I'm in DT.UT (that's downtown-uptown), and I was super-psyched when they switched from John Mayer to Radiohead...except it was a reggae cover...of the entire album The Bends. What's the point? Just play the Radiohead Y'know?


Summer mix expanded, pt. 1

My nose prickles with the edge of fall’s coolness in the breeze. Maybe that’s why I need to revisit this season’s mix before the official unofficial end of summer. As I mentioned in the comments to the entry for spring, if you’d like a copy, just e-mail me your address.

Ron Sexsmith and Don Kerr, “Lemonade Stand” (from Destination Unknown)
A good symbol marking the beginning of summer. Weather warm enough to make you want refreshment, days long enough to allow the activity, schedules conducive to reversing age-typical roles: kids as businesspeople, adults as consumers. And then in the music, the loping drum beat is relaxed enough, Ron Sexsmith’s voice just un-pretty enough for it to be believable.

The Thrills, “Deckchairs And Cigarettes” (from So Much for the City)
Speaking of loping, this song practically sits down on your porch and cracks open a beer by itself. It’s so simple, it almost begs me to bust out my limited skills in music theory. Actually includes a track of waves crashing and gulls calling.

Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band, “Tropical Hot Dog Night” (from Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller))
Caribbean percussion, some horns, a scrap-y voice, references to striped light and young girls feeding monsters. A must-listen.

Billie Holiday, Sunbonnet Blue (And A Little Straw Hat), (from The Quintessential Bille, vol. 1)
I have a soft spot for Billie doing something other than typical Billie, which generally means from early on in her career. This track has some seriously cute, girl-looking-over-her-shoulder, shyly-solicitous-boy moments.

The Elected, “Would You Come With Me” (from Sun, Sun, Sun)
The Elected are the side project of the male half of Rilo Kiley. Innocent but not precious, retro-sounding lead croons and back-up oohs, drums restricted to a downbeat snare tap, the down-up bass providing rhythm of equal prominence. Maybe to someone else this songs has escapist road trip themes, but to me, each of the many times I listened to it this summer just brought up visions of friends not here.

Fountains of Wayne, “Radiation Vibe” (from their self-titled album)
Many genres could probably lay claim, including bossa nova (see below), but I identify power pop with warm weather fun. Not lacking in substance, Fountains of Wayne are nonetheless pretty much all about the hook. It’s just that thing they do.

Loudon Wainwright III, “The Swimming Song” (from Attempted Mustache)
Perhaps eclipsed in the modern (indie)-consciousness by his son, Rufus, Loudon Wainwright III is just a hoot. “But once when you weren’t looking I did a cannonball?” C’mon, laugh.

Band of Horses, “I Go to the Barn Because I Like the” (from Everything All the Time)
With a couple of dreamily nostalgic tracks on this mix, although not “A Summer Wasting,” this one probably wins for pensiveness. In the double-layered vocal, one voice is whispering in your ear, one crying into the back of the church. Or the barn. The close voice holds sway when guitar is the only accompaniment, then fades back as the drums and extra guitar come in.

Fruit Bats, “Lives Of Crime” (from Spelled in Bones)
I listened to Spelled in Bones so many times last summer, it’s difficult for me to hear this song with fresh ears. Highlights: Spanish-style guitar trills (i.e. eighth-notes of seconds and thirds), a bass like footfalls on a morning jog (just before the bridge), handclaps!

Caetano Veloso & Gilberto Gil, “Cinema novo” (from Tropicalia 2)
Gentle above all else, this song offers simply beautiful summer soothing.

The Beach Boys, “Cool Cool Water” (from the unreleased SMiLE)
Drip-drop go the piano’s plunks. Purr go the super-square barbershop-style (with girls, so maybe it’s a salon) vocals.