Title: Feels Like Friday!
Format: CD-R (80 min)
Date: Thursday night, 13 July 2006
Packaging: white sleeve with "weekly calendar" artist list on back; tracklist inside written on guest checks from petit 4.
Notes: made for Katie for her last Friday at p4 (our last day working together.)
1. I Met Him On A Sunday - The Shirelles
2. Welcome to the Working Week - Elvis Costello
3. St. Monday - Billy Bragg
4. On a Monday - Ry Cooder
5. Tuesday Morning - The Pogues
6. Hooray For Tuesday - The Minders
7. Why Don't You Write Me - Simon and Garfunkel
8. This Time - Los Lobos
9. Six Days - DJ Shadow
10. W.E.E.K.E.N.D. - Arling and Cameron
11. Friday On My Mind - The Easybeats
12. Friday - Joe Jackson
13. Friday Night - Lily Allen
14. At The Club - The Drifters
15. Friday I'm In Love - The Cure
16. Dancing Alone - Ashlee Simpson
17. Friday Night Saturday Morning - Nouvelle Vague
18. A Roller Skating Jam Named "Saturdays" - De La Soul
19. Sunday Morning - Margo Guryan
20. Every Day Feels Like Sunday - Of Montreal
21. Seven Day Weekend - Elvis Costello and Jimmy Cliff
22. Wishing the Days Away (Ballad Version) - Billy Bragg
++ Creating Cyclical Headaches - Prefuse 73 + 4 Tet [prefuse 77 tet?]
(you might have noticed...*)
at first the days of the week theme was just going to be a loose concept that not necessarily all the songs would fit, but i came up with so many appropriate songs that it basically became the strict theme. most days-of-the-week songs are about working or partying or both, which are both relevant things for katie and me, plus she likes to talk about days feeling like other days (i.e. "it feels like a thursday"), and we always talk about "fun friday," with greater or lesser irony, depending. so anyway, this was her going-away present.
"i met him on a sunday" is a classic of the "days-of-the-week song" genre (that is, songs where they list all the days, not just songs about one specific day) that happens to start with the first day of the week. i thought about using laura nyro's awesome cover, but then, the original is perfectly fine.
"welcome to the working week" is practically synonymous with "intro track" in my book [being the intro track of e.c.'s entire career] - so much so that i could hardly let myself put it as track one - also, it doesn't mention any days, but it's clearly a week-cycle song, and an ironic song for an end-of-job mix. it's so fraught for me that i can't actually comprehend how well it works in this context, since the weirdness of its failure to be followed by "miracle man" is just too glaring. but that's me, not katie. (who, btw, sort of dislikes e.c. but the song's short too!)
three intro tracks in, "st. monday" kind of starts things off in earnest - a song about not working on monday, which is appropriate because the shop is closed then. luv this tchune too, even though the rest of the album (england, half english) is a bit naff. "on a monday" isn't really a monday song - not that there aren't other obvious ones by the bangles, mamas and papas, new order, etc. - or a work song for that matter, but it is a classic "days of the week" song (that is, mentioning all the days in order, DOTW from here on), which is a form that could easily fill its own mix cd and more.
for some reason tuesday has two of the best songs about it, and they really seem to be reasonably about it, which is even weirder. (i forgot and/or declined to include men without hats' "on tuesday," though it is also pretty great.) i was stumped for wednesday and thursday - apart from duke ellington's "zweet zurzday," which i had on but then took off - but an amg song title search i did after completing the mix revealed some things i'd overlooked in my own collection - one "thursday" by morphine and another on goldie's incredible dj-mix; the undertone's "wednesday week" (i thought of e.c.'s but didn't choose it for obvious reasons), and fischerspooner's "wednesday." none of that matters much, but i did kick myself for forgetting tori amos' "wednesday," which is one of the better songs on an album i like very much (scarlett's walk), and, upon consideration, is more or less about the day. [and so, i included it, in between tracks 6 and 7, on the amended version of the cd i just burned myself. there's enough room too!]
well anyway, it's no great mystery why everyone writes songs about sunday and saturday and friday and monday instead of thursday and wednesday. (because they're kind of boring, and run together, even if one of them is the fake weekend.) and so instead i included a string of DOTW songs, which are always kind of about the humdrum doldrums of waiting for the weekend to arrive. "why don't you write me" only qualifies because of the bridge - but that bridge is totally classic, with each day bringing the contemplation of a different form of suicide. (also, the "writing" theme nicely follows up the bit in "hooray for tuesday" about letters and postcards.)
"this time" cleaves so close to the DOTW formula that it sounds, well, formulaic, but it does fit the mellow midweek mood. "six days" is almost obvious in a similar way, but it's still totally sweet. i wanted to use the diplo mash-up of col. bagshot's "six day war" (the original sample for the shadow track) with "lean back", for obscurist purposes, but the transition didn't work as well, and it's just not as musically satisfying.
"w.e.e.k.e.n.d." is both a ridiculous pastiche (i guess?) of the DOTW genre and by-default constituent. i think of it as ushering in the second (and more important) section of the mix, which is the part about friday and the weekend. the transition isn't quite neat though since "friday on my mind" starts out with "monday morning feels so bad...", and we have to go through the DOTW again to get to the partytime part, which is basically the chorus and the rest of the song. this (at least the latter part of it) and several of the songs that follow also fit into the genre of "weekend songs," a category which is discussed at the very beginning of this deservedly-lauded ilm thread, and which is worth more elaborating at some point.
joe jackson's "friday" was in some ways the genesis of this whole mix (way back in april, on good friday in fact, i wanted to make a mix for katie and petit 4 that included this but started with "the kids are alright", which sadly got dropped here for obvious reasons. but i still want to use it to start a mix sometime.) "she gets paid on friday" is a great hook line. i also like the part where joe goes through all the other days that he's "not talking about."
"friday night" by lily allen is not really a very good day of the week song, since it only mentions friday in the title and first line and is actually about her conflict with some [expletive transformed into funny boingy noise] at the club. but it does set up the next few songs which are also about going out to clubs. plus i'm excited about lily allen these days, or maybe just pop-hiphop-ska in general. "at the club" likewise only mentions friday in the first line ("well friday night has finally come around"), but i always think of it strongly as a friday song, mostly because i see at as the counterpart to "saturday night at the movies" (even though the narrator of this song says "don't ask me to go" to the movies - well, not on friday night anyway.) nice la bamba rip too.
so i guess "friday i'm in love" doesn't fit here because it's not actually a friday night clubbing song, but i wanted to delay it a bit since it is such an obvious (and essential) fun friday song. did i consider for a second not including it? even if the best thing about it is those first seven (!) glimmering notes and the half-a-beat-before-you-expect-it crash of the intro. i also thought it was a nice set-up for "dancing alone", even though that's actually more an homage to billy idol, plus ashlee shouts out a different cure song in the chorus. i definitely think of this as a friday night song too (in particular it makes me think of dancing alone at the 700 club), even though it's sequenced on the album right after "sunday morning blues", which isn't quite right. (ashlee has her own DOTW song, of course: "pieces of me." i considered including it, but it doesn't really fit the formula that well, since her week is only two days long - monday and tuesday - and i don't know where it would go on the mix.)
as a coda to the "going out on friday night" section (the strongest high point of the mix, energy-wise - which is ironic since katie and i are both typically too tired or having-to-work-saturday to actually go out on friday), we have "friday night, saturday morning." not in the jaunty specials original as made famous by rich's iPod, but the downbeat, almost hypnotic nouvelle vague rendition. either would have worked, i guess, but i particularly like this version, which might be my favorite cut on the nouvelle vague album. (did you know that if you look at the cd upside down it says "angen allannou"?), and it's nice to have down-tempo cut for saturday day.
finding saturday songs (saturday night in particular) is almost too easy, and it did seem necessary to have at least one. de la soul's "jam" is an old favorite, and it stays on topic (the chorus even includes a shout-out to the "five days to work") better than most. despite the jump in energy levels, the radio announcer intro fit well after the closing sound effects of the last song, and the awesome drum groove outro leads beautifully into the awesome drum fill intro of the margo guryan song. which also happens to be practically perfect in every way. "every day feels like sunday" singlehandedly alludes to happiness, unemployment, the smiths, and the joke in the name of this miz - and that's just in the title phrase, since i have no idea what the lyrics are about. plus of montreal are a pivotal band around here, in case you couldn't tell, and this is a fine, strong song.
it kind of feels like a last track, honestly, so i sort of hear the rest as "bonus material", or at least a postscript/coda section. indeed, "seven day weekend" was a bonus track on the ryko reissue of blood and chocolate that for some reason was not included on the rhino rereissue (annoyingly, since it means i kind of have to keep both copies) - it's not that bad. in fact i quite like it; it's totally fun, especially the drumming, and it's a perfectly adequate DOTW song with a couple great lines ("if it isn't thursday anymore it must be friday.") "wishing the days away", on the other hand, is prime DOTW song and an absolutely beautiful ballad (in this case - the original rock version was another angelliliPod favorite) in its own right, imbing the potentially bland formula with considerable emotional nuance: "on monday i wished it was tuesday night so i could wish for the weekend to come" says volumes about how we relate to time in a simple phrase. fittingly, it's also a lovely song about missing someone too (i don't really understand the political undercurrent to the lyric, so i'll just ignore that.)
and it's a shame that "sunday night just keeps on rolling" is not the name of the really cool 8-minute instrumental track at the end of the first múm album, but is instead the kind of boring 8-minute instrumental track that comes right before it. because i would have used it to close this mix if it had a different title. (though "slow bicycle" is fitting enough for katie, i suppose.)
one comment - i notice that this cd is fairly heavily slanted towards music i associate with my dad: artists i first heard from him (elvis, billy, ry, the pogues, lobos, joe) and even songs i know he particularly likes (the drifters tune.) not sure why that is except that the DOTW formula tends to be employed by rootsy rock songwriter types, which is to say what i guess some people call "dad rock" (a la the pfm, i think, review of wilco.) if that's a negative stigma then i don't quite agree, although i have learned that listeners of my demographic tend to have some critical difficulty with it.
i particularly recall, the first time tara came over to my house, playing her los lobos' kiko and her being pretty much bewildered and weirded out by it, probably saying something about how it's music her dad would like. that's an album i cherish and have for a long time, but i think that experience substantially changed the way i hear it.
i'm curious, actually, what the critical consensus of the indieocracy would be on, say, mitchell froom's work of the late '90s, which in a sense bridges the xpn-style rootsy "adult" rock of lobos and bonnie raitt and indier-friendly songwriters like lisa germano and mark eitzel with more overtly experimental "hip" stuff like soul coughing and cibo matto (all of whom MF worked with), and which is totally a recognizable and innovative production aesthetic. (actually, S.T. Erlewine's crush on Sheryl Crow is rather relevant here.) this stuff was all, to my knowledge, critically well-recieved to the point of adulation at the time (and by audio geeks too, fersher) - and i was pretty into it, through the influence of my parents and uncle, as well as the e.c. mailing list (significant: froom and his sidekick tchad "tchad?" blake also worked on elvis' great albums from this period, and took then-attractions/now-impostors drummer pete thomas with them for many of the other things they produced) - BUT nobody really talks about it these days, and i don't know if that's because it's so obvious that nobody needs to mention it (as i always assumed, since it was obvious to me) or that people think it's bad, or that people are unaware of it. or what.
i don't think this is dad rock, exactly. people at this site have suggested three pretty completely different definitions of the term, none of which have gotten many thumbs-up as being accurate - so the meaning may be somewhat up for grabs. anyway, there is clearly a large blind-spot in this area for the critical community as i've experienced it, which is happy to embrace soul and country and, of course, the "classic" 60s-70s rockers of the third dad-rock definition, but is either disdainful of or uninterested in "mature" rock songwriters from, say, the 80s onward unless they're young on and on indie-rock labels (richard buckner, m. ward, beth orton though maybe not anymore) or had flagrant punk roots (nick cave, patti smith, tom waits arguably.) amg is an exception because they _have_ to cover all that stuff, and of course their reviewer base definitely has broader tastes than your standard music webzine. but in general i see this as a situation quite comparable to the indifference/disdain towards teenpop.
this should probably be its own post. but i do like how discussing mixtapes like this leads naturally into a discussion of more general themes in my musicmind. although these posts are way too long and splintered to work well as discussion-starters. but whatever. now for the asterisked disclaimer you've all been waiting for....
*so, on the first mix that i've made since writing out my list of constraints for mixes, i have neatly managed to break every one of the rules. (1) elvis costello and billy bragg each have two songs on here, although i rather like how they're grouped together both times, at the beginning and end of the cd, as if it was cycle starting over (like the days of the week, hah!) (2) she obviously knows the cure song, definitely knows the of montreal, and probably a few of the others - but i wasn't really stressing that point; she's the sort to appreciate some familiar songs mixed in - besides, how can you have a friday-themed mix without the cure? (3) again, who cares, but i've totally overused "sunday morning" recently (on 50's-60's vs. '05-'06, and, embarrassingly/unintentionally, on vulpine valentine) - with good reason, considering it rulz - and no i haven't forgotten that the de la soul song was on beauty will save the world either. i especially wanted to adhere to rule (4) (tet) on this one, b/c cakie likes him, but couldn't find a good way to open with it, so instead there's a tacked-on bonus track. ("creating circular headaches" being an apt description of the song itself, but also, i suppose, of the weekly cycle, if you want to go there.) all of this is fairly irrelevant, so i'm shifting this paragraph to the end of the post.
15 July 2006
Title: Feels Like Friday!
14 July 2006
good friday funday! last nite i made a mixtape for katie, who i worked with today for the last time (tomorrow is her last day), all about the days of the week, and especially about friday, which is an especial day of the week. it's called feels like friday! and i'll tell you all about it in my next post, using the highly successful and professional mixtape-post format i established in my last post. (erika saw it and said "is this normal? ...do a lot of people do this?") (to which i would say no and no, i think.) but first i thought i'd just write for a bit.
np: the eraser and amnesiac, simultaneously.
(started together, dark side of oz-style. currently on "analyse" vs. "pyramid song," and it all works ok so far. eraser's still probably better by itself, but it's close. aw, just teasing.)
kicked the non-purchasing streak this week. no, last week with hillary duff and silent shout, but this time i fully embraced the nu musik community by acquiring both of the high-pro new releases this week: the illinoise guy's b-sides comp (used), and the radiohead guy's solo[/not solo yeah w/e] record (new, but only a dollar spennier, go tower!) and i like 'em both pretty good.
ooh, "the clock" vs. "pull/pulk" sounds pretty cool! i like this.
it's stunning (not stunning) how much the avalanche sounds _exactly_ like its 'parent record.' i bet few people have listened to the entirety of illinois closely enough to tell the difference, at least a few seconds at a time. i felt like i already knew it the first time i listened to it. to be honest, i felt that way about "chicago" the first time i did hear, it (i think), on the seven swans tour - but even then i could have sworn i'd heard it before. um, the point is sufjan's songs all sound the bloody same. but they sound the bloody good same, so that's all right then.
well, funky "black swan" ends up opposite moany "you and whose army," which fits fairly well, though it really ought to line up with the song it copycats, "i might be wrong" - actually, it might make it. yes it will. how awesome would it be if the rhythm synced! well.. so imbw is faster and a whole-step higher, but it still works, hey why not.
but speaking of new music, i would be remiss not to mention NEW HARMONY, my brand-spankrocking-new recorded-ukelele-accordion trio. we just had our first practice session today. at which i think we concluded what key "god only knows" isn't in. and that the tropical popsicube is a great invention.
wait, "skip divided" and "knives out" really are matching up in rhythm. for a little minute. that's crazy!
so, as bedbugs* has dutifully reported, we went to see ashlee simpson on wednesday!!! it was much as bedbugs has written. although i think he underplays the size of the crowd (which was definitely not capacity, but was hardly tiny, and the ef is a big venue), and he doesn't mention that she played "coming back for more" (which rocked me out the most, at least.) also no way those twins (i hope?) were 11, and that "no good sex" line was _my_ joke, but whatever - i'll ammend his post in his comments. i will say though that the thing which struck me most - probably shouldn't have, if i ever watched tv or paid attention to media not in music compact disc form - was that she is so manifestly not her persona.
she's a silly, giggly, awkward, goofball girl and dare i say it doesn't seem so smart or, certainly, savvy. fair enough, and not that she wasn't energetic and clearly having a lot of fun and singing pretty well and entertaining to watch (q.v. her, um, dancing.) but it makes for some dissonance with the dark, edgy, angst-ridden - or, at least, deeply emotionally conflicted and, crucially, self-aware - ashlee i've gotten to know from listening to i am me these last few months. i can totally see how that same person i saw prancing around on stage could be that self-knowingly "beautifully broken" ashlee of the record - not many of us betray our emotional scars easily in a room full of strangers, after all - how, with a bit of coaxing on the parts of S & DioG, the raw ore of her personal struggles comes out poetically transformed into gripping and emotionally smart pop-punk gold. still it's a bit off-putting.
can talk/think about this more later, but now i'm going to go see jolie holland.
*that's bedbugs as in the knew knickname for the blogpal formerly known as pitchforkdave (and in fact still known as pfd on my bookmark bar) and/or bedbug
"p4k's arcade fire reviewer" diabetic dave "sugar shock" "no not that dave moore" moore...
EDIT: wanted to mention that i can't hear ashley parker angel, or at least "let U go" without thinking of (well, for the first three seconds, "just like heaven", but) sufjan stevens. specifically the chorus - it's "the predatory wasp of the palisades," the final section of it with "i-i-i can tell you." except apa doesn't do that part. plus maybe "i remember when/you came to me that night" makes me think of "he woke me up again" or something. well whatever. also, the "i don't wanna, but i gotta" part sounds like a weird al line to me.
09 July 2006
[at long last...anticipated and promised...the track list (and much more besides) for OiE, my crazy-goose birthday mix from three quarters ago. now that i've completed this mix's complement - which is either the '05 finger tape that covers the other end of my listening spectrum circa the time i was making this, and thus is bouncy where this is contemplative, or else popsical which is summery where this was fally (and wintry was wintery) - it's high time to go back and break it on down. here's how this is gonna get done ...]
Title: October is Eternal
Format: CD-R (80 min)
Date: October 2005; revised November 05 ["thanksgiving edition"] and April 06 ["continuous content"]
Packaging: manufactured plain white paper sleeve with clear plastic window on front; typewritten title, list of artists (not songs) and mix details on reverse. DJ Rec Rev logo on CD in black sharpie.
Notes: General purpose, mass distribution, continuous mix (made using Peak TDM 2.63)
Contents (with comments):
1. "Twenty Three" by Four Tet
i think i knew from the beginning that this was going to be the opener. this cd started out as a birthdaytime mix for me - the title (taken from an of montreal song that's not on this cd but just precedes the one that is) suggests to me that that warm, comfortable, glowy feeling of autumn [i think of the fading glows of summer sunburns and the growing glows of winter woodfires] can continue...forever...if we just hold on to it. that's the feeling i was trying to express with the music on this mix, and this piece captures it pretty perfectly, with its happy amble and jumble of friendly sounds.
it's a bit of a chestnut - one of the two standouts on Pause, an album i picked up largely on the basis the influential Amazon.com best of 2001 list. and chestnuts are autumnal too!
also i was turning 23 which made it particularly appropriate (not that i have any idea why it's called that.)
2. "The Stubborn Horse" by Mahjongg
a nice whinnying segue into a similarly loping groove with the burner turned up just a notch. this song feels like an instrumental even though it actually has a perfectly present and normal lead vocal part. i think is because the other components of the song - the various instrumental lines and even the periodic background vocals - feel equally important to its composition, each taking its turn as the focus. i don't like it when the opening songs on a mix assert too strong of an individual identity before the mix has a chance to present one of its own, which is why i opened this one with two songs that almost function as background music - it's as though by the cd has already been establishing an aural environment for a while by the time the listener is made to start paying attention.
my favorite part of this track is the chunky guitar that continues at the end after the other parts have dropped out. the clicks which lead into the next cut on the mahjongg album are conveniently exactly the right tempo to lead into the commanding opening drum fill of...
3. "How Am I Different" by Bettye LaVette
easily the most dynamic cut on the cd so far. the tastefully funky slow-burn of the previous two tracks is carried over here, but now it's all focused around bettye's hate-to-say-it-but-electrifying vocal performance. a wholesale reimagining of a song that, in its original incarnation - as the restrained opener of aimee mann's bachelor no. 2 - kept its venom politely concealed within convoluted lyrical insinuations and underplayed by mann's rather genteel delivery (so much so that her use of "fuck" feels forced, glossed-over, and almost uncomfortable.) here, bettye practically spits the venom in your face - conveying as much with her vicious, insistent vamping on the word "how" as aimee does in her entire mincing lyric - and detonates that f-bomb with a casual almost-grace. [j't'aime, aime', but babe...]
oh yeah - if this sort of interpersonal strife don't seem to flow with the falltime feeling, don't worry: this will all get sorted out soon, with a little help from our friends. but first...what's this!?
4. "Fallen Love" by Daedelus
a sudden plunge back into "fake-instrumental" territory. i love daedelus, and he's the best for mixtapes, even if you don't usually notice that he's there. come to think of it, despite the occasional crooning interjections ("do you think you might have fallen...in love..?"), there's quite a mess of sturm und drang in this track that allows it to follow up that last quite effectively.
5. "Measuring Cups" by Andrew Bird
sort of a mann-style nursery rhyme; sweetly caustic and just a sprinkle obscure. lovely little melody that latches on pretty quick. clever little mutter on conformity and censorship (of Gorey!) the last verse (same as the first) is too lazy to finish its lines.
6. "Peach Plum Pear" by Final Fantasy
not quite sure where this came from or why i had it, but it's a joanna newsom cover that's almost as endearing as her version, which is saying something. alyssa said she thinks this is what sufjan stevens is trying for and not quite achieving. (substituting pizz fiddle for harp or banjo?) if this is a plea for interpersonal connectedness, then it fits right in.
7. "High Doses #2" by the Mountain Goats
first rock song on the mix? this is from come, come to the sunset tree, the vinyl-only collection of lo-fi demos and excisions from the similarly titled album - which i'm still waiting like a fiend for my actual copy of, so thank god for small favors from well-placed friends with access to mp3 servers. this tune didn't make the final cut, and i'm wondering if it was just a little too nasty to fit with the ultimately - heartbreakingly - hopeful tenor of the album (fellow cast-off "collapsing stars" is also rather bleak.) 'cause this is nasty. gleefully so - "the great big world is out there", after all. but we're headed for catharsis.
8. "Matter into Energy" by Kelley Polar
adding this song is only the only change i made for the "continuous content" edition of the mix (that name trying its punningest to simultaneously sum up the theme of the mix and describe its method.) the earlier (and actually better-distributed) version had spoon's "i summon you" here - i swapped this in because i figured that tune would be well-enough exposed among emp types and others, but also because i wanted to spread my love for the polar album and it fit the mix's mood perfectly. wasn't expecting for it to be such a simple swap-in, but even though the two songs don't sound much alike at all, the transitions into and out of this were just as easy and possibly more satisfying for the extra layer of contrast they introduce.
this track is less kinetic than much of love songs of the hanging gardens, but it's absolutely romantic, meditative, and glowing. transmutes human relations into the celestial realm, without a whiff of pretension or forcedness.
9. "I Can't Let Go" by Evie Sands
just a great lil' slice of sixties soul-pop. there's something about those yearning, antiphonal chorus harmonies - over the held bass note - that feels almost modern. reminds me of the new pornographers (who showed up here on alyssa's original version, but got axed to make room, i guess.) baby! Baby! BABY! luv that harpsichord, too.
10. "Inside and Out" by Feist
i've been kind of kicking myself that i didn't save this for '05 finger disco (which, come to think of it, doesn't have any disco), but i'm glad more people got to hear it here. what a number! (a well done straight-up dance remix - not altering too much, just stressing the disco elements - that rubbery bass - would just slay.) does this make sense in the context of this cd? sure, i think it does. why not. i'm still trying to figure out where the bee-gees version of this is available. (anybody?)
11. "What's the Use" by Jamie Lidell
perfect, no-futzing-necessary segue! carrying right on with the blue-eyed funkyness. and here's where the soul-searching commences in earnest. what's the use of figuring it all out? well, fortunately, he answers his own question before asking it again: "life may sometimes be sad but it's always beautiful." not to put too fine a point on it, that could be the death-by-cheesy summing-up of this whole business.
(btw, if there's a video for this song, i really really hope it features an animated, person-sized question mark with jamie's crooning face, walking the streets and alleyways.)
12. "Push the Feelings" by Matthew Sweet
absolutely crucial. this song's the heart and core of this mix, and not-so-coincidentally smack dab in the middle of the tracklist. bettye, andrew, mr. goats (and a host, or maybe planet-ful, of slighted, defensive individuals): listen up! here's your anthem! "put those feelings in their place" - a total bleeding battle cry for emotional self-determinism - positivity by brute-force, in the face of rampant fuckwittery - a demand for, if compassion's too lofty, then at least non-intolerance. and it's lashed to a pounding, lunky rock march (this is actually the first rock song here, not that it needs that distinction) - sweet blunt power-pop power.
even so now way is this some blithe feel-good ditty - sometimes the lyric seems to flip-flop every half-line between egging you on and consoling you: "fuck the world around/don't let it confuse you/you're not heaven-bound/so god cannot abuse you" - even when it's not being maddeningly ambiguous - "this lousy human race don't deserve them/they don't deserve you"...wait, is "they" your feelings? is "you" you? wtf?
13. "Gemini (Birthday Song)" by Why?
because it's a birthday song, of course (or so the title claims.) this is impossible to do justice to with a description, but it's exactly the mood i was going for, and it's so beautiful and human, and also funny and completely bizarre. and so is the rest of elephant eyelash, which somehow seems like it could charm its way into anyoldbody's heart in spite of its extreme and willful eccentricity. and this - a surreal song-poem on love and mortality - is one of the best. so many precious lines. the "today i fell asleep in a bath of hair" verse is a gorgeous making-strange of a commonplace everynight scene, evening toilette and shared bedtime.
14. "Mean Old World" by Sam Cooke
this expresses some of the same emotional content as the why? song, but in plainer english and sweet out soul. it struck a strong chord the first time i heard it, scanning the man who invented soul box - and i still sing it all the time. it's another plea for human connection, that's all.
15. "I'd Like to See the Bad Guys Win" by Margo Guryan
so cute! i guess you could skew this as a loveblind compassion-for-all ditty, but i don't really think that's necessary. a little good-natured comedy; keeping a light touch amid this deep - if not necessarily heavy - content. this is from the 25 demos cd - apparently it was inspired by mae west, but her performance isn't really like that. that raggy rhodes-playing sounds so sweet.
16. "Too Happy" by Edith Frost
and i love how it skips straight into this one. the fourth piano number in a row. these comments are obviously getting shorter, but i don't feel like it's because i'm tired or bored - just that these songs - which are most central to the content of this mix - speak so well and simply for themselves. this song is from edith's first album, which i only got around to getting last year, and it crushes me just as much as when i first heard it. a recognition of the world's deficiencies, and hers, but: "i don't want to be bitter anymore." another sweet crystallization of the essence of my project, contentment and community.
17. "The World Is Showing Its Hand" by Jonathan Richman
jojo's a great man for showing us the world's cracked beauty, in a manner both worldly-wise and pure naïf. the innocence is preferenced here, of course, this being a recounting of earliest smell-memories: diesel exhaust, a piss-stained alley, "a mowed lawn, an ozon[e? i like to pretend he's talking about the director..].. anyway, you know the drill.
18. "Certain Songs" by The Hold Steady
more beauty in the dirt and sweat of everyday, more nostalgia, more ultramundane mundane shared experience - this time it's all to the greater glory of rock and roll. this is my favorite hold steady song hands down, and one of my favorite songs about music. i just want to quote all the lyrics, so i guess i won't. but "i guess you're old enough to know" could be a birthday sentiment too.
19. "Why? (What's Going On?)" by The Roots
it feels a little tokenistic to have this here, and i feel like i should feel particularly guilty about my token rap cut being the frickin' roots [they're sore thumbs on '05fd too], but then i also felt guilty - as a longtime fan - for not picking up the tipping point sooner, mostly based on lukewarm reviews. (also, who else would fit in with all this earnest songwriterness? and why? are at least a quarter hip-hop, rite?) anyway it's a great album - it shows them manouvering 'maturity' in a respectable but not boring fashion, it has a bunch of seriously hot beats, and i'm more inclined to listen to it than any of their other records save maybe things these days (granted, b/c it sounds/is more modern.) also i love the part where thought mispronounces "kylie minogue."
as for this cut, it's just a great funky mellow groove, capably bringing us back to the musical mood established earlier in the mix (after a minorly jarring rock interlude). the ridiculously simple hook is also ridiculously infectious, even though it's basically just an excuse to let the beat ride. (plus it hearkens back to the artist of the same name, as well as jamie lidell's more self-directed and wordier question.)
and, you know, here we're back to complaining about the world's ills, and more politically than anything else here (i guess the andrew bird comes close), and not in an especially interesting way, but it's still got that positivity thang. but there's definitely less clarity to that positive vision - which maybe does a good job of setting up the next song:
20. "Smells Like Content" by the Books
oh man do this band and i love each other. they're stealing my pun here, of course, er rather i stole theirs. this is a particularly swattie-friendly riff on most of the themes of this mix - delivered in a sort of pseudo-pseudo-jargo-babble that sounds like intellectual-sounding nonsense, until you pay more attention and realize that it actually does make sense, almost too easily - who would have thought the books would starting writing songs that are about things? it's okay guys, i won't tell anybody.
you can read the lyrics for yourself (the code: if a line doesn't make sense, it's not necessary to understanding what the song's about), but i'll just excerpt a little - "the world without end is a place where souls are combined/but with an overbearing feeling of disparity, disorderliness..." - so, exactly what i've been talking about: communal contentment is compromised by a tendency to focus on the negatives that leads to cynicism - and "to ignore it is impossible," but, faced with "a glut of possibilities, contingencies/with ever increasing faith, we decided to go ahead and just ignore them/despite tremendous pressure to capitulate and fade" - it just takes determination and a little faith to push past that and rediscover "a density reminiscent of the infinite connectivity of the center of the sun/and therein lies the garnered wisdom that has never died."
maybe i'm pushing this a little, but i think it's fair to say the books are fundamentally hopeful about humanity. anyway, none of this is necessary to enjoy this song, which creates (for me anyway) a powerful and curious emotional effect primarily through sonics, not rhetoric. it's really pretty. for the mix, i changed the ending by cutting off brother mikey's forest ramblings at a point that i think is apter and funnier. (see, i should be a book!)
21. "Kids" by MGMT
ho-kay. after all that silly overanalyticality, it's time for a dance party! this was the feel-good hit of the fall, no question. it fits the bill lyrically, fart jokes notwithstanding: "enjoy yourself/take only what you need from it" is as good a continous content slogan as any (brings to mind xtc's "do what you will but harm none.") and bonus points for the breakdown verse line about "sending me shivers," which recalls a party and series of mixes i made for myself (named after the mouse on mars track)
anyway, this is just a delicious song, as you'll all agree. weird that it's the only synthpop here, since that's all i breathe now. i saw this band when they opened for of montreal, and so it's only fitting that they're doing the same here.
22. "The Repudiated Immortals" by Of Montreal
a very pretty but slightly silly song, about, apparently, some fallen angels or otherwise sent-down immortal beings, who take it upon themselves to look after the humans with whom they now share a plane, after they (the humans) have been mocked and scorned by their creator. or something. that set-up doesn't really matter, because the crux is in the chorus, which echoes jamie lidell's ur-answer almost verbatim: "don't feel sad/cause it's a violent world/but there's still beauty." and then adds to it the community/human interconnectedness angle: "i'll take care of you if you take care of me." short, simple, beautiful.
23. "Waterslide" by Mice Parade
almost done. this feels like a slide back into the minimal background environment of the first two tracks, taken together with which this bookends the "content" of the mix nicely. bem-vinda vontade was one of my favorite records last year - completely unassuming and charming in a similar way to why? and four tet, an album of songs that fall somewhere between genres, recalling electronica and indie pop but most prominently featuring some very accomplished jazz-inflected instrumental work. in fact, this is another one of those fake instrumentals (even i always forget that it has words), and it just so happens that the words are apropos, offering another simple reminder to smile through your troubles, and not take it so hard: "the uphill ride is worth it all" i like how it ends with what sounds like the drummer's sticks clattering on the floor.
05 July 2006
with a nod and wink to master herbert's "Personal Contract for the Composition of Music", here are some considerations to which i attempt to adhere in my mixmaking. (as well as some exceptions that disprove the rule. wasn't that adage always weird.)
(this is somewhat of a preamble both to the eventual manifesto of this website and to the mix deconstructions i will become forthwith posthaste.)
Perfectionistic Constraints for the Compilation Of Mixtapes
1. only one song per artist per mix.
for straightforward (probably?) balance-related aesthetic reasons. artists with multiple aliases make for sneaky but legitimate exceptions. might be okay to break this rule for mixes with narrow focus such as overviews of a specific genre.
2. try to use mostly or exclusively music which is unfamiliar to the intended audience/recipient of the mix.
because a large amount of the point is to introduce people to new music. (although music they may know but probably don't have access to is also cool.) of course, it's not possible to know for sure what somebody will or will not have heard, and it's not necessary to err on the side of obscurism. this is most pertinent for single-recipient, bespoke mixes (and it makes for a fun sort of guessing game/test of my awareness of my friends' music knowledge.) in the case of mass-distribution mixes, this is definitely more of a guideline than a constraint, since it won't be possible to satisfy completely.
3. a given song can only appear on one mix.
this is the stickiest constraint i make upon myself - the hardest to follow but maybe the one i feel most strongly about. there are several reasons for it: because it forces me to be creative in my use of my library, perhaps exploring for something newly exciting rather than recycling an old favorite; because it keeps the mixes more interesting for me as well as my [external] audience, since mixes are part of the way i process new music; because it is consistent with the way i sometimes view my mixes as comprising a cohesive and self-contained body of work, without overlaps; perhaps most pragmatically because, in keeping with constraint #2, i don't want to give somebody the same music twice, in case, for instance, they get a mass-distro mix that reuses something that was previously on a bespoke mix for them.
october is eternal has gone through several revisions partly in order to accord with this constraint: alyssa got a slightly different earlier version of that didn't include the songs that overlapped from genrecalia; the latest version excises 'i summon you' since i had intended to include it on a ghost of valentine's past; if i was really crazy i'd be tempted to revise it before i give tara a copy because the sam cooke track was on tarabundle. of course, all of this is in keeping with constraint #2, but it's not really in the spirit of #3, which is based on there being a finalized "ideal" version of any given mix (even if it's not the one that's distributed, or even if it's never made) which is the one that "counts" for the ouevre (which i'm presently discussing as though somebody else could be aware of it besides me.)
(i have decided, for instance, that "getting it made" by band of blacky ranchette should swap spots with st. etienne's "relocate", because the former actually belongs on ceremony, matrimony, alimony, rather than he said, she said, and vice versa for the latter. fortunately, or not, rebecca has both mixes. by the same token, i should definitely have included elvis costello's "our little angel" on bonus beats me! instead of "distorted angel" [which i overused before i had this rule])
i definitely violate this rule with some frequency, but i'm always (sometimes painfully) conscious of when i do. in a few instances i have used a bespoke mix as a basis or template for a later mass-distro mix (super mini ear for rabi was a structural precursor to such great heights: 2003 in pop; virtue-luau/stayed-gunny for rebecca was the source of some transitions that i later used in wintry mix - which i justified since i knew reb wouldn't be receiving a copy of wintry in sunny sri lanka.) in other cases i have specifically exempted some mixes from this rule - the chicks series for my mom for instance, and - for obvious reasons - plays favorites and plays second favorites.
05 finger disco reuses a couple of songs that were on martha's phonosyntheSIS, rae's coast to coast in the post, and angela's vulpine valentine - which is fairly reasonable since it's a round-up of my favorite songs from year; however i would prefer to adhere to the rule even in the case of best-of-annum mixes, and indeed i specifically try to save up songs that i know i'll want to include on them. (which is why "song for dennis brown" and "i turn my camera on", for example, haven't appeared on any other mix, and "sun shawa" wasn't on any other mix that counted.)
4. whenever possible, the first thing on the mix should be a song by four tet
a relatively recent addition to the list, since i realized how well it worked for the wintry mix. other successful examples: october is eternal, the vulpine valentine, '05 finger disco, and, back in the day, mark's lozenge of lounge. by rights, "sun drums and soil" ought to be the first track on the sunny-themed popsical - or even better, a hidden track before the cd starts - but it's not on the current version because (among other things) it's just too long. (kind of like this post!) do you know how tempted i am to buy the single on the off chance i'd want to include one of the remixes?
so. there are plenty of other considerations, such as ensuring a cohesive and enjoyable listening experience, minimizing stylistic imbalance (i.e. a single hip-hop track in the middle of a mellow folk set), and - very key - respecting the format of the mix; (tape vs. cd - which is a topic for another day), but nothing i would really call a "constraint." and, always, everything is subject to what seems like a good idea at the time.
i've now alluded to a potentially bewildering array of mixes past and present, some of which i will discuss in greater detail in upcoming posts. stay tuned!
so it's early july, the mid-point of '06, which means it's time for a look halfway back at the year so far and halfway forward towards december list-making season. last year's midpoint list (wow i saw so many more movies last year!) didn't really look all that different from the weirdo year-end version, which probably speaks less to the value of this as a prediction exercise than to the baziness of decembruary. actually i'm probably ready to make my best of '05 list about now - well, in fact, i did, in the form of '05 finger disco (which will get its own proper rundown here shortly.)
truthfully, the records that have most dramatically defined my 2006, in true headsmack-overlooked fashion, are as follows:
ashlee simpson, i am me (2005)
rachel stevens, come and get it (2005)
robyn, robyn (2005)
mylo, destroy rock and roll (2004)
anyway, looking over this year's crop...well, i'm a little underenthused, but heck, i'll hazard a numbered list:
1. james hunter, people gonna talk
2. the strokes, first impressions of earth
3. the veronicas, secret life of the veronicas
4. neko case, fox confessor brings the flood
5. belle and sebastian, the life pursuit
6. the knife, silent shout
7. cat power, the greatest
8. v/a, soul sides, vol. 1 (kind of a cheap inclusion)
9. howe gelb, 'sno angel like you
10. herbert, scale
11. v/a, wayfaring strangers: ladies from the canyon
12. candi staton, his hands
13. jose gonzalez, stay in the shade ep
14. tom ze, estudande o pagode
15. spank rock, yoyoyoyoyoyo
16. the coup, pick a bigger weapon
17. the dfa remixes, vol. 1
18. arctic monkeys, [yeah, really stinky title]
no or few cigars
elvis costello, my flame burns blue
gnarles barkley, st. elsewhere
beth orton, comfort of strangers
hard to place/more processing required
ellis hooks, godson of soul
windy and carl, the dream house/dedications to flea
camera obscura, let's get out of this country
destroyer, 's rubies
budos band (not sure if this is '06)
i'd like to hear
amy diamond, still me still now
daedelus, daedelus denies the day's demise
elvis costello and allen toussaint, a river in reverse
four tet, dj kicks (and late night tales?)
futureheads, news and tributes
lily allen, [title?]
juana molina, son
pink, i'm not dead
the pipettes, we are the pipettes
rihanna, a girl like me
scott walker, the drift
also, for some reason, a certain trigger by maximo park (i know it was last year.)
geez, it feels like there's got to be something else... i'm so happy with music this year, but this list seems alternately bizarre and boring. i'm kind of in a transitional phase of listenership (obviously).
not really sure what to do about indie rock these days. (i'm even more indifferent about hearing islands and tapes'n'tapes and band of horses and whoever than i was to wolf parade and clap your hands. remember when i used to be excited about the arcade fire?) poppy indie is still cool - b+s obviously rule ok, although i haven't found a straight-up twee pop album i've liked as much as aberfeldy's young forever (2004) since.
maybe i'll talk about singles sometime - when i'm done furiously done downloading all the ones mentioned here and here and here...
gabe just walked in and said i've been listening to pretty lame music lately. maybe so. (right now i'm listening to some of those singles - some of which do sound pretty lame. what the heck is this bwo business?) well, i'll figure it out sometime. maybe after the ashlee/ashley/v's show next week.