Summer Jams So Far

Steven Casimer Kowalski
I like a collective experience. I like phenomenon. I like Call Me Maybe. I love Call Me Maybe. And I love it because I’ve gotten to watch it take over. I think I heard it in March 2012 and slowly it has crept into nearly everything. Carly Rae is HUGE right now and good for her and her team. That song has summer jam written all over it. And like it or not it is going to define Summer 2012. It was released in the fall of 2011 and slowly the momentum has been building for Carly and now it is July and now we need pools and popsicles and, “Ohh what’s this song? This song goes great with my Ice Cream.”

But I understand if you’re over it. And I imagine once the leaves start to change I’ll be over it too. And by then the entire tune will have a strange Don Henly vibe to it that will depress me. Still, until then I am team Carly. But for those of you who aren’t, I put together a little list, short and sweet, of fifteen songs that aren’t about indecision and calling but are worthy of the full force of your car stereo as you slow-roll the block. Crank ‘Em.
Lee Bains III and The Glory Fires – Centreville

Absolutely essential rock and roll from all the way down in Alabama. Why even talk about influences and histories? I mean, you should know what rock and roll music sounds like by now. And if you don’t you should listen to Lee Bains III and The Glory Fires.
Cat Power – Ruin

Clear the streets. Chan is back.
Baauer – Harlem Shake

At least 40% of this list was compiled with the specific intention of rattling car frames. You are dead where you stand if this doesn’t motivate head nods and goofy mean-mug faces in your bathroom mirror. Also I can’t tell if this song features of a tiger growl or a human burp. I hope it’s actually a tiger burp.
Japandroids – Evil’s Sway

When you’re well past the age of 17 it is difficult and increasingly dangerous to recapture the abandon that once went hand in hand with fun. This is a perfect hi-res gateway to those feelings. Who’s up for a bag of Doritos and a bike ride before we chat on AIM until 4am?
Saint Etienne – Tonight

Speaking of age, it sure is nice to hear a group of people older than me get nostalgic for times I wasn’t even around for. There should be a term for that, when you’re time is totally skipped over by someone else’s perception of culture. Anyways, while you think of it and ready your dissertation you can take a couple dance breaks. Sidebar: Saint Etienne’s Words and Music… is my current 2012 album of the year frontrunner.
Paul Simon – The Boy In The Bubble

This makes the list because when Graceland first came around I was far too young to enjoy it. Now that I can appreciate it I am using this 25 year anniversary reissue as an excuse to tell everyone I know to get into this record. There is a fine line between dated and document and then a massive leap to classic. This is a classic. There aren’t that many of them.
Cory Branan – Yesterday(Circa Summer 80 Somethin)

A funny and sad song about once upon a time. Part of summer is that summer is going away so we should all have songs like this in our back pocket just to prepare ourselves. Still, it helps that this is 90% barefoot dancing and honeysuckle and only 10% “girl, truly goddamn.”
Curren$y – Chasin’ Papers

Pharrell actually gets a vocal credit on this for the chorus but it’s best to ignore his take on The Five Stairsteps “O-o-h Child.” Instead, focus on the production work from Pharrell and his Neptunes which is every bit the compliment to Curren$y’s Nola drawl that it needs to be. If we could take out that air-tight snare I bet this track would float on the breeze.
Nas – The Don

It feels really good to say Nas has a new one out. It feels even better to say it is his best in years. The beat is from the late Heavy D with additional work by Salaam Remi and it is absolutely the highlight. Listening to this song you’re bound to wish Nas could take his skill and intelligence and transcend the catalog rap we hear all the time but alas it won’t be here. But the beat…my goodness.
Killer Mike – Untitled

And here we find a perfect match between furious production and furious rap. Released on the Williams Street label with production by El-P, “Untitled” is about as dark of a night rider kinda song as you could want. This is the best late at night when the air is cool and you’re up to no good song I’ve heard in a long while.
Rich Kidz – My Life

Probably. Probably. Beat of the Year. There, I said it. Someone needs to find producer London on Da Track and give him a medal. And where Curren$y is reclined, Nas is boastful and Mike is furious…the Rich Kidz are just fucking stoked. We live in the anthem era. Everyone thinks they wrote one. But when I found myself in my car joyfully singing the line, “Check out my ice I’m so icey,” I knew this was a special kind of magic. Legit Anthem.
Icona Pop – I Love It

Well, it isn’t on Spotify, but it is without a doubt the only song I’ve heard this year that rivals Carly Rae in catchy-mega-hit potential. And I’m not even sure that it has broken yet. It might take a minute. Icona Pop are Euro and the single hasn’t been out too long. Track this down before the rest of the world listens to it 500 times in 2 months and then hates it by October.
Beach House – Other People

I am obligated to include a song by Beach House on any summer music list. They don’t write typical summer songs but I’ll be damned if they don’t own the summer once the sun goes down and the party ends. And on this new record they’re writing hooks? C’mon, Beach House, you didn’t have to do that.
jj – Beautiful Life

“…we should just use the hip hop vernacular but I’ll sing all breathy like I usually do and we’ll just dump samples and synths all over it. People will go apeshit.” – jj…probably. M83 would write songs like this if he was human.
Donnie and Joe Emerson – Baby

Perfect. Listen to it without context and enjoy it for what it is. But after 4 or 5 plays please look up the back story to this recorded-in-1979-long-lost-reissued-in-2012-teen-pop-gem. I would relate it all here but you’d never, ever believe me. Remember, this list is for summer 2012. And while the vibe of this song certainly says summer 1979, the reason we can all listen to it right now is specifically, necessarily 2012. And it is one of the small joys of the internet that we get things like this to enjoy. So please, enjoy it.