I have something to admit. I rock out in public…a lot.
The key to rocking out in public is subtlety. In the winter, it’s remarkably easy to rock out discreetly while walking down the street. You got a big coat with pockets? That’s all you need, it’s the perfect way to mask your hands as you nail that guitar solo. In the summer though? It’s a little more difficult. I used to be more reserved and self conscious in the summer when I don’t have a winter coat to hide my hands and arms, but now, I’m getting more lax. I’ll low-key mimic really any instrument, I’ll bob my head, and lip sync along to lyrics. I’m not the sort of person to sing out loud walking down the street (those people are the real crazy ones), but I wouldn’t be surprised if a bunch of random people have caught me full on lip-syncing when I didn’t think anyone was looking. I wonder how many people I pass on a daily basis who do the same thing.
Thinking about it, this habit started for me back in middle school when I would walk from my childhood home to school around the corner. At that point, CDs were still all the rage, and if I found a new song, I’d burn a new mix CD, just for myself – just so I could have my favorite music for those walks. Some of my most vivid memories of my teenage years are of walking to school, turning the music all the way up, and just letting go. As angsty and ridiculous as it may seem, the 10 minute walk each way was almost therapeutic, and helped foster my love of music. All these years later, the CD player is long gone (though certainly not forgotten), but walking to work is still one of the most important parts of my day. Having that time to myself is still a huge part of my routine.
For those of you who are new to these playlists, I only have two rules when compiling a seasonal playlist like this:
- In keeping consistent with the fact that I could only fit around 80 minutes onto a CD-R back in the day, the total length of any individual playlist can’t greatly exceed that same mark. I try to keep each playlist to about 20-23 tracks, or about 80 minutes long.
- No distinct artist can appear more than once on any individual playlist. This helps diversify what can appear on a playlist, and provide a different palette of musical sounds and memories for future listening.
This playlist covers the period of time from May through August 2018. While reading this, I invite you to think about the songs that you listened to as Summer flew by, and the memories that they conjure up.
Upper West Side
Make My Bed (2018)
The song of my summer, King Princess’ “Upper West Side” floats majestically in the air for three and a half memorizing and picture perfect minutes. This song giving me the same melancholy feeling as another equally powerful song: The Smashing Pumpkins’ “1979.” In terms of overall tone, the two songs share some remarkable similarities, namely its intimate yet powerful lyrics alongside shimmering guitar lines that give this song a wistful feeling. Those guitars are what bring “Upper West Side” from being just another good indie-pop song about hating to love someone into being something much more special. Those echo soaked riffs in the chorus straight up burn the house down and yet, the song still manages to connect on a more personal level. To me, this song glows with nostalgia, beams with personality, and shines with the best of ’em.
Will “The Thrill”
You like summer vibes? Me too. Cayucas’ “Will ‘The Thrill'” gives off that vibe in spades, bouncing along a reggae shuffle and a Real Estate-esque guitar. It’s the little things in this song that really impress me – the slight affectation on lead singer Zach Yudin’s voice that make him sound just a hair like Beck, the relaxing guitar line that runs down the spine of this song, the tasteful double vocals on the chorus. Even the lyrics – which are very oblique during the verses (“Yellow mounting carpet Indian Chief”) just end up adding to this song’s irresistible vibe.
Sugar & Spice (2018)
One look at this playlist and you can tell that it ended up being a very poppy summer for me. Once I went down the road of looking for good female fronted indie-pop bands, the discoveries kept coming this summer (see also: Snail Mail, Alvvays). That path started with Hatchie, an Australian born singer with a knack for creating 90s styled shoegaze/dream-pop tracks. Hatchie’s brand of indie pop is bubbly, effervescent and upbeat. You may call me simple-minded, but, I also happen to be a sucker for a good, juicy hook regardless of genre, and Hatchie delivers them consistently.
Staring at the Sun
Mainstream pop music may be ruled by hip hop and (ugh) trap, but psychedelia still somehow lives on. Riding a wave of Jesus and Mary Chain fuzz and echo alongside some extended – reverb laced guitar solos, Wooden Shjips’ “Staring at the Sun” perfectly encapsulates the orange glow of the “golden hour” on a warm summer day. It wraps itself around you for seven and a half hazy minutes, and like the best psychedelia, it takes you away to a completely different place. Put this one (and the rest of their fantastic fifth album, V) on, crack a beer or light one up, and just get lost for a while.
Thanks for reading! Check out my full Summer 2018 playlist on Spotify below.
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