By Ryan Lattanzio
Like a lawn chair and a cold, sweaty glass of iced tea, summer and songs just go together. This season, music snobs can collectively stop drinking with their pinkies pointed out and start embracing the radio-friendly sound waves breaking before them. And summer 2010 is definitely awash with sounds both large and small.
Some conspicuous musical and cultural phenomena are back in the fold: Christina Aguilera, M.I.A., and even Robyn, among many others, all return with new albums. Trent Reznor has just released a free EP online, and Aerosmith is going on tour in July. But beneath these diamond-encrusted headliners, some smaller names are also circling around, gaining momentum and grabbing summer-anthem status.
“When I’m With You” by Best Coast
If you’re not sold on frontwoman Bethany Cosentino’s Twitter, a veritable trove of oddities and hilarities, then you will be on the '60s girl band sensibility of her short-but-sweet songs. Though the full-length debut album Crazy For You (Mexican Summer) won’t be out til July 27, Best Coast’s tracks are scattered all over the Internet. The new video for what will likely be the first single is the most charming—and underhanded—use of product placement I’ve seen lately. Another song of hers, “Sun Was High (So Was I),” might go even better with your laidback summer schtick.
“Collector” by Here We Go Magic
The dizzying lo-fi ambience, occasionally broken up with folk textures, of Here We Go Magic’s 2008 self-titled album explodes in “Collector,” one of the first songs off of the group's forthcoming second release. It’s an electric guitar-heavy and altogether anthemic (how apropos!) track that wouldn’t be out of place on the radio. I have a more than "mild fascination" with this band.
"Rill Rill” by Sleigh Bells
I first heard this song when it was called “Ring Ring” on YouTube. It’s actually called “Rill Rill” and it’s actually great. This Brooklyn everything-but-the-kitchen-sink duo, with all of its screaming and distorted sounds, is unafraid of grating on your ears -- but in a strangely beautiful way. The debut album Treats (Mom + Pop) is far too cool for me, but this one is radio-ready and totally infectious. With a guitar riff sampled from Funkadelic, this track is a surprisingly smooth bonbon that goes down easy.
“All I Want” by LCD Soundsystem
If “Dance Yrself Clean” and “Drunk Girls” are the songs I want to hear when I’m trying to escape a wild party as someone I've never met spills beer on me, “All I Want” is what I want to hear when I go home. James Murphy relies on a hook much like the one in “All My Friends” to create a song that is gorgeous, personal, and catchy all at once.
“Faster” by Janelle Monáe
So much attention has been devoted of late to Janelle Monáe’s freaky-fun new album The ArchAndroid (Atlantic) that I’d rather not lavish her with any more praise, since I can’t do it justice. What I mean is “Faster” is so catchy I can’t even put it into words. A song to turn to when you’re ready to jump ship from that doomed summer fling.