June 19, 2013

Sunburns Turning Into Tanlines :: The Fuel/Friends Summer 2013 Mix


Summer is a rarefied season that (more than any other time of year) summons up all sorts of vintage ghosts from other generations’ musical realms — namely, the ’50s and ’60s in American & British music, for me. There’s something in those old AM radio songs and staticky car stereo anthems that instantly dig up all my best summer memories and leave me ready to go make some more.

As the June heat reaches full capacity these days, for this year’s summer mix I mostly swore off the stuff that feels all shimmery-new, in favor of the new that feels old and well-steeped. These twenty songs all could have maybe come out on a vinyl single, and soundtracked a sock hop or a sweaty, soulful city nightclub in 1964. But almost all of them (with a couple exceptions) were made in the last few years by people not old enough to remember any of that first-hand.

Here’s to music that perennially sounds good on a hot summer night.


Ganges A GoGo – Bombay The Hard Way
A kitschy funk-Bollywood explosion from Dan The Automator features drums from DJ Shadow — and you can practically see the technicolor masses dancing to this one. Count me as one of them.

Summer Girls – Mike Clark & The Sugar Sounds
This playful, slurry jam has been a no-brainer for inclusion since I first heard it in the middle of winter, on Mike’s delectable Round & Round album (one that should be on your stereos, in its entirety, all summer). Mike opened (and oh hey, named) last year’s summer mix as well, with “Smooth Sailin’.” Perhaps something in his joyful musical laments just suit the season. ALSO: Mike’s Daytrotter session that we stopped in Iowa to record a few months ago just went live this morning as well, with some really beautiful writing from Sean to match the songs. Bonanza!

Lady, You Shot Me – Har Mar Superstar
I had somehow stupidly pegged this band as some sort of J-pop collective. Why? Why did I miss out on this for so long? This new record, Bye Bye 17, is now #2 (after Mike’s) on my list of albums that you need for this summer. Pretty fly for a white guy (from Minnesota who looks like Ron Jeremy), as they say.

Can I Change My Mind – Tyrone Davis
One of the few authentic older songs on this mix, I just cannot ever ever get enough of how delicately sexy and perfect that febrile, bendy guitar lick is. Bad. Ass. All summer long.

Trying So Hard Not To Know – Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
This song is one side of the hard-to-find Night Sweats 7″ that is floating around all the best Colorado record players. I have listened to this song roughly 86 times in the last month or so, after seeing them live and having my socks completely knocked off. Sweltering.

Better Days – Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes
“I’ve seen better days drippin’ down your face / we don’t have to talk, just dance.” Yes. This new song from Edward Sharpe is from their forthcoming S/T July record, which is already promising to be a much-anticipated soundtrack to my late summer months.

Plan Of The Man – The Ms
I swooned and fell for this band when they released Future Women way back in the 2006 early-days of this blog, crowned by this tightly wound power-pop gem of a song. As one reviewer wrote, “The M’s have found a canny chemistry out of seemingly simple parts (three-part harmonies plus a powerhouse drummer), and now, they’ve got swagger to spare.”

High School Lover – Cayucas
The bassline here makes my shoulders go up and down like this. Another wonnnnnnderful summery album, newly out on Secretly Canadian Records.

Handle With Care (Traveling Wilburys) – Slang
Drew Grow and Janet Weiss cover a terrific assortment of songs in their joyous, airtight collaboration project Slang, mostly in and around the Pacific Northwest. These two are completely irresistible. Be sure to check out Drew Grow’s renamed band, Modern Kin, and Janet Weiss’s astounding new Drumgasm record.

You Put The Flame On It – Charles Bradley
This one’s a new song by an older dude who could have been part of the first wave of originals but instead worked as a cook and a James Brown impersonator called (you can’t make up a better backstory than this) “Black Velvet,” before being signed to Daptone Records. Everything about his newly-released sophomore record with Daptone –which my friend Andrew has on vinyl and it sounds just superb, spinning lazily– is fantastic.

That Old Black Hole – Dr. Dog
Even after listening to this song a lot for over a year, I still always see this guy in my mental movie, strutting down the street during the opening credits.

Brand New Key (Melanie cover) – Thao Nguyen & The Get Down Stay Down
In her perfectly strong singsong delivery, the rocking Thao aces this 1971 rollerskating jam, all loaded with vintage innuendo about his key fitting into her brand new roller skates, and how they should “get together and try it out to see.” God bless the Seventies.

Country Girl – Primal Scream
A prime Rolling Stones song that isn’t a Rolling Stones song, this one is all swagger from a 2006 record by Scottish rockers Primal Scream, with lines like “crazy women, mess your hair / wake up drunk and bleeding in some strange bed but yeah – what can a poor boy do?” A common complaint. Put this one on when you need to get pumped up to go out and be superawesome some night.

I Like To Move In The Night – Eagles of Death Metal
Gahhh another one that so very clearly rips off the Stones, and yet does it with such unabashed glee that you can’t help but enjoy it. Plus, you can’t take a band called Eagles Of Death Metal too seriously, now can you? This reminds me of the watertower/pool hall/gas station scenes from Dazed & Confused. Like that.

Say So – Allen Stone
This 26 year-old bespectacled white kid from Seattle keeps wowing me with his smooth Stevie-Wonder-like range and delight in the music he’s making. A superb piece about him on Grantland described him as sort of looking like a Fraggle Rock character, “but (he) has a better voice than pretty much anyone I’ve ever heard in my life.” So there’s that. Listen up for this fella.

Please Forgive My Heart (Bobby Womack) – Bahamas
Afie Jurvanen can do no wrong, in my opinion, and this Bobby Womack cover with his wonderful backup-singer ladies is no exception. I love/hate the ability of sweet soul songs like this to woo me, wherein our protagonist begs some woman to forgive his heart, because the problem doesn’t lie “anywhere in there,” but the fact is, “I’m a liar.” So we’re clear. Ooooh ooooh ooooh.

Saturday – Josh Rouse
Such sweet, sweet bluesy topnotes here, floating across the air on a slow Saturday — this is one of the more romantic songs I know, and I’ve been wanting to put it on a summer mix for years. From Rouse’s 2005 masterpiece album Nashville, this song also has one of my favorite opening lyrics: “I would swim across the ocean, I would lay down on a bed of nails / but I’ll spare you all the bullshit, I will spare you all the desperate details.” Whew.

Dry Land – Planes (Inaiah & Desi)
Inaiah Lujan and Desirae Garcia are core members of The Haunted Windchimes here in Southern Colorado, but their side project Planes finds them charmingly exploring tunes that would have sounded right at home on tour with Buddy Holly. This melody is a serious earworm, and they agreed to record it last week in their living room, just for me and you and this mix, after I absolutely could not stop whistling it for an entire week.

Post-War – M. Ward
This song has always sounded radiantly humid to me, like drowsily-buzzing bees and backporch cicadas and air that clings to your skin, with a slow dance shuffle across a worn-smooth wooden floor somewhere.

Not Dark Yet – Bob Dylan
One of the greatest summer night songs ever recorded. You can see the ceiling fan spinning lazily, ineffectually, overhead. It’s too hot to sleep; the heat is still rising off the sidewalk and the soft, tarry asphalt. Behind every beautiful thing, Dylan croaks, there’s been some kind of pain.

It’s not dark yet but it’s getting there.


[thanks, as always, to the wonderful artistic partnership with Ryan Hollingsworth for that cover design artwork, and to Mike Clark for the perfect lyrics to name the mix. Go forth and summer, y’all.]

June 20, 2012

Smooth Sailing From Here: The Fuel/Friends Summer 2012 Mix

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 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.”

Who Knew – You Won’t
Effervescently-strummed mandolins should be the official instrument of summer. Every song on this record is delicious.

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).

Welfare – Tom Eddy
Another artist I’ll see this summer at Doe Bay Fest – he’s playing the stage on the bluff that overlooks the water under pine trees and I think this sounds just about right.

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]

July 1, 2011

Spilling Our Ice Cubes On The Lawn: The Fuel/Friends Summer 2011 Mix

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.

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.


[cover art image by the wonderful Ryan Hollingsworth; original image from Shenandoah Davis]

January 4, 2011

let’s go down in the water and wash off this dirty week


I know it is icy, brutal, make-you-weep freezing in so many of the places where people are reading from, so this feels like a bit of collectivist escapism between us.

But: I heard this song for the first time tonight and I want so badly for it to be July and to be driving down Highway 17 in California with this on repeat, and the windows down. And can someone also please bring a guitar so we can try to work out the chords around the campfire? This is pure, undistilled summer joy and just made my night.

Let’s Go Down – Family Of The Year

Family Of The Year is from Los Angeles (so they do summery things all the time), by way of Wales (so they appreciate all the summery things). Their album Songbook is available for whatever price you want to pay them for it. I wonder if they would take payment in s’mores.

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]

July 2, 2009

Late Nights and Longboards: Fuel/Friends Summer 2009 mix


Before you head off on the long 4th of July weekend of merriment and BBQs (mostly for my US readers, but heck, it’s a good idea wherever you live), I have finally completed my annual summer mix for 2009: Late Nights and Longboards“! I don’t surf, I just pretend I’m one of those girls in the picture up there – with the especially foxy swimsuits.

These are twenty tunes that will be soundtracking my summer, the porch swings and lemonade (okay, Fat Tire), the volleyball and sunburns, the roadtrips with the windows down because my air conditioner is broken. Maybe even the mosquito bites and seemingly inevitable summer broken hearts.

Fuel/Friends Summer 2009 Mix
Storia Di Un Corazon – Jovanotti & Jarabe de Palo

Spanish and Italian and salsa dancing and sweat. Move your hips.
Song Away – Hockey
I’m still addicted, and this still sounds fantastic driving fast.
Kissing Like It’s Love – The Voyces
Marvelous marvelous! “You smell like every summer should, my favorite time of year, like Coppertone and firewood — how am I supposed to steer?”
I Was A Fool – Roman Candle
I can feel the summer twilight heat emanating off this slow charmer. “Out in the evening past the bridge and below, frogs and cicadas left and right growling low… “
Folding Chair – Regina Spektor
Feet buried in the sand, and the sea is just a wetter version of the skies.
We’re All Stuck Out In The Desert – Johnathan Rice
Miami vacations, desert journeys, salt and sand in this (damn catchy) tune from Jenny Lewis’s boyfriend.
How Can I Love You If You Won’t Lie Down? – Silver Jews
All shiny and chimey with a faint banjo, electric guitar, and lyrics like “fast cars, fine ass, these things will pass and it won’t get more profound.” No, no it won’t.
Bowl of Oranges – Bright Eyes
Citrus seems summery, but really this is just my personal anthem of the summer and a favorite Bright Eyes song. What we’re all looking for.
Harold T Wilkins – Fanfarlo
Wow, this song still explodes into a billion technicolor sparks every time I hear it.
Sleep All Summer – Crooked Fingers
The original is different than that fabulous cover floating around, but just as bittersweet once you get used to it.
California (All The Way) – Luna
I can see the sun glinting hard off the Los Angeles car windshields, blinding me, when I listen to the guitar melody here.
July 4, 2004 – Jason Anderson
It’s not a summer mix ’til someone starts handclapping.
Fireworks – The Whitest Boy Alive
Half of the Kings of Convenience secured his place on this mix with the first second of this perfect song. Not lying.
My Radio (AM Mix) – Stars
“Hot sun on skin, that crimson dress too thin.”
Where Do My Bluebird Fly – The Tallest Man On Earth
You know how endless quiet afternoons can pass in August, laying on your back looking at clouds? This is that song – “You’re just a riddle in the sky…”
Wasted & Ready – Ben Kweller
Sweet Summer Night on Hammer Hill – Jens Lekman
Even though Jens has the swine flu, I still hope he can find a day like this one this summer, all flirty brass and shout-out-loud clapping down on the corner.
The Village Green Preservation Society – The Kinks
Personally, my summers always require the Kinks to be present and contributing.
Play Until The Streetlights Come On – Rabbit Is A Sphere
From their new free EP, this interlude makes me think of running home barefoot on warm asphalt.
We’ll See The Sun – Houses
This song has two sublime moments in it that make my insides expand – when the drums come in at the two-minute-mark, and when the Wurlitzer explodes like fireworks at 3:27. Give it time to build and you’ll be rewarded. We will see the sun.


It all fits on one CD. Let’s go!

June 20, 2008

Welcome, summer

Ten tunes for this first day of summer 2008:

Girls In Their Summer Clothes (winter mix) – Bruce Springsteen
California (Phantom Planet cover) – Mates of State
Constructive Summer (live at Non-Comm) – Hold Steady
It’s Your Thing – Isley Brothers (this cut from Out of Sight)
Electric Music and the Summer People – Beck
Sunshine (Jonathan Edwards cover) – Paul Westerberg
Summersong – The Decemberists
Burned (Buffalo Springfield cover) – Wilco
Summer In The City – Regina Spektor
Nightswimming – R.E.M.

Check out the corresponding selections at Some Velvet Blog and The Late Greats as well — and choose your own summer adventure.

June 20, 2007

Summer Mix 2007 :: All I want is an umbrella in my drink

This morning was the Colorado Springs annual street breakfast, which sounds dodgy but means eating good food (“too early for flapjacks?”) while sitting on hay bales in the middle of the street downtown. No joke, I actually get up early for this. On this same day last year (always the day before summer officially begins) I posted up my Tanline summer mix, which kept me going all through the hot months. I’ve been working on this year’s mix pretty much since the chills of winter set in (and hung around) as a bit of wishful thinking and longing for these warm days.

Today’s high is supposed to be 89. I am so ready.


Ordinary – The Alternate Routes
A sublime opening note to start the summer: “I’ve been wasting my days good and reckless and true . . .”
Rock ‘N Me – Steve Miller Band
I think their Greatest Hits (74-78) could be one of the finest summer albums ever.
Flight of The Conchords theme song
Kokomo – Adam Green & Ben Kweller
The ironic deadpan intonation, but still having fun, makes this a great cover of the Beach Boys classic. I will go to any of these places listed with Ben and Adam.
Hardcore Days & Softcore Nights – Aqueduct
What I wish for each of you. Plus, this beat makes me want to die of happiness.
Assholes – The Damnwells
Man alive, I love this song lately. Dezen’s velvety rasp perfectly anchors the steel guitar and makes it all flow together in a wonderful, warm, defiant anthem of youth. Also dig the backing vocals: “Don’t catch it! No, don’t catch it!
Ice Cream Man – Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers
Who doesn’t love the ice cream man? I need a missile pop; preferably barefoot.
Wild Honey – U2
My favorite U2 song on a hot summer day, from those bright opening notes. I’ll swing through the trees with you, Bono.
He’s On The Beach (b-side) – Lemonheads
A fantastic b-side from the Big Gay Heart single, he’s in Australia and he’s on the beach, and there’s sunshine everywhere. Or so they tell me.
(I Love The Sound Of) Breaking Glass – Nick Lowe
I first heard this sitting on a picnic blanket drinking PBR in Wash Park and I instantly liked this shimmery, dramatic ’80s tune, which sounds so lighthearted even though it’s about smashing out windows and submission.
If She Wants Me – Belle & Sebastian
This song feels like the way everything sloooows down on a really hot day, all billowy and hazy, with really, really fey harmonies
Beverly Hills – Weezer
Then stomp things back up with Weezer at their Queen-est. Driving around in a crappy car, fashion sense a little whack – sounds like every summer when I was a teenager.
99% – Mooney Suzuki
Kind of a grand ’70s rock sound to these guys with “ooo ooo oo”s and “naaa na na naaa”s galore.
I Love The Summer Days – Marbles
The other Schneider from Austin, this is Robert Schneider from Apples in Stereo with a song that sounds like Herman’s Hermits meets Cotton Mather. I was surprised to find out this was modern.
Seven Days In The Sun – Feeder
Worth it for that opening drum break which would be fantastic on the steering wheel; plus the song’s about vacations in Mallorca and other summery affairs.
Firecracker (Music in High Places – Jamaica version) – Ryan Adams
Ryan spends a few days down in Jamaica jammin’ with locals, Toots, and various Maytals and the result is a movie filled with these spontaneous street-jam sessions. Lyrics to epitomize summer (“everybody wants to go on forever, I just want to burn up hard and bright“).
The Joker – Steve Miller Band
A quarter if you can tell me what a pompatus is. I LOVE everything about singing along with this song (including vocalizing that guitar catcall after the love your peaches/shake your tree/lovey dovey lyric).
Dance Tonight – Paul McCartney
Summery, stompy, simple and lovely.
Throw Your Arms Around Me (b-side version) – Neil Finn
Pearl Jam’s covered this Hunters & Collectors song in concert and called it a “song that felt like summer.” I agree wholeheartedly, especially this live version by Neil Finn.
In The Aeroplane Over The Sea – Neutral Milk Hotel
I missed this album until recently somehow, and now I absolutely want to lay on my back listening to this and watch the clouds go past. Perfect.


Happy summering, y’all.

June 21, 2006

Sounds like summer

It’s the first day of summer, the longest day of the year. My lovely city started the day off right with the annual Street Breakfast. Pancakes, eggs, little boxes of milk and juice — all prepared & served by soldiers (so do I call it grub? or chow? or something like that). They close off the streets for the hardy souls who get downtown between 6am and 8:30am (guess which end of the spectrum I was closer to? Anyone who knows me will heartily echo “8:30! You got there AFTER 8:30!”). There was live music with a band whose lead singer looked like Bo Bice (a bit unfortunately). It was an excellent way to welcome the summer and enjoy the community spirit.

Here is a little playlist I have been assembling for the last month or so as the weather steadily turns warmer and minds turn to lighter things. This is a blend of old and new; let me tell you why. Summer is not just about you, right here & now in 2006, my friend. Somehow with the advent of June, it’s every summer you’ve ever lived before, and those from before you were born. It’s about drive-ins and clam bakes, love-ins and hip shakes. It’s about being eight years old and bored out of your mind all summer long, seeing how fast you can ride your bike, and laying on your back looking at clouds for hours. It’s about the summer before freshman year when you’d spend hours at the pool hoping to see your summer crush. And it’s about whatever fabulous things you will do this year, standing by the grill with friends, laying on the sand nursing a Corona, or dancing your arse off at some humid outdoor concert.

So this is an aptly broad soundtrack of songs that remind me of a bunch of different summers. From the kitschy appeal of Lily Allen to the sunkissed goodness of The Zombies, there’s something here for all the faces of summer. If you have the computer space, can I urge you to download the whole mix and listen to it front-to-back several times? It’s not supposed to be a pick-and-choose endeavor; there’s a flow here, people! A mix tape from me to you, so TRUST ME.

01. “LDN” – Lily Allen
(walkin’ round London, narrating – an extremely likeable female version of Mike Skinner)
02. “Good Day” – Luce
(just feel good listening to this, so positive & pleasant)
03. “Pleasant Valley Sunday” – The Monkees
(retro goodness recreating a sunny weekend morning – “the local rock group down the street is tryin’ hard to learn their song . . .”)
04. “The Compromise” – The Format
(this is a FABULOUS song, from their new CD Dog Problems)
05. “Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl)” – Looking Glass
(I remember singing this with my brother in the summer, listening to the radio)
06. “July! July!” – The Decemberists
(something about crooked French Canadians, but it fits so well)
07. “A Summer Song” – Chad & Jeremy
(could a song SOUND any more like summer?)
08. “Island In The Sun (live)” – Weezer
(where I wish I was, with a riff that distinctly reminds me of Summer 2001)
09. “Summertime” – Josh Rouse
(“I remember cigarettes, tube socks, sunburns, and long blonde hair“)
10. “
All I’m Thinkin’ About” – Bruce Springsteen
(a summer driving song, on a long, winding road)
11. “Plan Of The Man” – The Ms
(hard to believe these Chicago fellows are modern, what with all the wooo wooo wooos)
12. “Harmour Love” – Syreeta
(the infectiously poppy opening/closing song from the movie Junebug)
13. “California Pt. 2” – Mason Jennings
(“Where the next nearest neighbor lives miles away, I’ll never have to mow the lawn. Right on.”)
14. “I Get High” – Fastball
(yes, it’s Fastball, but forget “The Way” and listen to this soulful Beatles-esque piano ballad)
15. “Long, Sweet Summer Night” – The Thorns
(Matthew Sweet, Pete Droge, Shawn Mullins – supergroup, superb song)
16. “I Wanna Hold Your Hand (Beatles cover) - Al Green
(Unh. “Shut up Al Green.” Teenage nostalgia never sounded so funky)
17. “I Need Direction” – Teenage Fanclub
(it’s like including a Beach Boys song without including one. Perfect)
18. “Paper Scratcher” – Blind Melon
(a completely underrated gem off their self-titled debut album, LOVE the harmonies)
19. “When U Love Somebody” – Fruit Bats
(another modern band that sounds so fantastically retro, this time with handclaps)
20. “Summertime” (demo) – The Zombies
(it is NOT summer without The Zombies. It’s just not. This is the classic Gershwin tune.)
21. “This Time Of Year” – Better Than Ezra
(for a newer song, this feels pretty dang nostalgic to me. “There’s a feelin’ in the air, just like a Friday afternoon . . .”)
22. “Sleepwalk” – Santo & Johnny
(no better way to end a summer night than with this tune, an open window, and a breeze)

The way I burn it, it fits on one CD for portable goodness.

Let the summering begin!

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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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