Sunday, March 15, 2009
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: http://www.sibyllebaier.com/home.html
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:
MIX HARD ROCK
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.