bad summer inspiration // a cool original playlist

Nathan Tucker, the voice behind cool original, has put together a playlist of 30 tracks that inspired the new record outtakes from “bad summer”. It’s a tracklist of absolute TUNES (much like the album itself).

outtakes from "bad summer" is made up of a collection of bits and pieces that Nathan accumulated over the past few years — voice memos, scrapped demos, unfinished b-sides — and his newfound recording knowledge. Hearing the songs that influenced it is just the cherry on top of a damn good record ~ and make for an incredibly solid playlist on their own, too.

Have a listen and vibe while Nathan shares below exactly why some of these tracks influenced outtakes

“Cleaning Windows” - Van Morrison

In my experience Van Morrison isn’t exactly known for his early 80s output, which is a shame because it’s my favorite period of his by miles: an incredible mixture of laid back disco grooves, middle pickup chorusy guitar noodling, unfussy horn arrangements from Pee Wee Ellis (better known for his co-writes with James Brown), and dollar-store-Zen song titles like “Inarticulate Speech of the Heart.” The real cream of the crop is Live at the Grand Opera House Belfast, where they play all the best joints from this era about 20 bpm faster (see “Dweller on the Threshold”). It’s all desert island stuff for me, and revisiting it as I was making “bad summer” really helped me hone in on whatever through line the record manages to have.

“Don’t Take My Sunshine Away” - Sparklehorse

Mark Linkous’ music has been a guiding light for me basically as long as I’ve been releasing music I thought was actually good. I have Sparklehorse to thank for (among other things) shepherding me through many of the heaviest times in my life, stoking an obsession with tremolo that I took maybe too far on this record, and inspiring some of the best and also some of the worst vocal sounds I’ve ever sent off to mastering. I don’t listen to much of it anymore because it’s just incredibly sad music and ultimately I’m too old to be wallowing like that, but few things have shaped my production choices more.

“Red Vines” - Aimee Mann

I’ve probably been taking production cues from Jon Brion longer than I could have really told you what “production” was, and his work with Aimee Mann might be my favorite in his catalog. Bachelor No. 2 in particular is just so dense with super musical, catchy ideas while still sounding almost restrained—a reminder that great production is first and foremost great arrangement, which is of course firstly great songwriting. And at that, Aimee Mann is one of the best ever.

“Set Me In Motion” - Bruce Hornsby and The Range

I don’t really remember whether I liked the movie Backdraft, and Ron Howard Oscar bait is not usually my thing, but the soundtrack gave the world this amazing Bruce Hornsby cut—presumably for the triumphant closing credit sequence?—and for that alone it deserves our gratitude. There’s not a ton to say about this song other than that sometimes, incredibly uncool music can make me feel better than pretty much anything.

“Bonnie Be Good” - Brian Blade & The Fellowship Band

There’s not much art out there that I find as gripping or as moving as Brian Blade’s band when they’re really cooking. The three album run from Season of Changes through Body and Shadow is improvised music at its most emotionally impactful, and a god-tier example of how to reinterpret the sounds and textures of traditional American music into something entirely new.

“I Can See My House From Here” - The Glands

Tristan from Dogbreth showed me The Glands after the last Cool Original record came out because he said we reminded him of them. It was a very nice comparison that we absolutely did not deserve—principally but not entirely because my records have never been half as fun—and I’ve been trying to make music worthy of it ever since.

“A Part of Me Is a Part of You” - Stephen Steinbrink

As far as pop music goes, I’m most inspired by songwriters who can maintain and develop a consistent or distinctive voice while working with a palette of sounds that really shifts over time. Utopia Teased put Stephen Steinbrink firmly in that camp for me. I’ve always loved his records but that one really got me to get my ass in gear and try some new stuff out in a way that his others hadn’t.

“I Believe in You” - Talk Talk

I have a terrible track record of getting into an artist right before they die, or more commonly right after. Mark Hollis passed away around the time I moved to Philly in 2019 and was looking for new music. I became obsessed with his lone solo record and the later Talk Talk records almost immediately and nothing’s been the same for me since. I find those records to be indescribably powerful.

“Human Being” - Robyn

I completely missed Honey when it came out before getting really into it a couple years later. I remember seeing the record described as dance music in slow motion or something—can’t find this now, maybe I made it up—and I think that nails what I found so compelling about it, especially at a time when I was getting into other stuff where it seemed like the artist’s goal was to intentionally not go as hard as people maybe expected them to (see also “Time Flies” by Drake and “Skinny Suge” by Freddie Gibbs). “Human Being” isn’t the best song on Honey (that would be “Missing U”) but for me it’s the most effective at holding back.

“Bleeding Love” - Leona Lewis

There is obviously a lot to love about this song—the absolutely colossal hook; the total ‘fuck it’ of the line “my heart’s crippled by the vein that I keep on closing,” an all-time confused-metaphor-but-it-scans moment, for me; the fact that they never go back to the main beat after the bridge and just let the vocal carry the song’s climax. But it’s the insane drum sound that gets “Bleeding Love” on this list. One of my biggest production eurekas of the last 5 years is that I don’t love 2000s pop as much as I love the sound of 2000s pop coming out of completely blown-out van speakers. “Bleeding Love” basically sounds like that even coming out of my studio monitors.

Here’s the full tracklist ! :

  1. Cleaning Windows - Van Morrison
  2. Tinseltown Swimming in Blood - Destroyer
  3. Hinoki - Nicholas Krgovich
  4. Don’t Take My Sunshine Away - Sparklehorse
  5. That’s the Way of the World - Earth, Wind & Fire
  6. Red Vines - Aimee Mann
  7. Nick of Time - Bonnie Raitt
  8. Dweller on the Threshold (Live) - Van Morrison
  9. Set Me In Motion - Bruce Hornsby, The Range
  10. Ponta de Areia - Wayne Shorter
  11. In Another Life - Sandro Perri
  12. Bonnie Be Good - Brian Blade & The Fellowship Band
  13. Broken Hearted Kota - Joseph Shabason
  14. Against The Sky - Harold Budd, Brian Eno
  15. A New Jerusalem - Mark Hollis
  16. Something About What Happens When We Talk - Lucinda Williams
  17. Sick of Goodbyes - Sparklehorse
  18. i can see my house from here - The Glands
  19. A Part of Me Is a Part of You - Stephen Steinbrink
  20. 1-27-17_intro_function_wifi_v3 - Toro y Moi
  21. Time Flies - Drake
  22. Dreams - Solange
  23. Stars - Brian Eno
  24. Nights - Frank Ocean
  25. I Believe in You - Talk Talk
  26. Human Being - Robyn, Zhala
  27. Skinny Suge - Freddie Gibbs, The Alchemist
  28. Paranoid - Kayne West, Mr Hudson
  29. Bleeding Love - Leona Lewis
  30. The Creator Has A Master Plan - Pharoah Sanders

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