Admiral Radley: I Heart California (The Ship)

A while back, I heard a feature on NPR about the concept of the summer single—the one song everyone hears everywhere all summer long that defines that summer and forever links the song to that summer's romances, smells and sights.

For those of us who don't exist in a world of radio singles, we have the summer album, the album that helps get us through the long, hot days. This summer, I suggest Admiral Radley's I Heart California.

That is, if you like your summer albums full of California sunshine, burning guitar and keyboard riffs—and snarkiness. Admiral Radley is, after all, made up of Jason Lytle and Aaron Burtch of Grandaddy, and Aaron Espinoza and Ariana Murray of Earlimart. Hence, the Earlimart-esque songs take on a tinge of Grandaddy style, and the Grandaddy-esque songs are sweetened with a drop of Earlimart softness.

On the title track, Lytle's semi-surreal lyrics are buoyed by the backing vocals of Murray and Espinoza. "The Thread," sung by Murray, is sprinkled with playful melodies played on playful instruments. And then "Red Curbs" and "I'm All Fucked on Beer" are perfect melds of both bands. Strangely enough, Lytle's suburban disillusionment becomes slightly more cheery against Earlimart's urban folk/pop, which, subsequently, becomes slightly more disillusioned.

As a result, the album has just the right level of fun and warmth without being too giddy or too depressing. It's a perfect 2010 summer album: We may be disillusioned—hell, who isn't?—and our optimism is in check, but still present.

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