Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Music for lazy summer weekends

Memorial Day Weekend is a bit early for a post like this, but since my friends and I chose not to get our usual summer house I'm suddenly feeling nostalgic for the endless string of lost weekends this week traditionally marks the beginning of. Swapping the ocean breeze for the subway's urine-stench-infused heat blasts fills me with dread for summer on a number of levels, but the essentials - stifling heat, a smattering of friends to idly bullshit with, ample booze and good music - are readily available wherever you are.

Not just any tunes will do though. Some music just meets the oppressive heat head on and elevates late day lounging in the sun to a glorious zen-like state of alcohol-fueled inertia. I suppose I could extol the virtues of The Allman Brothers in this regard or, conversely, mock the brain-damaged jackholes who pollute the air with aural flotsam like reggae, Jimmy Buffett or hacky sacking trustafarian monkeyboy jam bands. But this is my nostalgia trip and my fricken' blog, so I'm just gonna force feed visitors a heaping helping of relative obscurity on account of what is either my insufferable pretentiousness or my generous urge to share.

KOSTARS - Never so lonely
The Kostars' album Klassics with a K was a one-off side project by two members of Luscious Jackson. That's a band which probably merits a spot on this list in its own right, but the Kostars are more subdued in a 70's AM radio from a parallel universe sort of way. The album positively oozes summer. A little girly, but sublime.

The Dandy's have had modest commercial success over the years, but their music for the most part is more moody and evocative than straight up pop. They're so right when a hot summer day begins to slip into twilight that having the gayest band name in the history of rock seems of precious little importance.

In August you have the really stupid idea to go on a very long road trip with your girlfriend. The air conditioner is on the fritz. The car is overheating and you're in the middle of the desert. You finally happen upon a service station and get help (like in every road movie ever). Then you head into the adjacent bar full of shady characters to cool off and pass the time. Someone hits on your girlfriend so you puff out your chest like an idiot and end up walking funny for weeks due to the pool stick Cletus rammed up your ass while "Tiny" was knocking your teeth out. This is the band that was on the jukebox. You should have just stayed home and gotten drunk on the porch.

Continue reading +/-

- Autumn sweater
Just put the song title out of your mind. It's more like the soundtrack to watching the heat rise from the street while you put a cold beer on your forehead and wish you weren't too lazy to stand up and open the umbrella on the patio table. Also doubles as good late night music for pitching woo. Or maybe I just like saying "pitching woo."

JUDE - Save me
I don't know that Jude is evocative of summer in the way others on the list are, but singer/songwriters ranging from Jim Croce to Cat Stevens to Freedy Johnston merit a place in a lazy summer rotation. And in addition to much of his music being beautiful with an airy, hypnotic vibe, he's openly conservative in the left-wing artistic cesspool that is LA. That moves him to the head of my list - especially compared to a Jihadist nutbag like (whatever name Cat Stevens currently goes by).

Three cheers for Euros imitating Anglo music in English with English-language band names! Look at me! Notice me! love me! Increasingly, our little brothers across the pond who eat unthinkable animal parts and think dimly of us while desperately seeking our approval are producing fresh and interesting music. Whitest Boy Alive is a good example. Summer urban-style, evoking empty streets (like the video!) as people hide inside or frolic at their weekend getaways, leaving the streets to the young with no money for escaping and a smattering of confused Canadian tourists.

- Tiger lily
An otherwise corny term, "dreamy" is nonetheless the first word that comes to mind in describing Luna. Like a meal where every bite reveals a different flavor combination, they feel less like a cohesive unit than individuals emitting beautiful sounds which complement one another and drive a song forward. A low key sonic bombardment melded perfectly with Wareham's urbane lyrics and singing voice which eventually grows on you.

ROBERT MITCHUM - From a logical point of view
Yes, it's calypso. But it's Robert Fucking Mitchum. With a Caribbean accent! After terrifying two little kids in Night Of The Hunter, this dope smoking wingnut upped the ante with the greatest ill-considered celebrity musical venture this side of the cast of Star Trek. And you're not gonna get sand between your toes, whip up a pitcher of Rum Punch and listen? Bullshit I say.

Well, my nostalgia itch is scratched. Part II when the weather is more appropriate.

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