July 1, 2010

Summer Plunge 2010 with Fuel/Friends

fuel-friends summer 2010

This year marks the most fun I’ve had yet putting together twenty songs to soundtrack your summer. The mix came together organically and joyfully while I did summery things, and the contentment I feel lately in these weeks is embedded in the picks. I declared on January 1 (when I did the Polar Bear Plunge) that 2010 was going to be a flippin’ fantastic year, full of new experiences — and it certainly is living up to the promise.

Enjoy these as I have, play them at the BBQs to come, and burn them on CD for your next trip to the beach. Bring enough firewood; don’t forget the sunscreen and the fuzzy blankets. Summer is here.


Bullet – Scarlett Johansson & Steel Train
I adore the two drastically different versions of this song so much that I am declaring them the anthems of my summer, and bookending this year’s mix with them. Starting this mix with ScarJo? Yeah, I’m as shocked as you are. This is actually a cover of the original (see track 19) from an album of all-female covers (Tegan & Sara, Amanda Palmer). When Scarlett croons over that immense, filthy-crunchy beat that she fell in love on the back seat of your car, can you blame her?

Bang Pop – Free Energy
Another song I want to listen to all summer: 100% pure bottled fun from these Philadelphia chaps — like Mentos in a bottle of Coke.

The Diamond Church Street Choir – The Gaslight Anthem
Snapping on the street corner because it’s too hot to go inside? A song that’s all at once immediate and urgent, as well as timeless, from these Jersey boys’ third album. “While I’m just waiting on the light to change / and the steam heat pours from the bodies on the floor.”

Heard It On The Radio – The Bird and The Bee
The lone original on an album of shiny Hall & Oates covers, it’s the standout tune for me, since I could never abide Hall & Oates anything. It perfectly encapsulates those summer crushes soundtracked to that one song on the radio all through August.

Heart To Tell – The Love Language
This North Carolina band (on Merge Records, one of my favorites) has a poppy, effusive, beat-driven sound that fits perfectly in these months. They kind of reminded me of Voxtrot, before Voxtrot stopped trotting.

Kiola Beach – HOT SPA
I know nothing about this band except they made a wonderful video with this song and old home movie footage of beach trips and vintage surfing. That’s enough for me to have a permanently fabulous vision in my mind for this song. They’re Australian, unsigned, and I read about them here.

The Drying Of The Lawns – The Tallest Man On Earth
On last year’s summer mix, Kristian Matsson sang to us about bluebirds flying away, and this year it’s the drying of summer lawns, and waves, rivers, and mirages. I’ve spent the interim twelve months falling completely in love with him, because of songs like this.

Fairweather – Houses
The cover art picture above was taken by my friend Kinsey, the luminous woman in the Denver band Houses. As I was clicking through a few of her quintessentially-summer pictures online, showing a bunch of folks up at Echo Lake lounging on huge boulders in the sun, this song of theirs (from their Summer EP last year) came on randomly. And it was perfect: let’s leave this town behind, let’s go for a drive.

Lost In My Mind – The Head and The Heart
What’s summer if not a little time out of mind? This song shimmers and grows slowly, to the crescendo where the bass drum starts softly thumping, and it sings about the stars all coming out at night. It’s almost like that Fanfarlo track I loved last year, that helped me actually see the way the sky illuminates at twilight, one tiny pinprick of light at a time. I’ve been massively loving The Head and The Heart since I posted that song last week (their full-length album is just out this week). They also remind me delightfully of the Local Natives, if you love them as I do.

I Will Be The Sun – Old Canes

Windchimes and hard-driving clattery percussion that you can dance around to, and this one sails right into the summer mix. The whole Feral Harmonic album sounds this joyous, and I love it. Great for roadtrips and gratuitous steering-wheel drumming.

Black and Milds – Cataldo
My criteria for summer is often a rubric of what songs might sound good sung around a bonfire, if I had exceptionally talented friends who played the banjo as well as they drank. We’ve also got plenty of handclaps here, in this song about missing someone (which surely we all do on occasion, even in the summer). Thanks Katie!

Hard Sun – Indio
The original version of the sweeping epic song from Canadian Gordon Peterson in 1989. Featuring Joni Mitchell on background vocals and an assortment of exotic African-sounding instruments, it just feels radiant.

Flaming Arrow – Jupiter One
NYC’s Jupiter One is a duo with folksy roots and Seventies AM radio leanings. This song is all lemondrops and summer street strolls, over lyrics about burning buildings. What an odd, totally successful juxtaposition.

Unattainable – Little Joy
Man, this entire album is the perfect summer accompaniment — that slightly kitschy, clattery sound from Strokes drummer Fabrizio Moretti and vocalist Binki Shapiro, along with Brazilian musician Rodrigo Amarante. I had a hard time picking just one track off this album for the mix.

Mirando – Ratatat
The video for this Brooklyn duo’s 2008 song consist of clips from Predator in reverse, so this song feels a bit like humid jungle warfare to me, in some exotic land. But, you know — humid jungle warfare you can dance to.

In The Summertime (acoustic) – Rural Alberta Advantage
I discovered this in the cold of November, and have been waiting for the sun to come and warm things up enough to enjoy it the way I think it was meant to be heard. A bittersweet, piercing, perfect little song, recorded off-the-cuff backstage at the Bottom Of The Hill in San Francisco.

Sunny Sunday Mill Valley Groove Day – The Sir Douglas Quintet
My friend Nick from London said I had to put this on the mix, and when he recommends, I listen. I’d never heard this before but it feels like something captured on a warm afternoon in the studio when the recorder was accidentally kept running. “When there’s nothing left to say, and all the clouds have faded away / And my mind wanders out there across the bay…”

Saturday Night (Pinkhearts session) – Ryan Adams
My friend Brian from San Francisco said I had to put this on the mix, and when he recommends, I listen. There’s something in the aimlessness and lazy midnight humidity of this song that sounds like a perfect summer night when you were a teenager. Also, the saxophone makes it sound for all the world like a cast-off demo from the Rolling Stones.

Bullet – Steel Train
Indie kids doing their best, brilliant shot at Springsteen. As soon as I burn this mix onto a CD, I am hitting the road with the windows open because holy heck how good will this song sound on a summer night with the car windows down?? It’s so good that I had to use this song twice on the mix. My new favorite summer song of 2010. [huge thanks to Brian in Portland!!]

Pursuit of Happiness (Kid CuDi cover) – Lissie
Finally, this one – I love Lissie, and I love how she had to take a shot of tequila before she covers hip-hop artist Kid CuDi’s collaboration with MGMT and Ratatat: “2am, summer night / Hands on the wheel — uh, uh, fuck that….” Ending on a perfect, if dangerous, note.


Go forth and enjoy.

[cover image by Kinsey Hamilton, design by Todd Roeth]


  • I love this – thank you!

    Megan — July 2, 2010 @ 7:13 am

  • Perfect. I’ve been waiting a long time for this.

    There is something strangely exhilarating about putting together a summer mix. I had your same feeling of contentment when I put together mine for my friends and mailed it out.

    Adam — July 2, 2010 @ 7:14 am

  • Adam, I think it’s the defiance against all those long cold months, and a statement that we made it through and we will celebrate and appreciate while the gettin’s good and the sun is here. Or something like that ;)

    browneheather — July 2, 2010 @ 7:27 am

  • Sadly you posted this the night I came home from my first beach trip to the beautiful Atlantic shore… But I’ll listen to it at work and pretend its yesterday morning again and I’m driving out to the beach…

    highly anticipated & quite satisfactory. thanks, as per always!

    Katie — July 2, 2010 @ 8:04 am

  • Love the mix, but must point out that you may like The Bird and the Bee’s Hall & Oates “cover” because it’s not a cover. It’s the only song on the album that is a B & B original.

    EliMcQ — July 2, 2010 @ 8:25 am

  • oh my gosh. that changes everything. no wonder i love it? NOTED and thanks. the fact that it came on a CD of hall and oates covers threw me, big time ;)

    browneheather — July 2, 2010 @ 10:19 am

  • Too bad it’s winter for some of us…

    Glad to see that RAA song coming back around. It was recorded early July last year, a summer’s day.

    Adrian — July 2, 2010 @ 10:33 am

  • yes, and thank you for it. so incredible.
    ps – too bad it’s winter BUT YOU HAVE THE WORLD CUP. ;)

    browneheather — July 2, 2010 @ 10:34 am

  • [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Bethe Almeras. Bethe Almeras said: Summer Plunge 2010 with Fuel/Friends http://shar.es/m9orz [...]

    Tweets that mention Summer Plunge 2010 with Fuel/Friends | Fuel/Friends Music Blog -- Topsy.com — July 2, 2010 @ 1:23 pm

  • As always and again with more to come – Thank you.

    Mike — July 2, 2010 @ 2:30 pm

  • Thanks Heather.

    Kevin — July 2, 2010 @ 7:21 pm

  • Thanks very much.

    Rakesh — July 3, 2010 @ 2:52 pm

  • love the mix already… and only 2 songs in. thanks for sharing!

    question for the designer… what is the main font called? i love it and would like to get it!


    todd-o — July 3, 2010 @ 7:01 pm

  • Thanks for always introducing me to new music. Love this new mix!

    Carrie — July 4, 2010 @ 3:07 am

  • Heather great job – already hooked on Bullet and Pursuit of Happiness …

    Mark — July 4, 2010 @ 9:36 am

  • Thanks a lot. This is wonderful.

    Franny Glass — July 5, 2010 @ 2:42 pm

  • I love how that photo worked out!
    I’m looking forward to listening through your mix.
    xoxo kins

    Kinsey — July 5, 2010 @ 3:47 pm

  • The Drying of the Lawns, just an inspiring song.

    Matthew — July 6, 2010 @ 12:43 am

  • THANKS for this… always looking forward to new musical experiences…

    DARRRRRRRRCIE — July 6, 2010 @ 11:05 am

  • Plug for ya at thespillblog.co.uk
    Its a music blog in England, kind of a cousin to The Guardian newspaper’s Readers Recommend. Today we’ve posted about I Am Fuel…

    tincanman — July 7, 2010 @ 4:09 am

  • awww, thanks, tincanman! :)

    browneheather — July 7, 2010 @ 6:48 am

  • i’m so excited for this! been rockin’ 2009′s mix this morning, but as soon as i’m home from the steamboat adventure, i’m zipping this one and crankin’ it! see you soon i hope!

    heather b. — July 8, 2010 @ 10:45 am

  • yaaay! you are finally making it home. hope to see you soon! you MUST come to the bike pub crawl next thursday so we can BLOW EVERYBODY’S MINDS with our name similarities. they all thought it was hilarious last week.

    browneheather — July 8, 2010 @ 2:31 pm

  • Thank you so much for introducing me to Steel Train. I can’t get the song “Bullet” out of my head and I don’t want to.

    Robert Loy — July 8, 2010 @ 6:29 pm

  • thank you so much. amazing mix. posted just in time for a long drive to the beach.

    kenzie — July 10, 2010 @ 8:30 pm

  • Great mix! Thanks for sharing.

    rick — July 12, 2010 @ 4:53 am

  • Thanks so much for this! I love this mix and have been rocking it, and especially the Lissie track over and over.

    Guan — July 14, 2010 @ 7:11 pm

  • Lissie covering Kid Cudi, can’t get enough.

    MP — July 24, 2010 @ 12:16 pm

  • it rocks my soul

    cheero — July 27, 2010 @ 1:26 am

  • [...] Steel Train – Bullet by Laura Lambeth on Feb 6, 2012 • 7:51 AM No Comments Found on the summer 2010 playlist on I am Fuel, You are Friends [...]

    Music Monday: Steel Train – Bullet | lauralambeth.com — February 6, 2012 @ 5:37 am

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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