Even though August is totally the Ringo Starr of the summer/spring months, the late summer is my favorite musical season. Now for you non-musical nerds, I will break down the difference between early summer music and late summer music. The beginning of the summer is exciting; everyone is optimistic and relieved that the summer is finally here. Spirits are elated, thoughts are simple and the energy is high – and the music reflects that.
In summer 2013, Daft Punk released one of the most perfect summer songs I’ve ever heard – “Get Lucky.” It is the absolute reflection of what a young person feels in the months of May and June (also in 2012, B.o.B.’s “So Good” was a highly underrated/underutilized early summer track). The disco/funk infused guitar riffs, sultry vocals and the high-paced drums, along with an incredibly catchy chorus and lyricism about a night of fun, sexual pursuits makes for an anthem for anyone going out on a June Friday night. (fun.’s “Some Nights” was great in 2012 too.) The equally funky and Pharrell-infused (seriously, I’m so glad this man is back on the radio) “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke is another great early summer jam from this summer.
But after the initial excitement and unpredictability of that summer euphoria wears off, you have August – and your late summer classics. August is one of the worst months of the year – it’s usually unbearably hot, school is right around the corner (well, it used to be), I didn’t do all those things on my summer to-do list and the Indians have fallen out of the play-off hunt. August is a sobering month; after two months of carelessness and freedom, the late summer serves as the hangover. Late summer music is still aesthetically warm, but it tends to be a little slower (but still in that mid-tempo range) and often more introspective. These are the type of songs you play while you roll out of bed around noon, walk to Starbucks and wear shades to get that goddamn sun out of your eyes.
The best late summer album I’ve ever heard is without question Raekwon’s “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…” The album’s warm and cinematic production is the perfect backdrop to an August evening, and Raekwon and Ghostface’s lyrical urgency and ambitious storyline is relatable for my late summer existential crises. (Granted they’re mostly talking about drug dealing, and I’m, I don’t know trying to get a job or something with ambition.) A great pop example of a late summer classic is Justin Timberlake’s “Future Love/Sex Sounds.” While this album has songs that I would consider early summer songs (“Sexy Back” and “My Love”), as a whole I’d say it’s a late summer album (especially the breakdown on “Summer Love” and the brilliant “LoveStoned… She Knows”).
The best late summer song I’ve heard this year is undoubtedly Mayer Hawthorne and Kendrick Lamar’s “Crime.” The tone of the guitars and piano make envision drinking outside at like one final cookout before the summer concludes (but maybe that’s just me). Last year Kendrick’s “Swimming Pools” was a prime example of a great late summer song. And Macklemore’s “Same Love” and Lana Del Rey’s “Summer Time Sadness” were also notable late summer songs from 2012, but strangely enough they’re just now seeing some attention on the charts this summer. Even though they’re definitely going to get ignore by pop radio and they came out in May, I’d make a strong argument for Vampire Weekend’s ”Ya Hey” and The National’s “This is the Last Time” for late summer songs of 2013. (Vamp Week also contributed “Diane Young” and The National’s “Sea of Love” and “Don’t Swallow the Cap” for early summer bangers.)
So even though the summer is over in a few weeks and we’re going to have to break out the hoodies and emo music soon, we can still enjoy a few more weeks of the best music-listening weather of the year.