Summer Mix 2020, Part 1: Day

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Summer is a little weird this year. You can’t turn on a sweet new summer playlist during a party or barbecue when those parties and barbecues don’t exist. But hopefully there’s still plenty of time to bump some summery bops at home, in the car, or during your socially distant hangouts. Here’s a collection of songs that should do the trick.

The tracklist, along with YouTube and Spotify versions of the playlist are at the bottom. But first, some notes:

  • Every year, there’s a semi-official (to me, anyway) “song of the summer.” Last year, it was “Old Town Road.” In 2018, it was “Nice for What” by Drake. In 2017, it was “Slide” by Calvin Harris, Frank Ocean, and Migos. This year, it’s “Savage (Remix)” by Megan Thee Stallion and Beyoncé, which opens up this mix.
  • I usually don’t include two songs by the same artist on the same mix/mixtape, but the new HAIM album was too good, and too “built for summer,” to only include one of their tracks. And there’s yet another HAIM song coming on Part 2 of this mix, as well.
  • “Dragonball Durag” is the funniest song of 2020.
  • It was a game time decision between “Overlord” and “Lose Your Love” by Dirty Projectors. I went with “Overlord,” but you should check out “Lose Your Love” too.
  • Yes, that’s Amber Mark covering Nirvana. And it rules.
  • I just want to shout out Waxahatchee, Tame Impala, and Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, who (along with HAIM) all made killer albums this year. Check out the whole albums when you get a chance.
  • “Summer Mix 2020, Part 2: Night” coming soon!

Tracklist (meant to be played top to bottom, no shuffle):

1. Megan Thee Stallion ft. Beyoncé: “Savage (Remix)”
2. HAIM: “The Steps”
3. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever: “Cars in Space”
4. Waxahatchee: “Can’t Do Much”
5. Childish Gambino: “Feels Like Summer”
6. Thundercat: “Dragonball Durag”
7. Dirty Projectors: “Overlord”
8. Tennis: “Need Your Love”
9. Whitney: “Valleys (My Love)”
10. Tame Impala: “Breathe Deeper”
11. Kamaiyah: “Go Crazy”
12. Amber Mark: “Heart-Shaped Box”
13. Hazel English: “Wake UP!”
14. Alex G: “Southern Sky”
15. Rosalía & Ozuna: “Yo x Ti, Tu x Mi”
16. Caribou: “Home”
17. HAIM: “Gasoline”
18. Pure X: “Stayed Too Long”

Best Albums of 2016

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With the gradual proliferation of streaming services and curated playlists, for a while it didn’t look likely that the “album” format would survive. Yet here we are, at a time where the biggest pop stars are releasing cohesive, fully developed ALBUMS, in capital letters. I will always have a soft spot for the album as a concept, whether contained on discs of vinyl or within links to Spotify pages. Smash hits lie alongside deep cuts to form one 30-70 minute statement reflecting the artist’s pain and joy, their view of the world, their quest to express the words in their head and the riffs in their gut. Here are my 25 favorite albums of 2016.

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Five Quality Tracks: June 2016

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1. The Avalanches: “Colours”

In Stereogum’s review of the Avalanches long-awaited sophomore album, Wildflower, Chris DeVille points out the group’s knack for creating a “sensation of somehow simultaneously swimming and soaring.” After captivating the underground music community with their thrilling, unique debut Since I Left You in 2000, the Avalanches fell off the face of the earth for 16 years. They would occasionally tease a follow-up album, but nothing would ever come of it — until now. That swimming and soaring sensation DeVille mentioned is what makes the Avalanches so special, and the wait for Wildflower completely worth it.

“Colours” is a vibrant smorgasbord of swirling sounds, floating in an out of focus, resulting in a song both stimulating and soothing. “Colours” demonstrates another quality unique to the Avalanches: their ability to make a song that can soundtrack a party as naturally as it can drift through your ears as you fall asleep. Unbelievably, counter to the Avalanches’ usual modus operandi, the track contains no samples, so the backmasked vocals and whirlwind of sound were all recorded by the group. The flutes, bells, strings, and airy vocals combine to form a kind of ice-cream truck psychedelia.

 
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Five Quality Tracks: January 2016 + Bonus: Five Great Bowie Moments

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These “Five Quality Tracks” posts stress me out. I want to pick 15 tracks, not 5. January was a really good month, and I’m passing over a lot of good songs from Hinds, Wet, Eleanor Friedberger, and even the guy who you see everyday in the header photo of this very website, Ty Segall! I can’t believe I didn’t include them. That must mean these next five songs are really good. Also, keep scrolling after the tracks for a bonus section with some of my favorite David Bowie moments.

1. Chairlift: “Moth to the Flame”

The indie pop duo Chairlift have been around for a few years, but they’ve always been somewhat of a footnote to me. They had a song in 2012 called “I Belong in Your Arms” that I really liked, but I hadn’t really heard anything else by them. They just released their new album Moth and it’s chock-full of jams. I was *THIS* close to selecting another track, the slightly emo but deeply affecting and equally awesome “Crying in Public” as my Chairlift representative. But I couldn’t ignore the sugary, danceable beat to “Moth to the Flame.” This is catchy, reach-for-the-stars, indie pop at its finest.

 
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