Summer, that most fabulous time of the year, is upon us, and perhaps, dear TBA readers, your longing for some new music to go along with your bbqs, your luaus, your road trips, or your commutes to and from work that need to get a bit more fun (because it's summer! Work is summer's antithesis, after all). Here's five folks I've been listening to you that you may enjoy:

1. April Smith and the Great Picture Show, Songs for a Sinking Ship (released: February 2010): 2010 meets Tin Pan Alley in the most wonderful of ways in this album. Smith's big, brassy soprano voice, and The Great Picture Show's take on 40s swing, makes for a fantastically fun album all the way around, beginning with fun look at love's beginning in the first track, "Movie Loves a Screen." Tracks like "Drop Dead Gorgeous" defy the expectation that a pretty face surely a good partner makes, and "Colors," a new take (with an old sound) on the constancy of love; or, as my Dad says, "Kinda like you with your string on your wrist."

2. Frightened Rabbit, The Winter of Mixed Drinks (released: March, 2010): They're Scottish and I love their accents. Beyond that, the album's overall theme of survival in face of both loneliness and apathy is found throughout the album, even if a couple tracks lack the passion that's very evident in others. "Swim Until You Can't See Land" has that catchy chorus, and "Living In Colour" shows us that grey times do, after all, end.

3. Mumford & Sons, Sigh No More (released October 2009): They're English and I love their accents. No, really. But besides that: I think one of the reasons I love this album so much is that listening to it, I hear a lot of early British literature in it--from the Arthurian tradition, to Shakespeare to Donne's Divine Meditations: The Holy Sonnets. The title of the album really does come from Shakespeare (his As You Like It). I really love the grovel to lead Marcus Mumford's voice, and the music, like the lyrics, is consistently powerful throughout.

4. Josh Ritter, So Runs the World Away (released May 2010): In spite of one of my good friends (this is you, Andy), having The World's Hugest Man Crush (that's right, I said it) on Josh Ritter, I admit that I'm a little late to the Josh Ritter party. While I've recognised the name, I confess that So Runs the World Away is the first album I listened to, and listened to through NPR's First Listen, thanks to XPN's own Bruce Warren. My thought: it's absolutely lovely.

5. Rachael Yamagata, Happenstance (released September 2004): 2004?! What?! I know, right? But! The other day (which, because I'm from New Jersey, could mean any time between two days ago and two years (or more!) ago), the entire day felt like the first three tracks of this album--"Be Be Your Love," "Letter Read," and the aforementioned "Worn"--all at the same time. So I had to dig it back out, and I wasn't at all disappointed. If you've not listened to Happenstance ever, do. And if you have, dust it off. And for both groups: also check out her 2008 release, Elephants...Teeth Sinking Into Heart.

...but wait! There's more!

Just a bit more, this time. Two other things I think you should know for the summer:

Firstly, there is a new Jonatha Brooke collaboration out with a London-based rapper called Kingz. The song, "Here We Go!," is available through iTunes, and is (in my opinion) a wonderful blend of two (very) different styles.

Secondly, if you've not yet read Colum McCann's Let the Great World Spin (2009, Random House), do. It's simply amazing.

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