Summer is upon us! At least here in sunny Great Britain it is… it’s above 20 Celsius which means it’s sweltering. So in the spirit of this beautifully annoying, sweaty and skin condition inducing weather, I’ve compiled a list of what I think are a few of the best records to really evoke that summer mood in all of us.
Girls – Album
To start us off, I’m going with one of the better albums of 2009, Girls’ surf-psych-gaze classic Album. Not only is it one of the most imaginatively titled releases of the past 5 years, it’s a record which just oozes “chill”, one which can make even the rainiest, windiest English day feel like a warm sunset in San Francisco. Not only is it a fantastic summer album, it’s also really well balanced – idly strolling between wishy-washy psychedelic synth sounds and punchy, twangy Rickenbackers, Album almost perfectly encapsulates a summer spent lazing around on the beach, playing guitar and having sex. It’s really a sublime album for good weather.
Chance the Rapper – Acid Rap
This mixtape was probably the hip-hop highlight of 2013. Chance’s ultra-modern witticisms, along with his infectious energy and great flow combine perfectly on this follow up to 10 Day to create a mixtape that truly announced Chance’s arrival as a rapper to sit up and listen to. It’s not just the fact that he’s trendy, or that he wears good clothes, it’s the fact that he’s a genuinely good rapper that makes this mixtape a genuinely good record. Some of the tracks slow it down and give it a nice balance, like Lost ft. Noname Gypsy who does an awesome job playing off Chance’s verses, although the best tracks pulse with energy and optimism, like Interlude (That’s Love) and Good Ass Intro. This is a real summery mixtape, so worth a listen if you missed it last year (but I doubt you did because EVERYONE was talking about it).
WU LYF – Go Tell Fire To The Mountain
This one is not like the others. Usually being barked at is an unpleasantness reserved for an inner city bus journey or a 24 hour supermarket car park at half 2 in the morning, but vocalist Ellery Roberts’ barked verses are very far from unpleasant. It’s a strange technique, but one he uses with great aplomb, underscored by wonderfully melodramatic organs, refreshingly varied drum beats and simplistic guitar lines. It’s not the instrumentation that deems this a summer album, though, nor the near indecipherable vocals or indeed the lyrical content itself, it’s more the atmosphere of grandiose the whole record exudes. This album is not merely a decent effort by a trendy (and now sadly defunct) indie band, it’s a triumph of aura, a record which is more than merely the sum of its parts, but one that transcends all its own hype in order to become a real modern indie classic.
Nick Drake – Bryter Layter
There was always going to be a softer, more understated album on this list to wind down summer days with a blood orange sunset and a cool breeze. It was a difficult decision between this fantastic album, Pet Sounds and The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. I eventually settled on this as it was slightly more muted than Pet Sounds but a bit more summery than The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. This is just a really pleasant record, one to listen to and soak in like warming, devastating UV rays. Modern soft-folk-pop-rock artists such as Belle and Sebastian and She & Him take their cues from the late Nick Drake, whose wistful, delicate vocals and jaunty instrumentation frame a perfect summer’s day in England.
Best Coast – Crazy For You
I tried so hard to find a reason not to include this album. Not because I don’t like it and not because it doesn’t evoke summer. I love this album and it’s the epitome of summer. But it’s just so obvious! It’s THE summer album for my generation (ages 18 – 180). It’s really hard to put into words quite how summery this album is. It’s like if you took summer and pressed it into CD form, it’d be this album. It’s like if you got an ice lolly and a pair of Ray-Bans and a beach and a small dog and a bag of weed and a pair of shorts and some sun tan lotion and crammed it all onto one record and somehow made it into actual real music, this is EXACTLY what it’d sound like. If you don’t believe me, just listen to it. Or if you’ve already heard it, you’ll know what I’m talking about. And listen to it again.