Summer is practically upon us, which means at some point in the coming months, every one will have an “I love this song!” moment. You may be riding in a rental car to Fire Island when it comes on the radio, or drenched in sweat in the middle of a dance floor when it pours through the speakers. Lots of sun, drinks and flings will obviously play their part, but this summer’s got some serious contenders just begging to be crowned Song of the Summer.
Of course, the winner depends as much on your taste in bands or divas as where you go out, but there are already a number of hits that just won’t go away. Rihanna’s “Rude Boy” is still blasting from countless cars and clubs, and everyone still turns up the volume when Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind” presents itself (the Alphaville rip-off “Young Forever” also has high hopes for summer chart success). With a bevy of summer releases to come, it’s still anyone’s game.
Our own Keo Nozari’s predictions for The Right Track (including the impending mega-hit in Katy Perry’s Snoop collaboration, “California Gurls”) will no doubt be on the money. And though everyone and their blogging mother’s got a Songs of the Summer list, we at Next Magazine pit the songs against each other in an online battle for number one, March Madness style. We’ll post new contenders on The Nexus every week and perhaps pronounce officially dead a few already-mentioned “hits” until only one remains.
In this official kickoff for the battle for Song of the Summer, we’d like to mention a few songs that seem like sleeper hits that only need the right gay DJ to discover them, remix the hell out of them and let it go the great gay length: Here’s hoping American Idol starboy Adam Lambert’s “Whataya Want from Me” (see Fonzerelli remixes) has got some legs. Sleeper indie band Caribou’s “Odessa” transcends time and space for a Euro-disco late-night dance party staple à la Hercules and the Love Affair’s “Blind.” Big Boi’s solo record drops in early July and the April-released “Shutterbug” is just about the funkiest thing on earth at the moment. And that’s not even the tip of the iceberg, especially if the divas have anything to say about it: Estelle, Ke$ha, Kelis, Christina, Robyn, the precious Janelle Monáe and even a new album from pop queen Kylie will give these boys a run for their money. Let the elbow-heavy battle to the top begin!
WILD CARDS Caribou “Odessa”
A sleeper hit from left field, this electro-tinged dance hit doesn’t need remixes to make men move, but they won’t hurt either.
Big Boi “Shutterbug”
The opening bass-y beat is enough to make boys and girls bump and grind uncontrollably.
We may be seeing a rebirth from the hot mom now that she’s collecting $50k+ from Nas. Now she has time to make the absolutely stunning video for this super-hit.
Sleigh Bells “Tell ‘em”
This free-for-all from the buzz worthy noise rock/rap set is helmed by M.I.A.’s label. You know, the gal who had that late summer anthem “Paper Planes.”
GAY FAVS Estelle “Freak”
The UK pop princess pulls from the dubstep mecca of London for a tweaked-out club-friendly banger, which gives her some seriously high-ranking status.
Katy Perry “California Gurls”
We’re not saying that she’s as un-talented as Miley but the subtle voice effects on this one make it sound like a 2010 “Party in the USA,” which we all secretly love.
Beyoncé “Why don’t you love me”
Another video that drunk gay boys will no doubt be YouTube-ing late into tipsy summer nights with this ’50s fashion-inspired achievement.
Christina Aguilera “Not Myself Tonight”
If it’s not this one, there’ll certainly be a few more contenders from her June studio release, Bionic. Miley Cyrus “Can’t Be Tamed”
A hilarious natural history museum romp with wings might just be what Miley needs to catapult her into the top of the pops. Lady Gaga “Alejandro”
Perhaps the Mexican vibe will feed into the Gaga frenzy this summer. And who doesn’t love to pull out their best Spanish accent once in a while? Ke$HA “Love is my drug”
The one-hit wonder who just won’t go away knows how to reel you in. Plus, her party-till-dawn attitude is the perfect soundtrack to summer.
CHART TOPPERS Rihanna “Rude Boy”
No need for a great voice to achieve greatness;Rihanna’s got fierce fashion sense, mad marketing skills and a huge team of producers. She’s struck gold with this one!
Adam Lambert “Whataya Want From Me”
Wouldn’t it be nice for a bona fide gay to come out on top this summer?
Usher Feat. Will.I.AM “OMG”
The ladies’ man has a handful of hits from his new record that are doing their best to climb to the top but this one, for whatever reason, people seem to love.
Ludacris Feat. Nicki Minaj “My Chick Bad”
That Nicki Minaj is everywhere. Thank goodness. She’s bad as hell, a new Trina if you will.
B.o.B. Feat. Bruno Mars “Nothin’ On You”
Exposure counts in some circumstances, and this debut album single is explosively popular. Perplexing, to say the least.
Caribou Swim (Merge) SOUNDS LIKE: Dreamy electronic beat-heavy sweetness from the Manitoba man suited equally for dancefloors, driving with windows open and retail shopping FREE ASSOCIATION: "Odessa" is going to be the effing jam of the summer! FOR FANS OF: Hot Chip, Koushik, Four Tet, Daft Punk
Rusko O.M.G.! (Mad Decent) SOUNDS LIKE: Leeds-bred dubstep producer's debut is an upbeat, Euro-flavored guest-littered collection of beats, synths, dance floor anthems and lounge jams FREE ASSOCIATION: Not sure any of these live up to "Cockney Thug" FOR FANS OF: Caspa, Chromeo meets The Bug, Zomby x Jersey
Jamie Lidell Compass (Warp) SOUNDS LIKE: The beatbox and producer extraordinaire drops a sick collection of funky, filthy neo-soul songs full of exciting, catchy moments of headbobs FREE ASSOCIATION: Oh snap! Beck and Feist show up, but can't steal the show FOR FANS OF: Super_Collider, Prince and Aphex Twin, UK white soul
The Black Keys Brothers (Nonesuch) SOUNDS LIKE: They keep it fresh each time, taking their brand of bluesy two-piece garage rock to different places, this one's a bit more upbeat and radio-friendly FREE ASSOCIATION: Here we catch tambourines, whistles, and handclaps; rejoice FOR FANS OF: Silver Jews, White Stripes, Rapture, Drummer Pernice Brothers Goodbye, Killer (Ashmont Records) SOUNDS LIKE: Mature folk-minded man rock with Joe Pernice's gentle voice at the front, spooned by acoustic and electric guitars and sensitivity FREE ASSOCIATION: Hear it wafting from your local County Fair, along with the smell of cow poop FOR FANS OF: Guster, Wallflowers, Counting Crows, Michael Penn The Futureheads The Chaos (Dovecote/Nul Records) SOUNDS LIKE: Energetic, feisty power rock on the edge of punk from a band of Brit friends who listened to a lot of Buzzcocks when they were kids FREE ASSOCIATION: There are no breaks here, fast paced fist-pump rock start to finish FOR FANS OF: The Jam, Wire, The Clash, harder Franz Ferdinand
The Fractals Heavy Rotation (Kevinski Music/BMI) SOUNDS LIKE: The Huffamoose alum's debut LP is a sprawling, moody masterpiece of modern rock that's not emo or whiney, nor trendy or retro; it's just right FREE ASSOCIATION: These guys will do well with WXPN - lovely soft adult rock FOR FANS OF: Steely Dan, Robin Thicke sings for the Verve
Theotis Joe After Hours (Rokbox Productions) SOUNDS LIKE: Philly's own Mr. Joe is a stylish, smart and beat-savvy emcee with a caramel voice and smooth delivery on his soulful R&B-flavored LP FREE ASSOCIATION: The collabs with Latebloom are solid and funktastic FOR FANS OF: The Roots meets Air, Raphael Saadiq plus Robyn A LIVE LINK!
The National High Violet (4 AD) SOUNDS LIKE: Sensitive rock juggernauts from Brooklyn do what they do well - lyrical songs, gentle brass and strings, drunk broken hearts FREE ASSOCIATION: Glad that they kept it quiet, fame and money usually means more of everything FOR FANS OF: Wilco, Sloan, Denali, Smiths, Grizzly Bear
The Dead Weather Sea of Cowards (Warner Brothers) SOUNDS LIKE: Mr. White can nearly do no wrong with his bluesy and energetic band - spasms of glamour, punk and classic rock on their sophomore homerun FREE ASSOCIATION: Thought Horehound was a one-off? This one's even better FOR FANS OF: Them Crooked Vultures, Eagles of Death Metal, cursing
Laura Marling I Speak Because I Can (Astralwerks) SOUNDS LIKE: A thrilling second effort from the shockingly talented 20 year old British voice who is poised to make sturdy, beautifully timeless records FREE ASSOCIATION: It's like she opens her mouth and lifetimes of sorrow come out FOR FANS OF: Joni Mitchell, Martha Wainwright, Noah and the Whale
Kon & Amir Present Off Track Volume III: Brooklyn (BBE) SOUNDS LIKE: Obscure disco, funk, and straight-up urban soul on two discs of blissed-out synths, beats, and lusty vocals to fill out blaxploitation soundtracks FREE ASSOCIATION: Imagine afros, roller skates, dance lines and polyester FOR FANS OF: Taxie, Galaxy, Parliament, Gap Band, War, James Brown
Flying Lotus Cosmogramma (Warp) SOUNDS LIKE: LA DJ who's Coltrane-lineage is shown here on his third glitchy, dubstep experimentally electronic compositions of groovetastic beats FREE ASSOCIATION: Sweet Thom Yorke and Thundercat collabs, let the remixing begin! FOR FANS OF: RJD2, Four Tet, Madlib, The Bug, Caribou
The New Pornographers Together (Matador) SOUNDS LIKE: Predictably solid, lively and rich indie rock swelling with harmonies and choruses from the Carl Newman and Neko Case-fronted supergroup FREE ASSOCIATION: They may seem cookie cutter, but those cookies are damn tasty FOR FANS OF: Fleetwood Mac x Belle & Sebastian, Swimmers, collectives
Japandroids No Singles (Polyvinyl) SOUNDS LIKE: Ten songs from their first two EPs from the Vancouver duo of garage-flavored punk-tinged rock full of feedback, drums, guitars and anthemic choruses FREE ASSOCIATION: This is just as good as Post-Nothing; please give us another LP FOR FANS OF: Thermals, Sonic Youth, No Age, Liars
LCD Soundsystem This Is Happening (DFA) SOUNDS LIKE: Lovely third record from the neo-disco superman - ambient and irresistible beat-heavy electro dance so much better than "Drunk Girls" FREE ASSOCIATION: Sound of Silver had more stories; this is about clean, sophisticated beats FOR FANS OF: !!!, New Order, the Rapture, dancing
Broken Social Scene Forgiveness Rock Record (Arts & Crafts) SOUNDS LIKE: They've done it again with 59 minutes of heartfelt indie rock with a dozen+ musicians, effects, instruments, vocalists and biting lyricism FREE ASSOCIAITON: Does justice to You Forgot It In People and the self-titled, which is huge! FOR FANS OF: Metric, Stars, Feist, Beck, Pavement, makeups and breakups
Band of Horses Infinite Arms (Fat Possum/Columbia) SOUNDS LIKE: The Carolinas via Seattle echoey southern rock idols grow and deliver on their third with a tender, thought out record of mid-tempo gems FREE ASSOCIAITON: Don't let the first single, "Compliments," fool you, this one's got teeth FOR FANS OF: Sparklehorse, Grand Archives, My Morning Jacket, beards
Gogol Bordello Trans-Continental Hustle (American Recordings) SOUNDS LIKE: The gypsy punk's follow-up to the fame-inducing Super Taranta! is a lot of the same; storms of accordion, fiddles and gravelly accented english FREE ASSOCIAITON: Didn't Rick Rubin used to produce hip hop records? We're confused FOR FANS OF: The Pogues, Devotchka, Slavic Soul Party!
Damien Jurado Saint Bartlett (Secretly Canadian) SOUNDS LIKE: Unbelievable batch of stripped-down mystic folk from the Seattle former punk whose gentle voice and earnest songs are gorgeous FREE ASSOCIAITON: For longtime fans it's business as usual, for newbies it's a welcome gut-puncher FOR FANS OF: David Bazan, Donavan, Van Morrison, Nick Drake
Pearly Gate Music Pearly Gate Music (Barsuk) SOUNDS LIKE: Debut of NW's Zach Tillman is a sparse, smart and brilliantly executed singer songwriter statement of tempos, moods, and imagery FREE ASSOCIAITON: If this is what you hear when you get to heaven, it's time for some church FOR FANS OF: Fleet Foxes, Neil Young, Menomena/Ramona Falls
Sage Francis Li(f)e (Anti) SOUNDS LIKE: Rhode Island white rapper/poet gets some big help on his Anti debut, Death Cab's Jason Walla and Grandaddy's Jason Lytle to name a couple FREE ASSOCIAITON: Tough to take this guy seriously sometimes; 'OK, you deep, we get it' FOR FANS OF: Busdriver, Atmosphere, Buck 65, ICP's "Miracles"
Jeremy Jay Splash (K Records) SOUNDS LIKE: LA indie pop newcomer's take on dreamy rock is a meandering, spacey and moody record channeling Buddy Holly and Stephen Malkmus FREE ASSOCIAITON: This could be the soundtrack of movies; edgy indie ones, though FOR FANS OF: Modest Mouse, Win Butler/Arcade Fire, The Smell
Widespread Panic Dirty Side Down (Widespread Records/ATO) SOUNDS LIKE: The GA-born stoner jam icons picked up where the Dead left off in terms of making noodly, bluegrass-flavored free form hippie dance fests FREE ASSOCIAITON: They've been playing together for over 25 years and it sounds it; they old FOR FANS OF: String Cheese, moe., Blind Melon, O.A.R.
Sometimes, the darkest moments in life turn out to be a turning point towards something pretty great. Tragedy can stimulate creativity. John Petkovic found this out for himself after his mom died. He headed east and found himself on the Vermont doorstep of his friend Dave Sweetapple. Sweetapple called his friend J. Mascis to jam and the musical sparks started flying. Before you know it, you have another rock supergroup on your hands; Mascis (vocals/guitar) is well known as the front man of Dinosaur Jr., Petkovic (vocals/guitar) comes from Cobra Verde and Guided by Voices, and Sweetapple (bass) plays with stoner rock band Witch. When you mix it all together you get a metallic, hard-rocking and cathartic record with legs on Love & Desparation.
It’s tempting to dismiss supergroups, but we know from success stories like Them Crooked Vultures, Eagles of Death Metal and The Dead Weather that playing musical chairs with talented and seasoned rockers sometimes strikes gold. Strangely, opener “Do You Remember” is far from indicative of the rest of the record. Its energy is contagious with breakneck drumming, relentless guitar shredding and Petkovic’s vocals straining to be heard over the retro rock sound. Earlier heavy rock bands from the ’70s and ’80s are easily detectable on this one: AC/DC, KISS, and Thin Lizzy come to mind.
But deeper in lie slower, bluesier tracks that surprise like “It’s Over Now,” with its clean and simple guitar strums during the verses and a more energetic chorus with Petkovic crooning “‘Cuz it’s gone, yeah it’s gone.” These songs have an undercurrent of sadness but they’re not all directly about grief and loss. “Can’t See You” follows with a Pixies-flavored tinny guitar and a beautifully executed, soaring guitar solo at the finish. A more feel-good, foot-stomping churner, “Hold Me, I’m Dying” is one of the album’s stunners with the lyric “So let’s fuck fuck fuck fuck ’til we die,” sounding a little like the sleaze rockers Eagles of Death Metal.
Petkovic and Company have put together one of the strongest hard rock records in recent memory. Though certain moments have a heavy metal feel to them, there’s a lot of variation and finesse displayed throughout the album, giving fans of each respective band, and new fans, lots to settle in with.
The Hold Steady Heaven is Whenever (Vagrant) SOUNDS LIKE: The Brooklyn behemoth delivers on a guitar-heavy rock record that features Craig Finn's voice and lyrics, bordering on emo anthemic FREE ASSOCIATION: The drama is palpable - Oh, to be a critically acclaimed rock band! FOR FANS OF: Ted Leo, Modest Mouse, Guided by Voices
The Besnard Lakes AreThe Roaring Night (Jagjaguwar) SOUNDS LIKE: Breezy and ambient indie rock from a Montreal husband and wife-driven team of musicians including strings and gritty guitars FREE ASSOCIATION: Pink Floyd fanatics smoked a ton of weed and wanted to slow things down FOR FANS OF: Swimmers, Sigur Ros, Dears, Canada Peggy Sue Fossils and Other Phantoms (Yep Roc) SOUNDS LIKE: Sparse but powerful full-length debut of folk from two girls who sing and a guy from Brighton with dark lyrics but it's so pretty it doesn't matter FREE ASSOCIATION: A haunting record with gorgeous vocals, a winner of a debut for sure For Fans Of: Dodos meets Regina Spektor, M Ward, Bon Iver
Mike Patton Mondo Cane (Ipecac Recordings) SOUNDS LIKE: The Faith No More alum's sure can use his voice box, here he sings mostly in Spanish and with a touch of kitsch but totally authentic FREE ASSOCIATION: His Eureka, CA roots are really showing here, rocking a chulo vibe FOR FANS OF: Mexico, camp, horns, Zappa, Mr. Bungle
George Stanford Roll Away (Bones Music) SOUNDS LIKE: Soulful Philly singer-songwriter's got a beautiful voice on this EP following his debut blending Americana, bluesy country and simple melodies FREE ASSOCIATION: Our girl Lissie shows up on the perfect "Don't Be The One" FOR FANS OF: Martin Sexton, Josh Kelley, Lisa Loeb
Natalie Merchant Leave Your Sleep (Nonesuch) Sounds Like: 26 songs inspired by folk songs, big deal poets, and Americana performed with lots of help from different bands backing her throaty voice FREE ASSOCIATION: There's no question of her talent, but this is for adults with kids FOR FANS OF: 10,000 Maniacs, O Brother Where Art Thou, riddles and fables
Busses Busses (Self Released) SOUNDS LIKE: Philly boys done good with a seamlessly complex tempo-changing rock record with the occasional trumpet and trombone FREE ASSOCIATION: A band that sounds like they're not ripping off their favorite bands FOR FANS OF: Pavement, Shaky Hands, harder Spoon
The Sadies Darker Circles (Yep Roc) SOUNDS LIKE: Toronto boys' eighth studio effort is a gem of sad but beautiful country-flavored garagey rock that somehow channels 60's surf sounds FREE ASSOCIATION: Too bad Neko Case left, the only thing that would make this record better FOR FANS OF: Jayhawks, Lambchop, Silver Jews, Bonnie "Prince" Billy
The Tallest Man on Earth The Wild Hunt (Dead Oceans) SOUNDS LIKE: An initially grating collection of songs strummed and sung by a high, raspy-voiced Kristian Matsson ends up being a beautiful set of Americana gems FREE ASSOCIATION: These songs are about everything and nothing, total growers FOR FANS OF: Bon Iver, M. Ward, Nick Drake, Dylan
Nice Nice Extra Wow (Warp Records) SOUNDS LIKE: Experimental Portland, OR duo bring it on pretty much their first proper LP of noisy, percussive, guitar-hazy nearly pop freak rock FREE ASSOCIATION: They're daring you to keep listening for the good stuff, and it's in there FOR FANS OF: Deerhunter, Battles, Liars, Gang Gang Dance
Zs New Slaves (The Social Registry) SOUNDS LIKE: Super-experimental quartet with drums, strings and guitars, they make catchy weirdo wordless noise music heavy on the ambience FFREE ASSOCIATION: Think Animal Collective's weirder days without loops or voices FOR FANS OF: Tortoise on drugs, feedback, amorphous rhythms
Circa Survive Blue Sky Noise (Atlantic) SOUNDS LIKE: Philly boys' third LP of tame emo-metal is more listenable than a lot of other punkish rock except for Anthony Green's voice; brutal FREE ASSOCIATION: This should be the soundtrack to a B-grade vampire movie/TV show FOR FANS OF: Saosin, Mars Volta, Fall Out Boy, Placebo
Coheed and Cambria Year of the Black Rainbow (Columbia) SOUNDS LIKE: The fifth and final installment in this epic Armory Wars saga is as mystifying and confusing as ever; solid prog metal but what is it about? FREE ASSOCIATION: We're supposed to enjoy these individually, right? Impossible FOR FANS OF: Saves the Day, AFI, At the Drive-In, metal opera
Plans and Animals La La Land (Secret City Records) SOUNDS LIKE: The Montreal trio's sophomore is a more electrified, filled out sound adding saxophones and more electricity to their meandering folk-rock sound FREE ASSOCIATION: "Tom Cruz" and "American Idol" reveal an L.A./U.S. influence; the worst kind FOR FANS OF: Mountain Goats, Rogue Wave, Okkervil River
The Kissaway Trail Sleep Mountain (Bella Union) SOUNDS LIKE: Spaced out pretty chamber rock from Denmark full of gentle guitars, keys and bass with restrained vocals and perfect orchestration FREE ASSOCIATION: Danish Arcade Fire that would fit perfectly on a Spike Jonze movie FOR FANS OF: Shins meets MGMT, Bloc Party, Hamlet
Frightened Rabbit The Winter of Mixed Drinks (Fat Cat) SOUNDS LIKE: Boring Scots' third LP is what happens when you get acclaim for a quiet, acoustic record, then add more sounds and band members FREE ASSOCIATION: Not all Scottish voices are this warbly and annoying are they? FOR FANS OF: The Frames, the Twilight Sad, the Clean, overindulgence
An upstate country boy who was Johnny HighSchool, went to an expensive liberal arts college and took about 20 English classes, went to graduate school in Oregon for a couple years then came back to the Empire state and tried to pass as a city boy for a minute. Now I'm Philly and I love it.