10 of Indie Rock’s Finest Summer Anthems


The new Beach House record is out this week, and while we’ve always thought the band’s name was more wry irony than genuine summeriness — Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally’s music evokes the atmosphere of boarded-up resorts and empty beaches, as far as we’re concerned — we’ve got no doubt that Bloom is gonna be the soundtrack to many, many people’s summers. And, indeed, every summer needs a good soundtrack, so we thought we’d take this opportunity to take a look at some of our favorite indie summer anthems — songs that celebrate the sun, or just do a fine job of capturing the atmosphere of the season in all its complex, sweaty glory.

The Drums — “Let’s Go Surfing”

Incongruous as a surf anthem from a bunch of skinny Brooklynites is, there still aren’t many more quintessentially summery songs from the last few years than this. If you didn’t have that whistling part stuck in your head for most of the middle of 2009, we envy you.

Jane’s Addiction — “Summertime Rolls”

Summer romances are eulogized in literature and song for a reason. There’s something about the sun and the heat that seems to intensify every emotion, making you believe — for a while, at least — that you can set aside reality and somehow live in a little self-contained bubble with the other person. This is indie rock’s own “Summer Lovin’,” a beautiful and surprisingly tender portrait of what it feels like to be in love when the days are long and the nights longer (even if it does conjure up uncomfortable images of a naked Perry Farrell).

Regina Spektor — “Summer in the City”

Of course, summer can be a pretty horrible and lonely time, too, especially if you’ve just been involved in a break-up and you’re then subjected to the sight of loads of other scantily clad happy couples grinding up against one another. This rather forlorn closing track to Begin to Hope captures that feeling only too well, and its lyrics are startlingly frank: “I went to a protest/ To rub up against strangers/ And I felt like coming/ But I also felt like crying.”

LCD Soundsystem — “Daft Punk Is Playing at My House”

And there are about 20 people in the backyard, and someone’s just turned up with more beer, and the music is driving the neighbors up the wall… and life couldn’t be better.

The Ramones — “Rockaway Beach”

A classic in every respect, even though the last time we went to Rockaway Beach, someone pulled a gun on the A train and we only narrowly avoided getting shot. We may not be venturing back to the Rockaways anytime soon but, well, we’re still fond of the song.

Supergrass — “Sun Hits the Sky”

The lyrics are fairly non-specific — we’re still not entirely sure what the whole “I’ll be your doctor” chorus is all about — but as far as we’re concerned, this is the perfect soundtrack for piling into the van/subway/Zipcar and heading for the beach. Also, the last 90 seconds of this song are home to the most sumptuous bass outro ever ever ever.

Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci — “How I Long to Feel That Summer in My Heart”

Welsh trippers Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci did a fine line in gentle, blissed-out psychedelia, and this song — taken from their lovely 2001 album of the same name — conjures up the atmosphere of the northern European summer, with its slight air of melancholy, and gentle dappled sunlight that’s all the more precious because it feels so transitory. This is a song about enjoying the last vestiges of the season — as Euros Childs sings in the first verse, “Though I long to stay/ I just got to go/ Where money is made/ And cold winds blow.”

REM — “I’ve Been High”

Summer imagery — dragonflies, beach balls, empty blue skies — dominate the terminally underrated Reveal, and this song is our particular favorite from that record. It’s a perfect evocation of long, languid nights where it’s too hot to sleep, but that’s OK, because no one is sleeping anyway.

MGMT — “Time to Pretend”

Yes, this got overplayed like crazy, and yes, basically everyone in the world (including MGMT themselves, most likely) is sick to death of it. But still, cast your mind back to the first time you heard that synth riff… If you’re like us, it was probably some time in the summer of 2007, and this song still conjures up images of gushing fire hydrants and hazy days and trying to get the air conditioner to work. Also, the bit in the video where Andrew VanWyngarden is riding a giant kitten is still pretty great.

Queens of the Stone Age — “Feel Good Hit of the Summer”