27 December 2012

I Want To Be The One Who Knows The Best Way To Love You

As I am wont to do in December, here again is mix made from music released in the past year. This represents not what may be the best 2012 had to offer, but what I spent most of my time listening to. Even that is only a half-truth, as my ears were a-tuned less to new music this year and more to new-to-me music from days gone by than they have been in the past. This happens in your declining years, I'm told. At least I still have my youthful looks.

I'm pretty thrilled with the first song, and I hope you are too. It is certainly my favorite on the list. The sound of it is immediately familiar, yet uniquely Angel's. Like she plucked it out of the ether, still malleable, and shaped it with her voice. And what a voice - it has that distinctiveness to it that I find so affecting, like a Karen Dalton or a Dolly Parton. The song's album, Half Way Home, is it's equal and way recommended.

"Talking Empty Bed Blues" comes from a Woody Guthrie tribute album featuring four singer-songwriters, Yim Yames a.k.a. Jim James being one. I wouldn't call it the most balanced record I've ever heard, but it's plenty nice. I saw these fellers live and it was a similar story. And just like the record, "Talking Empty Bed Blues" was a real stunner. Love them harmonies.

This is kind of weird, but Andrew Bird's "Danse Carribe" reminds me of the music from the village festival in the beginning of the movie Willow, especially after the fiddle break around the three minute mark. This is not a bad thing at all.

The Dum Dum Girls are increasingly awesome, as there latest EP, End of Daze, indicates. "Lord Knows" may sound familiar to anyone who has ever heard "Crimson and Clover". This, too, is not a bad thing.

I hesitated to include Lykke Li's version of "Silver Springs", only because it's a cover. Firstly, a song from 1977 appearing on a 2012 mix, even if it was newly recorded and repackaged, feels like loophole. Secondly, I am not overly fond of covers. Especially Fleetwood Mac covers; let's leave excellent alone, shall we? But I gotta say I really like a Lykke Li performing this song and it'd be disingenuous to pretend I didn't listen to it a hell of a lot in 2012. As with the original, I find this song terribly heart-wrenching. Again, this is not a bad thing in the slightest.

Taken By Trees appeals to my ever-growing adult-contemporary side; the guitar sounds like the Weather Channel. Shockingly, this is not a bad thing.

"Losing You" and "Everything is Embarrassing" sound like companion pieces, despite being recorded by different artist. Unsurprisingly, they share a songwriter and producer, Devonte Hynes. Love the aural aesthetic going on here. Careful, they're catchy as hell.

The xx are known for making minimal, breathy, sexy music, but "Our Song" is minimal, breathy, and adorable. The lyrics are just the sweetest and the melody matches. I kind of want to hear a strummy, dumb, campfire version of it.

"Laura" is my kind of girl. I'm not sure what that says about me, nor do I care. She is immediately familiar. Lyrics and personality profiles aside, the build of this song is eloquent and classically fit. The album is a year-end standout and well worth your attention.

The transition from Bat For Lashes to this Philip Glass remix pleases me with how well it works. I chopped this four minute forty two seconds of music off the end of the twenty minute fifty second entirety of Beck's inspired remix of Philip Glass' work. You should definitely hear the whole thing. It's all I wanted to listen to for about a month, and as it takes just about the same time as my commute to work, that's pretty much what I did.

Cat Power is full of good advice on the extended "Nothin' But Time": "Never give away your body / Never give away your friends / Never give away what you always wanted / Never give in" and "The world is just beginning / You got nothing but time/ And it ain't got nothin' on you". In my odd and unaccountable mind, Chan Marshall is singing to a young girl who grows up to be Bat For Lashes' "Laura". Maybe because Laura is "more than a superstar" and I conflate that with Cat Power's line "It's up to you to be a superhero". In any case, I think this 2-chord epic, complete with false fade-out ending, closes the year well.

Enjoy the future, y'all.

Angel Olsen - The Waiting
The Tallest Man on Earth - To Just Grow Away
Yim Yames - Talking Empty Bed Blues
Andrew Bird - Danse Carribe
The Walkmen - We Can't Be Beat
The Shins - Simple Song
Dum Dum Girls - Lord Knows
Lykke Li - Silver Springs
Taken By Trees - Dreams
Solange - Losing You
Sky Ferriera - Everything is Embarrassing
Beach House - Myth
The xx - Our Song
Perfume Genius - Sister Song
Bat For Lashes - Laura
Philip Glass - NYC: 73 - 78 (Beck Remix) [detail]
Cat Power - Nothin' But Time

December '12 mix.zip

12 November 2012

Ruler of My Heart, Robber of My Soul

Nothing fancy this month, folks, just a good old-fashioned, can't-go-wrong soul mix. Cause that's how I feel. Some of these I know you've heard before, while a few are slightly deeper cuts that are hopefully new ones for you. Sam Cooke bookends, because, well, I think the world would be a better place if his voice was the first and last thing we heard. There's the other Sam, the one with Dave, and Bob, with Earl. There's Otis, of course, and Aretha and Etta and Irma. Percy Sledge brings down the house as always with the song that single-handedly cemented a legacy. Bill Withers has a rare socially-minded moment. Jimmy Cliff is on here, and you may be thinking "but wait, he's a reggae artist!" And yet, he went ahead and crafted this amazing soul song anyway. Someone really should've told him he was a reggae artist. None of these tracks reach a tempo faster than mid-, so just calm yourselves down, alright? No need to get excited. Just go about your business, whatever it may be, knowing it's a little bit better with this music playing.  

P.S. With certainty, this has been my favorite mix to sing along with as I post.

Sam Cooke - I Lost Everything
Sam & Dave - Small Portion of Your Love
Aretha Franklin - Dark End of The Street
Jimmy Cliff - Many Rivers to Cross
Bob & Earl - Don't Ever Leave Me
Etta James - I'd Rather Go Blind
Irma Thomas - Ruler of My Heart
Otis Redding - I've Got Dreams To Remember
Jimmy Reed - Honest I Do
The Soul Clan - That's How I Feel
Ben E. King - It's All Over
Jean Wells - If You've Ever Loved Someone
Percy Sledge - When a Man Loves a Woman
William Bell - I Forgot Be Your Lover
Bill Withers - I Can't Write Left Handed
Sam Cooke - Mean Old World

November '12 Mix.zip

17 October 2012

I Will Follow You Around In This Tune

One of the cool things about being me is that many of my friends are very talented. I offer this months mix as proof - the artists on the first half of this set are all personal friends of mine, and some of them probably even feel the same way about me. They've all created, in their own fashion along their own winding path, some stellar pieces of music and I'm honored to present a few of those cuts here, for the rest of my friends. The artists on the back half of this set are not personal friends of mine, but that doesn't seem to have affected their songwriting or musicianship in any way. They've all done admirably.

First up is the wondrous Zora Tucker with her rendition of a song she learned from me that I learned from my friend Jacob that he used to sing with his sister that's a derivation of a 1975 Hazel Dickens song. And that's how folk music works. A bit further down the tracklist Zora appears again, singing an original, "Beyond", written as part of a song-a-day-for-a-month project. And that's what poetry sounds like put to music. Ain't she somethin?

Next, The Kid Carsons pull a double header from their recently released EP Settle Down. They did such a fine job stitching these tracks together I just didn't have the heart to separate them; they go together like a koozie and a cold beer. The whole album is this good, by the way. From experience I can tell you it makes for a fine drive along a river road. Listen to it at www.thekidcarsons.com. I think they just finished a tour but if you get a chance to see them live, don't miss it.

Ugly Purple Sweater offer up "Jumbo Slice", complete with fun whistle-along chorus. This is actually one of their older tunes, but it fit in this mix better than anything from their newer album, which I'd say is a good deal more sonically expansive. You should probably give it a spin: www.uglypurplesweater.com. I just know you'll like it.

The euphonious Letitia VanSant delights with two songs from her new debut album, Breakfast Truce.  It was no easy task to pick which song, or even which two, from that charming effort to grace this mix. But I was won over by the agreeably paced progression of "Bits and Pieces" and I'm just the biggest sucker for the kind of layered vocals all over "Reunion". Get on over to www.letitiavansant.com and hear the rest already. Sandy, they oughta revive Lilith Fair just for you.

As I write this, I've just received correspondence from Bailey, one third of Free Advice. She informs me that they're recording again starting Friday, and that's good news. In the meantime, you can hear what they've put to tape to date at freeadvice.bandcamp.com. It's some ramshackle, free-spirited hullaballo, and I dare say it's at least a little whiskey-soaked. "Within//Without" is infectious. They really shine in person, though, making the audience feel like part of the band. If you live in nyc, you have your chance to see them monthly at Brooklyn's Rod & Gun Club.

Finally, there's Ms. Amy Luxenberger with a short and sweet tune written for a boyfriend's birthday. Amy and I worked at camp together for just one summer and we haven't spoken since then, so it's the most tenuous friendship here but a friendship nonetheless. I like everything about this song, but mostly the few lyrics - "One day I guess you had to start / And so, you were born". That summation of the miracle of life appeals to my simple sensibilities. This is a demo, I think, one of a handful on a burnt cd I took home that Summer. I don't know know if Amy has any other recording or where they might live, but I hope she's still making music.

Ok, now that I've done my duty and shamelessly promoted those I call my own, the rest of the mix is pretty good, too. Give her a listen and hear for yourself.

Zora Tucker - Oh, Virginia
The Kid Carsons - Even So
The Kid Carsons - Oh My God
Ugly Purple Sweater - Jumbo Slice
Letitia VanSant - The Bits and the Pieces
Zora Tucker - Beyond
Letitia VanSant - Reunion
Free Advice - Within//Without
Amy Luxenberger - You Were Born
Alela Diane - Bowling Green
Phosphorescent - Worried Blues
Shovels & Rope - Lay Low
Songs: Ohia - Just Be Simple
Angel Olsen - Tiniest Seed
Edith Frost - Hear My Heart
Death Vessel - Belt of Foam
White Antelope - Wild Mountain Thyme

October '12 mix.zip

06 September 2012

When I Used To Go Out I'd Know Everyone I Saw, Now I Go Out Alone If I Go Out At All

As we surround ourselves in September, let's flex a little mid-decade indie rock muscle. Last decade, that is, smack dab in the middle of my college stint. That small fact could suggest I'm biased when I say the '00s were the most creatively expansive decade for popular music since the '60s, but I'm stickin' to it. It doesn't hurt that they came right after the '90s, ten years of revivalism and canned shit (OK, with the exception of hip-hop, when it came of age). No offense, '90s - I'm still nostalgic for you, I guess. But the '00s musical atmosphere was bigger, more roomy. It felt as if anything went. The concept of what popular music might be widened it's umbrella a little, and lines smudged a bit. It was different; exciting and electric.

There are reasons for this creative leg-stretching, including the internet smacking the industry in the face, but I digress. This mix isn't trying to prove any points, and it doesn't further the argument above. "Then why bring it up," you ask, incredulous. Don't ask me, I just work here. In fact, these songs are fairly homogeneous. This is rock and roll - with, perhaps, a post-millennial attitude. Guitars, drum, bass, and shouts of "1,2,3,4!" whenever you care to shout. But there is a drive to these songs. They possess an anxious insistence that I think speaks to their time.

If this mix were on an actual cassette tape, as the title of this blog inaccurately purports, there would be a clear side A, ending after "Energy of Death", and side B, starting with "50's Parking" and ending after "Bacteria". The last two songs occupy some sort of meta-physical side C. Side A are the heavy hitters. Some of these bands were/are legitimately popular, on a scale larger than "some people I know have heard of them" but smaller than Top 40 radio. At the very least they are successful musicians, selling out shows and making a living. "I'll Believe in Anything", "The Rat", and "Maps" I count among the best songs of the last ten years, no lie. Side B are the minor league-ers. Many of these bands were referred to as "blogrock" when they came out, a diminutive term to describe unsigned bands or small potatoes who saw sudden success through the internet and saw it retreat just as quickly. But I don't like that kind of talk. It's holier-than-thou and dismissive of some great music. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah couldn't quite repeat it, but their debut album is one of my favorites going back a long way, despite their stupid band name. So, side B is a little less dense and a little more "Woo!", if you're picking up what I'm putting down. We round the whole thing off with the illusive side C, a couple of slow-burners to even your keel. Good listenin'.

P.S. Hope you like what I've done with the place.

Broken Social Scene - Stars and Sons
French Kicks - Abandon
Xiu Xiu - I Luv the Valley OH!
Wolf Parade - I'll Believe in Anything
The Walkmen - The Rat
Arcade Fire - Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Maps
The Constantines - Young Lions
Spoon - Paper Tiger
Apostle of Hustle - Energy of Death
Tapes 'n Tapes - 50's Parking
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth
Oxford Collapse - Please Visit Your National Parks
The Thermals - A Pillar of Salt
Bound Stems - Western Biographic
Figurines - The Wonder
The Hot Springs - Bacteria
Modest Mouse - Night on the Sun
Liars - The Other Side of Mt. Heart Attack

September '12 mix.zip

01 August 2012

I See A Wilderness For You And Me

I guess this mix could be subtitled "neck-deep-in-summer, cultural-appropriation" - that gives a good approximation of what it sounds like. It's been hotter than hell this Summer, and I always imagine World music soundtracking this kind of climactic extreme, even though I guess there are as many cold places in the world as hot places and I'd be remiss if I gave the impression I had more than a passing knowledge of "World music". Ain't everything World music, after all?

What we have here are Westerners making music using non-Western styles, for the most part. I can't really name the styles any more particularly than that, but much of it sounds African to my ears (Highlife, maybe - the champagne of African genres). I'm pretty comfortable with the idea of white boys making music from other cultures because, let's be honest, we've been doing that since the first time we heard any. Musical cross-pollination is responsible for most popular music today. At this point in our shared history, it is very natural. Artist have license to accept influence from anywhere - as long as due credit is given and those influences are acknowledged. There are pitfalls, of course - "Jogging Gorgeous Summer", for instance, sounds like it could almost be an outtake from the Lion King soundtrack, and The Avalanches remix of "I'm a Cuckoo" lays it on a little thick. What's homage to one soul could be mimicry to another.

This mix isn't all cultural appropriation, of course. Some of this "World music" is the genuine article, and some of it isn't World music at all. But I'll let y'all figure that out. To end on a personal note, I would like "Fantasy II: Summer" to soundtrack my life, please. Thank you.

The English Beat - Save It For Later
Elvis Costello - Living in Paradise
The Clash - Bankrobber
Pill Wonder - Gone To The Market
Coconot - Verbena De Los Delfines
Islands - Jogging Gorgeous Summer
The Microphones - Karl Blau
Karen O and The Kids - Worried Shoes
Wilco - Someday Some Morning Sometime
Karl Blau - Fantasy II: Summer
The Ruby Suns - Tane Mahuta
Fool's Gold - Surprise Hotel
Iron & Wine - Innocent Bones
Paul Simon - Train In The Distance
Edie Brickell and New Bohemians - Nothing
Taken by Trees - My Boys
Belle & Sebastian - I'm A Cuckoo (Avalanches remix)
Exuma - Exuma's Reincarnation

August '12 mix.zip

13 July 2012

It's Memories That I'm Stealing

I saw Randy Newman perform a few years ago at a free festival in San Fransisco's Golden Gate Park. It was just him on stage, unaccompanied save for his piano, his voice, and his banter between songs. In case you didn't know, Randy Newman is funny. He's goofy, clever, and his ease-of-manner has you smiling before he even says anything. He's like your favorite uncle. His wry humor is a key part of his songs, and he is one of my all-time favorite musical artists. The show was great.

Randy Newman kicks off this mix, full of oddball songwriters like him, liberated composers free to skip from style to style as they please, unified by vision, talent, and an apparent affinity for sunny, peaked harmonies. In our musical culture, this kind of vocal work is often associated with The Beach Boys, and they're represented here with a song of their own as well as a Brian Wilson/Van Dyke Parks track, the tightly polished "Orange Crate Art". In addition to that little number, we have Van Dyke with "Vine Street", written but never released by Randy Newman, an eccentric composition with a false start bluegrass lead-in. The other man who recorded that song is Harry Nilsson, who also makes an appearance on this mix. Are you seeing the connections? All these guys were contemporaries in the same 60s/70s L.A. "scene", a very different time than now when major labels would not only sign but spend money on rare birds like these.

I've peppered this mix with more modern tastes as well, from the Brian Wilson indebted Olivia Tremor Control and early Of Montreal to the pretty unrelated but equally bizarre Megafaun and Dan Deacon. If Randy Newman is your favorite uncle, Dan Deacon is your cousin that the family is just not so sure about. On one last note, might I say that while much of the music is rather different, this mix transitions quite nicely into last months mix - you could listen to this as side A and that as side B, if you were so inclined. Enjoy.

Randy Newman - Love Story (You and Me)
Brian Wilson and Van Dyke Parks - Orange Crate Art
The Everly Brothers - Shady Grove
Van Dyke Parks - Vine Street
Tom Waits - Innocent When You Dream
The Beach Boys - Can't Wait Too Long
Harry Nilsson - Poli High
Of Montreal -Penelope
Os Mutantes - Panis et Circensis
Olivia Tremor Control - Marking Time
Megafaun - Columns
Dan Deacon - Snookered

July '12 Mix.zip

29 June 2012

Summertime Never Ends

"Summertime never ends". Sigh. Wouldn't that be nice? But time does seem to fly, and swiftly at that. Incidentally, I realize June's mix is coming up pretty hot on the heels of July. Thankfully, the months for which these musical collections are named are arbitrary. It's true - you can enjoy any of these play-lists at any time of the year. Try it out if you don't believe me. But I digress, I guess.

The mix we have here is a tad shorter than I usually make them. I think that's because I couldn't find anything to follow Mr. Kravitz in the anchor position - I just couldn't. Not that there isn't any music out there that wouldn't sound great following the seminal 1991 hit, but Lenny serves as something of a wildcard on this set of songs. When that drum roll announces those soaring strings and that funky beat, it's pretty unlike any track that's come before it. What's to be done after that display? A simple yet incongruous return to the intoxicated sound of Twin Sister or bleary-eyed Memory Cassette? Or a string of professional-grade showstoppers that overshadows all that came before it? I think not. Nominally, anyway, "It Ain't Over Till It's Over" should be right where it is and I like the function it here serves - like a cork on a champagne bottle, popped.

Bobby Womack - Please Forgive My Heart
Daughn Gibson - Lite Me Up
Animal Collective - What Would I Want? Sky (edit)
Atlas Sound - Walkabout
Deerhunter - Helicopter
Warpaint - Undertow (edit)
Frankie Rose - Know Me
Cocteau Twins - Lorelei

Memory Cassette - Listen To The Vacuum
Twin Sister - Lady Daydream
Lenny Kravitz - It Ain't Over Till It's Over

June '12 Mix.zip

23 May 2012

What More Is Tomorrow, Than Just Another Day?

Just in time for Memorial day, here we have a mix built for blue skies and barbeques. If you've ever taken a tube down a river, you'll enjoy this mix. If you've ever spent a weekend on a mountain, you'll enjoy this mix. If you've ever sat by the Guilford lake doing nothing and loving every second of it, you'll enjoy this mix, especially the back half. If you've never done any of these things, you may just enjoy this mix anyway. I won't ruminate any further because 1. I'm at work right now (booo) and 2. Nothin' needs be said. Crack a beer and turn it up.

Sonny and the Sunsets - Pretend You Love Me
Nethers - Breastfeathers
Hurray for the Riff Raff - Look Out Mama
Jenny O. - Well OK Honey
Jerry Lee Lewis - Sweet Virginia
Grateful Dead - Uncle John's Band
The Band - Ophelia (RIP Levon)
Steve Forbert - Steve Forbert's Midsummer Night's Toast
Dan Bern - Chelsea Hotel
The Felice Brothers - Wonderful Life
The Avett Brothers - Swept Away (Sentimental Version)
David Wax Museum - Yes, Maria, Yes
Those Darlins - Wild One
Uncle Tupelo - Blue Eyes
Billy Bragg & Wilco - California Stars
Justin Townes Earle - Wanderin
Trampled By Turtles - The One To Save
Karen Dalton - Something On Your Mind
Gillian Welch - Elvis Presley Blues
The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band - Farther Along

May '12 Mix.zip

27 April 2012

Now You Know My Middle Names Are Wrong And Right

Have y'all ever heard of Karen Dalton? The name sparked some faint recognition in my mind, but her startlingly pretty music was unfamiliar till recently. "A Little Bit of Rain" makes the hair on my arms stand up, and now I have one of those crushes that spans time & space and ignores mortality. What a babe. She had a predictably fascinating and ultimately tragic life, apparently. The kind that makes for moving art and relative obscurity. I won't spend time on particulars - that's what wikipedia is for. All you really need to know is in her voice.

Obscure is probably the best descriptor of the next track, though just plain weird might be more straight to the point. Don't know much about Carl Simmons, or what happened at woodstock, but "Corporation Sunday" tickles my funnybone in a melancholy fashion and I like it. Carl Simmons probably digs Skip Spence, the man who penned the next track, "Weighted Down". You might not know it from this version, though, done by Beck and a bunch of his musical buddies for his Record Club series. That's Feist on the mic and Nels Cline totally slaying on the mini guitar. They keep it fresh and funky.

Anywho, the mix progresses from there in no particular direction, with no stated goal. It never gets too excitable, nor does it slow to a dirge - this is a reliable set of songs. Along the way, though, it does find some of my favorite lyrics. Bill Callahan has a plainspoken, conversationalist way with words, delivered by a voice that matches. He plays a great trick at the end of "Too Many Birds": he unfurls the last line slowly by repeating it, each time adding one word - it begins as "If" and ends as "If you could only stop your heartbeat for one heartbeat", with every stop along the way adding meaning and significance. The next track "Random Rules", is kind of a lyrical masterpiece - it might be perfect. And finally, Suicide deliver the modern pop mantra "Dream Baby Dream", singing exactly what they mean and not a word more.

Seriously, though, Karen Dalton - holy shit.

Karen Dalton - A Little Bit of Rain
Carl Simmons - Corporation Sunday
Beck's Record Club - Weighted Down
Ganglians - Voodoo
M. Ward - Big Boat
Basia Bulat - Touch the Hem of His Garment
Summer Fiction - Kids in Catalina
Annuals - Complete, or Completing
The Cay - The Company Store
Bill Callahan - Too Many Birds
Silver Jews - Random Rules
Galaxy 500 - Blue Thunder
Suicide - Dream Baby Dream

April '12 Mix.zip

31 March 2012

You Rock Me Till I'm Crazy And Everyone Says It, Southern Girls You Got Nothing To Lose

I promised in the last post I'd give you something to wake up this time around, so here it is: strong beats, true tempos, guitars front and center, and some stupid silly lyrics. That's right, this month we explore the popular sounds of 1970's glam rock and power pop.

The tension between accessibility and oddity here is downright fascinating. Seriously, pay attention to the lyrics in these songs; bizarre stuff. And the instrumentation and production choices really start to stretch their creative legs around this era. But this is music for the people for sure - infectious, dance-able, and easy to like. I'd call it subversive, but I think it's just addled.

The one outlier here is the first track, Supergrass' "Alright", released in 1995, but I recently saw Clueless again and just couldn't resist including it. It fits just like an old shoe, anyhow. See our friends, see the sights, feel alright.

14 February 2012

This, What I Thought I Knew

Fair warning: the beginning of this mix is pretty damn sexy – pds, in shorthand. That it’s being posted on Valentine’s Day is coincidence, but serendipitous. Ladies and gentlemen, prepare yourself for falsetto.

After the sexy fades, the rest of the mix is something of a post-coital comedown, if you will - slow, pretty, and progressively less lucid. The whole thing is a bit hypnotic to my senses, and may well induce some heavy eyelids. That’s okay, it’s hibernation season anyway. The title of the last track tells you explicitly not to sleep, but that’s some Mary Poppins trickery. It’s a 13 minute snoozer – I’d be surprised if your heartbeat doesn’t slow. So just go with it and dream some potent dreams. I promise next month I’ll give you something to wake up.

The Caretaker - Tiny Gradiations of Loss (edit)
Maxwell - This Woman's Work
How to Dress Well - Decisions [ft. Yuksel Arslan]
Washed Out - Eyes Be Closed
Chad Valley - Up and Down
Brian Eno - This
Nightlands - 300 Clouds
Julianna Barwick - Bode
Death in Vegas - Girls
Yo La Tengo - Damage
Yo La Tengo - Gentle Hour
The Caretaker - Tiny Gradiations of Loss
James Blake - I Only Know (What I Know Now)
Leyland Kirby - Dont Sleep I'm Not What I Seem, I'm A Very Quiet Storm

February '12 Mix.zip

14 January 2012

While You Were Sleeping, The Money Died, Machines Were Harmless, And The Earth Sighed

The tone of the mixes I make tend to change with the seasons. Accordingly, January's selection is some sleepy fare, for the most part. The lead-off track, "Andalucia", is the centerpiece of the mix; every song that comes after stems from that 1973 beauty, taken off John Cale's wonderful baroque-pop album Paris 1919. As a semi-conscious nod to the Velvet Underground, the next two tracks on the mix are from two of Cale's compatriots in that band, Nico and Lou Reed. Kind of makes you realize why the Velvets are so revered - it's like a supergroup in reverse.

"Richmond" and "April Fool" are both Ronnie Lane-penned pieces, the same guy who wrote "Ooh La La", one of my top ten songs (that's right - ever). He's my current music-nerd obsession. You can see some time-capsule videos of him doing his thing on my tumblr. The version of "Richmond" here is a vinyl rip, my first such attempt with a new record player I got for Christmas (thanks, mom) and an old Faces record from my family's attic (thanks, pop - miss ya). That's why there are those fun crackles and pops on it.

A few other notes: If you're listening to this and have any connection to BYM camps (or familiarity with traditional Irish folksongs, I suppose), you'll recognize the melody from "Another Saturday" - will ye go, lassie, go?
"While You Were Sleeping" is one of those songs that has everyone's favorite lyric in it, but it's a different lyric for everyone. The title of this post is from the song. Listen to the lyrics on this one.
I've always felt that Bob Dylan's best songs were his love songs (Visions of Johanna, Lay Lady Lay, Girl from the North Country, etc.). "Buckets of Rain" tops that list for me - I do it for you, honey baby can't you tell?  

John Cale - Andalucia
Nico - Afraid
Lou Reed - I Love You
Arthur Russell - I Couldn't Say It To Your Face
Stuart Murdoch - Another Saturday
Camera Obscura - Before You Cry
Tilly and the Wall - Let It Rain
The Lucksmiths - Pin Cushion
The Faces - Richmond (vinyl rip)
Ronnie Lane & Pete Townsend - April Fool
Cass McCombs - Harmonia
Elvis Perkins - While You Were Sleeping
Vic Chesnutt - Flirted With You All My Life
Micah P. Hinson - Oh, No
Edith Frost - Pony Song
Bob Dylan - Buckets of Rain

January '12 Mix.zip

21 December 2011

Enter Through The Exit, And Exit Through The Entrance

This month, we listen to a year in retrospect - every song on this mix was released in 2011. Don't mistake this for a "best of" list or any kind of countdown. Do I look like VH1? I don't go for that crap. But this collection of songs does represent a large bulk (not all) of what I listened to and loved in the past 12 months.

Like any other mix on these pages, it runs the gamut. The smooth, slow-burn "Suicide Demo" bleeds into "Swerve...", a rare-for-this-blog rap track that'll give you vertigo (in a good way), which runs straight into the cavernous kick-drums and gravel-angst of British band WU LYF. The reverb continues in the Be My Baby beat of Lykke Li's serenade to sadness, while the garage squall of Ty Segall's guitar makes the sun fry. After Smith Westerns invite us to end things early, when love is lovely, Cults announce with a bent bass note about 30 seconds in that they've got what it takes to stick around awhile. Kurt Vile and The War On Drugs confirm they used to play together by still sounding a lot like each other, "Locomotive" makes me wanna move, and "Plath Heart" makes me wanna do drugs. Eventually musical ethnographer Julian Lynch gets some unidentified instruments in there (oboe? tambla?) to good effect, Little Scream whispers some wintry wonderings, we get a little folk-y with Gillian and Steve, a little 70's-singer-songwriter-y with Alela and Fleet Foxes, and finally Cass McCombs and his electric piano take us out with the beautiful, soulful "County Line".

Whew. What a year. Enjoy, and I'll see y'all in 2012.

Destroyer - Suicide Demo for Kara Walker
Shabazz Palaces - Swerve... the Reeping of All that is Worthwhile (Noir Not Withstanding) 
WU LYF - Dirt
Lykke Li - Sadness is a Blessing
Ty Segall - You Make the Sun Fry
Smith Westerns - All Die Young
Cults - Abducted
Kurt Vile - Jesus Fever
The War on Drugs - Best Night
Alex Winston - Locomotive
Braids - Plath Heart
Julian Lynch - Terra
Little Scream - The Heron and The Fox
Gillian Welch - Hard Times
Steve Earle - This City
Alela Diane - To Begin
Fleet Foxes - Bedouin Dress
Cass McCombs - County Line

December Mix.zip

22 November 2011

I Drink A Quart Of Sake, Smoke Dynamite, I Chase It With Tobaccy & Then Shoot Out The Light

The genetic makings of this mix are, admittedly, a little odd. To start with, it's bookended by two beautiful stunners that have a lot to do with each other but little to do with the hour or so of music in between them. The opener, "Attaboy", and the closer, "Short Trip Home", are both compositions by string quartets with stated missions to blend bluegrass and classical traditions. The players are different in each quartet (both share bass extraordinaire Edgar Meyer), and the albums they made are separated by a dozen years, but they're spiritual kin. The songs are cinematic and absolutely gorgeous.

Once you've dried your tears from track one, Wanda Jackson growls us into a pretty hard streak of foundations-of-rock-and-roll glory. Four of the songs, from Odetta to Buddy Holly, are from the same year, 1957. Its a tight grouping, and it feels right.

And then the mix gets into some pretty sleepy, strummy fare for some reason, starting with Mazzy Star's comeback single (sounds like they never stopped). Suddenly the dark horse beach boy Dennis Wilson shows up to depress us all, there's a Dylan cover, and an eight minute Van Morrison jam with some killer flute. 

Yeah, she's a bit of a weird one, this mix, but you never know what your gonna get when you perform this kind of alchemy. That's part of the fun.
Listen to a few cuts below, and download the whole thing at the bottom. Enjoy.

Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer & Chris Thile - Attaboy (see a video of this on my tumblr)
Wanda Jackson - Fujiyama Mama
Patsy Cline - I Fall To Pieces
Odetta - Midnight Special
Jimmy Reed - Honest I Do
Bo Diddley - Mona
Buddy Holly - Not Fade Away
The Bell Notes - I've Had It
Sonny & The Sunsets - Stranded
Mazzy Star - Lay Myself Down
Will Oldham (Palace Songs) - Winter Lady
Gram Parsons - November Nights
Dennis Wilson - Farewell My Friend
Jim James & Calexico - Goin' To Acapulco
Van Morrison - Wonderful Remark
Nick Drake - Time Has Told Me
Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions - Butterfly Mornings
Joshua Bell & Edgar Meyer with Sam Bush & Mike Marshall - Short Trip Home

November Mix.zip

23 October 2011

I Used To Have The Notion I Could Swim The Length Of The Ocean, If I Knew You Were Waiting For Me

We're going to try something new with this space for a little while. Every month or so, give or take a week here and there, a new mix will be posted - made lovingly from me to you. Generally this will be the music that has been occupying my life more than the rest recently. Often this means new music, but not always. More than likely, it'll be new and old side by side. Occasionally a theme may emerge and I'll go with it. Whatever.

For more regular fixes, music and art will be posted on my tumblr blog with much more frequency. I treat that space like a scrap book, putting things there I find I like in the moment. Some of it might end up in these monthly mixes. You know, whatever.

Here's the first mix. It's eclectic, like an old-school mix oughta be. For the whole thing, download the zip file at the bottom of the post.

Vacation - Anything for You
Future Islands - Balance
Michael Jackson - Human Nature
Real Estate - Barely Legal (The Strokes cover)
Beirut - Goshen
Iron & Wine - The Same Old Song
Bonnie Prince Billy - For Every Field There's a Mole
J Mascis - Not Enough
Harry Nilsson - Without You
The Raincoats - Lola

October mix.zip

21 February 2011

Kosblog Digest #1

After 59 posts, Let's take a look back on the 60th. Here's a little nugget-sized primer of the music I've been compelled to put up here the last few months, starting with the first song from my very first post. This collection works pretty well as a mix, but it was really put together by pairing two songs at a time, both from the same post (usually back-to-back as they are here). You can think of every two songs as a couplet, starting with the 1st & 2nd, 3rd & 4th, etc. Just like real couplets, some work better than others. My favorites, in case you're curious, are "The Mermaid Parade" into "The Old Black Hen" and "Too Young to Burn" into "Jack & Diane", which works shockingly well, almost as if it's one song that's divided by an acoustic first half and an electric second. You can clap along and literally not miss a beat between the two.
Hear them all below and I've put the mix in a zip file for your convenience. Happy listening.

Cults - Most Wanted
Generationals - When They Fight, They Fight
Swingin Medallions - Double Shot (Of My Baby's Love)
? and The Mysterians - 96 Tears
Billy Swan - I Can Help
Roy Orbison - Dream Baby (How Long Must I Dream)
Jenny Lewis With The Watson Twins - Melt Your Heart
Mazzy Star - Fade Into You
Phosphorescent - The Mermaid Parade
Songs: Ohia - The Old Black Hen
The Flying Burrito Brothers - Wheels
The Byrds - You Ain't Going Nowhere
Sonny & The Sunsets - Too Young To Burn
John Mellencamp - Jack and Diane
Unrest - Make Out Club
Built To Spill - Else
Nina Simone - Suzanne (Alternative Version)
Richie Havens - Here Comes The Sun
Elvis Presley - Blue Moon
Cowboy Junkies - Blue Moon Revisited (Song for Elvis)
Thelonious Monk - Abide With Me
Otis Redding - Change Gonna Come

Kosblog Digest #1.zip