What I wrote last year when I issued the first of this type of list still aptly describes my feelings on the subject:
Part of the joy of summer is listening to music, whether it’s outside on a sunny day, by the water, at the cottage, or out for a jog. And often times, the summer songs that give us pleasure aren’t necessarily new. Listening to old(er/ish) songs during summer has a unique power: it can place us in a memory from the distant past, make time seem to stand still, and fill a moment with pure, unencumbered peace. It has the power to conspire with the elements, warm, sun-filled air, whistling trees, and roving clouds, to make one smile. That’s some kind of experience.
Here’s a list of the “oldies” that helped make the summer of 2015 a special one. My top ten songs of summer 2015 that are not from 2015:
10. Band of Horses – Laredo/Detlef Schrempf
The guitar work in Laredo will never get old. The way Ben Bridwell croons “a kitchen knife up to my face” won’t either.
It’s been almost eight years since Band of Horses released Cease To Begin. It had been a while since the sad beauty of “Detlef Schrempf” fell on my ears. That was too long. It’s still an immaculate song, like a prolonged exhale in the most peaceful of settings.
9. Tiga – Hot In Here
The amount of swag in this cover cannot be contained or defined by any year.
8. I’m From Barcelona – We’re From Barcelona
This is exhibit #3,207,471 why the Swedes are amazing at music. I hadn’t heard this song in a couple years before I heard it again this summer. It made me smile from ear to ear when I first heard it and its effect has not waned.
7. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Y Control
So much energy. So much power. It’ll always be Karen O and then everyone else.
6. 5ive – If Ya Gettin’ Down
Rick Jordan demanding to hear 5ive on the way back from seeing a movie lead to this rediscovery. It’s hard not to get down, get jiggy, and sing along with this ditty.
5. James – Laid
A sing-a-long song to conquer all sing-a-long songs. The melody is an all-time classic. This song has never gotten old and it never will.
4. Under The Influence Of Giants – Mama’s Room/In The Clouds
Even before AWOLNATION, Aaron Bruno and his crew had a way with melody. Awolnations’s new album prompted me to get back into UTIOG. These two songs were always my favourites and they’ve held up really well.
3. Travis – Selfish Jean/Closer/Writing To Reach You
I’d not forgotten how great of a band Travis is, I just hadn’t been reminded of that fact until this summer. Fran Healy and company were/are such gifted song constructors. Melodies, lyrics, and videos. They did it all. I got back into pretty much every Travis song that I love this summer, but here are three that I particularly enjoyed listening to again. The live version of “Writing To Reach You” shows how phenomenal they are live.
2. Oasis – Supersonic
Oasis are one of my all-time favourite bands. They affected me (as they did countless others) in a way that no other band can touch. It’s been more than 20 years since they burst onto the scene, and no one has come close to replicating the rock’n’roll swagger of Liam, Noel, and their Mancunian brethren. I don’t think there’s been a year where I haven’t listened to Oasis a lot, so it wouldn’t be fair to say that I’d forgotten about them or their legendary songs. But something happened with regard to “Supersonic” this summer.
I heard the tune several times in serendipitous circumstances. In pubs, on the radio, in surround sound. And although I’ve always been in awe of its incomparable bravado and machismo, I think the song’s immaculate melody and stonehenge heavy guitars filled a new space in my brain. I was taken aback, and I was in love with the revelation. It’s now right there with “Champagne Supernova” as my favourite Oasis song of all-time. The live version I’ve linked below is from an MTV broadcast in 1994. Liam is hilariously stoic but his voice sounds sensational. But what makes this clip is what makes the record version too. That 10-foot-thick concrete wall of guitars. Combined with a melody that couldn’t be more perfect, and you have, hands down, one of the best rock songs of the last 25 years.
1. Jamie T – Alicia Quays
I adored this song several years back. I even got to hear it at Toronto’s V-fest in 2007. But I think I’d forgotten about it because Jamie T either hasn’t done much or he just hasn’t come to my attention since then. “Alicia Quays” is still vicious. The raw, unencumbered, feverish emotion that Jamie T sings/raps/pleads/spits is still as compelling as the day I first heard it. Perhaps even more so because it’s very rare that a song can be this furiously frenetic. The beat is still so fucking sharp. The bass is incredible. The keyboard touches are sublime. This song was one of my favourites in the year that it was released. And now, over eight years later, I can say, with certainty, that “Alicia Quays” is a classic. A classic that perhaps never got the attention it deserved, but a classic nevertheless. Still absolutely vital.