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Culture in Context

Mix Tape Monday: Odes to Sunshine

A sunny suite of songs for November

A Spotify List by Mack Hayden and Jeff Koch

After all, that’s why you came to Biola, right? The great weather, the proximity to the beach and the integration of a deeply held Christian faith with everything you do — the classic Southern California lifestyle. Let’s hope you’re still liking it, as we’re now in the middle of November and staring down the barrel of another week in the mid-80s. Here are a few songs to help set the mood.

1. Sun It Rises | by Fleet Foxes — It’s at sunrise that the world can seem the most consonant. Just enough light is shed to ward off the darkness of night without lighting up too much of the trouble going on in the daytime. It’s with the same spirit that Fleet Foxes opened up their debut LP (and this playlist), harmoniously and with a sense of wonder. – MH

2. Sun Hands | by Local Natives — When they first arrived on the scene, Local Natives drew a lot of comparison to Fleet Foxes. Most of it was justified. But people talked like that was a negative trait. They may be Fleet Foxes’ little brother but their music is just as poignant and distinct as their forebears’. – MH

3. Ode to Sunshine | by Delta Spirit — It’s hard to find a more optimistic, hopeful band in indie music than Delta Spirit. They’re just old enough to not be naive and just young enough to be safe from over-jadedness. This retro-rock, piano-centric jam is just a great time. – MH

4. The Sun and the Moon | by mewithoutYou — Less about the weather and more about the preeminence of God, this song should set us thinking about the right things even when we’re sweating rather than wearings sweaters this autumn.  – JK

5. Sunny Afternoon | by The Kinks — The Beatles experienced a surge of popularity among our generation because of “Across the Universe.” It’s a shame other British Invasion bands haven’t been as lucky. The Kinks perfected an acoustic, vaudevillian style of music that has hardly been duplicated and never been surpassed since. – MH

6. Not the Sun | by Brand New — A raucous, quasi-hardcore reminder that the troubled relationships we have will both come and go. The lyric in the bridge is “you have set on me, but you are not the sun / You will not listen” no matter what any lyrics website tells you.  – JK

7. Evening Sun | by The Strokes — These New Yorkers were proclaimed as the saviors of rock ‘n’ roll upon their arrival in the early 2000s. For our playlist, they are a reminder that this blistering heat is a little easier to handle in the evening. Also, we’re all about ready to have heat strokes of our own, right? Kind of a downgrade: guitar Messiahs to playlist puns. The heat’s getting to us. – MH

8. Hot as Sun / Glasses | by Paul McCartney — An instrumental track off of this former Beatle’s legendary first solo album “McCartney I,” “Hot as Sun” is simple sonic joy. No lyrics, and at barely more than two minutes long, it offers a lovely little respite for our playlist — and from the blistering California heat. – JK

9. One Ray of Sunlight | by Phantom Planet — Best known for “The O.C.” theme song, Phantom Planet was wrongly maligned as a cheesy teenybopper one hit wonder kind of band. Okay, we’ll give you cheesy and teenybopper, but as far as those categories go, these guys are as good as they come. Moreover, “The Guest” (featuring both this song and the famed “California”) is one of the best fun-in-the-sun albums anyone could listen to. – MH

10. Sunshine of Your Love | by Cream — For some reason, Cream gets left out of a lot of the conversation about the best British bands of the 60s nowadays. I don’t know why. This is just one of the many brilliant ways Eric Clapton changed the face of rock music forever (see also: The Yardbirds, Derek and the Dominoes, John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, Blind Faith and his entire solo career). – JK

11. Staring at the Sun | by U2 — I don’t care what anybody says. U2 is a great band. Sure, their contributions to the zeitgeist during the past two decades have been meager, but there’s no denying that in the 1980s and ‘90s Bono and company were huge. Also, there can be absolutely no understating the importance of The Edge in defining the modern sound of the electric guitar as we know it today. – JK

12. Sun Medallion | by King Tuff — If you can get past the nasally voice, we think you’ll find a retro, amusing piece of riffage here. The sun beats down on us Californians but maybe we should wear that as a badge of honor instead of a curse. Either way, tuff luck for us. – MH

13. Yellow Sun | by The Raconteurs — The White Stripes will always hold the most clout out of any Jack White project but it’s hard to deny that The Raconteurs were probably the most fun out of them all. Every song rocked without resorting to self-indulgence in any way. Good times, good times. – MH

14. Summer’s the Worst | by Michael Leviton — You probably thought that a ukulele and bells couldn’t be depressing. Prepare to be wrong. This should’ve been the backing track to every sitcom, brokenhearted, moving on montage, like, ever. “Show your skin / you might get burned / but all the heat / is worth the hurt.” – JK

15. The Sun Goes Down and the World Goes Dancing | by The Magnetic Fields — Stephin Merritt brings us to sunset the way Fleet Foxes brought us to sunrise. There’s wonder in either occurrence. So the sun sets on this November-by-way-of-July playlist. As fun as this has been, I think we all agree we’re ready for some Bon Iver friendly weather. – MH

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