Twenty obscure, world-hopping, genre-spanning summer tracks to get your ears around.
These tracks hop across genres, continents, and generations, making for the ultimate soundtrack to your late afternoon BBQ. Check out the playlist below.
'The Blues (It Began in Africa)' – Romare
Archie Fairhurst goes by Romare, influenced by the African-American artist and songwriter Romare Bearden. This track is sample-heavy and features a whacky flute riff, ethereal female vocals and a firm house beat.
'Agitations tropicales' – L’Impératrice
L’Impératrice (The Empress) are a self-produced six-piece band from Paris, drenched head to toe in stardust. Their intergalactic disco sound is combined with creamy lead vocals, producing the perfect song for a twinkly afternoon bop.
'Plage isolée (Soleil couchant)' – Polo & Pan
Alexandre Grynszpan and Paul Armand-Delille (aka Polo & Pan) have been spinning the decks of the hip, cult clubs of Paris for more than half a decade. ‘Plage isolée (Soleil couchant) is a timeless pop classic, tinged with a hedonistic dance flavour and colourful, melodic beat.
'Liquidator' – Harry J. All Stars
Hailing from the early days of reggae, ‘Liquidator’ was first released in 1969 by producer Harry “J” Johnson and his band of merry men. Johnson and his bands were integral to popularising early reggae beats, with ‘Liquidator’ at the focal point of the drive. A selective bassline, purring organ and picked guitar makes the perfect sound for a Sunday afternoon skank.
'Dope Vhs Master' – Desmond Cheese
‘Dope Vhs Master’ falls into itself, with overlapping guitars and understated bass. You can hear the influences of producers Makcheese and Desmond Bagley stitched into the seams of the track; from American hip-hop to French classical, unconventional rock to Scottish electronica.
'Ms. Ho' – Onra
Another honorary Parisian, Onra sources his influence from jazz to soul, funk and RnB, to a fresh new take on traditional hi-hop. ‘Ms. Ho’ has its own eclectic sound; fully of busy, twanging guitar riffs mixed into samples of traditional Chinese music taken from the producer’s travels across Asia.
'Bam Bam' – Sister Nancy
A heritage reggae hit, hailing from 1980s Kingston, Jamaica. ‘Bam Bam’ encompasses everything we know and love about reggae and dancehall, to present a recognisable, sun-splashed track.
'Kunta Kinte Dub' – The Revolutionaries
The Revolutionaries produced rhythmic, rocky dub beats at one of the most pivotal times in reggae history. ‘Kunta Kinte Dub’ showcases some of the greatest sounds of his members throughout the years in a thick bassline and mixed, edgy percussion.
'Morse' – Nightmares on Wax
‘Morse’ boasts a downtempo funk and soul feel, littered with airy, electronic sounds and samples. Less of a soundtrack to an acid house rave, and more the twinkly backdrop of a glorious summer evening.
'Flashback' – Fat Freddy’s Drop
The soulful, seven-piece Kiwi collective have left a distinct impression on UK listeners after a number of concert appearances. ‘Flashback’ takes on a reggae/dub ska-infused tone, with a dose of wobbly electronic sounds for good measure.
'Superstar' – Hollie Cook
Hollie Cook is one of the 21st century’s premier voices in reggae. She has lent her vocal talent to the likes of Prince Fatty, Quantic, and Protoje on numerous big hits. The unassuming bass in ‘Superstar’ accentuates her sweet, soulful tone, making for a romantic ballad-esque summer hit.
'Jahovah in Dub Majesty' – The Twinkle Brothers
The Twinkle Brothers have been around since before I was an embryo, producing exemplary reggae music straight from the beating heart of Jamaica. This track pulls on dub influences, using clashing cymbals and tinny percussion to counterbalance the deep, melodic bassline.
'Tourment d’amour' – La Fine Equipe
This French electro-soul quartet have carved their own path in the European music scene. ‘Tourment d’amour’ flirts with the spirit of funk and soul, making the most of the tonal brass instruments to give the track a truly danceable swing.
'Prettiest Virgin (Radio Edit)' – Agar Agar
Another feather in the hat of the French electronic scene, the talented duo Agar Agar produce records that belong on the soundtrack of blockbusters like “Drive” and “Tron: Legacy”. Bouncy synths and delicate drums lift the female vocals for a track made for psychedelic poolside grooving.
'Paper Trails' – Darkside
‘Paper Trails’ comes from duo Nicolas Jaar and Dave Harrington’s LP Psychic. The vocals in this track are deep and cavernous, velvety like maple syrup mixed with melted chocolate. Layer that on top of an ambient, slow-stepping beat, and you’ve got a piping hot treat.
'Wordless Chorus' - My Morning Jacket
Allow psychedelic rock band My Morning Jacket to soundtrack your garden party with slow-climbing indie bop ‘Wordless Chorus’. At its crescendo, the passionate cries of the lead vocals lift the track up high, while the plucky guitars keep its downtempo pace.
'Climbing Walls' – Strange Talk
The archetypal indie-pop vocals of Strange Talk lead singer are reminiscent of early 90s alternative dance music. Kicking off with an echo guitar effect, and slowly incorporating funky synths, the track explodes into an all-out sunny dance-athon.
'Music Is The Girl I Love' – Gentleman’s Dub Club
Taken from their 2015 album The Big Smoke, ‘Music Is The Girl I Love’ is the perfect electro-reggae tribute. The brass sections will shine in the summer sun, and showcase the London collective’s alternative take on the philosophy of the dub soundsystem.
'This Town (feat. Tippa Irie & Horseman)' – The Skints
London-loving collective The Skints’ tagline on their website states “when ur a punk band but reggae is life”. They are true pioneers of genre fusion, incorporating elements of reggae, ska, dancehall, soul, hip hop and punk rock in their music. ‘This Town’, however, is an unadulterated, Jamaica-inspired reggae track.
'Clint Eastwood (Ed Case/Sweetie Irie Refix) [Edit]' – Gorillaz, Ed Case
Ed Case, trailblazer of the illegal warehouse raves back in the early 80s, brings his boisterous garage flavour to a vintage Gorillaz track. This remix lifts the original track to a bouncy, dancehall beat; prime for dropping in the dusty summer evening.