This weekend I share with you a playlist of songs that give me that warm, happy, what-a-perfect-day feeling. These are the songs that make me smile, close my eyes, and soak up the sun without a care in the world. This playlist is meant for a day of lounging around and enjoying the summer with friends, a trip to the beach, and maybe a drink or two. Just thinking about it makes me feel tan and content.
1. Lykke Li- Dance, Dance, Dance
I like to put this song on first thing in the morning because, well, it makes me want to swing my hips a little and sing along. The simplicity of this song from Swedish songstress Lykke Li is what makes it so great. Great percussion and a little horn don’t hurt either.
2. Andrew Bird- Fitz and the Dizzyspells
This song is the epitome of Andrew Bird style, complete with whistling, clapping, and fluttering violin. Whistle along with the indie veteran for another great way to start your summer day of relaxation.
3. She & Him- In The Sun
The name kind of says it all. Zooey Deschanel (She) and M. Ward (Him) have created a sugary-sweet summer anthem that’s hard to ignore. Their most recent album, “Volume Two,” is full of similarly great, slightly retro, pop tunes. Play this song as you get ready for a beach outing with your girls.
4. Local Natives- Airplanes
This standout song from the Los Angeles five-piece reminds me of an old beach house scattered with memories of family and warm days at the beach. Local Natives’ powerful harmonies, catchy melodies, and carefully layered instrumentation create perfect road music, so listen to this on a drive, with the windows down.
5. Girls- Lust For Life
These guys (not girls, ironically) sound like a modern, edgy version of The Beach Boys and this song fits right in with that comparison. With a rockin’ beat and a guitar line that even sounds beachy, this one is for when your toes are in the sand.
6. Beach House- 10 Mile Stereo
This dream-pop duo from Baltimore had a smash hit album on their hands with this year’s “Teen Dream,” and it’s not hard to see why. This song is particularly dreamy, with a melodic buildup to match Victoria Legrand’s buttery vocals.
7. Post Post- Say When
With lines like “I will if you will/ just say when,” I don’t know what would make a better summer anthem, or life motto, for that matter. The childlike innocence of this song will make you smile, I promise. I envision many summer escapades and excursions happening with this song playing in the background.
8. Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros- Home
This is my favorite romantic hippie song of the past year, and it just keeps getting better. This Los Angeles band of 11 (or 12, or 13) is a bit like a cult, but not in a bad way. Leader Alex Ebert acts as some sort of messiah, and his bandmates emphatically support his cause, whatever it may be. Whistle and sing along to this indie-folk masterpiece with a large group of friends, preferably while running through a field of daisies.
9. Blitzen Trapper- Furr
This folk story of boy-turned-wolf is the perfect summer campfire song. Maybe it’s the harmonica and subtle wolf-howls in the background. Regardless, Blitzen Trapper has a knack for getting the Pacific Northwest-style indie-folk just right. A well-crafted folk song like this one needs little ornamentation, and Blitzen Trapper follows that rule to the tee.
10. Florence And The Machine- Dog Days Are Over
Fiery-haired British femme fatale Florence Welch is my latest musical obsession, and this song has been on repeat in my house for the past week. When the chorus to this song rolls around, all i want to do is flip my hair and strut somewhere feeling fabulous. Who doesn’t like that? Great song to start off a summer get-together, too.
11. The Black Keys- Next Girl
Basically, this song is the jam. It’s classic Black Keys and everything you want in a bluesy, revenge-tinged rock song. Wait until dark for this one and break out the drinks.
12. The Tallest Man On Earth- King of Spain
This is as exuberant and humorous as indie-folk gets, and Kristian Matsson is the perfect, strange character to bring it to life. It’s Americana folk music sung by a Swede who sounds more than a bit like Bob Dylan. When he howls “I want to be the king of Spain!” it’s difficult not to join right in. Play this once you’ve had a few beers and the joyousness will be palpable.
13. Vampire Weekend- Holiday
Vampire Weekend’s latest album, “Contra,” pretty much sounds like a west-coast summertime already, so having a song called “Holiday” makes its inclusion in this list a requirement. That preppy, afro-pop vibe is the perfect accompaniment to a late-night rooftop (or backyard, or patio) party.
14. La Roux- Bulletproof
Guilty pleasure confession: I’m in love with La Roux. I didn’t think I would ever love euro-pop so much, but La Roux’s self titled album just gets it right. Catchy, unabashedly pop, and full of girl power, if this song doesn’t put people in the party mood, then nothing will.
15. The New Pornographers- Your Hands (Together)
This new song from the NPs is beat-heavy, has a shouting chorus, and is a little bit badass. Carl Newman and Neko Case (as well as the rest of the gang) are experts by now at creating wonderful songs that blend rock ‘n’ roll with pop, and this one is no exception. Raise those PBRs to this one, people!
16. Phantogram- Mouth Full Of Diamonds
This is a fun, electro-pop song from relative newcomers Phantogram, who hit the festival circuit this year and made quite an impression. This jam has a slowed-down sway and is just the thing to play on a hot summer night.