Summer playlist 2018
All the jams Usually, Arts DEVO introduces his summer playlist by promising that it’s the perfect soundtrack for whatever seasonal shenanigans are on the agenda—grillin’ with the crew, road trip with the old lady, day-drinking in the shade. But these days, the real truth is that my personal default playlist for summer doings is the “Hip-Hop BBQ” station on Pandora (now with 100 percent less R. Kelly). Even scrubbing a toilet is a party when “This Is How We Do It” comes on.
And while it remains true that enjoying a personally curated list of new music is an exquisite way for me rock through a summer day, each year it becomes less and less my mode for mood music. In the summer of this digital present, there are just so many choices, and I’m increasingly partaking in various music-streaming choices—Pandora, Bandcamp, Apple Music, YouTube, even radio shows, from NPR’s All Songs Considered to Josh Indar’s Eve of Destruction on Chico’s KZFR 90.1 FM (Mondays, 7:30-10 p.m., with the last couple of shows archived at kzfr.org).
Thankfully, many of those choices also clue me in to new music of many stripes, and that, along with my usual online scavenging, means I still have some fresh jams for summer playlistin’.
Of the mainstream pop/club hits, Zedd, Maren Morris and Grey’s “The Middle” is inescapable and pretty damn infectious and dynamic and probably the only one of the batch I’d choose to listen to. Most of the big’uns are pretty forgettable this year, especially Cardi B and company’s “I Like It,” which, despite its excellent riff (via super-fun sample from Pete Rodriguez’s 1967 hit “I Like It Like That”), is ruined by its played-out lyrics.
“Wide Awake,” by indie noisemakers Parquet Courts, is a somewhat out-of-character bouncy dance jam, with sick bass and guitar hooks, sing-along chorus and vague second-line vibe (complete with whistle!) that will probably end up as my favorite song of the year and definitely my top summer jam.
Here are a few other bread crumbs I’ve picked up:
“Onion” - Shannon & The Clams: East Bay garage-rock at its gravel-throated best.
“Make Me Feel” - Janelle Monáe: Forget Bruno Mars, Monàe is the heir to Michael Jackson’s throne; Prince’s too.
“Last Night” - Mr. Malibu: Fuzzed out ’60s pop, Chico-style.
“This is America” - Childish Gambino: Not a party jam, just the jam America deserves.
“Cool” - Soccer Mommy: Liz Phair-ish power pop … and band name of the year?
“Pristine” - Snail Mail: Perfect pop-rock from 19-year-old Lindsey Jordan.
“Middle America” - Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks: Perfect pop-rock from 52-year-old Malkmus.
“Punk Kid” - Joan of Arc: Indie trailblazers since the mid-1990s are still experimenting and coming up with gorgeous music: “All my life I’ve been eating shit/Look at me, I’m a real punk kid.”
“Nont for Sale” - Sudan Archives: The future of music plays violin and electronics and makes sick, organic jams.
“Real Talk” - Titus Andronicus: Time to get real, America, so grab a mug of beer, swing it in the air, fight back tears of rage and sing along with Patrick Stickles: “If the weather’s as bad as the weatherman says, we’re in for a real mean storm!”