The summer I bought The Breeders' Last Splash on cassette at the mall was the summer I dyed my hair with Kool-Aid, and woke up with ants on my pillow. It was the summer I lost my grandfather, though my mother swears that was him making our lights flicker every once in a while. It was the summer I split my lip open on a sprinkler head, after a trip down a Slip N Slide went awry. It was the summer before my sophomore year in high school, and I wanted to be Kim Deal.
I can remember all these little moments because of that album. I listened to it over and over, until the tape was literally worn out. "Saints" spells it out: "Summer is ready when you are." And while "Cannonball" was its big hit, and the song I associate with that summer, the whole album is near-perfect. I went back to it a few weeks ago, after not listening to it for a few years, and no matter how hard I tried to fight it, I still knew every word to every song. I could smell that Coppertone smell I associate with Florida summers, and taste the blood in my mouth.
More than any other season, summer has an elemental tie to memory and song, and with that in mind, a few of our DC9 writers shared their summer favorite tracks. Feel free to leave yours in the comments.
Yo La Tengo, "The Summer" Always gets me thinking about how happy and sad I am when the summer ends. Glad that the heat will be ending, but sad about sending the kids back to school, this song perfectly fits my mood. From the great album Fakebook. - Darryl Smyers
Broncho, "Try Me Out Sometime" You can almost feel the heat coming off Broncho singer Ryan Lindsey's yelps on this throwback punk song. It's worthy of being stuck in your head as you wait for the interior of your car to cool down. - Daniel Hopkins
Big Star, "Ballad of El Goodo" In all fairness, all of Big Star's #1 Record is a summer album. It was recorded in the summer of '71 at Memphis' renowned Ardent Studios, and radiates that air of teenage boredom and longing. The harmonies on "Ballad of El Goodo" are especially devastating. - Audra Schroeder
Azealia Banks, "Jumanji" I only have two real non-negotiable requirements when assigning "summer jam" status to a tune. First, it has to be new, because I like a new jam every season. Second, when I turn it up real loud in my car, I have to feel like I am in a music video. Enter Azealia Banks' "Jumanji," produced by Hudson Mohawke and Nick Hook, and a very good sign for her upcoming mixtape, Fantastic. The track is jittery and playful, and as a bonus, Banks' wordplay has potential to trickle into your seasonal vocab. I can vouch, "all my bitches bougie," especially once it hits 100 degrees, and all we want is the cabana boy with quickest access to some cold champagne. - Deb Doing Dallas
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Beachwood Sparks, "Earl Jean" "Earl Jean," taken from Beachwood Sparks' new album, The Tarnished Gold, is a mid-tempo song with a steely guitar that smears across the music page like the back of a hand wipes a soaked forehead. And I mean that in a good way. - Daniel Hopkins
Cross Canadian Ragweed, "Alabama" Ragweed filmed the official video for this one during their 2005 Bedford Blues Fest performance. I was there (that's me in front of the sound booth!), and I haven't left this tune off an iPod playlist designed for a summer BBQ or a day at the lake since. - Kelly Dearmore
OutKast, "Da Art of Storytelling" All of Aquemini, OutKast's 1998 album, is killer, but the chorus of this track especially lends itself to the windows-down, volume-up allure of summer. - Audra Schroeder
Nelly Furtado ft. Timbaland, "Promiscuous" Before 2006, Nelly Furtado was best known for her Grammy-winning song "I'm Like a Bird." Furtado's third album, Loose, morphed her from a self-assured bird into a blazing, belly-dancing phoenix. Her new image may not have been convincing, and producer Timbaland may have swiped a few samples. However, "Promiscuous" flew past any crisis of authenticity to become a summer anthem in 2006. The slithering groove and back-and-forth between Furtado and Timbaland illustrates the humid tension of a summer fling. For such a risky makeover and wordy title, "Promiscuous" is the best song Nelly Furtado and Timbaland made. - Shahryar Rizvi
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Biggie Smalls, "Party and Bullshit" The beat, the organ sample, the chorus: This 1993 Biggie track is a summer anthem that probably didn't mean to be. Still holds up. - Audra Schroeder
The Pin-Ups, "Looking For Boys" This 1964 song by girl group the Pin-Ups is pretty self-explanatory. - Audra Schroeder
The Rolling Stones, "Rocks Off" I don't know about you, but I associate summer with sweat. Pool parties and sunburns too, but mostly just sweat. And you know what the sultriest, clammiest thing the Stones ever put out was? Exile on Main Street. For me, that opening riff in "Rocks Off" means it's time to either remove all clothing or ingest as much fluid as possible. - Zach Hale
Red Krayola, "Hurricane Fighter Plane" I'd put 1967's Parable of Arable Land at the top of a list of the best Texas psych albums ever. Something about that bassline makes me embrace sweat as a healing element. - Audra Schroeder