This morning, my car sits packed to its dear 2001 Sentra gills. I am heading off into the southwestern climes of the United States, across six states with my seven year-old, a stack of good music and audiobooks, and a hankering for the open road. We’ll hit Mesa Verde, see family in Phoenix, sun in San Diego, attend a Dodgers-Padres game (so I can teach him to properly boo LA), camp along the north rim of the Grand Canyon, and stay in various KOA cabins along the way. We plan on s’mores and stargazing, and maybe finding a swimming hole or two.
While I check out of here for that time, I’m leaving you all with my 2011 Summer Mix, which we will be rocking in the car (as long as the speakers hold). Consider this my out-of-office autoresponder. Now go outside and play.
SPILLING OUR ICE CUBES ON THE LAWN
The Fuel/Friends Summer 2011 Mix
Someone Else Can Make A Work Of Art – First Rate People
The first rule of summer is that of measured procrastination. Someone else can make a work of art; we’ll have our toes in the pool (“down to the water / where the water is cold”).
Constructive Summer – The Hold Steady
“Me and my friends are like the drums on ‘Lust for Life’ / we pound it out on floor toms, our psalms are singalong songs….” – Some of the best opening lines of any album, ever, I’ve been waiting a few years to use this on a summer mix; I wanted it to get far removed enough from its original release (on the fabulous Stay Positive) so that the urgency and heat of young summers blazed through fresh. I love everything about this song. We’re gonna build something this summer.
Perfect Games – The Broken West
I took the title of the mix from this fantastic little forgotten gem of a song from the (I just learned now-defunct) Broken West, a great power-pop band that was signed to Merge Records. This was on 2008′s Now or Heaven, and it’s about kickin’ around, placing bets on the evening. I’ll bet on a summer evening anytime.
Rio – Hey Marseilles
There are always Brazilian boys to discover. Every line in this song makes it a perfect summer song: Drink til the morning becomes yesterday. Think of the shorelines you have yet to see / where the days left to breathe are not gone, are still long… Can’t wait to see Matt Bishop (hopefully) perform this at Doe Bay, under the August pines.
Singing The Devil’s Tune – Nick Jaina
This one gives off an anachronistic Elvis Perkins-y vibe, and starts with a lament about feet burned from dancing on your roof in the summer’s heat. It’s also the first of our hearty “la la la laaaa”s on this mix, because summer is for singing along (thanks Sean).
When They Fight, They Fight – The Generationals
I was surprised to find that this is a duo of guys from New Orleans, and not a doo-wop girl group with bouffants and pastel taffeta. In this instance, that is a very good thing.
Vocal Chords – Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr
Starting here like the Beach Boys and quickly toe-tapping their way into Paul Simon territory, this entire album is a glimmering summertime delight.
I Need A Dollar (Blogotheque version) – Aloe Blacc
…because most of us could use an extra dollar or two in the summertime. Aloe Blacc strips this song back to its spiritual traditional roots in a Paris cafe for his Blogotheque session, and it becomes a timeless acapella lament of the boss man and the price of artistry. And all he needs are foot-stomps, snaps, and some water-glass percussion.
Blackout – Pickwick
A bunch of white kids from Seattle reinvent themselves as makers of music infused with retro-60s soul, after falling for Sam Cooke (a noble path). 100% terrific as an accompaniment to watching the ripples of heat rise off the sidewalk.
Summer Home – Typhoon
Portland’s multi-membered Typhoon has been a magnificent constant for me since the Springtime. This one sings about childhood memories and how those halcyon summers always are especially cemented in our seasonal psyche.
My Body – Young The Giant
And then this one starts like an ignition turning over and I am excited for all the roadtrips we are collectively taking in these hot months, tires humming on the softening black asphalt.
Wonder Why – Vetiver
Alongside the Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr album, the new Vetiver album is my other summer soundtrack. This San Francisco outfit is on Sub Pop Records, and the album landed in my mailbox in May, just as the apple blossoms were getting their act together. The whole album sounds real nice with the windows down, and I can’t stop listening.
Cold Feet – Lost Lander
This Portland band was featured on the PDX Pop Now! compilation, and sounds wildly Celtic to me, a voice ululating about a million tiny flashlights over a gently growing sonic gleam. It’s addictive. (oh — Kickstart them!)
Demons (live on Daytrotter) – AgesandAges
Even though I know this happened in a rad studio in Rock Island, Illinois, I think it sounds just like it could have been around a campfire somewhere on a coast, embers floating off into the salty air, hands clapping in time.
North of Town – Bryan John Appleby
Another stunner from BJA’s debut EP, this one has a jubilant streak in it that made it one of the highlights of his live show, as we all clapped and “la la laaaa”d together with a wish to run off to the north of town. Also, since we last spoke, BJA reached his Kickstarter goal! Yeehaw.
The Least I Can Do – David Wax Museum
I saw David Wax Museum a few months ago in Denver and this was one of the most stunning songs they did, about hearts opening up like flowers and not being able to unbloom. And that is such a good thing.
Let’s Go Down – Family Of The Year
I first wrote about this song back in January with teeth chattering, just envisioning campfires on the beach, and now it’s here. “First we take our shoes off, then we take our socks off, it doesn’t even matter – there are rocks that we can jump off…” My anthem these days.
Slipping Through The Sensors – Fruit Bats
I love the permeating, fresh-green laziness all through this whole damn song. I’ve thought of this as the quintessential summer song for a few years now.
Peaceful Mind – Ryan Tanner
This song by some Salt Lake City friends slides into the mix laden with a simple warm grace, like a benediction. I could listen to this one over and over and gain a new measure of peace each time. It also features Paul Jacobsen on banjo and backing vocals – you guys really really liked his cover of Kathleen Edwards that I posted once. This is a summer twilight song to me, fireflies flickering.
Where’d All The Time Go? – Dr Dog
Because before we know it, this summer will be past us.