By Sarah Bennett
By Adam Lovinus
By Jena Ardell
By Nate Jackson
By Gustavo Arellano
By Nick Keppler
By Nate Jackson
By Alex Distefano
Summertime, and the Digging Is Easy
More sublime songs of summer. Plus, the Light Galleries' vinyl fetish
MORE ANTI-BUMMER SUMMER SONGS
Because the 1,000-plus words we spilled elsewhere ain't enough, we're going to continue with the best-summer-song theme in Sprawl of Sound. Is it hot in here? Yes, thankfully.
Beat Happening, "Indian Summer." Perhaps indie rock's foremost expression of heart-tugging camaraderie: a see-sawing, spindly guitar riff with rudimentary hand-drum patter and Calvin Johnson's deep, deadpan vocals herald the wonders of a late-season heat wave.
Boards of Canada, "Happy Cycling." Summer is prime bicycling time, and Scottish duo Boards of Canada have devised a methodically funky soundtrack for you to cruise for hours in head-bobbing industriousness. It's no "Tour de France" (not much is), but it'll help amateurs pedal in fine fettle.
Boredoms,Vision Creation Newsun. As the title implies, this sounds like the birth of a massive solar-energy source. It's as awesome as that concept would lead you to believe. Chase that with Boredoms' "House of Sun," a 20-minute track that's a deep brain-tissue massage of tamboura drones, deep gong resonances, violin and a mutated "Eight Miles High" guitar. You'll feel as if heaven's opium den is beckoning you.
Breeders, "Saints." "Summer is ready when you are," Kim Deal sagely asserts, and her band's infectious, brawny shimmy welcomes you to the warmest season with open charms.
J.J. Cale, "Call Me the Breeze." The epitome of laid-back, redneck ramblin' music (but with metronomic drum machine!), "Breeze" is hick motorik. The brisk tempo and Cale's quicksilver, fingerpicked guitar inspire the sort of unfettered propulsion that equals freedom in Americans' minds (or it did before oil companies started raping us).
Davie Allan & the Arrows, "Blues Theme." Exhaust-clouded, motor-psycho garage rock that will make even the tamest milquetoast want to mount a boss hog and zoom down the highway at 120 mph—while flipping off CHiPs.
Fleetwood Mac, "Sunny Side of Heaven." An instrumental spotlighting Danny Kirwan's dewy, pastoral guitar work, "Sunny Side of Heaven" sounds like a paraphrase of John Barry's "Midnight Cowboy" theme—it's almost unbearably beautiful and soothing.
The Free Design, "Kites Are Fun." The only hit by a group of Bible-readin', whiter-than-thou American siblings, "Kites Are Fun" is so light, sweet and sincere, it must be the diabolical handiwork of Satanists. It bears you aloft on angel wings, only to deposit you into the unbearably pleasant pit of heaven with a lethal niceness.
Hüsker Dü, "Celebrated Summer." Hüsker Dü hailed from Minnesota, where summer's a precious commodity. This song, though, finds singer/lyricist Bob Mould bemoaning his inability to escape wintery Midwestern gloom and get in the summer spirit. But the song's triumphant tunefulness offers consolation.
Ramsey Lewis, "Sun Goddess." The zenith of smooth jazz (stop snickering). This celestial, understatedly funky 1974 joint features EW&F vocalist Maurice White's soaring falsetto going "bah-bah way-OH," making us feel like we're merging with the fiery star, yet still remaining cool.
The Lovin' Spoonful, "Summer in the City." So obvious, yet so undeniable. John Sebastian's descending organ chord progression has come to define summer for millions. There could be worse summer-defining moments, for sure.
Hugh Masekala, "Grazing in the Grass." Covered by Friends of Distinction (who added ebullient vocals to Hugh's instrumental version), "Grazing in the Grass" is an easygoing cascade of highlife/R&B concision, with brass/piano riffs and cowbell plunking that advise, "Blaze a tree, relax."
Quiet Village, "Victoria's Secret." Imagine the most poignant, stately woodwinds, strings and hums from a '70s AM soul ballad (actually from the Chi-Lites' utterly gorgeous "The Coldest Days of My Life"), with field recordings of birdsongs and waves lapping at the shore. You are drifting ever so gently into a world devoid of Republicans and insurance forms.
Rotary Connection, "I Am the Black Gold of the Sun." House-music heads know Nuyorican Soul's cover of this, but the original's a kaleidoscopic dashiki of psychedelic soul that makes you think the hippies were on to something.
Sister Nancy, "Bam-Bam" and Tenor Saw & Buju Banton, "Ring the Alarm." For many in SoCal, summer is reggae season. These two songs epitomize reggae's exuberant side at its best. They share a bass line and horn motif that can't help putting an irresistible, walking-on-sunshine spring in your step, as well as a beaming grin on your mug.
T.Rex, "Mambo Sun." Sluggishly seductive glam-funk ideal for the first phase of your outdoor sexathon. Muff said . . .
The Troggs, "Last Summer." If you only know the Troggs for "Wild Thing," then you're missing out on their surprisingly wistful side, as this lovely paean to a fleeting summer romance proves. Remember: Nostalgia goes with summer like sand goes in your privates.
SEE THE LIGHT, DEAL THE WAX
This Saturday, The Light Galleries is presenting a vinyl art exhibit dubbed "The Art of Digging." From 3 to 9 p.m., you can swap records with participating vendors, including Ubiquity Records, Sound Trolley Records, Stacks Vinyl, R.A.W., Anything Fresh and many others. In between crate-digging, you can enjoy an art show featuring more than 50 artists, and then at 9 p.m. the after-party commences, with nine DJs (including Scotty Coats, Poppa, Gabe Real) and one MC (John Artoo). The event's organizers hope to raise consciousness about the importance of preserving the vinyl format, which, they argue, benefits musicians on both the financial and audiophile ends. They don't need to twist my tonearm to agree.