The word summer conjures many different thoughts: Ice cream melting onto hot sidewalks, long road trips, lazy afternoons that seem never-ending, students looking for asylum from a dragged-out school year, favorite tunes blasting from a stereo. One way to make it through the hottest season of the year is to have the appropriate soundtrack. The perfect summer songs have an ideal blend of catchy choruses, accompaniments and soundscapes. But if you are too busy, or if you didn't care to concoct a new playlist, here's a few albums you should add to your repertoire of summer music.
'Aim and Ignite' by Fun
Today, you can't turn on a radio without hearing bits of Fun's hit single "We Are Young." Three years before its latest hit, Fun released Aim and Ignite, its first full-length album. Fast forward to 2012, and hardly anyone knows the band for its 2009 album, which set the bar for modern pop albums.
Fun's debut album is the shining example of what I call "perfect pop." At times, the lyrics can be both funny and emotional. On top of all that, all the songs on Aim and Ignite play like hit singles -- all the songs just work.
Highlights: "Be Calm," "Light a Roman Candle With Me," "Barlights" and "The Gambler."
'Tell It to the Volcano'
by Miniature Tigers
Miniature Tigers is a great example of what is called "the sophomore slump," a term used to describe a band whose debut album was incredible -- a tour de force -- but fails to deliver on following records.
When Miniature Tigers released follow-up albums, it failed to capture the genius of its initial LP, Tell It to the Volcano.
Each track on this pop-rock album has a laid-back nature, and when combined with catchy song writing and colorful instrumentation, each song sounds like a summer classic. The lyrics on the album have a flawless blend of poetry and humor -- the rhyming of "cannibal" with "accountable" is one of the funnier lyrics, while "the words are spilling out of my gun" is more poetic.
Usually an album without any sort of catch or niche falls wayside. In this case, however, the niche is the fact that there is none.
Highlights: "Cannibal Queen," "Hot Venom," "The Wolf" and "Annie Oakley."
'Merriweather Post Pavilion'
by Animal Collective
If Miniature Tigers and Fun suffer from the sophomore slump, Animal Collective is a rare example of the opposite. Many may argue that Animal Collective's music has gotten better over the span of its music career, with 2009's Merriweather Post Pavilion being the band's most recent gem.
Merriweather isn't your typical summer album with pop guitars and choruses. But it's an album that sounds so good in the summer. The pounding electronic
synths and minimalist vocals produce an album that takes cues from The Beach Boys and uses elements ofpsychedelic electronica and indie rock. Animal Collective has never been a band for the faint of heart because most of its songs don't make much sense. But the band's avant-garde nature adds to the incredulity of this album. The numerous bits and pieces to every song fit perfectly in a way that can't be replicated.
Highlights: "My Girls," "Summertime Clothes," "Taste" and "Brother Sport."
'Today!' by The Beach Boys
Any summer-music list that doesn't include anything by The Beach Boys is incomplete in my opinion. With their close harmonic vocals, twangy guitar and lyrics about surfing and hamburger stands, The Beach Boys' music continues to embody every young person's summer. The Beach Boys' 1965 record Today! is arguably its second most critically acclaimed album, only bested by the 1966 classic Pet Sounds.
Listening to Today! makes me feel like I'm a teenager in the '60s, with a glass bottle of Coke in one hand as I drive down a suburban street in a little Deuce Coupe. The album gives me imagery of an adolescence I wish I could've experienced. Instead, I must live it through the music of the time, but Today! is the perfect remedy for a dose of nostalgia.
Highlights: "Do You Wanna Dance," "Help Me Rhonda," "Please Let Me Wonder" and "In The Back Of My Mind."
'The Beginning Stages of ...'
by The Polyphonic Spree
If you ever wondered what might happen if a choir banded together like a traditional rock group and played various instruments, including a trio of orchestra ones, while wearing white robes, then look no further than The Polysonic Spree.
Donning trademark robes, this giant psych-pop band released its debut LP, The Beginning Stages of ..., in 2002, with frontman Tim DeLaughter singing and writing every song.
The Polyphonic Spree sound like no other band, mostly because of its unique instrumentation, but also because the band's songs just put a smile listeners' faces. Unlike other bands that disperse upbeat anthems and ballads throughout albums, The Polyphonic Spree does an impeccable job of making the ballads uplifting instead of depressing.
Highlights: Every song but "Exit Music," which is just 35 minutes of weird backward singing.
Seriously, every track is insanely awesome.
Ben Montoya is a sophomore at Santa Fe High School. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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