My Summer Playlist | Music | Salt Lake City Weekly
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My Summer Playlist

Locally sourced tunes that capture the sentiments and sounds of the season.



Hey, reader—off the top of your head, what are some songs tied to your most memorable summer moments? How many are feel-good hits? That's what's irritating about discussing so-called "summer songs." The season's not all Slip'N Slides, cotton candy and cookouts. Sure, it's ripe with promise, but it has emotional peaks and valleys like any other time of year. It's just hotter. The days and nights seem longer, but the months pass quickly. Expectations are higher. So the combination of heat, time distortion and the roller coaster drama of watching your hopes and dreams play out provide a much more expansive emotional range than images of shiny, happy people putting sunblock on each other. A "Song of the Summer" is any tune that feels right for your here-and-now.


Quiet Oaks
"Evil" from Pretty Alright
Since my introduction to Quiet Oaks—via their old band, which we won't name 'cause it's about time for that to become the past—came on a hot August day, all of Dane Sandberg's songs sound summery to me. In this one, manic, charging verses slow to a mid-tempo chorus where he spreads his arms, announcing he's "lookin' for evil" and "freedom." That's how every summer starts: with the urge to raise hell and sow wild oats.


Michelle Moonshine
"Make You Mine" from Hell Bent EP
You ever had a summer day where you're alone, with nothing to do but sit and wish for the company of someone in particular, wondering about their whereabouts and thinking about how you'd like to share everything—even that nothing—with them? You try to break it up by spending couch-cushion change on a tallboy that just makes you more lonely and pensive until it's bedtime and you can't sleep. This lonesome country song condenses that day and night into a commiserative three minutes and 40 seconds.


New Shack
"1979" from Eingang
This Smashing Pumpkins cover is about fond childhood memories where summer days meant not contemplating our mortality, just the pleasure of the moment. In this slow, meditative synthpop context, New Shack harnesses even more of the reflective, daydreamy quality of the original, conjuring watery, soft-focus snapshots of those days, where time was marked by the slow tick of sprinklers.


Color Animal
"Watermelon" from Bubble Gum
Huge, juicy hunks of watermelon—don't you sometimes, sitting at a backyard cookout, swear you could take down a whole one? And do you remember the urban legends your friends and cousins would parrot about how swallowing the seeds would cause one of the gigantic fruits to grow in your belly? That's what this reverb dream makes me think about. 'Cause it sounds like Andrew Shaw singing, "Can't eat all the watermelon." (I don't wanna know if that's wrong.)


Fossil Arms
Summer nights are as full of promise as the sunny days—they're just darker. The instrumental first 90 seconds of this synth-punk jam hit somewhere between New Order's "Thieves Like Us" and the Drive soundtrack. It sounds like that moment when you slide into the shotgun seat of your best friend's car, strap in and speed off into the darkness in search of love or at least lost virtue—and, failing that, a garden-variety good time. (Don't listen to the lyrics; they're more like the unpleasant throb of the morning after.)


Hectic Hobo
"Good Dog" from Died on the Fourth of July
Dogs, being man's best friends, are natural inclusions in our summer activities—but that's not what this track is about. Here, Hectic Hobo's "wild-west gypsy rock" strays into pre-"Sexy Eyes" Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show territory, where "dogs" are inveterate horny party hounds: "Champagne and cocaine/ you can't keep a good dog down." And we can all relate to bein' all hot and bothered on a profusely humid July night and gettin' into trouble. God bless summer.