Material Issue - "What Girls Want" - When you think of rock in the early 1990s, "summery" probably isn't the first word that comes to mind, but luckily there were a few bright spots - such as Chicago's Material Issue - amidst all the grunge. The band ended tragically after three albums with the suicide of lead singer Jim Ellison, but this track is just one of the many examples of how great they were while they lasted.
Office - "Oh My" - I promise, this is the last time I'll mention Office this month. Maybe. As discussed in my Lollapalooza and West Fest posts, Office is one of my favorite local bands around right now, and you should require no further proof as to why than this song and video. As any prime candidate for a summer power pop playlist should be, this track is under three minutes and instantly catchy, not to mention the video is hilarious.
Frisbie - "SFB" - Great Chicago power pop lives on with these guys, and this is one of their finest songs.
Shoes - "Too Late" - People rarely seem to discuss pre-1990s Chicago bands, which is a shame because there were some fantastic ones such as 60s-inspired power poppers Shoes. If you ask me, any summer-themed Chicago playlist would be incomplete without them, particularly this sweet tune of theirs.
Smashing Pumpkins - "Today" - The Pumpkins are much less of an obvious summer choice, but this song and video have always reminded me of a hot August day. Admittedly, maybe it's because I will forever think of Billy Corgan driving an ice cream truck around town when I hear it.
Smoking Popes - "I Know You Love Me" - If the perfect summer tune needs a chorus you can scream along to, this is definitely a front runner for the best.
Braam - "Blackout" - These local rock 'n' roll brothers have been around for a while, but I recently discovered them and their excellent Badfinger-esque sound with the release of their latest album, "Damn the Dream Killers." This track from the record quickly became one of my favorites of the summer, even though lyrically it's far from summery, which just means you'll also be able to use it on your fall mix.
Cheap Trick - "I Want You to Want Me" - It would be a crime to leave this classic off.
The 1900s - "Georgia" - Another of my favorite current local bands, the 1900s play breezy (yet lyrically-compelling) folk-pop. Here's one of their breeziest.
May or May Not - "Bike" - I've been loving this band's quirky, slightly psychedelic pop songs for years, and their 2007 release, "A Kaleidoscope of Egos," is a truly amazing record. This track is from an earlier EP and lots of fun. I have no words to describe the video clip, but the song is infectious.Wilco - "What Light" - To close things off, a joyous track from one of the city's most celebrated bands.