Top 5 Beginning of Summer Albums

Spinnaker

Jason Yurgartis has left the building, people. He graduated from our university and for unknown reasons left me in charge of maintaining his brainchild weekly Top 5 lists. [Editors Note – She is more than qualified to fill Jason’s role as an obscurest, a cynic, an adjective abuser and the resident, ‘wittiest person in the room.’]

Yes, exams passed a few weeks back, but doesn’t that summery sensation still feel fairly newborn? Absurdly frequent beach trips and marathon hangovers have yet to grow old thus far. So I’ve compiled a list of my Top 5 Beginning of Summer Albums as a suggestion to backdrop your sweat-soaked bike rides to the liquor store, back porch dance parties and face-down naps at any hour of the sweltering day (or night). May they bring you further exuberance during this time of year when that feeling of deserved decadence is circulating most rampant. I’ll try not to let you down, Señor Yurgartis.

FOUNTAINS OF WAYNE “UTOPIA PARKWAY”

Although most folks only know of this powerful pop band’s moderate MTV hit “Stacy’s Mom,” there is so much more to the NYC-based quartet. Adam Schlesinger, Chris Collingwood and the other half of the band layer together sunscreen-slicked guitar licks with melodic vocals on their 1999 release. The album’s silly concepts zig-zag from raggin’ on hippies to catching “Dark Side of the Moon” at the local planetarium, but the overwhelming majority of the tunes center on one thing – chicks. And what says summer more than chasing and crying over broads? Exactly.

VAN MORRISON “MOONDANCE”

Van both howls and croons urges to just succumb to the good times on this one. The 1970 release is littered with glittering pianos, simple drum beats and aptly placed brass sections. “Come Running” abolishes all doubt that this album would allow any cold-weather sorrow in its presence with nonsensical rainbow ramblings and not-so-veiled references to frequent (and oh-so rad) sexual encounters. And there are harmonicas. Did I mention he’s Scottish?

BEASTIE BOYS “HELLO NASTY”

Zone out-able organ breaks clash-hard, in a savory way with sometimes-synthesized white-boy raps, in the boys’ most rousing release. Lines like “flame on/I’m gone” and “sweet and sour like a tangerine/fresh like a box of Krispy Kremes” might leave folks scratching their heads, but they’ll be moving their feet and other extremities. Reggae mega-producer Lee “Scratch” Perry has a small foray into a track, too. Really, it’s just the Beastie Boys’ style to spit absurd rhymes over body moving (sorry, that was too easy) beats – which is sure to suit a summer soundtrack just fine.

HARRY BELAFONTE “JUMP UP CALYPSO”

The Trinidad Steel Band backs mega-entertainer Belafonte on this (pre-Muppets Show appearance) 1961 album. A chorus of excited shouters builds up the inescapable frenzy of maracas, bongos and coconuts. Belafonte infects you with a case of the crazy jigs with lines like “well the moon’s still in the sky/an’ the sleep still in your eye/but when you hear me sing/you better make dem hammers ring” reverberating in your head harder than that last round.

THE BEACH BOYS “SMILEY SMILE/WILD HONEY”

This might seem like a cop-out to make it to the complete count of five, but there is a reason the Beach Boys ring cliché for summery, good times. It’s because they wrote the book. Capitol combined the two originally separate ’67 releases onto one glorious disc in 1990, resulting in one cheerful treat. The quintet mixes hand drums, their signature barbershop vocal techniques and trippy interludes to make a ditty about some poor girl losing her hair ring as fun as a shopping cart race. Friendly, pacifying sunshine positively bursts throughout the recording that also explores more appropriate summertime topics other than female balding, of course (“Good Vibrations,” anyone?).