25 May 2009

spring-a-long hypertext mixburst

and whoosh, the time 'tis a-springing. ok, so – i brought three mixes home with me on mothers' day weekend: (3) a quick'n'dirty fun-faves'n'odd-sods cd for my sister, made morning-of for us to listen to together on the drive to rochester, (2) a very-eventual next-installment in my ongoing series of "women's music" discs for my mom, and (1) a general-purpose general-audiences mix of current and recent hot hits, intended for haphazard general distribution.

as an all-round catch-up on my recent writing and listening in addition to mixmaking activities, here's the tracklists, with links, where possible, to recent writings on the artists in question; mostly AMG reviews, as well as several CityPaper pieces, and a few other things. enjoy, and feel free to request copies!

(in order from longest to shortest gestation and intended longevity/significance):


Title: Spring Gleamings
Date: April-May 2009

1. The Palace at 4 AM - A.C. Newman
2. My Love - The Bird and the Bee
3. French Navy - Camera Obscura
4. Compilation Cassette - Darren Hayman
5. Suits Me Fine - Emily Bate
6. What Is Happening - Alphabeat
7. Every Goliath Has His David - The Boy Least Likely To
8. You Don't Gotta Run - Pop Levi
9. At Last - The Dø
10. Stronger Than Jesus - A Camp
11.Generosity - Mirah
12. When I Grow Up - Fever Ray
13. Aldrig Ensam - Jonathan Johansson
14. Bumbo - NOMO
15. I-R-I-N-A - Ryan Leslie
16. Happy Up Here - Röyksopp
17. Dancing Shoes - Montt Mardie
18. General - Buraka Som Sistema
19. Lay it Down - Peter Bjorn and John
20. Chinese - Lily Allen
21. I Couldn't Say It To Your Face - Arthur Russell
22. Hey Snow White - The New Pornographers

notes: as per the title, sort of a successor to harvest gleanings, but definitely lighter and looser in construction as well as tone. really, this is just a compiling of many recent favorites, including some that i might should/would have held on to for year-end purposes, but that gets to feel silly after a point, though i did go with a close-second for the boy least likely (q.v. my "one track mind" blurb on "lemonade") and maybe jonathan j. (though truly that whole album is mix-worthy.)

heavily indie pop/rock slanted – it's a bit of a surprise to me that that's so much of what i've been listening to, these days (wasn't i supposed to have gotten over that or something?) – with a solid slew of feel-good gtr jams, a bit of a mellow-out, and then a whirlwind dancey section that's a tad tokenistic but still flows decently.

the first five tracks go ABCDE by artist, and the next two start that cycle again (could have kept it up with camp and dø but the sequencing didn't work. the first six songs in particular have been in heavy mental rotation. "palace" has emerged as by far my favorite on the a.c. newman album (to the extent that i haven't been listening to the rest of it at all any more.) "french navy" (which likewise outshines anything else on my maudlin career except maybe that crazy string bit in "careless love") is nearly impossible to slot on a mix because it is such an emphatic track one, but this will have to do, since i'm allergic to that particular brand of reusing. "what is happening" (an '09 single!) and "my love" are strong song-of-the-year contenders, totally topping the singing-whilst-biking charts. "compilation cassette" is a perfectly springy new-love song, despite the fact that the lyrics claim it takes place in september. (but darren hayman, who's recently become my most-played artist on last.fm, deserves, and shall receive, his own post, soon enough.)

"at last" and "stronger than jesus" could have been on the chicks mix (below), but they ended up here instead, along with "generosity" which is still one of only two songs that have really stuck with me yet (along with "education") from (a)spera (i'll keep trying tho.) i'm at a loss to explain why "i-r-i-n-a" has been my #1 take-away from ryan leslie's alb, except that it came on my pod when i was running once and it's just such a fun and light-hearted hook and beat. "dancing shoes," the advance single from montt mardié's current alb (which i oughtta get my hands on already), feels like a totally textbook/generic monty tune – it's so epitomic of his style that i barely even notice the song itself – but that's hardly a bad thing. makes it a good intro to him i think. likewise the buraka som sistema song, though it's a bit of a sore thumb here. doesn't matter, it's just so good. (and, really, it's a weird concoction in any context.)

finally, "hey snow white," from the very solid dark was the night comp, is as mesmerizing and hooky as anything on a.c. newman's album this year, or the new pornographers last one, whether because or in spite of it's tossed-off simplicity. dig it.


Title: Chix IX
Date: May 2009

1. The Pharoahs - Neko Case
2. What's In The Middle - The Bird and the Bee
3. Nothing Can Come Between Us - Obi Best
4. Anna - Hello Saferide
5. My Foolish Heart - Jazmine Sullivan
6. Is It You (Ryan Leslie's Piano Version [?]) - Cassie
7. Feeling Good - My Brightest Diamond
8. Did You Give The World Some Love Today Baby? - Doris
9. Who'd Have Known - Lily Allen
10. Hey Stephen - Taylor Swift
11. Louie - Ida Maria
12. The Sweetest Thing - Camera Obscura
13. Crackers - Maia Hirasawa
14. Love Is Free - Sheryl Crow
15. My Eyes Adore You - Betty Padgett
16. Difficult Women - Emily Bate
17. Keys to the Car - Birdie Busch
18. The Well-Dressed Son to His Sweetheart - Devon Sproule
19. I Need You To Hold My Hand - Naomi Shelton and the Gospel Queens
20. Keep Pushin' - Nikka Costa
21. A Capella (Something's Missing) - Brandy
22. While We Have The Sun - Mirah
23. True Colors - Ane Brun

notes: maybe the best "chicks" installment in some time (notwithstanding that it seems to have been a good three years since i made one) – on its own terms, but especially in terms of my mom (hopefully) actually liking most or all of it. i guess either i've moved past feeling a need to showcase my poppier/dancier female artists in this setting, or else i've got enough else on my plate to more than fill it with gentler/folkier/more approachable r&b/soul stuff and not have to stray farther afield

so this is a pretty smooth ride overall, though definitely not without variety or interest. hopefully cassie, jazmine, nikka and brandy – whose album i just can't get enough of, with several fave cuts still calling out for future mixtape airing – fit the bill on the mom-friendly r&b front, and keep each other enough company not to feel out of place (with some throwback help from doris and betty p.) and that taylor swift song is probably the most low-key thing on fearless, and also among the best. the opening neko cut was by far the biggest middle cyclone standout initially (along with the covers), though the rest continues to grow on me. and "keys to the car," which was the most memorable number at both of the birdie busch gigs i've seen, remains easily the most memorable thing on either of her albums, even though it's sort of tucked away. i been singing it a bunch. (and it's one of a couple things here that about mothers, incl. hello saferide, cam.obs., and ...well i always think that devon sproule song is though actually it's not.)

Title: Proper Rock for Moofer D
Date: 9 May 2009

1. Love is Only a Feeling - The Darkness
2. Then Cities Beyond - Snake and Jet's Amazing X-Ray Band
3. Proper Rock (Radio Edit) - The Chap
4. Star Shaped - Blur
5. Lion in a Coma - Animal Collective
6. Cynical Days - XTC
7. Mexican Divorce - The Drifters
8. 8 Bit World - Darren Hayman
9. Nous Tombons Dans Elle - Dominique Leone
10. Breakout - Cash Cash
11. Wait - Matthew Sweet
12. A Lover's Concerto - The Toys
13. You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real) - Sylvester
14. Until We Die - Max Tundra
15. Swedish Sin - Billie The Vision and the Dancers
16. Run That Body Down - Paul Simon
17. California Song - The Mountain Goats
18. You've Really Got a Hold On Me - Small Faces
19. Thank You For Giving Me Your Valuable Time - Kaada
20. True - Brandy
21. Si Yo Fuera Un Chico - Beyoncé

alright, well in part this mix was about trying to make a more or less automatic/spontaneous cd mix, the way we useta do more in the days before itunes playlists and especially before cd-rs. er somethin. actually, it was a bit more premeditative than that, since i took a lot of it from my ongoing "songs for listening" playlist, which is essentially a home-listening version of the "on the go" ipod feature. meaning it's a desultory assortment of songs that, for some reason or none, had been worming their way into my head (whilst biking, or waking up, or sitting around, or whatever), unexpected head-wigglers that seemed worth sharing. (key picks on that front incl. the xtc, the paul simon, and the toys.) ended up being more recent stuff than i'd really intended (about a third is from the last year or two), tho whatever. got a bit screwy because i decided i really wanted to include the 11-minute "until we die," which might now be my favorite song from parallax error – it's the epic, proggy one at the end, but the vocal bit in the middle is really lovely and sweet. (and the rest is good too.) so that took up a lot of space and i ended up taking of some of the more unpredictably unpredictable things.

but, in another way this mix was just about being able to put "love is only a feeling" on a disc. and listening to it (loud) (in a car) with somebody (my sister) who might be properly excited about it the way i am. which she was.

because...oh man... that song has been totally ruling my last, oh, month and a half, at least. for a while there, i was listening to it first thing most mornings. not like it's new – it's from the darkness' debut, 'member?, back in 2003 – or even new to me: i'd definitely listened to it and even enjoyed it in the past, even though i wasn't otherwise that into the band apart from "i believe in a thing..." i came back around to it mostly through checking out hot leg, the new band of lead singer justin hawkins. who are pretty awesome. but, gotta be real, not nearly as awesome as this song.

(and, whoa, never seen the video before, but how perfect is that? who hasn't had that fantasy, of rocking out on top of a mountain... okay, well, i have, at least. hm, this reminds me a bit of the similou video for "all this love". anyway, it's a pretty brilliant and brilliantly simple analog for the song's awesomely ridiculous massiveness. although the video edit of the song is missing the acoustic return at the end, which is one of the greatest moments. along with all the other great moments which make up the rest of the song.....like for instance the title and concept, and the lyrics in general, and justin's accent, and the sing-songy guitar notes in the chorus, and the bouzouki/hurdy-gurdy-like bits in the verse, and the solo section, and well, obviously, the chorus hook and the singing.)

speaking of the preposterously epic, i have to say that "si yo fuera un chico" has become one of my very favorite songs of 2008, and easily my favorite beyoncé thing of recent memory (even eclipsing "radio," i guess...?) – i much prefer it to the english-language original, partly because it's fun to listen to the spanish (and understand much of it) but more so (though this is contradictory perhaps) because the translation makes it possible to ignore the song's lyrical content while removing exactly none of its melodrama, meaning that you can just feel it intensely without having to think about it or reflect on the (certainly worth-reflecting-on-at-some-point) gender/identity/relationship politics that she's driving at. so yeah, there's that. also, brandy's "true" is a totally gorgeous thing...yeah.

Bonus Tracks!
or, a.k.a., some other assorted songs that could have been on (at least one of) these mixes, but weren't (or were cut out), or could perhaps be the germ of a future (scatterschottisch) mix of some sort, or in any case are things i've noticed recently and (in most cases) have written something about somewhere too...

Cocktails - Hot Leg
as i might have mentioned, these guys are pretty fun. the problem (if it is one, which is not necessarily) is that, compared to something like "love is only..." they crank up the 'ridiculously' and leave the 'massive' part mostly out of it. still with the falsetto singing and chorus hooks thing, tho. i say an amusing thing about this song in my review.

(How Can I Keep You) Outta Harm's Way - King Khan and His Shrines
or possibly "69 Faces of Love," which is surprisingly enough one of the sweeter and more subtle (in relative terms, i guess) from the king khan disc which i ended up enjoying more, maybe not so surprisingly, than the actual show, though that might just have been because i was tired and they are rowdy and demand your physical electricity. anyway this is some sweet throwback soul, 'cept for it's rock'n'roll too. aaoooooooww!

Bits and Pieces - Junior Boys
not the best song on (the sadly underwhelming) begone dull care/caprices en couleurs (as the odd bilingual cover has it), but maybe the funniest, since, as i realized gradually but especially when they played it slower and groovier live and it was one of the more movable moments of their set, it's kind of a joke sex song, with semi-faux-über-smoove lines like "i see you better when the lights are out" and, especially, the kicker "practice is over," which really makes it seem like a counterpart to flight of the conchords' "it's business time."

Student Union - Lady Sovereign
also v. silly... i thought i liked this album more, but actually it is pretty bad. oh well. what i was trying to say, but got pretty lost in my word-count-cramming attempt at concision, is that this song's synth riff sounds a whole lot like enya's "orinoco flow." which isn't at all a bad thing to interpolate, though it could probably be used for something a lot more musically interesting. at least it's funny though, kinda, with a sorta streets-ish ranting quality against, in this case, uni students.

I'm On a Boat - The Lonely Island ft. T-Pain
okay, well speaking of funny... for some reason people seem to be giving this album some pretty substantial attention: i've listened through a few times and it's definitely entertaining, though this has been one of the only things i really cared to hear more times than that. i could still see overdoing it, easily, but so far at least it's still utterly hilarious, all the more so because you can almost imagine t-pain thinking it's somehow serious (or at least as serious as anything else he does.) and because they really didn't have to make many alterations at all to the style (epic, synthy vocoder r&b); it's preposterous enough as is, they just give it a bit of a nudge. ok, a pretty big nudge.

Yes Boss - Hess is More
i guess hess is more are/is(?) supposed to be something of a comedy/novelty act as well (albeit as an electronica act, sorta.) i haven't really figured it out yet (but i'll let ya know.) and this is definitely funny, with a sort of "step into my office baby"-style cheery sexist cheese but intercut with a strong flavor of bdsm kinkiness, with a deadpan delivery that makes for a unnerving counterpoint between absurdly goofy and slightly disturbing... all the more so because the music is legitimately slinky and sexy and creepy. hypnotic and really striking stuff. (i'd actually heard this a while ago, but recently got a forthcoming "hits" comp, so am trying to sort out the context of the rest of hess's work.)

Bugs & Flowers - Jeffrey Lewis
and yes, this one is funny too, though again in a totally different way. for me, for now, this is the linchpin of jeffrey's great new album, conceptually, as well as just a high point in general. the song does what it does so well and so straightforwardly that it's hardly worth really discussing what that is, but i do urge you to check it out... (maybe i can get a mixtube thing going here on this post soon.)

and on a totally different tip...

Yesterday and Today - The Field
title track and probably best part of the new field album, though it doesn't get really great until the last three minutes (out of ten)... the first seven are solid but standard fieldsy shuffle and swell, and then we finally level out into an unexpectedly groovy plateau which features both the "rubbery bass" and the "live drums" i reference in my preview. too bad he couldn't have stretched out da funk for another seven minutes or so. but we'll take what we can get.

Room Without A Key (Studio Remix) - Rubies
"by" rubies, but really by studio, who basically jettisoned everything except for some of simone rubi and terri loewenthal's (very pretty) wordless cooed vocals, and some of the chord structure i guess, and created a completely new track, in 3+3+3+5/4 time, with deep deep bass (as in profound) and endless effortless guitar wisps. a blissed-out gem (it's cliched but...) and maybe my favorite studio thing. and, i'm so stoked, i know own it on 12", one of my choicest amoeba finds. so so def.

Kunst or Ars - Meanderthals
it's a beautiful morning... (if this isn't the aural equivalent of a sunrise, i tell you what.)

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