Summer has always been a harbinger of surreal experiences for me. I’m not exactly sure why, but whenever it comes time for that big yellow star to start really shining I always end up in a bizarre atmosphere that lasts as long as the season does. Call it Summer blues or June gloom, I’m not sure. However, one thing I do know that’s heightened during this time is my appreciation for music.
There a few songs I always tend to play around this time that I can truly connect with during these three months only. So that’s what I’m going to talk about today. Hopefully, in the process of this article, I can introduce a few people to some great artists. Some you may have already heard of, some maybe not. Perhaps you’ll also learn a little more about me.
The XX – Islands
I first heard this track back in the Summer of 2016 appropriately enough. On my inaugural listen I instantly conjured a scene in my mind I really wasn’t able to appreciate at the time. That scene was about summer.
The first few sounds you hear repeat for a few moments before it abruptly jumps into the main guitar riff. For whatever reason, it always reminded me of the suns rays. The way the repetitive tone drones at such a low frequency is almost warming to the ear, as it should be. The guitar continues to play a soft melody and works in tandem with the smooth bass groove. The drums are snappy but not too loud and operate a bit lower in the mix.
And I am yours now. So now I don’t ever have to leave. I’ve been found now. So now I’ll never explore.
Overall, the song creates a very serene atmosphere. Even in the final moments of the track where the instruments begin to get faster, the overall serenity is not damaged or hindered. It’s a calm, steady rise and fall that is brought to a sudden cathartic end. The listener is left with the faint reverberations the instruments left behind before being halted.
This is the first song I think of when I imagine summer. I suppose the title is more apt than one would first expect. Aside from the production, I find it easiest to explain the piece in terms of experience more than anything else. It feels like you’re listening to a journey, your journey, and the whole time the sun is beaming down on you, up till you reach an oasis of nothing but pure joy. This is especially amazing because it’s able to achieve this in just under three minutes.
Summer Salt – Sweet To Me
I suppose its time for me to get a bit sappy. The song is about a girl and spending a perfect day with her. I like it so much because I’ve always envisioned a perfect day that could play along with this simple tune. Much like the song, I also imagine who that special someone I can spend it with might be. The lyrics simultaneously invoke sentiments on who it really is:
You’re so sweet to me. Will you be sour later?
It’s this uncertainty in the singer’s words that really resonate with me here. In the same vein as “Islands,” this track is also tailored for easy listening. However, that also leaves some room for vulnerability. It’s that little feeling there that I like to focus on. I like how it’s carried throughout the track and seems to drive it all the way to the end.
There’s a nice little guitar solo at the end of the track that effectively plays out the song until it eventually plays out. I always enjoyed that choice to let it fade rather than end because it implies it never has ended. Much like the sun and life itself for that matter, it will continue to beat on ceaselessly into the present.
I know the track itself is supposed to give off a beachy summer vibe, I mean, it’s the namesake of the band after all. One could say that means the song is a bit contrived but I think that’s the point, and to be frank, I don’t really care.
Animal Collective – Fireworks
I had never heard about Animal Collective before listening to this track back in February 2016 and it’s a real shame because for a little while, “Fireworks” was my favorite song of all time. I understand that’s a bold statement but before this song, I had never connected with any piece of music like it.
I can’t explain the complex emotions this song evokes within me. It’s able to trigger so many memories, it’s like a road trip every time I hear it. When I hear it I picture those unforgettable warm summer nights I spent outside when the air is still and all I could hear were the crickets chirping.
This song is like audible nostalgia. It makes me feel like I’m a kid again where all my worries were minor compared to what I have to think about now. It was a simpler time back then, and anything that can bring me back to those golden years deserves the utmost praise for doing so.
Sonically there are so many intricacies within the track and if I were asked to describe all of them we would be here for a while. So for the sake of time, I’ll only explain my favorite facets.
The song begins with a rhythmic tone that is present throughout the entire seven-minute runtime. It immediately creates a steady beating tempo that’s only further heightened by Avey Tare’s non-lexical vocables. By the time the actual words come in, the song has already reached a point of musical prowess. An achievement made salient by Tare’s powerful words.
And I can’t lift you up, cause my mind is tired. It’s family beaches that I desire. A sacred night, where we’ll watch the fireworks… Flashing eyes and they’re colored why. They make me feel. That I’m only all I see sometimes.
I love this song. I love its melancholic disposition. I love the way it makes me feel. I love the twisted sounds and the way it uses them. I love the way Tare delivers his lyrics. Most importantly; I love how its best enjoyed during the summer. It only comes around once a year and its best to bask in it now while we have it.
I hope with this article I have introduced you to some really solid artists. In an industry plagued by nameless faces its great to hear something truly unique edge its way out of the bright horizon.