Sounds for Summer


Summer is coming here in Aotearoa New Zealand, and with summer comes BBQs, drinks, days at the beach and general relaxing with friends and family over the summer holidays. What one always requires on such occasions is good music, and thankfully there is always plenty of good music out there across all styles and indeed from all decades to complement such times.

So in preparation for the summer, I have selected some of my favorite summer albums that are perfect for those sunny days on the beach, or deck with a beer in hand, good food, and good people. Now I know some people might be thinking albums, do they still exist? Well shock horror, yes, albums still exist, and as a format are perfect for gatherings where you can just put the needle on the record and let it spin, or pop that CD in and press play before lying back and chilling for a good forty minutes without having to get up and skip through a bunch of tracks on an iPod, or playlist.


Al Green – Let’s Stay Together (1972)

Soothing soul from the reverend, perfect to relax to as the sun sets.

Bob Dylan – Nashville Skyline (1969)

Country in the sun. Bob puts his crooner voice to good effect on this country folk classic.

Buena Vista Social Club (1997)

An oldy but a goody, and always a must have on hand for summer gatherings, bringing a fantastic Latin American flavor to proceedings.

The Byrds – any greatest hits collection

It would not be summer without the jangly guitars and psychedelic harmonies of The Byrds, bringing the sweet sounds of 60s LA to the beaches and suburbs of New Zealand.

The Clash – London Calling (1979)

This punk rock classic is perfect for summer with its mix of reggae, dub, jazz, and punk rock.

El Michel’s Affair – Sounding Out the City (2005)

This American collective’s unique fusion of jazz, funk, and R&B is perfect to chill out to in the sun.

Elvis Costello – My Aim is True (1977)

Who would have thought new wave would sound good for the summer season. Well, Costello’s rock and roll-fused debut does the trick.

Fat Freddy’s Drop – Blackbird (2013)

It just would not be summer in New Zealand without these guys, and their last album was simply superb so it has to be here.

Gil Scott-Heron – Pieces of a Man (1971)

Gil Scott’s jazz-tinged masterpiece would suit any summer gathering but would go especially well if cordial worldly discussion was on the agenda, given this albums social and political commentaries.

Herbie Hancock – Head Hunters (1973)

This jazz fusion masterpiece does the trick for chill out sessions, with its funky instrumentals and epic jazz improvisation.

The La’s – The La’s (1990)

The sweet melodies and jangly guitars go down a treat on this underrated masterpiece.

The Meters – Rejuvenation (1974)

If you are into funk then this mid-70s classic is perfect for your summer party. Influenced everything that came after it within this style, including among others The Roots.

Nick Drake – Bryter Layter (1970)

People often associate Nick Drake’s music as being quite reflective and moody, which it is, but this jazz-influenced album would not feel out of place during summer, with its more optimistic outlook, something incredibly rear for Nick Drake’s music.

Primal Scream – Screamadelica (1991)

This album brought acid house into indie rock and its mixture of rock and roll and electronica combine perfectly to make a great summer album.


Anything by the Searching for Sugar Man star would be perfect for summer gatherings. Cold Fact, Coming from Reality, or the film soundtrack would do.

The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses (1989)

The debut masterpiece by the Manchester group is just made for summer listening with its strong melodies, psychedelic guitars, and swirling harmonies. If you can get a copy with Fools Gold as a bonus track even better.

Velvet Underground – Loaded (1970)

One would not normally associate Lou Reed’s music with summer, and this album is pretty much the closest you will get. But it is a goody and contains such summer classics as Who Loves the Sun and Sweet Jane.

– Sam 


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