Summer (Bummer) Jams ’17
As someone who’s record collection was once deemed “too sad” for a party, I am a firm believer in what I refer to as, “my sad grrrl jams.” I love the gauzy distorted guitar of shoe-gaze, and lyrics that can rip your heart out and patch you up before the chorus. I believe that bits of happiness are buried within even the most devastating break up records. Joni Mitchell is still welcomed back to California with open arms in Blue, and Lou Reed still managed to experience a perfect day.
The following is a list of summer (bummer) jams — songs for road trips and late nights sitting on warm pavement, songs where the happiness sneaks up on you, wading its way through the ennui of previous seasons for one well-earned summer night.
— Rosie Accola
“All We Got” (feat. Kanye West and the Chicago Children’s Chior) by Chance the Rapper
I live in Chicago and the minute it starts to warm up everyone starts blaring Chance out of their portable speakers. At this point, Chance and summer are forever linked in my brain, and it would feel like a disservice to not include him on a summer playlist. “All We got,” encapsulates the giving spirit of the Chicago music scene.
“Rose-Colored Boy” by Paramore
I’ve loved Paramore since I was eleven. Their newest record, “After Laughter” veers towards a more pop-oriented sound, while simultaneously allowing the pop-punk staple to access an entirely new audience. “Rose-Colored Boy,” somehow juxtaposes absolutely danceable riffs with a bridge wherein lead singer Hayley Williams sings, “Just let me cry/ a little bit longer/ I don’t want to smile/ if I don’t want to.” Paramore finally made a record that former emo kids can play for their friends without depressing the living shit out of them, it’s amazing.
“Alaska” by Maggie Rogers
This song is the sort of music an artisinal cupcake shop in New York City would play, the downbeat is bouncy and affirmative, and the lyrics deal with themes of wonder and renewal.
“Up All Night”- David Bazan
Former Pedro the Lion Frontman, David Bazan, released his latest E.P., Care, in 2017. “Up All Night” perfectly captures the restless nature of summer and the listlessness that can accompany a sudden onslaught of free time. The deep tenor of his voice is anchored with effervescent synths as Bazan chronicles days spent “trying to sleep ‘till noon” and nights, “up all night howling at the moon.”
“405” by Deathcab for Cutie
Ben Gibbard’s lyrics always capture the peculiar specificities of life with laser-sharp precision. The lyric, “Misguided by the 405/ ‘cause it lead me to an alcoholic summer/ I missed the exit to your parents house hours ago,” is probably his best example of grounding the listener in an incredibly specific situation without alienating them.
“Star roving” by Slowdive
Slowdive released their self-titled album in May of 2017, 22 years after their seminal shoe-gaze release Soulvaki. “Star-roving,” the lead single, is expansive. The listener is hit with a wall of loops and guitars that Slowdive listeners will know and love. This song makes the listener feel like anything is possible. It’s like speeding down a highway late at night when it’s just you and your friends and the music is blasting — it’s boundless.
Alexandria Maniak, a.k.a, Shortly is a Detroit-based musician whose bold, confessional lyrics continually blow my mind. Their sound is a distinct pastoral sort of shoe-gaze. Their music feels like a key, to a larger secret or whatever breath-taking world they inhabit.
“do u ever feel like a penny” by Thanks for Coming
I wish all of my feelings of utter uselessness and existential dread were accompanied by the sarcastic sigh of an indie guitar riff. If nothing else, I’ll just let New York’s Thanks for Coming be the soundtrack.
“Scott Street” by Phoebe Bridgers
Phoebe Bridgers is an L.A.- based singer-songwriter whose introspective lyrics possess a transportive quality. “Scott Street,” an unreleased track, is written by Bridger’s partner, Marshall Vore, contends with the discomfort that accompanies aging. The unique timbre of Bridger’s voice coupled with the quietly mournful chords allow this song to act as an admission; no one likes to admit that summer can get lonely — but as Vore knows, shower beer goes flat and sometimes getting old seems terrifying.
“J Station” by Adult Mom
Adult Mom’s sophomore album, Soft Spots, was released this past Friday via Tiny Engines. “J Station” uses the location of a robbery to explore the hunger for the nostalgia of a former hook up, and a drunk hankering for donuts. Lead singer Steph Knipe’s ability to weave together multifaceted narratives shines in this fleeting, jangly, jaunt through New York City.
“Dancin’ with Myself (Cover)” by Frances Quinlan
Frances Quinlan is the lead singer of Hop Along, a band that continually releases visceral records full of wonder, grit and growl. Quinlan’s rendition of Billy Idol’s 1982 track is brimming with spirit, it’ll practically break your listening device. She plays guitar like she’s getting ready for a fight, riffs in quick succession and her raspy voice injects a newfound profundity to an eighties classic, she’s begging the whole world to dance — and who can say no to that voice
Rosie Accola is a zine-maker, editor, and poet based out of Chicago, IL. She’s the online editor for Hooligan mag. Her latest chapbook, “Daydreams in 6/6/6” is out 6/7 via Ghost City Press for the summer micro-chap series. You can follow her on instagram: @rosieaccola.