Until The Beat Stops – Cat, Jump!
Cat, Jump! is no longer a band, but it was one of my favorite bands to go see when I was in high school. It’s final album, “Until The Beat Stops” is a concept album that follows the progression of a romantic relationship. Cat, Jump! nailed it. The album perfectly captures the emotional highs and lows of any and every relationship. I’ve listened to this album countless summer nights while driving around or before I go to bed reflecting on the beauty of young adult life.
Happened – Meryll
I saw Meryll on a tour in 2008 on which them only played outdoor parks. Sure enough, I saw two of the members at a park in my hometown with about 10 other people. It was a lot of fun, and the perfect summer evening. Their music is beautiful and layered, yet reminds you of the simplicity of childhood that you so desperately want to return to.
If That’s Cool With You – Owen Pye
This was Owen’s first full length album as a solo artist and it’s timeless. The songs? Personal and infectious. The production? Minimalistic. Percussion and backing vocals rarely support Owen and his guitar. The end product? A great record that needs to be sung along to this summer.
We Are Racing Ghosts – Aaron Robinson
I remember DYING to get my hands on this record. As a high schooler, I played a show with Aaron and I remember sitting back and being blown away by the stories he told with his songs and knew I had to get his record as soon as it came out. I did, and I still listen to “We Are Racing Ghosts” on a regular basis. There is so much variety from song to song, but the tone is bright and perfect for listening to during the long, hot days of the summer.
Doris, Buzz and Friends – Deluxe Version – John Krane
John is actually the singer/guitarist of aforementioned Cat, Jump! but these two records are like night and day. Krane’s solo album is fun, upbeat, and a hybrid of electronica and dream pop. I keep a copy of this CD in my truck in case I forget my iPod. It’s a go-to record that always impresses me. It’s sonic sunshine.
Yes Yes Yes – elsinore
I can’t say enough about this record. I would probably say it’s a perfect spring, fall, and winter album too. However, the production and instrumentation of the record fit summertime a little more seamlessly. It’s such a positive and fun-filled record. How could you pass up “Yes Yes Yes” this summer?
My Old, Familiar Friend – Brendon Benson
Every dang song is catchier than the last. It’s what Benson does. He writes the catchiest songs known to man and will probably never get the credit he deserves. This album is the absolute perfect thing to play when you wake up in the morning with your window open for the breeze to blow in or to play on your drive to work in the morning. You’d swear Benson has a secret instrument that infuses sunshine into his records.
The King Is Dead – The Decemberists
Most of The Decemberists music reminds me of winter time for whatever reason. This record is a major contradiction to my usual opinion. It’s alternative country! What better describes summertime than that? These songs are powerful, but not overproduced to the point where a buddy of yours can’t pick up his acoustic and start playing them around a campfire.
Boys and Girls In America – The Hold Steady
Soaring choruses, dueling guitar and synth solos, and a constant theme of young adults partying? Sounds like a summer album to me. The Hold Steady provides all of these and more on 2006’s, “Boys and Girls in America.” Listen to this album twice and try to not associate it with summertime. I dare you.
Sky Blue Sky (Bonus Track Version) – Wilco
Maybe it’s the title of the record itself, but a few summers ago, I listened to this album at least once a day. Just the first song, “Either Way” will suck you into a breezy, euphoric state that you won’t be able to shake until the very end of the record. A lot of people see this record as lazy or boring compared to other Wilco records, but sometimes you just need to chill and listen to some beautiful summer time tunes.
Cold Roses – Ryan Adams & The Cardinals
I could have filled this list with great Ryan Adams records for summer, but who’d read that? This double record is full of meticulously layered guitar tracks and peaceful country songs. I love Ryan Adams, but I don’t see him ever surpassing this record. It’s timeless and has been a reliable summer album of mine for six years now.