Ben's Summer Mixtape
1) Brian Wilson "Roll Plymouth Rock" (3:48) - If I said I could make a great summer mixtape without the Beach Boys, I'd be an idiot and a liar. This has always been an underrated favorite of mine.
2) Animal Collective "Kids On Holiday" (5:47) - Any song on Sung Tongs would be perfect for a summer mixtape, but this song felt the most apt to me. It also reminds me of hanging out with my Chicago buds.
3) Serge Gainsbourg "Couleur Cafe" (2:13) - Of course, I have no idea what Serge is singing about (maybe a cafe?), but this sublime, bouncy slice of French-pop makes me happy. It is also perfect for sipping cocktails in the sun.
4) Big Star "Daisy Glaze" (3:49) - Like the Beach Boys, Big Star felt like a "no contest" for inclusion on a summer mixtape. The languid, gauzy sound of the first half wonderfully encapsulates the feeling of a humid summer day; and the rambunctious power chords of the second half will kickstart the smiles.
5) My Bloody Valentine "To Here Knows When" (5:31) - This song is the musical equivalent of braving a 100+ degree heat wave while a huge swarm of bees buzz just inside your aural periphery - but, somehow, those buzzing bees are creating gorgeous melodies and the roaring sun feels like a cascading wave.
6) Smashing Pumpkins "1979" (4:25) - The combination of 1979's fantastic music video and my own memories of listening to this song (and the entirety of Mellon Collie) for a summer or two in high school made this a must have.
7) The Shins "So Says I" (2:48) - This song reminds me of one of my happiest times in college. Me and my best bud, Pete, played the fuck out of this song.
8) Bonnie "Prince" Billy "Ease Down The Road" (3:06) - In college, I listened to Will Oldham a lot on my many road trips across Tennessee - especially one summer that I was trying to rid myself of a "no-good" girl.
9) Talking Heads "Nothing But Flowers" (5:33) - This song is bursting with summer-type imagery. The melody and beat are so infectious it's scary. I had to have some Heads on this list.
10) M.I.A. "Sunshowers" (3:18) - One of my faves off Arular (an album I enjoyed a lot last summer). It felt like a pretty natural pick for a summer mixtape and reminds me of my Chicago friends.
11) Sam Cooke "Summertime" (2:23) - Sam's cover of the Gershwin classic is my favorite version, and it was one of the first songs that popped into my head when I started thinking about this mixtape.
12) The Pixies "Velouria" (3:40) - The whole of Bossanova is a perfect summer album, but this is the penultimate track. It's one of my very favorite Pixies tracks and you gotta dig the theremin winding throughout the song.
13) Creedence Clearwater Revival "Bad Moon Rising" (2:19) - As much as I truly love "Down on the Corner" and "Looking Out My Back Door," I felt that those were really cliche picks. This song is just as good and I have loved it since I was about 9 years old.
14) Sufjan Stevens "The Predatory Wasp of the Palisades Is Out To Get Us!" (5:23) - Although much of Illinois felt as though Sufjan was not being autobiographical, this song feels like his (or someone's) tender memory of a summer past.
15) Bob Dylan "Romance In Durango" (5:44) - "Hot chili peppers in the blistering sun. Dust on my face and my cape." With those opening lines, you are there with Bobby. This beautiful calypso/flamenco-tinged tune from the criminally underrated Desire is an epic story of a criminal couple on the run in Durango.
16) TV on the Radio "Dirty Whirl Wind" (4:19) - This song isn't even out yet, but I am infatuated with it. I will be swaying to its Post-Millienial-Motown groove all summer. It's such a deliciously sexy song with lines like "She was gleaming like mother of pearl" and "I am pinned by the heat of your swirl." Yum.
17) Wilco "I'm Always In Love" (3:41) - Wilco reminds me of partying at my friend Andy's house (with a hundred other people) the whole spring/summer before I left college and moved to Chicago.
18) Simon & Garfunkel "Punky's Dilemma" (2:17) - This song reminds me of falling in L-O-V-E.
19) Sleater-Kinney "Oh!" (3:56) - I feel like Sleater-Kinney are always putting out albums in the summertime b/c I always associate them with the summer (going all the way back to high school). This song also makes me think of the "L-word" again.
20) Queens of the Stone Age "Go With Flow" (3:07) - I was really into Songs for the Deaf the summer it came out and I really wanted to end my mixtape with a great barnstormer. "Go With Flow" sounds like Bowie's "Suffragette City" played at double speed with Robert Fripp on guitar instead of Mick Ronson. Yeah, it fucking rocks.