There was a time not long ago when writing songs about the beach was the coolest thing to do in indie rock, but few bands captured the very specific feel of mid-July as well as Real Estate does on their still-excellent debut album. Its opening track shoots a school's-out-for-the-summer pulse with heat-induced languidness, while frontman Martin Courtney hits on an universal sense of pining that the summer months seem to heighten: "What you want is just right outside your reach," he offers in the first few seconds. Then, after a beat, "Keep on searching."
Once the aforementioned "school's-out-for-the-summer" energy wears away, you're left with the charred remnants that Weekend turned into their self-titled debut. Here, Shaun Durkan's vocals are driven to the hypnotic, half-awake state of a 93-degree day by an unforgiving rhythm section. Suffocating feedback mimics a sense of panic and heat. Today, walking to the subway feels like an Olympic sport. The skyline looks as though it's wrapped in haze. You feel frighteningly exhausted. This is the song to listen to.
But when you awake from the coma, there are songs like this one to remind you why you spent all year looking forward to June. Pep rally calls of "This summer!" punctuate Craig Finn & Co.'s accounts of a bored Catholic school upbringing in Nowhere, U.S.A. and the endless possibilities that the summer off-months offered. The line, "Let this be my annual reminder that we could all be something bigger" is not a bad way to make a 30-year-old teary eyed at the thought of growing up.
Primarily the solo project of Philadelphia native Rebecca Huston, Bermuda Bonnie's peculiar, super-catchy brand of lighthearted electronic pop—club music for Care Bears—may prioritize style, but paired with references to suntans and boys with six-pack abs, it's a token kind of summertime fun.
True, the AnCo boys might no longer live in Brooklyn, but here Avey Tare paints such familiar city scenes with firsthand detail—squeaky air conditioners, the pervasive smell of garbage, sweat-soaked clothes (and over the most most straightforward pop hook of the band's career)—it's apparent that New York hasn't entirely left him.
The idea of escape, of running away and starting anew, isn't specific to one season, but when the place in question is Cape Cod and the band singing about it is dressed in casual yacht wear, a distinct summer feel begins to emerge. (Oh, also, it's one of the best indie-pop songs of the decade, so, you know.)
But sometimes the place you're trying to escape is everyday life in, say, Brooklyn, New York, and you need some shout-sung vocals and a punked-up hook to snap you out of your rut and into a theoretical beach holiday. Here's a song for that.
A Brooklynized version of The Lovin' Spoonful's "Summer in the City."