Melting Away: Summer Fridays 3.15

Labor Day weekend is the romantic end of Summer, even if it doesn't official end until the 21st. But, psychically, this is it. Let's do it up. (These mixes will continue for two more weeks, I'm going till the Vernal Equinox.) Even if you don't have a job, this is for you. A perfectly good strawberry shortcake bardied for the artwork this week. I hope you appreciate it. They're hands down my favorite junky frozen treat.




  1. Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood – Summer Wine
  2. High Places – The Longest Shadows
  3. (The) Tony Castles – Black Girls in Dresses
  4. America – Ventura Highway
  5. Junip – Always
  6. Rainy Day – I'll Keep it with Mine
  7. The Fresh & Onlys – August in My Mind
  8. The Bees – Listening Man
  9. The Silver Seas – What if it Isn't Out There?
  10. Minature Tigers – Gold Skull
  12. Pete & the Pirates – Selina
  13. Big Star – September Gurls
  14. Cosmic Rough Riders – Sometime
  15. Connan Mockasin – Megumi The Milkyway Above
  16. Astrud Gilberto – Beginnings

Have a great long weekend. No shuffling. Liner notes after the jump.

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Soft Return

 Growing up in the late '70s/ early '80s, I spent a lot of time in the car with my parents and the only radio station we could ever agree on was WRON in my hometown of Lewisburg, WV. The FM station was easy listening (way more horrible than the Lite FMs of today) and it's AM version which played the hits. And at the time, the hits were all pretty mellow. Barry Gibb was writing for everyone, the Doobie Brothers were huge, "You Light Up My Life" was unavoidable, and the Little River Band was the WV-approved version of Steely Dan. 

Despite the path my musical taste has taken since, I still have a soft spot for soft rock. (Yes, I own England Dan & John Ford Coley's Nights Are Forever on vinyl.) And I like it when current bands manage to appropriate the better aspects of that time (strong melody and musicianship) into something a little less cheesy. Or even bands that embrace the cheese without irony. I've got three current examples, which is what magazines call a trend piece:

Silverseas One of the best is Nashville's Silver Seas, the brainchild of Jason Dehming. The band take their sweet time making music, the upcoming Chateau Revenge is only the band's third album in their 10-year career, and their first since changing their name from The Bees in 2006. (If you haven't heard High Society, it's great.) Four years is a long time for a record, but one listen to Chateau Revenge and clearly it's worth the wait. The arrangements on this album are f-ing gorgeous, thick with harmonies and strings. A bit more rock  – in an ELO kind of way — than their last but no less tuneful. A perfect summer record.

MP3: The Silver Seas – The Best Things in Life 

Chateau Revenge is out physically July 6 but you can buy it digitally right now from their website.

ArielpinkThen there's LA eccentric Ariel Pink, who has been making weirdo low-fi bedroom versions of soft rock and '80s cheese since 2004. (Lowfi '80s cheese is basically the chillwave blueprint.) Now signed to 4AD, his forthcoming album Before Today (June 8) goes even further towards yachtrock legitimacy, if not sonic fidelity, thanks to co-producer Rik Pekkonen, an industry veteran who has worked on records by Seals & Crofts, Bread and Kenny Loggins. Mind you, it still sounds like you're listening to a cassette — it just doesn't sound like it was recorded on one. The songs remain crazy catchy, and no less weird.

MP3: Ariel Pink + Haunted Graffiti – Round and Round

Grovesnor  And finally we have Rob Smoughton who records under the name Grovesnor and who, if you are a regular follower of this blog might remember his song "Drive Your Car" from a Summer Fridays mix two years ago. More recently you might recognize him as Hot Chip's live drummer/pinch hitter. After a string of intermittent singles over the last few years, Grovesnor just dropped his debut album titled, appropriately enough, Soft Return, and it's nearly impossible to listen to it without conjuring images of Steely Dan, Rupert Holmes, the Doobie Brothers, etc. But listen further and there's a lot more going on here, the production is really nuanced and clever, especially rhythmically. (There's a lot of subtle hip hop / jungle / techno touches going on.)  Anyone who's seen Hot Chip play in the last year know how versatile Smoughton is and it's clear he really loves this stuff. Soft Return sounds like a midnight drive through a a rainy neon city as filmed through a Vaseline smeared lens.

MP3: Grovesnor – Taxi From the Airport

The Grovesnor album will be out on CD in the U.S. next week but you can get it in digital from Emusic, iTunes and othe digital stores.