The sun drying ocean droplets on your skin. The smell of jasmine and frangipani intermingling with sunscreen and the char of food on the BBQ. barbecue. The tastebuds pop of salt meeting tart lime and tingling tequila in a margarita.
Cosmos and Pat Liney, the twin brothers of Australian electronic duo Cosmo’s Midnight, have distilled all things summer into their new record Yesteryear which is already being hailed as a quintessential soundtrack our 2020/21 season.
That album leads a raft of new music from homegrown and international artists which will be populating playlists and DJ sets over the next six months.
The sonically-blessed Cosmo’s Midnight siblings believe they couldn’t make any other kind of music.
Brought up beachside in Sydney, they spent their after-school hours surfing at Bondi and still make a beeline for Bronte to shake off jet lag jet lag when they return home from touring.
“So much of our music is written because we live in a beachside Sydney. For us, it would be impossible to write dreary, sad music when we live in such a beautiful, sun-drenched spot,” Pat says.
The first ingredient for their summery vibe is geography. The brothers find it next to impossible to write in dark, closed-in studios and head to classic family holiday spots on the NSW coast — south to Mollymook or north to Brunswick Heads — to make new music.
“Most of our record is written in some sunny, nice spot because we hate being in oppressive, dank, dark studios where the sound is so close,” Pat says.
Cosmo adds: “The places where if you have too many cups of coffee you can hear your own thoughts out loud. Or your heart beating in your ears. It’s so quiet. Compared to that, when we were down the coast, there’s kookaburras in gum trees, you can see the beach and I feel like that makes you want to write this kind of music.”
Yesteryear in both lyrical and musical terms, evokes nostalgia for summers past where the memory of the good times is always more heightened than the reality.
Like many of their electronic peers releasing music into the hotter months, the pair cite a raft range of influences for their uplifting, funk-laden electronic tunes which also sound warmer courtesy of organic instrumentation rather than heavy sampling.
They love the early ’90s vibe of Ibiza house music, marketed to the world via the Café Del Mar chill-out compilations. Throw in the original funk basslines of ’70s disco conjured by Chic co-founder Bernard Edwards.
“When I listen to older music, ranging from the ’60s to the early ’90s, there’s a lot of it that feels fresher to my ears than the music coming out today,” Pat says.
“There’s something about it that not only lends an edge of nostalgia but also sounds fresh. I think the music that is trending these days is hyper polished and super in your face.”
The perfect summer song often features a lyric which is repetitively simple — that one line like Can You Dig It which will fuel a festival crowd.
Or there will be a dash of narrative such as the “grass is greener” life-lesson of Idaho.
“We always want to have the core music idea to be joyful. And I think that comes from a place where we are lucky enough to be joyful. Not everyone goes through life wanting to write that music, which is an extension of your emotional state,” Cos says.
Pat adds: “Even if the lyrics are darker or more melancholy, we always try to pair that with keeping the music upbeat. I love those comparisons with early Ibiza stuff because we are obsessed with early ’90s house era when it was very sample based. And the vocals weren’t polished; they were just going for a feeling. There was no real lyric. We want our music to be enjoyed both superficially and at a deeper level.”
“I love those comparisons with early Ibiza stuff because we are obsessed with early ‘90s house era when it was very sample based. And the vocals weren’t polished at all; they were just going for a feeling. There was no real lyric. We want our music to be enjoyed both superficially and at a deeper level.”
The music of peers including Rufus Du Sol and The Presets will naturally return to the popular playlists as Australia gears up for summer.
But a raft swath of new music is also vying for a spot on the seasonal soundtrack.
Leading the pack is Mallrat with the dreamy Rockstar, which evokes the ’90s alternative folk pop of the legendary Mazzy Star.
“I feel like Rockstar reminds me of a mix between Lana Del Rey, Kacey Musgraves and Violent Soho,” Mallrat (aka Grace Shaw) says.
Dark pop’s rising star Cxloe offers her latest single Heavy for summer soundtrack thanks to its shimmery synths and funkified rhythms.
Breakthrough Melbourne singer songwriter Shannen James has dropped the perfectly-timed indie pop Seventeen, its familiar guitar hooks and production made for loud play as you drive with the windows down to the beach.
And if your artist name is CLYPSO — you better be making up-beat Jamaican-flavoured tunes like her new single Storm.
Cosmo’s Midnight – Yesteryear album live set performance, Live at sunset from High Garden Sydney Rooftop, overlooking the Sydney skyline from 6.15pm via Facebook and YouTube
NOSTALGIC SUMMER VIBES
1. The Boys of Summer – Don Henley
2. Sounds of Then (This is Australia) – GANGgajang
3. One Summer – Daryl Braithwaite
4. Summer Nights – Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta
5. Sittin’ On The Dock of the Bay – Otis Redding
6. Lovely Day – Bill Withers
7. Walking On Sunshine – Katrina and the Waves
8. Easy – The Commodores
9. Here Comes The Sun – The Beatles
10. Echo Beach – Martha and the Muffins