Ah, Labor Day weekend – quite possibly the most controversial of the annual holiday schedule. I mean, who celebrates the end of summer, anyway?
In any case, like an intoxicated congregation at an Irish funeral, we thought it only proper to memorialize the passing of summer with an assembly of songs that were released over the past few months. For your enjoyment, here are our editorial staff picks for the ultimate sounds of summer playlist:
The New Pornographers – “Brill Bruisers”
If I could only pick one song from this summer — hell, maybe even just one song from this year — it would be this one. Any new record from this indie supergroup is cause for celebration, but this one marks a fantastic shift of direction compared to previous releases. Bright, shiny and every bit as pure-pop as the Brill Building title reference would imply, this is a massive track with more hooks than a fisherman’s hat.
Strand of Oaks – “Goshen ’97”
Timothy Showalter is the cover star of our September issue, and the opening track of his latest album, HEAL, is a stunner. Make sure you read our interview with Showalter – it’s a doozy.
Ryley Walker – “The West Wind”
For my money, Ryley Walker is one of the best young acoustic guitar players out there performing today. His April release, All Kinds of You (Tompkins Square), features the song “The West Wind” that harkens back to UK psychedelic and folk musicians of the ’60s or ’70s – performers like Bert Jansch, Nick Drake and Richard Thompson. Not too shabby for a 25 year old from the Windy City of Chicago.
Weyes Blood – “Hang On”
Doylestown-native-now-Brooklyn-resident Natalie Mering (aka Weyes Blood) prepares to release her first album in years – October’s The Innocents (Mexican Summer) – and has hinted at the sound with the haunting song “Hang On.” Her powerful lower-range vocals find a way to stick inside your head, all while punctuated by a host of string and electronic instruments that create a modern psychedelic sound.
Mike Andrelczyk’s picks:
Phish – “Fuego”
Phish released a new album and treated every city they toured this summer with a version of the title track, including the epic 24+ minute version they dropped at the Mann Center this July. It even sparked the Phan base internet meme “Eveybody gets a Fuego” a la Oprah Winfrey. The song features lyrics about Vlad the Impaler, “World’s Greatest Dad” coffee mugs and stolen cars. This nine-minute version is from the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.
Ryan Adams – “Gimme Something Good”
Ryan Adams’ fiery performance at this summer’s XPN Festival gave fans a taste of the moody pinball-loving singer-songwriter eponymous album coming out on September 9. The lead track is the hard driving “Gimme Something Good.” Check out the video with the sexy Elvira.
Sturgill Simpson – “Turtles All The Way Down”
A new face in the ever-evolving country music scene, Sturgill Simpson sounds like he took a time machine ride Nashville circa 1950 to record his new album, Metamodern Sounds In Country Music. Or, given the bridge in the album-opener “Turtles All The Way Down,” Simpson may have just ingested a horse trough full of psychedelics and just imagined having done so. Sounds like he and Johnny Cash would’ve been best of buds. (Sturgill Simpson plays at the Zac Brown Southern Ground Music & Food Festival in Hershey on Sunday.)
Old Crow Medicine Show – “Sweet Amarillo”
I had the chance to hang with OCMS’s fiddle/etc.-player Chance McCoy this summer, and that dude is freakin’ cool. We talked about pooping on tour (or, rather, the terrible circumstance of having to do so while in the midst of a barn-burning hour-and-a-half set). But I digress… Here’s the single off the new album, Remedy, which was another co-write of sorts with Sir Robert Dylan. Also, check out our interview with guitarist/banjoist Critter Fuqua here.
What songs from summer will you be carrying into fall? Tell us below!