In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well. This week, we’re talking about the songs we like most when the weather gets warm.
Chances are few people remember Butter 08, and with good reason. The side project, which featured members of Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Cibo Matto, and Skeleton Key, released only one album on Grand Royal in the mid-’90s (as if its line-up and label didn’t immediately date it) that came and went with little fanfare. Its video for “Butter Of ’69” did get a bit of play on MTV2 in the summer of 1996, where it weirdly burrowed its way into my psyche as a summer jam for the past two decades.
It’s a perfectly catchy, nonsensical trifle that seems created for the warmer months—an image enhanced by the song’s video, in which the band cavorts around a sunny New York neighborhood with blooming trees in the background.
The entirety of Butter 08 qualifies as warm-weather music for that matter, all of it enjoyably slight and hooky, particularly “Hard To Hold,” which plays like a sibling to “Butter Of ’69.” The songs clearly reflect their creators’ main gigs, with “Cibo Matto meets Blues Explosion” serving as an apt shorthand description for what the album’s 12 songs offer.
None of it seems built to last, but that casual charm helps explain why Butter 08 remains in my head long after the world has moved on. “Butter Of ’69” serves as a quick portrait of this curio of the alternative era, and the album is certainly of a time and place. It’s available on Spotify and a capable addition to this season’s barbecue playlists.