For those of you in North Idaho that prayed for no winter this past year, congratulations, you got what you wanted... with a price. We didn't get a winter, but spring has also abandoned us.
We've endured weeks of torrential rains, wind, and colder than average temperatures. In the first seven days of May, we've seen our breath condensing in chilly air, awoken to frost, and commuted through wet pellets of snow.
There is good news. It looks like summer is starting. So to commemorate the warmer weather that has settled upon the Coeur d'Alene area, I have a Five for Friday list that is too grand to be condensed into a singular five options. So I'm giving you a double sized list.
When warm weather descends, there is an arsenal of music that begs to be played at full volume, in your car, with the windows down. (Full volume with the AC on just doesn't have the same effect.) So here are the top five (plus an additional five) summertime albums that I most enjoy listening to when cruising around town.
1) The Mighty Mighty Bosstones - Let’s Face It: I got bit by the ska bug in the mid 90's and this album was purely infectious. Granted, I only listen to the album now if it's sunny and hot outside.
2) Less Than Jake - Hello Rockview: Ska part dos. However, with songs like Last One Out of Liberty City and Five State Drive, this is also great road-trip music. Furthermore, History of a Boring Town reminds me of growing up in Marysville.
3) Wyclef Jean - The Carnival: When I was working in a record store, this was the rap record that I recommended to people that didn't like rap music. I also know dozens of people who claim this as the first rap album they ever purchased. Clef's deft mix of hip-hop, R&B, and reggae; the blend of English, Spanish, and Creole vocals; and the organic musicianship with rich baselines makes this a great summertime album... Provided you skip over the annoying skits.
4) Joy Electric - Melody: I had a hard time deciding between Melody and Robot Rock, both albums are filled with catchy hooks, deep low ends, and joyful melancholy. But Melody was Ronnie Martin's first record, and it remains one of my favorites 15+ years after my first listen. This is synth pop at its finest.
5) 311 - Soundsystem: The lyrics of Come Original describes the sound of this album, hip-hop beats, dancehall rhythms, and punk guitar. Yet, even at it's heaviest moments, Soundsystem (from start to finish) has a Caribbean vibe to it as the band was heavily influenced by Jamaican culture. It just begs to be played when the weather is warm.
6) Matisyahu - Youth: If there are two words I would have never imagine paired together, those two words would be "Hasidic reggae." It's mind boggling and defies logic, but it works. This is music that you'd imagine hearing in Jerusalem or at the beach. And What I'm Fighting For is the epitome of a campfire song.
7) Silage - Watusi: There are two albums I bought after graduating high school - a sort of self-congratulatory present - Watusi and Switchfoot's Legend of Chin. I played both records all summer long. While Legend of Chin became the soundtrack to my life, Watusi was the essential cruising music. From the bass laden Double You Es to the Beach Boy cover Be True to Your School, Watusi is fit for summer.
8) Soundtrack - 50 First Dates: I'm not sure if I'd classify this as a soundtrack (as it's missing Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's fantastic rendition of Somewhere Over The Rainbow/What A Wonderful World) or if I'd call it a tribute album. Track by track (and ignoring Sandler's contribution at the end of the record) this is a summertime love letter to the 80's.
9) Rancid - ...And Out Come the Wolves: This album (as far as I am concerned) is iconic. I've mentioned before it's impact and it remains one of my favorite records of all time. From Roots Radical to Lock, Step, and Gone to You Don't Care Nothin', this is a record that must be played as loud as possible.
10) The Presidents of the United States of America - The Presidents of the United States of America: It's goofy and rambunctious and everything that makes you wish you were 10 years younger. And if you don't find yourself singing along, there might be something wrong with you. While PUSA have released better quality albums, their first is still there funnest. (and for some strange reason, it sounds better through car speakers than it does in a home stereo system)