What’s Your Summer Jam? KEXP DJs and Staff Share Theirs

photo by Brittney Bollay

Seattle can now claim a hold on summer as we reach post-80 degree weather this week! (Sorry, rest of the country, but we’ve earned this!) No matter where you are, though, or whether you’re sitting out on the beach, picnicking in a park, heading out on a long roadtrip or just chilling at home, you’re going to want to soundtrack these hot summer days with some hot new jams. To help beef up your playlists, we’ve asked KEXP DJs and staff what’s in their heavy rotation this summer. Comment below and let us know what your summer jam is!

Carol DuPuis / Account Executive, Biz Support
Father John Misty – Fear Fun (Sub Pop)
Warm, imaginative, easy-going sounds…

Scott Holpainen / Video Producer
Pond – Beard, Wives, Denim (Modular)
This album sounds like summer to me. It’s loose and fun. Distorted and blissfully psychedelic. It’s like a road trip out into the desert with 10 of your best friends. Maybe it’s just nostalgia… if it is, I don’t care.

Andy Klatt / Information Specialist
Lushlife – Plateau Vision (Western Vinyl)
This is my summer jam for sun-roof open, windows down road trips. From front-to-back, Plateau Vision takes you through some intelligent, curious rhymes and versatile beats that flow together from song to song. Lushlife sounds to me a little like NaS if he had come up in the world of hipster rap.

Dr Leon Berman is listening (over and over) to JP Harris and the Tough Choices‘ new CD, I’ll Keep Calling (Cow Island Records).

Jim Beckmann / Web Content Manager
Cloud Control – Bliss Release (Infectious Music)
Alt-J will probably be my album of the year, but this is my album of the summer. I throw on Bliss Release whenever I’m mowing the lawn, riding my bike, driving around or doing anything in the sun. To think I almost missed this because it came out last November… but I guess winter is just Australian for summer!

Brady Morrella / Volunteer Services Senior Coordinator
Fiona Apple – The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do (Epic)
Once again, Fiona Apple has proven herself to be one of music’s greatest performers. From her beautifully crafted music, to her passionate and creative vocals, to her amazingly sincere and vivid lyrics, she has crafted another infinitely enjoyable album that continues to reward the listener with each additional spin.

Cheryl Waters / DJ & Host of the Midday Show
Japandroids – Celebration Rock (Polyvinyl)
The new cd fucking rocks. In fact, it’s like a Celebration Rock.

Janice Headley / Programming Assistant & Social Media Coordinator
Patton Oswalt – Finest Hour (Comedy Central Records)
So far, my 2012 summer jam has been the most recent comedy album by Patton Oswalt, recorded right here in Seattle at The Moore Theater. At first, I revisited the album in anticipation of his four-night stand(-up) in Portland, but then my car broke down, and I wasn’t able to make the trip out there. So, instead it keeps my spirits up as I attempt to navigate our bus system and struggle to get my mechanic to call me back.

Marji Makers / Swingin’ Doors co-host & fill-in DJ
Johnnie Taylor – Wanted: One Soul Singer (Stax/Volt Records)
JT’s got me under his spell with the grit of this 1967 album. It’s an awesome dichotomy between mean, muggy blues and sunny, warm soul sounds, topped off with smooth horns, tinkling piano and Taylor’s gruff vocals — the result is a really raw slice of authentic Southern music that’s got me feeling the Memphis heat all the way from Seattle. It’s a great prescription for the dark and soggy June we just had.

Chris Kellogg / Production Manager
Pond – Beard, Wives, Denim (Modular)
This is a favorite of ours in the KEXP Audio/Video office, aka “The Sweat Lodge.” Nothing screams summer like Australian psychedelic rock, does it?

Bryan Kraus / Software Engineer
Alt-J – An Awesome Wave (Infectious)
I got turned onto Alt-J when KEXP picked up their first singles this Spring. The full album presents such an original and varied set of sounds, and every time I listen I notice new dimensions and depth.

Mel Trejo / Programming Ninja & Variety DJ Thurs. 1am-6am
Japandroids – Celebration Rock (Polyvinyl)
Celebration Rock is and will be on repeat for me throughout this summer. Japandroids have a way of channeling the same restless, yet hopeful energy I remember feeling when I was a teenager during the summertime. The momentum this entire album maintains, makes me want to flip over tables, holler at the top of my lungs, and kick shit up just for the fun of it.

Larry Rose / DJ & Host of Larry’s Lounge, Tuesday 9pm-1am
Wendy Rene – After Laughter Comes Tears (Light in the Attic)
This compilation of under appreciated Memphis soul singer Wendy Rene’s recordings for the Stax and Volt labels is full of jams that sound perfect on warm summer days. It even begins with a song called “Bar B Q”. Put this on with some Wu-Tang Clan and Lykke Li, who both have sampled her, and get your party started right!

Don Yates / Music Director
Japandroids – Celebration Rock (Polyvinyl)
The title sums it up. Nearly every song is a vibrant, fist-pumping, shout-a-long anthem.

Carolyn Wennblom / Director of Leadership Giving
Father John Misty – Fear Fun (Sub Pop)
Virtuosic production and instrumentation, mesmerizing vocals, and fresh, wry lyrics. Not a single clunker track on the record, and many, many songs that will burrow into your brain and refuse to leave.

Darek Mazzone / DJ, Host of Wo-Pop & International Music Guy at KEXP
Fela Anikulapo Kuti – Expensive Shit (Editions Makossa)
Summer for me is about not trying to hard. I need a jam that has a great backbeat, horns, and not to many lyrics. Since its summer it helps that the track came from someplace hot and it doesn’t get much hotter then Lagos Nigeria. The politics and lifestyle of Fela also makes a great jam to appreciate. Afro-Beat, the genre Fela founded has created many followers w Antibalas and Afrolicious to name a few, as well as his sons work Seun and Kuti which are all good. For me the original jam “Water No Get Enemy” is still the bomb, and it’s 11 minutes long so you can really, really get into it. If you’re DJ’ing a party and throw this down when everyone is lit up, it creates magic on the floor.

Alex Ruder / DJ & Assistant to the Music Director
Vanilla – Soft Focus (self-released)
There’s just something about cruising around in the sunshine with the windows down and listening to beats that makes Seattle extra special. UK-based producer Vanilla recently unleashed an excellent album of 27 instrumental beats that’s heavily-steeped on soul samples and proudly carries on the legacy of the late, great J Dilla in fine fashion.

Kevin Cole / Senior Director of Programming & Host of the Afternoon Show
JD McPherson – Signs & Signifiers (Rounder Records)
Recent albums from Alabama Shakes, Alt-J, Grimes, and Japandroids, along with THEESatisfaction’s summer-smash single “QueenS,” will get regular action on the home system, but JD McPherson’s debut, Signs & Signifiers, will be rocking’ the number one slot on the turntable and boom box this summer. It makes you want to get outside and hoot, holler, and make a fuss. It captures the spirit of sunny days and hot nights – freedom and fun. If gas wasn’t so expensive, it would be a great album for driving around aimlessly, windows rolled down, workin’ the gangsta lean. But that’s okay, it’s also the kind of album that sounds great for just hangin’, watching the world go by…

Brian Foss / DJ & Host of Sonic Reducer
Nice Face – Horizon Fires (Hozac)
i will say this is the last full record i’ve had on any kinda rotation – it’s kinda dark to call it a ‘summer jam’, but there it is. i also keep listening to comps & singles a bunch recently. off the ‘litter from the glitter bin’ comp this was a some on major repeat for me recently.

Greg Vandy / DJ & Host of The Roadhouse
Donnie & Joe Emersom – Dreamin’ Wild (Reissue) (Light In The Attic)
A 1979 lost blue-eyed classic soul jam born from splendid rural isolation by two Fruitland, WA, teeneagers dubbed “the rock n roll farmers.” Sublime, sweet, and a true summer jam.

DJ El Toro aka Kurt B. Reighley / DJ & Communications Manager
Superchunk – “This Summer” single (Merge)
Both sides of this new non-LP 45 from Superchunk compel me to make mix tapes for imaginary road trips, and the fact that the rockin’ A-side mentions making mix tapes for road trips among its litany of seasonal joys only aggravates that desire. The flip is a cover of Bananarama’s “Cruel Summer,” one of my all-time favorite summer jams. I didn’t think it could be re-invented (let’s not speak of Ace of Base), but Mac and company have happily proven me oh-so-wrong.

Morgan Chosnyk / DJ, Tuesday overnights
Liars – WIXIW (Mute)
I can’t stop listening to this album. It has the perfect mix of pretty dreaminess on some tracks and exciting heavy beats on others. Perfect driving music on a sunny day.

Abe Beeson / DJ Substitute
Zammuto – Zammuto (Temporary Residence Records)
Nick Zammuto, formerly of that great electro/collage group The Books, launched his own group this year with a self-titled album of exuberant, prog-rock-y electro-pop. Bouncing along, quickly changing directions, exploring international rhythms, Zammuto is not quite fist-pumping, but urgent and thrilling for a drive across town with the top down.

Sharlese Metcalf / DJ, Producer of Audioasis & Junior Events Producer
A Flock of Seagulls – A Flock of Seagulls (Jive)

Bailey Kitka / Traffic Assistant
Japandroids – Celebration Rock (Polyvinyl)
There has been little that’s come out in 2012 that makes me feel more youthful than Japandroid’s new record, Celebration Rock. The opening track, “The Nights of Wine and Roses,” starts off with fireworks and bursts into lyrics like “Don’t we have anything to live for / Well, of course we do, but until it comes true / We’re drinking.” What else is summer for but fireworks and screaming along about how awesome you really are? Nothing else, summertime should be about nothing else.

Nate Prudhon / DJ & Senior Traffic Coordinator
Bear In Heaven – I Love You, It’s Cool (Dead Oceans)
This summer I’ll frequently be spinning I Love You, It’s Cool, the latest full-length album from Bear In Heaven, a Jon Philpot-fronted Brooklyn band. The dancy-cum-lush electro-rock works perfectly whether cruising the highways, lazing poolside, or in your living room dance club. I would betray my youth if I didn’t mention my permanent summer jam, “Summertime” by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince (from Homebase on Jive). The song works in even more situations than those laid out in each verse, which themselves describe a perfect summer day.

Kid Hops / DJ & Host of Positive Vibrations and Expansions
Toddla T – Watch Me Dance: Agitated by Ross Orton & Pipes (Ninja Tune)
Toddla T’s album gets totally rinsed & reconstructed by his childhood DJ heroes Ross Orton & Pipes. A killer concept, beautifully executed. The outcome is irresistibly danceable riddims and over-driven vocals to soundtrack your hot summer nights. Pure vibes!!!

Elly Henriksen / Development Assistant
Shonen Knife (少年ナイフ) – Burning Farm (Oglio Records)
I adore these women. They’ve been making music forever and still put on a helluva good live show. Out of their entire discography this probably the album I rotate the most often because of “Twist Barbie” (misspelled as Twist Birbie on the 8″ pressing) and the cover of “I Wanna Be Sedated.” Add a little sunshine and I could listen to this for days so it’s a perfect summer jam.

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  1. Posted July 9, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    Tho the whole Dreamin’ Wild LP is good, i’m referring to the track “baby”. That’s my Summer Jam! Find it now and then truth be told. Rock!

  2. giuliana
    Posted July 11, 2012 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    The whole Black Sands album by Bonobo and At the River by Groove Armada.

  3. Leah B
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    I’m loving the Jeff the Brotherhood single “Six Pack”–perfect summer jam!

  4. thesoundbird
    Posted July 13, 2012 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    carefree wispy chimes make me sway

  5. Chris
    Posted August 17, 2012 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    I am listening to the Japandroids a disproportionately amount lately. When I can’t decide what to listen to, “Celebration Rock” is my go to. Thanks Mel for playing it for me this AM – and thanks KEXP for turning me on to these geniuses years ago. – Oh – and I also dig the Mexican Institute of Sound – how refreshing!

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