Since I’m kinda just building content and testing this out as a “demo” version before I actually run a regular week or ask anyone to contribute, and since I started this on Thursday, I’m going to add a lot of songs today and tomorrow, more than the typical three. Also, it’s a beautiful day, so I’m going to write minimally about these tracks so I can get outside and enjoy some sunshine.
10. The House That Heaven Built —- Japandroids
My favorite song of the year so far. I just can’t help but fall under the spell of its sincerity, its passion, its relentlessness. It’s the type of song that you crank in a car when you’re feeling miserable, roll the windows down and force everyone you pass to witness your mood improve as you shout along with the “oh oh oh’s” and “and if they try to slow you down, tell them all to go to hell’s.”
11. My Sunshine —- Ty Segall
The perfect garage punk song, this song moves away from the Japandroid optimism and has Segall literally sneering at the beginning and he doesn’t stop for a second. I’ll be honest, I put this on because I’m sitting on my porch and it’s sunny, and I wanted a crunchy punky tune to compliment where the mix is at the moment, but sometime tells me that Segall is being just a wee bit sarcastic here, but when he bellows that he wants hope in his hand, I can’t imagine why anyone would want to give him any.
12. Scrapple —- Kudgel
Kudgel is a fairly obscure “chimp rock” Boston based band from the 90’s. The sound of desperation, which I think builds off of My Sunshine perfectly. I know the shredded vocals means this won’t be to everyone’s tastes, but I like to challenge listeners with songs they might not usually listen to. And I love the sentiment of the song; we can all relate to moments where all we want to do is sit around listening to music, not wanting to get up.
13. Boxcar —- Jawbreaker
The friend who introduced me to Kudgel compared their desperation to some Jawbreaker songs, and I thought that made sense. I was going to go with a different Jawbreaker song that my wife recommended (Chesterfield King) but Spotify didn’t have it (boo!) so I went with one of their pop-punk hits to move the mix in a slightly more accessible direction.
14. Bill Baily —- The Gun Club
I like having The Gun Club in this section for a couple of different reasons. For one, when I saw Japandroids live recently, they performed a cover of a Gun Club song (For The Love of Ivy, which will be on their upcoming album). Also, more people should know about The Gun Club, they were a terrific post-punk band with southern roots and country influences. This song is a leg-stomping good time.
15. Hard To Be Human Again —- Mekons
More post-punk with a country twinge, that bridges the country elements of Bill Baily with the more straight-up post-punk of the next song. I love that moment in the middle of the song where everything feels like it’s about to break down. It sounds like a robot ready to explode, but then that beautiful strumming rhythm guitar kicks its ass back into gear again.
16. Outdoor Miner —- Wire
If there ever was an accessible Wire song, this is it. Stunningly beautiful and simple, but with a gorgeous refrain with that repeated chorus that asks, “He lies on his side, is he trying to hide a fantasy earth that he’s known since birth?” Several Wire songs sound like nightmares, but this one sounds downright dreamy.
Hey, I love the whole idea of your blog. Posting mixes and stuff like that and I guess the new Spotify compatability really makes stuff a lot easier. If you need people to contribute some mixes, I'd be happy to lend a hand :)
Thank you! I just started and I’m still building up content and ironing out some details (and frankly, still promoting) but I’ll be asking for contributors in a week or two. I’ll follow your blog and let you know when that happens. Glad you like the idea. Cheers.
So, I hate it when I see other bloggers begging for followers. It’s frankly annoying.
So here I go, joining their ranks! I’m still building this blog up and toying with it, and I haven’t even started to ask people to promote it (a crucial step, I know). But this is only going to work if I have people willing to submit mixes every week. And before that can happen, I need some followers. But If I’m going to do beg for some, I’m going to at least give away something for it.
So here’s the deal: Follow me and like or reblog one of my posts from now until Monday at midnight, and you’ll be entered. That’s it. If you’re already following, all you need to do is like or reblog one of my posts.
The prize? A personalized copy of a mix CD from me to you, and a grab bag of five CD’s. Good CD’s too, not junk (or at least, I think they’re good). I’ll write down the followers and pick one of their names out of a hat. Unsophisticated but fair, right?
If you like the concept of this blog, give it a chance and help me get it growing. If you don’t like the concept, don’t follow. It’s cool, I can take it.
Oh, and if you follow me, I will follow back. Unless you’re a horrible racist, homophobe, sexist, etc.
Tracks 7 - 9: Note, I’ve decided to build separate mixes for each new songs added. Once I’m done with the whole mix, I’ll update that as well.
7. Circumambient —- Grimes
Time for a new direction. I think this keeps with the theme, because after the unsteady confidence in How I Got Over comes a slow building 80’s disco beat and Grimes breathy vocals, singing “Baby, I can’t say that everything is okay.” I hate the name of this song, but I pretty much love everything else about it; the glitchy synths, the overlapping vocals, the word jumble chorus. The first time I heard one of Grimes songs, I kinda wrote it off, but the song and almost all of her latest album grew on me quickly with time. I’m sure there’s already a backlash or whatever, but I don’t pay any attention that. Her pop songs are earworms, but I like some of her slightly weirder stuff, including this song. Make no mistake, it’s still a pop song, but she feels a little more free on a track like this than on, say, Oblivion.
8. Don’t Move —- Phantogram
This was one of my favorite singles from last year. The weird thing is that I can’t say I’m a really big fan of Phantogram. They’ve got a couple of other solid songs, but this is the only one I’d actively champion. One hit wonder? Maybe, but something about this song really gets me; the samples layered on top of each other, cutting up and overlapping and then suddenly almost stripped out altogether for a verse. I love the idea of a dance song daring you tempting you to move but asking you not to at the same time. Each time we’re asked to “keep our body still,” the song makes us want to ignore the command. Something about that dichotomy along with the production works for me.
9. Break My Heart —- La Sera
Another new direction. This is a punky rave-up from one of the Vivian Girls new side projects, but I like this song better than almost any Vivian Girls song I’ve ever heard. It’s as straightforward as it comes and breaks no new ground whatsoever, but it’s confident, catchy and cool and gets the job done in almost two minutes. As soon as you decide that it’s a fun little track it ends. Mission accomplished.
“I thought, There is nowhere else in the universe I would rather be at this moment. I could count the places I would not rather be. I’ve always wanted to see New Zealand, but I’d rather be here. The majestic ruins of Machu Picchu? I’d rather be here. A hillside in Cuenca, Spain, sipping coffee and watching leaves fall? Not even close. There is nowhere else I could imagine wanting to be besides here in this car, with this girl, on this road, listening to this song. If she breaks my heart, no matter what hell she puts me through, I can say it was worth it, just because of right now. Out the window is a blur and all I can really hear is this girl’s hair flapping in the wind, and maybe if we drive fast enough the universe will lose track of us and forget to stick us somewhere else.”—Love is a Mixtape by Rob Sheffield (via kkatiebird)
This passage is what I chose as a wedding reading. Our love of music is what initially brought me and my wife together. I feel like this everyday.
There’s a very simple reason I’m posting this song today: last night, after ten years of listening to it, I finally realized what Dick Witts is singing on the refrain.
I guess it’s funny that, in a time when the lyrics for just about anything can be found on innumerable websites, I never bothered to look it up, because I’ve always been curious what the words were. the way he contorts his voice into a strangled, freaked-out panic certainly makes the line feel important. All I could ever make out, though, was issatrack tomayfashamayaloe.
I love that vocal delivery, by the way. It makes what was already a pretty great post-punk groove feel apocalyptic, as the lyrics suggest it should feel. So how strange that the bit I could never understand until last night turns out to be the decidedly un-apocalyptic line, “It’s a drag that this man should be alone.” He’s a lone. And it’s a real drag. The understatement and over-delivery are a somehow perfect match.
By the way, I’m glad I never looked the lyrics up. It was much more rewarding when I realized what he was saying myself.
Continuing with the funky theme I established, I decided to throw in another track from that same New Orleans vinyl I mentioned above. This song is so immediate, so full of tension and energy it feels like it could be a lost James Brown track from the early 70’s. I don’t know much about Warren Lee, but I am surprised I hadn’t heard about him until I heard this track on a whim. I love how the simple horn line on the nonsense chorus and the insistent, stabbing guitar (which consists mostly of two notes played over and over) really compliment the urgency in his vocals.
5. Super Stupid —- Funkadelic
Moving away from the funk slightly. Oh sure, this is Funkadelic, and they sure were funky, but they also rocked your face off. Eddie Hazel’s guitar work is stunning here, especially in the exploding finale. This is from Maggot Brain, their most consistent album, and the song is supposedly about Hazel’s drug problem; and you can feel a mixture of pain and elation in the vocals and the music (especially the solo). It’s not a showy as the stuff on Maggot Brain’s title track (which, rumor has it, Hazel recorded after George Clinton told him his mother had died, even though she hadn’t), but this track fits into a mix easier; it’s shorter and more conventional, and just as impressive.
6. How I Got Over —- The Roots
Track 6: where I realize I’ve got a handful of songs and almost all of them are more than thirty years old! Time to rectify that. My theme could be older songs, but that wasn’t my intention, so here’s a contemporary tune that was released last year. A slight departure, which fits because the slow fade-out on Super Stupid allows for some kind of movement, this song is still funky, but rooted in hip hop. The Roots have always been political, and this song is somewhat vague about what it’s protagonist is actually getting over (or even how it’s happening, despite the title) but the song has great momentum and accessible musicianship that’s easy to latch onto. The lyrics are slightly inconsistent, but somehow that fits with the relaxed, breezy confidence of the song, which is important given that it’s about rising above bad life situations.
So what’s the theme of this mix? Movement. Transition. I think about it as if I’m driving through the country on a long road trip and each destination gives me a distinct feeling, suggested by each new song. It’s a loosey-goosey theme, for sure, but I’m kind of cobbling this first mix together as an example more than anything else, so have patience with me.
I’m still getting this whole thing started, so thanks for having patience with me. I wanted to give an example of the type of mix I was thinking of, along with the writing accompanying the selections.
Starting is the hardest part and also the easiest. A lot of my mixes stem from one song being dragged into a playlist, but that song typically doesn’t stay the first song. I move tunes around to build off of one another and make sure the mix has some kind of flow. It’s rare that I’ll create a mix so random that the flow is jarring, although that happens sometimes too. And sometimes, jarring can be good.
So here’s what I’ve started with, the first three tracks of a fairly random mix. The demo mix, if you will.
1. Another Girl, Another Planet —- The Only Ones Why this song? It has one of the best openings in rock and roll history, that incredible guitar line build up, the rumbling drum roll, the excitement rateching up for the first few seconds only to burst into a ball of energy as the other instruments are instantly added to the mix. And just when your’e getting caught up in the punk rhythm of the song, a guitar solo brings it to another level. The lyrics are somewhat simple and hokey (enjoyable in their own way, though), but that guitar does all the talking. Peter Perrett makes that guitar work sound as easy as ringing a bell as the beautiful escalation of the solo sends your head onto a dizzying thrill ride. The song is just pure happiness and joy, and it’s important for mixes to build up to a great moment and also start on a really solid foot. I think this song accomplishes that; it just keeps giving. Also, on a personal note, this was the song my wife and I entered our wedding reception to. We walked in just at the end of that opening guitar line/drum rumble. It was as great a memory as this is a song.
2. Totally Wired —- The Fall Second songs are important because they have to carry something over from the first tune, but also go in a new direction and have enough hooks to pull you along the mix, ensuring the listener that this is going to be a unique experience. They can’t be so jarring that the style totally changes, but they have to suggest new directions, and nobody suggests new directions like Mark E. Smith and The Fall. Like Another Girl, Another Planet, this song builds a bit, but in a weirder, unsettling kind of way. It starts off with that simple drum beat and then adds layers of instrumentation, including jagged guitar bursts a slippery punk-funk bass line (sounds almost like something from a Gang of Four album) and insistent, sarcastic lyrics about how Smith doesn’t have to be “weird” to be weird, or “strange” to be stranger. You can practically hear his quotation marks.
3. Gossip —- Cyril Neville I’m keeping the same upbeat tempo, but I’m moving in a totally new stylistic direction. It might seem jarring to move from 70’s pop punk to new wave to early 70’s funk, but there’s something in that insistent opening rhythm and the quirky, curling, slippery guitar line that follows that seems to make a natural progression after somewhat similar instrumentation in Totally Wired. Plus, this song makes me feel totally wired; listening to it tosses you up on cloud line, whether you feel like being happy or not. I like including buried treasures in mixes. This song wasn’t a big hit or anything; it was recorded in a one off session with New Orleans legend Allen Toussaint, using the most of the rest of the the Meters to back up their drummer (and brother) Cyril. I’d never heard this song until I bought a fantastic New Orleans funk compilation record about a year and a half back. It was the first track and it blew me away and now I try to share it with as much people as possible.