A Decade of Summer Soundtracks

Summer is here, which means it’s time to roll the windows down, turn up the stereo and blast your favorite songs. I get nostalgic every year thinking about the albums I played on repeat in years past as I rode around, hung out with my friends and enjoyed the sunshine. It never seems to fail – when I think back on each summer of my life, there is always one album that seems to be playing in the background.

Therefore, I’ve decided to compile a list of the albums that served as my summer soundtrack for each of the past ten years. While this list is far from an overview of the best albums of each year, it does reflect a collection of fun records that seem to be perfect for warm summer days. Take a look below and share your favorite summer records in the replies!

underoath-tocs2004: Underoath – They’re Only Chasing Safety

This is actually my all time favorite summertime album. I still remember the day I bought it and how I drove around for weeks without taking it out of my car’s CD player. There’s something about the combination of heavy and light here that gives you the best of both worlds as the guitars transition between poppy and blistering. Spencer Chamberlain and Aaron Gillespie’s trade-off vocals are perfect for sing-alongs, and the stellar production value makes this an instant classic.

anberlin_blueprints2005: Anberlin – Never Take Friendship Personal

This breakout album from Anberlin is full of catchy hooks and fast-paced, emo-tinged rock. On Never Take Friendship Personal, Anberlin came into their own, displaying their songwriting prowess with killer tracks like “Paperthin Hymn” and “The Runaways”. If you can listen to Stephen Christian cry out, “I thought you said forever, over and over / This sleepless night becomes bitter oblivion” and not belt out the notes right along with him, you may need to get your pulse checked.

underoath_david_goldman2006: Underoath – Define the Great Line

Two years after their breakout, Underoath returned with the crushing, genre-shifting Define the Great Line. While this isn’t your typical summer album, it’s impossible to deny the sheer magnitude of the record. The masterful time-signature changes, the eerie electronic sounds, and Spencer Chamberlain’s electrifying roar changed the game. Though there’s far less melody here than was present on They’re Only Chasing Safety, it’s full of powerful, moving tracks, perfect for summer nights.

2007: Paramore – Riot!

Paramore went from emo darlings full of potential to a powerhouse rock outfit seemingly overnight when they released Riot! in the summer of 2007. A wonderful mixture of pop punk and emo rock make this a huge release, with soaring choruses courtesy of Hayley Williams. Whether you’re singing along to the slick chorus of “crushcrushcrush” or head banging along to the fiery “Misery Business”, Riot! is a record made for summer hangouts and road trips.

all_time_low_7152008: All Time Low – So Wrong, It’s Right

Although the album released in the fall of 2007, a deluxe reissue the following year helped propel So Wrong, It’s Right to new heights. To this day, it’s hard to find another pop punk release so full of energy and melody. After the opening guitars of “This is How We Do”, Alex Gaskarth pleads, “Show us off to all your friends” – and we did. By the end of 2008, it seemed like everyone in the world knew the lyrics to “Dear Maria, Count Me In”.

a-day-to-remember2009: A Day to Remember – Homesick

Another breakout album – noticing a trend here? A Day to Remember broke big with Homesick, an album that captured the band’s “easycore” sound better than any other. From crushing breakdowns capped off with cries to “disrespect your surroundings” to soaring, melodic choruses that even your mom would love, Homesick has a little something for everyone. Is it pop punk? Is it metalcore? Does it matter? Homesick is fun as hell.

The-Devil-Wears-Prada-zombie2010: The Devil Wears Prada – Zombie EP

Since I just wrote a full length feature reflecting on this release, I’ll stay brief. The Zombie EP caught everyone off guard at the time of its release and inadvertently became career defining. The furious guitar work on these five songs is unbelievable and the piercing howls and shrieks of Mike Hranica are the sounds of your nightmares. Even still, it’s hard not to turn the volume up during this horror-filled romp.

the_wonder_years2011: The Wonder Years – Suburbia, I’ve Given You All and Now I’m Nothing

The Wonder Years seem to get better with every release, but Suburbia made us all take notice. So far, it’s the definitive pop punk release of this new decade. A walk through a year in the life of lead singer Dan Campbell finds the band lamenting, celebrating and looking for answers – it’s a coming of age story that almost anyone can relate to. To top it off, Suburbia is so full of life through its twists and turns, it’s the perfect soundtrack for self-reflection on lonely summer nights.

pierce-the-veil-credit-adam-elmakias-650-4302012: Pierce the Veil – Collide with the Sky

While Collide with the Sky wasn’t the band’s breakout record, it certainly propelled them to a whole new level. Vic Fuentes’ duet with Kellin Quinn on “King for a Day” became Warped Tour’s song of the summer, as the two sing and scream their way through this furious track. The band is more technical than ever on this release, creating fast-paced post-hardcore numbers like “Hell Above” and calmer, brokenhearted tracks like “I’m Low on Gas and You Need a Jacket”. From front to back, Collide with the Sky is a summer smash.

letlive2013: letlive. – The Blackest Beautiful

Another unexpected album on the list, The Blackest Beautiful just narrowly edged out The Greatest Generation thanks to Jason Butler’s impassioned vocal performance. This isn’t a lighthearted release, but it does keep you on your toes. We generally don’t want our summer albums to make us think too hard, but The Blackest Beautiful commands your attention, even as its sonic background tickles your ears. The band’s wild stint on the 2013 Vans Warped Tour only added to the excitement surrounding the release.

issues2014: Issues – Issues

How can you not love Tyler Carter? The man can sing and write one heck of a hook. Issues is a melting pot of sounds, full of breakdowns, poppy choruses, wild electronics, record scratches and sincere moments. When Carter and Michael Bohn trade off during “Mad at Myself”, it’s mildly reminiscent of the Underoath’s breakthrough a decade prior. It’s easy to imagine the members blasting They’re Only Chasing Safety during the summer of ’04, only to write their own summer anthem 10 years later.

2015: ???

While it’s still too early to tell what album will serve as the soundtrack to the summer of 2015, it’s easy to get excited about upcoming releases from The Wonder Years, blessthefall and Pierce the Veil. I also can’t rule out The Early November’s Imbue or Carly Rae Jepsen’s Emotion picking up steam. Whatever it is, I can’t wait for the memories it will provide.

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.

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