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

Saturday, June 27, 2009

New and Extended 2009 Mix

For a while now, I have found myself appreciating longer songs more and more. This is news only in that, as a member of the '70's punk rock and post punk generation, long songs were anathema. They were part of what we were rebelling against. Long songs meant Yes and ELP and the Grateful fucking Dead. Short songs (aka singles) were where it was at. And, except for a few exceptions over the years (like Public Image Ltd, Metal Box), I have pretty much stayed true to that thinking. But in the last few years, I've discovered many longer (five or more minutes) songs that I've enjoyed immensely, even after repeated listenings.
Most of them come from, directly or indirectly, some genre of dance music, particularly from those composers and musicians who have been using dance music as a jumping off point to explore more conceptually adventurous ideas.
I have a couple of theories about why I find myself drawn more and more to longer compositions:
One of the reasons may be that, as more and more musicians themselves abandon the same prejudices I had, and have become more interested in longer forms, they have therefore concentrated more on how to make them interesting. Another, more mundane reason, may be that I now do most of my listening mainly on headphones, the textures, arrangements progressions over the course of a composition become more important, and longer songs lend themselves to these aspects of the composition.
Here is the Playlist:
1. Phoenix - Lisztomania (Classixx Version) 5:02
2. Windsurf - Bird of Paradise (Studio Version) 13.57
3. Isis - Handing of the Host 10:43
4. Seefeel - Plainsong 7:44
5. The Field - The More I Do 8:33
6. The Honeydrips - Fall From a Height-The Field Way (Remix by the Field)
7. A Mountain of One - Your Love Over Gold 6:39
8. Lewis and Clarke - Light Time 7:22

The Mix:
New and Extended Mix

Sculpture by David Smith

Sky Saxon RIP

Lost in the hysteria surrounding the deaths of Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson was the passing of Sky Saxon, 71, former lead singer and bass player for the Seeds, the LA-based proto-typical '60's garage punk band. His death should not go unnoticed.
The Seeds were one of my early rock and roll infatuations (after Love and before Cream). I bought their first album mainly because they looked incredibly cool on the cover, but then discovered the power of their buzz saw guitars and Saxon's eternally petulant voice. The second album, Web of Sound, expanded on the nastiness of the first album, and, particularly in the writing, demonstrated that they were more than one-hit wonders. (Unfortunately, the band never lived up to the potential of those two albums, releasing first a bad blues album then a "flower power" album, before disintegrating.) Saxon later became a member of a West Coast spiritual cult. He would sporadically perform and release albums either under his own name or as the Seeds right up to the time of his death.
All these years later, listening to those early Seeds albums, it's easy to reconnect to the anger and exultation of adolescence.
The Seeds - Mr. Farmer
The Seeds - Can't Seem to Make You Mine
The Seeds - Up In Her Room

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Here Comes the Summer 2009 Mix

There are 41,000 songs in my Itunes play list. The word "summer" figures in 304 of them, proof that the idea of "summer" plays a big role in our collective psyche.
On the East Coast, we have lived through such a long, shitty Winter and rainy Spring that Summer seems almost unimaginable. Nevertheless, today is the first day of Summer, and so I present to you, in the words of the fabulous Undertones, "Here Comes the Summer."
(Just a half-glass-empty reminder: for some people, Summer doesn't necessarily mean big fun or hot fun or any other kind of fun.)
The 2009 super-fun Summer play list:
1. Here Comes the Summer - The Undertones (The Very Best of the Undertones)
2. Summer's First Breath - Epic45 (May Your Heart Be the Map)
3. It Must Be Summer - Fountains of Wayne (Utopia Parkway)
4. Summer Breeze - The Isley Brothers (3+3)
5. Your Summer Dress - Dirty on Purpose (Hallelujah Sirens)
6. Endless Summer - Anoraak (Nightdrive with You)
7. Summer Rain - Johnny Rivers (Anthology 1964-1977)
8. Summer '68 - Pink Floyd (Atom Heart Mother)
9. One Kiss Don't Make a Summer - Lucky Soul (The Great Unwanted)
10. Summer Samba - Ice Demons (Miami Ice)
11. A Warm Summer Night - Chic (Risque)
12. Summer In Your Heart - Shermans (Casual)
13. Long, Hot Summer - Style Council (Hit Parade)
14. That Summer, at Home, I Had Become an Invisible Boy - The Twilight Sad (S/T)

The Mix:
Here Comes the Summer 2009 Mix

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Techno Pop Mix

I created this mix a couple of years ago but never posted it. It consists of a bunch of songs that either began life as techno songs or used techno as a jumping off place. What's interesting is how "pop" they all are - how melodic, accessible, radio-ready. (Several of them were radio hits in one format or another.) It just goes to show that any genre - no matter how left-of-center its origins - can become part of the mainstream.
1. The Orb - Little Fluffy Clouds The Orb's Adventures Beyond the Underworld
2. Spiritualized - Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space - S/T
3. Royksopp - So Easy Melody AM
4. Moby - South Side Play
5. Chicane - Saltwater (Thrillseekers Mix) Behind the Sun
6, Delerium w/ Matthew Sweet - Daylight Poem
7. Mandalay - Beautiful (7" Canny Mix)
8. Kings of Convenience - Toxic Girl Quiet Is the New Loud
9. Everything But the Girl - Missing (Terry Todd Mix) Amplified Heart
10. Cornershop - Brimful of Asha When I Was Born for the 7th Time
11. Moodswings - State of Independence Moodfood
12. One Dove - White Love Morning Dove White
13. Leftfield - Open Up S/T
14. Dido - Thankyou No Angel
15. Deep Forest - Sweet Lullabye (Ambient Mix) S/T

Techno Pop Mix

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

New and Recent Songs Mix 6/09

Here is a mix of recently-released stuff that I've found myself listening to with some regularity over the last couple of months. I particularly like the Junior Boys and the Black Kids (actually, at this point, I can't get the chorus of that fucking Black Kids song out of my head), but I strongly recommend all of the albums represented by the songs in this mix.

The Playlist:
1. Axis: Thrones of Love - The Pink Mountaintops (Outside Love)
2. If the Stars Were Mine (Orchestral Version) - Melody Gardot (My One and Only Thrill)
3. Two Doves - Dirty Projectors
4. Hurricane Jane - Black Kids (Partie Traumatic)
5. The Animator - Junior Boys (Begone Dull Care)
6. 16th Stage - Osborne (A Bugged Out Mix by Hot Chip)
7. Only You Can Make Me Happy - Au Revoir Simone (Still Night, Still Light)
8. Canned Food - Surf City (s/t)
9. Tokyo - Sissy Wish (Beauties Never Die)
10. He Doesn't Know - Tina Dico (A Beginning/A Detour/An Open Ending)
11. Jim Cain - Bill Callahan (Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle)

The Mix:
New and Recent Songs Mix 6/09

(Artwork by Jackson Pollock)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Drive Around the World Mix

There's not much to say about this mix. It's a bunch of songs that seem to go together well. It includes a new song by the Bowerbirds and an old song by the Critters. It includes "Put the Message In the Box," by World Party, which I dismissed when it came out in 1990, but which I now love. It also includes "Una Domenica Italiana," by Cecile and the guitarist Dennis Coffey, about which I know nothing but which I find wonderfully addictive. And finally, it ends with "Violets of Dawn," a '60's folk anthem by the underrated Eric Andersen.
Treehouse - Keen
Part of the Plan - Dan Fogelberg
Like Home - Musee Mechanique
Settler - Balmorhea
Put the Message In the Box - World Party
Una Domenica Italiana - Cecile featuring Dennis Coffey
Ray Gun - Bird and the Bee
Mr. Dieingly Sad - The Critters
Northern Lights - The Bowerbirds
Violets of Dawn - Eric Andersen

The mix:
Drive Around the World Mix

Monday, May 11, 2009

Echo Lake Mix

This short mix was inspired by the song "Echo Lake," by the lo-fi folk band, Woods. Growing up in Warrensburg, NY, Echo Lake (really more of a pond than a lake) was the local swimming hole. During summer vacations, from the time I was eight until I was 14, my friends and I would ride our bikes there and depending on how old we were, swim, clown around or flirt with girls. (The last time I was there was was just after school let out when I was 14, and my friend Mickey Leonard and I went there to drink warm Budweiser we had stolen from either his parents or mine and buried in the sand. )
There are, I'm sure, a lot of Echo Lakes in America. The one in the Woods song is probably not mine. But ultimately it's not about geography as much as it is about experience, and I suspect that ours were similar. (The lake in the picture accompanying this post is the Echo Lake of my childhood.)
Here is the track list:
1. Echo Lake - Woods (Songs of Shame)
2. Melodia (1) - Johann Johannsson (Fordlandia)
3. Sneak a Picture - Junior Boys (Begone Dull Pain)
4. I Feel Space - Lindstrom (It's a Feedelity Affair)
5. Yellow River - Christie (Christie)
6. Mr. Lucky - Anita Kerr (We Dig Mancini)
7. Some Constellation - Someone Still Loves You, Boris Yeltsin (Pershing)
8. Albina - Horse Feathers (House with No Home)
9. Bulbs - Van Morrison (Veedon Fleece)
10. Written on Sky - Max Richter (The Blue Notebooks)
Here is the mix:
Echo Lake Mix

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Stephen Bruton 1948-2009 RIP

Stephen Bruton was one of the first people to welcome me to Austin in the Fall of 1996. I was in awe of him because of his musical skills and resume, but those things were more important to me than to him. From his point of view, I was a newcomer, a guest, and he was a host and guide, and he wanted to make sure I was at ease.
There was no doubt that Bruton was, first and foremost, a musician. He breathed music, he bled music. One of the stories I had heard about him was that, as a teenager, he had hitch hiked to Woodstock to hang out with the Band, and ended up as their roadie. And of course, he had been Kris Kristofferson's guitar player since the early 1970's. (You can see him backing up Kristofferson's character in A Star Is Born.) I have a Monument Records sampler that credits him with playing guitar on several Billie Joe Shaver songs from 1970 or 1971. Bruton was making records at an age I was studying for high school midterms.
But, like other musicians who had spent a lot of time on the road, and had lived with the ups and downs of success, and had wrestled demons of one sort or another to a stand-still, Bruton had a wry sense of humor about the whole thing, and I think that colored his outlook on life. He could be passionate about the things he cared about, he could even be hard-assed. But I got the sense he knew it was all one day at a time, and that someone was in charge but it wasn't him.
I moved to Los Angeles in the Spring of 1997. Not only did Stephen loan me his apartment in Santa Monica for a month while I looked for a place to live, but he made sure to introduce me to a bunch of his LA friends, and every time he passed through town he would stop by and say hello. He was a Texas gentleman in the best sense of the word, loyal to his friends and honorable in every way.
Here is a version of Stephen Bruton's "Getting Over You," sung by Willie Nelson and Bonnie Raitt, from Nelson's album, Across the Borderline.
Willie Nelson and Bonnie Raitt - Getting Over You

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Phoenix/Brat Pac Mash-up

Here is a brilliant mash-up of Phoenix's "Lisztomania" and some scenes from several '80's Brat Pack movies. Phoenix's next album, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, will be out at the end of May.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Spring Is Here Mix

Here is a weather-related mix reflecting my extreme relief about the end of Winter in NYC. It takes it's name from the lead-off song, an instrumental version of the Rodgers-Hart song. Otherwise, the mix is heavy on hot weather and sunshine, with a few surprises.
1. Spring Is Here - Cal Tjader
2. Who Loves the Sun - Velvet Underground
3. Everybody Loves the Sunshine - Roy Ayers
4. Vapour Trails - Windsurf
5. Sunshine Reggae - Laid Back
6. Cardiff In the Sun - Super Furry Animals
7. Sunset Blvd - Pacific!
8. River Song - Dennis Wilson
9. Happy Island - The Poppy Family
10. Carolina Day - Livingston Taylor
Spring Is Here Mix

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Spring Cleaning

I was going through my account, my online storage facility, and I found several MP3's I had loaded in with the intention of posting, but never got around to. In the interests of completion, and because they are worth hearing, I am posting them now, with little or no comment.

These Days

This is a Jackson Browne song that has been covered many times. The original impetus for this post was the latest Glen Campbell album, Meet Glen Campbell, on which he covers a lot of very good songs, including - albeit anemically - "These Days." Listening to Campbell's version, I realized how much I had always liked the song. It had always struck me as odd that a 19 year old could write a song with so much weldschmerz without sounding too pretentious. That led me to go back and listen to all the versions I own, from Jackson Browne's original, through Nico's, Tom Rush's (the first I heard, back in 1969) and finally the one I find the most soulful, Gregg Allman's. Here are three:
Nico - These Days
Tom Rush - These Days
Gregg Allman - These Days

I Don't Wanna Know

Last fall, HBO aired a series called "True Blood," involving vampires good and bad in and around New Orleans. On one episode, (called "I Don't Wanna Know...") the end credits rolled over Dr. John singing a song with the chorus: "I don't wanna know 'bout evil, I only wanna know about love." I had never heard Dr. John's version before (and don't particularly wanna hear it again) but the song itself was familiar. It took me a few old age minutes to remember that it was a John Martyn song, from his 1973 album, Solid Air, which I had played a lot about 10 years ago. While researching all of this, I came across Beth Orton's version from her first album, the horribly-named, Japanese-only Superpinkymandy, produced by William Orbit.
John Martyn - I Don't Wanna Know
Beth Orton - Don't Wanna Know bout Evil

Monday, April 13, 2009

Mark Fidrych RIP

Mark Fidrych died yesterday on his farm near Worcester, MA, in an apparent accident. He was 54. Massachusetts-born and raised, Fidrych was a pitcher for the Detroit Tigers, for five years beginning in 1976. He was a brilliant pitcher but a little too strange for Major League baseball. (Among other things, he talked to the baseball between pitches.)
I admired Fidrych, as much for his inability to toe the very straight line demanded by professional baseball as for his obvious pitching brilliance.
Fidrych's career was cut short by injury, but I always wondered if he was just too different to (literally) play the game.
I am posting a song, "Moulty," by the Cape Cod garage-rock band the Barbarians, which tells the story of their drummer- Moulty - who lost a hand in an accident. (I believe he blew it off with a firecracker.) And yet still he continued to drum! I feel like Fidrych and Moulty are connected both by geography and Massachusetts accent, and by an eccentric New England-stubborn refusal to act their age.

The Barbarians - Moulty

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Two New Mixes

I just completed two new mixes that seem very different, but are connected in some way I haven't yet figured out. For that reason I'm posting them together.
One if them is called Mix Acoustic. I created this because a friend of mine, who loves to make sweeping statements designed to piss people off, said that there had been no real singer/songwriters since the '70's. Focusing on form rather than the content, I looked at how much acoustic music I had been listening to lately, and realized that, indeed, a lot of what I have enjoyed has been acoustic. Most of the current acoustic music strikes me as fairly serious in its intent, although melodically, it's as accessible as the '70's and '80's softcore I have been exploring. (I still have trouble with the so-called psych folk that seems too self-consciously connected to the traditional American and English folk music tradition.)
The mix posted here doesn't really need much set-up. Some of the songs seem particularly strong lyrically, although I don't think there is anyone who would be considered a threat to Wallace Stevens. (However, check out Sibylle Baier's "Says Elliott," which is based on "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.")
Here is the mix:
1. Lawns Breed Songs - Strand of Oaks. On the same label as Lewis and Clarke, which to me means a lot.
2. Black Sheep Boy - Okkervil River. An excellent cover of a heartbreaking Tim Hardin song by one of my favorite bands.
3. To Ohio - Low Anthem
4. Bare Bones and Branches - Lewis and Clarke
5. Tomorrow - Espers
6. The Alder Trees - Alela Diane
7. The Things I Know - Musee Mechanique. From Oregon, and amazing
8. Rolling Sea - Vetiver. Supposedly a psych folk artist with connections to Devandra Baenhart, but you wouldn't know it from this.
9. In Our Talons - Bower Birds
10. Brokered Heart - The Acorn
11. For Emma - Bon Iver
12. Footloose - Doveman. This singer is a New York multi instrumentalist for hire who is also an excellent conceptualist. Last summer, he recreated the sound track to the film Footloose in its entirety, and posted it on his website. Someone made him take it down. Idiots.
13. Says Elliott - Sybille Baier. This actually dates from the '70's. Her son is doing a tremendous job publicizing her work, which really needs to be heard:
14. John Allyn Smith - Okkervil River. Putting this mix together, I was again reminded of how important this band continues to be to me.

The other mix is called Mix Hardrock, and it is kind of a goof.
For a while, beginning in the late '60's and continuing into the early '70's, there was a sub-genre of English rock that evolved out of the first and second generation English blues rock. It definitely had its roots in that kind of music, but it turned up the volume and took the riffs that may have been incidental in the more blues-based bands that came before, and made them the centerpieces of the songs. Combine that with plodding rhythm sections and ballsy, in-your-face vocals, and you have what I used to think of and therefore am calling simply Hard Rock. Foreigner and Bad Company were the most commercially successful of these bands and the reasons for the genre's demise. (I'm excluding Led Zeppelin because, as much as I dislike them, I recognize that, even though many of their songs might fit in the genre, they took it so much farther that it just doesn't seem right to include them).
Eventually, the genre splintered into various other genres - for instance, proto-heavy metal (ala Deep Purple Black Sabbath and Uriah Heep) and Glam Rock (ala Slade and Sweet).
To me the apotheosis of this genre was Humble Pie, particularly on their 1971 album Rock On, and most especially on the song included in this mix, "Stone Cold Fever." There are at least three highly memorable riffs running through the song, not to mention long guitar solos from both Steve Marriott and Peter Frampton, not to mention one of the best rhythm sections (Greg Ridley and Jerry Shirley) operating in England at the time. Not to mention Marriott's amazing anguished howl of a vocal.
It's hard to take this music too seriously, it's just kind of fun and stupid. But it does remind us that sometimes that's what rock is supposed to be anyway.
Here is the mix:

Here is the playlist:
1. Hear Me Calling - Ten Years After. For awhile, this was my favorite band. One of the best concerts I ever saw was Ten Years After and Mott the Hoople at the Boston Tea Party in the summer of 1970.
2. Rock My Plimsoul - The Jeff Beck Group. More blues rock than hard rock, but really one of the originators of the form. Beck, Rod Stewart, Ron Wood and Micky Waller.
3.The Stumble - Love Sculpture. Dave Edmunds, guitar god.
4. Whiskey Train - Procol Harum. Proof that, despite the classical trappings and"Whiter Shade of Pale," Procol Harum was, at heart a rock band.
5. Better By You, Better Than Me - Spooky Tooth. Check out the riff. When I was a teenager, this song defined the genre for me.
6. Stone Cold Fever - Humble Pie
7. Making Time - The Creation. This is to maintain my indie cred.
8. Rock and Roll Queen - Mott the Hoople. The Mick Ralphs showcase on the first Mott album.
9. Alright Now - Free
10. Can't Get Enough of Your Love - Bad Company. At the point the tent should have been folded and the circus should have moved on.
11. Death May Be Your Santa Claus - Mott the Hoople. Ian Hunter subverts the genre.
12. Stay With Me Baby - Terry Reid. How to employ the elements but avoid the cliche.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Softcore 10- The Winter Vacation Mix

Here is another mix with roots (albeit less obvious than in previous mixes) in '70's and '80's American soft rock.
Here is the Mix:
Here is the the Playlist:
1. With My Eyes Open I'm Dreaming - Virginia Astley
2. Kites Are Fun - The Free Design (American group from the late '60's that married light harmonies and bubblegum pop with Left Banke-ish classical influences)
3. June Evenings - Air France
4. Nothing's Happening By the Sea - Chris Rea
5. Don't Wanna Know 'Bout Evil - Beth Orton (A cover of a great song by the late John Martyn)
6. Community Tour - The Sea and Cake
7. True Romance - Sentimental Scenery
8. Love You All - Luomo and Apparat (from Luomo's underappreciated 2008 album, Convivial)
9. You Rock Me - Larry Heard Presents Mr. White (I don't know much about this cut. I found it on an excellent Gilles Peterson compilation called Gilles Peterson in the House)
10. Innocent Reprise - A Mountain of One
11. We Just Disagree - Dave Mason (Classic soft rock from his 1977 album, Let It Flow)
12. These Days - Gregg Allman (This song was written by Jackson Browne when he was still a teenager (!) and was originally recorded by Nico on her album, Chelsea Girl. It has subsequently been recorded by many other artists - including Browne himself - but I've always felt that Allman's version is the most soulful.)
13. End in Flames - Strand of Oaks
14. There is a 14th song - but I'm not going to tell you what it is.