It’s subjective, of course, but we can probably agree on at least one thing: A summer soundtrack should reflect all the joys of outdoor barbecues, quiet nights under the stars, blankets sprawled on beaches, and car windows down on a road trip.
Where you find that bliss — be it in the Beach Boys, Van Halen, Jimmy Buffett, or Katy Perry — depends on your taste and the occasion.
“I mean, you can’t lose with surf-y guitars on top of a light beat and a nice melody — you’re surfin’,” says Frankie Rose, part of an indie-rock duo called Beverly, whose new debut, “Careers,” is what I will personally keep in heavy rotation all summer long.
With the season’s many moods in mind, here’s a roundup of new albums that honor the art of the summer soundtrack.
Riding in on a humid wave of 1990s guitar rock and ’60s girl-group harmonies, the debut from the new project of Frankie Rose and Drew Citron is pure ear candy. Beverly keeps its jams sticky and sweet, from the spectral glow of “Yale’s Life” to the menacing swagger of “Ambular,” which barrels out of the speakers like the soundtrack to a car chase. And “Honey Do” will have you playing air drums and singing into a hairbrush. (“Careers” will be released on Tuesday.) ESSENTIAL “Honey Do”
LEE FIELDS, “EMMA JEAN”
Like his friend Sharon Jones, with whom he has previously collaborated, Fields is not a retro-minded artist. Starting with 1979’s scorching “Let’s Talk It Over,” he has been around long enough to be considered a real deal in R&B and soul music. On “Emma Jean,” his latest release with his band, the Expressions, Fields showcases a burnished voice that quakes and quivers with the wisdom only age and experience can afford. ESSENTIAL “Magnolia”
SANTÉ LES AMIS, “SUDAMERICANA”
From Uruguay, Santé Les Amis is the kind of band that transcends provenance and language. Their kamikaze take on dance music — a little funk here, some electro-rock there, shake vigorously — brings to mind another of South America’s great party bands, Venezuela’s Los Amigos Invisibles. “Sudamericana,” which Nacional Records recently released in the States, thumps with a nocturnal vibe, suited for the ride to the club as well as last call at closing time. ESSENTIAL “El Último Verano”
DAVE ALVIN AND PHIL ALVIN, “COMMON GROUND: DAVE ALVIN & PHIL ALVIN PLAY AND SING THE SONGS OF BIG BILL BROONZY”
On their first collaborative album since playing together in the Blasters 30 years ago, the brothers Alvin salute one of their heroes and a towering figure in blues: Big Bill Broonzy. “Common Ground” has the pluck and swing of a porch pickin’ party, with the Alvins swapping licks and vocals on a number of Broonzy classics: “Key to the Highway,” “All By Myself,” and “Southern Flood Blues.” “We’re brothers. We argue sometimes,” Dave Alvin says in the press materials. “But one thing we never argue about is Big Bill Broonzy.” ESSENTIAL “Key to the Highway”
JOBRIATH, “AS THE RIVER FLOWS”
And now for something completely different. Before Jobriath became an early icon of glam rock, influencing everyone from Morrissey to Scissor Sisters’ Jake Shears, he was a piano-pounding madman brimming with raw talent. Heavily hyped at the time, his two solo albums fizzled, but this new collection of his previously unreleased material from the early ’70s is stripped of Jobriath’s signature flamboyance, revealing his penchant for soulful decadence and enough hedonism to rival Elton John. ESSENTIAL “As the River Flows”
TODD TERJE, “IT’S ALBUM TIME”
“Delorean Dynamite” is the name of a song on Todd Terje’s new album, and the reference to the time-traveling car from the “Back to the Future” movies surely wasn’t an accident. Todd Terje — the alias of Norwegian DJ, songwriter, and producer Terje Olsen — has a similarly warped sense of time on his first full-length release. Save for Bryan Ferry’s stately vocals on “Johnny and Mary,” a cover of the Robert Palmer tune, “It’s Album Time” is mostly instrumental, and devoted to sustaining one long groove that touches down on disco, lounge, and chillwave. ESSENTIAL “Delorean Dynamite”
Band members have joked that their music as Vacationer is “nu-hula,” which is to say a new wave of tropical music. You can hear that distinction throughout “Relief,” an album that relishes the journey far more than any specific destination. These songs unfurl at a leisurely pace, sounding like interludes in old movies about exotic locales, but topped with samples, hip-hop beats, and dreamy guitar lines. ESSENTIAL “Stay”
HOLLIE COOK, “TWICE”
Largely unknown here and a bit of a cult favorite in her native England, Cook puts a sly twist on reggae, imbuing it with the soft caress of ’70s soul — Sade by way of Kingston, if you will. On her new sophomore album, the daughter of Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook continues to find the sweet spot between reggae and dub’s poppier elements and the sheer breeziness of her voice. ESSENTIAL “Desdemona”
HENRY BUTLER & STEVEN BERNSTEIN, “VIPER’S DRAG”
This pairing of New Orleans pianist Henry Butler and trumpeter-arranger Steven Bernstein is a spirited joy ride through jazz in its many incarnations. Backed by the Hot 9, a horn-heavy ensemble that punctuates the duo’s playing with a punch to the gut, Butler and Bernstein careen through a freewheeling set of rural blues and Dixieland boogie. (Ahead of its physical release on July 15, the album is available digitally.) ESSENTIAL “Viper’s Drag”
MALI MUSIC, “MALI IS . . .”
Recently debuting at number two on Billboard’s R&B/hip-hop albums chart, “Mali Is . . .” — well, it’s many things. It’s silky soul (“Beautiful”), atmospheric R&B (“Ready Aim”), and a clear representation of how those genres have evolved over the past few years. A less-is-more approach underpins this album, which marks the major-label debut of Mali Music, the stage name of the gospel-leaning singer and songwriter born Jamaal Pollard. ESSENTIAL “Beautiful”