My August albums — there are three records that I listen to only at one particular time per year, and that’s an LA summer, smack dab in August. I didn’t get any of them in August to my knowledge, I don’t even think I first heard them in an August, but soon after I got them, they became my own summer albums. They are specifically and almost uniquely nostalgic because they illustrate a definite me from the past, the very late eighties, just starting to work at college radio, hearing a few weird and odd things (to me at least). Part Anglophilic, part American indie, part college, it all works.

The three are XTC’s Skylarking (sorta obvious and overblown to me now, I’m an XTC appreciator more than a regular fan these days, though I have literally everything by them), the Primitive’s Pure (brilliant still, a futzing around of their Blondie/JAMC/’pure pop’ template that has the even more appropriate “August Rain” on it among many other goodies) and the one I’m listening to now, the Dead Milkmen’s still ridiculously brilliant and entertaining debut Big Lizard in My Backyard. All three suggest hot afternoons, dry heat rather than humidity, late evenings, reading and relaxing in the savage torpor, feeling the light around you, and a certain state of mind and of place — it’s 1990 again and somehow I’m making my way through UCLA, not yet twenty years old, wondering what else is out there, making new friends, awkwardly trying to take some things a step further and failing. Playing them brings memories back, sure, but it’s a comfortable one, and one that maintains just enough of a gentle presence — it wasn’t a paradise or perfect but it certainly was pretty good, one of the last little moments before the nineties became The Nineties.

Earlier this year Dead Milkmen member Dave Blood passed on, the first participant in any of these three albums to no longer be in this world. It doesn’t necessarily change the feeling of the album any — not at all, indeed, his bass playing is still the sometimes steady, sometimes frenetic performance that helps hold it all together. But it’s a reminder that my own memories will grow, maybe not dimmer, but more removed, and that the unique relationship that I hold to these three records will only last as long as I. Morbid? Perhaps, but also realistic — and yet for all that, more of a reason to relisten and celebrate now. Because once again, it’s a great August.