It's time to get this party started!
(Because we got to enjoy this weather while we can!)
Gone are those long, dark, and gloomy winter days. Our sweaters and boots are replaced with sleeveless shirts and flip-flops, and the thought of having to shovel snow is only a bad and distant memory.
Listed below is a small compilation of some of my favorite summer songs; the perfect soundtrack for any road trip, cookout, bonfire, pool party, or even as a chaser for that strong margarita on the porch. Enjoy!
Palmdale – “Here Comes The Summer” (From Get Wasted, 2010)
Since her days as the leader of the adored Boston-based Letters to Cleo, Kay Hanley has spent her much of her 30’s raising a family, carving a solo career, and even singing backup for Miley Cyrus. Her foray into the pop world shows in the infectious song and video for “Here Comes The Summer”, by her side project, Palmdale. And, don’t miss the cameo by Bill Nye (The Science Guy).
The Lemonheads – “Rudderless” (From It’s A Shame About Ray, 1992)
The Lemonheads 1992 album, “It’s A Shame About Ray” garnered critical acclaim and mass airplay – due in part by its cluster of catchy grunge-anthems, and front man, Evan Dando’s model good looks and often unpredictable onstage shenanigans; he truly wore his rock star ego like a badge.
Despite being released two-decades ago, it remains a summer staple for sing-along road trips – in particular the song, “Rudderless.” Though flannel is more winter appropriate (if ever appropriate), it seems fitting here.
Liz Phair – “Why Can’t I?” (From Liz Phair, 2003)
In a controversial move, Liz Phair went from reigning indie-queen to pop-MILF in 2003 with the release of her self-titled album.
The album cover, which featured a then-37 year-old Phair spread eagle with her trusty SG, received almost as much scorn from critics as the music; gone were her grungy guitars, replaced with slick, Avril-esque production, and glossed up vocals.
Despite her detractors disdain, Phair managed her first radio hit with the single, “Why Can’t I.” Crush-ridden girls (and boys) couldn’t resist its infectious hook, and catchy, hopeful chorus.
Hole – “Malibu” (From Celebrity Skin, 1998)
In the late 90’s – in between Courtney Love’s crazy, then crazier phases - she actually managed to craft a fantastic album. Recorded in Hawaii, 1998’s “Celebrity Skin” featured Love’s penchant for loud guitars and raspy vocals, while simultaneously bridging the gap between rock and pop; replete with a shimmering “beachy” feel.
The accompanying music video for second single, “Malibu”, was a smash hit on MTV’s TRL, and featured Love at her aesthetic best – before drugs, court cases, and a myriad of botched plastic surgeries consumed her.
Belle & Sebastian – “Another Sunny Day” (From The Life Pursuit, 2006)
This entire album takes me back to the summer of its release – I didn’t have a care in the world other than what party I was going to that evening. Though I’ve grown-up since then (or I’d like to think I have), the albums sound never grows stale.
Belle & Sebastian’s front man, Stuart Murdoch, is the master of crafting perfect pop gems that are happy and sad all in one; stamped with his often cryptic, head-scratching, yet humorous one liners: “Another day in June we’ll pick eleven for football/We’re playing for our lives, the referee gives us f***-all.”
Veruca Salt – “Wetsuit” (From Resolver, 2000)
“Your wetsuit is keeping you warm/And your cold bed/I’ll never be torn from you”, sings Veruca Salt front woman Louise Post above buzzing guitars.
A headbanging ditty about longing for monogamy, it combines the perfect soft/loud dynamic; Post sings almost in a whisper for the hushed verses before unleashing her banshee wail for the emotive chorus. Perfect for those sticky summer days, or bedroom moshing on no-date nights.
Tegan & Sara – “The Ocean” (from Sainthood, 2009)
A jangly summer love songgone wrong: “Stop crying to the ocean/stop crying over me/stop worrying over nothing/stop worrying over me.”
To me, this song is written in first person – its narrator (Tegan) likes someone, and doesn’t want that person to like anyone else. Love is complex, especially when it’s unrequited – those raw feelings of jealousy and fear are universal.
Juliana Hatfield – “Sunshine” (From In Exile Deo, 2004)
Every once in a great while, Juliana Hatfield is capable of releasing a happy song. “Happy” is a strong word; “optimistic” would be more appropriate; at least the sentiment is there.
Shimmery guitars align Hatfield’s sugary vocals on a sing-a-long chorus of, “I’ve been sleeping through my life/Now I’m waking up/And I wanna stand in the sunshine.” Radio-ready, this song wouldn’t be entirely inappropriate in a movie starring Hilary Duff.
The Breeders – “Cannonball” (from Last Splash, 1993)
Arguably one of the best “summer-songs”, Cannonball was all over the airwaves in the early 90’s. “Spitting in a wishing well/Blown to hell crash/I'm the last splash”, sings the always cryptically cool Kim Deal.
Ryan Adams – “Nuclear” (From Demolition, 2002)
Ryan Adams once described this song as “Brit-pop for Americans.” The lyrics are strange, Adams own brand of poetry: “The violets in my eyes goin’ red.” Or “They combed the beach with the remains/The bathing suits and Porsches all in flames.”
It’s about the end of the summer – the end of things – change. My interpretation is that change sometimes makes us crazy – or “nuclear".