(Belated) Summer Picks

It’s a typical Tuesday. It’s -15 at home in Northern Minnesota, it’s a little brisk (but not bad) here in Chicago, and I was scrolling through Facebook this morning. What wasn’t normal, though, is a post I saw – nothing bad, I promise. In fact, it inspired me. Kari Hedlund, the music director for Northern Community Radio (the station I interned for this summer,) posted a picture of some of the CDs of the warmer months, and asked for suggestions on our favorite summer albums. Let’s just say I left a pretty lengthy comment that left me feeling unsatisfied. So here we are. Now that it’s December, let’s warm up a little with my hottest “summer” favorites. (Ha ha ha… no? Okay. I’ll stop.) I know some of these didn’t come out this summer, but I discovered them over the summer. So I count them as summer. Deal with it.

(In no particular order…)

Nickel Creek – A Dotted Line
The first vinyl I got of the summer (why it’s listed above LSD, honestly.) You probably have heard “Destination”, but I think “Rest of my Life” is underrated, even though it is the first track on the record. This was my first Nickel Creek experience, and after some research, I found that Nickel Creek is famous for their instrumentals. Then I listened to “Elsie” and “Elephant in the Corn” a lot more — and realized why they’re so popular for them. A recent favorite of mine is also “You Don’t Know What’s Going On.” A solid record through and through.

Lake Street Dive – Bad Self Portraits
It’s too bad that it took so long for me to fall in love with this record, but I absolutely adore every single song on this one. The title track is catchy, “You Go Down Smooth” has an on-point chorus, “Just Ask” makes me feel certain kinds of way, “Bobby Tanqueray” is becoming another most-played. I could go on and on, but this post is already going to be far too long. Listen to it. Absolute perfection.

Jack White – Lazaretto 
Honestly, I got into Lazaretto because of the vinyl, but it’s hard to get this into a record just because of the cool features. It’s another near-perfect record. Lots of guitar solos, harder rock, and softer rock. 100% — and the vinyl… just… *perfect hand sign emoji*

Trampled by Turtles – Wild Animals
It’s necessary to talk about TBT since I’m a Minnesotan, but this record was the first record I was excited about for the 2014 summer. “Are You Behind the Shining Star” and “Wild Animals” are two that come to mind on this one, as probably with the rest of the world. It’s a little more more low-key record than their previous work, but still purely Trampled all the same.

The Apache Relay – Apache Relay
This is one of those records you can’t listen to enough times. Each track flows into the next so smoothly, and if “Katie Queen of Tennessee” or “Happiest Day of Your Life” isn’t stuck in your head for days to come after you get to listen to it a few times, you probably listened to it wrong or you have something stuck in your ear.

Haley Bonar – Last War
Although I haven’t been able to listen to this record as much as I would have liked before including it on this list, I think that says something about it, too. The title track “Last War” and “Woke Up In My Future” stuck in my head enough to include it, and I’m looking forward to getting more acquainted with it over winter break. I’ve heard nothing but good things from my other musician

The Black Keys – Turn Blue
The first album I picked up because it was suggested by Kari, “In Time” immediately stuck out to me. In fact, it was on my running playlist (the most coveted playlist in my library, for sure,) for more than a lot of others have lasted. Some other note-able tracks: “Gotta Get Away”, “In Our Prime”, and “Waiting on Words.” Through and through, a great hit for The Black Keys. (If you want to get me something for Christmas, this on vinyl wouldn’t be a bad idea.)

Tom the Lion – Sleep
Far too under appreciated, Tom the Lion is one of those British singer-songwriters. I first became enthralled with this record because of “Come to Life,” but of course, the title track “Sleep” is a pretty solid track, too (it’s the most played of his on Spotify.) It’s another one of those records that blends nicely, and you can’t listen to it enough times.

Conor Oberst – Upside Down Mountain
You’ll recognize the voice as part of the Bright Eyes project, and if that’s not enough, the strategic placement of the first track,”Time Forgot”, will help you out. That one was and still is one of my favorites on this record, but you also can’t downplay “Hundreds of Ways.”

Cage the Elephant – Melophobia
A great one to mix with The Black Keys’ Turn Blue, the tracks to start out with are “Come a Little Closer”, “Cigarette Daydreams”, and “Take it or Leave it.” Those three made strong appearances not only on my personal running playlist, but also hit those Northern Community Radio airwaves almost every show that I hosted last summer.

The War on Drugs – Lost in the Dream
I think it’s hard to find someone who disagrees that this is one of the best albums not only of the summer, but of the year, and not just because it flows so easily from one song to the next. I would put my ‘new music of the summer’ playlist on shuffle, and every time a song came on, I’d scramble to see who it was. Without fail, every time, it was the War on Drugs. Like the rest of the public radio world, I can’t talk about this record without talking about “Under the Pressure.” Genius to have a song that’s 9 minutes long, but solid through and through. So much air time, even for one play. Unbelieveable (in a good way.)

These aren’t supposed to be objective reviews, it’s my personal favorites of the summer. Feel free to disagree, add your own, or fangirl with me. All’s welcome.

This is definitely not what I thought I’d be writing about this week, in fact, I had a different plan altogether. But Kari kind of spurred this whole thing. And look, it’s over 1k words! Way to go Erika. It’s been awhile since we had a nice, long blog post.


Author: erikabunk

Raised in Northern Minnesota. BA in Radio/Business & Entrepreneurship. Painfully average marathoner. Spends too much time on Spotify, in search of the best record store in the world, and dreams of returning to Reykjavík.

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