Quick Hitters: Summer Jams

Summer is here, and with that comes the absence of poor weather outside of the occasional spell of sweltering heat or pouring rain. For me, everything seems to be better in the summer. Lots of activities to do, longer periods of daylight, and of course many outdoor live shows to catch. One of note that I plan to see on July 29 is Fitz and The Tantrums at the Simon Estes Ampitheater in Des Moines. This is part of their Nitefall on the River series.


But if you’re like me, you don’t need a band playing in front of you to enjoy the great summer vibe. You can enjoy life just as much out on your deck, with some friends, and some tunes that capture the positive waves that summer sets out. I’ll post three songs here that I think do this quite well. Hopefully they’ll get your summer started off on the right foot…and maybe it’ll even bring back a few cherished memories like…



Wow, that got dark quickly.


1. Metric-Stadium Love (Che Andre Remix)

A much more chill version than the original. This is a remix of a song off of one of my favorite albums, Fantasies. The original is a much grittier, while still fun, track. This takes the original lyrics and puts a more acoustic, summery feel to it.



2. Junior Prom-Sheila Put the Knife Down

A lot of swearing, a violent theme…this is still one of the more jubilant sounding tracks I’ve heard in recent memory. Given the nature of this song and the name of the band, I have a bad feeling these guys may be headed toward one-hit wonder territory. Hopefully I’m wrong. Sheila put the knife down is a peppy, upbeat track filled with lots of good synths and and great guitar bit @2:23.




3. Best Coast-Who Have I Become

While I am a big fan of this group, I used to think that not much thought went into writing their songs, especially the lyrics. This song made that mindset go away quickly. Most of Best Coast’s songs are pretty short but this track clocks in just under 5 minutes. It moves along well the entire time. It’s a thrill-ride that has some more complex guitar playing and lyrics than I’m used to hearing from this group. I really like the opening verse:

“Sometimes I hate myself for loving you…
And my dreams are just dramatic versions of
My real life.
And life is short, but so am I.
What does it matter anyway?
Just a small price that I pay to feel the same way every single day…
Every single day…”

Everything about this song is awesome, from Bethany Cosentino’s vocals to the guitar solo @3:33 all the way to the excellent outro that features some well placed backing vocals. I doubt you’ll have a hard time getting jacked for summer after giving this a listen.


What I’m Listening To…

1. The Horrors-So Now You Know


A modern day Smiths sounding track, “So know you know” has a rather genial intro and creates an almost ethereal sound-scape during the chorus. I had never heard of this group before listing to this song. They’re based out of the UK and have already come out with a few albums since they formed back in 2005. This is off of their latest one Luminous, and it came out on May 4th.



2. A. G. Cook-


I’m very confident you will either like or completely hate this song. It could probably the theme song for Sonic the Hedgehog given its pace and sporadic nature. Through the craziness (and a few listens), I found a song that has a ton of effects that are put together with excellent execution. You’ll start to notice how well they blend together after the 2nd listen or so. The last minute of the song is my favorite part and is like a reward for sticking it out for having to deal with the really high-pitched vocals throughout most of the song.




3. Prodigy-Firestarter (Death Grips Remix)

Firestarter” will always be one of Prodigy’s most well known songs. It’s fast and vicious.  It ended up being one of my least favorite tracks off their memorable 90’s record “Fat of the Land”. It’s hard to pinpoint what it is that I don’t like about that song but I know I’m not big on a song that doesn’t seem to have a redeeming part of it (usually in the chorus) that counteracts all the disturbing and negative sounding vibes that “firestarter” has.


This version by Death Grips is not that much different from the original but it seems to have a more laid-back and less chaotic feel to it; which I appreciate. It’s slightly ironic as Death Grips is no slouch when it comes to producing some abrasive tunes. This would not fit that description, however. The synths are very fluid throughout this version. See what you think.


Quick Hitters-EDM faves

To commemorate the recent twitter battle between Win Butler of Arcade Fire and Deadmau5, I’ve put together 3 of my favorite EDM songs that I’m guessing you haven’t heard before. If you’re left feeling confused after reading the last sentence, I’ll break it down for you. EDM stands for electronic dance music. Within the past 10 or so years, I’ve noticed that indie groups were looking to branch out from the conventional stringed instruments and began to heavily utilize electronic sounds in their music.



The irony is that Arcade Fire is one of the bands that helped pioneer this movement of experimenting with their own sound using electronics (example here). It’s gone over well in the world of indie and artists like Foster the People, Daft Punk, CHVRCHES, and Cut Copy are considered just as indie as the more traditional, stringed instrument-based groups such as  The Strokes, Pavement. or the Pixies.

Back to the fabled twitter battle, Arcade Fire frontman, Win Butler, sent out a tweet that simply stated “Shout-out to all the bands still playing actual instruments at this festival” (referring to Coachella). Deadmau5 took offense to the statement and it’s easy to see why; it’s clearly a knock on artists that rely heavily on their power Mac and other accessories to create their sound onstage. Deadmau5 unleashed a couple of response tweets essentially saying that it doesn’t matter what method you use to create you art, good music is good music. You can see the whole story here.


Personally, I side with Deadmau5 on this one. While I see where Butler is coming from, I have fully embraced the EDM movement in Indie. I think it’s great that Indie fans have their own brand of dance music and neither have to lackadaisically sway back and forth while zoning out to the more traditional indie brand of music; or have to pretend to enjoy themselves while dancing it out to this uninspired, lamestream brand of dance music. And artists like Deadmau5 are huge reason why it’s not like that anymore.





1. The Whitest Boy Alive-Golden Cage (Fred Falke remix)


So there you have it folks, now for some under the radar EDM tunes that I’m hoping you’ll enjoy. First off is the Fred Falke remix of The Whitest Boy Alive’s “Golden Cage”. It’s tough not to feel good after hearing this song. It has what seems to be sad lyrics but the beat is uplifting. I haven’t heard much of anything else from these two artists but if they can produce more of this, I’ll give them a closer look.




 2. Prodigy-Climbatize

Prodigy has always been one of my favorite electronic acts and their album The Fat of the Land will always go down as one my favorite albums from the 90’s. Most have probably heard “Firestarter”, “Breathe”, or “Smack my Bitch Up” from this album at some point during their lives but climbatize is favorite of the non-singles from this album. It’s long and doesn’t sound like an EDM song right from the start (starts slow w/ little percussion in the intro), but once it gets moving along it’s a unique and fun blend of synths and percussion instruments. It’s keeps your interest throughout and has a cool outro with all of the instrumentals pushed to the background to give it a sound as if it’s being played far away.



3. Deadmau5-Not Exactly

I didn’t think it would be right to close out this post without including a song by Deadmau5 himself so here’s “Not Exactly”, my favorite track off of album Random Album Title.