Though the official start of summer is nearly an entire month away, for all intents and purposes the summer season kicks off with this upcoming Memorial Day weekend, and whether you plan on grilling burgers by the pool or taking a road trip to the beach or simply intend to unwind during the long weekend, we’ve got you covered with the essential 2012 Summer Playlist. Constructed by Screen Invasion Music Editor Mal Foster and myself, the 24-song playlist brings together some of the best tracks of the year so far, meant specifically to put you in the mood for sunshine and cold drinks.
“Warrior Man” by Dr. Dog
Dr. Dog usually has a light and whimsical indie folk feel to their records, which is still the case on this year’s Be The Void, but with “Warrior Man” the Philadelphia outfit gets rough and gritty in its version of a classic American road song.
“The Only Place” by Best Coast
Best Coast loves themselves some California and they aren’t bashful about it. With “The Only Place,” the duo tells you exactly why the sunnier side of the country is so awesome with an incredibly catchy hook and great vocal track by Bethany Cosentino.
“Better Weather” by Good Old War
Pretty much any track from Good Old War’s third album Come Back as Rain could have graced this list, as the trio come together for some of the sweetest sounding harmonies in recent memory, but not unlike our favorite season, “Better Weather” brings the exciting promise of a new day ahead.
“Hang Loose” by Alabama Shakes
Alabama Shakes burst onto the scene in 2012 with their debut album Boys & Girls, bringing together an infectious blend of classic rock, blues, R&B, and country. As the most carefree of the tracks, “Hang Loose” sucks you in with a great riff and Brittany Howard’s soulful vocals.
“Simple Song” by The Shins
“Simple Song” isn’t your typical track from The Shins, but that’s a good thing as far as I’m concerned. The song has an uplifting build to it and gives us another side of the usually soft-spoken James Mercer. And it has a delightfully messed up music video.
“Electric Fever” by Free Energy
Free Energy’s brand of pop punk is a refreshing change of pace, with sounds evoking ’70s bands like Thin Lizzy and T. Rex. “Electric Fever” keeps that retro anthem vibe going.
“I Feel Better” by Gotye
Though Gotye gained international fame with his fantastic hit “Somebody I Used to Know,” one listen through his latest album Making Mirrors will open you up to his unbelievable range of styles. Tackling elements of disco and funk, “I Feel Better” is one of the more fun tracks of the year.
“Fate” by Young Man
One-man indie-rock outfit Young Man has found a groove creating multi-layered and gentle pop songs, and “Fate” is no exception, especially with the dreamy guitars.
“Bright Whites” by Kishi Bashi
Multi-instrumentalist and touring musician, the turned bonafide solo artist K Ishabashi has really jumped into the spotlight with authority this year. “Bright Whites” is not just a solar powered slice of pop, powerful enough to propel the sun itself, it also serves as a great example of just how uplifting his debut 151a sounds in its entirety.
“Hurt So Bad” by Weird Dreams
Never has an emotionally abusive relationship sounded so catchy and addictive. One of many standout tracks from Weird Dreams courtesy of their album Choreography, “Hurt So Bad” shows the world just how effective a truly catchy hook and post punk guitars can be when fused together.
“Nobody” by Shook
Shook are a recent surprise discovery for me and a perfect candidate for the summer playlist. If you can imagine a mix between Chromeo and Maroon 5 (Editor’s note: Mutemath too!) then you’ll get a good idea of the funky goodness that radiates throughout “Nobody” from start to finish.
When compiling songs for this playlist, “Wolf Girl” by Simian Ghost seemed like a no brainer. With its dreamy vocal melodies, trickling percussion and rustic beat, the instantly catchy track conjures up mental images of bonfires, starry skies and late night beach parties.
“Radlands” by Mystery Jets
UK indie troupe Mystery Jets tweaked their quirky pop-like behaviours for their latest record Radlands, in doing so they etched out an authentic feel of Americana. Said album’s title track is a perfect example of how one sweet summer in Texas shaped them for the better. There’s a number of likeable elements to this record but it’s the shimmering guiter riffs which sparkle and shine the most.
“Backwords” by Porcelain Raft
“Comeback Kid” by Sleigh Bells
Sleigh Bells’ style of noise/electro pop-rock certainly isn’t for everyone, but when the duo comes together for dementedly lovely tracks like “Comeback Kid,” it’s hard not to enjoy, especially with Alexis Krauss’s popstar-gone-twisted mentality.
“I’m Shakin'” by Jack White
Originally recorded by Little Willie John in 1960, “I’m Shakin'” is a classic amalgamation of R&B, rock and soul that Jack White emotes in his own music. Jack’s cover speeds things up a bit, but the heart of the song remains, with the feel that it was recorded live, in one take, in Jack’s garage.
“Some Nights” by fun.
Fun.’s ambitious form of pop music is a breath of fresh air on today’s radio waves, and though they were catapulted to stardom behind the strength of “We are Young,” the title track of their latest album Some Nights beautifully encompasses the scope of their musical vision.
“Parted Ways” by Heartless Bastards
Continuing a theme of good old fashion southern rock on this playlist, Heartless Bastards keeps the twangy guitar riffs and raw vocal expression coming in “Parted Ways,” a track that Tom Petty would be proud of.
“Jackhammer” by The Spinto Band
After taking four years off, indie collective The Spinto Band came back this year with a bag full of great material, but their standout track is definitely “Jackhammer.” It has an almost tropical island feel to it with its glistening guitars, breezy demeanour and those melodies which trickle down each verse. Simply wonderful.
“Go Outside” by K.i.D.
Sure, this isn’t too far removed from the likes of Kid Cudi or even Drake, but Cults’ sampled track “Go Outside” by 18 year old rapper/singer K.i.D is as sunny and as summer-y as you can get. Liking drinking ice cold lemonade in the blistering sun, only in an audible format.
“Terms and Conditions” by Chet Faker
Chet Faker may be most recognized for his cover of “No Diggity” by Black Street, but with sexy, sullen tracks like “Terms and Conditions,” in his canon, Chet is gradually getting recognized for his own material. Laid back and smooth, this little number is one sure way to get you hot for the summer with or without any help from mother nature!
“Clouds Above” by Angus Stone
Breaking away from working with his sister Julia is Australian singer/songwriter Angus Stone, who with the closing track to his latest solo release Broken Brights delivers this crinkled, sun kissed number. With its laid back vocals and lush trumpet section, “Clouds Above” is another great track to wind down with. There’s no YouTube clip for this song, so there’s so extra incentive to give the whole playlist a listen.