“Advanced Falconry”—Mutual Benefit
Mutual Benefit’s LP Love’s Crushing Diamond was on repeat for me all summer, providing a soothing soundtrack to many early mornings and long bike rides. Its sound is folksy with warm banjo strings and natural vocals that bring to mind Sufjan Stevens. The unique atmosphere of “Advanced Falconry” drew me into this wonderful album for good.
— Elie Waitzer
Maybe it’s the fact that Vance Joy and I sing in the same key, maybe it’s the fact that this huge Australian man plays ukulele, or maybe it’s just because I’m a sucker for romantic themes and music videos directed like ’60s dramas. Whatever the reason, “Riptide” took hold of me this summer and it refused to let go.
— Morgan Alexander
“Hero”—Family of the Year
It’s not a particularly good song, and it wasn’t actually released this year, but my summer jam was Family of the Year’s “Hero.” The tune was featured on the soundtrack to Richard Linklater’s film Boyhood—which did come out this summer. The movie shows 12 years in the life of a boy, and the song comes in at a pivotal moment in his life—he’s on his way to college and preparing to shed his ‘boyhood’ once and for all. As I hinted at, there’s not much interesting about the song itself; it’s a generic dude-with-an-acoustic-guitar type of number. But in the context of Linklater’s emotional roller coaster of a film, the tune takes on the gravitas of a Romantic symphony. As with most pop music, the memories we associate with the songs are far more important than the notes or lyrics—that breakup you never fully got over or the trip you took that permanently altered your worldview. Remarkably, over the course of two-and-a-half hours, Linklater creates characters fully realized enough to draw out those sorts of emotions in us, and Family of the Year gives us the song to go with them.
— Max Joseph
I spent the summer running a high ropes course at a children’s camp, and in between the periods where the kids came down to climb, there was no shortage of leisure time in the isolated forest area where I worked. There are some solid Song of the Summer contenders on Real Estate’s Atlas, but “Crime” was always my first choice to accompany those rare days when the the sun came seeping down through the trees and the mosquitoes were tolerable enough for me to actually kick back in peace. It’s upbeat, but still manages to capture the lazy, dreamy vibe of a perfect summer day. The second chorus trails off with the words, “All will be revealed,” and they back it up by giving you all you need to hear to be sold on the song in the melodic guitar solo which follows.
— Max Berger
“Shake it Off”—Taylor Swift
Swift’s latest single combines catchy lyrics with self-proclaimed “sick beats.” Despite the stylistic departure of the song from her usual country-pop comfort zone, “Shake it Off” features Swift’s signature ‘so-over-you’ attitude that we all secretly or not-so-secretly love. For its saxophone-heavy instrumentals, shout-outs to exes, and lively chorus—I’m just gonna play, play, play, play, play it on repeat until her next album 1989 drops this October.
— Jessica Fu
“Lifetstyle ft. Young Thug and Rick Homie Quan”—Rich Gang
“Lifestyle” is the first single from the upcoming Rich Gang album being arranged by rap giant Birdman. The lyrics are difficult to pick up on the first listen through, but there is something infectious about the shouting, high-pitched style in which Young Thug raps. Couple that with a solid verse from Rich Homie Quan, and what you have is one of the liveliest rap songs of the year so far. The song’s high energy and synth-heavy beat make it difficult to avoid singing along. “Lifestyle” makes you want to roll down your windows and let loose, which is all you can ask for in a summer anthem.
— Wyatt Fine-Gagné