Songs for the Summer: Mid-Summer Sizzle

We here at TwH are not in the business of declaring something as THE Song of the Summer – there are a ton of other places for that. We’re just here to guide you to some songs you might want to add to your Spotify, Tidal or that little upstart with its own live, actual radio station, for the summer. We’ll give you updates as the summer progresses.

It’s the middle of the summer, and temperatures have risen to the point where it’s either barely bearable or torturous. Basketball is out, the U.S. Women’s National Team brought us a World Cup, and now we’re just left with the slow burn of baseball’s languorous pace. We’re nearing the dog days, but the music churned out since Memorial Day has been anything but a slow roll. Here are some tracks to keep you cool in the unforgiving broil of the mid-summer sizzle.

The Deslondes – “The Real Deal”

New Orleans is notable for being a hotbed of damn near every slice of the American musical pie except for one: country. It’s a bit surprising considering its geographical location, but the Big Easy is not a place known for convention. Neither are The Deslondes, a New Orleans outfit that takes some of the hallmarks of blues, jazz, and rock bubbling in the city’s cauldron then uses them to create a country sound that sounds both familiar and foreign. “The Real Deal” is a song that utilizes the piano as the source of its drive in much the same way Fats Domino would while punctuating it with heavy twang. It’s a song that is best enjoyed while road tripping across the country.

White Gzus – “Foe the Summer”

Chicago rappers Blanco Caine and Gzus Piece are back as White Gzus with a song that is more effervescent than one of the brews that Piece references in the song. This track floats courtesy of Mr. E’s soulful production which bows at George Benson’s “Breezin'”. Piece’s casual, cool guy flow eases the track to Blanco Caine’s up for whatever persona.

“Foe the Summer” states its case in the name. This is a strictly seasonal set piece, but that doesn’t take away from how good the track is on its own. Don’t be surprised when this song pops up in your shuffle while you try to put the windows down this winter.

Jessy Lanza, DJ Spinn & Taso – “You Never Show Your Love”

Like the previous list, it’s good to have a song that cools even when its main function is to make things steamy. “You Never Show Your Love,” with vocals from Jessy Lanza and production from Teklife members DJ Spinn and Taso, is a blast of freon into a humid, stuffy bedroom. Lanza plays with the atypical slow grind of her footwork producers before a guitar closes with a few melting chords. If you’re looking for something sexy that isn’t Wildheart, this is it.

LA Priest – “Lady’s In Trouble With The Law”

LA Priest is the project of UK garage revivalist, Sam Dust. His debut album Inji is an electronic ode to the smooth rock of yesteryear. “Lady’s In Trouble With The Law” is the closest the album gets to a recreation of something from a Time Life AM Gold compilation. Its drum machine and easy going guitar call to mind the instrumentation of Ambrosia or Player in their yacht rock heights. It’s like a crash landing in the 1970s as imagined by someone who experienced Vice’s ode to Bob Guccione.

Elevator Jay – “Chicken Wangz”

Elevator Jay is a product of my hometown – Charlotte, North Carolina. He is known for a Southern fried, quick cadence flow that, at times, pays debt to Juicy J. “Chicken Wangz,” from his latest EP, is a small departure from his style. It’s a sung tribute to the wild nights of club life in the Queen City that is “hot like chicken wangs” but “colder than the damned North Pole.” Jay’s own production pays tribute to the heyday of early So So Def booty bass. Complete with its hummable chorus and good time feels, this track is the most undeniable facet of a great EP.

Thundercat – “Them Changes”

The drum loop from the Isley Brothers’ “Footsteps in the Dark” is probably most recognizable as the backdrop for Ice Cube’s crawl through LA on “Today was a Good Day.” Thundercat re-purposes the drum loop to make room for his own chunky bass lines with an opening line that announces its high stakes: “Nobody move, there’s blood on the floor.” Just as in Cube’s song, the specter of loss still hangs around in an otherwise laid back atmosphere; letting you know that the summer is not all shits and giggles.

Vince Staples – “Norf Norf”

Summertime ’06 hit summer like a stiff chin check. Staples’ double album is a wallop of realism that details street life and comments on the grossness of white voyeurism in gangsta rap. Overall, the album is a pretty bleak affair about as black and white as the camera work in the “Señorita.” “Norf Norf” is one of a few songs on the album that, though packed with plenty of heft, features an uncontainable bounce. Its a song that has a hard time finding any fun despite the No ID beat that can make shoulders shake. Vince’s album may not be the ideal soundtrack for your summertime but that doesn’t mean it’s not absolutely necessary.

Abra – “Fruit”

The first song I heard on which Awful Records songstress Abra appeared was “Girl” on Father’s Who Wants to Get F*cked First mixtape. She was plenty capable at rapping and calling out any females who view her as competition rather than friends. The next time was on “Fruit,” a laid back, 808-heavy R&B track that showcases her amazing voice. The heavy kicks and thumps contrast very nicely with her delicate voice for a track that’s meant for car stereo speakers.

Sam Outlaw – “Angeleno”

Sam Outlaw’s debut is a decent gesture to the tradition of country in Los Angeles county. It’s filled with sophisticated Countrypolitan strings, Bakersfield electric guitar picking, and rich, mariachi horns. The only thing that holds the album back from soaring is the songwriting from Outlaw. It veers towards irredeemable Bro Country, with items like Patron shooters and ladies in denim being checked off throughout the affair. Yet, the title track is just one of a handful of songs on the album that save it from going too far towards another artist in the Luke Bryan Pandora Radio queue. It’s a track that calls to mind the stories of love lost and found in the West but without some of the genre’s more corny, played out trappings.

Pat Thomas & the Kwashibu Area Band – “Odoo Be Ba”

Pat Thomas is a legend in Ghana, where he is known as “The Golden Voice of Africa”. This highlife singer built his reputation in the ’70s and ’80s as one of the foremost in the country. He released an album with the Kwashibu Area Band earlier this summer, marked with blaring horns, relaxed keys, and poly rhythmic guitars. “Odoo Be Ba” is one of the standouts of the album in which Thomas’ rich, honeyed vocals soothe you into another state of mind.

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