It’s summertime, kids—time to get the highest SPF and the fuzziest guitar hooks. The season is four days old, but already a musical success, because I finally have a name for the genre of music that I want to listen to from February through August (yes, I start rebellious summer music season early—Bay Area, no seasons, you know the drill). “Suburban perma-teen mutants.” Or “sugary, eccentric power pop and audacious garage rock, extolling a carefree message of love, music and DIY attitude.”
Basically, if Burger Records touched it, I want in. They’re part indie record label, part cassette evangelist, part record store, part “rock n roll philanthropic quasi-religious borderline-cultish propaganda spreading group of suburban perma-teen mutants.” They sum up my summer 2014 sound, and I’m hoping you’ll get equally obsessed. Here are five starter songs from five bands with Burger Records connections that belong on your summer playlists.
“Sweetest Talk” by Habibi
I’m in a fight with Spotify Radio right now. Buddy, we get it, I love Habibi, but I’m getting to that territory where I know it’s too much and I’m on the edge of burn out.
I’ve gotta be careful. This isn’t a Top 40 jam that I want to OD on and discard. This is a classic, the kind of album I’ve been waiting for, one that deserves a dedicated dance party beyond the one occurring daily in my living room. Do you like the kind of Motown girl group inspired, indie rock songs that demands twitchy syncopated dancing, turned up speakers and rolled down windows? The kind of songs that make you want to drive faster and stay out later and get in a dash of trouble, because you know you have the perfect soundtrack? Here you go. Habibi. Enjoy.
“Gold Sneakers” by Wax Idols
Clock in at maybe two and a half minutes. Sound breathless. Create breathlessness. Conjure words and feelings like “giddy,” “elated,” hell…maybe even “jubilant.” Yes, light hearted garage rock can be downright jubilant in the hands of Wax Idols, especially with lyrics like “Can’t you just be happy to be alive/ Either way, I wanted you to know/ I l-l-l-love you.”
It’s a summer song recipe, all of this, and “Gold Sneakers” should be your go-to example of a summer song done right. Serve it up on every party playlist for the next three months.
“Only One” by Colleen Green
I was in DC on a business trip and I couldn’t stop calling stuff fun. It’s a verbal twitch that makes me cringe—one part stress, one part exhaustion, combine and the results for yours truly is a weird adjective fixation. I unknowingly pick one and embrace it, hard.
Colleen Green is fun though—in fact, she might be the funnest, and this is no twitch (I know this for a fact, since I just went to an event where inexplicably everything was “awesome.” Sigh.). “Only One” is a rare tribute to awesome boyfriends. The lyrics are straight forward loving relationship gems, undisturbed by jealousy or cynicism. The high potential for cheesiness (the chorus is “Uh huh/ Oh yeah/ I really love my boyfriend”) is mitigated by Colleen Green’s sweet distorted vocals and all around relentless coolness.
“Dreamphone” by Peach Kelli Pop
Suburban summer time blues get the twinkly vaguely retro treatment with “Dreamphone.” It’s all sitting in your room alone, a head dizzy with calls you want to make but never will. A baby blue phone under your pillow; crushes and longing all dressed up with bells and cymbals and yummy fuzzy vocals. In an alternate universe, we all wear little pastel dresses and play bass guitar and this is a summer hit.
“Generator” by Gap Dream
Weird dreamy pop, with that stretched out sound like bodies slowing down in heat. Words tumble out like they’re clinging to the tongue. Underneath it all, the steady clap, bright pockets of a borderline surf rock sound.
It’s almost never drag hot here—maybe a week here and there, and everyone loses their mind. Some kind of psychic energy in the city goes unhinged, unlike in Baltimore and DC where there’s a persistent low tremor of humid discontent, the kind that makes you feel mean and wild. It can be a little fun in small doses, when you misbehave in small ways and the mean never quite sets in. You stay out a little too late, you say the wrong right thing. “I’ve got a funny feeling/ everything’s gonna be alright/ You always do things better at night,” Gap Dream teases on repeat at the end. Spot on parting words for sweaty summer malcontents.