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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Whimsical, punk albums missed over the summer

Various vinyl records stacked upright at a Barnes & Noble. Albums from Hail the Sun, PJ Harvey and Hot Mulligan released over the summer. (Sarah Rose | Northern Star)

With so much new music coming out every week, it can be hard to decide what’s worth listening to. Here are a few of the best albums released over the summer that you may have missed. 

Hot Mulligan – “Why Would I Watch”

Hot Mulligan is sure to capture anyone’s attention with amusing song titles like “Shhhh! Golf is On,” “Christ Alive My Toe Dammit Hurts” and album opener “Shouldn’t Have a Leghole But I Do.”

However, as soon as you click play on any of these tracks, you’ll instantly be hooked into their catchy pop-punk melodies that will embed themselves into your brain, whether you like it or not.

On “Why Would I Watch,” Hot Mulligan embraces the traditions of their emo and pop-punk roots, creating a sound that, while distinctive and original, never strays too far from their influences.

Bonnie “Prince” Billy – “Keeping Secrets Will Destroy You”

Idiosyncratic troubadour Will Oldham has prolifically released his unique blend of lo-fi, folk and country under many names over the years, including Palace Music, Palace Brothers and most memorably as Bonnie “Prince” Billy. Oldham returns once again to the Bonnie “Prince” Billy moniker for another collection of stripped down songs that are both emotionally moving and playfully whimsical. 

While the album isn’t a groundbreaking change of direction for Oldham, tracks like “Crazy Blue Bells” demonstrate that even after 30 years of releasing music, the artist hasn’t lost his penchant for writing songs that embrace both the simplistic beauty and pain that life simultaneously offers us. 

PJ Harvey – “I Inside the Old Year Dying”

On PJ Harvey’s first studio album since 2016’s “The Hope Six Demolition Project,” she dives headfirst into the moody, gothic territory fans have come to know and love from the artist, dating back to classic albums like “Rid of Me” from 1993 and “Stories From the City, Stories From The Sea” from 2000. 

Tracks like “Autumn Term” evoke the less abrasive works of Tom Waits, presenting an offbeat and wholly original style that very few others could pull off. Harvey blends simple, repetitious rhythms with droning instrumentals and her slightly rough, high pitched vocals. 

The release of “I Inside the Old Year Dying” only further solidifies Harvey’s position as one of the most fascinating figures in contemporary music, composing folk melodies backed by unorthodox arrangements that are, at times, delightfully disorienting. 

Hail the Sun – “Divine Inner Tension”

Progressive post-hardcore group Hail The Sun’s latest album “Divine Inner Tension” brings listeners to the band at the top of their form, honing in on their distinctive style featuring the soaring vocals of singer Donovan Melero, which despite their high pitched, airy quality, never fail to cut through the intricate cacophony of the instrumentation accompanying him. 

Among the standout tracks is “60-Minute Session Blocks,” which begins with a jangly, pitch shifted guitar intro drowning in chorus, before descending into a dramatic emotional climax, solidified by Melero’s powerful vocals. 

While the arrangements occasionally veer into a more metal influenced territory, especially with the sound of the thick, chugging rhythm guitars, the essence of punk remains in the bands roots and can be detected in the vocals and punchy drumming style.

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