Jumping into the new school year is exhausting. Between course selection, tying up loose ends, and trying to make the most of the weather — when it’s not so oppressive — we trudge into September with well-worn bags under our eyes.
Not to worry, though, because this summer The Varsity’s Arts & Culture section has handpicked 10 summer jams to cure your end-of-summer blues and give you an extra spring in your step. No, we are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and no, our research on this matter is not published — yet. But these songs are guaranteed to work wonders on a brain wracked with the exhaustion of doing nothing for four months!
Peruse our prescriptions below. Take them with a spoonful of sugar if you must, but, either way, relax to the beat of a summer well spent, starting with the exuberant chords of Sir Woman.
Sir Woman’s single, “Highroad,” matches bright, upbeat R&B motifs with a brass section fit for any open-air jazz bar. Her lyrics float in and out of sweeping melodies that build into a cheerfully sunny musical narrative bustling with self-love and gumption, matched only by Lizzo herself.
Complementing the gentlewoman is the effervescent Kaiit, performing “Miss Shiney,” an expository R&B perusal into her artistic process with beats reminiscent of ’90s hip hop, with an 808 drum to boot! Her consistent flow and ad libs add structure to an otherwise weightless song. Its minimalist production value, despite itself, manages to fill the room with gorgeous volume.
Look no further than “Seventeen” by Peach Pit for an accompanying aperitif: a cool beach rock serenade that will leave you bouncing your foot despite yourself. Its charming chord progression keeps the song simple enough to love on the first listen, while its vocals grant it a unique calling card that makes playing it again a pleasure.
Kevin Abstract of BROCKHAMPTON wields a syrupy-sweet rhythm guitar in “Peach,” bouncing along to a steady snare-kit beat that whips the whole ensemble into a warm summer daze. You can practically see this song lounging on a Muskoka chair.
Contrasting the rolled-back instrumentals of Abstract’s performance, Ocean Heights’ “Out the Way” leans into production and instrumentation to administer a dose of smooth, pop-R&B perfection. Ocean Heights’ vocals drape over the crisp melody like caramel, complementing its layered manufacture to produce one sweet earworm.
“U Used To” by Charlie Burg embraces the cool tones of summer’s palette, propping itself up on pop-y notes and synth-shades to paint a fresh image of a summer fling. Don’t let its high production fool you — its acapella ad libs break through the chorus to give Burg’s foray into summer a sincere and palatable note.
Similarly sincere but with an added tender glean, the abstracted “Freakin’ Out on the Interstate” brandishes Briston Maroney’s distinctive voice alongside killer guitar and a meaty bassline to deliver an experience evocative of those erratic summer nights.
And what kind of mixtape would it be without songs to dance wildly to?
“Honestly” by The Bantams forms one edge of a rug-cutting triad completed by Hounds’ “Shake Me Up” and The Lost Boys’ “Sober (feat. Griff Clawson).” All three bank on their upbeat tempos and lyrics to get you on your feet and moving to summer’s final beats.
Strewn throughout the mixtape, these songs bring you back to basics to remind you what the best summer music’s all about.
With these songs you’re practically destined to make it through the first two weeks of school. Don’t worry if it’s a slow start to begin with — just think of it as a slow burn to a climax worth waiting for.
So what are you waiting for? Get out there and soak up the summer! We at Arts & Culture will catch you on the flipside!