KZUU’s Summer Soundtrack Guide

Ahh.. summertime. For the college-aged among us, summertime is like a 3 month long birthday party. Every day is full of sunshine, chirping birds, sandy toes, and cold drinks. For those of you who have moved on from college, nothing really changes during the summer besides the weather. Sorry about that! Regardless, it’s a beautiful time of the year (at least in this hemisphere), and one of the most fun parts about working in radio is getting to soundtrack your summer with the best “summertime albums” of the year. And what better way to make summer wonderful than to share great music with each other?

So before you run outside to roast in the sun, run through sprinklers, and eat pounds of delicious BBQ, take note of our favorite Summertime Albums of 2011. Seven albums, either currently available or coming soon (or currently available too… if you’re crafty with a search engine).

Seapony – Go With Me

(Click here to buy)

This Seattle trio (who just recently became a quartet!) writes some of the most sugary sweet pop music around. Go With Me is their debut album, and it’s overflowing with bubblegum guitar riffs, breathy female vocals, and cute lyrics about love and summer flings.

Recommended for: holding hands, bike rides, beach towels

Craft Spells – Idle Labor

(Click here to buy)

We could have put this album on our list because they’re friends of KZUU. We could have put this album on our list because Javier, one of our past Music Directors, plays guitar for Craft Spells. We could have put this album on our list because they’re signed to Captured Tracks. But the truth is, we did put this album on our list because it’s one of the best albums we’ve heard in a very long time. Every track on Idle Labor sounds like someone wrapped up all of our favorite bands and styles and threw them all together to make the perfect summer record.

Recommended for: late night joyrides, getting ready for parties, parties

Julian Lynch – Terra

(Click here to buy)

We’ve been big fans of Julian Lynch (well at least I have) since I heard his album Orange You Glad back during my last summer in Pullman. Julian’s music is almost the complete opposite of the aforementioned Craft Spells LP. It’s very relaxing, sometimes purely instrumental. His latest album Terra is like a combination of his previous two albums, bringing in folk influences while still experimenting with electronic effects and Beach House-esque guitars.

Recommended for: rainy days, cuddling, picnicking

Youth Lagoon – The Year of Hibernation

(Click here to visit on Facebook)

It’s always fun to have that conversation where you have to exclaim “Wait, this band is from where?!” That was pretty much what we said when we found out the extremely talented Youth Lagoon (his real name is Trevor Powers) was living in Boise, Idaho. Pacific Northwest pride! His upcoming album, The Year of Hibernation (scheduled for release on July 5th) is like a blissful shower of glitter. His vocals are just slightly reverbed, barely reaching above the guitars and drums, but reaching just enough to touch our hearts :’)

Recommended for: falling in love, playing with puppies, picking flowers

Shabazz Palaces – Black Up

(Click here to buy)

One of our favorite hip-hop releases of the year so far, Shabazz Palaces are a slightly spooky, totally crazy, definitely stoned group from Seattle. Black Up is their first album to be released on Sub Pop, and it’s a game-changer. From the weird song titles like “A  treatease dedicated to The Avian Airess from North East Nubis (1000 questions, 1 answer)” or “Are you… Can you… Were you? (Felt)” to the eerie, off-kilter beats, to emcee Ishmael Butler’s absolutely perfect flow, Black Up is a truly unique record.

Recommended for: after parties, chillin’ out maxin’, relaxin’ all cool

WU LYF – Go Tell Fire to the Mountain

(Click here to buy)

Summer should be a time for fun and sun, but from what I’ve learned in one semester of Sociology, summer is also the time for political activism because it’s hot out and people are more inclined to go out and get things done. Okay, I probably just made that up, but with everything going on in the Middle East, you have to admit, political issues and social strife are major talking points right now. And WU LYF’s (which stands for the World Unite Lucifer Youth Foundation) first album sounds like a bloody, successful revolution. It doesn’t matter if the heavily accented vocals are impossible to understand, the “heavy pop” drumming and gang vocals make you feel like you’re a part of something big.

Recommended for: protesting the government, punching people, sweating

Washed Out – Within and Without

(Click here to buy) 

To be honest, we haven’t heard Washed Out’s newest album in full (it’s released July 12th), but really, the first single “Eyes Be Closed” is already a smash hit. It makes sense that Ernest Greene would make another fantastic summertime album, since his last effort, Life of Leisure, was a similar record. While “Feel It All Around” is still a classic track, and one of the first examples of “chillwave” hitting the mainstream, Within and Without could really take Washed Out to the next level.

Recommended for: floating in a pool, driving at noon with all the windows down, barbecuing



Concert Review: Bright Eyes, 5/31/11

On Tuesday, Conor Oberst, Mike Mogis, and Nate Walcott came to The Knitting Factory to give Spokane possibly one last Bright Eyes concert. Now, don’t worry, if you still want to see Conor Oberst live, I’m sure there will be plenty more chances. However, he’s said that he wants to retire his long-time moniker and move on, meaning this is probably his last album/tour as Bright Eyes. Knowing this, this concert was a big freaking deal to me.

When people hear about a Bright Eyes concert, they tend to assume it’ll be fairly chill as you listen to Conor serenade you with his folky tunes. If you’re one of those people, you would have been in for quite the surprise. Conor Oberst is one of the most passionate musicians out there, and his music encompasses much more than indie folk. He can be head-banging to “Jejune Stars” one minute and pouring his soul out with “Something Vague” the next. Every song he does live, even the folk numbers from I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning, carries all the passionate energy that Conor’s signature talk-singing voice can muster.

But there’s much more to a Bright Eyes concert than that. Conor doesn’t just want you to feel his emotions. More than anything, Conor wants to make damn sure you have a good time. This was most evident with the tracks off his new album, The People’s Key. These songs are definitely the easiest to rock out to, and tracks like “Shell Games” almost seem to be written specifically to be experienced live. He played nearly every song from the album, including “Ladder Song”, which he closed his main set with. This was probably my favorite moment of the night. Conor wrote “Ladder Song” in a time of grief after a friend of his committed suicide. Seeing Conor, alone on the stage at his keyboard, play the song amongst complete silence in the audience, was one of the most moving performances I’ve seen. All the emotion and passion from the concert hit its zenith at this moment. However, the somber mood ended when Conor went back to rocking out with his encore.

Now, since Conor has been making music for most of his life, he has way too much material to go through everyone’s favorites in two hours. I’ll bet everyone who went to the show has one or two favorite songs he or she didn’t get to hear. For a lot of people, that song was probably “First Day of My Life”, or “Lua”. For me, it was my all-time favorite Bright Eyes song, “Old Soul Song (For the New World Order)”. But that should show you how great of a concert it was. Even though he neglected to play several of my favorites, I still consider this one of my favorite concerts I’ve been to. Or that just shows you how ridiculously obsessed with Bright Eyes I am.


And like I said, I wouldn’t worry about never getting to see Conor Oberst live. Even if he does end Bright Eyes, the man is constantly making music. But whether it’s the Mystic Valley Band, Monsters of Folk, or whatever his next project is, all I can really say is that if you’re a fan of his at all, you should definitely see him live.

– Dr. Derivative