Summer Music Preview

As the summer barrels on, a handful of great albums are in the pipeline for the coming months. In today’s Daily Dose, we spotlight several albums to be released later this summer from artists flying under the radar, but making a lot of noise.

Between the Trees – The Story and the Song

Formed in Florida in 2005, Between the Trees generated huge buzz with their first album, The Story and the Song. The group independently released and distributed the record that showcased a blend of tight harmonies, catchy melodies and a socially conscious message. Now they’ve landed spot on this summer’s Warped Tour. Their first single, “The Way She Feels,” tells the story of a girl struggling with self-harm and cutting. The band is involved with To Write Love on Her Arms, a non-profit organization aimed at helping spread awareness and support for victims of depression and self-harm.

Shane and Shane – Pages

Since they first got together for Psalms in 2002, Shane Barnard and Shane Everett have been making honest and passionate worship music with their own earthy and unique style. Pages is the duo’s fifth album, and promises to continue their tradition of creating a humble and inspirational mix of pop, rock and folk. The album includes several new tunes and a few traditional favorites.

Talib Kweli – Eardrum

Alternative hip-hop star Talib Kweli began to make a name for himself in the 1990s, pairing up with Mos Def in Blackstar. Since then, Kweli has evolved into a successful solo artist. In July, he’s releasing his sixth album, Eardrum, featuring collaborations with Norah Jones, Justin Timberlake and Kanye West among others. Recently, Kweli collaborated with The Procussions, another alternative hip-hop outfit known for their socially aware lyrics.

MXPX – Secret Weapon

With their return to Tooth & Nail Records, the latest album from legendary pop-punk outfit MXPX marks one of the most important alliances in faith-influenced music. Early MXPX albums, released on the then-small Seattle-based label, became some of Christian music’s first crossover records and eventually achieved the band a major label deal while also garnering Tooth & Nail mainstream attention. Secret Weapon recalls classic MXPX fun, with blazing guitars, catchy hooks and punk rock attitude.

Needtobreathe – The Heat

The four guys from the small town of Possum Kingdom, South Carolina, got big buzz when their debut album, Daylight, dropped on Atlantic Records last year. This summer, the band follows-up their underrated freshman release with The Heat. It’s an unashamed American pop-inspired rock album that wears its sincerity and spiritually-depth on its sleeve. In a summer of uber-cool indie releases, it’s refreshing to hear a mainstream album with power-pop stylings that’s not afraid to express some soul.

Josh Ritter – The Historical Conquest of Josh Ritter

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Josh Ritter may be America’s next great singer/songwriter. His homegrown, Americana brand of folk recalls greats like Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, but on 2006’s The Animal Year’s, Ritter showed that he is in different class than the ‘70s ballad writers. Like the other great American songwriters his poetic songs about politics, love and life are steeped in biblical imagery and spiritual themes that weave beautifully through guitars, string sections and banjos in brilliantly earthy compositions. To record Conquest, Ritter retreated to a remote cabin in Maine, and early buzz is positive that it could be another prolific—but not as-underrated—outing.

Ben Harper – Lifeline

With combinations of beachy folk music, blues-inspired acoustic ballads and even forays into gospel, Ben Harper has crafted a career as one of popular music’s most eclectic artists. This summer, the always spiritually insightful Harper releases his next album, Lifeline, which follows a string of amazing records and his gospel collaboration with the blind boys of Alabama that consisted of classic hymns. Each of Harper’s releases offers a unique perspective on the singer/songwriter genre, and if prior outings are any indication, the release will peppered with soulful musings, passionate reflections and funky takes on American folk.

As Cities Burn – Come Now Sleep

Hailing from Louisiana, hard rockers As Cities Burn first garnered a grassroots following through a string of independent releases which showcased their combinations of blistering guitars, intense vocals and grinding compositions. After a dramatic summer in 2006, the band called quits before deciding to reunite with several line-up changes. A few songs from Come Now Sleep were recently posted on the group’s MySpace that have earned a lot of buzz and made the album one the most anticipated hardcore releases of the year.

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