Cabana Wear, Earlimart, Michael Slawter, Monnone Alone, Propeller, Steven Wright-Mark, Sweden, The Speedways, Tommy and the Rockets, Velvet Crush, Vista Blue
With sunshine and a hint of spring heat in the air, people are starting to think about summer. And just what is summer going to be like with face masks and gloves and social distancing? It’s going to look like a very polite zombie apocalypse, that’s what. Acerbic Toronto-based pop artist Rob Elliott colourfully captures our likely regimented future in the above graphic (check out his hilarious, biting Pandemic Diary) so I’ll do a creative take on the music side of things.
What got me thinking on this theme was hearing “Almost Summer” from Steven Wright-Mark’s 2012 LP My Plastic World. I’d heard it poking around his three albums of material on iTunes after checking out his latest EP Wake UP!, which is also pretty special (personally, I’m loving “Underground” from the new release). It’s got ringing guitars and shimmery harmony vocals – I mean, what’s not to like? Denmark’s Tommy and the Rockets come on a bit more Beach Boys-meets-Ramones on “Here Comes Summer.” You can almost smell the mixture of stale beer and salt sea air. London’s The Speedways suggest we’re headed for “Just Another Regular Summer.” Uh, not. Of course nobody in 2018 could predict we’d be stuck in pandemic town. San Francisco’s Propeller may short out the details on their blissful Teenage Fanclubby “Summer Arrives” but the feeling of freedom is definitely real.
Steven Wright-Mark – Almost Summer
But what is summer 2020 going to be like? Norway’s Sweden might be banking on a “Barefoot Summer.” I love the rush of this track, with its hooky descending lead guitar lines and pounding piano. Summer sounds fun here. Or it could be the “Summer of the Mosquito” if Melbourne’s Monnone Alone have anything to say about it. The title track of their 2019 release has the band sounding like a slightly less manic version of Titus Andronicus and that is totally OK. LA’s Earlimart haven’t released much in the last decade but one of their more recent songs was “Internet Summer,” surely a prescient 45 given our present circumstances. Everything will be just fine sing Vista Blue on their California-summer-1963 coated “Summer Wonderland” from last December’s EP Hit the Floor! I definitely feel like revving my woody (if only I knew what that was). Not bad for four boys from New Orleans presently camping out in Nashville.
Sweden – Barefoot SummerEarlimart – Internet Summer
Frankly, I think Velvet Crush literally crush all rivals in this 2020 summer song sweepstakes with “Weird Summer.” Yes, Bryan Hyland, it’s gonna be a long, lonely summer this time around. But there’s positive vibes out there aplenty with melodic treats like Michael Slawter’s “Summer’s Kind” on the turntable. Check out that sweet, sweet hooky lead guitar line! Finally, let’s leave things with grunge-meets-powerpop super group Cabana Wear and their song “Summer.” It’s peppy and a bit ambiguous, kinda like our future.
Velvet Crush – Weird Summer
With summer tours cancelled and musicians everywhere desperately strumming their acoustic guitars online for e-change, it’s definitely time to pony up for some great recordings. Like these. Do the click thing and get the money-go-round moving.