The Alternative Sound of Summer 2019

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By Kenneth Cox

Summer 2019 came in hard with a surge of new music from artists across all genres. This year has seen alt-rock artists releasing fresh, exciting music on a seemingly constant basis. Though the season is coming to close (sad!), we've got a playlist here with some of the best alternative tracks that summer 2019 had to offer to keep those summer vibes going strong. 

Doin’ Time - Lana Del Rey

"Summertime, and the livin’s easy:” Released in 1996, "Doin' Time" by Sublime has enjoyed a legacy of being a classic summer song for decades. Now, 23 years later, the track has launched back into popularity from an unlikely source — Lana Del Rey. At first glance, Sublime’s ska-punk stylings seem to be polar opposites with Lana’s moody ballads and tales of heartbreak.

However, look closer and the pairing makes total sense. Both artists exude a Southern-Californian cool that is undeniable. And once the first lines of “Doin Time” come on, it’s clear that the two are a match made in heaven. The foundation of Sublime’s original track is left intact, but Lana’s take on the song transports it to the dreamy, nostalgic world that she thrives in. Throw it on, and vibe out like it’s 1996 all over again.

Without a Blush - Hatchie

Australian singer/songwriter Hatchie’s music sounds like a time capsule of the past and present of alternative rock. Combining the sounds of '80s teen movie soundtracks, '90s bands like The Cranberries, and lyrics that are unmistakably modern, her music feels utterly timeless. “Without a Blush” is perhaps one of her best songs to date. The song is an uptempo track about a relationship on the rocks with a hook that is sure to get stuck in your head from the first listen. Hatchie combines airy harmonies and synthesizers with more abrasive guitars and drums to create a perfect blend of the two. Hit play, and pretend it’s a never-ending summer in your very own John Hughes movie, if only for a few minutes.

Hey, Ma - Bon Iver

For the past three years, Bon Iver fans have been impatiently waiting for what would come next from Justin Vernon. Well, the time has finally come, and it was well worth the wait. “Hey, Ma” is the first single off Bon Iver’s newest record, and it seems like a natural step forward for Vernon. The track combines the experimental electronic work from 22, a Million with the folk-rock sound of his roots. As the title would suggest, the song is a tender ballad about the love between mother and son. Vernon’s gorgeous vocals harmonize perfectly together, complementing the emotionally affecting lyrics of the track. “Hey, Ma” is sure to leave Bon Iver fans hyped all summer long for what comes next.

Bags - Clairo

From synth-pop to mellow R&B, it feels as if 20-year-old singer/songwriter Clairo has no limit to what music she can create. With the release of “Bags,” the artist shifted gears to record one of the sparsest songs of her career so far. As a result, it's also one of her greatest. Over a guitar riff that loops throughout the song’s four minutes, Clairo sings about the uncertainty of love and the anxieties of being truly honest about one’s emotions.

“Can you see me I’m waiting for the right time/I can’t read you but if you want the pleasure’s all mine,” sings Clairo on the song’s chorus. All at once, she captures the hesitation, excitement, and fear that results from the unknown of loving someone else. “Bags” is a song that's sure to gain Clairo even more buzz as summer goes along, giving her the perfect momentum for the release of her impending debut album.

Kingston - Faye Webster

Ultimately, summer is the time where I try to relax as much as I can. With the sun out and temperatures high, there’s nothing I like more in these months than slowing down and letting the day drift by. Atlanta-based artist Faye Webster’s music is the perfect soundtrack for just that. Her record Atlanta Millionaires Club bridges together folk and R&B to make songs that seem to linger like a bright summer afternoon. “Kingston” is a single that captures the romance, haziness, and easy times summer brings about. Over retro pedal-steel guitars, twinkling pianos, and incredibly smooth harmonies, Webster makes a song that would sound as good in summer 1976 as it does in 2019. Take a day off and relax in the sun to the old-fashioned feel of Faye Webster.

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