headed towards summer: playlist for may

by Sandra

May: not quite spring, not quite summer—although you’d never know it in these parts. The weather gets a little warmer, the days get a little longer, the sangria flows a little more freely, you laugh a little bit louder. Barbeques, open windows—party music is in order this time of year. Here’s what’ll be on heavy rotation in these parts for the next few weeks…

Beck—Ghettochip Malfunction (Hell Yes) [8bit Remix]: You can find this one on Guerolito, the remix follow-up album to Guero, his album that came out a few years ago. Spoken voices, samples of Japanimation, crazy video game bleeps and boops, all while a crunchy synth beat pumps underneath. A hot robot-rock dance track for sure.

Beck—Missing: More Beck? Yep, more Beck. As my cousin Linda asked me on Facebook—who’s Beck? I told her her kids would probably know. Missing is on the aforementioned Guero. I heard it recently for the first time late at night in the car. I was entranced by the strings and percussive, almost tropical rhythm and it wasn’t until a little later that it occurred to me that the guy singing was Beck. I bought it off iTunes as soon as I got back home.

Duffy—Mercy: The first song I heard from Duffy was a track called Warwick Street. I still haven’t been able to find that ’60s-sounding track anywhere, but not to worry—her whole album sounds like it was released in the 1960s. From her photos, Duffy seems to be about 16 years old, and her soulful voice bellies the fact that she’s a blond British bird. Think Amy Winehouse without the tattoos and crack-whore air. Mercy has the flare of Phil Spector’s “wall of sound” style—it might only be reminiscent, but it’s definitely there.

Jamie Lidell—A Little Bit of Feel Good: More soul music from white people! That’s called “blue-eyed soul” for those of you who don’t know. Jamie is an old favorite, and this is a new song. Upon first listen you may think he’s Stevie Wonder—or maybe not, but this song will definitely have you dancing in your living room, guaranteed.

The Black Keys—Same Old Thing: The Black Keys latest album Attack and Release was produced by Danger Mouse (more on him later). The results sound like blues that’s been relayed out into space and then transmitted back to earth through crunchy sonic airwaves. The entire album is wonderful, with a White Stripe-y vibe to it, sans Jack White’s irritating caterwaul.

Gnarls Barkley—Run (I’m a Natural Disaster): Oh, Gnarls Barkley, how will you ever live up to the deliciousness of your hit song Crazy? Well, you probably never will, but that’s okay, your blend of hip-hop, neo-soul, funk, rock, and electronica is still damned tasty. Hearing them for the first time in Prague, dancing around Hanka’s apartment after a long night’s and early morning’s carousing, I was hooked. The sheer psychedelic weirdness of their songs, the relentless danceable beats, often times belies the dark, moody and downright depressing lyrics.

Vampire Weekend—A-Punk: Nothing witty or clever to say about this song. It’s short, it’s fun, it’s melodic. Just dance, monkeys, dance!

The Talking Heads—This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody): Gotta throw an oldie in here. Can David Bryne run for President? I’d vote for him. This track is mellower than a lot of Talking Head’s really well-known songs—Psycho Killer, Life During Wartime, Girlfriend’s Better—but it’s true ’80s synthesized fake-flute melody casts such a laid-back, funky vibe, you can help but smile.