Tuesday, June 6, 2017
Summer Playlist 2017
June 7th marks the third anniversary of Out of Left Field, and I struggled to think of something that would mark the occasion as well as my Hot Corner Harbor seventh anniversary post the other day. In the end, I decided to instead go back to a feature that I’ve critically underutilized so far, playlists. I love sharing music, after all. The amazingly nice weather recently had me thinking about summer songs again, so I decided why not try and build off of last year’s post and do a new Summer Playlist for 2017.
It’s not going to be exactly, the same of course. I made sure to stick to stuff not on either of my earlier playlists* (even though I was really tempted to feature “Weekend” by Neon Trees again, it’s really perfect for this, and Scavenger Hunt got crowded out partly because of two features on last year’s list). And it wound up being a little less thematically laser-focused, meaning a larger list with sometime more abstract connections to the summer theme. Some of them feel more like “good songs to listen to during summer” rather than “summer songs”, but I can’t really explain in words what that difference is exactly, other than it’s an instinctual feeling. Just know that it occurred to me during my brainstorming and bugged me a little.
*Or upcoming playlists, in a few cases; I have several more in the works, maybe I’ll eventually get around to posting them.
A few blurbs on the songs now:
“Run Away with Me”-Carly Rae Jepsen
I really don’t know what to say about this one other than it’s the perfect pop song, from the bold opening notes to the perfectly belted-chorus. I’ve wanted to put it on just about every list I’ve come up with, but it makes for a great opener.
Edit: I spent hours working on this list and just realized that I included it on a playlist from last year, despite trying to avoid repeats. Oh well, such is life.
“Talk Too Much”-COIN
Two newer songs. Maybe my opinions will shift on which songs were “best” for this list in time; it’s always interesting to measure the shifts in my opinions on music over time. For now, though, I think they fit very well. MisterWives is especially a good band for making summer songs; they’re super bright and energetic in sound (and it definitely carries over into their live shows), and Chasing This might be the best example.
“Waiting on the Summer”-VHS Collection
I found out about VHS Collection after Penguin Prison remixed this song, and I’m so glad I did. It’s probably what pushed me over the line in deciding to do another Summer Playlist. The lyrics hit a sweet spot of relaxed cheer and melancholy, the layered wah and brite synths are great, and the chorus is very fun to sing along to. James Bohannon’s vocals are kind of unusual, but it works here. It’s super literal thematically, but you know, sometimes that works.
“Back of the Car”-RAC featuring Nate Hendricks
I came so close to using “Cheap Sunglasses” here, which I like more, but “Back of the Car” just feels more free and in-line thematically with what you’d want here. I think I remember André Allen Anjos said when he released this song to the effect that he wanted to make a song for driving around to, and it does feel perfect for doing that with the windows down and all.
“Under the Cover”-Bad Veins
A lot like “Waiting on the Summer”, which probably helped it onto the list, but it’s a good song overall. Trivia: This is the most fun song to sing along to on the playlist, especially at the top of your lungs (this is a very important criteria for me).
The water-y sound effects probably help the summer association, as does referencing the month of June. This makes for a good pick-me-up year-round, though, of course I feel like there’s some overlap between songs for summer and cheerful songs.
“Feels Like Summer”-Panama Wedding
I referenced this one as a contender that just missed last year’s list, so here it is now. Some good other options exist from Panama Wedding, though. “Younger Love” was this edition’s near-miss, but “Feels Like Summer” just felt like a much more natural fit here.
“Some Kind of Magic”-LVTHER featuring MYZICA
This is just so bouncy, and makes me feel like dancing. Not much more to it than that, and I’m not sure there needs to be.
“10000 Emerald Pools”-BØRNS
Perfect for lazily floating around in a pool.
My immediate thought when I first heard Dagny, my first thought was to compare her to Carly Rae Jepsen, as they have some similarities. That’s not really a fair comparison, but I think Dagny still holds her own with her opening EP Ultraviolet. There’s a lot of very strong pop songcraft going on there, and she carries on Scandinavia’s proud heritage of secretly being everywhere in the American music scene.
“Tonight (Young Hearts)”-The Colourist
One of my favorite bands, The Colourist lost two of it’s four members last year, including co-vocalist and drummer Maya Tuttle, who I think plays a major role in their distinct sound. There hasn’t really been any news on either end of what’s next, which is disappointing (on top of the base disappointment of the band breaking up), but if nothing else, at least we got a dozen and a half really good songs out of it. They’re still an extremely Californian band, which meshes well with summer themes.
If you had asked me ten years ago where I thought Paramore would be in a decade, I would not have guessed releasing stuff like this or “Ain’t It Fun”, but what do you know, it works. I’ve saw someone compare “Hard Times” to Blondie, and that make a lot of sense. Also, more songs need chromatic percussion like marimbas.
“You, Me, and Joe Strummer”-Junior Prom
Hardly the only song that rhymes “Summer” with “Strummer”, but what are you gonna do when the obvious option is right there? Mark Solomich’s vocals have such a sneering quality to them, which feels like it should make Junior Prom’s stuff more irritating, but it doesn’t. It gives it a brash, youthful feel, which helps sell this song in particular I think, but it doesn’t get too irritating. It’s like Liam Gallagher of Oasis but much less nasally.
The opening reminds me of “Colour” by Wild Cub, which was on last summer’s playlist; maybe that association helped it here? Maybe it’s the song’s topic of young love, which feels like a sort of summer-y theme? Or maybe some combination of those things?
Speaking of songs about young love, here’s one that specifically mentions oceans (on top of the band literally being named Coasts), giving us the more direct thematic angle as well. Something about Coasts’s sound also reminds me of water, with the strong and clear guitars riffs reminding me of raindrops or waves and synths to add depth.
I really liked Wild World, and wanted to add something from it to this list. So why not the cheerful song about grieving the loss of a loved one (or maybe a breakup, it’s hard to tell)?
“Stay the Night”-Jukebox the Ghost
This is Jukebox the Ghost’s new single, which has me very excited for their next album. It’s a good, solid, upbeat piano song, which I always appreciate, with some nice vocal harmony buildups to the catchy chorus.
“Spacin’ Out”-The Mowgli’s
Somehow outdoes The Colourist on the “Californian” scale (when I saw them live, the lead singer went around barefoot and kept a bottle of California wine on stage instead of water or beer), which makes their stuff perfect for summer stuff in a way that I can’t quite explain. You just know it when you listen to their stuff, especially their last two albums.
“You Don’t Know”-nelo
It definitely feels like a summer song, between the horn section and acoustic guitar. I’m not sure it matches super well with the rest of the playlist, but I decided it fit in too well to totally ignore and put it somewhere in the order to minimize incongruities.
“You Light My Fire”-Nate Ruess
Another song with solid use of melodic percussion. Comparing the two projects to spin out of Fun is fascinating; Bleachers and Nate Ruess compliment each other in such a way that I feel like I can clearly see how their individual sensibilities added together into Fun’s sound. Speaking of Bleachers, their new album is also very good, but nothing on it jumped out at me as a “summer song” in the way that ”Rollercoaster” does.
“By My Side”-Great Good Fine Ok
“Don’t Fuck With My Money”-Penguin Prison
Some dance-y, funky, synth-heavy projects back-to-back. Great Good Fine Ok with the lighter, airier “By My Side” that builds to a nice horn line in the song’s closing. Penguin Prison comes after that with the darker, more groove-driven number, with some nice bell counterpoints in the melody (hey, more melodic percussion!).
“Annie” feels tropical, like moving through water. (Maybe 30 songs was too much, I feel like I'm running out of things to say.)
“Love Somebody”-St. Lucia
This song is so warm and smooth, and builds to such a big finish that it feels like slowly getting enveloped in a warm hug, complete with a flute solo of all things.
“I Know a Place”-MUNA
I feel like “sad dance music” describes MUNA’s style very well. “I Know a Place” feels so welcoming and comforting, and carries a warmth that makes me also feel like a summer night, which is part of why it follows “Love Somebody” here.
“Nonsense”-Madeon featuring Mark Foster
I’m not sure how much I would classify this a summer song and how much it fit in super well with other songs I was including while being stuck in my head for several days. There’s a sparkle to the synths here that makes me feel like I’m looking at stars on a clear night, which I associate with summer. Is that a common association? It’s good enough for me, at least.
“Moth’s Wings”-Passion Pit
This is one that sort of gives me a mental image that ties it into the list, something like a summer dusk as fireflies start to come out. I have no idea why this is, but it is, and so I’m including it here.
Similarly, I have no real evidence that this song takes place during a late summer night out, but I remain convinced of this fact for some reason, and included it thusly.
“Anna Sun”-WALK THE MOON
I had to put some Walk the Moon on here, they’re another band made for this type of playlist. I thought about going for something less popular, but sometimes you just have to go with the big, obvious choice. Nothing fit as well as this (also, it would have been weird to include a song titled “Avalanche” on a summer playlist).