Music You Should Hear This Summer

By WGBH News


Steve Almond counts Marissa Nadler as one of the artists to listen to this summer.

June 28, 2011

Steve Almond, author of Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life, and Stephen Thompson of NPR Music, joined The Emily Rooney Show to talk about their favorite summer music. With many holiday weekends throughout the year, there's often an undertone of melancholy or reflection. “What is so great about July Fourth weekend, is that sort of the unofficial motto of the weekend is: ‘Woooo!’” Thompson said. “It’s a perfect occasion to think about what makes great summer music.”

"I love summer music that kind of gives you that figurative kick in the pants that goes along with blowing something up," Almond added.

So here are a few of the critics' choices, some new and some classic, which they hope you'll keep in mind when you're thinking of fireworks — or whatever else you're up to this summer. And you can check out the full conversation and see more picks here.

Stephen Thompson's Picks

“Always Like The Son” by Release the Sunbird, from “Come Back To Us”“ — The name of the band, which was recently started by the leader of indie rock band Rogue Wave, refers to a Robert Pollard song. But in any case, as Thompson said: "It sounds like a euphemism for something awesome.”

“Daisy” by Fang Island, from “Fang Island” — Thompson pointed to this one as a "Woooo!" kind of song. “The Go-Gos called, they want their handclaps back,” Almond added.

“It’s Time To Party” by Andrew W.K.from “I Get Wet” “ — "His first full-length record has three different songs containing the word party,” Thompson said. The song is “The kind of wonderfully, kind of overdriven, roll your windows down, blare the music as loud as you can, you can’t go wrong.” And, frankly, most of W.K.'s songs are incitements to party, so you really can't go wrong.

“Rolling In The Deep” by Adele, from “21” — “Just a record that everybody knows, but is a perfect summer song.” It's been a huge hit for many months already: it debuted all the way back in November. “Seems like it’s kind of taken its place as one of the big songs of this summer," Thompson said.

“Strawberry Letter 23” by Shuggie Otis, from “Inspiration Information” — "If you’ve got a group of people coming over for a barbecue, and you want that perfect choice, that perfect album to put on, that’s not too obvious — like for example the Adele pick I just made — and it’s gonna surprise a lot of people but everyone’s gonna love it.” Dating to 1977, Thompson says the song is a lost soul classic that's been recently rediscovered.

"Waterloo Sunset" by The Kinks, from "Something Else by The Kinks" — An old standby, from 1967, that Thompson said is possibly his favorite song of all time.

Steve Almond's Picks

“The Sun Always Reminds Me Of You” by Marissa Nadler, from “Marissa Nadler” —  Nadler is an acclaimed singer-songwriter based in Boston, and this is the one of the singles from her latest album, just released this month. “Her voice is a winter, but the arrangements are summer," Thompson said. “Like it’s a beautiful summer day, but you just had a depressing break-up kind of feeling," Almond added. Rooney got to see the song bring out the "sensitive male" in both of them.


“Everything Is Everything”
by Booker T. Jones, covering Lauryn Hill, from “The Road From Memphis” — The much loved hip-hop and R&B artist gets the instrumental cover treatment. "This is just a party anthem," Almond said. "There’s no words, just interpretive dance. You’re around the pool, maybe there’s some alcoholic beverages. And this is just what you listen to.”
“We Almost Lost Detroit” by Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., covering Gil Scot-Heron — Almond felt he had to give a shout-out to his favorite artist, the legendary spoken-word artist and musician Gil Scot-Heron, who passed away last month. “To me, that’s late night summertime, and you’ve had a lot of drinks, and you’ve maybe had more than drinks, Emily, to be honest with you," Almond said.

“Summertime Thing” by Chuck Prophet, from “No Other Love” — “This is the quintessential summertime song," Almond said. "And it’s been my summer anthem for as long as I”ve known about it. It even mentions The Beach Boys, for extra bonus points.”

Almond paraphrased the lyrics to get at the summer vibe of the song: “Money in the bank, I’m not gonna save it, we’re having a party – or maybe not it’s not even organized as a party, I just hope this one chick comes by. That is my summer.”
“Youth Of 1000 Summers” by Van Morrison,  from “Enlightenment” — Just one more classic: this 1990 track from the legendary Irish singer-songwriter. “I know Stephen Thompson and I can agree on that," Almond said.


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