Thursday, May 17, 2007

MIX: Summer Songs

It's beginning to lighten up a bit outside after all of the rain the other day that engulfed most of Southern Ontario. Although I have yet to see what the actual temperature is like today, the reflection from some of the shinier cars outside my office window tells me that it may be rising.

Regardless of that, I maintain the ideal 25 degree climate in my imagination for now. I was originally going to write on some concert recordings I had found, but I'm having a bit of a time figuring out a web hosting situation. Do I want to pay? Probably not. Hardware problems also have put a bit of a hold on plans for hosting files, other than linking to the Hype Machine (A service that has actually been working out pretty well so far.).

With (hopefully) temperate climates approaching, I've decided to round up what I think will make a great soundtrack for warm days at the beach with the windows rolled down, and nights that come slow enough for you to get home by nightfall (although you probably won't). I've employed the "day at the beach" model for this, but almost any small-town summer activity will fit the template, be it a house party or a road trip.

* Amos Lee - Keep It Loose Keep It Tight > This is perfect to start off to any mix tape or short playlist. I was thinking the other day about albums that fade in rather than smack you in the face with a wall of sound immediately. Although it doesn't exactly fade in, it's got a similar effect, gradually easing you into a period of listening.

* The Beach Boys - Help Me, Rhonda > Because a trip to the Beach is nothing without the Boys.

* 54.40 - Casual Viewin' > I used to really hate this band, until I heard this song two summers ago, and everyone somehow knew all of the words.

* Paul Westerberg - Waiting for Somebody > See the previous post for my feelings on Mr. Westerberg.

* The Clash - Train In Vain > My Dad was absolutely convinced that this was an old Motown song, being covered. I don't think he was entirely convinced, even by the album credits.

* Sheryl Crow - Members Only > Despite her latter-day radio-friendly annoyances, the first three Sheryl Crow albums are filled with excellent songs such as this one. Key lyric: "And all the white folks shake their asses/looking for the two and four."

* Everclear - Santa Monica > I know a lot of people hate Everclear, but I'd put pretty much all of the So Much for the Afterglow album on this list if I could.

* Jack Johnson - Do You Remember / Ben Harper - Gold To Me - If you think that Jack Johnson and his friends spend less than 90% of their spare time at the beach, then I think you are totally underestimating the power of music or something, dudes. But seriously, anything recorded by Jack Johnson sounds like it was recorded on a beach. Pass or toke, man.

* Jeremy Fisher - Sula / The Joel Plaskett Emergency - Penny For Your Thoughts / Matt Mays + El Torpedo - It Don't Matter / The Mighty Mighty BossTones - She Just Happened > These songs sound like something that you would overhear approaching a bandstand just after the sun has set at the beach.

* Kathleen Edwards - Summerlong / Camera Obscura - I Need All The Friends I Can Get > What would the this be without an introspective ballad about a summer fling? I'd say both of these almost fit that profile, and for some reason I can't explain it seems that these songs are perfect companions.

* Primal Scream - Big Jet Plane / Rilo Kiley - More Adventurous > There is something about guitar played with a slide that sounds like a setting sun on a warm night, particularly the opening pedal steel notes in RK's More Adventurous. Primal Scream's Stones-esque act works surprisingly well too, capturing a party that's just winding down, with cars that are either driving away or permanently parked for the night.

* Petra Haden & Bill Frisell - Yellow > This Coldplay cover is very obviously the drive home from wherever you've been all day. I find that it's especially reminiscent of the sounds that drowned out the engine pulling away from her place. For people that hate Coldplay, you'll find that the song has an entirely different (and increased, in my case) appeal with a girl singing it with minimal instrumentation (Frisell is a god on the stringbox).