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Who doesn't have nostalgia for summers past? Just the other day I heard the opening riff of The Red Hot Chili Peppers' Scar Tissue and immediately drifted back to the Summer of 1998. The people, my car, that trip to South Padre. That's the power songs have over us - they trigger extremely explicit memories. And, what season makes more memories than summer? We want to help lay the foundation of your cerebral soundtrack for this summer. Naturally, we tapped our very own New Braunfels treasure of a musical expert, and proprietor of StingRay Records, Dr. Blair. As an OB/GYN, he's delivered countless babies in this town, and now he's delivering his picks on the Essential Summer Albums of 2014. Why ask Dr. Blair? Because trust us, Jim. He's a doctor.

You can find all of these on vinyl at StingRay Records on 243 N. Union Ave. They have all the new stuff in stock. While you're there, don't forget to peruse through the racks of used vinyl, as StingRay is always bringing in new-to-you vintage stock weekly. It's where I picked up original pressings of both Purple Rain and Pet Sounds. Yes, an original pressing of The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds in pristine condition was living right here in New Braunfels! If you're lucky enough to meet Dr. Blair in person, try to stump him. You will lose.

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Pharrell Williams - Girl

Release Date: March 3, 2014

The real "feel good" album of the year with the epitome of summer singles in "Happy". You can't help but start moving to this one.

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The Black Keys - Turn Blue

Release Date: May 9, 2014

The just-released follow up to their tour de force "El Camino" could have been titled "El Camino II". Picking up where the former left off, "Turn Blue" continues the perpetual bluesy groove and may end up being the biggest album of the year. Amazing.

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Kodaline - In a Perfect World

Release Date: June 14, 2013

One beautiful song after another, these melodies soar in rare fashion for an entire album. You'll keep this on replay for weeks.

 

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Sweet Apple - The Golden Age of Glitter 

Release Date: April 8, 2014

Best classified as heavy power pop, this modern day supergroup includes Dinosaur Jr's J. Mascis, as well as vocals by Mark Lanegan and Robert Pollard. Choice!

 

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The War on Drugs - Lost in the Dream

Release Date: March 18, 2014

Kurt Viles' ex-band reaches new heights without him in a maze of hazy beautiful alternative melodies. It has received tons of airplay... one of the best of the year.

 

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Pixies - Indie Cindy

Release Date: April 19, 2014

Epic group returns from a long absence without missing a beat... literally... in fact, one of their best ever. Roll down the windows! (can you still say that?)

 

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Beck - Morning Phase

Release Date: February 21, 2014

Beck continues to amaze by never repeating himself. Love this album... features a mellow vibe that sucks you in.

 

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Call Me Lightning - Human Hell

Release Date: March 1, 2014

Our dark horse selection... a punky cross between the Clash and The Who that really resonates... on cool color splatter vinyl.

 

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Volcano Choir - Repave

Release Date: September 3, 2013

One of the many incarnations of Bon Iver... gorgeous melodies that reach the soul.

 

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Dead Meadow - Warble Womb

Release Date: November 4, 2013

Reverb drenched psychedelic guitar rock... these guys lead the new revolution of psych rockers.

 

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*Honorable Mention:

Beach Boys - Endless Summer

Release Date: June 24, 1974

You just can never go wrong with the legendary surf rockers when it's time to hit the beach for the summer. This 2 LP set features all the favorites and will have you ready to road trip it to the coast with your board strapped to the roof.