New music to make that road trip sing

Planning a summer road trip? Here’s a look at some new albums that we’re most likely to listen to on our summer journeys:

Neil Young & Crazy Horse: Americana
Released: June 5

Joined by his band Crazy Horse for the first time since 2003, Young reworks American folk classics as sludgy rock ’n’ roll. My Darling Clementine, once a wistful waltz, is now a 4/4 minor-key stomper; Oh Susanna is a rolling vamp; and My Country ’tis of Thee is laden with distorted drones and mashed up with God Save the Queen (the original, not the punk anthem). Throughout, a children’s choir supplies sweet harmonies. Is this project ironic? Celebratory? Just plain weird? In the long, strange trip of Young’s career, it’s another quizzical fork in the road. (People in Ottawa will have a chance to hear some of the new material when Young plays Scotiabank Place Nov. 24.)

Bobby Womack: The Bravest Man in the Universe
Released: June 12

“I once was lost, but now I’m found,” Womack sings on the title track of his first album in 12 years. The soul legend’s career was derailed in the ’80s by addiction, but after he guested on Gorillaz’ 2010 album Plastic Beach, the band’s musical mastermind, Damon Albarn, offered to help out with a solo effort. Womack has said the results are his best work ever. Russell’s production sets off Womack’s craggily emotive voice against clacking electronics to compelling effect.

Hot Chip: In Our Heads
Released: June 12

The video for this English synth quintet’s new single, Night & Day, features topless men dancing next to a giant egg, supermodel Lara Stone and alt-comedian Reggie Watts piloting spaceships and a glowering Terence Stamp asking, “Do I look like a rapper?” It’s nonsensical, but it illustrates the group’s manic energy and ability to combine disparate elements into an attractive whole. This, their fifth album, is bouncy, danceable, bizarre, funny and surprisingly poignant.

Metric: Synthetica
Released: June 12

Having sold 500,000 copies of 2009’s Fantasies and performed the theme for Twilight: Eclipse, Metric could be poised for worldwide star status. Limited edition releases of this, their fifth studio album, come packaged in cardboard “stereoboxes,” enabling fans to gaze at 3D images of the dystopian visions of radical 1960s architects. Lead single Youth Without Youth is a glam-rock stomper whose lyrics deal with urban vandalism and alienation. If only they’d stop pandering to the masses!

Rush: Clockwork Angels
Released: June 12

Remarkably, for all the beloved prog-power trio’s penchant for philosophical ruminations and musical storytelling, Rush hadn’t released a full-length concept album until now. Like the first half of 2112, this extended opus has a science-fiction setting, although it’s more sonically and lyrically multi-layered than its celebrated predecessor. On the lead single, Caravan, Geddy Lee sings, “I can’t stop thinking big!” Nearly 45 years into their career, the same could be said for his band.

Fiona Apple: The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of The Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do
Release date: June 19

The singer, songwriter and piano-pounder’s intense concert at SXSW in March — her first in five years outside of Los Angeles — was met by rapture from critics. Perhaps there’s something to be said, in this age of self-conscious reality TV, for a performer who seems to give so much of herself without evidence of artifice. “I just want to feel everything,” she sings on her coiled new single, Every Single Night, and it would appear she wants to express everything, too.

Shout Out Out Out Out: Spanish Moss & Total Loss
Release date: June 19

At their inception in 2005, this Edmonton sextet, with four bassists, banks of synths and high-energy live shows, fit perfectly with the then-burgeoning “dance-punk” scene. This, their third album, proves they’ve transcended it: it’s full of warm textures that should make for good headphone groovin’ as well as dance floor movin’.

Wintersleep: Hello Hum
Release date: June 19

Wintersleep’s name suggests a kinship with Coldplay, and on this, their fifth album, the Haligonian crew hit anthemic heights that bring to mind their world-famous EMI labelmates. Not that lead singer Paul Murphy would write lyrics as hopeful as Chris Martin’s — the first single, In Came the Flood, opens, “He prophesied that God would come / He’s been and gone / Left you alone” — but these songs, co-produced by Dave Fridmann (Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev), are undeniably big, sweeping and catchy. Hello Hum is stadium rock in search of a stadium.

Nas: Life Is Good
Release date: July 17

Two recently leaked tracks from his new album supply reasons why, more than two decades into his career, Nas maintains his hip-hop relevance: he’s versatile (as heard on the ragga-influenced The Don), and he takes on subjects that other rappers would have no clue how to approach (on Daughters, he critiques his own parenting abilities). What’s more, he’s safeguarding his legacy: Recently he became the first MC to get a verified account on lyric-analysis website When the album is released, look for Nas to tell you just why Life Is Good is good.

Niki & The Dove: Instinct
Release date: Aug. 7

Is there something in the water in Sweden — or perhaps the vodka? So many of the country’s musicians are able to take anglophone pop, twist it in inventive ways, and sell it back to us: now joining the likes of Robyn, Little Dragon and The Knife are Stockholm duo Niki & The Dove. Their debut meshes Stevie Nicks’s witchy-woman weirdness, Pat Benatar’s fist-pumping anthems, Peter Gabriel’s tribal processed drums and Prince’s exuberance into a hypnotic whole that at its heights is worthy of the best of its influences.

Emily Haines of Metric performs at the Ottawa Bluesfest in 2011. Limited edition releases of Synthetica, Metric’s fifth studio album, come packaged in cardboard “stereoboxes,” enabling fans to gaze at 3D images of the dystopian visions of radical 1960s architects.
Photograph by: Jean Levac, Ottawa Citizen