know what’s what.
– By Lane Billings