Ten Hot Songs To Kick Off Summer 2012

You may be stuck in the office for a few more hours before the three-day weekend. These are the last few hours before the Summer of 2012 starts. It’s gonna be awesome, dudez! Chances are no one is doing any work. You shouldn’t be, either. Instead, you should be listening to new songs that are about summer or summer-appropriate. We’ve curated just such a list of hot new acts. So sit back, relax and contemplate that soon your back, sticky with sweat, adhere to that vinyl seat cushion.

Electric Guest – "The Head I Hold"
BlackBook favorite Electric Guest’s syncopated single from their new album Mondo, produced by Danger Mouse, combined Asa Taccone’s falestto with a Waiting For Guffman talent competition and hallucinations!

 

Best Coast – "The Only Place"
The first single from Best Coast’s sophomore effort is as summery as it gets: it’s an ode to the sunshine state and all the babes and surf within.

 

Kylie Minogue – "Timebomb"
If you plan on spending your summer doing poppers, may we suggest this track from the agelesss sylph Kylie Minogue. Released today, the track is part of her year-long K25 series, celebrating her quarter of a century in pop music. 

 

Dynasty Electric – "Eye Wide Open"
If you plan on spending your summer in a white loft on Zoloft reading Lacan, a book plucked off your Vitra shelving unit, this track from Brooklyn dup Dynasty Electric is proper sonic accompaniment. 

Eternal Summers – "Millions"
The lead single off Virginia duo-turned-trio’s upcoming album Correct Behavior is a stellar expansion of the hazy sound they perfected on their debut, Silver. Plus, "summer" is in their name. Duh! 

Janka Nabay & the Bubu Gang – "Feba"
The new track from the upcoming album En Yah Seh from Sierra Leone master Janka Nabay plus members of Outer Borough favorites Gang Gang Dance, the Skeletens, and Zs drops August 7th on David Byrne’s Luaka Bop

Summer Camp – "Life" 
A downer duo  but a beautiful one, this song comes from the upcoming album Always, out July 10. This is, I suppose, what life is like in the summers of England. 

Saint Motel – "1997"
Every summer needs an anthem and this one, from the album, Voyeur out July 10th, is the perfect slightly epic slightly moving anthem for 2012. 

Pavement – "Summer Babe"
I’d like to close with two gems from the collection. The first needs no introduction. 

The Drums, "Let’s Go Surfing"
Does anyone remember the summer of 2009, when The Drums were kings of the world? I do. It was nice. 

Electric Guest is Ready to Boogie, Woogie, Woogie

Some musicians thrive in the pool-party, palm-tree, freeway fantasia of Los Angeles. And Electric Guest, the two-man band made up of Asa Taccone and Matthew Compton, seems to be such a group. Their debut album, Mondo, was produced by the Midas of Music, Danger Mouse. And their month-long residency in February at L.A.’s The Echo became a bazaar for trading hipster cred. But that would be incorrect. One need only to watch the dark video for their single “American Daydream,” directed by Asa’s brother Jorma Taccone of The Lonely Island fame, to be convinced of their latent disdain. Taccone, whose warble channels Jamiroquai and who resembles a skinnier, feral Mark Wahlberg, crashes a classic valley party and launches an airborne assault on the otherwise anodyne, if vapid, guests. Taccone ends bloody but triumphant. This all is accompanied by a simmering catchy chant of a chorus: “They keep sellin’ / We don’t want it / So close to it / Almost found a way.”

“The L.A. world constantly bums me out,” admits Taccone, “and a lot of the album is kind of about just how empty that world is culturally.” Though the genre-skipping Mondo is about the hassles of a plasticine world, to call it only a reactionary manifesto is equally misleading. Taccone, who grew up in Berkeley, began writing the songs while living in his apartment in Seattle nearly six years ago. “I would call up my brother and sing him these songs. One day he said, ‘Hey, I’ve got a friend named Brian who would love this stuff.’” That friend was Brian Burton, aka Danger Mouse.

After Taccone moved to Los Angeles at his brother’s behest for an ultimately elusive career as a songwriter for hire, he met Matthew Compton, a shy, all-American kid who lived downstairs from him in Mount Washington. The two began to flesh out the songs which Taccone had brought south with him. Remnants of the artist as a young man are still apparent. In one song Taccone sings, “They say it’s never easy when you’re 23 / And maybe that’s a lie and it’s just hard as fuck for me.” Now, distilled into a potent hook by Danger Mouse, that line has become both more compelling and less true. With their debut album generating more buzz than a bad connection, Electric Guest might not like Los Angeles, but Los Angeles, and nearly everyone else, loves Electric Guest.

Electric Guest Bring Blue-Eyed Soul Back Into Our Hearts

In this digital age of music sharing, copying, and outright thievery, it’s rare that you come across an unknown band with such raw, unbridled talent and well-constructed songs that are almost impossible to actually hear. There were few websites offering the tunes of Electric Guest, and only a handful of music bloggers and LA-based DJs were able to gush about the band’s sound after catching an unannounced weekday show at a random Southern California bar. This may be exactly the strategy that Electric Guest, or perhaps their management company Monotone Inc. (whose clients include the likes of Jack White, Vampire Weekend, The Shins, and Cold War Kids) was going for. You’d also discover, with a small bit of digging, their producer is Brian Burton, aka Danger Mouse, which makes you even more excited to hear the other eight songs on their electro soul-pop debut album Mondo, due out at the end of April.

“It’s kind of great, isn’t it?” says pint-sized frontman Asa Taccone. “You can usually find everything about everything online these days. James Blake has been doing this for a while—using silence as part of the song.”

You most likely don’t know it, but you’ve already gotten a taste of Asa Taccone’s talents. His older brother Jorma is one of the founding members of The Lonely Island, the troupe that brought us Andy Samberg and arguably revived Saturday Night Live to comedic relevancy. Asa was brought on to help produce “Dick in a Box,” as well as the soundtracks for the SNL-cast comedies Hot Rod and MacGruber—just a few of the gigs he worked with Electric Guest drummer Matt “Cornbread” Compton over the six years it took them to carefully craft their first album. You could argue, however, that the seeds of the band were first planted a decade prior, when a young, wily Taccone was in college at Cornish in Seattle and crossed paths with the up-and-coming Danger Mouse.

“Brian [Burton] became a mentor to me, took me under his wing,” Taccone explains. “When I moved to LA, he hooked me up with a spot to live in his old place, this communal artist house in Mount Washington that had an old recording studio inside it.”

At that old, occasionally trashed home studio, Taccone would begin his work. Young artists and musicians were constantly circulating in and out of the house and one of them was Compton, a talented, soft-spoken career musician from Richmond, Virginia who had come out west in search of a change. After playing together a few times, he and Taccone connected and Electric Guest was born.

“I came from an indie rock background and a love for ‘60s-era French pop,” Compton says. “And Asa came from a hip-hop and soul background. So there’s a little bit of everything on this album.”

It certainly seems that way, judging by the three tracks you can currently hear online. “This Head I Hold” is a fast-paced, soul-tinged dance number with Compton leading the way on the drums and Taccone doing what will become his signature falsetto. “American Daydream” has an athem-esque, sing-along quality to it, soaked in mourning—the music video, directed by Asa’s brother Jorma, has the younger Taccone killing Compton in it. And then there’s “Troubleman,”  the near-nine minute moody epic antithesis of pop that you never really want to end. All of these tracks—as with many Danger Mouse-produced projects—are instantly familiar and steeped in emotion.

“Both Asa and I are drawn to music that conveys a particularly strong emotion,” Compton says, citing their film and television work, as examples. “There’s so much music out there that doesn’t particularly convey anything. We want our music to put the listener in a mood.”

Yet the real proof that Electric Guest is a breakout band of 2012 (and hopefully long beyond) came the first Monday in February, when they began their month-long residency at The Echo in the heart of LA’s hipster-centric Echo Park. This was the first of a string of shows over the next two months leading up to the album’s release, taking them from Paris to showcasing at this year’s South by Southwest Conference. It was also the first time their growing mass of followers could quell their hunger to hear the rest of the album and affirm the collective belief that these guys are the real deal. We were not disappointed.

The quartet is tight, seamlessly rolling from one track into the next like they’ve been doing it on tour for years. Taccone is especially incredible, striking in his small stature, his look and sound slightly androgynous, somewhere between Prince and Mick Jagger. These are outrageously lofty comparisons, sure—but once you hear and see Electric Guest, you’ll understand that this may be the beginning of something truly great.