Screw the solstice. Summer has begun. My teacher friends are putting the finishing touches on another batch of nincompoops. Tender, pale flesh, unsheathed and glowing in the May light, is likely being strutted up and down various sidewalks as you read this, or will be tomorrow or the day after. A hint of hope and maybe even happiness grows in my chest. I am writing this shirtless. Yup: Life is once again worth living. Let's party. Here's our soundtrack.

Your Rival (Rejane Davis)


Your Rival, “My Canary (Was Sure to Run)”
This shimmering shot of glee by Portland trio Your Rival came out last summer, but I still crank it in my Honda whenever I’m feeling randy, so it must be a perfect summer tune, because I’m randy a lot and I drive a lot and I’m still not tired of “My Canary (Was Sure to Run)”. It brings me back to the post-collegiate June I wasted working in a record store and listening to Beulah and Of Montreal, a time when pop’s fleeting beauty mirrored my hope and wonder. Your Rival frontman Mo Troper sings from just such an exuberant peak, and I hope his time there lasts a while.

Vanna Inget, “Tickande Bomb”
I saw Vanna Inget charm the pants off a hundred people at the Know last Friday, and as I’d anticipated, this Swedish quartet’s set peaked with “Tickande Bomb,” an exemplary pop-punk plaint that nails the queasy feeling of impending nostalgia, the nagging sense that a perfect present moment is merely rending retrospection wearing a mask. That’s what summer’s all about. For me, at least. I might have issues. But Vanna Inget seems to share them, so it’s all good.

Missing Monuments, “(I’m Gonna) Love You Back to Life”
The video for Missing Monuments’ “(I’m Gonna) Love You Back to Life” features frontman King Louie Bankston and his bandmates partying in a hot tub with bikini-clad women and a hearty helping of raw meat. I don’t know about you, but that’s what every summer since sixth grade has looked like for me. The power-pop anthem that gave Louie an excuse to get his friends naked is an ideal soundtrack for making out, breaking up and then making out again.

Sharkpact, “Death”
Olympia’s keyboard-and-drums pop-punk duo Sharkpact has made a few appearances in this column over the past year, and I can’t promise they won’t continue to grace this space on a semi-regular basis, because last year’s Ditches LP speaks to just about any mood muddling my thoughts. “Death” is presently getting me incredibly stoked about this summer’s potential for errant forty-fueled sprees through parks and abandoned buildings; long hikes home down moonlit train tracks; and frenching sessions at the lips of skate park pools. This is punk as joy and joy as a way of life.

King Tuff

King Tuff, “Alone & Stoned”
While I try to limit my musings to local bands or acts visiting Portland, sometimes something fills my head with such glorious good vibe-age that I have to officially mark the occasion here. King Tuff’s “Alone & Stoned”, off the Vermont pop wiz’s brand new self-titled LP, is my favorite song in the world right now, and it gets my early vote for 2012’s Best Summertime Jam. A wistful paean to getting blissed out by your lonesome while the sun bakes your already baked brain, “Alone & Stoned” exists at the perfect middle between Wavves’ druggy pop-punk and Hunx’s snot-nosed sweetness. It is irresistible.


Missing Monuments plays East End TONIGHT with Suicide Notes and Modern Lives. 9pm. Cover. 21+.

Your Rival plays Holocene on Sunday, June 3 with Anne and Industrial Park. 8:30pm. Free. 21+.

Sharkpact plays Red and Black Cafe on Sunday, June 3 with Potsie and the Angries. 8pm. $5. All ages.