Summer Time Blues



Time to get up on your good foot and download ten new music tracks to stave off your summertime blues. Some very fine music has found its way to my desktop as of late, and I'm quite keen to share some of it with all of you. My latest music mantra has been discovering those songs that have that "karaoke" vibe: You can actually hum, sing, or whistle the melody. You remember melody, right? Forget vibe, as there are plenty of bands and artists with vibe. I want to be swallowed up by melody. If you want my esoteric picks, I'm afraid you'll have to wait for my next list. It's summertime, so I need something to drive my driven wheel. Without further ado...

"Driving" Setting Sun Fantasurreal (Young Love Records)

And speaking of driving, check out the project of Gary Leavitt, AKA Setting Sun. This infectious little lo-fi, head-bopping, synth-percolating, Kraftwerk-like ditty will have you slinking down the suburban side streets or negotiating the summer traffic of any major thoroughfare with much more ease and comfort. Clocking in at very gas-efficient 2:33!

"Saturday Sun" Crowded House Intriguer (Fantasy)

Glorious pop-rock majesty from Neil Finn and his House-mates as they continue to define the sophisticated side of thinking man's pop-rock music 25 years on. This nugget really soars when it hits the bridge and then breaks off into wicked solo guitar territory. Sumptuous. On tour, too. Don't miss them.

"Float and Fall" Meklit Hadero On a Day Like This... (Porto Franco)

Quite possibly informed by Tracy Chapman, Nina Simone, and Joan Armatrading, but regardless this Ethiopian-born, Brooklyn-raised singer-songwriter gets it going on her debut. Now sharing her magic with fans and friends in adopted hometown of San Francisco.

"Loser" Glee: The Music, Funk (Columbia)

A guilty pleasure -- the show that is. And those of us who loved Beck's original version always knew it was a timeless alt-rap-pop classic. Why this reworked slide guitar-savvy cover works in the context of this silly teen soap is quite apparent. And my 8-year-old has been singing it so much that her 11-year-old brother has threatened serious bodily harm if she continues. Now that's Karaoke!

"Baby Lee" Teenage Fanclub Shadows (Merge)

The Scottish quartet is back! 22 years on and still...ahh, the comforting chime of the Byrdsian guitars, the vocal harmonies, the soaring melodies, no, the sing-song melodies, a handbook on melodies. People, if you don't know them by now, shame on you. We gave away this track on this site months ago.

"Electrocution" Nada Surf If I Had A Hi-Fi (Mardev Records)

From their new covers-only effort; this was penned by Clevelander Bill Fox of '80s Mice fame. Even more jangle and strum from America's answer to Scotland's Fanclub. Wow! I'm smitten by those chiming Rickenbackers ringing in my ears. This is my favorite single and album of the summer, so far.

"Alejandro" Lady GaGa The Fame Monster (Interscope)

ABBA-meets-Madge sugar-pop confection. So good for your sweet and sexy tooth. The video is fantastic, albeit a tad too long and too indulgent -- an homage to several homages; referenced pop culture references worn dramatically by our favorite Lady on her sleeveless sleeve. Best to stick with the single.

"Walking Shoes" Halsted Life Underwater (Asbury Records)

From singer-songwriter Ryan Auffenberg, a new moniker and new CD to add to his growing canon of work. Two parts Posies, one part Fountains of Wayne, and a dash of Route 66, pedal-to-the-metal, driving pop-rock blast for driving all night. Pure pop-rock for road-worthy travelers.

"Fresh" DEVO Something for Everybody (Warner)

Only 20 short years since their previous proper studio effort. And they let their fans chose the final songs. This bubbly, driving, dance-along single sounds like an inverted "Whip It," but who cares when all that is has devolved before and since. Time for all good Spuds to unite...again!

"Laredo" Band of Horses Infinite Arms (Columbia)

Okay, so hate me, but contrary to many muso critics, this is way catchier than anything on The National's High Violet. Neil Young-guitar crunch and a slightly skewed galloping beat keeps your head bobbing and feet tapping throughout. Rock me, baby, like you...