Summer is a time for falling in love (or so we’ve been told via music, movies, and books). Here at LL2RNR we like to be proactive, and so we’re prepping early for summer love by compiling some lists of our writer’s Top 5 (Early) Summer Crushes. This is Part 1 of a 2, or (if we’re really lucky) 3 part series.
“Under the Sound of Rain” by Sinn Sisamouth: I first saw the excellent documentary film Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten: Cambodia’s Lost Rock ‘n Roll last winter, but this song is particularly suited to late spring in New York. Whether it’s an all-day soaking that covers the streets in fallen flower petals, or a warm night fog that blurs the tops of the buildings, the precipitation pairs perfectly with these languid saxophones and soft, heartsick vocals. It’s the blues, but a particularly luxurious variety thereof.
“Ring the Alarm” by Tenor Saw: When I was little, summertime meant long trips in the back of my mom’s car. The music varied, but quite often, it was one of her Bob Marley albums—Survival, Uprising, or one of the greatest-hits collections. So, inevitably, a link formed in my mind between reggae music and warm weather. Lately, this song has taken up serious residence my head. That gorgeous, rich voice, the slinky, slightly haunting melody, and the undeniable beat are just begging for hot nights, cold drinks, and serious dancing.
“Shut Up Kiss Me” by Angel Olsen: This one taps into a whole range of teen-girl fantasies. It’s the kind of thing you blast in your best friend’s car on the way to Dairy Queen, when it stays light until ten o’clock. Or maybe it comes on at a party and you dance in the corner, trying to catch the eye of any cute boy who might be watching, but also sort of hoping that nobody’s watching, because you’re not sure you’re ready to actually be kissed like that yet. It’s walking around the mall, chewing sour bubble-gum as ostentatiously as possible. As for what this has to do with me, well… I never did any of that stuff in high school, but when I listen to this song, I can imagine what it would have felt like if I had.
“On Lankershim” by Foxygen: From its opening lines, which echo Gram Parsons’ “Return of the Grievous Angel”, to its swooning, Hollywood-tragic finale, this song taps into the kind of mythic Americana that I will probably always be drawn to. Dreams of neon and cacti and the glow of gas stations, of hanging around scrubby bars with friends after a gig, trying to stay sober enough to beat the boys at pool… I mean, look, it’s an old story that’s been told in countless ways, but right now, this song is telling it the way I want to hear it.
“U.S. Gay” by Sons of An Illustrious Father: This was written in response to last year’s massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, but given the state of things, it’s an anthem we’re going to need for a while. This song, and the accompanying video, makes the crucial point that for some of us, celebrating who we truly are is a radical act in the current climate. So let’s do it—fight back the darkness with love and glitter and loud music. They’ll never know what hit them.
(“So my Summer Top 5 are my go-to albums for summer activities.”)
FIRST ALBUM OF THE SUMMER
Funny Farm by King Kong
We all have that one album we reach for to acknowledge that summer is finally here. For me, it is the second album by King Kong. This one tackles tough topics like farm life, tornadoes, being stranded in the desert or even on a desert island. It also includes a pretty sweet cover of Laid Back’s “White Horse.”
COMMUTING TO WORK
Whammy by the B-52s
Traffic sucks. This album doesn’t. I pretty much ignored this one until recently which is my loss as it’s great. Analog Drum machines, angular guitars, dancehouse horns, and B-52 pop hooks.
CUTTING THE GRASS
Danzig by Danzig
Maybe it’s kind of a “I fought the lawn and Danzig won!” anthem or maybe it’s Rick Rubin’s production that cuts through the sound of the lawnmower. Whatever it is, it gets the job done. Every time.
Phantom of Liberty by Camera
This album gets me going. It’s got all the stuff I love about Neu!-inspired krautrock with fuller production and less of the trying passages. Driving “Motorik” drum beats, repeative riffs, and no fussy singing to get in the way.
DRIVING AT NIGHT
Lifestyles of the Laptop Café by The Other People Place
This is album is best enjoyed on a long road trip in the middle of a humid night with the windows down. 808 + 88° = night rider.
- A Seat at the Table by Solange
- DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar
- This song and video >>>>>
- “Hey Nineteen” by Steely Dan
- Wilco performance at Beacon Theater, NYC on March 18. My mind keeps returning. March is always a tough month. Cold, wet, rain, snow, gray plus an overwhelming desire to see some sun and foliage asap. The set was beautiful and immediately put my mind at ease. Went with a good friend and we agreed that it was the antidote to everything that is terrible right now (surely you know what I’m talking about). It also shined a light on everything that’s lovely (having a child is perhaps top of that list). Jeff Tweedy said it well that night: “Save your pessimism for better times.”