Driving down to Cambridge on a warm summer’s day last Sunday got Daisy and I thinking about songs that we associate with the summer. Certainly there are some songs that simply “work” better, or suit my mood more, when the sun is shining (and likewise similar happens with other songs during the winter).
So, here are ten songs that to me are best listened to at this time of year.
The First Big Weekend
The Week Never Starts Round Here
Not, in most circumstances, the most summery band of all – in fact, Arab Strap, and Malcolm Middleton’s other work since, are generally about as dour as it gets – but this first single by the band is a marvellous tale of the “first big weekend of the summer”, detailing the antics over a long weekend involving parties, friends, cheap alcohol and all manner of asides about life as they see it. It’s brilliantly funny, and probably rings true for many of us in the general happenings over the course of the weekend…
Little Fluffy Clouds
The Orb’s Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld
A rather more sunny track in general is the shuffling bliss of The Orb’s probably best-known track, famously featuring the apparently stoned ramblings of Ricki-Lee Jones evoking images of endless summer evenings where the sky turns a vivid orange as the sun slowly sets. And unlike much of The Orb’s earlier work, it doesn’t hang around longer than needed, either…
The Orb had an involvement in parts of this album, too, but not as I recall this track. I never thought much of the truncated single mix, it’s full glory being the ten-minute epic that is one of the centrepieces of Primal Scream’s best album by miles. The languid, lazy beat – when it eventually gets going – is perfectly matched by the gospel choir weaving in and out of it, and somehow never seems quite right when played in the depths of winter.
Exit Planet Dust
I first remember hearing this upon release back in the summer of 1995 (God, that long ago?!), and I’ve always associated this album with the summer ever since – it’s sheer energy and danceable nature make the summer the best time to hear it. For me, too, the Chems have never bettered this track, either (it ruled at Reading ’99, too, which was a sun-drenched festival where this act’s set was perfectly matched to the glorious weather).
Come Find Yourself
Time for a break from the sunshine, perhaps, and time to chill out a little with the FLC’s ode to kicking back and smoking dope. Like much of this album, it’s almost-cartoonish, bright demeanour lends itself well to summer listening, but none more so than this track.
Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain
Still with a more mellow feel, this single from Pavement’s finest hour is, as with all Pavement tracks, somewhat cryptic in the lyrical department but appears to be about little more than a wish to enjoy a simple, relaxed life (and perhaps without having to tour with some of the bands they namecheck in the song, which doesn’t half date this a little) – and doing that in the California sunshine sounds like a pretty good idea to me.
The Action Is Go
I’d suspect that there is a damned good reason that there are three Californian bands in this list – making music in a climate like that is more likely, I’d think, to result in something of a sunnier outlook. Not all music from there does (Slayer, Korn, Metallica, for starters), but I was hardly short of options for this list. Seventies-influenced rockers Fu Manchu were one of my first thoughts, and in particular this track, which I first heard on, of all places, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2, the legendary skateboarding game from quite a few years back. The track itself is simply a grizzly rock track with a kick-ass chorus and hummable hook that I’ve had back in my head since Sunday now…
The last of the three Californian bands are another whose early output at least sounds like it was drenched in the California sunshine, and as a result this is an album which unlike many of it’s early “Nu-Metal” contemporaries eschews negativity and instead has a bright, positive outlook on life that somehow doesn’t step into being preachy at all. New Skin remains my favourite track here, a spring-loaded, high-paced track about shedding the past and creating a better future for the protagonist that was bloody fantastic live, too.
Crossing to the other side of the US, this track – one of my top tracks of 2007, and eighteen months on I’m still not bored of it yet – has a brightly coloured video to match the technicolour vision of this really quite unusual track. Built around a “Glitter beat”, clever electronics and bizarre vocal treatments, it was by far the best left-field pop thrill of that year and always makes my day brighter whenever I hear it.
Every Day Should Be A Holiday
Finally? A wish from The Dandy Warhols that I wholeheartedly agree with – a wish to disappear for ever from the trials of work and to enjoy a holiday for ever. Needless to say, this track suits perfectly the “slacker” image that the Dandy Warhols gained early on (and indeed this was the first track I heard from them, and was the reason I paid for an expensive import of the album long before it was released in the UK), even if it’s synth-heavy, driving rhythms are some unrepresentative of what they sounded like then and since!
Of course, the question now is what songs are “summer songs” for you?