Seasons heavily affect the kind of music I listen to. For a few summers now I’ve turned to synth-driven electro, rock and pop to guide me through a variety of romps, walkabouts, dance parties, swims and trips. Synths feel like bright happy colours. I don’t really care about their rampant over-usage of anything and everything from indie to hip hop these days. They still make me giddy and amplify my summer experiences more than either Bang or Olufsen could. In this vein I’ve put together a playlist of lovely synth-esque music which I hope will be a nice companion to your Summer adventures.
Download | The ‘Summer in Synths’ Mixtape
One of the most interesting songs of the year so far, Gold Panda sample the distinct sounds of a sitar and fuse choral raga chants with gimmicky DJ chops and skips over top of a steady hand clap rhythm. It’s world music gone nutty, and while it may not be the best song to play at a party, it’s a nice headphone banger.
“These girls fall like dominos,” Robbie Furze repeats on the British duo The Big Pink’s fourth single – wishful thinking, at least for this guy. The song’s got anthemic qualities and is sure to help the band blow before disappearing into Much Music’s “One Hit Wonders” territory. Good luck Big Pink, and thank you for this song that Blink 182 and MGMT are somehow both going to wish they’d made first.
The Bloody Beetroots are one of Dim Mak’s most successful projects. Last year, they released an album called Cornelius, which was associated with complimentary fashion and video art projects and drew the duo several comparisons to French homies Justice. Listening to the track above, you might hear more similarities to Justice’s predecessors, Daft Punk. On this track, The Beetroots use the same vocal modulation tool that the robots used on songs like ‘Digital Love’, but the orchestral strings are something that neither of the French duos has played with yet.
The Hood Internet has a penchant for dropping monster mash-ups. While their batting average is hardly comparable to a roided-up A-Rod’s, I find that it’s worth checking out their page once a month at least for some new jams. I’ve featured two such bangers on this mix. This one borrows from Treasure Fingers and Futurecop! and seems to mash in some N.A.S.A as well. The result is a fun danceable track, that you can somehow also sleep to. My only complaint is that with the plethora of different vocal modulations they use, the one at 1:10 is really really irritating.
Miike Snow has come out of nowhere to become one of the more exciting artists of this year. Everything I’m hearing from and of this guy is pretty darn good. He’s currently opening for the love of my life, Lykke Li, and I checked out his set at Lollapalooza this weekend and it definitely stood out as one of the festival’s best. Peter Bjorn and John seem to dig him as well and decided to remix his already great track ‘Animal’ into a beast, by boosting it with handclap rhythms, ambient sounds and, of course, synthed out xylophones.
Neon Indian’s been getting a lot of press and blog coverage. I’m kind of glad that Ca Va Cool has stayed away from talking about their attempts to be “relevant” by releasing their EP on an “irrelevant” but “culturally advanced” medium: the audio cassette. Note: audio cassettes are endearing and romantic gifts for one to make for their significant other, and for no other purpose in 2009. Neon Indian, I’m therefore interpreting ‘Deadbeat Summer’ as a romantic gift to me. Thank you, but no, I will not go to the Sock Hop with you. Oh, I guess I should probably also say that this is unfortunately a really fun song.
I’ve heard this is the most bloggable mp3 of the year so far. Adding our imprint to the culture of blog memes, here is my plug for Atlas Sound and Panda Bear’s incredibly fresh sounding and vibrant track from the forthcoming Logos.
You might recognize a couple odd parts of this song sampled in the Hood Internet mash above, but it plays so well on its own that I wanted to feature it separately on this mix. The track’s definitively positive and upbeat tone doesn’t remind me so much of Optimus Prime and Megatron dualing, but would have probably been a perfect score for any of the drool-enducing Megan Fox moments (read: the only good parts where things weren’t blowing the F up) in Bay’s films.
One of the few new and relatively unknown tracks from the excellent (500) Days of Summer soundtrack. I really loved this movie for so many reasons – try-hard indie or not. The choices of music fit every scene like a glove, and I’m pretty excited to see what else The Temper Trap have to offer on their full length debut.
La Roux has the best red hair in show business since Conan O’brien. I’m not however, as sold on her as say, BBC Radio, who seem to find it difficult to not play something of her’s once an hour. But ‘Bulletproof’ has amazing pop sensibilities and the strongest lyrics on her whole album in my mind. Definitely a “Song of the Summer” contender.
Toronto-native Peaches has built her musical career on being a dependable source of smut and vulgarity of the emancipated-female variety. Dozens of new young slutty artists like Uffie and Yelle owe her big for making catchy songs like ‘Slippery Dick’ and ‘Cum Undun’ acceptable in youth and family circles in Canada and across the world. With her remix of The Bird and the Bee’s danceable ‘Boyfriend’, Peaches gets grimey and demanding, making the hard electro banger as appropriate for a party at a over-run hipster lounge as a feminist rally group social.
12 | The Hood Internet – No Reason to Like You Better
The one-two punch of Peaches and this track just seem fitting for me. Amanda Blank takes a bite of Peaches with her Hood-looped couplet “I’d like you better, if we slept together”. I like her style and lack of subtlelty – so 2009. The Vega beat is also great, hitting hard in all the right places. This track, along with the former, make my top 5 Hood Internet mashups list without a doubt.
Rostam’s behind the boards producing Japanese post-techno pop with an American gaze, and using Wes Miles’ sweet voice in a less riotous way than usual. Discovery’s LP is as cheeky and satirical as it is a pleasure to listen to. From songs which literally evoke the feeling of riding a train in Japan, to mishmashes which sound like Merriweather Post-Pavillion b-sides. If I were a boy, my favorite track would have to be ‘Swing Tree’.
14 | Delorean – Seasun
Delorean have put out an incredibly whistful and pleasant new EP called Ayrton Senna. I have no idea what it means, but I would get it if I were you. With a similar aesthetic to some of the Swedish pop songs you’ll hear from Sincerely Yours darlings The Tough Alliance, ‘Seasun’ has a delicate female chant over a slowly building beat, which eventually strips down to a core of handclaps and lyrics which finally enter the track in its last chapter. From there, the last minute and a half of this song are pure bliss.
15 | jj – masterplan
I’m remaining purposely mysterious and tight-lipped on these Swedes (mostly because no one knows anything about them). The one thing that everyone is learning quite quickly though, is that their debut album, jj n° 2, is beautiful, relevant and unique. Featuring breezy pop beats, hip hop samples, interlaced references to hilarious Afro-American cinema and angelic female vocals, this album is a must get for the Summer!
Amadou and Mariam’s story still charms me to my core. Unbelievably talented as musicians, they’ve managed to use their 35 year long careers to modernize perceptions of West-African music, and along the way collaborate with familiar artists overseas. Here Theophilus London remixes the Welcome to Mali opener ‘Sabali’, giving it a nice R&B and Summery feel.
Not the Sleepyhead you’d expect, but in my mind, a delightful cover. I have no idea who Run Toto Run is, but I’m really curious after listening to their well constructed, classically-inspired cover of one of the past year’s best tracks ‘Sleepyhead’ by Passion Pit. The poignant listener will notice that there isn’t a trace of synthesizer on this cover. Let this track be the bridge between your Summer and Fall sounds – strings and harps will replace synths. This is death of synth-pop – moment of silence.
Download | The ‘Summer in Synths’ Mixtape