(10) Ultra Cool Albums that Sizzle with Style All Summer Long

Driving with the top down, relaxing poolside (or on the beach) and throwing parties with friends that last well into the night – that’s what summer is all about. Make yours a summer to remember by flaunting your ability to spin the right tunes to suit any mood. Expand your thinking beyond the limits of your tan lines and beat the heat with these (10) ultra cool albums, which have the power to take you from sun up to sun down in sizzling summer style.

1.) “Team Dream” by Beach House (2010) – While the band’s name itself does the trick, the music and vocals offered up on this album are the real attraction and shouldn’t be missed. Ideal for generating some heat poolside once the sun goes down, most of the tracks on “Team Dream” evoke a tenderness not heard since the late 1990s (best achieved back then by the band James).

2.) “Five Star Motel” by Andy Stochansky (2002) – If you’re headed out of town, take “Five Star Motel” along for the ride. This album didn’t get nearly enough attention when it was first released and attention must now be paid. It’s the perfect backdrop to time spent slathering on aloe after a cool shower in an air conditioned motel room as you take a respite from the balmy weather outdoors.

3.) “Nebraska” by Bruce Springsteen (1982) – If you’re craving a bit of nostalgia and are not a die-hard Springsteen fan, you’ll definitely like this album. Mostly slow and sweet it relies just enough on swagger and twang to make you feel like hopping a train or hitting the open, dusty road. This album is great for playing in a vintage drop-top ride or listening to around a bonfire on the beach as you roast hot dogs and marshmallows.

4.) “Vinyl” by Deborah Lippmann (2007) – For a taste of classic rock with a martini twist (a.k.a. summertime kitsch at its best), pop in “Vinyl”. Rambling piano and frenetic cymbal work set the stage for Lippmann’s breathy, jazz-lounge stylings. Covering everything from Pink Floyd’s “Money” to The Police’s “Message in a Bottle”, Lippmann throws in a few original tunes to keep things modern. Best stirred (not shaken) with hors d’ouevres at an outdoor cocktail party for close friends.

5.) “Billie’s Best” songs by Billie Holiday (1992) – If some sunny Sunday morning you find yourself headed out to the patio to sip mimosas, throw this album into the mix. Languid enough to help you slowly shake off a hangover, “Billie’s Best” is one of the classiest compilation albums around (thanks to Verve). Smoky vocals and swanky arrangements make it a hot pairing with late-morning fare.

6.) “!!Going Places!!” by Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass (2005) – If you’re prone to let your freak flag fly and don’t care who knows you’re a goofball, you’ll love this album (originally released in 1965). With its mix of trumpet-blasting, up-tempto and slowed down strip-tease style tracks, it reeks of cheese — best enjoyed poolside with icy, blended margaritas served up by smokin’ hot cabana boys or girls.

7.) “Hunting High and Low” by a-ha (1985) – If baking in the sun is on the agenda, let the boys of a-ha fill your mind with something other than the thought of the heat bearing down on you. With airy, calypso-style percussion and a rich vocal quality this album will truly take your mind off of the heat and makes braving midday rays a breeze.

8.) “The Red West” by The Red West (2003) – If you’re a fan of surf, sand and genuinely unique guitar riffs give these Southern California boys a spin. When the band played tracks from this album live at The House of Blues in L.A. it seemed as if everyone from Redondo to Laguna Beach and all points in between had come out to catch the sound waves that converge to create The Red West’s signature sound. So, what are you waiting for? Dive in!

9.) “Live at Earl’s Court” by Morrissey (2005) – A handful of Smiths standards, some cool surprises (like a cover of Patti Smith’s “Redondo Beach”) and side comments from Morrissey make “Live at Earl’s Court” a great album to listen to alone or with friends. To be fair, you may not like this album if you’re not into revisiting the topic of rejection or loathe having your political consciousness raised via rock music.

10.) “Tanto Tempo” by Bebel Gilberto (2000) – If you can’t summer in Brazil, bring a bit of Brazil home this summer. Some of the most languid, lush and relaxing tracks anywhere are found on “Tanto Tempo”. The first album to truly earn Gilberto recognition in the U.S., it’s as intoxicating today as it was upon its release. Oh-so-cool delivery (in both sultry Portuguese and English) and gently executed arrangements transport you, instantly, to distant and carefree shores.

Related Album &/or Artist links:

1.) “Teen Dream” – Beach House – http://www.myspace.com/beachhousemusic

2.) “Five Star Motel” – Andy Stochansky – http://mp3.rhapsody.com/andy-stochansky/five-star-motel

3.) “Nebraska” – Bruce Springsteen – http://www.brucespringsteen.net/albums/nebraska.html

4.) “Vinyl” by Deborah Lippmann – http://lippmanncollection.com/07music.html

5.) “Billie’s Best” by Billie Holiday – http://www.amazon.com/Billies-Best-Billie-Holiday/dp/B0000046M1

6.) “!!Going Places!!” – Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass – http://www.herbalpert.com/discography/1965_going_places.shtml

7.) “Hunting High and Low” – a-ha – http://www.amazon.com/Hunting-High-Low-ha/dp/B000002L7Y

8.) “The Red West” – The Red West – http://new.music.yahoo.com/red-west/

9.) “Live at Earl’s Court” – Morrissey – http://new.music.yahoo.com/morrissey/

10.) “Tanto Tempo” – Bebel Gilberto – http://www.bebelgilberto.com/