Songs of the Summer

As the Labour Day weekend passes us by, many may find their thoughts turn to autumn, but I find myself reflecting on summer. 2014 has been a good year for music, and at least within the genres I inhabit, there has been quite a few great summer tunes released. I’m always surprised by how my listening preferences change when summer comes around: normally I listen to a lot of “sad music,” but I just can’t help dusting off or picking up more energetic albums during the summer months. What’s your song of the summer? Here are some of my candidates.

Spoon – “Rent I Pay”

Music journalists can’t review a Spoon album without using the word “swagger.” They Want My Soul, the band’s eighth studio album released August 5th, is no exception. It’s not so much arrogance as an unwavering artistic confidence, and it’s part of what makes Spoon great summer music. Album opener “Rent I Pay” is one of those tracks that makes me fall in love with rock n’ roll all over again. From Jim Eno’s hard-hitting drums to the dual guitar attack, this song is meant to be cranked.

tUnE-yArDs – “Water Fountain”

Hard to type (and to describe!) but fun to listen to, we enjoyed watching tUnE-yArDs open for Arcade Fire a couple of weeks ago. Merrill Garbus’s energy is infectious and seemingly inexhaustible (though that doesn’t mean her lyrics aren’t thoughtful). This music captures a childlike wonder I have not heard expressed in music before. If I worked as a dishwasher in a restaurant, I’d want Merrill to be my coworker, because the time would fly by. Bursting with colour and originality, this song is perfect for summer.

Sam Roberts Band – “We’re All In This Together”

Why was this album released in February? It made no sense until the sun came out. Lo-Fantasy found the band experimenting with more a beat-driven sound and poppier production, and I think it works in the right context (namely, June through August). Really, any of the first 3 songs from this album work well as Song of the Summer. But only “We’re All In This Together” gets me singing along and tapping my feet at any time of the day. This song finds Sam Roberts doing what he does best: making effortlessly catchy music that appeals to the masses, yet that also rewards repeat listens. He manages to subvert the instant appeal vs. longevity problem. In addition, the band as a performing entity is tighter than ever, and they really needed to swing by Winnipeg for an outdoor show this summer. Here’s hoping that happens next year.

The War On Drugs – “Red Eyes”

What would summer be without a road trip or two? Aside from being critically adored, the War On Drugs also makes the best driving music since Tom Petty’s early albums. “Red Eyes” is no exception, with its propulsive beat and that simple, hummable melody bounced between guitar and synth. And who doesn’t love a good “whoo!”

Real Estate – “Crime”

The barbecue is over, empties are strewn about, patio lights hang forlornly from the hedges. This is part of summer too, and you’ll need something to soundtrack it. May I suggest a laid-back gem from Real Estate? The intertwined guitars, the tasteful delay effects, the gentle production, the light tapping of the ride cymbal — it all comes together to make a song that’s perfect for the last two hours of the day, or the first two. Beer on the deck, anyone?

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