Summer Playlist – August 2010

July 24, 2010

Year end “best of” lists are still awhile away, and rather than try to narrow down and rank the great music that’s been released at the little-more than half-point of 2010, I thought I’d post a Summer 2010 mixtape tracklist. These are some of my favorite cuts this summer and they focus heavily on things released over the past month or so rather than from the entire year–I also noticed a predominance of hip hop, because there have been quite a few great hip hop singles this year. I didn’t get to include everything–I tried to keep it at the 1.2 hour length that I typically find max out a blank CD, but went one song over anyway! Well, here goes:

1) Month of May – Arcade Fire

Arcade Fire released an old-school A/B single to tease their upcoming “The Suburbs” LP. The A cut is “Month of May,” a fuzzy underground meets alt rock radio single reminiscent of left of the dial cuts from the eighties post punk batch. It sounds like its title, a kick-start to summer delivered just a little late into the heat but still sounding great.

2) Love King – The Dream

Listening to The Dream’s music must be a little similar to being the target of one of his bragged about liaisons in at least one way–it’s very superficial and you probably don’t brag about it. The Dream and his production team craft lush sonic soundscapes filled with vocals sung to fit them. The songs sound ridiculously good and they fill out a car stereo in the summer time better than most anything else. The Dream’s music is reminiscent of classic Motown in that way, by sheer sonic candy perfection. But, sadly, 2010’s version of Motown pop-soul doesn’t have much in the way of even pretend heart and real soul behind it any more–the lyrics Dream sings are superficial to the max and often silly enough to be parody. “Love King” track 1, the title track, is no different, but like a fantasy summer hook-up I guess it does it’s thing on a purely visceral level–it sounds great.


MIA’s “Maya” is fantastic although the critics seem to be on two different sides there, some decrying that it doesn’t step forward and live up to the hype of the universally praised fist two albums, the others seeing it as a great record that finds Maya/MIA slipping into a groove for an exciting fun third outing before possibly going in another direction next. “XXXO” is the poppiest, most “simple” of the songs on Maya and it’s a great dance/techno song with sometimes silly but certainly fun lyrics and a great crooned chorus. If you surf a bit and find MIA’s free Mixtape– MindFVCK mixed by September 7–you can hear a remix version featuring Jay Z.

4) Going Out – Francis and the Lights

Apparently the voice and engineer behind Francis and the Lights worked as a producer for Drake–but this is no hip hop song, nor are any from the fantastic but short (clocking in at around 24 minutes) album just released “It’ll Be Better.” Francis and the Lights deliver a mixture of adult contemporary and alternative eighties sounding tunes–like, as many have noted, a hodgepodge of Prince, Peter Gabriel, Randy Newman…the result, as perfectly captured on this song, is well crafted mature pop music .

5) Laredo – Band of Horses

I don’t dig “Infinite Arms” nearly as much as “Cease to Begin,” BoH’s last album–there were simply more stand-out songs on that one although this latest record is admittedly more cohesive and consistent. “Laredo” is my favorite of these new songs, and Band of Horses deliver great summer folk songs sung by a modern day Brian Wilson sounding dude.

6) As We Enter – Nas and Damian Marley

Nas and Damian Marley’s hip hop reggae joint affair is fun and the lead off first track, “As We Enter” is a perfect pace setter. The duo delivered this one on Letterman back at the beginning of the summer and it’s still a great track deep into the latter part of the season.

7) Free Mason – Rick Ross featuring Jay Z and John Legend

What do you do when you’re the most skilled mainstream long-running rapper and a bunch of silly internet conspiracy theorist dorks keep claiming you’re part of some secret underground illuminati horsecrap? Pair with a menacing, tall, faux-gangster from Miami and rap a song that denies those claims but that bears the title of those claims nonetheless.

8 ) Daddy Fat Sax- Big Boi

I recently opined “Where are these guys now” in regards to Outkast (in my “Best Hip Hop Artists blog here). Well, here’s 1/2 of them; without Andre’s avant garde pushing of the envelope, Boi is more streamlined and straight-forward but also a little less satisfying. Still, without comparing him to his other half in style or mic abilities, Big Boi is miles ahead of other guys spitting on Southern-party pimpadelic hip hop. “Daddy Fat Sax,” (with a chorus that sounds like it contains a sampled Cypress Hill line) is the best cut from the album.

9) American Slang – Gaslight Anthem

I’ve raved about the LP these guys released this summer (read it here), I’m hyped to see them in concert next week and I’ll try and do a review of it here as well. The whole record is great and the first song and title track from it works as a great mixtape allotment right here, currently my favorite of my list of rotating favorite Gaslight songs.

10) On a Wicked Night – Danzig

Wait hold up, you might ask–Danzig is back? Or not, you might have no clue who Danzig is, the metal monster who gave us “Mother” and the perfect early nineties metal classic album “How the Gods Kill.” Well, he detoured through some industrial influenced albums and then came back to his roots on an indie label release that sounds fuzzy and cheap but great, mixing in his punk and hardcore roots (he was in Misfits and Samhain in his early days). The classic metal songs pause mid-album for this chilly, Tales From the Crypt evoking ballad.

11) After the Scene Dies – Drive By Truckers

“The Big To Do” continues to grow on me as one of my favorite albums of the year. “After the Scene Dies” is the best flat-out anthemic rock song on the set.

12) The Smidge – The Hold Steady

If the Hold Steady can’t have it all they’ll settle for the smidge.

13) Bad Stuff – Free Energy

Cheap Trick and Thin Lizzy sound to be back in the form of Free Energy with one great ’70s rock influenced song after the other. “Bad Stuff” is the current rotation one for me.

14) I Should Have Known It – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

I love Petty and the Heartbreakers, and as fun as it is to hear Mike Campbell cut loose on guitar, “Mojo” is a little unsatisfying for me compared with most of the bands records. “I should Have Know It,” however, is a great single and sits well with their other classics.

15)  I’ll Kill Her – Cee Lo featuring Me & Lonan the Destroyer

Cee Lo’s back, single for the first time in his decade plus career, and ready to seduce the ladies with his mix of funk, soul, hip hop, jazz and pop. “I’ll Kill Her,” should be a throw away (it’s off of a superb mixtape-Stray Bullets- available in the right places for free now as a teaser to his upcoming studio album) with it’s silly dialogue back and forth between ‘Lo and a girlfriend who suspects him of cheating. As she continues to threaten to kill a perceived romantic threat, ‘Lo tries to chill her out.

16) Show Me a Good Time – Drake

Drake’s entire “Thank Me Later” album is full of fun club and cruising in the car rap songs. Throw a dart and you’ll land on a sonically pleasing pop-rap banger and this one’s as good as the rest.

17) Got Work – Talib Kweli and DJ Hi Tek

Kweli and Hi Tek are back, and the album is great. There are better songs on “Revolutions Per Minute,” and there are certainly more politically conscious and important lyrics scattered over the hour plus of tunes within, but “Got Work” is a good summer song from them.

18) 25 to Life – Eminem

I mentioned Eminem in the afore-mentioned “best hip hop artists” post as an addendum-stating that sadly for an artist with so much talent, he couldn’t make the cut for continually failing to focus on relevant or decent lyrical content or topics. But yet he does manage to nail a great song that works all the time, and this is maybe his best song since “Stan.” Were it just another lament over Kim (though I’m sure some of the lyrics got their start from thinking of her) it would fail, but by twisting with a hip hop version of a surprise ending and being about Hip Hop itself, “25 to Life” is fantastic.

19) Revenge – Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse featuring Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips

This delayed project is finally out, after Sparklehorse lead singer is now deceased (along with contributer to much of the album, Vic Chestnut). “Revenge,” with Flaming Lips on the lead vocals, is a noir ballad of the 21st century of utmost success, as well as a lament on forgiveness and revenge.

20) Far From Over – Dead Prez and DJ Drama

So Drake nodded to (or bit) DP’s “It’s Bigger than Hip Hop” with a verse in “Over.” The best, smartest, strongest, toughest and most focused political rappers since PE are back on a new mixtape that jacks the beat back from that song, which happens to be the best hip hop beat of the summer, and fills it up with verses that titillate and truly matter. DP, RBG!

21) Record Collector – Lissie

I’ve been waiting for Lissie’s first full length album for awhile–she’s released two great EPs, now we finally have a full LP, “Catching a Tiger.” For some reason you can only get it as an import right now–no state wide music provider even has a legit digital version of it yet for whatever reason. It’s a great record full of the best melodies I’ve heard on any pop record this year, and although some of those EP cuts have been recycled onto it, it’s still solid. “Record Collector” leads it off, an entirely new song that is beautiful in which Lissie is spoken to by God, and Lissie respond by asking Her to “fill her up.”

22) The Suburbs – Arcade Fire

The B side to that A/B single mentioned at the beginning is the closer to this set. It’s a melancholy ballad that sounds like the end of summer and a metaphor for the end of youth itself via a move to the suburbs as frontman Win Butler sings “I want a daughter while I’m still young/I want to hold her hand, show her some beauty before all this damage is done/but if it’s too much to ask, send me a son.”


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