Summer Mixtape 

From our fingers to your ears, the songs that will be your summer soundtrack

Each summer seems to bring it with a set of new cool grooves. While we're not good at predicting which songs will break big, we do know which songs we'd put on our summer mix tape. After careful consideration, here's what will be rocking our world this summer (and you can check out these songs on our Spotify playlist, Cleveland Scene Summer Mix, which we'll update all summer long).

alt-J, "Breezeblocks"


Every note in this indie rock, electronic dubstep conglomeration is specifically placed and engineered to bring the most talent out of this popular song. The combination of unique English voices, a booming bass and tinny subtleties such as bells make this song one of the surprise hits of the year. (William Hoffman)

Black Angels,

"I Hear Colors"

(Blue Horizon Ventures)

Lyrics like "I hear colors running through my mind/I can feel them dripping in my eyes," mix with waltzing synthesizer melodies and disorienting special effects to transport you back to your most experimental college years. Lead singer Alex Mass' voice has a distinct tremolo reminiscent of Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane fame, further ingraining the track with a psychedelic 1960s sound. (Jacob DeSmit)

Jake Bugg,

"Lightning Bolt" (Mercury)

Having already captivated audiences overseas with his songwriting capabilities, this track from the young English singer's debut self-titled album delivers straightforward blues in a package that some American critics are already likening to Bob Dylan. Only time will tell if the analogy proves true, but the Brit shows his chops here with his brand of thoughtful lyricism over a gritty folk sound. (DeSmit)

Cold War Kids, "Miracle Mile" (Downtown / V2)

"I was supposed to do great things/I know the road was long," bellows Cold War Kids singer Nathan Willett at the start of this bouncy, piano-driven single from the band's new album, Dear Miss Lonelyhearts. The song's intensity slowly builds, ultimately turning it into a spirited call-and-response that's surprisingly soulful and angst-ridden, a real feat given that these guys are a bunch of white dudes from sun-soaked Southern California. (Jeff Niesel)


"From A Window Seat"


Taylor Goldsmith's lyrics have always been more fitting for a poem than to a rock song but this time Dawes is able to blend both in an elegant way. Although the lyrics are up for interpretation, this song can easily stand tall on the instrumentals alone supported by carefully crafted guitar solos and delicately complex drum lines. (Hoffman)

Daft Punk, "Get Lucky"

(Daft Life / Columbia)

If I had to put my money on what song would be this year's summer smash, it would be on the latest single from Daft Punk's highly anticipated album, Random Access Memory. Sounding much more human than a majority of the French duo's other material, the song leans heavily on the soft swoon of R&B singer Pharrell and the play of the backing session players — including Chic's Niles Rodgers, who provided the very funky rhythm guitar — that drive the groove. (DeSmit)

Fitz and the Tantrums,


(Elektra Records)

Combining distorted bass reminiscent of The Black Keys, a catchy electronic element and a constant driving dance rhythm, this song is certainly bound for the Billboard charts. "Spark" combines a number of pop elements while maintaining the group's signature indie rock/ electronic style for a song that will have you tapping your foot all day. While it's not the current single from the group's highly anticipated album, it is the song that could propel this band from relatively unknown to the indie electronic band of the year. (Hoffman)


"San Francisco"


If you're celebrating summer in Cleveland, be sure to wear flowers in your hair. Also, do give Foxygen's January release We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic a listen — particularly the chilled-out "San Francisco." Jonathan Rado's guitar work nimbly calls to mind the late-'60s psychedelia that seeped through the music of the song's namesake. And Sam France gently complements the music with lilting vocals. Recipe: One part gin, two parts tonic, three parts Foxygen. (Eric Sandy)

Ghostface Killah, "Blood on the Cobblestones" (Soul Temple Records)

Among the more prolific Wu-Tang alumni, Ghostface Killah stands tall alongside the iconic hip-hop group's legacy. His latest album, Twelve Reasons to Die, extends Wu's smooth flow, imaginative raps and innovative beats and samplings. "Blood on the Cobblestones" is one of the most rambunctious songs on the album, and it serves as a tight shot of energy to any summertime mixtape. In 2013, hip-hop is alive and well in respectable corners of the genre. (Sandy)

The Handsome Family,

"Octopus" (Carrot Top

Records / Loose Music)

Summer typically brims with upbeat melodies, sunny lyrics and a buoyant outlook on the fun of the season. The Handsome Family dovetails toward darker waters on their latest album, which includes the haunting "Octopus." Don't mistake the tint for gloom, though. This song is jaunty and, to be frank, perfect for a late-night chill session on the porch with your buds. (Sandy)

Iron & Wine

"Caught in Briars"

(4AD / Nonesuch)

Samuel Beam takes a new direction away from solo guitar work with this song as bass, drums and piano become the driving melody. He's able to keep that signature Iron & Wine vocal style while making the music more up-tempo and jazzy. Instrumentals are beautifully arranged to support changing key signatures and a more jazzy style than we are use to hearing from the artist. (Hoffman)

Queens of the Stone Age

"My God is the Sun"


While the bass sets the groove for the song, frontman Josh Homme comes in with the band's signature voice harking the song's refrain "my God is the sun." This typical stoner rock song is accessible to anyone and brings fans back to the sound that made them fall in love with the band in the first place. (Hoffman)

She & Him

"I Got Your Number, Son"

(Merge Records)

You'd be hard-pressed to find a more quintessentially "summery" band than Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward's She & Him. As such, their latest offering, Volume 3, is an elixir you'll want to keep close by as summer washes over Cleveland. Album opener "I Got Your Number, Son" distills the duo's sunny vibes into a concise three-plus minutes. (Sandy)

The Shouting Matches

"Seven Sisters"

(Middle West)

In this first single from The Shouting Matches' debut album, Grownass Man, lead man Justin Vernon can't help but show the soft side that Bon Iver fans have always loved. Unsurprisingly, it works like a charm; the blend of soft and southern rock makes for jazzy riffage throughout, ultimately culminating in a playful conversation between two delicately intertwined guitar parts to round out the song's last half-minute. (DeSmit)

Streetlight Manifesto

"The Three of Us"

(Pentimento / Victory)

Nothing puts you in the mood for summer quite like the blaring horn hook of this beautifully produced ska song. Thomas Kalnoky's vocal style and fast-pace guitar rhythm are the perfect support to the nearly distorted sounding slide trombone that pierces through the verse like a freight train. But it's not till the kick-ass horn section breakdown will Streetlight Manifesto really have you head banging and sold on this song. (Hoffman)

Surfer Blood

"Demon Dance"

(Warner Bros.)

Surfer Blood intends to keep making the same kind of "surf" rock that made their 2010 debut album, Astro Coast, so fun and infectious. The first single off of this summers Pythons shows that the band can delve into its harsher side, even in the midst of a track predominantly upbeat song built around pop melodies and a handful of tight vocal harmonies. (DeSmit)

Tame Impala

"Mind Mischief"

(Modular Recordings)

Though not a single off of the band's much acclaimed sophomore effort, Lonerism, "Mind Mischief" proves to be one of the more unique tracks from the album. A refreshingly honest take on how it feels to have a crush, band mastermind Kevin Parker's laid back voice soars over fuzzed out guitar and lazily brilliant drum fills before the band spaces out with a heavily synthesized second half. If the song wasn't trippy enough for you, check out the music video in all of its animated intergalactic sexual glory. (DeSmit)

Tegan and Sara


(Warner Bros.)

Tegan and Sara have combined '80s pop with modern electronic recording methods to produce a catchy single that everyone is finding out about. The duo's voices and looks meld together into one, making it impossible to tell where one starts and the other begins. And with a chorus and title that's all about sex, the song dares you to be reminded of a physical romp with a loved one. (Hoffman)

Vampire Weekend

"Diane Young"


This song wants to be the most fun that you hear this summer. Be it because of the ever changing/über-modulated vocals of lead singer Ezra Koenig or its zany mish-mash of horns, piano, and synth to a driving garage rock beat, this first single off of the band's third album, Modern Vampires of the City, probably won't fail to accomplish its mission. (DeSmit)

Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs



As the opening tune on the band's latest album, Mosquito, this song sets the tone with its doom and gloom attitude. Leading lady Karen O shows off her uncanny ability to flip the switch between sounding both sexy and inviting or "get the fuck back" pissed-off, holding the listener's attention until the church chorus chants that fill the last minute carry the track to its grave. (DeSmit)


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