Hi, hello, bonjour, guten Tag, buenos días! I’m sure you know the drill by now – today’s episode of The Summer Jam 4: Jump The Shark was curated by Christian Ayala, vocalist/guitarist/synthesist of Puerto Rican progressive metal band Avandra. Have at it below!
Summer, for me, always evokes a sense of freedom and musical creation. I started writing music in high school and could really concentrate on it during the summer, where I really honed my skills in songwriting. Although both my parents are university professors (hence, in theory, I would have the summers off), they at times gave summer classes, and so I had a lot of free time to write without them nagging me to do this or that summer chore.
Porcupine Tree - Deadwing
Not sure if it’s the cover of the album, but this is one album I find myself constantly listening to throughout the summer (including this one) ever since I first heard it in 2005. Maybe it’s because of “Lazarus”’ upbeat feel, or my many summer nights spent with “Arriving Somewhere But Not Here”. Or maybe because of some other ineffable quality it evokes. Amazing album.
Dream Theater - Images and Words
This album screams summer to me because I bought it in the summer of 1999. I had just discovered Dream Theater through Falling Into Infinity, and went out and bought this album like two weeks after that. It was my first introduction to Kevin Moore, and to what would become a revolutionary perspective on what music can do to an individual’s emotions.
Metallica - Reload
I know this may be a ‘wtf?’ moment for some, but when I had just turned 13 in May of 1998; a friend of mine had bought me Reload by Metallica as a birthday gift. That was also the summer I left for Troy, New York, for my mother was going to start her PhD at RPI. So that summer was a very long one (school in Puerto Rico ends in May and starts in August, but in the states it started in September), and I spent it learning how to play every single song on Reload by buying one of those books by Wolf Marshall, the master transcriber.
311 - Transistor
The summer of 1997 was spent doing three things: listening to 311‘s Transistor, learning how to play guitar, and watching The Fifth Element (later that year also watching Starship Troopers). It was a very sci-fi oriented summer (played a crap ton of Star Craft as well), and Transistor was just the ultimate sci-fi album for me at the time. I still love the album to this day.
Jamiroquai - Travelling Without Moving
Also in the summer of ’97 is when I discovered late ’96’s (I swear that makes sense) Travelling Without Moving by Jamiroquai, adding to that very unique sci-fi feel of that particular summer. Its melodies are still ingrained within my system, and the unique bass-lines are still an influence to this day.
Opeth - Ghost Reveries
Although it was released almost at the end of the summer of ’05, I bought Ghost Reveries on its release day, and it remains my favorite Opeth album; hell, it’s in my top three albums of all time. It was another mini-revolution in my perspective of what is musically possible, and is truly a hauntingly beautiful album.
Lúnasa - Redwood
I love Irish folk music, and personally, I think Lúnasa do it the best. While it’s always sunny in Puerto Rico (not a vague reference to the show – which I love, btw), summers here are especially vibrant (and hot as hell). There’s no better feeling than going to Puerto Rico’s mountainous regions while looking out into the green with celtic music playing in the background. Well, maybe going to Ireland’s coasts beats it. But trust me on the Puerto Rico part, I’ve been doing it for ten years now.
ISIS - Wavering Radiant
In May of 2009, ISIS released Wavering Radiant, and it blew me away. I listened to it that whole summer while traveling to different points of interest in Puerto Rico, and still do when traveling long distances, especially at night.