Originally written for eVent! [ep] magazine on 07/19/06.
Summer. There are certain albums, songs and artists that just scream summer. Tracks that become so identified either with a specific summer in our lives or the season in general. From the classics like "Under the Boardwalk" to newer songs there is nothing like a great summer song blaring from your car stereo as you drive down Lakeshore with the windows rolled down cursing your lack of air conditioning.
So here is what we're going to do. I'm going to give you a list of some great songs to be playing from your car stereo this summer and you're going to get your iPod or maybe your CD burner and you're going to make it happen. Afterwards you can buy me a slush to show your appreciation.
Song: "Gimme Some Love"
Artist: Graham Coxon
Album: Love Travels at Illegal Speeds
The first rule of a great summer mix CD, mix tape or iPod playlist is to start brash, fast past and with a very noisy guitar. Graham Coxon, who used to be the best thing about Blur until he left and the band went all world music, provides that with a fast pace hook filled song with the fairly easy to sing-along-to chorus "Gimme some love / gimme some love". This song will kick your mix off right, and if you've got passengers they'll be on notice to bob their heads to the drums and shut up about having to work a split shift.
Song: "Do the Hippogriff"
Artist: The Weird Sisters (UK)
Album: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Soundtrack
Here is the conversation we're going to have about this song, let me play both sides so we can get to the end quicker.
You: "Umm... this song is from a Harry Potter movie?"
You: "Isn't that sort of... lame?"
Me: "No but look this isn't the Weird Sisters that prairie fold band from the flat parts of Canada but a super-group consisting of members of some of England's best bands rocking out. I mean Jarvis Cocker from Pulp fronts them and it's got members of Radiohead in it.
You: "So it's not about like Harry Potter stuff?"
Me: "No it totally is, I mean the chorus starts with the line 'Can you dance like a hippogriff?'"
Trust me. This is a great rock and roll song in spite of some less than appealing lyrics about the world of the boy wizard. At least it doesn't mention Voldamort, or Quidditch. Now this one has to follow the Graham Coxon song because you need to keep the tempo up at the start here, anyone who hasn't joined in the rocking during the first track should be roped in by now.
Song: "You Are Too Beautiful"
Artist: Hawksley Workman
Album: Tree Full of Starling
You're going to want to slow it down now. This track does that without leaping right into completely sappy, and it'll be a good one to slow things down after a couple of quick opening tracks. At a boy-girl party back in high school in Chris Sullivan's mom's basement this song would have signaled it was time for some slow dancing with the opposite sex. Not that the song was out when I was in high school, and not that I was ever confident enough to dance with someone of the opposite sex then.
Song: "A Million Dolars"
Artist: Joel Plaskett Emergency
Album: Make a Little Noise EP
Time to go mid-tempo before we get serious. This song is summer, with a chorus that every band on to 40 radio would kill for. I can not overstate how incredibly good this song is, and it's the perfect song for pulling your car over to the side of the road somewhere with a view of Kelowna lit up at night and reflecting back upon itself from the depths of Okanagan Lake. It might not be slow enough to sway back and forth to while hugging, but if you're with that special girl it'll make the both of you feel like dynamite.
Album: Some Might Say (Single)
You've slowed it down, and now you're working back up-tempo. Drop in the greatest song Oasis ever wrote and recorded. Oh you hate Oasis? Trust me here, this song shows exactly why for a brief moment in the '90s they ruled the radio. Bold, brash and defiant this is everything that made Oasis so irresistible in the early days.
Artist: Nelly Furtado with Timberland
Warnings use this song with caution. Even though it's the only song on the list here that you're likely to stumble upon on Kelowna radio it's still pretty potently sexy, especially if you've seen the video. Yeah, I don't exactly have much to say here other than at this point of a summer mix you need a good jolt of pure lusty dance floor rhythm.
Song: "Daft Punk Is Playing At My House"
Artist: LCD Soundsystem
Album: LCD Soundsystem
Clap along. Stomp along. If the last track your booty shaking this one will keep it that way. Not as sexy as Nelly Furtado, but just as danceable. It is almost as good as actually having Daft Punk playing at your house. Turn this one up and clap your hands. Clap them now!
Song: "Wonderful Night"
Artist: Fat Boy Slim
This song sold Fat Boy Slim to me approximately a decade after the height of his popularity. It is a great dance track, and it is terribly good. After this we're going to slow it down a little so feel free to go all out with this one, it's the peak of action before the quiet emotional part of the ride when we get weepy because it's late August and summer's almost over.
Song: "Our Retired Explorer (Dines with Michel Foucault in Paris, 1961)"
Artist: The Weakerthans
Album: Reconstruction Site
We're starting to slow down a bit, and what better way to end a summer mix than with a song with a chorus of "Oh Antarctica"? This is the crux, the song that switches the disc from the hope and enjoyment of July to the sad reflective feelings of late August. Have you done everything you had planned to? Was there something you wanted to say but didn't to those girls from Ontario?
Song: "Such Great Heights"
Artist: The Postal Service
Album: Give Up
I love this song. Far superior to the more commonly known acoustic Iron and Wine cover this song is the second last on the disc and it sets us up perfectly for the end. Things are starting to slow down now and the summer is almost over. Some days you can drive to work with the windows up as fall starts. Perfect for a mid-tempo song, perfect for waving from such great heights. Come down now.
Song: "Remember the Mountain Bed"
Artist: Billy Bragg & Wilco
Album: Mermaid Avenue Volume 2
This song was an unrecorded Woody Guthrie song that ended up finally being recorded by Wilco and Billy Bragg. I don't want to cause you disbelief but this is possibly the most perfect song ever recorded. Okay things like this are subjective, but this is how your summer mix will have to end. It's the song that makes you sit in your driveway with the car idling a few extra minutes so you can catch the last few chords. This is the song that will end your pool party or basement dance on a high. This song is the sound of fall coming, as you look back on summer.