Listen – The Perfect Colorado Summer Playlist

Ahhhh, summertime — the calendar year’s annual reward to humanity. While most see Colorado for its wintertime activities, the real ones know just how incredible its seasonal counterpart is in the Rockies. A Colorado summer is in a league of its own. Scenic hikes, river excursions, and Red Rocks concerts among other activities — the sunshine state has what you need. Warm, up-tempo music is synonymous with summer — high-energy ballads from Goose or jig-worthy musical landmarks from Bill Withers prove just that. Nights in July call for cosmic crooning by Solange, whereas August mornings on Highway 6 warrant Grateful Dead deep cuts. Enjoy this lineup of music spanning genres and time itself, along with a sprinkle of our favorite local music for the hottest months of the year.

Check out the full playlist and some highlights below: 

Goose – Shenanigans Nite Club (2021)

No Coincidence Records

Genre: Indie-groove, dance-funk

Highlights: “So Ready,” “SOS,” “Madhuvan”

This year, Connecticut’s grooviest ensemble has catapulted itself into the ears of jam-band aficionados across the country. Shenanigans Nite Club is a well-balanced mixture of ten-or-more minute riff sessions and disco-laden singalongs. The album’s opener (and most-streamed record), “So Ready,” has everything one could imagine from this hybrid collective — catchiness, complex funk riffs and unmistakable vocals from Peter Anspach.

Mach-Hommy – Pray For Haiti (2021)

Griselda Records

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap, Avant-Garde Rap

Highlights: “Marie,” “Kriminel,” “The Stellar Ray Theory”

Within the inner sanctums of rap communities across all social media platforms, one thing is nearly for certain — Mach-Hommy staked his claim for “Rap Album of the Year” with Pray For Haiti. This sprawling project is a warm collection of family reminiscence, stories of auspicious activities, and the occasional incorporation of Haitian-Creole lyricism (the latter of which Mach makes clear he’s incredibly proud of). On “Marie,” the Newark MC pays homage to female figures in his life, and “Kriminel” is vivid recollections of lost friends through dreamscapes. It’s haunting, yet lively, and should be next up in everybody’s rotation.

Bill Withers – Menagerie (1977)

Columbia Records

Genre: R&B, soul-pop

Highlights: “Lovely Day,” “It Ain’t Because of Me Baby,” “Then You Smile at Me”

Nothing screams “summer!” like a synchronized stroll through your local park to the instantly recognizable “Lovely Day.” The album that houses this super-hit, however, is as upbeat and dopamine-inducing as the single itself. Bill Withers must’ve been madly in love while recording this gem because nearly every track inside Menagerie oozes happiness and jubilation — “It Ain’t Because of Me Baby” is as much a ballad as it is a dance-along song. Throw this album on for an early morning drive in July or August and bask in the results.

Kali Uchis – Isolation (2018)

A Rinse/Virgin UMI Records

Genre: Contemporary R&B, neo-soul

Highlights: “After the Storm,” “Your Teeth In My Neck,” “Flight 22”

Kali Uchis operates in waves and feelings — her 2018 debut studio album is proving ground for such a statement. “After the Storm” sees Uchis team up with Tyler, the Creator for a record that succeeds in quite literally every conceivable summer scenario — cookouts, hikes, evening drives, etc. “Flight 22” is the basis for the Columbian-American songstress to show off her immaculate vocals, but then again, so is the entirety of Isolation.

Grateful Dead – Blues for Allah (1975)

Colorado Summer

Grateful Dead Productions

Genre: Jam rock, blues rock, folk-rock

Highlights: “Franklin’s Tower,” “Crazy Fingers, “Sage & Spirit”

What’s the summer season without a little Dead? The group’s 1975 effort — like the title clearly suggests — is equal parts blues-rock and elongated riffs. The album’s largest hit, “Franklin’s Tower,” uses high-pitched guitar twangs and a fast-paced rhythm as means for one of this list’s happiest songs. In all reality, there’s no “wrong” choice for Grateful Dead music on a summer playlist, but the lesser-recognized Blues for Allah is certainly worth a gander this season.

Drake – More Life (2017)

Young Money Entertainment/Cash Money Records

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap, R&B, dancehall, grime

Highlights: “Passionfruit,” “Madiba Riddim,” “Fake Love”

Yeah, that’s right — Drake gets a spot on this one. Toronto’s very own has, quite literally, hundreds of qualified “summer bangers,” but More Life may be the right mixture of everything required to earn this spot. The album cover calls it a playlist — for good reason — there’s a little of everything. “Passionfruit” is a melodic, modern R&B staple made for a vacation to the islands, “Madiba Riddim” is high power dancehall at its finest, and the radio play monster “Fake Love” is the singalong you forgot was so damn good. Check out these three before diving headfirst into Drake’s most genre-diverse project to date.

Paris Texas – BOY ANONYMOUS (2021)

Colorado Summer

Paris Texas LLC

Genre: Alternative rap

Highlights: “FORCE OF HABIT,” “BETTER DAYS,” “AREA CODE”

This LA rap duo took their flagpole and thrust it into the alt-rap mountain earlier this year with BOY ANONYMOUS — an off-kilter, pleasantly unique combination of hip-hop styles spanning regions and eras. There’s no way that, after throwing on “FORCE OF HABIT,” every listener present doesn’t feel cooler by default. “AREA CODE” has shades of Flower Boy-era Tyler, and “Better Days” is a head-bobbing symphony of synthesizers and hypnotizing flow patterns. It’s ziplock-tight at twenty-two minutes but has everything the summer heart desires in eight short tracks.

Solange – When I Get Home (2010)

Colorado Summer

Columbia Records

Genre: Alternative R&B, neo-soul, psych-soul

Highlights: “Binz,” “Stay Flo,” “Sound of Rain”

Solange Knowles has run a gamut on obscure R&B for years, but her last two albums have seen her artistry ascend to unimaginable heights. Where A Seat at the Table works as a psych-soul tour-de-force When I Get Home is conceptually brilliant and audibly choreographed. “Binz” and “Sound of Rain” exist on opposite ends of the sonic spectrum, yet portray the same emotions into the fan’s ears and soul. Either her most recent albums could be argued as one of last decade’s best — and there’s no sign of her stopping for years to come.

Dr. Dog – Shame, Shame (2010)

Colorado Summer

Anti Inc.

Genre: Indie rock

Highlights: “Where’d All the Time Go?,” “Jackie Wants a Black Eye,” “Mirror, Mirror”

Our summer tour ends with Dr. Dog’s 2010 release — a vast culmination of comforting indie rock. “Where’d All the Time Go?” will stick to your mind upon first listen: Scott McMicken’s wailing vocals put the brain in a much-needed lull. The entirety of Shame, Shame is equal parts early-month anthem and mid-summer smash but works best as a melancholic conclusion to the dog days of summer.