Well, looks like summer is about over. Folks are thinking about cardigans and leaves and witch house. National coffee chains are gearing up for the annual poisoning of American millennials.
But hold on there, folks. Don’t drink that last Corona. Have you picked a Blocland-certified Song of the Summer™? Until then, no one gets into that autumn spirit.
The following are the selections from our staff. Legally they are your only options for your personal Song of the Summer. Thank you. Here’s the list.
“Canary Yellow” was my first choice for Song of the Summer. Deafheaven’s Ordinary Corrupt Human Love was most assuredly my summer album of choice. Its release date in July timed out to deliver that Deafheaven goodness in the midst of another globally warmed summer. Combined with Deafheaven taking a lighter and more positive approach to song craft coupled with the season even better. Seeing them live in August only cemented their “Champions of Summer” status in my mind.
But I decided not to go with “Canary Yellow” as my pick. While “Canary Yellow” defines the feelings of summer so well with lovers’ blood melting into one, “Near” acts as its sunscreen. “Near” is the balm that calms when the sun smells too loud. Light on lyrics, heavy on mood, “Near” appears minor but is a major achievement in Deafheaven’s band arc. Gone are the ambient washes of noise that punctuated their previous summer banger Sunbather. Here in the now we have a full-fledged song that any basic-ass band would kill to write.
“Wishing you were near.” Congratulations Deafheaven on championing the summer and writing your own “Wish You Were Here” in the process.
– Raptor Jesus
What do we want from a Song of The Summer?
No – what do we need? Because a Song of The Summer is essential for some people; the ones who live and breathe with a tune in their heads and a melody in their hearts, the ones who follow the ups and downs of popular music like a sabermetrician watching the relative WARs fluctuate. They crave one song to latch onto every summer – to transport them to a sandy beach or a convertible slightly speeding with the top down, to assist them in finding an ever-so-brief respite from the day-to-day drudgery of their lives, and to transcend them and with them while painting their glasses the sweetest summer hues.
“High Horse” by Kacey Musgraves is just such a song. The song from her charming 2018 album Golden Hour was released as a single on June 25, just in time to pump it on your patio with your American flag, brats on the grill and intense conflicting emotions of joy and fear in your head. The song caused quite a stir with just its first 8 seconds where the funky bassline and EQ-sweep-like-you’re-in-the-next-room-at-the-club kick the doors open to let everybody know – this ain’t your pappy’s country music.
Really, it would be a stretch to call it country at all, though it shares some of the genre’s lyrical references and idiosyncrasies. Musgraves drops John Wayne’s name in the first line, as if to immediately remind you that she still has a foot in where she came from. She is still part of the Willie Nelson and John Prine school of songwriting where silly puns, clever wordplay, quiet moments and tragic vignettes that cut to the quick are equal and essential parts. Her straightforward lyricism and pop melodicism aren’t for everybody but she shows herself here as a meticulous craftswoman and worthy successor to the greats before her.
After the intro, it’s a Daft-Punk-esque disco banger, exquisitely produced with care in every corner and polish on every sound. At 3:34, it’s the perfect length for a pop gem and summer jammer. There’s a melancholy minor key bridge that goes into a handclap breakdown before soaring into a final chorus (with banjo accompaniment, bookending the disco song with country identifiers) before the last second. The bottom drops out from under the song. Musgraves’s voice is left hanging in the air and your heart is there with her, left wanting.
Then you hit repeat.
– Saul Wright
Charli XCX – “Girls Night Out“
I didn’t have a great summer. Sure, I did my fair share of cliched summery things, but I went through a lot of crap. Sometimes the crap bled into the moments when I was supposed to be having a “good time,” making my whole summer experience seem a little phony.
Anyway, my Song of the Summer is a silly synth-pop banger, a glossy and delicious single from pop princess Charli XCX that never fails to slap a stupid grin on my face. But beyond the superficial sheen, it’s a welcome catharsis. Charli calls out “No boys no boys!” demanding we leave the toxic shit at home and enjoy a night with people give a damn about us. Even if it’s just a fleeting moment of joy during a dreadful summer, at least you had that moment. Thanks, Charli.
P.S. This song is not to be confused with “Girls.” That thing is trash.
Thou – “Non-Entity”
Summer 2018 belongs to Thou. I’d be tempted to make that claim even if their absurdly ambitious plan to release three EPs and a full-length on four different record labels didn’t pan out in the high quality material that it has. You just have to respect that kind of hustle. They kicked off May with The House Primordial; a hazy squall of blackened noise that played to their more savage tendencies. They followed-up with the acoustic slowcore of Inconsolable. For the third and final EP, they placed the grunge of Soundgarden alongside Southern metal titans like Down and Crowbar. Naturally, Rhea Sylvia finds Thou striding into much more melodic territory and the results are much more substantial than what anyone could’ve reasonably expected.
Thou songs tend to feel more like nihilistic screeds against the modern world read by an unhinged street preacher than, ya know, songs. Recognizable structures are done away with for thick droning sludge and melodies are carried by grime-y guitars while Bryan Funck rips his voice to shreds. But, on Rhea Sylvia, those feral vocals prove to be a surprisingly capable vessel for hooks and sticky melodies. No other track on the EP better captures past and present Thou than “Non-Entity”. We get Thou-isms like “Amidst all the trembles and groans, senses and will lose shape” packaged in a way that demands ear worm hums later on. Thou’s typically sizable scale and sweltering humidity is dialed back a touch for necessary flexibility while managing to retain impact. Look, this probably isn’t the song that’s going to soundtrack top-down drives by the beach with your partner and couple smoothies in hand. But it will serve as a particularly enthralling companion for a lone, barefoot walk along the shore just as the sun dips beneath the waves.
– Lobster Man