A Decade of Summer Soundtracks

UPDATE: When I published this in 2015, I found it therapeutic to look back on the albums that pulled me through each summer. Since then, I’ve fallen in love with new albums each year that felt perfect for the season, and I couldn’t help but update the list. Check them all out or fast forward to 2015 and see what’s held my attention for the past four summer seasons!

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 Pierce the Veil’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: Carly Rae Jepsen – Emotion

An album that caught me completely off guard, won me over, and became my favorite album of the decade (so far). Emotion sonically captures the nostalgic sounds that soundtracked the summers of my youth, but it’s also an album about feeling – something that just seems easier to do in the summertime. It’s clear that Jepsen has a knack for crafting the perfect pop song, and Emotion is front-to-back pop bliss. Tracks like “Run Away with Me” and “Boy Problems” are the perfect tunes to dance away those hot summer nights.

2016: Kanye West – The Life of Pablo

Part of the reason The Life of Pablo owned my summer in 2016, aside from my obvious affinity for his music, was that there was just so much to digest. An album that just kept growing in size (eventually capping off at 20 tracks), Pablo held my interest for months, capping off with an enrapturing live performance at the end of the summer. Nevertheless, for all of the conversation that surrounded this album, beats like those found on “Famous” and “Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1” made this the kind of summer hip hop record that was inescapable.

2017: Halsey – hopeless fountain kingdom

While fans are still somewhat divided on Halsey’s sophomore effort, there’s no denying that it got played more than anything else during my summer of 2017. Halsey leans into some deep 80s influences on tracks that feel custom built for the season. “Eyes Closed” and “Strangers” are two underrated tracks that sound splendid with the windows down, even as “Bad at Love” become the kind of summer smash that ensured Halsey would be sticking around for a while.

2018: Pusha T – Daytona

I love this album. I love the way it reminds me of the hip hop albums that I would play throughout my summers in high school. I love how it feels fresh and new, even though it’s creator has been around for nearly two decades. I love how it captures the type of sample-based production that makes hip hop endlessly compelling. I love how Pusha T just owns his persona, his voice, his place in the genre. Daytona is the kind of perfect summer rap record that I didn’t even know was still possible to pull off.

2019: ???

Summer 2019 is rapidly heading toward the finish line. It’s probably still too early to claim a victor, but early front runners include Carly Rae Jepsen (Dedicated) and Lil Nas X (7). But I can’t out the new Chance the Rapper record or even a sneak attack from the likes of Halsey or Dua Lipa. Whatever the case, there’s been plenty to enjoy.

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.

A Day to Remember release “End of Me” music video

a-day-to-remember

A Day to Remember has released a new music video for their song “End of Me”. The song is the second single from Common Courtesy and the video was directed by Shane Drake. The video is solid and fits the mood of the track perfectly. Check it out below:

If you still haven’t picked up Common Courtesy, you’re missing out. You can download the album on iTunes.

What are your thoughts on the video? Share in the replies!

A Day to Remember announce fall tour with Bring Me the Horizon and Chiodos

a-day-to-remember

A Day to Remember are going to be hitting the road this fall with Bring Me the Horizon and Chiodos. Yep, you read that correctly. The tour will kick off on September 4th in Philadelphia. VIP tour packages are currently on sale here and general tickets go on sale this Friday.

Check out the tour dates and a short video below:

adtr_tour

Posted by Kiel Hauck

A Day to Remember release “Right Back at it Again” music video

a-day-to-remember

A Day to Remember has released a new music video for their single “Right Back at it Again” from their new album Common Courtesy. The video is….interesting. Check it out below.

The band recently self-released Common Courtesy and the album can be purchased at iTunes.

Stream new A Day to Remember song “Same Book but Never the Same Page”

a-day-to-remember

Next week, A Day to Remember will be releasing physical copies of their new album Common Courtesy that will include three new bonus tracks. Stream one of the new tracks, titled “Same Book but Never the Same Page” below:

Common Courtesy was officially released on October 8 through the band’s website. You can read our review of the album here.

You can also preorder the extended release of Common Courtesy on iTunes.

Review: A Day to Remember – Common Courtesy

a-day-to-remember

A Day to Remember is pissed off. This probably doesn’t come as too much of a surprise, since the band has made a massive career off of the angry chugga-chugga breakdowns and ambiguously aggressive lyrics that have come to define what is currently considered the metalcore genre. In a lot of ways, A Day to Remember helped shape and mold that very formula that has been carbon copied relentlessly.

But this time, it’s different. This time, A Day to Remember is pissed off for all of the right reasons. This time it feels genuine.

That’s not to say that they weren’t somehow genuine or honest in the past, but there’s only so many “Nobody takes us seriously!” and “Everyone is against us!” songs that one can handle from a band that an outrageous number of people seem to love. If a messy lawsuit with their label, Victory Records, and the real possibility of the band’s career dissolving before their eyes is what it took to light a fire under the Ocala, Fla. band, then so be it.

What resulted from the fallout is the best album of the band’s career.

Common Courtesy is surely an A Day to Remember album and it doesn’t reinvent the wheel. What it does do is add a touch of authenticity, a dash of aggressive motive and a lot of maturity to an act that could have easily gone stale. Instead, the band produced an extremely focused and diverse album that will not only please their current fan base, but win over a few of the rest of us in the process.

Produced with the help of Andrew Wade and Chad Gilbert and released completely by themselves, Common Courtesy starts off with a full dose of the A Day to Remember sound you’re familiar with, turned to 11 and polished to near perfection. “City of Ocala” and “Right Back at it Again” are obvious choices to open the record, providing a punch of aggression and melody and even featuring the tongue-in-cheek humor the band seems to pull off so effortlessly.

The real treat begins during the quiet bridge in “Sometimes You’re the Hammer, Sometimes You’re the Nail”, when a suddenly somber and mature Jeremy McKinnon bears his struggles and fears. When McKinnon sings, “I reserve my right to be uncomfortable / I reserve my right to be afraid / I make mistakes and I am humbled / Every step of the way” it’s a welcome breath of fresh, honest air.

It doesn’t stop there. Tracks like “Best of Me” and “Life @ 11” allow McKinnon to reflect even further upon his doubts and uncertainties. The band even pulls off the elusive believable ballad with “I Surrender”, a track that throws the metalcore handbook out the window in favor of a truly appealing and listenable alt-rock song. In fact, the softer moments prove to be some of the best on Common Courtesy.

Not to worry, there’s still plenty of head-bangable tracks like “Life Lessons Learned the Hard Way” and “The Document Speaks for Itself” that allow the band to chug out the their feelings towards Victory Records and will surely be mosh pit favorites. The fact that these moments are confined and appropriate is proof enough that this band is expanding its palate and branching into new and welcome territory while not completely losing what made them appealing to so many in the first place.

It’s hard to be mad at A Day to Remember at this point. They fought the man and won (for the meantime), released their best album yet (by themselves, with little promotion and no physical copies) and managed to expand their sound in welcome and unexpected ways. Admit it. You enjoy Common Courtesy. As well you should. Let’s hope that there’s more where this came from.

3.5/5 

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.