As you walk around during the first few days of class, you’ll probably see countless students lounging in the sun along the Spine — the path that passes between the clock tower and the library tower. Late summer and early fall usually provide ample opportunity to play frisbee, listen to music and relax with friends before schoolwork begins in earnest, so be sure to take advantage while you can. The infamous Binghamton chill can start as early as October, so these warm, picturesque days truly are precious. Check out our playlist of hidden-gem songs to get you into the mindset depicted on those ubiquitous college and student-life brochures.
“Flipside” — Bleached
Los Angeles band Bleached blends elements of the pop, punk, grunge and college-rock genres. This sunny track off of their latest EP, which nods to female-fronted ’90s rock groups like Throwing Muses or Helium, wouldn’t seem out of place on an episode of “Daria” or “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”
“Hang Ten!” — The Soup Dragons
This Scottish group’s 1987 debut album channels the energy of classic pop-punk bands like the Jam, Buzzcocks and The Rezillos. The title track is an upbeat jam perhaps better suited for a dance party than a day of Spine sitting, but it’s so irresistibly fun that it’s surprisingly perfect for a lazy college afternoon.
“Drew Barrymore” — SZA
Beautifully produced and deeply personal, SZA’s “Ctrl” was one of the most well-received albums of the summer. With its timely lyrics and slow, ’90s-inspired guitar track, “Drew Barrymore” is especially appropriate for a college playlist. Within the first few lines, SZA references mom jeans, Vans shoes and Netflix binges — trends that 20-somethings are all too familiar with.
“Honey Bones” — DOPE LEMON
Australian outfit DOPE LEMON’s 2016 debut album was recorded on a farm, and this atmosphere is certainly reflected in its relaxed coastal-rock sound. “Honey Bones” is perhaps the most jarring track, evoking the psychedelic feel of The Doors, Jimi Hendrix or Cream with the jumbled whimsy of Todd Rundgren or Robyn Hitchcock.
“August” — Love
A great classic rock band that goes woefully unnoticed by most classic rock DJs, Love spent the 1960s recording psychedelic rock that was heavily influenced by the traditions of folk, blues, orchestral pop, country and more. “August,” with its intense percussion and gripping guitar riff, is an impressive and apropos addition to any end-of-summer playlist.
“Different Now” — Chastity Belt
Seattle-based noise rock/pop/punk band Chastity Belt released their latest album in early June. The opening track veers from their usual tongue-in-cheek social commentary to offer some profound insight. Over calming, beachy instrumentation, vocalist Julia Shapiro sings, “Take away your pride and take away your grief / And you’ll finally be right where you need to be” — sounds like good advice to keep in mind as classes start.
“September Gurls” — Big Star
Despite their astounding lack of success during the 1970s as they were at their peak, Big Star has earned an almost mythic reputation and a dedicated cult following since their decline. This catchy track off their second album, “Radio City,” is a work of power-pop perfection that seems tailor-made for the start of a new school year.