Staff Picks: Top Summer Songs

May 16, 2013

Jessi's Top Picks [Music Director]

1) The End of Summer Song - The Billionaires 

That last Summer before college is a big deal.  I don’t remember a more anxious time in my life, between working 30+ hours a week saving up for school and trying to spend as much time with friends that I was sure I’d never see again as soon as we left for our various institutions in the fall.  I now realize that I could have/should have relaxed about it since nothing is as important as you think it is when you’re a teenager, but The End of Summer Song just gets it.  Anyone who has ever tried to use the Summer as an excuse to screw around instead of dealing with change or obligation can connect with the lines “What happens next is scary for all of us, that’s why all of us hide out here” and “let’s go out and get %$#*ed up to forget!.”  It’s an anthem for youthful, fearful procrastination and isn’t that what Summer used to be about?

2) A Little Bit of Arson Never Hurt Anyone - Matson Jones 

My parents had nearly been trampled at a Kiss concert when they were teenagers, so in fear for my life, they had prohibited me from attending a concert until I was 18.  At 16, the rebel that I am, I said I was going to a play rehearsal and instead went to my first concert.  Matson Jones at the Aggie in Fort Collins.  That summer, my crew and I went to every one of their shows, the Aggie, the Starlight (RIP), anywhere they were playing, and their self-titled debut was all I had in my walkman for months.  While there’s nothing inherently “summery” about this song as I usually associate the season with bubbly lyrics and beachy instrumentation, it was my soundtrack to summer ‘05.

3) Parenthesis - The Blow 

My first real vacation without my parents was to visit my High School friend (and music mentor) at Bard.  On that trip I discovered double decker bikes, practical veganism, free stores, how uncool I was, and the Blow.  This was back when it was a project of  Khaela Maricich  and  Jona Bechtolt (who later left the project to focus on YACHT) and they had just played a show on campus.  Bouncy, playful, youthful. . . it’s a sweet song that I start humming as soon as the weather turns warm.

4) Punkrocker - Teddybears w/ Iggy Pop 

This song needs no explanation.  Yes, I have stories, justification, but it’s just not needed.  This is summertime pop perfection.

5) I Was Born Unicorn - The Unicorns 

The idyllic summers of my past were spent tubing down the Poudre Creek, climbing trees at Lee Martinez Park, and loitering in Olde Town Fort Collins.  These activities don’t lend themselves well to listening to music as we were always on the move, or in water, and I sadly didn’t have a portable boombox to throw over my shoulder.  On these occasions, we’d sing.  The Unicorns have incredibly playful lyrics and you don’t need to have a good voice to nail their songs, so one of us would call out “I was born a unicorn!” and the rest of us would join in.  I feel fifteen and tan when I hear this song.


Alisha's Top Picks [Morning Show Host]

"Feeling nostalgic for sweet summer jams has never tasted so good, just add sun:"

1) Turn It Around - Lucius

2) Lady You Shot Me - Har Mar Superstar

3) Diane Young - Vampire Weekend

4) So Good At Being In Trouble - Unknown Mortal Orchestra

5) High School Lover - Cayucas

6) I Wonder - Brittany Howard & Ruby Amanfu

7) Trying So Hard Not To Know - Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats

Corey's top picks [Producer]

1) Summer Babe - Pavement

The first cut off Pavement’s debut studio album from 1992. And despite the apparent effortlessness, this remains one of the great summer songs. Because what goes better with summer than love? And ice.

2) Sunshine - Atmosphere

What starts as a boorish number blossoms into an ode to summertime’s finer facets. Because during summer, each new day offers up a fresh start.

3) Cayucos - Cayucas

Named after a small California town, Cayucas (the band) is like a West Coast version of Vampire Weekend. And the debut album arrived just in time for summer 2013.

4) Future Wind - CCERULEANN

A proper Colorado summer soundtrack requires some Colorado music. Named after the vivid blue color of the Colorado sky, CCERULEANN’s music has a distinct etherealness to it. Because the summer breeze in your face is simply one of the best things the season has to offer.

5) “Constructive Summer,” The Hold Steady

My ultimate summer anthem. It captures the energy and the attitude. It has positivity and cynicism. It has a toast to some of the greats. It sounds better louder.  And it’s a call to action. Of any kind. Because you should go build something this summer.

Mike's Top Picks [Program Director]

1) Summertime Blues - Eddie Cochran

The ultimate 50s slacker rock n roll anthem, all about sleeping late, the old man griping about you not having a job, and even taking this teen angst thing to the u-nited-nay-shuns.

2) Caroline No - The Beach Boys

There are probably a couple of hundred best songs of summer from the Beach Men, but Brian grabs every piece of nostalgia he can for this heartfelt goodbye to youth and the summers they housed.  Where did your long hair go?

3) The Boys of Summer - Don Henley

Saw a Dead Head sticker on a Cadillac...Wayfarers on...don't look back you can never look back.  The seagulls cry in this one but my love for you will still be strong, after the boys of summer have gone.

4) Remember (Walking in the Sand) - The Shangri-Las

More seagulls.  This ultimate 60s girl group does their summer take for their perspective.  It ended badly, but wow, Mary Weiss is the girl of summer.

5) California Girls - The Magnetic Fields

Just when you think you've been swept away by the 60s ocean, the MFs remind you why they hate California Girls.

6. 4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy) - Bruce Springsteen

I know this is supposed to be only 5.  But you can't leave this off the list.  It's summertime back east also, and the Boss remembers walking in the sand too.

7) Shannon - Henry Gross

Had to put something obscure here.  Shannon was Carl Wilson's dog who passed away, and somehow this beautiful Beach Boys homage comes out of it.

8) Under the Boardwalk - The Drifters

On a blanket with my baby, that's where I'll be.

9) Summer in the City - The Lovin Spoonful

Hotter than a match head has to be on this list and so does...

10) Hot Fun in the Summertime - Sly and the Family Stone

      In the Summertime - Mungo Jerry (tie) 

No summer mixtape can ever fit in the cassette player without these two. 

Keefer's Top Picks [Promotions Director]

Tumbling Dice - Rolling Stones, 1972

That summer I was spending a lot of time going to work with my dad because to leave my brother and I alone at the house (my mom worked too) generally resulted in bodily harm to one of us.  So I'd throw my 10 speed in the back of the truck and off we'd go.  while he was in the office I'd pedal around town on my bike.  First stop, a greasy pizza joint with the hottest slices on earth, generally burning away a layer of skin from the top of my mouth.   Second, the cool record store in town.  Exile on Main Street had come out a month before and Tumbling Dice was all over the radio.  I would stare at the album everyday, the black and white pictures of ancient America, interspersed with pics of the Stones.  Back in those days I was on a pittance of an allowance and an album was a major investment, let alone a double album.  i never did pull the trigger on it until later in life, but whenever I hear Tumbling Dice I think back to that 10 speed, lava hot pizza, and the summer of 1972.

Surrender - Cheap Trick, 1978

I was a huge fan of their first two records, an adroit mix of power pop, hard rock and punk, plus I had recently seen them open for Kansas (Kansas, really?).  So naturally,  I picked up Heaven Tonight the second it came out. That summer I had the chance to see them on their own turf in Rockford Illinois at the Peckatonica Speedway.  On the bill, Molly Hatchet, AC/DC (Bon Scott was still with us), the Babys, who were soundly booed off the stage, then Cheap Trick.  They don't make concerts like that any more, for better or ill... 

Vietnam/Dave - Cheech & Chong, 1974

A bit of a wild card here.  There was a time when I would look forward to certain comedy albums with the same anticipation as I would a record from the Stones, Beatles, Dylan, etc.  Even though it came out in 72, it wasn't until 74 I actually added it to my collection.  My buddies and I would listen to this LP until we had it memorized, then we would act it out for our friends on the street corner.  Vietnam was the skit of soldiers refusing to go out on patrol unless it was to find and "destroy" a patch of marijuana and of course the iconic Daaaaave...Dave's not here...   

Happy - Rolling Stones

OK, it's another Stones tune, but it's my all time fave Keith tune (Before They Make Me Run, a close second and another great summer song...).  This was the summer of 1975 and I had picked up the 8 track of the 'best of" Made In The Shade.  I had my drivers by then and that summer it was in heavy rotation in my player.  The opening riff, the high vocals, caterwauling about not wanting a straight job, taking candy from strangers, and just needing love.  It was my anthem then, it remains it today. 

Trenchtown Rock - Bob Marley & the Wailers

I had  Bob & the Wailers "Live" on cassette.  Bob is great anytime of year, but summer is perfect.  Love the opening line, "One good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain".  Indeed.


Scott's Top Picks [Host]

1) Oh! Sweet Nuthin - The Velvet Underground

 I’ll always associate this song with summer because it was the first song I played after my college graduation. The whole Loaded album takes me back to my high school summers. It was (and still is) a frequent soundtrack for cruisin’ around, hanging out with friends, and having a blast wasting the day away. Oh, sweet nuthin’ indeed.

2) Freedom Rock - Frank Black 

Every couple of years I circle back around to Teenager of the Year, and every time I remember just how brilliant it is. There are 22 songs on this record, all of which are great, but this one stands out as one of my favorites. I remember playing this on the last day of school when I was a little kid and screaming at the top of my lungs when the “I AM FREE!” part kicks in. That kind of catharsis is what summer is all about.

3) Moonsurfin - Malachai 

 This song is the entire essence of summer distilled in about 90 seconds.

4) Daft Punk Is Playing At My House - LCD Soundsystem

Back in the summer of 2005, I remember searching for Daft Punk on iTunes. Since their catalog wasn’t as comprehensive as it is today, there wasn’t any Daft Punk to be found, but just one song by a band that I had never heard of called LCD Soundsystem. I was hooked instantly, and it has been a pool party favorite ever since. 

5) Shangri-La - YACHT

Summer has to end sometime, and I think this song captures the “winding down” feeling as the season comes to a close. It’s wistful but also optimistic, and a great song to play while reflecting on a summer gone by. 


Kegan's Top Picks [Web Director]

1) King of Spain - Tallest Man On Earth

Many of Kristian Matsson's songs include the chirping of birds, and other familiar sounds of spring. It's a nice reminder reminder that even during late spring snow storms, warm weather is on the way. 

2) Lady You Shot Me - Har Mar Superstar

I was introduced to this song during Har Mar Superstar's performance at OpenAir just a few weeks ago, and it has already made its way into my favorite songs of the year. It's absolutely worthy of your summer playlist.

3) The Sound - Human Highway

From their 2008 album Moody Motorcycle, it was my summer song for 2009. Pure. Nostalgia. But I think you'll like it too.

4) The High Road - Tennis

Putting Tennis on this list might be obvious for any Colorado music fan. Their whole 2012 release Young & Old is a good summer album.

5) Queen Bitch - David Bowie

From his 1971 album Hunky Dory. Its energy is perfect for summer.