12 Songs for Summer 2018

Treble staff
songs for summer 2018 Anderson Paak

It doesn’t matter what the calendar says, we’re all sweating. And we don’t particularly care for it. The next several months are most likely going to involve seeking shelter in movie theaters, sleeping with the windows open and keeping the refrigerator stocked full of lagers and pilsners (or anything cold and wet, really). The least we can do is find some great songs to get us through the season. Since the seasons change in just a week, we’re getting ready by assembling a playlist of summer essentials. Five of Treble’s writers put our heads together to come up with a dozen songs for summer 2018, including some groove-heavy neo-soul, some hard-hitting trap, some jangly post-punk and even a banger from some electronic veterans. Queue it up at your next (BB)Q.

songs for summer 2018 Anderson PaakAnderson .Paak – “Bubblin'”

(Aftermath)

In which Anderson .Paak spends four minutes telling you that he’s cooler, richer, and better-dressed than you, and you still come away from the experience thinking, “What a nice young man.” Producers AntMan Wonder and Jahlil Beats supply the Oxnard-bred musician with a booming, string-heavy backing that sounds like if someone pissed off “Soul Bossa Nova,” and from there, it’s off to the races. Paak can be a smoothly effective singer when he wants to be, but his smoky rasp never threatens to break into melody here; “Bubblin’” is Paak on his gleeful rap motormouth shit, words spilling all over the floor, letting everybody know that he’s got his money right and you can’t tell him nothing. Play this at high volume, preferably in a residential area. – Ben Dickerson


Leon Bridges Good Thing reviewLeon Bridges – “Bad Bad News”

from Good Thing (Columbia)

Here’s the thing about summer: It’s generally pretty unbearable if you plan to go outside before sunset. Sure, here in California it’s not nearly as bad as it is somewhere near a Great Lake, or Florida perhaps, but unless you have the luxury of spending all summer in a swimming pool instead of having adult responsibilities, then it more or less is totally unpleasant. That’s why it’s important to have a great summer night jam, when you’re sweating just a little bit less and maybe a little bit more intoxicated. “Bad Bad News” is that jam, a sexy, surprising groover from Leon Bridges’ new album. It’s more Anderson .Paak, less Sam Cooke, and it’s designed for those evenings when the steam dissipates just a little and the cocktails are plentiful. I’d say I’m going to wear this one out, but it’s been over a month already and it’s still as cool as a summer jam gets. – Jeff Terich


songs for summer 2018 Childish GambinoChildish Gambino – “This Is America”

(RCA)

This is already the song of the summer, which is a little surreal. You will absolutely hear this song blasting out of people’s cars for the next few months—I’ve already heard it more than any other song in my own neighborhood. The video for “This Is America” depicts a shirtless Donald Glover dancing, grinning, occasionally contorting his voice through what looks like a single take with occasional pauses to gun down bystanders. It’s an intense work of satire and a pretty heavy meditation on the lethal racism that pervades America, as well as America’s relationship with Black entertainers (Glover at one point in the video adopts a pose similar to a Jim Crow caricature, as one example). It also slaps, though, and given that it’s a balance of choral harmonies and nasty trap beats, that’s a tricky hybrid to pull off. He does though, phenomenally. It’s not the feelgood hit of the summer, but having already gone Platinum, it’s most definitely a hit. – Jeff Terich


songs for summer 2018 DrakeDrake – “Nice For What”

(Young Money)

Here’s the thing: This one’s gonna be your summer jam whether you like it or not. Drake is like air or corn or death—he is everywhere and nowhere and you can’t escape him. But I am here to tell you (broadly speaking) that Actually, Drake is Good. This song is fun! It’s Drake making a New Orleans bounce song, so you get the pounding bass and the insistent hi-hats and you get Drake doing Drake things! Honestly, Drake isn’t even all that interesting here (sure, he got a lot of good publicity for not being openly condescending and dismissive to women on here, but, I mean, what does he want? a cookie?) but he did cut out and chop the impassioned, pleading bridge of Lauryn Hill’s “Ex-Factor,” and now we all get to live in that moment for a couple minutes. Long live our passive-aggressive Scorpio overlord. – Ben Dickerson


Iceage Beyondless review Album of the WeekIceage – “Pain Killer” (feat. Sky Ferreira)

from Beyondless (Matador)

Tolerating summer when your wardrobe is 95 percent black and your tastes lean toward the dark side can be a trial, though it’s not like Robert Smith or Peter Murphy never pulled off a hit. And as of this year, the same goes for Danish art-punks Iceage, whose new album Beyondless has a handful of tracks that aren’t merely excellent songs, but bona fide rock anthems. “Pain Killer” is one of them, an infectious single with the added bonus of a horn section and backing vocals from Sky Ferreira. It’s still dark, naturally, but in a far more fun and playful way. Plus at the beginning of the year I was ready to dub 2018 the year of the saxophone, and this song sure as hell isn’t proving me wrong. – Jeff Terich


songs for summer 2018 janelle monaeJanelle Monae – “Make Me Feel”

from Dirty Computer (BadBoy)

Dirty Computer (the entirety of which deserves a place on this list but its first single, “Make Me Feel,” is a more than suitable representative) is Monáe’s first post-Prince record, one of her most Princelike, and mostly sans robots. Upon the release of “Make Me Feel” in February, the internet immediately hailed it a summer jam, despite the ceaseless blizzards just outside the window. Several of Monáe’s past singles have dropped on the cusp of warmer months (“Q.U.E.E.N,” “Yoga”), and like “Make Me Feel,” they all manage to sidestep the predictable bubblegum flavor of summertime pop while still being massive bops. At once self-assertive, personal, and unabashedly, politically queer, “Make Me Feel” proves its temporal transcendence as a jam for all seasons. – Paula Chew


songs for summer 2018 parquet courtsParquet Courts – “Wide Awake!”

from Wide Awake! (Rough Trade)

We tend to equate summer with hedonism, probably because of some youthful ideal of having the freedom from responsibility after school lets out or some such fantasy. But those days are long gone; my generation has been working summers for a long time and getting paid less for it, so the non-stop party’s going to have to wait. And even if that means no getting weird in Ibiza, it can still mean getting weird in one’s headphones. Parquet Courts’ “Wide Awake!” is the kind of song that feels like a miniature, self-contained party, all disco cowbells and funky guitar scratch. Coming from Parquet Courts, it seemed like an odd surprise—their wheelhouse is jangly post-punk, so to hear them do homemade DFA sounds felt not only charming, but absurdly fun at that. Summers are also for house parties and barbecues, and when the disco sounds more like a group of friends jamming the fuck out instead of an algorithm, it somehow feels more true to the season. Like they were invited to the barbecue themselves. – Jeff Terich


songs for summer 2018 Playboi CartiPlayboy Carti – “Shoota” (feat. Lil Uzi Vert)

from Die Lit (Interscope)

Who among us hasn’t rolled over in bed to grab our gun before welcoming the breaking dawn? Okay, actually “Shoota” probably isn’t the most relatable song for Treble’s audience but that doesn’t mean we can’t bask in its effortless swag. Carti and Lil Uzi, two rappers working at the peak of their powers, are in constant competition for the track’s most infectious moment. Is it Carti asking us to decide which ludicrously expensive car of his to drive for the day (We’ll go with the Bentley, for the record)? Or better yet how about Uzi finding a way to rhyme drop and watch? Whichever pocket of ear wormy goodness you latch onto, “Shoota” is all the way addictive. – Wesley Whitacre


Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever songs for summer 2018Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – “Talking Straight”

from Hope Downs (Sub Pop)

Summertime in recent years has generally meant an abundance of synth-based sounds, but since being a teenager at least, for me it’s meant jangly post-punk guitars. (All seasons do, but hear me out.) Australia’s Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever evoke a particularly bright college rock sound in line with The Go-Betweens, early R.E.M., The Feelies or For Against, which is to say it’s a summertime sound that’s not all sunny hedonism. In fact, the band’s debut album cover depicts an empty pool, so it’s safe to say there’s more than a twinge of darkness within that undeniable shimmer. But “Talking Straight,” as uncertain and tormented as it might be at times, is one of the catchiest indie rock songs I’ve heard all year. Existential crisis or kiddie pool full of beer, it’s all good. – Jeff Terich


serpentwithfeet soil reviewserpentwithfeet – “cherubim”

from soil (Secretly Canadian)

The easiest way to describe serpentwithfeet’s current style is probably “creepy gospel,” but this is reductive, and the work contains so much more. “Cherubim” is climactic and worshipful, and paradoxically sweet and horrifying (“making love to you is my job”). The relationship in question is ambiguous enough to be anything between a mildly obsessive fling and an obsequious, eternal commitment, the subject anywhere between demon and deity. Serpentwithfeet builds “cherubim”’s thrilling downward spiral with wavering, complex vocal layers. Plus, the track is populated by glorious religious entendres like “I get to keep my mouth filled with you.” If you think the heat might be making you sweat this summer, it’s more likely “cherubim” that’s doing it. – Paula Chew


Underworld Iggy Pop streamUnderworld & Iggy Pop – “Bells and Circles”

(Underworldlive.com)

If all you know of Underworld remains their 15 minutes of “Born Slippy” fame from Trainspotting, then take a moment this summer to put some “sunshine on my wings” and reintroduce yourself via this new standalone track that’s about as relentless as Underworld have been since then. Seven-plus minutes of pounding percussion stand up against subtle waves of squirrelly keyboards, a simple formula that reminds us of the drama and release found in great electronic dance music. You also get the bonus of an honest-to-goodness big-name guest spot, as Iggy Pop replaces Karl Hyde’s font of language with a darkly humorous soliloquy that uses airlines’ smoking ban as a metaphor for waning fun and independence. – Adam Blyweiss


songs for summer 2018 YunoYuno – “No Going Back”

from Moodie (Sub Pop)

The primary element bringing Yuno’s “No Going Back” to life is his lethargic falsetto, which sits comfortably atop his simple, synthy hooks and clean electric guitar. The track’s rhythm feels reminiscent of lazy beach days and the introspection resulting from having too much time on one’s hands. It’s uncomplicated and relaxing and succeeds all the more for it, a perfect preview of Yuno’s much-anticipated debut Moodie. – Paula Chew

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