Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Summer Albums

DesperateBicyles made some comments about live shows and summer just last month, and it got me thinking. Some albums are definitely "summer albums" and this seems tailored to the listener more than anything. Music, perhaps more than any other form of art, can quite easily evoke a listener's experiences and the feelings that came with them. Some albums/songs, for me, can't help but bring back the joyful freedom of summer. No, not the Ignition (Remix) or Tipsy circa 04.

For me summer albums are simply light and fun...and of course released over summer, that part is key. They sound as if they should be played outside in the sun by a pool. Everyone has their own idea of what a summer album is, but that's mine. Feel free to leave a comment with yours. With this in mind here are a couple of albums I have been spending quite a bit of time listening to this summer:

The Hold Steady - Stay Positive

I am pretty new to The Hold Steady. Just about everyone thought Boys and Girls in America was quality, but it just never clicked with me. Stay Positive on the other hand has done just the opposite and much more. There is quite a void of straight forward rock available nowadays, I felt like Raconteurs would be our only option this year. This past Coachella seemed absolutely desolate in this regard, most acts (though very good) were much more alternative and/or electronic. Stay Positive has given me exactly what I feel we've been missing out on with a perfect summer release.

The Brooklyn based band, led by Craig Finn's story telling lyrics, almost sound like they had a specific summer in mind when they were putting this string of songs together. The album kicks off with "Constructive Summer" (below), setting the theme for the rest of the album with lyrics such as "me and my friends are like double whiskey, coke no ice, we drank along in double time," and guitar riffs that are desperate for a summer stage and a crowd. What I really love about the album is it still finds enough time for a harpsichord in "One For the Cutters" and an organ in "Joke About Jamaica"...and you have to have respect for a band that pulls off a quality song led by a harpsichord.

Oh yeah...The Hold Steady are playing sold out show tonight in Austin at Parish.

Air France - No Way Down EP

"Sort of like a better"

I think the above line pretty much encapsulates this EP. Air France has me hooked on a great album which as gotten some love from critics, drawing comparisons to The Avalanches' landmark album. Although I would be lying if I said it was as good (in my opinion), No Way Down is a quality and noble attempt. At only 22 minutes long its a great summer appetizer. It deserves to be heard, preferably on a slow summer evening with a margarita on the rocks in one hand and a washer in the other...or however you do it.