FMF Episode #19 – Summer Solstice

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DJ:  Hello again and welcome to another round of Feel Me Flow!  Today, June 20th, 2017 is the Summer Solstice this year.  Up here in the Northern Hemisphere, today marks the longest day of the year.  Some cultures see the summer solstice as the beginning of summer and end of spring, while others mark it as summer’s midpoint.  Solstice is derived from the Latin words sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still).  Many of us will spend our evenings outside tonight, in honor of the sun going down so late.  Others may detest the light, for they work at night and need the sleep!

Since we like to play themes around here, today we’re going to play songs involving summer. We’ll play a plethora of positives with most songs about summer being happy, however, we may find one or two summer bummer hits.  Will Smith might even stop by to show his love for the season.  We’re also going to be playing various versions of George Gershwin‘s “Summertime” for our instrumentals, starting with the funky organ sound of Klaus Wunderlich.

Leading off our first set will be the classic staple radio soundtrack to ice cream and water fights, “In The Summertime” from Mungo Jerry.  The song would be released as the world’s first maxi-single or a single that features more than just an A and B side track.  Funny how the first multiple song single was a one-hit wonder, eh?

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DJ:  Chicago, IL’s Twin Peaks formed in high school in 2010.  Lead singer Cadien James is actually the younger brother of Hal James, the drummer for Smith Westerns.  The band takes influence from 60s garage rock/psych groups as well as 2000’s punk rock.  You can really hear the blend in the sound as well, like The Replacements taking LSD or something.  We played “Strawberry Smoothie” from their sophomore release, 2014’s Wild Onion.

Craig Finn and The Hold Steady are no strangers to the Midwest, with Craig hailing from Edina, MN and singing about Minneapolis in every other song.  Even though he maintains a residence in Brooklyn, NY, Craig’s lyrics often reference and point to a Minnesota atmosphere.  We heard “Constructive Summer” off of 2008’s Stay Positive.

Before The Hold Steady, we heard some Who jams.  The Who played us the Holland–Dozier–Holland cut “Heat Wave” from 1966’s A Quick One.  The song would be replaced with “Happy Jack” and the album renamed to Happy Jack for the US release.  Originally done by Martha And The Vandellas, the track wouldn’t see fit on the release being a cover.

The Who would bring back covers four years later when they released the critically acclaimed Live At Leeds.  They would famously cover Eddie Cochran‘s “Summertime Blues” on that album.  Coincidentally (not really), we played Eddie’s original “Summertime Blues” right after “In The Summertime”.

We’re gonna get a bit psychedelic this set so you might want to ready yourself.  First, we’ll start with Pavement doing their first single “Summer Babe (Winter Version)”.

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DJ:  Another Don Henley cover graces our ears, with The Ataris doing “Boys Of Summer”. The Henley cover along with the single “In This Diary” helped launch The Ataris from pop-punk staples to emo/indie rock mainstream residents.  The song wasn’t originally supposed to be released as a single, but an LA radio DJ started playing the track and it caught like wildfire.  The mainstream world sure does love a good cover song.

Neon Indian squeezed in a track from their debut  2009 album Psychic Chasms.  The album helped launch a chillwave genre fascination and spark lo-fi computer psych music in years to come.  The song, itself, samples Todd Rundgren‘s “Izzat Love?” from his 1974 LP Todd.

Animal Collective helped continue our psych set with “Summertime Clothes” from their breakthrough album Merriweather Post Pavillion; which Animal Collective would go on to play on David Letterman.  The LP features the hit song “My Girls”; mostly a call to owning a home and raising a family, the song plays off of polyrhythms and synth samples and would go on to be covered by Taken By Trees and Tears For Fears.

Sly Stone would basically invent psychedelic soul in the sixties.  With help from James Brown and George Clinton, Sly would help create a new wave of politically charged soul music with a psychedelic twist.  After a couple of albums with mediocre sales, 1969’s Stand! skyrocketed Sly and the Family Stone into A-list status.  With the hits “Everyday People” and “I Want To Take You Higher”, the band would go on to sell millions of records over the course of the late sixties and early seventies before finally breaking up officially in 1975 after a failed show at Radio City Music Hall.  Sly would become a recluse in the 90s but would fight for his royalties the whole time, including as recently as March of 2017.

Wilco released Summerteeth in 1999, their third album as the group.  Looking for a more radio-friendly hit, the label asked the band to remix the lead track “Can’t Stand It” for a poppier vibe, adding in bells and removing the bridge.  The song failed to chart.  It just goes to show you, don’t mess with an artist’s genius.  Let them create!  Here’s “Can’t Stand It”.

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DJ:    We first featured Acid Ghost on the Set 4 Score segment of our National Bourbon Day episode.  The brainchild of Ace Barcelon and Mikey Mendoza, Acid Ghost has San Francisco in a bit of a fuzzy mood!  We heard “Summer Is Here” from their 2015 album I Want To Hide My Face & Die.

Bethany Cosentino and Best Coast rang in the fourth spot of our set with “Summer Mood” off of their debut LP.  Best Coast aims and succeeds in hitting a summery beach vibe aesthetic with their music, even after shifting sounds to a more polished alternative.  The band has included California on all three of its releases, even naming the third album California Nights.

Speaking of California, The Beach Boys helped create what would go on to be the California sound with their surf rock and harmonies.  The band would often sing about surfing, cruising, the beach, girls, sunshine, and many other summer activities.  It’s not often you hear a Beach Boys song about snow or autumn.  We heard “All Summer Long” from 1964’s album of the same name.

After Wilco, The Barracudas slipped in a commercial-led track from 1980.  The song featured an excerpt from a 1960s spoof advertisement for the Plymouth Barracuda.  Ba-ba-ra-ra-cu-cu-da-da!

We have a split Set 4 Score again this week, with the first part going to Portland’s Summer Cannibals.  We first discovered Summer Cannibals when they opened for The Thermals at the Turf Club last spring.  Apparently, Hutch Harris named their sophomore album Show Us Your Mind to one of his top albums of 2015, which explains his decision to bring them along with The Thermals on tour.  Guitarist Jessica filled in for Hutch during songs where the band needed two guitars; she also handles the band’s Twitter account.  Their third LP Full Of It was released last year on Kill Rock Stars.  Here’s “Summer” from their sophomore album.

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DJ:  The Merks are a band sent to us by fellow blogger Jessie Lubka.  She wrote a great review on them on her blog right here.  After noticing our show, she sent us some links and recommendations, and we enjoyed what we heard!  The band hails from Connecticut and cites anyone from Frank Sinatra to Arctic Monkeys as their influences. Jessie pointed out that they sound like Arctic Monkeys with Panic At The Disco’s Brandon Urie‘s vocals.  Spot on, Jessie!  We played “Week To Week” from the band, a single released earlier this year and featured as one of our Set 4 Score tracks.

Before The Merks, we heard The Lovin’ Spoonful doing a classic summer jam “Summer In The City” from their 1966 LP Hums Of The Lovin’ Spoonful.  The band made an effort to record a variety of styles for the album and included Volkswagen Beetle horns and jackhammer noise during the bridge of this tune.

The Flaming Lips dipped us into a bit more psych with their track “It’s Summertime” from their smash album Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots.  Known for the hits “Do You Realize???” and “Fight Test” the album would open the band up to an entirely new world of listeners after receiving extensive airplay and being featured in commercials.

Sex Bob-Omb is a fictional rock band from the comic book adaptation film of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.  Michale Cera plays bass in the film, and Minneapolis-born Mark Webber sings vocals.  Beck actually wrote the track along with almost all of the others for the soundtrack.

Speaking of indie bands and summer music, Hippo Campus is climbing the charts fast with their latest effort Landmark.  So, let’s hear “Suicide Saturday” from their debut EP Bashful Creatures.  Ha!

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DJ:  Nothing like ending on a poppier note!  John Lennon was once quoted saying “before Cliff and the Shadows, there had been nothing worth listening to in British music.”  It sure is wild hearing a Beatle describe the music scene in 60s Britain.  Before becoming Cliff Richard And The Shadows, The Shadows would record the Jerry Lordan instrumental “Apache”.  “Apache” would be covered by nearly every 60s group imaginable, as well as in 1973 by Michael Viner’s Incredible Bongo Band.  After deciding to bring vocals to the mix, The Shadows would become Cliff Richard and The Shadows and release pop-rock hits.

Before Cliff, we played a double-dose of calming tunes about an Indian Summer.  Beat Happening was another product of The Evergreen State College in the 80s, a school that would spawn artists like Bikini Kill, Sleater-Kinney, Hole, G.L.O.S.S., and even help fuel the Seattle grunge scene.  Kurt Cobain listed Beat Happening’s Jamboree in his Top 50 By Nirvana list, a list which we featured extensively during our Nirvana episode.

We also played “Indian Summer” by The Doors, a track from their 1969 album Morrison Hotel.  The album was released right after Jim Morrison’s famous drunken indecent exposure incident in Miami.  Critics viewed it as a possible comeback album, due to the lackluster sales and songs of The Soft Parade.  Jim would continue his downward spiral, though, and eventually, the alcoholism would take over during the recording of their final album L.A. Woman in 1971.  Jim died on July 3, 1971, at age 27; almost 46 years ago from today.

Jack Tatum and Wild Nothing played us “Summer Holiday” from their 2010 debut Gemini.  The band released their latest Life Of Pause in 2016.

Our last set is bound to get a bit meta, starting with Pink Floyd doing “Summer ’68” from Atom Heart Mother.  Written and sang by Rick Wright, Pink Floyd’s piano/keys player, the song is about Wright’s meeting with a groupie.

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DJ:  Did you catch that meta?!  No?  Alright, let’s break it all down.  Sublime finished our set with “Doin’ Time” from their largely successful self-titled 1998 LP.  The song features a sample of Herbie Mann’s live cover of George Gershwin’s “Summertime” and also samples a Beastie Boys track, “Slow And Low“.  The original version of the song featured Bradley Nowell singing “doin’ time and the livin’ is easy”, but in order for the band to be allowed to sample the song, the Gershwin estate requested the line be changed to “summertime and the livin’ is easy” but Bradley had died before the change could be made.  Producer/friend Miguel Happoldt recorded the “Summertime” bit and overdubbed it for the album’s release.

Before Sublime was DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince with their hit “Summertime”.  Sampling Kool And The Gang’s “Summertime Madness”, the track would go on to win a Grammy for Best Single in 1992.

Atmosphere wanted to create their own sunny summertime jam with “Sunshine” from the Sad Clown Bad Summer EP.  Putting out four total EPs, one for each season, the Minneapolis hip-hop group is never one to shy away from a great sample.  At the end of “Sunshine”, rapper Slug can be heard saying “Feelin’ all right, stopped at a stop sign. A car pulled up, bumpin’ Fresh Prince’s “Summertime””.  What a nice way to transition into “Summertime”, no?

Before Atmosphere was Brandon Urie and Panic At The Disco doing “When The Day Met The Night” from their Pretty. Odd. album.  The LP was a huge departure from their pop-punk debut, and channeled The Beatles and The Beach Boys, so much so that they recorded it at Abbey Road Studios.

Pink Floyd recorded Atom Heart Mother at Abbey Road as well, linking it to Panic At The Disco over a 40-year gap.  The title track for Atom Heart Mother would go on to be sampled by Atmosphere for their track “Painting”.  Crazy!  Alright, that about wraps us up today’s episode.  Enjoy the longest day of the year and the show that accompanied it.  See you next time on Feel Me Flow!

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