Summer sparks a certain music mood that allows us to indulge in guilty pleasures or listen to the same new album 100 times in one week while at the pool or working our summer jobs. These are KSDB’s picks for our favorite summer music, past and present.
For the Spotify playlist of our top summer albums and songs, see bottom of post.
Sara Wallace – Music Director
The Breeders – Last Splash
The Breeders released Last Splash in 1993, and although a couple years before I was born this album has been my go-to for summer of 2018. The heavy and continuously powerful guitar sound throughout the album keeps the entire album driven and alive. The breathy and sometimes emotionally strained vocals from lead singer Kim Deal tie this monstrous sound together. This album in particular is filled with amazing hits like “Cannonball,” “Do You Love Me Now?,” and my favorite, “Saints.”
Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Sex & Food
Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s newest album, Sex & Food, is different than my typical leisure listening but something about a couple of the tracks on this album had me obsessively listening, as one does to summer music. Yes Im talking about “Honeybee.” This song has a one minute intro and once the vocals come in there is let up with the flow of the song, it stays smooth and hypnotizing. Another nice gem in this album includes “How Many Zeros.”
Sticky Fingers – Land of Pleasure
Aussie band Sticky Fingers is the perfect summer sound of indie- reggae. Yes, Australian-Indie-Reggae. This album was a pivotal peak for the group as their other albums don’t compare to the sounds in this album that are so full-body encompassing. Songs like “Dreamland” with the massive chanting chorus makes you feel you are surrounded by hundreds at a festival. And others like “Gold Snafu” and “Rum Rage” take you to the beach where you can almost feel the sun on you. This album is not only a must listen in the summer, this album is summer.
Brockhampton – 1999 WILDFIRE, single
I could say in general Brockhampton all albums are my pick, but I’ll keep it short and current with their new single, “1999 WILDFIRE.” This single is one of two released this summer; the other being “1998 TRUMAN.” “1999 WILDFIRE” in particular is a nice show of the smooth transition for the group as they get more in the groove of their sound without Ameer Vann.
Violent Femmes- Violent Femmes
I would not feel satisfied if I hadn’t included this album on the list. The first album by the Violent Femmes, and imo the only album by them that matters, includes such classics like Blister in the Sun and Add It Up. these simple yet sometimes erotic songs have such passion in them that 1. I always associate with summer and 2. have blatantly inspired alt-folk-punk for gens and gens to come. It’s a goodie.
Zach St. Clair – Program Director
Father John Misty – God’s Favorite Customer
Father John Misty may be God’s Favorite Customer, but I am his. This June 1st release has been in very heavy rotation both on KSDB (it’s a staple on our Top Twenty pick up yours today woo) and on my Spotify. “Mr. Tillman” and “Please Don’t Die” are the ones I’ve enjoyed the most, though the “poem zone” of “The Palace” sounds just so darned inviting. Also points to the Please Don’t Die video for being hella Tim Burton.
Gorillaz – The Now Now
Did I expect the Gorillaz to grace us with more music so soon after the work of art that was Humanz? No. Am I now going to worship them as my Summer Lord & Savior because of it? Absolutely. With features from Snoop and even a shoutout track to Kansas (hey that’s where i live !!), this late June drop has been stuck in my head since it came out. Go out for a drive one of these last summer days and turn up what is easily my Song of the Summer™, “Humilty” ft. George Benson.
Arctic Monkeys – Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino
For those low-lit evenings when you’re feeling especially debonair, the sweet lounge soothings of the new Arctic Monkeys album keeps one well satisfied. Though it came out near the beginning of the summer, it’s kept me good company with its lunar story lines and smoky melodies. “Star Treatment” gives you something nice and easy to ease you along into the album, leading you to some of Tranquility Base’s strongest like the lead single “Four Out of Five.” If you’re looking for the rock of AM, you’ll be disappointed. This album is its own suave beast in and of itself.
Sam Anderson – Sports Director
Key & Kenny Beats – 777
Atlanta rapper Key! put out his first full project since 2015 with the assistance of Kenny Beats (previously know as the EDM DJLOUDPVCK). With 15 songs in only 34 minutes the project is fast-paced and filled with a new style nearly every song, but the clean production and delivery from Key! Consistently impress. Key! is an artist I had not heard of before but I instantly became a fan. By far my favorite part of the album has to be Kenny Beats’ work on the boards. There is a definite EDM influence here and there but it works well as Kenny’s return to hip-hop shows no signs of rust.
Lil Baby – Harder than Ever
Harder Than Ever was my introduction to Lil Baby, another Atlanta rapper. This album is just plain fun for me. The beats go hard, Baby has great flow and I have kept this album on repeat since it’s release in May. The beats are nothing out of the ordinary for today’s rap but throughout the album I loved each one. Baby provides a consistent presence and style with his lyrics and has some surprisingly real lines here and there. Considering I had not heard of him before, Baby has some A-list features on this album including Offset, Lil Uzi Vert, Young Thug and—of course—Drake.
Daniel Lopez – Co-Music Director
Girls – Album
Girls have a few of quality albums for a summer setting, but I don’t think any come close to their debut album, Album. For an indie band that only lasted for 3 short years, the tracks they where able to manifest on this project has consistently been on my summer playlist for every year since the release back in ‘09. Songs like “Lust For Life,” “Laura,” and “Ghost Mouth” make for some good tunes that everyone will enjoy. And when you feel like slowing the mood down, “Hellhole Ratrace” will get the job done.
David Bowie – The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars
I have to give a shoutout to Bowie’s classic album as it has to many perfect summer tunes to keep off this list. Released all the way back in June of 1972, this well rounded album has stood the test of time as one ofBowie’s best compositions. Whether your grilling out on a beautiful 80 degree day or going on a road trip, this album has the perfect tracks for all your summer endeavors. Some of my favorites include “Lady Stardust,” “Moonage Daydream,” and “Suffragette City.”
Snail Mail – Habit EP
Released back in the summer of 2016, I was completely unaware of it until of my good buddies put it on and I was instantly hooked. The vocals go so fittingly with the instrumentals and this 6 track EP really put Snail Mail on the radar of many indie enthusiasts. Since then she has released her first full length album, Lush, to very positive reviews, and I’m really excited to see how high she can fly during the rest of her career. Tracks like “Thinning,” “Static Buzz,” and “Slug” have such a chill vibe that make them perfect for picnics, cruising, or whatever else your up to during the summertime. Also, I’ve found it the perfect EP to put on when I don’t know what to play when driving with the rents.
Kendrick Lamar – Section.80
I recognize Kendrick has a whole discography of excellent summer albums, but there is something about Section.80 that keeps me coming back to it summer after summer. Although Kendrick had a few projects beforehand, it was Section.80 that really grabbed the worlds attention, and rightfully so. As a truly complete album, whenever I’m driving through the interstate and don’t know what to put on, I can always turn to Section.80 to please my ears. Tracks like “Hold Up,” “Blow My High,” and “Rigamortus,” just to name a few, are perfect for summer afternoons and nights.
Parquet Courts – Wide Awake!
I’m just going to blunt about Wide Awake!; I fricking love this album. Its been something I’ve been listening to all summer and if you are reading this, I insist you give it a chance. Its a fun and wild 13-track alternative rock project that packed with thoughtful lyricism and inventive ideas. Songs like “Tenderness,” and “Almost Had to Start a Fight/In and Out of Patience” are a few of the many highlights on this bad boy.
KSDB’s Summer Spotify playlist