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Songs I Learned This Summer

“So what was your summer jam this year,” they asked me. Blueberry, I replied.

QMCoverHonestly, how old is the phrase “summer jam” anyway? What is this, 2002? And besides, I cannot immediately think of a song that so overwhelmed and encompassed the pop music culture as to be inescapable, which is probably the definition of a song of the summer. Not that I didn’t have a lot of new music roll my way and stay with me. Here are some of them.

Lycia – Quiet Moments: A mainstay of the so-called “darkwave” sound, Lycia’s Mike VanPortfleet has been producing works fairly steadily since the 1989 demo Wake. Contemporaries of the band Type O Negative (of which lead singer Peter Steele was an early supporter), and of Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor, Lycia captured all the dread of those two groups without the pulsating waves of anger and/or volume. Their sound was and is more textural and ambient. The new album finds VanPortfleet and longtime member Tara Vanflower once again casting a moody spell over a synth-bed landscape. Find out more at: http://www.lyciummusic.com/

127457Kyle Adem – Syracuse: Kyle Adem live is kind of a trip. He is both comedic and dark at times. He plays the acoustic guitar and, technically, he would be considered folk but don’t expect the usual niceties of the folk movement to come to the fore, certainly not the current breed. On the album Syracuse, Adem adeptly works that line between the unexpected laugh, the unsettling outburst, and that vast land between heartbreak and getting over it. Experience the Kyle Adem-ness at his website, http://www.kyleadem.com/

Black&BlueSMLOldfolks Home – Black and Blue: With a modern rock sound reminiscent of Plans-era Death Cab For Cutie (“Mouth Alive” is a primary candidate for your mod rock listening), Canada’s Oldfolks Home brought a huge sound to a tiny New Jersey stage in June, and their CD Black and Blue has been in regular circulation since. Get clips at their Soundcloud page, https://soundcloud.com/oldfolkshomemusic

blueVegas With Randolph – Above The Blue: So I cannot say that this is a new collection (two, three years old?). Fact is the band Vegas With Randolph is on the verge of releasing a brand new record, but I came to the band via this year’s Drink A Toast To Innocence A Tribute To Lite Rock (of which I’ve already said WAY too much). They produce that kind of spunky power pop that leans more to the power side…they’d almost be punk if they weren’t so gosh-darn happy (try “Some Time To Live” from Above The Blue for starters), but the music is wonderfully entertaining no matter what side of the divide you crash land on. Get this and more from their Bandcamp page, http://vegaswithrandolph.bandcamp.com/album/above-the-blue

novelWyatt Funderburk – Novel And Profane: On the other side of power pop’s riverfront is Wyatt Funderburk, getting in under the wire with Novel and Profane which at times calls up memories of Jellyfish (“You Know What To Do”), then takes a big old right turn into proper country-tinged pop, and goes right back around with the next song. Currently only available digitally, I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a vinyl release in the future. For some reason, the sound lends itself for the big ol’ slab of wax. This new offering is available now at Bandcamp: http://wyattfunderburk.bandcamp.com/

Other songs that connected with me over the past few hot and sweaty months are as follows. If you like what you hear, take the time to check out the rest of their music.

See Me Dance – Big Sam’s Funky Nation

Julie (Come Out Of The Rain) – Josh Rouse

The Nothing Part II – Lady Lamb The Beekeeper

Just Make It Stop – Low

Scavengers – The Hush Sound

Walking Past The Graveyard, Not Breathing – Hem

And in case you missed them the first time, here are some other full-length reviews of albums released in 2013 for your enjoyment:

Lisa Mychols – Above Beyond & In-Between

The Duckworth Lewis Method – Sticky Wickets

Various Artists – Drink A Toast To Innocence – A Tribute To Lite Rock

The Heavy Blinkers – Health

The Happy Hollows – Amethyst

Boards Of Canada – Tomorrow’s Harvest

The Lonelyhearts – Years In The Great Interior