6 summer anthems for any playlist.

With summer coming to a close soon, I thought this would be a good chance to prep everyone packing their cars with camping gear and speed boats heading for their cabins one last time. Because what’s summer (especially in Minnesota) without getting out of town and sitting in traffic?

These six songs are in no specific order, but are all songs that I’ve discovered within the last couple years. They’ve stuck with me for these times of year and wanted to share them with you all.

Everyone remembers listening to the radio in 2013 and wondering what the voice of a guy like Aloe Blacc was doing on the new Avicii single, Wake Me Up, but in the end…. It was the source on innumerable sing alongs and people covering the acoustic guitar chord progression. With some fun and arguably thoughtful lyrics supercharged by catchy EDM synthesizers and a streamline dance beat, this song should be an essential for any day at the lake (or whatever your summer fancy).

Anyone who grew up in the 90’s and remembers watching The Sandlot is familiar with the way this film tickles at nostalgic itches we all feel now and again. South Carolinian melodic hardcore band, Hundredth, did just that when paying homage to the film with the music video for Remain and Sustain. This song’s driving guitar coupled with heartfelt lyrics and an ear worm bridge section makes this the perfect song to crank in the car. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but give the sunny instrumentals a try! It will make you want to jump in a pool and play baseball with your friends… a lot.

One of my best friends and I have this ongoing debate over the best Relient K record, but we can both agree that Collapsible Lung was less than desirable by comparison to others in the band’s discography. Despite my reservations about the album, it does have few select tracks that stand out. The opening track, Don’t Blink, is one. Fueled by pop rock guitars, bright and booming production, with Matt Thiessen’s angsty vocals in the chorus, this song defined summer of 2013 for me! It’s continued to be one of my favorites for balmy summer days!

Switchfoot’s latest release took an experimental turn for the meaningful and rootsier. Exploring their beginnings in surfing and rock n’ roll, Fading West’s wingspan of musical influences brings songs such as Say It Like You Mean It. Coupled with the band’s documentary about traveling the world on their Vice Verses cycle, this song’s obvious Kasabian influence drives this bass heavy, guitar distorted, keyboard laden surf anthem. Fun to listen to on the lake, this song is awesome to return to at a warm time of year.

Black Stone Cherry epitomizes modern American hard rock. Gnarly sounding guitars, pummeling drums, and Chris Robertson’s gritty, soul filled voice make this band a household name. I saw this band live in 2013 with one of my best friends at a biker bar in the middle of nowhere (which made for an interesting story). Part of that set list included one of my favorite songs from the band that tells the story of an open road, Like I Roll. Though this song isn’t the most topically profound, everyone needs a song to crank the windows down and drive to – and this is one of those songs! With a catchy chord progression and rootsy lyrics about home and adventure with some grit to it, play this song…. A lot.

Undoubtedly one of modern country’s crown jewels, this song doesn’t need a lot of explanation. Darius Rucker wraps Wagon Wheel in a solid layer of contemporary country that is not only convincing, but in my mind, a classic. Rucker’s distinct voice gives this song spirit and makes this an automatic sing-along. Bottom line, this song goes for the win on any playlist for warm days, bonfires, and as my friends and I discovered a couple weeks ago, swing dancing!

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