Thursday, October 11, 2012

Purple Asters by the Side of the Road in Essex County i September

Purple Asters by the Side of the Road in Essex County in September Mix
1. ¡Que Vida! - Love
2. Fools In Love - Inara George
3.Nineties Children - Mister Loveless
4.Millions - Eternal Summers
5.I Feel Love (Full Length) - Dengue Fever
6.Kiko - Dead Can Dance
7.Magic Chords - Sharon Van Etten
8.Infinite Love Without Fulfilment - Grimes
9.Taking In Water - Jessie Ware
10.Alfie (Bonus Track) - Rumor
11.Lost In The Light - Bahamas
12.Take Me Home - Perfume Genius
13.Little Lou, Ugly Jack, Prophet John (… - Belle and Sebastien w/ Norah Jones
14.Every Night My Teeth Are Falling - The Antlers
15.Out Colour of Moonlight (Antiochus) - Grimes
16.Low December Sun - Air Formation
17.Without You - Poolside
18.Serene Return - Megafaun
19.Spanish Steps - Van Morriso
20.Everything Louder Than Everything… - Quiet Village

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Embrace the Sadness Mix

I haven't posted in so long I don't recognize the formatting anymore. i will have to learn how to post all over again.
Hello everyone. It's been a long time. More than a year.
Even though I haven't been posting, I haven't stopped creating mixes. I'm going to start posting them now, in no particular order and on no partiicular timeline.
Attached is a link for a mix I made earlier this year called "Embrace the Sadness." There isn't that much to say about it.  The songs speak for themselves.

1. Kanye West - All of the Lights
2. Bon Iver - Beth / Rest
3. Bill Callahan - Riding for the Feeling 
4. The Antlers - Corsicana
5. Washed Out - Amor Fati
6. The Golden Palominos -  These Days
7. Everything Is Everything - Witchi Tai To
8. Austra -   Lose It
9. Bitter:Sweet - Bittersweet Faith (Thievery Corpora...
10. Malo - Suavecito
11. Donald Fagen - New Frontier (Deepsirits So What E...
12. Kraak & Smaak - Turrell's Lament
13. Ford & Lopatin - Too Much MIDI (Please Forgive Me)
14. Sly And The Family Stone - Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Wi...
15. Color Filter - Hurdy Gurdy Man
16. Leander, Mike - Privilege (Soundtrack)
17. Eternal Tapestry - Time Winds Through a Glass, Clearly
18. Wilco - Impossible Germany 
20. Lloyd Cole And The Commotions -  Glory
21. Emmylou Harris & The Low Anthem - To Ohio
22. Johan Agebjörn & Sally Shapiro -  Le noir et le blanc sur le piano
23. White Denim -  Is and Is and Is
24. Handsome Furs -  No Feelings


Sunday, May 22, 2011

In Search of the Lost Prince of Rock and Roll

Several years ago, I posted a piece ( about Michael Brown, co-founder of the Left Banke, and composer of "Pretty Ballerina" and "Walk Away Renee" when he was 16, founder of the Stories, a Beatle-esque pop band that recorded concurrently with the Raspberries and Big Star, without ever achieveing any of their commercial success or notoriety, and finally, weirdly (since he was from NYC) the musical leader of the Beckies, an obscure mid-70's St Louis, MO rock band who put out one great (in my opinion and apparently no one else's) album on Sire which was remaindered a week after its release.
That was in 1977. At that point, Michael Brown, one of the undoubted pop music genuises of his time, disappeared, dropped out, retired.
He has released no recordings since The Beckies album.
All in all, he released one record with the Left Bank, 1.5 records with the Stories ( he left before the second album was finished and before they had their one hit, a remake of Hot Chocolate's "Brother Louie") and one record with the Beckies. (Between the Left Banke and the Stories, he also released an album under the name Montage, with only the vaguest credit, although several of the songs are reconizably Michale Brown songs).
To me, Michael Brown is one of the great mysteries and perhaps one of the great tragedies of the modern rock  era. Few composers, arrangers, producers have come along with so much obvious musical talent and such a clear creative vision. And yet, 45 years since the release of "Walk Away Renee," there is so little to show for all that talent.
It is apparently true that, to put it mildly, Brown had problems working with others. He left every band he was in soon after the bands formed. There are also rumors he might have experimented too heavily with hallucinagenics and he may have suffered from stage fright.
While listening to the Beckies album recently, I started wondering what Brown's music would be like today, if he was still writing and recording. I decided to create a mix that tracks Michel Brown's music, beginning with several of his own compositions, through t examples of work that seems to me to be either strongly influenced by Brown or very similar in style to what he was doing, and finally ending with a few songs by current bands that in my opinion, could have been created by Brown.

Along with the Zombies, Brown was credited with inventing "Baroque Pop," a horrible name for pop music that employed strings and, sometimes, instruments like harps, harpsichords and French horns, which would more commonly be found in an orchestra. But he was also a genius when it came to arranging strings, horns and harmonies, and his style of piano playing owe more to his early classical training then to Jerry Lee Lewis or Leon Russell.
We may never know what happened to Michael Brown. And we can only imagine what music he would have created if he had not disappeared.

Michael Brown Mix

The Playlist:

1. Pretty Ballerina - Left Banke
2. Barterers and Their Wives - Left Banke
3. Desiree - Montage
4. Please, Please - Stories
5. Fran -The  Beckies 
7. Can't Stop My Love - Andy Pratt 
8. New York Tendaberry - Laura Nyro
9. Meagan's Gypsy Eyes - Blood Sweat and Tears 
10. A Rose For Emily - The Zombies 
11. Kites Are Fun - Free Design
12. Crayon Angels - Judee Sill 
13. Day Is Done - Nick Drake 
14. These Days - Nico 
15. Taking Tiger Mountain - Eno 
16. Paris 1919 - John Cale 
17. Wedding Day - Alejandro Escovedo 
18. Settler - Balmorhea 
19. North - Phoenix 
20. Afraid Of Anyone - The National 
21. The Gulag Orkestar - Beirut 
22. All Delighted People - Sufjan Stevens
23. Pedalo - The Heart Strings
24. River Bayou - The Beckies
25. Love Is in Motion - Stories
26. Walk Away, Renee - Left Banke

Heads up! The file is large, so it will take 10-20 minutes to download.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Betwixt and Between Mix

The Betwixt and Between Season Mix is named after an essay my father wrote when he was the editor of the Warrensburg Lake George News, which was antholigized in Carl Carmer's The Tavern Lights Are Burning. It described what my father called "the fifth season" in the Adirondacks, prior to the arrival of full winter, but after the pleasant foliage-filled days of early autumn. It's a time when the cold and wind and bleak gray skies encourage you to stay inside, when there is nothing to look forward to except another long hard Adirondack winter.
"This isn't October, it is well into November. The hope of an Indian sumer. which beguiles football fans and gay drivers of convertibles a couple of hundred miles to the south, isn't for us. That hope vanished from these parts with the last golden leaf of the aspen in our meadow. here, at this season, we count it a blessing if the day which was fine at noon hasn't turned wintry by dusk."
It's the time when loans get turned down, marriages fall apart, liquor tastes a little too good. (My father didn't say this, I did.)
Tha Playlist:
1. Turn Around  -  Whiskeytown
2. Cuttooth - Radiohead
3. Strange and Futureless - Mister Loveless
4. Floating in the Forth - Frightened Rabbit
5. The End of the World Is Bigger Than...  - Jens Lekman
6. Devil Town - Tony Lucca
7. If You Want It  - TV Girl
8. Something Happenin' Here - Jack Tennis
9. Fikisha (to help someone to arrive) - Roy Ayers
10. Keep On Searching - Kraak & Smaak
11. Skal vi Prove Naa - Lindstrom and Prins Thomas
12. Let Them - jj
13. Drift Away - Junkie XL
14. Up and Down - Chad Valley
15. Endless Rain - How to Dress Well
16. Song To The Siren - BRYAN FERRY
17. Fragile - Cassandra Wilson
18. Futile Devices - Sufjan Stevens
19. Milk Thistle - Conor Oberst

The Mix:
Betwixt and Between Mix

 (The Tavern Lights Are Burning is available from Google Books.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Tying Up Loose Ends

Rather than create a best of 2010 mix, I thought I would post three mixes I put together over the course of 2010 but which I never posted:
Serendipity Mix 

This is a mix that grew out of a very fertile period of listening to my Ipod on shuffle on the way to and from work each day. It's an edited, truncated added-to version of what I heard over the course of a few days last summer.
The Playlist:
1. Prelude  - Mayer Hawthorne
2. I Must Be In A Good Place Now- Bobby Charles
3. Train Song - Feist and Ben Gibbard
4. I'm On My Way - Yo La Tengo
5. We Are Blind and Riding the Merry Go Round - Alaska In Winter
6. Master Moon - On Fillmore
7. True Love Travels On A Gravel Road - Elvis Presley
8. Landvetter - Moonlit Sailor
9. Boiling Springs - Like Bells
10.Letters Home - CFCF
11. Full Moon (Appleblim & Komonazm Remix ) - The Black Ghosts
12. A Strange Arrangement - Mayer Hawthorne
13. Pacific State - 808 State
14. Summer Rain - Etro Anime
15. Didn't Want To Have To Do It - Roger Nichols & The Small Circle Of...
16. I Must Be In a Good Place Now - Vetiver

Serendipity Mix

Sara Song Mix 

This is a mix of songs that my wife and I found ourselves listening to while we cooked dinner.
The playlist:
1. Be Here Now - Ray LaMontagne
2. Oh, The Divorces!-Tracey Thorn
3. Slow Show - The National
4. Meridian - Shearwater
5. Our Life Is Not A Movie Or Maybe - Okkervil River
6. Chicago - Sufjan Stevens
7. All The Best - My Morning Jacket
8. Zebra - Beach House
9. Mouthful of Diamonds - Phantogram
10. My Girls - Animal Collective
11. Freeway - Aimee Mann
12. You Better Mind - Sam Amidon
13. Pretty White Clouds - Christian Kiefer
14. Wide Eyes - Local Natives
15. The Wild Hunt - The Tallest Man On Earth
16. Is There Any Way Out of This Dream? - Tom Waits & Crystal Gayle
17. Living  Life -  Eels

Sara Song Mix

McKennas Move to Maui Mix

This is a mix I created to celebrate Steve and Kate McKenna's move to Hawaii.
1. Back To The Island - Leon Russell
2. Hawaiian Island - The Sorcerer
3. Floating - Nobody & Mystic Chords Of Memory
4. Ene Alantchi Alnorem - Girma Hadgu
6. Harbor Lights - Boz Scaggs
7. The Boat - Yana Saraswa
8. Edge Of The Ocean - Ivy
9. Papa e - Te Vaka
10. Boats To Build - Guy Clark
11. To Live Is To Fly - Townes Van Zandt
12. Come From The Heart - Guy Clark
13. Never Ending Song of Love - Delaney & Bonnie & Friends
14. Waltz for a Little Bird - Rainstick Orchestra
16. Going Home [Theme of the Local H...  - Mark Knopfler etc
17. Somewhere Over The Rainbow/Wha...  - srael Kamakawiwo'ole

The McKennas Move to Maui Mix

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Out of the Blue Mix

Looking over the playlist for the Out of the Blue Mix, I see that it's very heavy on slightly off-the-wall '70's songs. I didn't mean for that to happen, although I'm not sorry it has.
A lot of good music was released in the 1970's, and even though I spent a good part of the decade working in records stores, I freely admit to ignoring much of it at the time. I was deeply involved in the New York punk/new wave/no wave scene, and I was drawn to a certain type of music - starting with the Velvets and the Stooges and the Dolls and extrapolating out from there. I wasn't nearly as narrow-minded as a lot of my friends - I did champion Abba and Steely Dan - but still, a lot of music fell through the cracks.
Thanks to Ipod Shuffle, I have been exposed - or re-exposed - to a lot of the music which I had ether dismissed or ignored previously.
I love the fact that, after all these years, I'm still finding music from 30 or 35 years ago that's capable of exciting me. Three examples of that stand out in this mix:
Everyone knows Steveie Wonder, everyone is probably sick of his most popular songs - Superstitious, Living for the City etc.  In the 70's he was one of the best selling artists in America. I saw him open for the Stones in 1972, and I appreciated him, but as he more more deeply into fusion, (and he won more and more Grammys) I lost interest. I came across "Journey to India" on the subway a few months ago and was surprised to hear him doing music that made me see him in a whole new light.
I was familiar with Wishbone Ash from listening to WBCN in Boston when I was in high school. I thought of them as a competent folk rock band slightly less interesting then the Richard Thompson/Ian Matthews  bands like Fairport Convention, Mathews Southern Comfort and Plainsong. But I heard "Time Was" recently and was blown away by the way the song moved from an early '70's folk pop gem into a vicious guitar face-off over a sly shuffle beat, and then back into a CSN/Bread soundalike.
Dust was a favorite of Creem Magazine. They were American heavy metal, and I think their drummer may have later played with the Ramones. I vaguely remember Chris Gray, the guitarist in Jack Ruby, playing their album, Hard Attack when it came out, but I don't remember anything about it.
"Thusly Spoken" kept coming up on my Ipod over the summer, and every time it did, I thought it was something that had been released in the last couple of years. Certain things (the lyrics!) betray the song's origins, but in many ways, it's much more modern than any of the accepted sacred texts that we've all been listening to for the last 30-40 years.
There are some other '70's things sprinkled in with the above mentioned gems - some disco some Krautrock, a song by Television, as well as some modern stuff that, in one way or another references the '70's. As I said, I didn't set out to build a mix around the '70's, but the experience has convinced me that there was a lot more going on than what we were listening to below 14th St at the time.

Here is the mix:
Out of the Blue Mix

Here is the playlist:
1. Music Of Life - Cerrone
2. Voyage To India - Stevie Wonder
3. Jolene (remix)
4. Move Me No Mountain - Love Unlimited
5. Don't Beat Around The Bush - The Salsoul Orchestra
6. Like Tears In Rain - The Bamboos
7. Things Get Better - Delaney and Bonnie
8. I'll Be There - Sun Kil Moon
9. Snake Charmer - CFCF
10. Castle In The Air - Eloy
11. Friction - Television
12. Time Was - Wishbone Ash
13.Thusly Spoken - Dust
14. Rattler's Hey - Belbury Poly
15. Sweet Love - The Commodores
16. Paris Nights/New York Mornings - Corinne Bailey Rae
17. Renegade - Kings Of Convenience

(Photo by Joseph Szkodzinski)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Soon to Be a Major Motion Picture

I've been making mixes for about three years now. Every once in awhile I go back and listen to an old one, and compare it to whatever I am currently working on, just to see if I can perceive any change in my mixing style and to see if, in any measurable way, my mixing skills had improved.
It's a little discouraging to note that I haven't seen any noticeable improvement, either in song choices or transistions or in segues, over the course of the three years. Which is not to say that I'm not happy with my mixes. it's just that I've always bought into the idea that one should always be growing, always be improving. But maybe that's bullshit. I'll have to think about that.
Anyway, even if I can't discern any growth in my mixing skills, there are no that I can't listen to, and I think I work equally hard on all of them.
However, every so often I make one that I really, really like. I would say it's mostly about song selection. Sometimes the songs I have chosen just sound, to my ears better than others.
I think "Soon to Be a Major Motion Picture," is one of my favorites, and one of the best I've done. From the opening notes of Marvin Gaye's acapella rendition of "Mercy, Mercy Me," to the closing notes of the same song,  every second of this mix is strong. It moves seamlessly from one genre to another, building in intensity but never flying out of control.

The Playlist:
1. Mercy Mercy Me - Marvin Gaye 
2. Wake Up Everybody - John Legend/The Roots
3. Round and Round - Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti
4. Aquarius (Let The Sun Shine In) - Celia Cruz - Celia Cruz
4. Lotta Love 6:49  Nicolette Larson (Remix)
5. Empty Room - Arcade Fire
6. Palm Road - Wolf Parade
7. Juveniles - The Walkmen
8. Living In America - Dom
9. Major Tom (Coming Home) - Shiny Toy Guns
10. Satellite of Love - Color Of Clouds
11. What Would I Want? Sky - Animal Collective
12. Renaissance Fair - The Byrds
13. Change of Time - Josh Ritter
14. A Town Called Obsolete - Andreya Triana
15. Ailleurs - Benoît Pioulard
16. Ghosts - Laura Marling
17. Circle - Swan Dive
18. Sink / Let it Sway - Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin
19. Sundown Syndrome - Tame Impala
20. My Hopes and Dreams - jj
21. In the Sun - Damon & Naomi
22. I'll Keep it With Mine - Dean & Britta
23. Dear God - The Roots & Monsters of Folk
24. Mercy Mercy Me - Marvin Gaye

The Mix:
Soon to Be a Major Motion Picture Mix

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Summer On the Lake

There are many ways to spend a summer vacation. As a kid, I spent several summers at a sleep away camp. There were a couple of years of daily Little League baseball. There was a trip to Nantucket. The memories from these summers are still really strong.
However, by far the most profound memories of summer for me have to do with the two summers my family spent in a ramshackle cottage on Lake Champlain, down a long dirt road off Route 9 near the town of Keeseville, NY, so hard to find that when my father wrote a piece about it for the New York Times Travel Section, readers who got lost accused him of making it up.
My mother, brother, two sisters and our babysitter Elsie Higgins moved up there from our home in Warrensburgin early July and stayed for two months, My father would come up on Thursday night and go back to Warrensburg on Monday morning.
We slept on a screened-in porch on stilts six feet off the sand of the beach that seemed to stretch off forever in either direction, falling asleep to the sound of moths banging against the screen mixed with the whisper of  waves lapping the sand.
Lake Champlain, which is famous for it's rocky unwelcoming shorelines and clifflike drop-offs, was incredibly calm and shallow here. I could walk out 50 or 75 yards on the soft sand and the water would barely come up tpo my thigh.
The house satt on the beach, the sand was our front lawn. Our nearest neighbor was a quarter mile away.
It seemed like the sun shone every day. At night I would fall asleep reading the swollen and sun-faded Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magzines someone had left there in summers past.
I remember thinking to myself that that time, that place was the best time and place I would ever experience.

The Playlist:
1. Live With The Seasons - Teenage Fanclub
2. Summerlong -  CFCF
3. Fourth Of July - Aimee Mann
4. After the Fireworks We Walked to the Rope Swing - Sumner Mckane
5. Wedding Day - Alejandro Escovedo
6. Gauzy Dress In The Sun - Richard Buckner
7. Popsicle Orange - The Sorcerer
8. Strawberries - Asobi Seksu
9. Blue Canoe - Blue Mountain
10. On A White Lake, Near A Green Mountain  - M83
11. Hidden Lakes - Shearwater
12. Tianchi Lake - The Mountain Goats
13. Endless Sunset - Delorean
14. Nightswimming -  R.E.M.
15. I Just Want to See You Underwater - Here We Go Magic
16. Moon River - Bill Frisell

Summer On the Lake Mix

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Tim Hardin

My first exposure to Tim Hardin came on my second weekend at Windham College in Putney, Vt, in the fall of 1971. I was a miserably lonely freshman with no friends and nothing much to do. A friend of mine, Michael, who worked for a sound system company that rented out PA's for concerts throughout New England, called me that Saturday and said he was doing a Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen show at Windham that night, and did I want to help him unload, set up and then hang out. Which, given my lack of friends and feelings of isolation, I was happy to do. (If for no other reason than that all the other students who seemed to have easily slipped into collegial familiarity with their dorm- and classmates would see me hanging out with rock stars and be very envious.)
Michael arrived in his rental truck full of PA equipment and we began to unload. He mentioned that Tim Hardin was opening the show. I was vaguely aware of Hardin as a New York folkie who had written "Reason the Believe," the flip side of "Maggie May," Rod Stewart's huge hit the year before, as well as Bobby Darin's comeback hit, "If I Were a Carpenter." (I guess I was a music geek even back then.)  But honestly I could just as easily have confused him with Tim Buckley, who probably had more FM cred at the time.
Commander Cody and his band and hangers-on arrived and immediately started partying. I had seen them a few years before at a People's Park benefit in Berkeley, CA, but I was moving away from  that 2nd generation Bay Area hippy music, and I was mainly interested in them because there were a couple of very pretty, long haired, long dress-wearing hippy chicks floating around blowing bubbles and smiling beatifically. (Cody himself was an overweight, mustached man who didn't say much and didn't dance very well)
Sometime after Cody and his band arrived, while Michael and I were pushing speakers around and uncoiling cable, a slight, shaggy-haired, slope-shouldered guy slipped through the back door, carrying a guitar case and a small Fender amp.  He didn't speak to anyone, just walked by us, and then up the stairs to the performer's dressing area in a roped off section of the student union. I figured that was Hardin, but he didn't make that much of an impression. I went back to plugging in powers cords.
Later, after we had finished, Michael and went upstairs to the dressing room area. Commander Cody and his whole entourage were at the far side of the room, laughing and partying. Hardin, clearly separating himself from everyone else,  sat in a folding chair near the stairs, leaning over his Gibson SG, which was plugged into his Fender Vibrachamp amp, softly strumming chords, not looking at anyone, not saying anything, obviously feeling dark and miserable.
That image of him has been frozen in my mind ever since, if only because, wallowing in my own loneliness-induced depression, I believed I understood perfectly how he was feeling.  I  wish I had spoken to Hardin at the time, but I didn't. Way too shy, and frankly, his obvious misery was so palpable it created a negative force field around him that screamed, "Stay away!"
I don't remember his performance at all, but I've held onto the picture of the sad, pinched face rock star hunched over his Gibson SG ever since.  He seemed to me to be the epitome of the haunted, tortured artist, and I'm sure I subconsciously adapted a bit of that into my own attempt at creating an artistic persona in the years that followed.
Given my fascination with what I observed about Hardin that night, I'm not sure why I didn't listen to his music. It probably had something to do with my dislike of anything that smacked of the singer-songwriter. I was angry that James Taylor and Carole King and Cat Stevens were riding high, and I took great pleasure in skewering them any chance I got. I was into the Allman Brothers and the J Geils Band, and headed rapidly towards Lou Reed and the Stooges and Alice Cooper.
So while that snapshot of Tim Hardin the artist stayed with me, his music remained unknown. And I went my way, eventually dropping out of Windham and making my way to NYC to become part of the '70's punk movement. Hardin remained a touchstone, but only for what he represented.
It was no surprise to me when I read, some years later, that Hardin had died of a heroin overdose. I was saddened to hear the news, especially since I had already taken a few steps down that slippery slope, but not surprised.
Fast forward more than 15 years, and I read an admiring review of a Tim Hardin greatest hits package. The critic pointed out that Hardin had written some of the greatest songs of the previous 25 years.: "Reason the Believe," "If I Were a Carpenter," "Lady Came from Baltimore," "Red Balloon," "Black Sheep Boy," "How Can We Hang On to a Dream?"
I bought the compilation and  quickly realized that Hardin was indeed a brilliant songwriter. (Not to mention a moving, expressive singer.) Listening to his songs unroll, one classic after another, led me to the conclusion that Hardin deserved  a place in what Stephen Holden and others call the Great American Songbook, along with songwriters like Gershwin, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin and Jerome Kern.
A few years ago, one of my favorite American indie bands, Okkervil River, released an album called Black Sheep Boy, which opened with a very short version of that brilliant Hardin song. This only reaffirmed Hardin's current relevance. The song fit perfectly with Okkervil River's post modernist take on family, love and (un)happiness.
In many ways, Hardin is America's Nick Drake, without the sympathetic fan-based hype. Both Hardin and Drake were intensely shy, intensely private, intensely (I think) unhappy men, whose outlet for their misery was their songwriting. Drake's imagery was more poetic and mythic, while Hardin's writing reflected his love of American blues and Southern folk songs. But ultimately, the power of the music is the same.
My image of Hardin, going back to that Saturday night in 1971 remains, still clear and still tragic, but it's now buttressed by the evidence of his songs, painful and beautiful in their stark honesty.
I highly recommend any one of the several compilations of Hardin's music. Rather than posting any of his songs here, I put together a mix of covers. I've always felt that you can tell a lot about the quality of a song by the nature of the different versions that have been recorded. In this case, the covers run the gamut, from the Carpenters to Okkervil River. It upsets me a little that most of the covers date back to the 60's and '70s. Still that doesn't detract from their power to shine a light on the genius in the songs themselves.
The Mix:
Tim Hardin Cover Mix

The Playlist
1. Hang On to a Dream  - The Nice
2. Black Sheep Boy - Okkervil River
3. If I Were A Carpenter - Bobby Darin
4. Reason to Believe - Carpenters
5. You Upset the Grace of Living Whe...  - Heidi Berry
6. The Lady Came from Baltimore - Scott Walker & Reg Guest
7. How Did the Feeling Feel to You - Karen Dalton
8. Don't Make Promises - Beau Brummels
9. You Got A Reputation - The Byrds
10. Reason To Believe - The Dillards
11. If I Were a Carpenter - The Four Tops
12. Black Sheep Boy - Scott Walker & Reg Guest
13. Red Balloon - Small Faces
14. Misty Roses - Colin Blunstone

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

'70's Mix

I rediscovered this mix of '70's music I put together a few years ago, and I enjoyed it so much I decided to repost it.
No playlist, just music.
(The opening track is actually from 1981, byut it's so similar to the artist's '70's music I chose to pretend it was released a few years earlier than it actually was.)
'70's Mix

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Now That's What I Call Softcore!

My passion for what I call Softcore - West Coast soft rock and dance music spanning the '60's, '70's, '80's, '90, and '00's,  has been revitalized, not sure why. It's not like it ever left, but it was definitely dormant.
Anyway, here is a mix of new and old Softcore, inspired by John Sebastian's  "Theme from 'Welcome Back, Kotter'." Jim Lewis, a friend of mine who lives in Austin, Texas, recently produced an album by the great singer-songwriter Michael Fracasso. When he emailed me some songs from the album, he mentioned that one of the songs (my favorite, as it happens) was written in 10 minutes, in the studio, while waiting to begin recording. That reminded me that Sebastian said, after "Welcome Back" had become a huge hit, that it had taken him less than an hour to compose.
Honestly, "Welcome Back," doesn't hold up that well. Maybe I've heard it too often. However, it's a bonafide member of the Softcore Hall of Fame, and deserves to be a part of the mix.
More interesting to me are Paul Westerberg's "Dyslexic Heart," Looking Glass's "Jimmy Loves Mary-Anne," (the far-superior follow-up to their hit, "Brandy,") and Monsterbuck's "Felicity."
The playlist:
1. "Lalena"  Donovan
2. "Stand Tall"  Burton Cummings
3. "Felicity"  Monsterbuck
4. "Come On Get Higher"  Matt Nathanson
5. "Make You Mine" Breakbot
6. "Out In The Country" Paul Williams
7. "Sundown, Sundown" Calexico Feat. Valerie Leulliot
8. "Welcome Back" John Sebastian
9. "Southbound" Lake Heartbeat
10. "You Take My Troubles Away" Rachael Yamagata & Dan Wilson
11. "Wolves"Josh Ritter
12. "Jimmy Loves Mary-Anne" Looking Glass
13. "Temptation Eyes" The Grassroots
14. "Dyslexic Heart" Paul Westerberg
15. "Lucy"Julian Lennon & James Scott Cook
17. "The Senile Rings" Alsace Lorraine
18. "Flying On The Ground Is Wrong" Buffalo Springfield
19. "Blue Moon"  Big Star

The Mix
Now That's What I call Softcore!

Friday, March 26, 2010

End of Winter Mix

Just in time for Spring (actually a little late), here's a Winter Mix, based on the great Stone' song, "Winter," from the under-appreciated Goats Head Soup.

Winter Goats Head Soup The Rolling Stones
A Week Without Sunlight  So Close To Life Moonlit Sailor
Dragon  The Amazing The Amazing
Silent snow   London Town The Magic Theatre
Sleeping In Our Clothes   Hold This Ghost Musée Mécanique
Angel Echoes  There Is Love in You Four Tet
Run Out  Seek Magic Memory Tapes
Into The Light  no 3 jj
Take Me Higher   CQ  OST Mellow Feat. Alison David
Lewis Takes Action   Heartland Owen Pallett
Our Lips Are Sealed   Fun Boy Three Fun Boy Three
Have You Never Been Mellow   Back To Basics (The Essential) Olivia Newton John
Home Life   Rook Shearwater
Les Furies   Shape of the Shape Starless & Bible Black
Sure been a cold cold winter: Winter 2010 Mix

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Alex Chilton

My memory tells me that I first heard about Big Star in a review of #1 Record by Ellen Willis in the New Yorker. But after Alex Chilton's death last week, I went online and accessed the New Yorker's archives, and I didn't find any record of that review.
In any case, I remember very clearly buying the album at a record store in Kenmore Square on a visit to Boston in the winter of 1972.
I also remember being instantly hit over the head with the album's obvious brilliance. Songs like "Ballad of El Goodo," "13," "When My Baby's Beside Me," just knocked me out. Which was interesting because I was in the throes of falling in love with the Stooges, Lou Reed and the Velvets (I had a pre-release copy of Transformer which I played incessantly, even though the sound quality was horrendous) and Alice Cooper. I had moved out of my hippy phase and was beginning my obsession with the music and literature and movies that would lead me to start a band and move to New York a year or two later. (On a more destructive - but also more simply illustrative level - I was moving from psychedelics to heroin.)
I had never been a Beatles fan, in fact, I was pretty much a Beatle hater, a chooser of the Stones in the Stones - Beatles debate which, charmingly, still raged at that time. And the primary reference for Big Star was definitely the Beatles. They were by far the best power pop band I have ever heard. Not the first - that was probably the Raspberries, but Chilton's root in 60's garage rock and more importantly, Memphis soul music, gave the band a third dimension that most Beatle/Byrds style bands could never approach. (Not to mention the fact that neither Chris Bell and Chilton were mainstream enough to ever be easily identifiable in terms of one band or one genre.).
Flash forward a couple of years and Chris Gray, the guitar player who moved to NYC with me, and I are deep into the creation of Jack Ruby, our "punk" band. Our most obvious roots were the Stooges the Velvets, Black Sabbath and conceptually, Ornette Coleman and Philip Glass. And while neither of us would ever write a song a la anything on #1 Record, we were both fans of fractured pop music. We (along with George Scott, who would join the band in its second generation, after original members Randy Cohen and Boris Policeband left) were lovers of AM radio, 45 RPM singles, jukeboxes and one hit wonders. We all recognized that Big Star  (and for us, that meant Alex Chilton - I have since come to see that not only Chris Bell, but Jody Stephens, Andy Humell and evern Ardent Records' founder John Fry, had a lot to do with the sound that came to define Big Star) was a vitally important band that spoke to us in the same way as our more obvious influences. Chris and I saw Big Star at their (I believe) only NYC gig, in the winter of 1973-1974, at a half empty Max's Kansas City. Bell had left the band, and neither Chilton nor his rhythm section seemed particularly into the gig. My central memory of the night was that Max's was extremely cold. But I also remember that they played most of the songs I loved from #1 Record. And we knew that even phoned-in gig by Big Star was something to be treasured and remembered.
During that same time period, Chris and I wrote a song called "Neon Rimbaud," an obvious reference to punk rock's (in other words, Patti Smith's) favorite poet. The lyric reflected my obsessions with Nietzsche, Camus and pop culture, and, musically, was tumbling, bar chord extravaganza that referenced Hawkwind and Black Sabbath as well as the Velvet Underground. For us, what made the song interesting was that we turned it into a medley with a very punk rock, amelodic version of the Chilton's Box Tops' "Neon Rainbow," There was no way I could come close to singing as well as Chilton did, and Chris had no interest in playing chiming guitar parts, but we could express our admiration for Chilton and his cohorts indirectly.
Unfortunately the song never got recorded, so there is no way anyone will hear it, which is too bad, because it was one of Jack Ruby's best songs. However this discussion  does give me a chance to reprint some of my lyrics:
Yesterday, or maybe was the day before
My mother died, but I don't care no more
Nietzsche couldn't 've said it better
Soon to be a major motion picture
Which I don't wanna see
and then... Neon Rainbow:
"But in the daytime
Everthing chnages
Nothing remains the same
People will close the door til the night time comes...."

There was no question that the Chilton/Big Stars influence was felt strongly in the '70's in the middle of New York's punk rock explosion. I remember working at Bleecker Bob's in 1977, and all the whispering that went on when a jaundiced, grimy but obviously beautiful blond walked in. ("Chilton's girl friend, Chilton's girlfriend," mumbled as only a bunch of punk rock record store dweebs could mumble.) The sneers we normally wore were replaced with looks of awe. Chilton himself was a rarely glimpsed rumored NYC resident, already - this was before the release of Big Star 3 - a legend. We knew his girlfriend was as close as we were going to get.
Truthfully, I never liked much of Chilton's post-Big Star output. I got what he was doing, I think, but I found the songs to be either incredibly sloppy, unformed, or just not very good.
However, Chilton never lost that rock and roll attitude, even when he was denying the power of the reality of that attitude. He didn't define the punk or post punk or indie rock that copied his music, but in so many ways he was the archetype. It is such a cliche to say they don't make them like that any more, but in this case I think it's true. And it's a shame.

Big Star - When My Baby's Beside Me

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sunday Morning Brunch Mix

Here's a mix for a beautiful Spring Sunday morning. Not too NPR-ish I hope. No playlist, you'll have to trust me.
Sunday Morning Brunch Mix

Friday, March 05, 2010

Slow Dance

One of my music-related hobbies is inventing names for genres of music that either have no name or whose name leaves me cold.
A couple of years ago I coined the term "softcore" to signify the modern version of '70's soft rock (or yacht rock or Pacifica, as it has been variously referred to).
I would be lying if I didn't admit to hoping that my genre names would catch on, and Pitchfork and Hype Machine and Stereogum would introduce bands with my genre name as a descriptor.
Well, it didn't happen with Softcore, which is a shame, because it's the perfect name for a genre that clearly needs an identity.
But I have moved on, and so I am pleased to introduce a new genre - Slow Dance - to you. Slow dance is what used to be referred to as Chill - dance music for the end of the night (or early or late morning, depending on your drug of choice). Slow Dance, however,  is more all-encompassing, since it includes older music, as well as music outside the boundaries of what would be called dance music (i.e. Robert Wyatt's "Shipbuilding" by the Orchestre National de Jazz).
I just created a new mix that fit this name, full of old and new music that make you groove but sure enough keep it smooth.

The playlist:
1. Shipbuilding - Orchestre National de Jazz Around Robert Wyatt
2. Will - No. 9
3. You've Got the Love (xx Remix) - Florence and the Machine
4. Close to Forever - Hatchback Colors of the Sun
5. The Contemporary Fix (Bjorn Torske Remix) - Lindstrom
6. The Adventures of Pippi Longstrom (Diamond Cut Remix) - Fear of Tigers
7. Green Eyed Love (Classixx Remix) - Mayer Hawthorne
8. Full Moon (Applblim and Komonazuk Remix) - The Black Ghosts Dubstep (Remixes)
9. Norway - Beach House Teen Dream
10. Feel It All Around - Washed Out Life of Leisure
11. Distort Yourself - Sorcerer Neon Leon
12. I Regret the Flower Power - Quiet Village Black Sunshine
13. Never Ending Romance Disaster - Anoraak Nightdrive With You
14. En Hand I Himlen (Sound of Arrows Remix) - Jonathan Johansson En Hand I Himlen
15. Swayin' to the Music (Slow Dancing) - Johnny Rivers Anthology 1964-1977

The Mix:
Slow Dance Mix

Monday, October 26, 2009

New Mix

One Sunday afternoon late this past summer, my wife, Sara and I were driving down a lightly-populated country road that on one side was separated from the Long Island Sound by a thin barrier of marsh grass and bordered on the other by modest summer homes. As we rounded a curve, we passed two young women walking against the traffic, both holding small, terrier-like dogs. Glimpsed quickly as our car passed, the women, wearing high heels, short dresses and full make up, seemd oddly out of place.
"Trashy girls and their trashy dogs," my wife said, and then we were past them, and we continued our discussion of school clothes and babysitters and whether Walker was old enought to see "Where the Wild Things Are."
The playlist:
1. Helium Dreams - Manuel Da Costa (The Ghost of Summer Last)
2. VCR - The xx (xx)
3. Tessio (Butch Sunrise Mix) - Luomo (Tessio (Remixes))
4. Yummy, Yummy, Yummy - Julie London (Yummy, Yummy, Yummy)
5. Never Forget You - The Noisettes (Wild Young Hearts)
6. Bang - The Raveonettes (In and Out of Control)
7. Say When - Lene Lovich (Stateless)
8. Agneta - Villa
9. Out of the Box (Ulrich Schnauss Remix) - Chilled by Nature (Musical Box EP)
10. Chrystal Visions - The Big Pink (A Brief History of Love)
11. Rainwater Cassette Exchange - Deerhunter (Rainwater Cassette Exchange)
12. Dreams Come True Girl - Cass McCombs (Catacombs)
13. Kaufman's Ballad - Megafaun (Gather, Form & Fly)
14. The End of Things - Bachelorette (The End of Things)
15. Tessio (Acapella) - Luomo (Tessio (Remixes))

The Mix:
Trashy Girls and Their Trashy Dogs Mix

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Mister Loveless Update

Periodically, my nephew, Rob Miller, sends me an update on Mister Loveless, the up-and-coming Bay Area band he fronts. His emails are always interesting since they provide a great deal of incite into the rewards and frustrations of trying to find your way in a popular music environment in which the rules are either disappearing or being rewritten every day.

Dear Robby
How’s it going? How’s the family? I apologize for not writing sooner. It’s been rather chaotic here in Loveless country. Which, for the most part, is a good thing.
We just returned from a brief trip down South where we played two shows in Los Angeles and one in San Diego. Though we are truly in love with San Francisco, Los Angeles has an unbelievable power over us. It’s never predictable, always vibrant and strange, and for reasons unbeknownst to me, packed with great bands. It makes us question everything to such an extent that we even toy with the idea of relocating there. However, I believe most of it’s allure comes from the fact that we don’t actually live in LA. Which leads me to believe all four of us have some sort of condition that can only obtained through touring. Like a “touring bug” or something.

Every time we go on the road we fantasize about a life where that is all we do, travel from place to place playing shows, meeting different people and sleeping on their floor. No shitty job to come back home to, no real problems. Touring enables you to live life one day at a time. Your daily objectives are reduced to simply making sure you get to the venue on time, turn some heads at the bar, and make enough money to get a meal afterward. What’s great about Mister Loveless is is all four of us want to tour…

As you may have heard, earlier this summer, we parted ways with our drummer. We couldn't be happier with who has joined the band. Our good friend, Nick Clark is now the drummer of Mister Loveless and has been exactly what the group has always needed - a pocket drummer.

Pocket drumming is a playing style that consists of a simple, solid beat that lacks the flair of flamboyant fills. A drummer sets a groove so deep that he/she never lets the tempo waver (I took that from Wikipedia). Old songs have never sounded so tight and the new ones we are writing with Nick are incredibly rhythmic and dynamic. Nick has a very disciplined style, which I attribute to his father being both the drummer that inspired him to play as well as a police officer. Yet, at the same time, he has the ability to break away from convention and add enough flair to a drum pattern that it sounds interesting and bombastic without the obnoxious overuse of cymbals and fills.

After taking a break from recording our upcoming EP, Three Words to get Nick comfortable with all the material and playing live, we are ready to resume the project. On October 17th we will head back into Different Fur Studios in San Francisco to re-track material in addition to recording the new material we’ve written with Nick. We are extremely excited about this, as we are both very proud of the new material and are anxious to introduce people to Nick.

In addition to working on Three Words, we are developing a set specifically for our next show at San Francisco’s Bottom of the Hill on Saturday, November 7th. This is our first time headlining a Saturday night at Bottom of the Hill and we couldn’t be happier. We intend to bring back some old songs, debut some new ones, play all the hits, and a cover that I MUST keep a surprise.

Before, I go, here is a live recording of “The Old Pain”, a song we’ve reworked a lot since it’s inception that will be the opening track of the Three Words EP once we finish the studio version.

Give the family my best!


From L to R: Nick Clark (drums) Charlie Koliha (bass guitar) Rob Miller (vocals, guitars) Sean Gaffney (guitars)

Attached is an .mp3 of a live recording of a song called "The Old Pain"
We are recording the studio version in a few weeks that will be the opening track of our next EP, Three Words

The Old Pain (Live) - Mister Loveless

(Drummer on this version of "The Old Pain" is Rachel Travers)

Check out Mister Loveless on Myspace

Sunday, September 20, 2009

September Mix

Here's a mix of songs I've been listening to lately. It includes everything from Liquid Liquid's "Cavern," from 1983, to "Headphone Space," off of A Sunny Day in Glasgow's newest album. Of particular interest is Connie Converse's "One by One." I posted a link to an NPR piece by Converse on the Be Hear Be Now Facebook fan sight. It's a fascinating story, and a haunting, unforgettable song.
The playlist:
1. Fire Truck - Conner Hall
2. Cavern - Liquid Liquid (Optimo)
3. Music for Gong Gong - Osibisa (Very Best of)
4. Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey - Paul McCartney (Ram)
5. I Wonder Who We Are - Clientele (Bonfires on the Hearth)
6. Gothenberg Belongs to Me - Air France (Love Affair in Three Parts)
7. Headphone Space - A Sunny Day In Glasgow (Ashes Grammar)
8. Higher Than the Stars - The Pains of Being Pure At Heart (Higher Than the Stars EP)
9. Long Live the Fallen World - Young Galaxy (Invisible Republic)
10. Cloudbusting - Kate Bush (Hounds of Love)
11. To Lose Someone - Taken By Trees (East of Eden)
12. Can We Stay - The Woodlands (s/t)
13. 3 Chord Song - The Black Swans (Change!)
14. Melba - Lalo Schifrin (The Reel Lalo Schifrin)
15. One by One - Connie Converse (How Sad, How Lonely)

September Mix

PS Find out more about Connie Converse here:

Friday, September 04, 2009

Namaste Motherfucker (Mix)

"Namaste" is a Hindu greeting that means, "The divinity in me bows to the divinity in you." Accompanied by a slight bow, with the hands pressed together at the heart or forehead, it can be used to say either hello or goodbye. It is a word that communicates both respect and an acknowledgement of our shared humanity/divinity.
"Namaste Motherfucker" is either the catch phrase of a Mumbai version of Harry Callahan ("Make my day.") or Tony Montana ("Say hello to my little friend."), or the way one greets one's yoga instructor in a New York City yoga class. I'm not sure which definition this mix refers to.
The mix itself has a slight - very slight - yoga feel to it. When I lived in Los Angeles, I taught yoga, and I would carefully prepare a new mix for each class. Each mix would start off slowly, to reflect the warm-up poses I would teach at the beginning of the class, get more rhythmic and louder to coincide with the sun salutations, and then slow down and mellow out as the class wound down, ending with something meditative for savasana. This mix doesn't really do that, but you are welcome to practice yoga to it. Just as you are welcome to kick down a door, with either good or evil intent, and shout, "Namaste Motherfucker," at the top of your lungs.
The playlist:
1. Amarantha Gange - Nina Hagen (Om Namah Shivaya)
2. La Guerre de Sept Ans - Benoit Pioulard (Precis)
3. You Go Ahead (Trumpet Trumpet II) - Sunset Rubdown (Dragonslayer)
4. Mega Secrets - Family Portraits (Underwater Peoples Compilation)
5. Revenge (featuring Wayne Coyne) - Sparklehorse (Dark Night of the Soul)
6. Walkabout (featuring Panda Bear) - Atlas Sound (Logos)
7. Big Blonde - Aidan Moffat and the Best Ofs (How to Get to Heaven from Scotland)
8. To Kingdon Come - Passion Pit (Manners)
9. Soft Houses - 13 Ghosts (The Strangest Colored Lights)
10. Njósnavélin - Sigur Ros ( () )
11. No Stars - Alsace Lorraine (Dark One)
12. I Am Leaving - Blue Roses (s/t)
13. Govinda '97 - Kula Shaker (Summer Fun EP)
14. Om Shanti Om - Shahrukh Khan, Arjun Rampal, Deepika Padukone & Shreyas Talpade (Om Shanti Om)

The Mix:
Namaste Motherfucker

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Stuff that Works

The older I get, the more I appreciate stuff that doesn't break or wear out. Maybe because, as I get older, I'm increasingly faced with the fear that I may break down or wear out (it's called fear of dying), and I don't want to believe it.
Back in the'60's and '70's, there was a lot of talk about planned obsolescence, the idea that products were deliberately designed to wear out quickly, since, if a product lasted forever, there would be no need to buy another one, and corporate America would suffer. I suspect the reason the concept is no longer a hot topic is that it has become so ingrained in our psyches. We take it for granted that stuff is going to have to be replaced every couple of years, or that (as in the case of my Apple computer and every cel phone on the planet) that's what the manufacturer has planned.
I would like to pinpoint three (actually four, since the oldest product I'm going to mention is a pair) products that have, in my opinion lasted well past the point when I would have expected them to give up the ghost.

The first is my Bianchi Cafe Racer, a handsome, beautifully designed riding-around bike I bought on the recommendation of my brother-in-law, Colin Powers, a one-time bike builder and an expert on all things outdoorsy. I bought the bike in 2000. Now that doesn't seem that long ago, but I have treated it so badly that in my opinion it's at least 20 years old in bike years.
I bought the bike when I lived in los Angeles (I should mention that my wife bought the same bike in green at the same time), and kept it tuned and protected, until I moved back to New York in 2002. At that point I brought the bike to my father-in-law's house in the country, since there was no way to store it in our tiny Brooklyn Heights apartment, and deposited it in his doorless, geodisic dome-shaped shed where it has lived ever since.
Every spring I bring it out, pump up the tires, oil the chain, and wipe the dust off the seat and handlebars. I ride it three or four times to the beach over the course of the summer, and then I put it back in the shed, where it sits all winter, collecting dust and suffering through the snow and rain.
What makes me appreciate this bike is the fact that, for all my lack of care, it still works as well as it did when I picked it up from the bike shop 20 (bike) years ago. The salt and sun and dust have caused the beautiful black and red paint job to fade a bit, but the machinery still functions perfectly. The gears shift as effortlessly as ever, the brakes still allow me to stop on a dime, the ride is still as smooth as that of a 1965 Cadillac.

In 1997, I purchased a Braun coffee grinder from a department store in one of the malls that surrounds central Austin. It was a no-frills grinder, cost under $30. It did nothing except grind the coffee. No clock or timer, no measuring tool, just a couple of blades inside a plastic cylinder.
12 years later, I still use that grinder every morning. I have tried to find an excuse to get rid of it, to get something fancier, but I cannot. This grinder does what it's supposed to, faithfully, efficiently, reliably. There is, much to my chagrin, absolutely no reason to replace it.
I'm sure that there was a time when people expected their utensils to last this long. I know my mother had pots and pans and kitchen utensils that belonged to her mother. But I continue to be amazed that an electrical appliance, something that plugs in, and that I have used almost every day for over 12 years, continues to work as well as it did the day I brought it home.

Finally, there are these socks. What can you say about socks? Nothing. You put them on in the morning, you take them off and throw them in the laundry at night. Who notices them? Especially when they're black or navy blue. They're just socks. But these socks... I bought these socks at Brooks Brother in 1984 or 1985. That's 25 years ago! And they still work! They still fit! No holes, no dead elastic. Whatever happens to socks to make them wear out hasn't happened to them. God bless these socks, God bless Brooks Brothers.
And God bless me.

Stuff That Works - Guy Clark

Monday, August 17, 2009

Old and Revisited: The A. Bear Mix

I was inspired to create this mix when a Facebook friend mentioned he was listening to Coney Island Baby, an album which, at one time, I considered Lou Reed's best, but which I hadn't listened to in probably 15 years. I rebought it on Itunes and happily rediscovered all the things I loved about it back in 1975 - the exquisite pop melodies disguising the fact that Lou was singing about the things he always sang about - drugs, weird sex, street violence, football (!) misery. Airy arrangements anchored by Lou's almost-but-never-quite atonal vocals. The fact that it was the anti-Berlin and anti Rock & Roll Animal, and would soon be followed by the anti-Coney Island Baby, Metal Machine Music, insuring that anyone who had not yet been alienated by his creative twists and turns soon would be.
That led me to reconsider other artists and albums I hadn't thought about or listened to for awhile - everyone from the Stones and Queen and Steely Dan to more obscure bands like the Individuals, one of the more underrated of the New York post punk bands and - my current fave - Savage Rose, a Danish band fronted by the beautiful Anisette (pictured above).
Out of all that considering and reconsidering, I bring you this mix.
The playlist:
1. Crazy Feeling - Lou Reed (Coney Island Baby)
2. Jackie Said So - The Individuals (Fields/Aquamarine)
3. Revival Day - Savage Rose (Refugee)
4. Shine a Light - The Rolling Stones (Exile on Main Street)
5. Ain't That a Shame - Brian James (s/t)
6. Poptones - Public Image Ltd. (Metal Box)
7. Silver Machine - Hawkwind (In Search of Space)
8. Liar - Queen (s/t)
9. Help Me Lord - White Witch (s/t)
10. Lady Day and John Coltrane - Gil Scott-Heron (Pieces of a Man)
11. Aja - Steely Dan (Aja)

The Mix:
Old and Revisited: The A. Bear Mix

PS: There will a prize - I'm not sure what - for the first person who correctly identifies the origin of the A. Bear reference.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Disco Pinata Mix

Here is an interesting mix of dance-oriented songs, some old, some recent, all pretty chill, although Salsoul Orchestra kicks it up a notch with their '70's hit, "Tangerine." (One note: "Sueno Latino," from 1989, is actually a disco-ized version of Manuel Gottsching's classic 1984 electronic music composition, E2-E4, which is very definitely worth checking out.)
The list:
1. Crystal Neon - Windsurf (Coastlines)
2. Sueno Latino (Paradise Version) - Sueno Latino (Mastercuts Classic Balearic Volume 1)
3. Say Yeah - Kraak and Smack (Boogie Angst)
4. Tangerine - Salsoul Orchestra (Salsoul Orchestra Anthology)
5. Paris (Aeroplane Remix featuring Au Revoir Simone) - Friendly Fire (Paris Single)
6. No Matter Which Way - Nite Club (My Tronic)
7. Ene Alantchi Alnorem - Girma Hadgu (Ethiopiques 4)
8. Reunited - Bob James (The Essential Collection: 24 Smooth Jazz Classics)
9. Welcome to Fermilab - Kate Simko (Music from the Atom Smasher)
10. Cello Song - The Books and Jose Gonzalez (Dark Was the Night)

The Mix:
Disco Pinata Mix

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Three Songs

Posted below are three songs from the early '70's that each, in their own way, defied expectations. The three songs were released by groups that any music listener at the time would have dismissed as crass, commercial, bubblegum, middle of the road, mainstream and at best, trivial.
At least one of the groups - the Carpenters - has undergone a rightly-deserved critical evaluation and are now recognized not only for the artistry and beauty of Karen Carpenter's voice, but for the brilliance of the arrangements and the high quality of the song writing.
Paul Revere and the Raiders were actually a very good Northwest garage band who had the dubious good fortune to be signed by Columbia Records with the intention of making them the American Beatles. Hype and silly costumes prevented them from ever being taken as seriously as they deserved, even though their early hits included such legitimate classics as "Kicks," "Hungry" and "Just Like Me."

As for the Osmonds...uh, yeah. At least on "Crazy Horses," (written by Alan Osmond) they demonstrated a surprising willingness to experiment. And even though though the song bears an uncomfortable resemblance to Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song," there are enough interesting things going on -- synth parts, screeching guitars, no Donny vocal - to make the song a truly unexpected pleasure.

"Goodbye to Love," from the Carpenters' 1972 album A Song For You is in many ways a classic Carpenters song, in that the melody is instantly memorable and accessible without sounding like anything else you have ever heard. However, what distinguishes the song is the guitar solo by studio musician/engineer Tony Peluso, thick with fuzz and adolescent aggression, yet simultaneously so clean as to instantly identify it as a product of the LA studio system.
There is a hint of the solo after the second chorus, then it disappears, only to reappear in the long choral coda as the song ends. I have always felt it was a kick ass solo and I thought it took balls for the Carpenters to feature it so prominently on one of their ballads.

I first heard "Powder Blue Mercedes Queen" coming out of my car radio in Albany, NY in the summer of 1972, which was entirely appropriate, since it's one of the best driving songs I've ever heard. It's pop, but bordering on rock, more Crabby Appleton or Jo Jo Gunne than Raspberries or Big Star. Which makes sense, since the Raiders were at heart a punk band, not a pop band. I've always thought the lyrics were a little corny, but the distorted power chords and Plant/Stewart vocal moves totally make up for that.

Crazy Horses - The Osmonds
Goodbye to Love - The Carpenters
Powder Blue Mercedes Queen - Paul Revere and the Raiders

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Person Of Interest Mix: Best Mix Ever!

Some art forms seem to lend themselves to self promotion more than others. For instance, fashion designers and chefs never seem to have a problem trumpeting their amazing creative triumphs. Have you ever heard an interview with a fashion designer that didn't include rapturous descriptions by the designer of his/her own designs? Same goes for chefs. How often have you heard a chef describe in great detail exactly how original beautiful and delicious each dish he/she created is?
On the other hand, writers and musicians (and film makers, visual artists, dancers, opera singers, sculptors, photographers and journalists, for that matter) tend to be more modest in their claims. If anything they tend to downplay their own brilliance, implicitly asking the audience to judge the work.
I'm not sure why this is. I know that in my own experience, there was never a time that I bragged about any of my musical or written creations. I may have felt that like bragging, but I would never have actually done it. (And quite often I'm not even sure I felt like bragging, because honestly I wasn't sure how good some of my things actually were.)
However, since I began making and posting mixes, that has changed. I am no longer the withdrawn, modest guy who has nothing much to say. With each mix I have become more and more certain of it's excellence and more willing to announce the fact of that excellence.
In fact, at this point, I would say I have become an egomaniacal blowhard.
Which brings us to my latest mix, A Person of Interest Mix. I am convinced that THIS IS THE BEST MIX I HAVE EVER CREATED! It's probably the best mix ever made. It's Awesome. It's Stupendous. I know because I have listened to it a thousand times an I'm still not sick of it. In fact, I love it more now than the first time I played it. If you don't download this and listen to it immediately you are cheating yourself and you'll regret it for the rest of your life.
The Playlist:
1. Threnoodie - Ochre (Death of an Aura)
2. Pric - Super Furry Animals (Dark Days/Light Years)
3. On - Delays (Faded Seaside Glamor)
4. Stillness Is the Move - Dirty Projectors (Bitte Orca)
5. Love Love Love (Soft Rock Remix) - Low Motion Disco (Love Love Love)
6. Diamonds On Fire (Pyramid Dub Version by Sorcerer) - The Rubies (Diamonds On Fire EP)
7. Southern Point - Grizzly Bear (Veckatimist)
8. It's Great - Greater California (All the Colors)
9. Gentle Hours - Yo La Tengo (Dark Was the Night)

The Mix:
Person of Interest Mix