10 New Alternative Albums for Your Summer Road Trip Soundtrack

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Summertime. No more 8 a.m. Bio classes or vengeful T.A.s dead-set on screwing you over. Instead you get to trade in crowded study halls for spontaneous road trips up the coast accompanied by rolled down windows and close friends. The only thing missing? A killer playlist. When the top 20 pop hits get old, turn off the car radio and pop in any (or all) of these newly-released alternative albums. You may have to pull the car over to dance it out from time to time, but the smile plastered on your face will be worth the small detour.

1. Against the Current’s In Our Bones

Behold Against the Current’s first full-length album. Formed in 2011 and signed by every pop-rocker’s favorite label, Fueled by Ramen, this debut record promises a bright future for the band. Songs like “Forget Me Now” and “One More Weekend” will have you singing along at the top of your lungs—perfect for those late night summer drives. “Each song from this album, quite literally, makes you feel good in your bones. Elements like a powerful lead voice, magnetic beat, smart lyrics and emotional instrumentals make this album one of the best. You can’t not fall in love with this band,” said Emory University sophomore Alisha Cheung. Still on the fence? Catch ATC at Warped Tour this summer. If their live show doesn’t impress you, nothing will.

2. Blink-182’s California

Can anyone think of a band more influential to today’s pop-punk scene than Blink-182? No? That’s what we thought. Despite their five year absence, California’s release proves they’re still a force to be reckoned with. Who else could dethrone Drake’s Views from the number one spot on the Billboard album charts?  After all, Blink’s dick jokes will always surpass Drake’s emotional lyrics. Longtime Blink fans will feel at home with the familiar humorously-crafted pop-punk lyrics. Even the 30 second-long, and comically-named track “Brohemian Rhapsody” provides ample guitar riffs and drum beats to get you rockin’ that air guitar. They may not have grown up lyrically, but who likes growing up anyway?

3. Blood Orange’s Freetown Sound

For those relaxed summer days when you want to unwind from the chaos of school and jobs, Dev Hynes has your back. One of his many musical projects, Blood Orange’s Freetown Sound combines a myriad of sounds and voices. The effect? Something unlike anything you’ve ever heard. By combining his own voice with that of Empress Of, Dev Hynes produces a heartbreaking and mesmerizing experience with “Best to You”. The album as a whole can perhaps best be equated to a dream. But make no mistake—behind the synth overlay real issues appear within the lyrics. From tackling feminism to representations of black identities in modern society, Dev Hynes creates a masterpiece that can be listened to and appreciated over and over.

4. Catfish and the Bottlemen’s The Ride

This UK-based indie rock band may have won the Brits 2016 Breakthrough Act, but they certainly didn’t let the win go to their heads. After being together nine years, the band knows who they are musically. The Ride stays true to the rocky, garage vibe of the band’s previous album The Balcony while still offering a fresh, slightly more polished side of Catfish and the Bottlemen. “I loved Catfish’s first album, but there’s an energy about this one that’s undeniable. Even the underrated tracks blow my mind,” said Fresno State sophomore Kelly Barnett. Songs like “Soundcheck” and “Emily” get you dancing and drumming along. Meanwhile, “Glasgow” can best be appreciated while driving towards the sunset with your S.O. or friends, wondering how life could ever feel this good.

5. Fitz and the Tantrum’s Fitz and the Tantrums

When Fitz and the Tantrums say they can “make your hands clap,” they mean it. Their self-titled third album delivers the carefree, beat-heavy vibe you need to dance the summer nights away. Chances are you’ve already heard their single “HandClap” (you’ve probably clapped along enthusiastically, too). The rest of the album? Just as epic. Members Michael Fitzpatrick and Noelle Scaggs lend their voices to create a perfectly harmonized melody. While their harmonies mean you don’t have to lend your own striking vocals, the energetic lyrics make not singing-along virtually impossible. While long-time Fitz fans may be surprised by the album’s pop-geared sound, their new experimental tone suits the band (and its listeners).

6. Modern Baseball’s Holy Ghost

Though Modern Baseball has always sung of personal confessions no matter how relatable or cringe-worthy, Holy Ghost ventures into deeply personal territory. Brave and bold, the addressed subject matter of depression, addiction and suicide demonstrates a level of dedication to their musical craft‒and their fan-base‒that few bands could work up the courage to do themselves. “Modern Baseball isn’t like other bands, musically, lyrically, and emotionally. Their new record, Holy Ghost, is now one of my personal favorites. Its haunting vibes paired with bright, poppy, and somewhat ironic instrumentals leave the singers Jake and Brendan with the perfect canvas to speak their own personal truths,” said Mizzou freshman Zac Crismaru. Modern Baseball put it all out on the line, and for that, we thank them.

7. Moose Blood’s Blush

Alright so you gotta wait ‘til August 5 for this album release, but if Moose Blood’s track record proves anything, Blush will be nothing short of mind-blowing. While their name may drive off new listeners who fear a hardcore sound, don’t worry—Moose Blood steers clear of death metal. In fact, they belong more to the enjoyable side of emo, and aren’t we all emo at heart? “I met Moose Blood at one of their concerts a year or two ago and they were super sweet. It was my first time ever hearing them and so the fact that I instantly fell in love with them and their sound was absolutely fantastic,” said Oregon State freshman Marissa Moore. “I’m super excited for their new album to be able to see how much they’ve grown.” Check out released-singles “Honey” and “Knuckles” for a taste of what the album has in store.

8. The Other Stars’ We Were Kids

Newcomers to the alternative music scene, The Other Stars’ debut album combines upbeat melodies with painfully honest lyrics to create the start of one of pop punk’s greatest bands. “We Were Kids is an album about self-realization. It’s coming to terms with who you want to be as you get older, once the dust settles and you need to balance your dreams with life’s responsibilities and relationships. We wrote this album without expectations, we just wanted to do what we love the most, writing songs and playing shows,” said The Other Stars singer and guitarist Connor Bird. ‘Balancing your dreams with life’s responsibilities’? Sounds like a college anthem to me. While Bird sings, “Your summer smile has gone away,” on track “Caffeine,” we don’t see how you could ever stop smiling while listening to We Were Kids.

9. Tacocat’s Lost Time

Do you ever wish someone would write a song about anonymous internet trolls, mansplaining or everybody’s favorite supernatural-crime-fighting FBI Agent Dana Scully? Tacocat’s gotcha covered. With Lost Time, this Seattle-based pop-punk quartet delivers just as much fun and quirkiness as the band’s name would lead you to believe. Plus the album brings the tiniest hint of the B-52’s. What better music to blast through your speakers while on a road trip up the coast with your posse? Tacocat will hit the road July through October, so buy your tickets, bring your socially-aware attitude and rock out to music that sings about all your daily grievances. If music’s a type of therapy, then Tacocat’s, like, the best therapist ever.

10. Twin Peaks’ Down in Heaven

With their third album Down in Heaven, Twin Peaks proves that young bands today have an appreciation for rock music history, drawing comparisons to The Rolling Stones, The Kinks and Lou Reed. More importantly, they know how to embrace the past while simultaneously creating a sound that remains their own. And we love it. And your parents will, too. Down in Heaven combines youthful lyrics with a throwback sound that will perfectly please even the pickiest of listeners. The production quality alone provides a standard of excellence most bands can only dream of achieving. And for a band with members so young, this Chicago rock band has already gone from playing house shows to making late-night appearances. You don’t need a crystal ball to see that Twin Peaks have only just approached the beginning of a long, successful career.

Natalie is a senior English major at the University of Michigan. She loves listening to terrible pop-punk music and complaining about inclement weather.

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