1. 2:54: Sugar
This year’s breakthrough British indie act -- comprised of sisters Colette and Hannah Thurlow -- is releasing its self-titled debut album just in time for summer in the States. This hypnotic, PJ Harvey–influenced song is the standout.
2. ADAM LAMBERT: Cuckoo
A bass-heavy electro banger from the American Idol’s sophomore effort -- with its “gonna party till they take us away” chorus -- promises to be exactly what shirtless guys who pump their fists in the air sounds like this summer.
3. BEACH HOUSE: The Hours
Opening on frontwoman Victoria Legrand’s vertiginous, shoegazey siren calls and diving into deep, propulsive guitar pumps, this track may be the dream-pop arbiter’s closest thing to a forceful, yet still spacey, call to arms. It deserves to be blasted.
4. BEST COAST: The Only Place
Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino is practically the poster girl for the season, with a catalog full of songs about sunshine, beaches, and weed-fueled adventures. Her latest single, “The Only Place,” from her new album of the same name, is a jangly ode to California.
5. DIRTY PROJECTORS: Gun Has No Trigger
The Brooklyn-based group might not be dance floor mainstays -- even though Solange Knowles covered their “Stillness Is the Move” -- but this jazzy cut from their upcoming Swing Lo Magellan will surely score backyard romances from Silver Lake to Bushwick.
Pictured above: Garbage
6. DIVE: How Long Have You Known
Indie pop fans should look no further than Dive, the latest project from Beach Fossils vet Zachary Cole Smith. The first single of the band’s debut album, this song shimmers and shines for three fun, stunning minutes of exactly what we want our life to sound like.
7. EMILE SANDÉ Heaven
Already a hit in the U.K., “Heaven” is poised to make a dent on the club scene this summer thanks to Sandé’s giant voice, brilliant songwriting, and the aid of relentless drums and seductive sax licks. READ the full STORY and WATCH a FACE to FACE VIDEO here.
8. FRIENDS: I’m His Girl
The R&B-influenced rock of Friends is never more on point than in this bass-heavy, grind-ready love song. Choose this track from the group’s debut album, Manifest!, to turn your friendly rooftop drinking session into something a bit steamier.
9. FUN.: Some Nights
Part voice-modulating throwback, part wistful pop rumination, this follow-up to the adorable band’s wildly popular “We Are Young,” which featured Janelle Monáe, may be overly grand, but it also predicts all those delightful mistakes to make before autumn returns.
10. GARBAGE: Blood for Poppies
It’s been years since we last heard from Shirley Manson and Garbage, but this summer the band’s new album, Not Your Kind of People, and this particularly good-time, dub-influenced single, promise to remind us all why Garbage could never be considered trash.
Pictured above: Gossip
11. GOSSIP: Perfect World
We first fell for Beth Ditto’s band when they were a bluesy rock trio, but the group’s metamorphosis into a slick, anthem-playing hit machine has never been more satisfying than on this soaring cut from their latest, A Joyful Noise.
12. HOT CHIP: Flutes
Rhythmic chanting and unintelligible yelling are not the most conventional accompaniments to a club hit, but the pulsing intensity with which Hot Chip layers elements makes “Flutes” utterly rave-worthy. Halfway through the over seven minutes of this track, you’ll forget where you are -- let alone how the music began. READ the story HERE.
13. KARMIN: Brokenhearted
Just two years ago, this duo was trying to make a name for itself on YouTube -- and now they have a genuine hit under their belt. “Brokenhearted” is a peppy, dance-floor freak-out of a song that will fit perfectly with these carefree, sunny months.
14. KAT GRAHAM: Put Your Graffiti on Me
Swiss-born Kat Graham finally makes her stateside debut with this single, stacked with Afro-beat-inspired pop and her out-of-this-world voice.
15. LIGHT ASYLUM: IPC
Of all the tracks ready to be danced to on the New York–based group’s first album, this paranoid, high-energy condemnation of Big Brother is our favorite. READ the full STORY HERE.
Pictured above: M83
16. M83: Reunion (Mylo Remix)
We first heard “Reunion” on M83’s 2011 album Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, but the standout from this summer’s remix EP is Scottish DJ Mylo’s dance-party-perfect version.
17. MR. LITTLE JEANS: Runaway
If your planning on running away during the hot months, Norwegian import Mr. Little Big Jeans (stage name of Monica Birkenes) has the perfect anthem to find yourself pleasantly lost to -- not to mention a potential U.S. hit on her hands.
18. NENEH CHERRY & THE THING: Cashback
The “Buffalo Stance” enchantress is back with The Cherry Thing, her first album in 13 years, which features original songs and covers of classics by Suicide and The Stooges. Opening track “Cashback” is a horns-heavy reminder of why we’ll always be sweet on Cherry.
19. PORCELAIN RAFT: The Way In
One-man band Porcelain Raft is already one of our go-to groups for electronic-tinged anthems, but this beautiful ballad sets the scene with the line “it’s the end of summer, can you feel it now” and promises to be on repeat until we can.
20. SANTIGOLD: The Keepers
Of all the excellent tracks on Master of My Make Believe, Santigold’s long-awaited second album, this is our favorite, thanks to its steady buildup, admirable sing-along factor, and judicious use of Santi’s trademark drawl.
Pictured above: Scissor Sisters
21. SCISSOR SISTERS: Only the Horses
The Sisters’ latest is a major departure from their usual work, with its pop-friendly sound (engineered by Rihanna’s “We Found Love” soundsmith Calvin Harris) and heavy dance beat. However, it strikes a chord with its emotionally resonant lyrics and a towering chorus.
22. SSION: My Love Grows in the Dark
Queer underground favorite SSION is ripe to break out this summer with the re-release of his album Bent. This track, a clean and danceable pop ballad with an unforgettable hook, practically guarantees it. Watch a video here.
23. TANLINES: Not the Same
This latest single from the dreamy indie-electronica duo, off the album Mixed Emotions, is a melancholy gem of a song, perfect for hot days spent sweating off long nights.
24. TWIN SHADOWS: Five Seconds
The first single off the new record from Twin Shadow’s George Lewis Jr., “Five Seconds” is a fast-paced, dynamic love song perfect for summer love -- falling in or getting over.
25. WYNTER GORDON: Still Getting Younger
Former J.Lo songwriter Gordon is ready to break out solo. “Still Getting Younger” will make a splash on the club scene this season with its effective pairing of Gordon’s soulful (albeit youthful) voice and toe-tapping synth beats.