Other corners of the world view summer as a welcome respite from the shittiness of the rest of the year. You know, places like Seattle and Portland and Winnipeg. Here in Austin we know the truth: the sun is a harsh thing and it wants to destroy us all. Which is why we’ve compiled nine tracks by local bands to help you feel like you’re getting a fun summer from the safety of indoors.
Tele Novella “Don’t Be a Stranger”
Although hip quartet Tele Novella released this track in November, it sounds like a summer anthem to me, with its surfy guitar licks and an organ line dialed in from a beach party movie. Natalie Ribbons’ vocals channel a former beach beauty queen who’s now a little creatively exhausted after all the bullshit and backstabbing but is looking forward to evenings where she can “get out of the city.” She also wants you to call and check in on your mother because when it’s 106 degrees outside, you may as well call relatives while sitting in front of the AC.
Ian McKinney- “Octodad (Nobody Suspects a Thing)”
More blatantly surfy is Ian McKinney’s “Octodad (Nobody Suspects a Thing),” a weirdo pop track about an octopus masquerading as a dad that was written for a game with the same name and concept. Set around a fuzzy, insistent guitar riff and a killer melody, “Octodad” is a reminder that sometimes the heat is too much for the animals too and it’s not a stretch to imagine one leaping out of the ocean to put on a three piece suit and integrate itself into a nuclear family. Grocery shopping and putting together toys despite the lack of opposable thumbs has to beat “running for your life from a moray eel,” at least.
Octopus Project- “Truck“
Speaking of Octopi, the Octopus Project’s “Truck” is a refreshing slice of noisy synth rock that probably won’t completely cure you of sun dazed lethargy (or its more lethal brother, sun stroke) but it can at least serve as a mid-afternoon pick-me up as you try to find the one spot where the AC streams all come together. At just over two minutes long, it’s the perfect thing to keep on repeat and it’s an instrumental, so you can come up with your own lyrics comprised of your cookout grocery list or a favorite summer cocktail or political anthem inspired by the ticket APD gave you.
Best Fwends- “Man Who Can”
Best Fwends pack a lot of fun into “Man Who Can,” even though it’s only slightly more than a minute and a half long. There’s a slide whistle popping up at random intervals, and a Devo-esque synth hook that takes over everything by the bridge, plus that bratty vocal. “Man Who Can” is the ideal song to play when the heat has you cranky and in desperate need of a mojito or at least a nap, both of which are things that are generally frowned upon in the workplace. Fun synthy pop punk, though, is a bit more acceptable.
Zeale- “Black Mr Rogers”
Whistling is a surefire way to get yourself a summer hit. As long as it’s a healthy amount of whistling. Which is what Zeale provides on “Black Mr. Rogers,” a song all about Zeale utilizing his “Mr Rogers swagger” as he walks through the neighborhood, complete with “pillows tied to my feet because I’m chasing my dreams.” Maybe your dream while you listen to Zeale’s summery hip-hop hit is to finally get around to mowing the lawn or cleaning those shelves or some other domestic chore Mr. Rogers would encourage you to complete. Maybe this will make it easier.
Sweet Talk- “Viewing Party”
Eventually the sun has to go down and then it’s time for boozy summer parties. This is where Sweet Talk and their “Viewing Party” come in, like Cheap Trick for the Lone Star State or a less ramshackle Nerves for the queso generation. “Viewing Party” gets its appeal from its commitment to reinvigorating power pop and unashamed ’70s riffs. Stephen Svacina’s vocals more or less command you to have a good time, no matter how worn out the work week and the humidity have you. Whether you’re the lone friend pushing for everyone to head downtown or the lone holdout, this should serve as proper enticement for venturing outside.
Chalkboards- “The Sickest Kickflip You’ve Ever Seen”
If you’re a more active summer participant and need a soundtrack for athletic activities, Chalkboards’ “The Sickest Kickflip You’ve Ever Seen” should be right up your alley. Outside of its sk8te or die title, this track by Chalkboards is a dizzying mish mash of busy bit crushed drums and chirpy synths eager to aid in acceleration. Like the Genesis to Octopus Project’s SNES, Chalkboards pack more of an edge into their 16 bits, implementing shoegaze flourishes and cascading walls of sound on the edges of their earwormy leads. Whether you’re a bedroom dwelling gamer or tech savvy outdoor adventurer, this is a song that will have you motivated to land some achievements.
Ume- “The Conductor”
On an EP called Sunshower, you’d think the most summery anthem would be the title track but for my money it’s the see-sawing “The Conductor,” a track with an array of ultra heavy face melting riffs with a slight Eastern bent that build up to a shimmery and dreamy chorus. Ume has since become an even heavier band but I’ve always had a soft spot for this song and the way it seems custom built for a road trip through a futurist Death Valley. If you’re venturing out beyond Texas’ borders this summer and aren’t looking forward to the days of driving that entails, this might serve as a respite from the wide expanses of dead space that make up most of the state.
Genuine Leather- “The Viper”
Admit it: a good chunk of your summer listening is devoted to classic rock radio. It’s okay, everyone’s got a soft spot for a Steely Dan or a Thin Lizzy or a Steppenwolf track or on and on. The guys in Genuine Leather are a little more upfront with their influences but they channel them in a way that makes it a little easier to sing along in public without judgmental stares from East Austin stereotypes. “The Viper” is the introductory track off their new LP Losers and on top of the garagey guitars and drums, it’s got some irresistible harmonies just before the verse really kicks in, handclaps on the bridge and a chorus infused with the thrill of a summer fling. In a different reality, this is ruling the airwaves instead of that Iggy Azalea hit that spawned a Clueless Xerox of a video and a billion guilty think pieces.
Morgan Davis sells bootleg queso on the streets of Austin in order to fund Loser City, a multimedia collective he recently formed with Danny Djeljosevic. When he isn’t doing that, he plays drums for Denise and gets complimented and/or threatened by Austin’s musical community for stuff he writes here at Ovrld, which he is the Managing Editor of.