Sounds of the Summer 2020

Some DOMINIONATED writers decided to come together to share what they have been listening to during this very strange summer. Without any planning, a thread emerged in our write-ups that ties all of our disparate sounding songs together: a desire for fun and adventure in the summertime. 

As a kid, summer equates to freedom. When you’re no longer trapped inside a classroom, playgrounds, parks, public pools, and beaches are your new domains and the possibility for fun and adventure is endless. As an adult, this impulse heats up again – there are bikes to be ridden and road trips to go on! But what often emerges in the heat is a languid sadness. Sometimes it’s too hot to do anything (or maybe there’s a fucking pandemic!) and so all you do is sit and think too much. The perfect summer as an adult, it seems, is when you are able to balance your summer sadness with that drive for new adventures. So let’s (safely) embrace the season again: ride a bike to someplace new, eat a lot of peaches, and let these songs be the soundtrack.

Chrissy
“Not Nice”

Chrissy captures the feeling of being strung along in “Not Nice”. The post-punk electronic beat is just as irresistible as that person that you just can’t stay away from. As Christina Bell’s sweet and tender vocals sings, “Everytime I open the door a little bit, I regret it, but this time would be so different,” you’re hit with a brief glimmer of hope in a sea of frustration and disappointment. Nothing says summer like believing this year will be different, only to go on the same drunk and sweaty misadventures yet again. • Mackenzie Smedmor

Carly Rae Jepsen
“This Love Isn’t Crazy”

From those opening wordless coos, Carly Rae Jepsen has you right where she wants you: locked in on the infectious melody and itching for the real beat of “This Love Isn’t Crazy” to kick in and get you moving. It is almost a cliché now that Jepsen’s cast-off B-sides are better songs than most people’s A-sides, but it boggles my mind why the opening track of Dedicated Side B isn’t one of the biggest songs of this — or any other — summer. For all the pains that Jepsen’s narrator and their paramour put each other through, one truth repeatedly rises to the top: “Love isn’t cruel”. Love hurts, love sucks, love rocks and it rolls, but ultimately, love leads us where we need to go. I haven’t been leaving the house very much in the last five months, but when I do get in my car and get on a wide open stretch of road, I roll down the windows, open the roof and turn up “This Love Isn’t Crazy” as a way to remind myself that COVID hurts, COVID sucks, and COVID may be rocking our world, but rolling with the punches and keeping the faith will lead us to where we as a society need to get through on the other side of the pandemic. • Jim Di Gioia

Luka Kuplowsky
“Never Get Tired (of Loving You)”

Luka Kuplowsky’s “Never Get Tired (of Loving You),” the first single from his forthcoming record Stardust, is a song made from deep reflections on love. The insufferable heat of summer is a hotbed for feelings and so together your summer angst and Kuplowsky’s song make the perfect pair. Kuplowsky’s tender croon and the folky pop palette of “Never Get Tired (of Loving You)” is gorgeously soft and Brodie West’s God-tier sax playing throughout paints the sky with pinks and oranges. In the song’s most stunning lyrical turn, Kuplowsky sings, “I got the blues in a heavy way. The one that never goes away. It’s ok, it’s just a way to balance out our loving ways.” It’s like sweet rainbow sherbet on a hot day. • Laura Stanley

REALiTY GROUP
“AEG MAHA”

I’ll admit, this most likely isn’t the most dimensional song on this list, but who cares. ”AEG MAHA” by REALiTY GROUP is mischievous, aggressive, carefree punk much in the vein of the Butthole Surfers. The comparison isn’t merely sonically. “AEG MAHA” starts with a searing guitar riff that legitimately comes from the Surfers song “Sweet Loaf” (which is actually a Black Sabbath riff). The familiarity of the riff puts you at ease before chants of the words “AEG MAHA” and electronic drones fill your ears taking you on a musical adventure. From what I can tell, the song gives very little information regarding what “AEG MAHA” actually means. A quick Google search directs you to a Estonian Soviet animated movie. There is a possibility it’s an esoteric reference to the film, but it’s also just pretty fun to chant. This song is fucking rad – it’s loud effervescent punk at its finest. • Myles Tiessen

RAY HMND
“Nowhere to Go (feat. DijahSB)”

“Nowhere To Go” by Toronto’s RAY HMND, which kicks off with a cool and pointed guest verse by DijahSB – whose new record, 2020 the Album, will prove to be a summer staple in its own right – captures the strange aura of our current summer perfectly for me. Like the terror implied by the hotter temperatures, no matter how good the sun feels on the back of your neck or the glory of speeding down the Gardiner Expressway, knowing that the reason for the lack of traffic has infected over fifteen thousand people across the city, a disproportionate number of whom are people of colour, and will forever alter the way we live day-to-day, “Nowhere To Go” feels and sounds so satisfying despite the deep pang of melancholy, anxiety and insolation that oozes from the melodic turns and the muted bounce of the song’s groove. No, there is nowhere to go this summer, nowhere to escape the presence of the virus, and whether or not there is anywhere we can go to become a society that leaves no one behind depends on winning fights that may be unwinnable, but RAY HMND manages to express all of this on “Nowhere to Go” while keeping the windows open and the volume loud, cruising through a sunken city usually full of life. • Mac Cameron

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