Summer Jamz '08 #13: Douglas Martin's Days and Nights
Douglas Martin is a singer/songwriter living in Seattle. He records and blogs under the name Fresh Cherries From Yakima. He may be the best musician with “Cherry” in his name since Neneh Cherry. Screw you Cherry Poppin’ Daddies.
Each Summer Jam is proudly co-hosted with The Passion of the Weiss and What Was it Anyway.
Most years, I go back and forth about whether I enjoy hot or cold weather more. Would I rather bundle up and crank the heat up as far as I can without setting my blinds on fire, or would I rather withstand not having an air-conditioner in my apartment for the sake of a few extra hours of daylight and the ability to rock Super V-Neck Tees that veer dangerously close to making me look like a bald-headed girl? (Note: I'm actually using music and blogging as a front to jump-start my American Apparel modeling career.) It could be because of the tunes, it could be because of the innumerable pints of White Chocolate Raspberry Truffle ice cream, or it could be because in Seattle, we had our hottest day of the year in April. Whatever the reason, in 2008, summer wins.
So, in a method to reinforce to everyone how pretentious I am, my tape is somewhat conceptual; an aural journey of a beautiful summer day, from the moment your head leaves the pillow it's still damp from drool, to the moment where your eyelids are heavy and you're nodding off like you're on dope (no Pusha T). And, as a favor to the world, I've opted not to include any actual Fresh Cherries from Yakima songs. You're welcome.
ALTERNATE THESIS: What's summer if you can't throw a chick on the track like Just Blaze? You'll understand where I'm getting at in a minute.
SIDE A: DAY.
1. Bill Callahan- Day:
Like nearly every young black man that was brought in the South (North Carolina, stand up), I was raised in the church. And when I say raised in the church, I mean raised: Bible Study on Wednesday nights, Children's Choir Practice on Saturday afternoons, Sunday School on Sunday morning, Regular Service directly after, and I had to BEG my grandmother to let me stay home from Sunday Evening Service, or I'd just pretend that I didn't finish my homework. "Day" is Bill Callahan in his Johnny-Cash-Gone-Gospel phase, with bouncing drums, pianos, tambourines and soulful background vocals. It sounds like something my grandma would have played while fixing me some hash browns on Sunday morning, clapping along in her kitchen. Sometimes, I can picture her calling me up and asking why I don't go to church anymore. I'd probably tell her it's because my homework's not done.
2. PWRFL Power- It's Okay:
This is as close as "indie" gets to a children's song, and I mean that in the best possible way. With it's bright chords and prodigious fingerpicking, "It's Okay" is the perfect audio companion for a beautiful Pacific-Northwest summer day. Sometimes, I play the song for my four-year-old niece, and she dances around gleefully. I'm just glad that I haven't yet had to explain to her what it means when Kaz Nomura sings, "It's okay to release your powerful power." When the time comes, that'll be her mother's job.
3. The Mountain Goats- Itzcuintli-Totzli Days:
In my opinion, John Darnielle is the Mike Jordan of the mic recordings, my favorite lyricist of all-time. "Itzcuintli-Totzli Days," couples Aztec mythology with vivid images of summer (naked shoulders, a bunny stomping all over the garden) to make a spectacular sing-along, perfect for summer afternoons. Plus, if I can out myself as a Goats geek for a minute, there aren't many female background singers with harmonies as beautiful as the Bright Mountain Choir; the only thing that even comes close are those girls from the Dirty Projectors. Another Mountain Goats tune appropriate for the Summer of 2008 is "Cubs in Five," due to the spectacular season the Cubbies are having, and because baseball is the only great American sport going on right now. I mean, what are you going to watch, Wimbledon?
4. Abe Vigoda- Animal Ghosts:
Have you ever been drunk in the mid-afternoon, like really fucking shitfaced? You know, when the combination of booze and sun makes you all bleary-eyed and squinting, struggling to see your friend two feet ahead of you? Well, whenever I listen to "Animal Ghosts," it reminds me of the feeling, all the way down to the lyrics, which I can only pick out every third or fourth word. I can hardly understand what people are saying when I'm drunk, too.
5. TV on the Radio- Staring at the Sun:
In spite of being terribly literal, "Staring at the Sun" is a perfect summer song, because the guitars (or synths, or whatever the fuck they are) sound like they've been frying on the sidewalk along with the eggs on the hottest day of the year. The heavy pulsating of the whatever-the-fuck-they-are before the drums kick in reminds me of the feeling you get when it's super hot, and your pulse is throbbing, searching for an ice cold bottle or glass of water to dump on yourself (No Busta Rhymes).
6. Vivian Girls- Wild Eyes:
Another song with guitars (they really are guitars this time) that sound like they've been cooking in the sun for way too long, only this time with corroded, proto-punk production, beautifully thrashing drums, and-- at this point, a must for the Douglas Martin Summer-- beautiful female vocals. "Wild Eyes" sounds like the cute girls you wanted to date (preferably all, but at least one), beating the shit out of their instruments in your neighbor's garage, all artsy cool and charming amateurishness. Why didn't the whole "Shoegaze Girl-Group" thing get thought of sooner?
7. Modest Mouse- Perfect Disguise:
Issac Brock is a lyricist's lyricist. Adam Brody (probably the only-and-last time an O.C. cast member gets name-dropped sans sarcasm on a music blog) once famously said that Brock's lyrics "held the secret to the universe," which is hard for me to disagree with. But, beyond the talk of the creation of the world ("3rd Planet"), characteristic moody centerpieces ("Lives"), and an Aesopian fable about his sister getting eaten by animals ("Wild Packs of Family Dogs"), The Moon and Antarctica also showed Brock's singular talent as a brilliant kiss-off artist: "Need me to fall down/So you can climb up/Some fool-ass ladder/Well, good luck/I hope, I hope there's something better up there."
8. Radiohead- Let Down:
In Spin Magazine's 20 Years of Alternative Music book, Will Hermes writes about listening to Ok Computer in an ice cream parlor, specifically referencing "Let Down" as the perfect song to listen to while getting your two (or three, you fucking glutton) scoops. The heart-wrenchingly gorgeous guitar line from Jonny Greenwood sort of sends your mind into a vertigo of vivid colors as Thom Yorke beautifully harmonizes with himself about being squashed in the ground. Now, I get the sort of gooseflesh you get from eating too much ice cream not only when I hear the song, but every time I eat ice cream, because the song plays in my head every time I have a waffle cone in my hand.
9. Jay-Z- Never Change:
It wouldn't be a Summer Jamz mix without the once-reigning-and-undisputed and the current owner-and-proprietor of Summer. "Never Change," may not remind of you summer at first, but with its Kanye-helmed beat and open-hearted nostalgia, it's perfect for driving around the city on a hot summer night with all the windows down and the streetlights and buildings buzzing past you. The Original Mr. Carter not only drops serious words of wisdom ("We all fish, better teach your folk," "Chains is cool to cop, but more important is lawyer fees"), but also creates a hustler's anthem. Even the closest you've ever come to hustling is fucking off your Summer Reading to mow lawns, Hov's got you. Fuck y'all; we needed money for Atari.
10. Raekwon- Heaven and Hell:
Outside of Outkast, Rae and Ghost are rap's perfect dynamic duo. They're don't have the the Felix and Oscar (please tell me you guys got the Odd Couple reference; peace to Nick at Nite) push-and-pull that Big and Dre 3000 proudly display; they're at times too similar. However, their styles compliment each other perfectly, especially over this all-time-great RZA soul beat, with Rae waking up at ten, "about to make moves that slide like grease," and Ghost being Ghost, seeing some cat "up in Bojangles, strangling a 40-Oz./With 10-G's worth of gold bangles." The melancholy backdrop is so wonderful, it doesn't really matter that Rae and Ghost do two-minutes worth of shout-outs at the end; you just wanna play it until it's over.
11. Cave Singers- Elephant Clouds:
With it's shimmering guitars and galloping drums, "Elephant Clouds" is perfect for driving into the sunset.
12. The Walkmen- Thinking of a Dream I Had:
Starting off with an 80's Hardcore-Punk riff and a tribal thump, when the organ comes in on the chorus, it sounds like The Walkmen are ushering summer in themselves. Hamilton Leithauser drunkenly singing, "We're gonna have a good time tonight," works very well with what's going on musically, and works as a great accompaniment to the sun going on. Then, suddenly, there's an apeshit crescendo, with Leithauser screaming, "NOONE SPEAKS TO ME THAT WAY," and you're left hoping that his night goes as good as he originally thought.
SIDE B: NIGHT.
13. Panda Bear- I'm Not:
When I famously stated that my mom loves Person Pitch(!), I was talking to her about what she liked about the album. She pointed out that there are some songs on the album are great for falling asleep to, and cited "I'm Not" specifically (as "the one where it sounds like the only thing he's saying is 'I'm not' the whole time"). The repetitive, high-pitched vocal sample, coupled with the soft drums and Noah Lennox's eternally boyish, ethereal vocals amazingly prove that you don't need expensive synths to do ambient music.
14. 50 Cent- Heat:
Remember when people actually liked 50 Cent? When those G-Unit Mixtapes came and spread like napalm throughout the rap consciousness, making Get Rich or Die Tryin' one of the fastest-selling rap records of all-time (A million in a week is impressive, especially these days, Weezy, but 50 sold 800,000+ in four days)? That's because Get Rich signified the arrival of a bulletproof asshole, an overabundantly charismatic anti-hero who smiled (albeit with as much nihilism in his heart as Manson, but still) more than he scowled, giggling with childlike glee everytime gunshots were fired. In "Heat," among providing probably the best song of 50's career, Curtis brilliantly sums up summer in TWO BARS: "In the 'hood, summertime is the killin' season/It's hot out this bitch, that's a good 'nuff reason!" Maybe this is the reason Dom Imus had his right to
intelligently speak on race relations in America revoked for a second-straight time.
Furthermore, It's a crying shame we (who aren't haters) ended up being wrong about 50.
15. The Microphones- Solar System:
Starting out with a flurry of unlistenable white noise (you might want to turn the volume down for the first thirty seconds or so), Phil Elvrum, with gorgeous backing harmonies, singing about being haunted by the memories of a girl (I think), repeating at the end, "I know you're out there." The wistful sadness of the track (spoiler alert: MORE FEMALE BACKING HARMONIES) makes it a lock for a summer night.
16. Bonnie "Prince" Billy- Raining in Darling:
The beginning of the track continues in the same wistful sadness that I talked about with the previous track, but the end of the song is the payoff, where the drums crash in a climax with Will Oldham wailing, "It don't rain anymore."
17. No Age- Semi-Sorted:
Whenever I listen to No Age (for all intents and purposes, probably my favorite new band of the last few years), it reminds me of their hometown of Los Angeles, a city in which I've never visited, but none of the good things. I'm talking dirty beaches, smoggy air, abandoned air, and heat, heat heat. Of course, being a Northwest kid, I'm sure I'm stereotyping, but I think the dirt and the grime of big cities are much more attractive than a gentrified metropolis. "Semi-Sorted" starts out with a couple minutes of dirty, dingy ambiance which threatens to run longer in length the actual "song" part of the song, then kicks in with guitar squall, a four-on-the-floor kick stomp, and Dean Spunt's boyish vocals. Then, the song goes from introverted-stomp to visceral-stomp, and the next thing you know, it's over, just like summer.
18. Weezer- Only in Dreams:
Before we get too far off the subject of artists that peaked early (see also: Cent, 50), Weezer's eponymous debut ("Well, fuck, half their catalog is eponymous, Douglas Martin") was probably rock music's first grunge-pop record, with distortion and winks of feedback showing up as much as the incredibly studied pop songwriting. This, the album-ending opus, is much like driving at night during a road trip; peaks and valleys and quiet and loud and long crescendos. I dare you to listen to it and not get the opening bass riff stuck in your head.
19. Cat Power- Back of Your Head:
"Back of Your Head" is like the late-night, drunk-and-teary-eyed phone call from an ex really late at night, with Chan Marshall's simple-but-catchy fingerpicking and her vocal rambling and bleak pessimism ("Can't you see that we're going to hell?"). This is the perfect soundtrack for the comedown, and proof that Marshall was way hotter back when she was batshit crazy.
20. Tiny Vipers- The Downward:
Hands Across the Void, Tiny Vipers' sad-and-beautiful debut, is perfect for a sweltering-hot and deeply depressive summer night, a soundtrack for drowning in post-bar night caps, thinking about your past. The drones at the end of this song is probably the closest thing music comes to staring inside of an abyss.
21. Bill Callahan- Night:
With its twinkling glockenspiel and sparse piano line, "Night" is a beautiful piece to end your night, falling in-and-out of sleep right after your head hits the pillow. The lyrics themselves could even be about the summer sun: "We stand under it/But we don't understand it."
Summer Jamz '08 #12: Disco Vietnam Presents Soul Korea: The Ultimate Summer Blunt Sesh by Barry Schwartz
"The tracks selected for Disco Vietnam Presents Soul Korea all share the crucial yet elusive element of groove, each song more dangerously absorbing than the last."
Summer Jamz '08 #11: G'Z Up, Prose Down by Jeff Weiss
"Pure California ride music to cannon out of every car stereo, soundtrack every party, the ideal accessory to cheap weed, smuggled liquor and the baking black asphalt."
Summer Jamz '08 #10: What Is by Mike Powell
"The summer mix—full of hot tunes advocating general irresponsibility—is basically a sham..."
Summer Jamz '08 #9: Compiled by Nate DeYoung & Todd Hutlock
"If we have a theme for this mix, it would be ‘nothing from the new milennium.’ Well, for Hutlock’s portion of the mix..."
Summer Jamz '08 #8: Privately Owned by Theon Weber
"I'm typing this from a studio apartment in Portland, Oregon, at the tail end of a hazy First of July..."
Summer Jamz '08 #7: Daydreamin' by Andrew Gaerig and John M. Cunningham
"For this mix we focused on the theme of "daydreams." Pour yourself a drink that requires an umbrella, kick off your flip-flops, and take a listen."
Summer Jamz '08 #6: It's Not the Heat by Jeff Siegel and Kevin J. Elliott
"This mix is a reflection of soupy, unrelenting humidity. A heat mirage. A little dancing, but not too much, because we must lie down and rehydrate."
Summer Jamz '08 #5: Compiled by Jayson Greene and Stewart Voegtlin
"Oh, geezus. Didn’t we all wanna give up the goose when the sweat ceased to dribble and ran?"
Summer Jamz '08 #4: Compiled by Paul Scott and Ian Mathers
For their summer mix, Paul and Ian decided to have a conversation, or maybe an argument, thanks to one inarguable fact: Ian hates summer.
Summer Jamz '08 #3: Dear Summer... by Jonathan Bradley
"My mix is for the times everything is still and quiet and perfect ... I haven’t included any yacht rock or Eagles tunes, but that’s all I can guarantee."
Summer Jamz '08 #2: State of the Union, Jack by Mike Orme and Nick Southall
"Two former Stylus Magazine compatriots ... celebrate the summer by splitting halves of a mix CD, each trying to fill their side with songs the other writer would put on a summer mix."
Summer Jamz '08 #1: Compiled by Alfred Soto and Dan Weiss
"In the context of summer, vastness suggests the abrogation of responsibility: school and relationships, mostly..."
Labels: Summer Jamz '08