18 December 2006

i make summer mixtapes for no reason

Title: Gold Star for Robot Boy
Format: iTunes playlist (~80 min) CD-R!
Date: early-teens, December 2006
Packaging: optional...but the CD's got a purple star on! [r = 1/2 k csc 36º, thanks lys.]

1 Gold Star for Robot Boy - Guided by Voices
2 Come Closer - Marit Larsen
3 Something I Must Tell You - Aberfeldy
4 Kate - Sambassadeur
5 Let's Get Out of This Country - Camera Obscura
6 I Write Summer Songs for No Reason - Acid House Kings
7 Paris 2004 - Peter Bjorn and John
8 Suffer for Fashion - Of Montreal
9 Robot Rock - Daft Punk [excerpt]
10 Robot Song - Margaret Berger
11 Robotboy - Robyn
12 Heartbeat - Paris
13 Beat of my Heart - Hilary
14 I Built This City (original maxi mix) - Baxendale
15 Promise (Kyaal Remix) - Ciara
16 15 All This Love - The Similou
17 16 Yours to Keep - Teddybears ft. Neneh Cherry
18 17 Month in the Summer - Sway
[eta:] 18 Summer Love - Justin Timberlake
19 Ditto - Cassie
20 No End - The Ark
21 Evening Sun - The Strokes
22 Build Me Up - Rhymefest ft. ODB
23 I Love You - The Pipettes
24 Gold Star for Robot Boy - Jon Auer

still not supersatisfied with this mix, which i've been working on for week or so now, but i think it's time to give up and post it here. i don't have any particular plans for it; i may not even burn a physical copy, though let me know if you especially want one (there are some fun transition edits and such.) i may keep tinkering with it, but it may just end up being an exercise. (hence i will feel free to cannibalize from it in the future.)

it's trying to do a lot of different things simultaneously (maybe too many):

• just wanted to make a straight-up mixtape (as opposed to a dj mix) since it's been a long time since i've done that. (but it's just not the same with mp3s...)

• an opportunity to salvage and capitalize on a title ("gold star for robotboy") that i was playing around with a while back. along with that, naturally, it's a robot mix. except not overly so, because there just aren't that many suitable robot songs, and i didn't want to overplay my hand there (didn't include peggy lee's "robot man," or folk implosion's "mechanical man," or the futureheads "robot," etc.) wasn't sure if i should include the title track, but then ended up doing it twice. (sort of think of them as 'bonus' or would-be hidden tracks, the bookends/frames for the mix rather than part of the mix proper.)

• it's a love mix, and specifically a rosy, optimistic, beginning-of-relationship love mix. which is sort of wish fulfillment on my part, since at the moment i'm not in love with anybody, not even (much less?) a robot. hum de dum de dum. (i wasn't necessarily trying to tell a story with the song sequence, but you might be able to find one in the track titles. the final segment of blends solemnity, playfulness, hope, resignation, and certainty in ways that might be important to pay attention to.)

• it turned out to be a summer mix too, which sort of goes hand-in-hand with those kind of happy love songs, though not so much robot love songs. [see trx 4-7, 16-18, 21] so it's a summer love mix - but of course on the other side of blissful and carefree there's the awareness of how fragile it is, just as summer fades and the days grow older and colder. so many summer love songs are really about the end of summer, looking back at it fondly. ["summer's gone," probably the best tune on the aberfeldy album, would almost have fit, except it's no longer sentimental, it's already resigned to moving on; also it's on the ghost of valentine's past mixtape that i should get around to publishing here sometime.] the end of summer is about the end of youth too, and innocence ("i love you more than being seventeen"), but on balance this mix is still in that beautiful, idealistic, sunny moment ("i'm all about you, you're all about me, we're all about each other.") anyway, in this and a couple senses this it's a bit of a belated successor to popsical.

• also, likewise, it's a pop mix - in this case encompassing/trying to reconcile indie pop with chart/dance pop (or maybe just b/c that's what i'm mostly into these days.) no vintage pop in this case, though i played with that a little bit. sometimes it gets to feel arbitrary picking and choosing from among recent music, especially when there's so much of it. but old stuff doesn't necessarily help. in this case there's not a lot of musical reconciliation - indie and charty remain almost entirely segregated in a fairly predictable fashion [even more so than popsical actually, though the general template is similar, with a false peak in the early middle, then backing off a bit before a bigger peak, then a more experimental concluding taper.] production-wise and generally sonically (which is indeed the issue), contemporary indie-pop feels about as far from big-budge dance-pop as '60s-era stuff is.

act one [2-7] alternates scandinavian and scottish cutesy-rootsy sing-a-longs almost evenly 'til my favorite swedish sandwich tips the scales; then glam-pop exploders of montreal simultaneously create and detonate a bridge to the amped-up mid-section of top-down dancey-synthy heart/fist-pumpers, which comes fully equipped with its own amped-down mid-mid-section [10-11] of robo-tripping emo-power ballad slow jams. [but n.b.! this is not a "heartbeat" mix - that would be way too easy and obvious - i'd have had to go consciously out of my way to avoid heartbeat songs. i did have to include hils though cuz i feel like i've been giving her short shrift in general.]

things get more complex in the final chapter, maybe more sober and more whimsical at the same time (and if MB's "robot song" is the centerpiece of the mix, then sober whimsicality, or whimsical sobriety, is probably the appropriate mood.) this section [?18-23, i guess] reads like odd ends but may be a painstakingly re-re-sequenced melting-pot of sentimentalist album-closing moves from a remarkable range of genres; each one either building on and/or second-guessing the pathos of the one before. for me, even as the irony-potential warning indicator increases from sway>cassie>ark>strokes>odb>pipettes, the level of sincere emotion actually attained grows all the more touching. but them i'm a sap.

as for my own closer, turns out jon auer's spare acoustic balladization of pollard's pseudo-surrealist title nugget, which bursts in gently here like reality after waking from a dream, emphasizes it as a kinda tender little self-empowerment anthem ("if i waited for you to signify the moves that i should make...") that fits in quite nicely.

well anyway. that's that. if nothing else, nice to spotlight some overlooked gems - i like all of these songs a good deal. ("all this love" and "let's get out of this country" verging on overplayed rather than overlooked, but still good.)

i'm sort of working on a (companion? probably not) mix of, erm, sadder music (which will probably make me feel better.) or maybe something else. then there's a big question of how my year-end mix tradition will manifest this year. been playing around with live and working towards a maximalistmashymash, but unclear whether i'll have the whatever to go through with it. (?)

[revised 2/07, swapping in justim's "summer love" for the promise remix, which is already on oh-six, and is not really on topic anyway.]

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