Just to make sure that we get the point that summer starts today, the air along Colorado’s Front Range has been hovering around 100 degrees this week and every time I ride my bike to work or downtown to see a friend, I show up looking red-flushed and sweaty. It’s pretty glorious. Makes me feel like P.E. in the fifth grade all over again (also: remember what tanbark smells like when it gets really hot outside?).
I’ve had so much fun stringing together this mix of songs that are soundtracking the heat thus far. I am driving solo out to Portland (via Rock Springs and Nampa) at the beginning of July, and then roundabout home, close to the ocean out the passenger-window side, all through San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Yosemite, and then some other places we haven’t figured out yet. These are the incandescently sunny tunes that will go with me.
SMOOTH SAILING FROM HERE:
THE FUEL/FRIENDS SUMMER 2012 MIX
Smooth Sailin’ – Mike Clark
One quiet night in May, my friend Conor played me this demo that local treasure Mike Clark had just recorded earlier in the week. There in the darkness, I completely fell in love with this song and everything about it and what I want my summer to sound like. Lazy, appreciative, and unhurried. I turned to Conor as we laid there, and said “Um, I know how my summer mix is starting this year.”
Sebastian – Reptar
Then once you drift off relaxed and smiling, trailing your fingers into the water with that opening Mike Clark song, let’s dig into all the bright, dancey parts of summer. You’ll be humming/whistling/singing the chorus to this one, with that squiggly guitar line that sounds engagingly mischievous.
This Summer – Superchunk
Yep, Superchunk has written the song of the summer. Ocean views, sweaty seats, clear paths, and sleeping bags on the floor. This is your anthem. Go forth; drive fast. “Oh, your shoulders look good to me.”
Nashville – Tyler Lyle
I’ve been spending a whole lot of time lately listening to Tyler Lyle’s wonderfully evocative songwriting, and this one is no exception. In addition to just being tailor-made for backporch listening, I picked this song for the lovely line, “I have only known two teachers in my life, one is summer and one is fall.” Tyler also gives a shout-out to taking his time with paperbacks and boxes of wine, which incidentally are two of my favorite summer activities.
Broadway (feat. No BS! Brass Band) – Black Girls
Black Girls are neither black nor girls, but they are friends of friends in Virginia, and they opened some shows for The Head and the Heart earlier this year. This song is swaggery and impudent like a nineteen-year-old, and a ton of fun with that brass band and ragtimey piano.
For You (Travelin’ Bags) – WolfRider
Hailing from the oft-foggy Sebastopol, just north of San Francisco, this band has nonetheless a whistly sunny jam that makes me feel all Foster-The-Peopley, without having to go see that Beach Boys tour.
May This Be Love (Waterfall) (Jimi Hendrix) – Michael Kiwanuka
I knew I wanted to put Michael Kiwanuka on this summer mix because his voice is all warm and redolent, and every time I listen to his record it feels like a still July Sunday afternoon, no matter where the clock and the calendar point. Finding this cover was like a double win.
Swim Club – Cave Singers
I’ll be gettin’ to see these guys on Orcas Island in the San Juans come August, and this song of theirs feels like you are heading out on a dusty road, specifically and precisely: in an old truck, to go fishing.
Late July – Shakey Graves
The way this song starts from squawky, slow blues electric guitar to full-on midnight werewolf yowls seems to perfectly fit in with late July. The word-picture person in me also loves the death-penalty line “to fry like bacon, hang like lace” (if not supporting the general sentiment).
50 Lashes – Floating Action
The opening beat here makes me do this exceedingly lame little “push-it-down, push-it-back” move with my hands and my hips. You’re so sorry you’re not here to see it.
Stay At Home – Yellow Ostrich
I loved The Format and I miss The Format and this song makes me feel pleasantly awkward and heart-pounding, maybe sophomore-year summer all over again, and like The Format never broke up. I saw Yellow Ostrich opening for Of Monsters & Men recently and whoa, they were a furious explosion.
Anthem – King Tuff
Sub Pop artists King Tuff have a bright orange album cover that makes my head hurt when the sun hits it, and the whole damn album, from these opening notes, is a flawlessly pugilistic summer soundtrack that evokes all the best smartasses like the Dandy Warhols and here, the Stones Roses. Also very good for air-drumming.
Blame It On The Tetons – Modest Mouse
Oldie but a goody, this one feels late-August summery at its essential core, especially once those indulgent strings kick in — like we’re reminiscent for things that haven’t happened yet. I also gravitate strongly towards the lyric, “language is the liquid that we’re all dissolved in.” Summer should be for dissolving.
Must Be In A Good Place Now (Bobby Charles) – Vetiver & Fruit Bats
I’ve been waiting to post this since last September when these two fantastic bands played an in-store together at our rad Twist & Shout Records in Denver, and covered this song. It is perfectly blissful — wild apple trees blooming all around, and catching the sunset in the hills, with those harmonies. So, so good.
Silent Way – Milo Greene
When, when, when we’re older / can I still come over?
Everybody Needs Love – Drive-By Truckers
This expansive, golden song feels rough-hewn and right at that point of acquiescence, unclenching the fists and recognizing all those simple messy feelings. Ah, summer. You siren.
Beacon Hill (Damien Jurado) – The Head and The Heart
One of the best songs from Damien’s Saint Bartlett gets the deluxe three-part harmony singing-on-a-rooftop treatment from one of my favorite bands. I listen to this one a lot; feels spontaneous and full of real joy.
Fatal Shore – Andrew Bird
Y’all: THE NEW ANDREW BIRD RECORD IS FANTASTIC. I have it on constant repeat and will probably tell you more about it at a later point but just go get it now. This luminescent song ends the mix and the evening and the summer by floating off on our backs, eyes upwards towards all those stars.
[cover art, as always, by the wonderful Ryan Hollingsworth – check out his stellar Southern Heat, Summer Hearts mix]