With the summer unofficially underway, I have prepared an entire (shortened) week of summer-inspired posts that are guaranteed* to make you want to ditch work and hit the beach…or at least think about it…a lot.

In an effort to put together what I feel is a list of 5 great summer albums, I looked to my own past, and the albums I enjoyed in summers past.  Note: this list is about MY favorite summer music, ok?

1) Sublime | 40 Oz. To Freedom (pictured above)

Brad Nowell died way too young, and had many years of music ahead of him; or at least I like to thin he did.  A former boss of mine grew up in Orange County, CA where Sublime is from, and often saw them play house parties.  “The best parties always had Sublime,” he told me.  I believe it.  Their first studio LP, 40 Oz. to Freedom (1992) paid homage to drinking, smoking, chasing tail, lazy days, and parties.  It’s a little bit reggae, a little bit punk rock, and all awesome.

Pinnacle Song | Badfish

2) Chris Isaak | San Francisco Days

Ever since watching the Wicked Game video where he dances around on a beach with supermodel Helena Christensen I have been a fan.  Now, given the fact that I played in punk bands and listened to The Ramones some were surprised that I liked Chris Isaak, but like I tell my wife, my musical tastes have always been diverse.  This album is laid back, and makes me think of the beach…long days at the beach…followed by wondering whatever happened to that random girl you met at the snack bar.  Will you ever see her again?  In the days before Facebook and Craigslist there was no way of knowing.  Made the mystery of it all that much more exciting.  And depressing.

Pinnacle Song | San Francisco Days

3) Jack Johnson | On and On

I really could have put Anything by Jack Johnson seeing how Jack is as summer as it gets.  The guy is a former professional surfer, he’s made films about surfing, and he’s from Hawaii where it’s always summer.  He sings songs about meeting his wife at school, taking in the world around him, surfing in Thailand…well, Jack is just laid back.  His second album, On and On gets the nod as a personal summer favorite because it feels like he wrote and recorded this one on the beach, and it features some of my favorite of his songs including Holes to Heaven.  I like to lay down on the beach, cue this one up on my iPod, put in my headphones, and close my eyes.

“There were some many fewer questions when stars were still just the holes to heaven…”

Pinnacle Song | Holes to Heaven

4) Donovan | Greatest Hits

This is one of those albums that I grew up listening to sitting in my parents living room while they and their friends got high.  Ok, they weren’t the types to get high; at least not that I know of.  But they did have good taste in music, and this was just one of many they got me hooked on…albums, that it.  Donovan, some may say was the poor man’s Bob Dylan.  I think he mellowed the folk even further, and stuck to it.  I love Dylan, but I find Donovan to be more laid back; and that’s what summer is all about anyway, right?  We used to play this one at Sharon’s beach house while we grilled, drank beer, and…well, when we did something I don’t think my parents did.

Pinnacle Song | Colours

5) Vampire Weekend | Vampire Weekend

Forget Contra; their pretentiously boring sophomore follow-up to their brilliantly fun and summery debut, and just concentrate on this one in hopes that maybe, just maybe they will get back to what they did to make this first album – which was to write and record good songs.  Look, Vampire Weekend is not destined for greatness, but face it – you found this album to be catchy, and addictive in certain ways, right?  For me, this didn’t translate into what I thought of when I remembered my summer days while in college, but the summer I could have had should I have applied myself more in high school, gotten better grades, and had the motivation to get into a better school with preppy undertones.  Because really, that’s what this is.  The summer you could have spend on the Cape or in Newport.  So, just because I’m only now enjoying these sorts of things in my 30’s doesn’t make it bad, right?  No, just different.  And this album lets me pretend.

Pinnacle Song | Walcott

Next…Summer Eats