Music and moments are like wine and cheese in that the right pairing can make both even more memorable, and that’s why every great summer needs a soundtrack.

Below you’ll find a list of a few vinyl records we plan on spinning to make the most of this summer!

Hanging at the beach + My Morning Jacket – The Waterfall II 

Why we paired: Matthew Logan Vasquez (Delta Spirit), who picked this album for the record of the month in September 2020, said he’d be bumping The Waterfall II vinyl by the water all summer long, so obviously we will be, too. But beyond that, this is the best vinyl record for a day at the beach because of its eclectic mix of psychedelic ease punctuated with hints of oceanic intensity. It’s one of those studio albums that capture the spirit of the studio where it was made so clearly. 

While The Waterfall II came out July 10, it was recorded in 2013 and 2015 perched on a hillside overlooking the Pacific at Stinson Beach. MMJ’s keyboardist, Bo Koster, said that “Out of all the places we’ve recorded, I think that place might have informed the record on a spiritual level more than any other…If you listen to ‘Like A River,’ it just sounds like Stinson Beach.” So, whether you’ve got the Pacific in your backyard or not, put on The Waterfall II vinyl on your portable record player, close your eyes, and let yourself be transported beachside this summer. 

Backyard barbecue + Magnolia Record Club Presents: Spotify Singles

Why we paired: We love this collection of covers and not just because it’s pressed on grassy-green vinyl, though that’s part of the appeal. There’s something notably “extra” about listening to a bright green vinyl record strictly composed of covers that we think makes it one of the best vinyl records for Summer 2021 (although it was the monthly vinyl club pick from December 2020)

Spinning this vinyl is kind of like listening to a live recording of all of our favorite artists singing karaoke to some of the best songs from the greatest albums of all time (please see Phoebe Bridgers singing “Friday I’m In Love”). There really is something for everyone in this record of singles. So fire up the grill and get the record spinning. Sometimes, all it takes is a few fresh takes on familiar tunes to get you back into the swing of a backyard summer hang. 

Starting a summer garden + Nathaniel Rateliff – And It’s Still Alright

Why we paired: Meet your seed sorting soundtrack. This peace-filled studio album practically sounds like a contemplative gardening session. Although we recommend the track “Time Stands” if you’ve got any weeds to pull. The record was inspired in part by the recent end of Rateliff’s marriage, the death of his dear friend, and reckoning with the realities of his own aging. Unsurprisingly, And It’s Still Alright, a record born of grief, touches on heavy themes such as despair and loneliness, but the record surprisingly does so without any one track becoming too heavy. 

Rateliff’s trademark soulful voice recounts hardships while dropping hints of a hope that tomorrow will be a little lighter than today. And what could demonstrate more hope in tomorrow than the act of planting and watering a garden with the anticipation of a coming harvest? If that’s not enough to convince you to spin Rateliff’s latest vinyl while you get your hands in the dirt this summer, there’s always the obvious fact that gardening has deep, undeniable folk vibes. That’s why this February 2020 vinyl subscription pick is one of the best vinyl records for growing your garden and for growing your record collection. 

Driving to a swimming hole + Shakey Graves – Roll the Bones X 

Why we paired: Roll the Bones X is a celebratory rock album marking 10 years since the release of Shakey Graves’ debut album, Roll the Bones on Bandcamp in 2011. The Roll the Bones X record includes the original tracks from RTB record plus 15 additional tracks. So, get ready for some summer 2011 nostalgia and a longing for the feeling of stumbling upon the OG Roll the Bones on Bandcamp for the first time. The rawness of this double record is what really sets it apart and makes it the ideal record to get out of town with. 

With just under 90 minutes of tunes, this record was practically manufactured for a mini road trip. Pro-tip: check out disc two of this double album and listen to track eight to hear the first-ever true recording of Graves’ hit song “Late July.” Get your towel, roll down the windows, and flip on the best vinyl record for the swimming hole. After all, nothing says windows down quite like a scenic drive with Shakey Graves, our March 2021 vinyl record of the month club pick.

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