Mixtape Mondays: Ocean Waves
Adrift Under The Sun
Having lived in Southern California my entire life, I should probably be a little more beach-friendly. Still, even though I burn to a crisp pretty much instantly, there’s still a romanticism to the ocean I can’t help but adore: the churn of the waves, the scent of saltwater that clings to your skin, that wonderful sense of sun-soaked laziness. From rollicking, upbeat songs to wispier, more downbeat cuts, this mix is meant to recall those bright, blissful summer days, whether it’s through sun-soaked harmonies, crashing, surf-like instrumentation, or just by virtue of sea-themed titles. So, dive in! (Just don’t forget the sunscreen.)
[Editor's note: Cover images of albums previously reviewed on the DV have been linked to the review.]
"Island In The Sun" – Weezer With its jangly melodies and energetic riffs, this stick-in-your-head Weezer single is delightfully carefree -- “We’ll run away together / We’ll spend some time forever / We’ll never feel bad anymore,” lead singer River Cuomo promises, and when everything is this upbeat, it’s hard not to believe him.
"Come Sail Away" – Styx
A lot of Styx may be schlock, but “Come Sail Away” is legendary, and for good reason. Quintessential Styx, it’s bombastic, a little cheesy, but still well-orchestrated, with the melodic piano and vocals slowly building up to an admittedly awesome chorus, even if it’s been played to death. I defy anyone not to sing along.
"Sea Legs" – The Shins Veering off from the typical shimmery, light Shins signature, “Sea Legs” has a synthed-up, almost hypnotic groove, elaborate production, and some uncharacteristically substantial riffs. Still, the lyrics here are all loose, unhinged freedom (“Cause when the dead moon rises again / There’s no time to stall or protocol / To hem us in”).
"Jogging Gorgeous Summer" – Islands This calypso-tinged offering from Islands’ unmatched debut disc is pure summer jauntiness. Though it takes delight in piling on the instrumentation, this cheery song somehow retains its sparkling, lighthearted sensibility, and it’s over all too soon.
"Beautiful World" – Colin Hay Colin Hay’s deep, crisp vocals paired with a sparse acoustic backbeat and fine-tuned lyrics give this tune an overriding sense of hope despite occasional dips into melancholy. “And still this emptiness persists / Perhaps this is as good as it gets,” Hay proclaims, but somehow it’s not about settling, but a clear-eyed ode to life’s little pleasures: Irish tea, sunrises, and snatching back a bit of freedom by swimming out as far as you can.
"Sea Ghost" – Unicorns The whimsical “Sea Ghost” encapsulates all the weirdness of the now-defunct Unicorns: Nick “Neil” Diamond’s increasingly strained vocals, hazy, crazy lyrics (beginning with the narrator leaping into the sea to dislodge a parasite attached to him), with an odd fade-out of a train chugging past. This brain-fried, buoyant song is probably what results when you sit out in the sun too long, though it might be worth the risk.
"Saltwater" – Beach House There’s an appropriate sting to this track, plucked from Beach House’s debut. A reverb-soaked, gorgeously frank declaration of love (“Love you all the time / Broken faith and a broken way / you couldn’t lose me if you tried”), this is achingly beautiful from start to finish.
"Transatlanticism" – Death Cab For Cutie This is truly definitive Death Cab for Cutie with its sprawling, ever-infinite sense of scope (eight minutes of pure loveliness, all rising piano chords and Ben Gibbard’s pleading vocals). Meanwhile, the evocative, surreal lyrics wonder at how it’s possible to love when the entire world has been waterlogged, with the piercingly lovelorn refrain “I need you so much closer” echoing even after the last chord fades.
"Where Is My Mind?" – Pixies Loose, swaggering guitars and strangely witty lyrics intersect with Black Francis’ half-growled vocals and the high, clear backing harmonies, giving this Pixies classic (off the equally classic Surfer Rosa album) an oddly intriguing sense of sunburned loopiness.
"Window Blues" – Band Of Horses
Closing things out, there’s a subtle, soft melancholy to the final track off of Band Of Horses’ latest disc. Its slow-drip, swaying beat and minimal instrumentation (complete with light plucks of banjo as the song fades out) makes this a fitting ode to setting sunlight and the blissful, bleary end of a day at the beach.
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