Clash Picks: Summer Scorchers

Clash Picks: Summer Scorchers

The songs that helped us make it through the heatwave...

At some point last night, the summer heatwave finally broke.

Almost a week of relentless heat, baking sun, and oppressive humidity eventually cracked, tumbling in on itself.

Cue thunder, lightning, and a truly gargantuan amount of rainfall, deluging cities and towns across the UK.

Somehow, we just about kept it together through those sleepless nights, humid work sessions, and noisy streets.

Here's what the Clash writers were listening to as the mercury soared.

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Digital Mystikz - 'Unexpected'

A staple of summer playlists for a decade is Digital Mystikz' ‘Unexpected’. Unlike a lot of music that was classed as dubstep both of the Digital Mystikz’ albums have aged well, far better than their peers.

If you are expected some Rusko affair you might be disappointed, as Mala and Coki’s productions are filled with airy highs that gives the low-end stuff room to breathe, rather than feeling restricted and lairy. This is a song to play either when dusk is descending and the temperature has dropped and you need something a bit more chill, or to play when everyone descends to yours after a day in the sun.

‘Unexpected’ isn’t as good as after sun for those who didn’t apply enough Factor 50, but it does work in a similar way for your psyche. (Nick Roseblade)

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Gorillaz - 'PAC-MAN' ft. ScHoolboy Q

While there's a lot of uncertainty in the world currently, some things remain the same, namely Albarn and Hewlett's cartoon misfits dropping funky bangers for the masses.

Part 5 of this year's 'Song Machine' project is classic Gorillaz, simple drum beats and synth stabs gleefully mixed with Damon's breathy vocals with some screeches and screams added for good measure. For those who felt that 'Humanz' was too bloated, and 'The Now Now' too anemic, 'Song Machine' sees the band on finest form, reveling in a wide array of collaborations, harkening back to the chilled-out grooves of 'Plastic Beach.'

While 2020's output has been nothing but stellar, ScHoolboy Q's incendiary verse on 'PAC-MAN' helps make this a certified summer scorcher. The rapper's swagger and flow marry perfectly with the band's trademark vibe and create the perfect tune to kick back to. (Sam Walker-Smart)

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Kylie Minogue - 'Slow'

The video for this 2003 classic sees Kylie writhing on a beach towel, flanked by dozens of other sticky sunbathers. The bathers, stretched out, move slowly in unison, as the song's throbbing beat tantalisingly tangles with gasping vocals — it's a sweaty, sensual song that captures the exact moment when heat paralyzes movement, causing everything to slow down.

Even if you're feeling like a red-faced hot mess, this track just makes the scorching sun feel so, so sexy. (Charis McGowan)

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Hanya - 'Cement'

Opening with breathy vocals and open chords Hanya’s ‘Cement’ wistfully floats in the air like an ad-hoc BBQ in the park on a stifling summer’s day.

From the opening you’d be forgiven for thinking this is a lilting song that oozes hazy fun and killer melodies. However, around the halfway mark the drumming gets more rigid and keyboards emerge from nowhere. Heather’s soaring vocals take the mood up a notch. Everything starts to get a bit more hectic. The drums and bass rally, the guitars swell and ‘Cement’ is a wonky skewed version of Devo’s killer ‘Gut Feeling’.

This should be the song you play as laidback lunchtime lazing gently evolves into late afternoon/evening shenanigans. (Nick Roseblade)

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Something Leather - 'Trip To The Sun'

You know what they say - if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. Brighton threesome Something Leather’s hot off the press EP Midnight Reverie out on We Can Do It Records is not for the faint of heart. It is an unsavoury affair of the juiciest kind between filthy desert rock and murky post-punk placed against the backdrop of swirling organs and relentless train beats, a story from the highway to oblivion: “Trip to the Sun / All up and running / Trip to the Sun / Carefree and burning,” lead vocalist Phillie Etta Jane purrs on the crazed opener.

This EP would slip in nicely between Bambara’s ‘Shadow on Everything’ and Jaye Jayle’s ‘No Trail and Other Unholy Paths’. Close to a tattered copy of Jim Thompson’s ‘After Dark, My Sweet’, maybe a bottle of rye. All that brilliant stuff your mum warned you about. (Eero Holi)

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Philip Glass - 'Opening'

Last week, when walking back from the weekly food shop, I was waiting at some traffic lights. It was a bight and sunny day. People were in shorts and t-shirts. Those not wearing masks were smiling, yet struggling in the heat. As I was waiting to cross the usual tracks were being played on cars as they drove past. You know the kind. The kind of big bass-y things that lads in boosted up Nova’s dream about.

As I stood there, I started to hear something more sedate, but equally banging coming up the road. In a sequence that could have featured in a film from the 90s the lights changed as the car drew up. The driver and I made eye contact. There was a flash off appreciation as I crossed.

While ‘Opening’, from Philip Glass’ seminal ‘Glassworks’ album isn’t what might be classed as a summer banger, at that moment it decimated all the other songs being played at that time. (Nick Roseblade)

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Khruangbin, Leon Bridge - 'Texas Sun'

There are few things hotter than the sun in Texas, which is why Khruangbin and Leon Bridges' track 'Texas Sun' is a summer staple. While it's not as fiery as some to-go summertime pop songs (I mean, an acoustic guitar is introducing the tune after all), but the laidback funk-soul track is a slow-burn scorcher that has your nostalgic for those hot August nights when you felt free and alive.

Muted and breezy, the track is like a good summer’s day: easy, relaxed, and fun. “ You say you like the wind blowing through your hair / Come on, roll with me 'til the sun goes down,” croons Bridges, inviting you along for the ride.

The title track from the four-song collaboration EP that dropped last year, and whist it’s an instant classic year-round, it feels just a bit sweeter on a sweltering day. (Caroline Edwards)

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Hudson Mohawke - 'Monte Fisto'

Knowingly teetering on the right side of cringe-worthy, Monte Fisto’s huge sound is driven by hyper glossy production and over the top of all-encompassing drums. Essentially, Monte Fisto sounds like all of the slot machines at a casino winning at once. This is the track to have on repeat as it makes you feel like you’re walking in slow motion through some flames (which aptly matches what the weather has been doing to us).

It is the closing track on Glaswegian producer Hudson Mohawke’s latest mixtape titled ‘B.B.H.E’, which stands for Big Booty Hiking Exhibition. 'Monte Fisto' encapsulates Hudson Mohawke’s distinct production style and its exhilarating feel-good maximalism is essential listening to get through melting away in the heat. (Megan Warrender)

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