With the arrival of Independence Day weekend, summer is in full swing. That means summer tunes. There is plenty of new music by Alaska artists, some from recognizable names and some from fresh faces to the scene. Here are some of the best and most interesting new releases of the year, as well as some of the shows for Alaska music fans to consider this summer.
Emma Hill “Magnesium Dreams”
Emma Hill’s most recent release features layered vocals supporting Hill’s songwriting with rich arrangements.
Sounds like: Sleetmute songbird taking flight
Essential track: “Magnesium Dreams,” the album’s pop-friendly title track.
Blackwater Railroad Company “Rainville”
The Seward-based band has released it’s third EP in the last two years, continuing to churn out quality songs.
Sounds like: Road trip toe-tappers
Essential track: “Dime Behind the Wheel,” a murky rumination from the passenger’s seat.
The Jephries “Holland”
Anchorage’s rough and ready rock trio released the follow-up to 2016′s “Park Human” this spring.
Essential track: “Color Scheme” is powerful and perfectly grimy.
Sounds like: A sweaty congested basement show.
Lothringen “Penance and Spear”
This Skagway band describes its sound as “old school dungeon music” on its bandcamp site.
Sounds like: Impending doom
Essential track: “Bearer of Light” is prototypical dungeon synth.
Jangle Bees “Jangle Bees”
Debut from the Anchorage band features a classic rock feel with dueling guitars.
Sounds like: Juke box jangles
Essential track: “Heart Still Heavy” features fuzzy guitars and tight harmonies.
Strawberry Friend “Strawberry Friend”
Described as “experimental electronic” the songs flow like a jouncy journey through space and time.
Essential track: “Descent into the Strawberry Patch” feels like being lost in a video game.
Sounds like: Temporary insanity.
According to the group’s bandcamp, the album was “inspired by late summer nights driving alone in the city with your windows down, feeling the breeze and getting lost in the magic of city lights, turning into your own little galaxy.”
Essential track: “Lunar” gives a light pop element to an atmospheric album.
Sounds like: Stargazing
Shows of note
July 12, Heart of City church
Anchorage band Medium Build has been cranking out music at a breakneck pace for the past 18 months with the release of “softboy” and “roughboy” last year. The band has another album planned for later this year but this month it will play a free all-ages show at Heart of City downtown that will film with plans to release audio online.
Quinn Christopherson with Portugal. The Man
July 14, 16, 17, 19
In the mood for a Lower 48 road trip? Tiny Desk winner Quinn Christopherson has already wrapped up shows with Aussie shredder Courtney Barnett and is touring with Lucy Dacus in the fall. But in July, the Anchorage native will hit some Midwest dates with Alaska favorite sons Portugal. The Man.
Aug. 2-4, Bear Tooth Theatrepub
Jones’ transcendent voice has garnered the artist both a throng of fans and nine Grammy awards. The songbird’s first show in Alaska sold out so quickly, two more were added.
Hope Social Club
Aug. 2-4 at Salmonfest
Salmonfest will be headlined this year by Jason Mraz and Ani DiFranco. But a few Alaska bands will perform on the festival’s big Ocean Stage, including longtime fest favorites Hope Social Club, who will be making just their second appearance in the state this summer.
Alaska State Fair
Aug. 22-Sept. 2, Palmer
There are plenty of big names playing the Alaska State Fair, which runs from late August into September. Kansas, Tower of Power, Cole Swindell and the Dropkick Murphy’s inject classic rock, R&B, country and punk. Locals Blackwater Railroad will also be featured on the main stage.