2010's Summer Jams: Breakups, Beats, and Brothers

Every summer's got a soundtrack. Here's what's getting us through Labor Day.

You know what road trips, sunbathing, and barbecues all have in common? All three need good music. Every summer needs a soundtrack, just as every Christmas needs carols. So we've compiled one: a tracklist of our 12 personal picks of new(ish) tunes to get us from today through Bumbershoot. As Will Smith once said, "Pop in my CD and let me run a rhyme/And put your car on cruise and lay back 'cuz this is summertime." —Erin K. ThompsonThe Black Keys: "Everlasting Light" from Brothers (May 18, 2010)One of the best things about summer is the way warm weather facilitates fellowship among friends. When the sun is out, people spend more time together in large groups, whether at a barbecue, a softball game, or drinking away a Saturday afternoon on the patio of a neighborhood bar. The opening track from the Black Keys' sixth album embodies that group-love groove perfectly, with stomping percussion, jingle bells, and a sing-along-inducing refrain. Let me be your everlasting light, indeed. HANNAH LEVINStars: "We Don't Want Your Body" from The Five Ghosts (June 22, 2010)What would happen if Montreal's haughtiest dream popsters, Stars, decided to ape the Black Eyed Peas and cast Amy Millan in the role of Fergie? "We Don't Want Your Body," a throwaway snap of bubblegum from their wonderful new album. But then, once you throw it away, you quickly realize the error of your ways, rush to the trash can, and chew the gum again. And again. MIKE SEELYThe Physics: "Coronas on Madrona" from Three Piece (May 11, 2010)Produced by DJ Nphared and featuring Maniac B of the Stay Hi Brothers, the Physics' "Coronas on Madrona" is a hair-blowin'-in-the-wind love letter to good bud and good vibes. The local hip-hop outfit's cut fits snugly in the grand tradition of the sun-splashed party anthems we all know and love, like 2Pac's "California Love." And like that song, it's about as thought-provoking as a daytime nap, and that's just fine. KEVIN CAPPThe Moondoggies: "Fly Mama Fly" from You'll Find No Answers Here (June 8, 2010)A soulful, laid-back tune for the quiet moments. Listen to it through your headphones while lying on your back in a sunny spot in the park. SARA BRICKNERFjord Motor Company: "Sommer Kommer" from KrakemalThis Norwegian folk/rock duo's track oozes with whimsy even though I don't speak Norwegian. It seems to be about a cuckoo, and you can hear one—at least the kind from a clock. KRIST NOVOSELICSleigh Bells: "Rill Rill" from Treats (May 11, 2010)The majority of Sleigh Bells' debut album is pounding and chaotic, but "Rill Rill" is an oasis from all the noise—with its bouncing percussion, guitar reverb, and chanting choruses, it's smooth, sunny, and eminently catchy. And with youthful lyrics about braces, new trends, and ringing up your boyfriend, it has all the carefree ease of a summer day. ERIN K. THOMPSONCarissa's Wierd: "They'll Only Miss You When You Leave" from They'll Only Miss You When You Leave: Songs 1996–2003 (July 13, 2010)This super-slowcore band is better known now for posthumously birthing Band of Horses and Grand Archives, but there's nothing quite like the surge of emotions in a Carissa's Wierd song. The single piano notes, perfectly orchestrated string crescendos, and Mat Brooke's echoing vocals make "Miss You" a mismatch for dance-party beats or beach jams, but it's the perfect song to blast out the open windows of your car, driving on Highway 101 down the Washington coast, traveling somewhere far from home. PAIGE RICHMONDSol: "Not the One" from Dear Friends, Vol. 2 (May 21, 2010)Bouncing over a cheery synth line and syncopated drumbeat, this cut's singsong chorus drives the message home: "Even though we just met yesterday, I already know you're not the one." It's a little sly, a little boastful, and (brutally) honest. But hell, summer is a great time to love and leave: After all, what's wrong with having a little fun? NICK FELDMANDio: "The Last in Line" from The Last in Line (1984)I was supposed to pick a new-ish song for this list, but when it comes to rocking out in the summertime, sometimes you just got to go a little bit old-damn-school. "Last in Line" is an ass-kicker right up there with anything punk, rock, and/or metal, and us rockers owe a bit of reverence to this great man. R.I.P., RJD! DUFF MCKAGANDr. Dog: "Stranger" from Shame, Shame (April 6, 2010)From the first rattle of the tambourine, this song fizzes and bubbles over with a bouncy bass line, slinky, jangly guitars, harmonies so sunny you may need SPF 50, and the prerequisite crowd-participation handclap breakdown. Never mind that the song is either about a terrible breakup or a harsh ode to looking in the mirror and being overwhelmed by one's character flaws; Dr. Dog are the kings of presenting uncomfortable self-analysis in a 100 percent pure cane sugar–coated manner, and "Stranger" is as jubilant and uplifting as anything you'll hear all summer. GREGORY FRANKLINRolling Stones: "Plundered My Soul" from Exile on Main St., Deluxe Edition (May 18, 2010)I've often wondered what it would have been like to be around the summer Exile on Main St. came out. The deluxe edition released last month is a dream come true for me. Ten bonus tracks from one of my favorite albums of all time! "Plundered My Soul" is as vintage a Stones song as they come—and it transports you right back to the summer of 1972 (even if you weren't born yet). Why they left it off the original album is beyond me. It should be played at high volume in every convertible. JEFF ROMANThe Black Keys: "Next Girl" from Brothers (May 18, 2010)Yeah, I know, Hannah already pulled a cut from this album. And I'm breaking all the mixtape rules by including "Next Girl" here. But who the hell cares? It's worth it. This song's ritualistic drums and haunting wails shake so hard they'll scare you awake at night; and its fiercely urgent, terrifying cadence intimidates. If you buy one album this summer, make it this one. CHRIS KORNELISmusic@seattleweekly.com

 
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