Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Signs of Summer: Summer records (Part 2)

We end this ridiculously long "Signs of Summer" series with music, and we wouldn't have it any other way. If you missed the better half of this blog's summer albums, by all means check them out and comment accordingly. Below are MY five albums (in no particular order) to work into your summer playlists. Any and all suggestions are welcome in the comments section, or you could even e-mail us at theunusualsuspectsblog@gmail.com. Enjoy summer, visit us daily and stay away from shellfish if you're pregnant or expecting.

1. EverclearSparkle and Fade

Maybe it’s the time in my life when I got into this album, maybe it’s the “July she lied” line in the opening track ("Electra Made Me Blind") or maybe it’s Art Alexakis’ innate ability to coalesce angst-ridden alternative rock with a beachy, pop vibe… Whatever it is, this is one record that owns the summertime in my book. I’ve always considered myself to be a melody-first, lyrics-second kind of dude, but not with Everclear, especially on Sparkle and Fade. If one looks beyond the innumerable references to drug abuse, the themes of the album are perseverance and escapism – the latter of which, like flip flops and cargo shorts, is totally summer-appropriate. “Let’s just leave this place, And go to Summerland, Just a name on the map, Sounds like Heaven to me”

2. Tom Petty – Wildflowers

Truth be told, I would put Petty’s Greatest Hits on this list before anything else, but there are those who would argue that a collection album such as that “shouldn’t count.” So with that in mind, I move to Wildflowers. This record gives us a rollercoaster of summer sensations, from the carefree vibe of the title track to the driving rocker “You Wreck Me” to the obvious karaoke jam “You Don’t Know How it Feels” (“But let me get to the point, Let’s roll another joint, And turn the radio loud, I’m too alone to be proud”). Oh, and if "Honey Bee" doesn’t make you want to get down and dirty with your girl/boy thing, you may not have the parts to necessitate “getting down.”

3. Jack’s Mannequin –
Everything in Transit

Andrew McMahon is California summer through and through, and that notion is brilliantly displayed on this record. The album is biting but breezy, nostalgic but contemplative. “The Mixed Tape” is an awesome summer anthem for the Warped Tour crowd who followed McMahon from Something Corporate, while “Holiday from Real” (“We’d waste our weeks beneath the sun, We’d fry our brains and say it’s so much fun”), “Bruised” (“We stood like statues at the gate, Vacation’s come and gone too late”) and “Mfeo Pt 1 Made For Each Other” are tracks that evoke the feelings of driving down a desert highway, only without the other cars and risk of running out of gas.

4. Jay Z – The Black Album

Like my partner in crime said yesterday, you need hip hop to have a successful summer, and this is without a doubt the first record I turn to when I need to get my hip hop fix on in the 90 degree heat. Of course you’ve got the practically iconic “99 Problems” and forever-club hit “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” (which every dude loves because he can actually dance to it after three or nine drinks or so), but don’t forget the chill, yet up-tempo vibe of “Change Clothes” and the swagger of “Encore” – yes, I just used “swagger” in the written word for the first time in my life.

5. Operation Ivy – Energy

There’s always an oddball in every list, and this one probably has most people doing a double take… but go listen to the record with your windows down on a hot day and I HOPE you hear what I hear. It’s old-school ska/punk before it was cool (then uncool and then sort of trying to become cool again). The quality is awful, the musicianship is dreadful (although Matt “McCall” Freeman kills it on bass) and the vocals are painful at times – but the band still manage to convey the urgency and, ahem, energy of the DIY California punk scene. If “Sound System,” “Take Warning,” “Bombshell” and “Unity” haven’t found their way into your summer essentials playlist, consider this your call to arms. Oh, and in case you didn’t know, a couple of these dudes (Tim Armstrong and Freeman) formed Rancid later on, and even non-punk rock music fans get down with them.

Love you all, give some feedback, and as always, come back for The Ride at 4 p.m. EST.


  1. I think one of my favorite "summer" albums of all time might be Less Than Jake - Hello Rockview. It just makes me think of summers after many college years.

  2. Niiiice, good call. I forgot to put my honorable mentions - two off the top of my head are Saves The Day - "Through Being Cool" and The Juliana Theory - "Emotion is Dead."