Told ‘ya we had another great Australian band lined up for this week’s episode of The Summer Jam 3: Electric Boogaloo! Instrumental (adj.) are one of the most interesting instrumental rock/metal groups around these days, so it’s a pleasure to have guitarist Simon Dawes and drummer Chris Allison with us this week to show off their favorite summer tunes. Please enjoy!
‘Putting together a compilation of my summer listening records is a bit of a challenge as I’m not one for playlists or conscientious seasonal preferential listening. Aside from the obvious (bright, long days, heat, late evenings and the ‘tropicalisation’ of my diet), I associate summer with the Australian new year, a sense of renewed freedom, mobility and anything that is the antithesis of the winter which we Down Under have just entered. How to make a theme out of this? I came to close to copping out and simply putting together a playlist of my favourite songs which reference the word ‘summer’ or have something summer-y in the title but through some introspection and YouTube searches, I feel we’ve got a list of solid hits that’ll steer you through the most oppressively-heated of seasons.‘
The Isley Brothers – “Summer Breeze”
First up, I must admit I’m a little late to the party with these guys, despite having heard their music for years via Ice Cube, Biggie Smalls, Thundercat, Kendrick Lamar, and even Type O Negative when they covered this very song. I must also confess this is not my favourite Isley Brothers song (take a look at “Fight the Power” or “Take Me to the Next Phase” and you’ll see why). Regardless, it’s a hell of a tune from a hell of a group and I figure it’s jarringly out of place on a website with ‘djent’ in the title, so what better to kickstart the proceedings?
Billy Joel – “We Didn’t Start the Fire“
Everyone’s heard this song a million times but it wasn’t until late last year I realised how much I absolutely love it. Pounding rhythm, disgusting bass, ear-worm synth melody, and a legend-cum-lunatic raving at us a list of revelations justifying arson, all through some demented pop/jazz/‘80s/whatever prism?! This song is hot as hell.
Mr. Bungle – “Desert Search for Techno Allah“
This list would not be complete without Mr. Bungle so I’m happy that the word ‘desert’ isn’t too much a stretch here. I don’t know how it makes me feel, it’s definitely not summery, it’s more dance-y though, and that equates to heat, so, whatever, we’ve covered a few bases here and with them, the resurrection of the perfect man – qiyamat a tawil, qiyamat insan al kamel! Honourable mention to their “Air-Conditioned Nightmare” too. Bungle’s got your summer sorted!
Botch – “Hutton’s Great Heat Engine”
I suppose something heavy needs to scrape its way into this list and DEP’s “43% Burnt” was too obvious (specially with Greg’s fire-breathing antics) so let’s go with Botch for two reasons. First: I love this band and this song – it feels like you’re being covered in lava. Second: I’m keeping winter-warm in one of their hoodies right now! Guitarists: check out the break in the middle of the song where you can hear them retune their guitars and actually working this action into the composition. Holy shit, what a band.
Kaki King – “The Fire Eater”
Kaki King is an amazing guitarist whom I think my dad alerted me to. Some pretty serious fretboard pyrotechnics here with all kinds of two-handed tapping, tremolo picking, hammer-ons, pull-offs and harmonics – and then there’s still the straight up badassedness of her chords and note choices. Thankfully the word ‘fire’ in the title helps this fit pretty snugly on this list. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was smoke coming off her guitar after she recorded this.
Midnight Oil – “Truganini”
The first verse plants you right in the middle of a monsoon, but as the song continues the imagery of the harsh and dry, brittle Australian farmland outback divert your attention. Perhaps “Beds are Burning” would’ve been a more logical choice but both songs have huge messages that need to be heard, and regardless, are one of the hardest, loudest, heaviest, and driest-yet-sweatiest live shows I’ve ever seen. Who can’t associate that with a summer vibe?
‘My body doesn’t agree with Summer – I sweat easily – so whenever approaches I get a little anxious & try to devise plans on how to not show the outside how sweaty & uncomfortable I am. Here’s a few songs that get me through a shitty season.‘
D’Angelo – “Spanish Joint”
D’Angelo is just good all year round. This song is upbeat, playful & grooves hard. I like how you know they are using one live take – you can hear D’Angelo call some changes at times.
Steely Dan – “Josie”
An essential Summer tune by pretty much one of the best bands ever. This song is sure to put you in a good mood. The version from their live album ‘Alive In America’ features an unreal drum solo by Dennis Chambers. Definitely worth your time.
Björk – “Hyperballad”
The soundtrack to a recent tour I just finished up. Whilst the tour wasn’t technically in Summer, I’m still counting it because it doesn’t matter either way. One of the most gifted vocalists of all time. Elastic vocal phrasing & always has inventive ideas. I consider this tune essential Björk.
Esperanza Spalding – “Rest In Pleasure”
One of my favourite of her tunes. Pretty much perfect. Another insanely gifted vocalist. And she plays bass better than pretty much everyone too. And can compose some of the best music I’ve heard in recent years.
That’s all for now; thanks to Simon and Chris for providing their lists for this article! Their band Instrumental (adj.) released a new record called Reductio ad Absurdum back in March (peep it here), and Simon collaborated with fellow Aussies Hashshashin on their latest live album. If you haven’t already got your ears on them, go change that immediately, and make sure to pop back in here in a week for another artist-curated summer jam list!