With June 21 marking the official start of summer 2015, five artists discuss their favorite tunes from summers past and songs that are about that time of year.
• The Breton Sound’s Jonathan Pretus — “D’You Know What I Mean” by Oasis (1997)
“I love that band, and I was instantly obsessed with that song. I bought the single from Tower Records — the Be Here Now album didn’t come out until August — and played it, along with its four insanely good B-sides, the entire summer. It was the soundtrack to endless underage Natural Light parties, beach weekends and a church youth-group trip to the Smokey Mountains, where I made out with a girl in a cabin.
“I loved the sheer audacity of the song: The first 60 seconds are feedback and a helicopter. When everything comes in, it’s all attitude, volume and arrogance — everything I wanted in rock ’n’ roll. It doesn’t fit the [typical summer songs] mold at all, but that’s part of why I like it so much. What’s more beach-y than five coked-up Brits in parkas singing nonsense over 90 guitars?”
The Breton Sound will tour this summer supporting the EP Don’t Be Afraid of Rock & Roll Vol. 1.
• JPRiZM — “Summertime” by DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince (1991)
“This song hits me on so many levels. First and foremost, as a ’90s baby, nostalgia hits me hard when I hear it. I remember hearing it all the time in pop’s car, at cookouts and family reunions growing up. I remember it was on the first mix tape I ever made as well.
“As I became a student of music, I remember wondering, ‘Man, how on earth did Jazzy Jeff make that track?’ I discovered that it was a sample-based redub of Kool and the Gang’s ‘Summer Madness,’ which I equally love as a summertime track. But I love the ’90s version because Will Smith was my hero growing up.”
JPRiZM’s concert itinerary includes a show at New York’s Mercury Lounge on June 28.
• Amanda Kravat — “The Boys of Summer” by Don Henley (1984)
“Here’s how I remember it: Heard the synth hook and his kinda rambly, simple, almost-spoken verses — killer. I was riding around with the top down, and it couldn’t have been more of a fitting summer song. Then I saw the video: Remember, this was when MTV was defining itself. That completely innovative camera shot where the camera was somehow attached to Don as he was moving through the city. Great driving/train songs actually make me feel like I am riding in a car or on a train as I listen to them.
“Also, I love a smart, ambiguous tempo kind of song — one that has a pulse like a killer rock song, but when you take it apart, it never really explodes into anything or makes you wanna jump up and down in the audience. But it quickens the pulse, nonetheless. I still beam when I hear that song, but I could just as easily be sobbing in my soup.”
Amanda Kravat’s latest release is the four-song EP titled AK.
• P.J. Pacifico — “Summertime Rolls” by Jane’s Addiction (1988)
“To me, it’s one of the most transcending and energetic songs I’ve ever heard. [It provides] that feeling of coming alive again and the smell of the change of season. The lyrics set the summer theme right from the first line: the blades of grass, kids playing tag, summer romance, etc. And the build of the song is tremendous.
“I always listen to this song extremely loud; I have to. It takes me right back to a day in Regent’s Park in London. I was studying acting over there at the time, and we had one of those first sunny day breakthrough days of the season. I was still in my teens and didn’t have a care in the world at the time, looking back. Every time I hear that song, it brings me right back to that day in Regent’s Park, and all first sunny-day breakthrough days of the season I’ve experienced after that. It’s a time-stopper for me.”
P.J. Pacifico’s new EP, Ready to Run, is out now on Viper Records.
• Kimm Rogers — “Saturday in the Park” by Chicago (1972)
“Even to this day, this song perfectly sums up the joy I felt as a kid, the freedom and delights that summer had to offer, the chiming of the ice-cream truck and the many popsicles that colored our lips and dripped down our arms in the heat of the day.
“As a child, summer had far more significance than it does to me now as an adult. … Fun was only interrupted by an unexpected bee sting, a scrape to the knee or the call to come home because it was time for bath and bed. For me as a kid, everyday was the Fourth of July, as long as it was summer.”
Where the Pavement Grows, Kimm Rogers’ new album, was released June 16.
— Introduction and interviews by Chris M. Junior
Photo of The Breton Sound by Sandra O’Claire
Photo of Amanda Kravat by Nathaniel Johnston