Summer. You get into the car, and it's so hot you think an obscenity or two. Maybe you even mumble it out loud if you're alone. Start'er up, get that A/C pumping if you have it (enduring the initial blast of even hotter air), or crank the windows down if you don't. Then it's time for probably the most important decision you'll make for the day (unless you're a doctor, astronaut or the POTUS): What to play.
Summer albums can burn entire pockets of time into your memory like those black ash-snake fireworks the can mark a sidewalk for seeming eternity (on a nostalgic drive through my childhood neighborhood after college, I could still see the ghost of one I'd lit way back when). For instance, I think Fleetwood Mac's Rumours is that for many people. For me, it evokes picking up my good buddy Pete in my old beat up '62 Chrysler Savoy with the slant six that was so rusted out many a mechanic warned me one day the body would just fall down off the frame and onto my noggin, heading out to the beach or another friend's house, laughing about the fact that "Second Hand News" was about jerking off (complete with a three cymbal-crash climax), and of course lusting over Stevie Nicks. For a former boss of mine it harkens back to illicit sex which resulted in a pregnancy and a regretted marriage. Where were you when you first heard "Dreams" or "Don't Stop"?
This summer is shaping up to be a fine summer of new music, especially after such a drought, partially because the music industry continues to disappear up its own anus fretting over a new music delivery reality they just don't want to face. DRM should stand for "Damned Right it's Mine" - it's my copy and I'll play it where I want to. But I digress.
The quintessential summer release is Sugar Ray's new greatest hits compilation. This is one of those groups the casual listener has heard and loved, but probably never put together just who they were. This anthology even starts off crooning "summer." My God, within seconds it feels as though you have an ice-cold beer (or lemonade if that's your speed) in one paw, a glob of sunscreen in the other, a beachtowel between you and the hot sand, listening to the glittery sound of children's laughter wafting back from the surf. If any group has successfully absorbed and reimagined the entire history of popular music, it's these guys. Part Beach Boys, Barenaked Ladies, Run DMC, Metallica, and Todd Rudgren, these guys are one of the few bands I can imagine someone from every generation grooving to at a party.
Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters (and of Nirvana for the pups in the crowd) promised this was gonna be a great summer for music, and until I heard Sugar Ray, plus the new Foo, I was skeptical. In Your Honor is not as tuneful as previous efforts, but still kicks out the jams. For those of you who like your golden rays enhanced by a little thunder, check out the new Foo.
When I say I was skeptical in the last paragraph, that's because I thought Dave Matthews Band's new release was a fluke, a standout in what would be a typical spate of crep summer releases. Then Dwight Yoakam kicked out a new one which was awesome as usual (he's never made a stinker folks), but he's always good, so I didn't count him initially.
But, finally, when I had 5 new CDs circulating in the player I had to admit that the event of Sugar Ray, Foo Fighters, Dave Matthews Band, and Dwight Yoakam putting out so much wonderfulness at once was worth noting. And even though I haven't heard them in their entirety, the new Coldplay and Van Morrison sound like they're both in good stride.
Therefore, it's official: This summer doth rock.