I think one of the things that changes most when the summer comes around is the music that I listen to. While I don’t think it changes too drastically, I think it can be said that we all have our go-to albums that we put on when we drive down the shore on a sunny day. (Jersey shore, fist pump. Sugar Ray’s 2001 self titled album is my top choice.) I normally listen to a variety of alternative/indie rock, sometimes a little folk thrown in. But I am not a stranger to other genres of music. If you’re looking for something similar to your own taste or something a little different, check out my picks for top ten summer albums. (Bear with me because I’m not entirely sure how I can possibly talk about music without sounding like I don’t know what I’m talking about. I can only hope I do a semi-mediocre job.)
1. An Awesome Wave, Alt-J
Ok, honestly, I was totally way late on the Alt-J train. I’m pretty sure I’ve heard of them before because I think my sister and I really liked that when you press the ‘alt’ key and then the ‘j’ key on a Mac computer it makes a triangle. So I’m almost positive that I’ve heard of them way earlier than I actually know. My first listen through of this album was at their live show at the Granada Theater in Dallas, TX. And, though I’m not an expert on shows in general, this one was the coolest thing I’ve ever seen/heard. The English indie group is also commonly described as belonging to the genre of “psychedelic rock” and with good reason. I can’t even begin to tell you how awesome this album is. All I know is that whenever it’s on in my car, I can’t help but tap my thumbs on my steering wheel like I know what drumming is. Personal favorite tracks: Breezeblocks, Fitzpleasure, Taro.
**Photographed by me at their live show at the Granada Theater in Dallas, TX. 3/16/13
2. The Mountain, Heartless Bastards
I really, REALLY, like Friday Night Lights if that wasn’t a reoccurring theme already. So I guess it’s also cool to note that the Heartless Bastards actually made an appearance in the episode where Matt Saracen and Julie Taylor go to Austin and then Julie Taylor gets in trouble because she didn’t actually tell her parents she was going. But, regardless, this album is the greatest time. Like Band Of Skulls, they literally sound like they come out of their parents’ garage. The only difference here is that Heartless Bastards seem to embrace more of a blues sound than anything else. Also, the band is leaded by Erika Wennerstrom who not only sings, but also plays the piano and the guitar for the band. And she has the coolest voice I’ve heard in a long time. And girl power. Personal favorite tracks: Sway, Hold Your Head High, Had To Go.
3. Mind Chaos, Hockey
I cannot tell you how long it took me to finally find the entirety of Mind Chaos on the internet. When I finally did, I was not disappointed. While Hockey is a indie rock band, it is also described as fitting the genres of dance punk(?????) and post-punk revival. And, while I question the credibility of a genre called “dance punk,” I guess I can’t disagree here. I cannot help but bob around (I can’t dance, I bob and sway and stuff) whenever Hockey comes on my playlist. Personal favorite tracks: Too Fake, Learn to Lose, Song Away.
4. American Hearts, A. A. Bondy
Only introduced to him in the past year or so, I’ve become totally obsessed with this folk sound. Everything from the sound of his voice to the soft strumming of his guitar to his harmonica (yes, that’s what I said) is perfection. While some of the songs have a slower tempo, it’s near impossible to skip over any of them. Personal favorite tracks: Killed Myself When I Was Young (featured on the television show Friday Night Lights), Lovers’ Waltz, American Hearts. **If you happen to really like this album, definitely check out his other album When The Devil’s Loose which is equally wonderful times.
5. For Blood and Empire, Anti-Flag
This rebellious rock group doesn’t necessarily have as smooth a sound as most of the candidates on this list, but they’ve got a true American punk feel to them. It doesn’t get much more summer than anarchy and war, amirite? Personal favorite tracks: One Trillion Dollars, The Press Corpse, Cities Burn.
6. Baby Darling Doll Face Honey, Band Of Skulls
Is it just me or does this band sound like they’ve come straight out of the garage at their mom’s house? Also, they have a female vocalist and bass player. How badass is Emma Richardson actually?Really badass apparently. Personal favorite tracks: Fires, Patterns, Impossible. **Also featured on Friday Night Lights is the track titled “I Know What I Am.”
7. Breakfast, Chiddy Bang
Chiddy and Xaphoon Jones are a great duo. (Not to mention that Xaphoon Jones is a total babe.) They’re not necessarily a “hip-hop” duo, but are more so categorized under the genre of pop-rap. While they have the lyrical “swag” (haha) like many other artists of this nature, their sound is totally different. It’s more electronic than anything else, which makes it a perfect choice for blasting in your car or at a BBQ or at a club if that’s your thing???? Personal favorite tracks: Mind Your Manners, Handclaps & Guitars, Whatever We Want. **If you like both Chiddy Bang and Hockey, then you will love Chiddy Bang’s version of Too Fake, entitled Too Much Soul on their album Peanut Butter and Swelly.
8. New Again, Taking Back Sunday
Taking Back Sunday is a go-to really anytime of the year, I think. They’re one of the few bands that have been able to put out more than three albums that I don’t hate.Where You Want To Be and Tell All Your Friends might trump all other TBS albums, but New Again is right up there. It seems a little more upbeat than the other things put out by the band making it slightly nicer to listen to when driving around on a nice day. Also, Adam Lazzara. So, I mean, who can complain?
Personal favorite tracks: Sink Into Me, Summer, Man
9. K.I.D.S, Mac Miller
Kickin’ Incredibly Dope Shit is the moment I fell deeply in love with Malcolm McCormick. It’s weird, really, but for a real long time, I was totally obsessed with the guy. My friend sent me Kool Aid and Frozen Pizza on youtube one night and the rest is history. Not only are his beats totally awesome, but the kid can form a sentence. He can also correctly use the term “nor” so, kudos to you Mac. Personal favorite tracks: Senior Skip Day, The Spins, Kool Aid and Frozen Pizza. **Just as a side note, Mac Miller does a feature on Chiddy Bang’s song Heatwave from their album Peanut Butter and Swelly and it is a great time.
10. Third Eye Blind, Third Eye Blind
I don’t care how old this album gets, you all have to listen to it at least once every summer. Third Eye Blind is the epitome of all things life for 20 somethings with almost zero direction. I’m telling you. Forcefully. Make this a permanent part of your summer playlist. Do it. Now. 90s alternative rock will never be better than this. Personal favorite tracks: Semi-Charmed Life, How’s It Going To Be?, I Want You.