KCSU’s Guide to the Summer

We asked our volunteers and staff what their go to summer albums are in order to give you a guide to start your summer playlist. A full playlist with all of these tracks and more is attached below!

KCSUs Guide to the Summer

Brighid Bandel

As the staff and volunteers begin to enter finals week and prepare for a nice summer vacation – 2 months of relaxation to be exact – a new set of music becomes on repeat because of the change in season. Any music listener knows that when each season comes to a start, a new playlist must be made. Every summer, there is usually a go to album people find them listening to during the warmer days. We asked our volunteers and staff what their go to summer albums are in order to give you a guide to start your summer playlist. A full playlist with all of these tracks and more is attached below!

“Summer Pack” and “Kauai” by Childish Gambino

Highlighted Tracks: “Feels Like Summer,” “Summertime Magic,” “Sober,” “Pop Thieves” and “Retro (Rough)”

What’s great about this album?  Euan Peart: “‘Kauai’ makes me feel like I’m on a beach reminiscing on all the good & bad of the summer, letting the waves wash over my body and mind. ‘Summer Pack’ makes me remember Donald Glover’s Guava Island movie starring himself and Rihanna because ‘Summertime Magic’ was one of the main tracks featured in the movie.”

“Ice Melt” by Crumb

Highlighted Tracks: “Ice Melt”

What’s great about this album? Hannah Hitchcock: “This song is soooo good, and the title ‘Ice Melt’ reminds me of the transition to Summer as the snow is melting and the suns coming out! It also slays to listen to when your walking to class in nice weather.”

“Tea for the Tillerman” by Cat Stevens

Highlighted Tracks: “Where Do the Children Play?” and “But I Might Die Tonight”

What’s great about this album? Marie Pohl: “I used to listen to this album when I had to get up for my 3 a.m. shifts during the summer. It gave me the energy to get out of bed when I wanted to sleep in.”



Highlighted Tracks: “10%” “Scared to Death” and “Go DJ”

What’s great about this album? Briggy Smalls: “KAYTRANADA’s beats have really made me happier? lol. This album and artist in general are just brighter and happier that it will make your day a little better. I don’t know if it sets some endorphins off, but this album has made me really appreciate music with no words and just feel the beat. Listen to this album on a very hot day with all the windows rolled down and you will thank me.”

“The Presidents of the United States of America” by The Presidents of the United States of America

Highlighted Tracks: “Boll Weevil,” “Kitty,” and “Peaches”

What’s great about this album? Andrew DiTirro: “They are songs about enjoying things! A song about loving peaches, a song about an interaction with a stray cat, a song about coaxing your shut-in friend outside! A folksy and damp sound that reminds me of living in Houston.”

“Pony” by Orville Peck

Highlighted Tracks: “Turn to Hate,” “Dead of Night,” “Big Sky” and “Hope to Die”

What’s great about this album? Paris Huckaby: “I got really into this record in the summer of 2020 when the only other thing I was listening to was Bob Dylan (side note, Desire is also a great summer album in my opinion) and was in a real mood for more folky, country artists singing about drifting around the country in true cowboy fashion. This album came exactly when I needed it and whenever I listen to it I feel like I’m a cowboy out in New Mexico making my way from highway to highway as the flat horizon turns purple in the desert sunset. Orville Peck is such an exciting artist who’s bringing a new perspective to old outlaw music, and this time of year feels extra fitting for his style. Driving longer distances while listening to this record is particularly satisfying, as is hiking and listening to songs like ‘Hope to Die,’ ‘Big Sky,’ and ‘Old River’ while you pretend like you’re a lonely drifter on the run through the Rockies. It’s a great one!”

“The Cars” by The Cars

Highlighted Tracks: “Good Times Roll,” “Just What I Needed,” “You’re All I’ve Got Tonight” and “My Best Friends Girl”

What’s great about this album? DJ Drift: “I just think that this album was meant to be played on a summer night driving around with people and having a good time! It’s very upbeat and feel-good which i think matches the energy of being on summer break or something.”

“Slide” by George Clanton

Highlighted Tracks: “You Lost Me There,” “Livin’ Loose” and “Make It Forever”

What’s great about this album? David Damuth: “I listened to this album for the first time in the summer of 2019, and I instantly became obsessed with it. The record just has this breezy feeling to it that really fits with the warm weather and the smell of rain. Being that it’s a vaporwave and chill-wave adjacent album, the instrumentals and vocal performances ooze with late 90s and early 00s pop nostalgia. There’s so many memorable tracks on this album that have stuck with me over the past few years, but in particular the track ‘You Lost Me There’ has always been a major highlight. It’s a 6 minute long epic where Clanton whines and pleads for his partner to take him back, all backed behind synths and drums that feel monumental. It helps cap off an impressive album that I always revisit in the summer months, both because it’s a great record and how it sonically matches the feeling of summer malaise.”

“Goose” by Alix Page

Highlighted Tracks: “Goose” and “toothache”

What’s great about this album? Marin Unwin: “The drums and production are super fun and summery, would be perfect to listen to on a long summer drive :)”


“Stinson Beach Sessions” by The Head and the Heart

Highlighted Tracks: “Colors,” “No Guarantees,” and “Your Mother’s Eyes”

What’s great about this album? Briggy Smalls: “This album is very stripped back and acoustic with the sounds of the beach and hot atmosphere in the background. It kind of transports u to summer days and the ocean. My aunt showed me this album during summer so I think whenever the days get warmer I just get drawn back into listening to it.”

“Passage” by The Carpenters

Highlighted Tracks: “All You Get From Love is a Love Song” and “Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft (The Official Anthem of World Contact Day)”

What’s great about this album?  Gideon Aigner: “It brings pure joy, and there is a song for every mode of summer. I’m not even sure how to describe how it makes me feel”

“Up All Night (The Souvenir Edition)” by One Direction

Highlighted Tracks:  “What Makes You Beautiful” (obviously), “One Thing,” “Up All Night,” “Stand Up” and “I Should Have Kissed You”

What’s great about this album? Forrest Nelson: “In 2012, I listened to this album every morning before school. My sister was, and still is, a diehard Direction-er. The only CD she owned at the time was this album, so it was all I heard in the car.
June 2, 2012: One Direction plays the Allstate Arena in Chicago (technically Rosemont, IL). The entire family goes to the show, including myself. That summer was THE summer of 1D. I am not ashamed to say that I love One Direction. Each album is jampacked with bangers to scream in the car with the windows down and tracks that remind you of your first relationship when you were a kid.”

“Nervous at Night” by Charlie Hickey

Highlighted Tracks: “Planet With Water” and “Missing Years”

What’s great about this album? Alaina Tenninson: “I discovered this album last summer and I fell in love with it for it’s sentimental and nostalgic melodies. This album will take you back to a reckless teenage Summer night, a first love, and endless reminiscence. ‘Planet With Water’ blends simple acoustics and soft vocals for an honest and vulnerable experience that will melt your heart under the hot summer sun.”

“All We Need” by Raury

Highlighted Tracks: “All We Need,” “Kingdom Come,” “Crystal Express” and “Mama”

What’s great about this album? Jalen Thompson: “This albums optimistic tone and message are set with the first track ‘All We Need’, and the stripped down instrumentation of guitars and shimmery synth pads create a beautiful summertime vibe throughout the entire album. It has always been a comfort album for me because despite its delicate handling of some serious topics, it remains positive in aesthetic and just gives you a good feeling all around.”

“The Doors” by The Doors

Highlighted Tracks: “Break on Through,” “Soul Kitchen” and “Light My Fire”

What’s great about this album? Tyler Weatherwax: “The album is just a good time and always makes me feel like it’s summer in 1967. The album is best listened to if you’re driving too fast with all the windows down on a hot summer night with a full moon. The album was also released during the summer of love, which adds to its summertime potential. The album just feels like warm weather, beaches, and summer nights.”

“Little Creatures” by Talking Heads

Highlighted Tracks: “Road to Nowhere,” “Perfect World,” “The Lady Don’t Mind” and “Television Man”

What’s great about this album? Mia Templien: “This album is one of my favorites of all time, it always reminds me of the way it feels outside after the world has just thawed from the winter and the green has come back. The first time I listened to the whole thing it was in the summer and this album has the perfect optimistic and eclectic energy that I tend to reserve for the summer. David Byrne’s vocals are as crazy as ever and the instrumentals have this quintessential mid-80s sound. As nonsensical as the lyrics may seem, they paint such beautiful pictures in your mind as the songs go through their many phases.”

“Broken Bells” by Broken Bells

Highlighted Tracks: “The High Road,” “The Ghost Inside,” “Sailing to Nowhere” and “October.”

What’s great about this album? Eliot Hutchinson: This is the ultimate summer album for me! It just makes me want to lie by a swimming pool and soak in the sun for hours. The album really flows through several different emotions and has a lot of dynamics, but really remains cohesive throughout the whole journey. It really puts me in a summer state of mind.

Listen to our guide now!