Under the “S” : SUMMERTIME
There are those albums that you seem to only pull out when summer rolls around, right? The earliest examples I remember was the smell of BBQ and the sounds of R.E.M.’s Automatic for the People, The Lemonheads’ It’s a Shame About Ray, or perennial favourite, Neil Young’s Harvest. But then there are also albums that just sound like summer. Surf rock by The Ventures, the self-explanatory Beach Boys… and more recently bouncy fun by bands such as Vampire Weekend, Best Coast, and Alvvays.
This summer’s crop of umbrella drink rock is especially robust, and here are a couple of standouts that aren’t chart toppers yet, but conjure that seaside Hawaiian Tropic sense memory.
Cayucas are a California band with a pair of twin brothers front and center, and that’s gotta score some summer points, yeah? Their second album, Dancing at the Blue Lagoon, has the stripe tee + chimy guitar fix last summer’s Real Estate albums left you wanting. They also rock the Wilsonerrific choirboy backing vocals and a rhythmic bounce that goes from head nod to pogo with only a couple of swoon breaks to let you touch up the ice in your drink. All that and some pretty smart storytelling lyrics, if you want to bother to listen.
Cosmic Troubles might actually be breezy enough to qualify as a spring album; and if we lived in a city where it was dry enough to stroll around town before early May… but alas. This Faith Healer album works just as well as the temperature rises. Take for example the Velvet Underground insipired opener, “Acid,” that ambles along with a head full of birds and no particular place to go. Front Healer Jessica Jalbert is an Edmonton, AB lady whose sound bounces between a kind of 60s ooh-ahh pop and the shimmering 80s/90s twee that British bands seemed to breathe out with ease. It’s an album more to soothe the sugar crashed rather than fuel the earlier energetic shenanigans.
And if two 2015 releases aren’t enough here’s a bonus digital suggestion (which is to say it’s in the used CD bins here at Backstreet): Robert Scott – Ends Run Together. Scott was a member of The Clean and The Bats, two New Zealand bands who helped define the jangle pop sound that powered many early 90s summers. This 2010 album has the heat haze of those earlier albums, tempered with a maturity of song writing and a way with details that make it a real treat.