Ah summer, you’re already starting to fade a bit on me. Nights getting a bit darker, a bit cooler. And the ‘back to school’ cacophony is reaching a fever pitch! So let’s honour the sun, sand and “move like a wayward summer breeze …” one more time!
I first heard Chicago’s Fruit Bats on their break out single “Rainbow Sign” from their 2003 album Mouthfuls and loved the mix of acoustic guitars, pianos and vocal harmonies. And the hooks! 2016’s comeback album (of sorts) Absolute Loser had so many highlights like “From a Soon-to-be Ghost Town” and the infectious banjo-driven “Humbug Mountain Song.” Now they’re back with Gold Past Life and get a load of the Cat Stevens-ish guitar picking on the beautiful single “Ocean.” It’s a song that builds slowly into a delightful, swirling summer set piece. Sweden’s Eggstone typically offer up a dreamy pop sound that leans heavily on summer themes over their three albums and five EPs from the 1990s. But my favourite tune from them has a bit tougher indie pop gloss on it, “Against the Sun” from their 1994 album Sommersault. The song has a great set of AM radio hooks circa the late 1970s poprock scene. Eggstone “Against the Sun”
You’d think being an award winner sports writer would be enough? You’d be wrong. Washington Post sports writer Dave Sheinin is also an accolade-collecting poprock songwriter and performer. His 2018 release First Thing Tomorrow had me reaching for the thesaurus to find new ways to describe how fabulous it was. Now he’s back with a summer single that beautifully captures the wistful mixture of feelings that accompany the hot season. Warning: hit play on the “The Lies of Summer” and you may be subject to a case of earworm that is hard to cure. If there was a contest for unofficial indie band of the summer, The Kickstand Band would definitely be in the running. Over the course of their EPs and one full length album, I count no less than five songs with ‘summer’ in the title and host of others on related themes (e.g. ‘sun,’ ‘sunshine,’ ‘sunburn,’ etc.). I love their sound, which oscillates between dabs of Beach Boys, Everly Brothers and Simon and Garfunkel vocal harmony influences combined with just a undercurrent of jagged punkiness. Goosebump city indeed! But this time out I’m featuring their cover of Brian Hyland’s 1962 hit “Sealed with a Kiss.” Hard to improve on this classic but the Detroit duo do an impressive job: smooth, a bit eerie, with an innovative horn section instrumental interlude.
Summer, it seems like I hardly got to know you. Now you’re nearly gone. Well, I’ll still have the music to get me through the long cold Canadian months ahead. Honour the summer contributions from Fruit Bats, Eggstone, Dave Sheinin, and The Kickstand Band online by clicking the hyperlinks.
Pool photo courtesy Larry Gordon.