Artists impress with solid summer of music

By Kate MacDonald

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One of the main reasons no one buys whole albums anymore is because most albums that come out only have a few good songs. What’s the sense in spending $15 if you’re just going to listen to two or three good tunes? It’s more feasible to download individual songs and just throw them onto your iPod. Very rarely do albums come along that entertain a listener throughout the entire listening experience.

This makes 2010 a rare occurrence. Many albums that were released during the short summer months were actually worth paying full price. Great compilation sets were released by Oasis and Jay-Z, and new music was debuted by many of the most popular acts out there, in all genres.

The summer of 2010 had something for everyone and music aficionados of all kinds nodded their heads to the beat for months.

From the man who penned “Single Ladies,” and “Umbrella,” could you expect anything other than a catchy summer must-have? The Dream, the master of slow jams, released “Love King,” a highly acclaimed album full of intelligent lyrics and memorable hooks. Summer playlists around the nation included “Make Up Bag,” and “F.I.L.A.”

A wildly popular rapper in the early 2000’s, Eminem burst onto the 2010 scene with “Recovery.” Anyone not living under a rock this summer heard “Love the Way You Lie,” his now overplayed hit with Rihanna. “W.T.P.” is a fun, club-like song, and with the beats from “You’re Never Over,” and background music reminiscent of T.I.’s “What You Know About That,” Mr. Mathers had definitely made a comeback.

No summer list would be complete without Drake. The Canadian actor-turned rapper is a fixture on the radio, in commercials and on red carpets. His newest album, “Thank Me Later,” includes the now well-known “Over” and “Find Your Love.” The wordsmith also debuts new jams and future hits “Show Me a Good Time” and “Fireworks.”

A sort of mini-CD with only six tracks, Blake Shelton’s “All About Tonight” proves that quality is better than quantity. “Draggin’ the River,” featuring Shelton’s fiancée Miranda Lambert is a feel-good tune, while ballad “Suffocating” is sure to tug at the heartstrings of country fans.

Another country singer, Dierks Bentley, released an album this summer. On his new CD “Up on the Ridge,” Bentley relies on other country crooners, including Lambert and Kris Kristofferson. This album is a throwback to the days when the fiddle and banjo were the most featured instruments in country tunes and is nothing like the mainstream country heard on radios today. His backwoods spin on U2’s “Pride (In the Name of Love)” is a must-listen.

Sheryl Crow returned back to her country roots this summer with “100 Miles from Memphis,” though it has more of a contemporary and easy listening feel to it. Crow covers the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back,” and does the song justice. Though “Sign Your Name,” featuring Justin Timberlake is quite good, it’s “Our Love is Fading” that steals the show and won’t work itself out of your head easily.

After Band of Horses’ mediocre “Life on Earth” made its way onto “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse Soundtrack,” it can be assumed that the band will gain a little notoriety, which they deserve. Anyone who enjoyed that track will be blown away by “Laredo” or “Factory” off the band’s summer album “Infinite Arms.” The album, however, falls a little flat after the first half.

Relatively unknown indie band Wolf Parade doesn’t have the cleanest vocals or strongest guitar riffs, but “Expo 86” is worth a listen. “Ghost Parade,” which made it onto the airwaves this summer is addicting and the strong drumbeats of “Palm Road” and “Cave-O-Sapien” provide a good soundtrack for rushing to classes.

Tokyo Police Club’s “Champ” isn’t as engaging as last year’s “Elephant Shell,” but it’s definitely a toe-tapper and should propel the Canadian group into the realm of mainstream indie rock. Songs “Bambi” and “Favourite Colour” are must-listens.

Other worthwhile albums that came out this summer include Stone Temple Pilot’s self-titled CD, 3Oh!3’s pop extravaganza “Streets of Gold” and Lil Jon’s fist-pumping album “Crunk Rock.” Even M.I.A. released a new CD, which sounds almost exactly like her older ones, titled “/\/\ /\Y /\.” It was quite weird, but fun at times.

Though the habit of downloading music isn’t going out of style any time soon, the success of 2010’s summertime releases may provide some reassurance to the tanking CD industry.

This summer also provided a successful artistic release for artists of all kinds. Music fans everywhere surely found something to blast from car stereos, something to make a bonfire more enjoyable or at least something to distract them from the monotony of summer jobs.

Kate MacDonald can be reached at [email protected]