Sunday, May 3, 2009

Soundtrack To My Summer

There’s a reason that “soundtrack to my summer” has become one of the most popular clich├ęs in the English language. When it comes to a band, song, or album that sets the background music for bonfires on the beach, skinny dipping in the lake, or romantic strolls through Central Park holding hands and sharing gelato, people resort to this phrase to describe the aural experience of it all.

As someone who lives and breathes music, I have a playlist on my iTunes for essentially every mood I’m in - stressed out, tired, study mode, falling in love, falling out of love, pre-gaming, etc. When it comes to the summer, I have two playlists each year - the beginning of summer and the end of summer mixes. Cumulatively these two volumes make up “Alex’s Summer Soundtrack,” of which I already have six volumes from the past few years. The “beginning of summer” playlist is a collection of songs that get me excited about the weather - songs that make me want to borrow my parents’ car and obnoxiously belt with the windows down on the freeway, songs that make me want to go on a roller coaster, or songs that make me want to take back a couple frozen margaritas and go out dancing. The “end of summer playlist” is a collection of my favorite songs from May through August, or at least the ones that hold the most memories: the song that was playing when on impulse I dyed my hair jet black or the one playing at the restaurant where I had my first date with my gorgeous summer fling. So, to give you all a little taste of what my friends are all going to be sick of hearing me sing everywhere we go to kick off the vacation season, here is a sampling of a few of the tracks that are gearing me up for the next couple of months:

1. In One Ear by Cage The Elephant
From the album: Cage The Elephant
In this rap infused alternative rock track, the verses flow swiftly and easily into one another ala Jason Mraz’s “The Remedy,” with the sophisticated instrumentation reminiscent of Sublime’s “Wrong Way.” College radios will surely begin to overplay it soon enough, as it’s a definite success for a band whose stellar debut album is sure to blow up in the coming months.

2. Coast Of Carolina, by Telekinesis
From the album: Telekinesis!
Starting off soft and quiet, and layered with delicate voices riffing over simple guitar chords, this song quickly crescendos into an upbeat indie rock track that would have easily been eaten up by “The OC” music execs to play during a surfing scene if the show were still on the air. For now, however, you’ll be satisfied cranking it from your car stereo.

3. Sick Muse, by Metric
From the album: Fantasies
Metric’s style has continuously developed over the years, and with their most recent release, Fantasies, the band has proved that they are capable of everything from electronica to full blown out stadium rock songs. This track is a perfect example of the ladder, with raging percussion and powerhouse vocals from front-woman Emily Haines.

4. Dull Life, by Yeah Yeah Yeahs
From the album: It’s Blitz!
By far the best track from their newest album, this song is Karen O. and crew at their very best. Staying true to their “chicks with attitude” sound found in previous songs like “Gold Lion,” this number toys with speed, starting off slow, moving to incredibly up-tempo, back to slow, and ending with an up-tempo collision of every instrument and vocal screams for a dynamic finale.

5. Talk To Me, by Peaches
From the album: I Feel Cream
Infamous for being one of the most crude and sexually outspoken rock stars of our generation, Peaches is back with a vengeance on her new heavily electronica driven record. Rather than being overtly sexual in this track, however, we see a new emotional side of the singer. Hurt, angry, and clearly betrayed, this disco inspired track has our “Fuck The Pain Away” performer singing at the top of her lungs and screaming about an ex-lover who ignores her. It’s an undeniable pleasure that I guarantee will be playing on repeat on your radio and clubs alike.

6. New In Town, by Little Boots
From the album: Hands
Ready to not only conquer the indie world with her hipster friendly dance music, the UK’s Little Boots is en route to becoming a mainstream smash. Her combination of pop music and electronica sounds like what Lady GaGa wishes but alas could not accomplish with her debut. With infectious beats, a lush chorus, and a sexy accompanying music video, this song will be the trendiest nightclub anthem of the summer.

7. French Navy, by Camera Obscura
From the album: My Maudlin Career
Taking their sound to places they had hinted at before but not completely devoted themselves to, Camera Obscura’s new album truly plays like it had been recorded in the 1960s in the studio alongside with Carole King or Carly Simon. The song has the same vintage flair that made She & Him’s “Volume One” one of the most beautiful albums of 2008. This song is an upbeat, quirky, and cute catchy song about being love struck, and one that will certainly please both new and olds fans.

8. Sacred Trickster, by Sonic Youth
From the album: The Eternal
After gaining the same incredible and international exposure in the film Juno that The Shins received in Garden State, Sonic Youth’s new single reminds us why they are one of the most legendary rock bands around today. Channeling the sounds of their earlier albums Daydream Nation and Goo, this song has the raw garage band feel that we’ve all loved and expected from them since they premiered onto the punk scene in 1983.

9. Jimmy, by Of Montreal
From the album: Untitled Upcoming Album
Of Montreal’s cover of M.I.A.’s Jimmy is truly candy to your ears. They strip and slow the track down to give it a smooth, leisurely sound as opposed to the overly synthesized original. Kevin Barnes’ trademark and chilling vocals give the song a fresh and organic feel, while still staying true to the gorgeous Eastern instrumentation.

10. That Beep, by Architecture In Helsinki
From the album: Vision Revision
Easily the quirkiest, most energetic, and biggest guilty pleasure on this playlist, That Beep is a fine indie pop gem. A hybrid of funky disco beats and electronica meshed with rock and roll, this track can only be described as … pure, sugarcoated fun. It’s sure to get you tapping your feet and bopping your head along while listening to it on the subway without even realizing you’re doing it.

So there you have it: ten songs to start off your summer playlists with. I guarantee that they’ll get you up and moving, and for the half hour that you spend listening to them, you will forget all about the stress of finals week to enjoy indie rock and pop in its purest form.

by.Alex.Nagorski.