Friday, May 29, 2009

Mix Tape

I had been thinking about doing a music post for awhile, but it's really not that great unless you can hear what I'm hearing. So, I decided to put together a mix tape just for you (yes, you). Pretend we're both fifteen and there's all kinds of things I wish I could say to you, but I just don't have the guts. So instead, I sit down with my dual cassette deck, and let drug addled artists do it for me.

CLICK HERE to download the 24 track collection I put together. You'll be taken to Sendspace. If you've never used Sendspace before, here's what to do: At the bottom of the page (under a bunch of ads), you'll see a file link calld Click on that, then simply save the file, unzip, and listen.

If you like a song, you should really consider buying the album. Click on the song name, and you'll be taken to Amazon where you can add it to your cart. With a handful of exceptions, these are independent artists and they could use the gas money. I'm just sayin' is all.

1 - Letter From Home - DJ Shadow
"Everything went wrong."

I've put together a few mixes in the past couple of years, and like beginning and ending them with Letter From Home (I & II) the same way DJ Shadow opened and closed his album "The Private Press". The two tracks are a frozen moment in time for this family, and we don't get to hear nearly enough. They set a great tone.

2 - The District Sleeps Alone Tonight - The Postal Service
"I'm staring at the asphalt wondering what's buried underneath."

Ben Gibbard, known for his work with Death Cab for Cutie, worked on this project and I really like this stuff much more than output from his "steady job". Musically, I could imagine them opening up for 1988 era Pet Shop Boys, but the writing is so smart it makes me shake my head at times. It's a real pleasure to just sit and listen to this entire record, but this opening track kicks it off in style.

3 - Like a Vibration - The Whigs
"My reputation is hanging around my neck. It's hanging around in bars."

Three piece rock and roll from simple Southerners that doesn't sound small town. The Whigs are just a great loud rock band. Go see them live.

4 - Squares - The Beta Band
"So, miles and miles of squares. Where's the feeling there?"

This is a band I love when they're in a mix. To sit and listen to a full album is difficult for me because they're a bit too hypnotic. By the end, I feel groggy and slow as if I slept way too long. We were given the ability to bob our heads to a beat because the Great Creator knew this song would come along.

5 - In My Room - The Beach Boys
"But I won't be afraid."

One of the most beautiful songs ever written. Ever.

6 - Get it Together - The Beastie Boys

"The phone is ringing. Oh my God."

I always associate classic Beastie Boys records with the time in my life when they were released. When "Ill Communication" hit the racks I was having lots of fun and I still get a taste of that, even in my cubicle.

7 - Strange Desire - The Black Keys
"I don't wanna go to hell, but if I do, it'll be cuz of you."

There are two bands in this mix that a particular friend turned me onto, and this was the first. The Black Keys are two guys from Ohio who have amassed critical acclaim, sold more than a few records, and still drive their own van to gigs. Beautiful stripped down blues and a fierce live show. If you like this, go buy everything these guys have done.

8 - V.F.W. - The Dead Milkmen
"We're all veterans…"

When I was in the fifth grade, a bunch of my friends sent off a mail-order form and weeks later received their black and white Dead Milkmen shirts. I was so jealous, but didn't have the money for one of my own. We would spend our winter recesses under one of the work tables in our classroom listening to "Big Lizard..." quietly so the profanity wouldn't be overheard and get us in trouble. The Dead Milkmen were my first exposure to punk and they still give me the feeling of naughty joy that I got the first time I heard them tell me that we're all veterans of a fucked up world.

9 - Send a Little Love Token - The Duke Spirit
"You should read these words I bet you never heard."

When I think of my favorite music, The Duke Spirit don't come up for some reason. Every time one of their songs is played as part of my shuffle I'm reminded how good they sound though, and will usually have to go listen to the "Neptune" record from start to finish.

10 - Handlebars - Flobots
"I can hand out a million vaccinations or let 'em all die in exasperation."

Our local independent radio station (
WWCD 101.1) played this song, and I was on iTunes downloading it that night (at the time, the album hadn't been rereleased in its current format, and owning a copy of the CD would have set me back $45). I liked it so much that I sent it or played it to everyone I could. The world is a better place with Flobots tending the light at the end of their own particular tunnel.

11 - Exchange - Massive Attack
"_________________ ."

When I was a young, a bunch of us kids would be packed into the back of my Aunt Elta's station wagon and we'd go to Lake Hudson near Granville, OH to go swimming. They had old fashioned speakers (you know, the ones that looked like megaphones) that they would play music through when not making announcements. The music they played was restrained, picked because it wouldn't be annoying or offensive to anyone. This song reminds me of those 1960's instrumentals that Lake Hudson was so fond of. It's all about lake water, the smell of popcorn, and learning to swim.

12 - What's Going On - Marvin Gaye
"Right on, baby."

I didn't come to like Marvin until I was an adult, but it's music that I wish I was nostalgic about. I would love to be able to tell you a story about how my mom turned me on to Marvin when I was just a kid, and how it sparked discussion about where this kind of music came from, and how we came to hear it all the way out in rural Ohio. But yeah, that shit never happened.

13 - Paper Planes (Remix for the Children of Adrock) - M.I.A.
"No one on the corner has swagger like us."

Chris Wilbourn, Heiruspecs MC extraordinaire, told me about a song that he couldn't get out of his head. (This was a year or two back, long before Slumdog hit the screen). I had recently sent him some Flobots stuff, and he returned the favor with the album version of M.I.A.'s Paper Planes. A couple days later I picked up the album and a remix disc and immediately latched on to Adrock's version.

14 - You or Your Memory - The Mountain Goats
"St Joseph's Baby Aspirin, Bartles & James, and you."

I worked with a young law student who first played The Mountain Goats for me. It took some time for me to come around, but once I did I was hooked. This is by far my favorite album they've done, and one of my favorite songs off it.

15 - Oh, Me - Nirvana
"I don't have to think. I only have to do it."

A few weeks ago, Sound Opinions did a show where they shared their favorite live albums of all time. Nirvana's MTV Unplugged in New York made their list, and it makes mine. Originally a Meat Puppets tune, the version played here is the absolute highlight of the record. I remember being so broke when this was released that I had to go through my CD collection to find stuff to trade in just to get enough cash so I could buy it. I don't think I listened to anything but this record for three months after that day.

16 - Punk Rock - Mogwai
"Do you understand what I'm talking about?"

A 1977 recording of Iggy Pop lecturing on the beauty of Punk with master instrumentalists Mogwai setting the tone. God bless Iggy Pop. God bless Mogwai.

17 - Trunk Fulla Amps - Self
"Like Glen Danzig…MOTHER!"

"Self" is actually one dude recording music using nothing but toys. Seriously. Listen, and you'll hear it. The crunchy guitars are made of plastic and marketed to 8 year olds. The keyboards are kiddie Casios, and there's plenty of tinkling, blurping, and beeping provided by a literal army of toys. Add profanity laced finger pointing, and I'm hooked.

18 - Ode To LRC - Band of Horses
"The world is such a wonderful place."

Beautiful rock music created by vocal clinicians. I love this band, and really hope they tour again soon so I can go see them.

19 - JC - Sonic Youth
"All the men want a charming whore."

I love Sonic Youth. I know they're an acquired taste, and many of you have already decided if you love or hate them. Because I love so much of what they do, it was really hard to pick a track to put in here, so I thought I'd go with one of Kim's songs that I thought was a bit more accessible than some of their other stuff. No one creates a wall of sound like SY.

20 - Wolf Like Me - TV On the Radio
"My heart's aflame, my body's strained, but God I like it."

Critics seem to love these guys, which I find odd since they're hard to classify. If you ever take the time to try to figure them out, they wind up surprising you at every turn. My wife hates the vast majority of the music I love. Chances are, the more important an artist is to me personally, the more she hates them. It's instinctive, and never malicious, but it always hurts in a way she'll never really understand. TV On the Radio have the dubious distinction of being the band she hates more than anyone.

"Who are these guys?" she'll ask.
"TV On the Radio".
"That's the worst shit I've ever heard. They make me love Sonic Youth."

21 - There's No Secrets This Year - Silversun Pickups
"I'll tell you a secret."

I understand all the complaints people make that SSPU are too derivative of Smashing Pumpkins and My Bloody Valentine, I just don't care. I love big warm fuzzy guitars. I love strong female bass players. I love noisy freakouts. SSPU gives me all of this without fail.

22 - Handshake Drugs (Live) - Wilco
"I was buried in sound."

I had "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot", and had listened to it some, but it never grabbed me in a big way. A friend that I talk music with every time we get together kept rhapsodizing about how amazing Wilco is, and I'd have to admit that I just didn't get them. I saw that PBS was going to show an Austin City Limits episode taped shortly after the release of their "Sky Blue Sky" album, and I recorded it. That performance opened my eyes, and a big part of the discovery was "Handshake Drugs". Nothing is more fun than a chipper song about scoring.

23 - Videotape - Radiohead
"This is one for the good days."

Funeral ready.

24 - Letter From Home (2) - DJ Shadow
"It look like everywhere I go I draw heat. Period."

You're damn right.

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