This past year I have been part of a mixtape club where each month I get a CD or two of songs, usually from people I don’t know. September is finally my month so while I’m putting the final touches on the physical copy to mail out to people, I thought I would post the songs here as well so people could either listen and find new music, or comment on the mix or the songs if they so choose.
I start with Volume One today.
1) “(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais” by The Clash
You can’t go wrong opening up any mix with the Clash. I typically prefer the sorta ska\reggae-influenced Clash songs rather than the all out punk numbers, but this song is a perfect melding of both.
2) “This Aching Deal” by The Shocking Pinks
The drummer from New Zealand twee pop band The Brunettes offers an album of 80s inflected, shoegazey songs that recall The Cure and Jesus & Mary Chain.
3) “Genetic Engineering” by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
My favourite song from this experimental electronic synth pop band from the 80s. Great syncopation. Synth pop and 80s music gets a lot of crap, but if you find nuggets like these, strip away the production, there are countless fantastic songs to be found.
4) “Belong” by The Fairer Sex
A Lawrence, Kansas band that has a couple guys I was friends with in my high school and college days. This song features some great poppy melodies and great vocal harmonies that recall the best of 60s bands like the Kinks, the Turtles and the Beatles.
5) “Peace Like A River” by Paul Simon
Perhaps because of his ubiquity and consistency over the years, Paul Simon’s solo material is often overlooked and underrated in my opinion, especially when talking about the essential canon. While most might only key onto Graceland and hits like “Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard,” there are many deeper cuts like this one that show off how Simon’s songwriting skill is perfect. Time to go back and rediscover these songs.
6) “Safety Bricks” by Kevin Drew
As a Broken Social Scene co-founder, Drew doesn’t go too far out of that realm of dreamy folk and rock, but as more and more members leave for their own careers (Feist, Jason Collett, Emily Haines, Amy Millan), its great to hear songs still in this vein.
7) “Dumbo Wins Again” by Ghosty
Another Lawrence and Kansas City band filled with friends from high school and college days. Admittedly, I’ve reviewed them and talked about them a lot, half because I know them, half because they’re really great.
8) “I Lived On a Dirt Road All My Life” by Manitoba
Before Dan Snaith was Caribou, he was Manitoba. But ever since he became Caribou, the things I loved about his music (like this song) have slowly gone away. While Caribou has its moments, this earlier song is full of great drum beats, ambiance and mellow, understated vocals. Manitoba is a far better name too.
9) “Shelter From the Storm” by Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan. Iconoclast. Innovator. Outlaw. What else can you say that thousands haven’t said a million times over?
10) “Gagging Order” by Radiohead
This song from an import release from a few years back reveals a personal moment from Thom Yorke that we often don’t see revealed in previous songs. Gives an interesting glimpse into what a Radiohead song sounds like in its infant stages, and alludes to songs we would later hear on last years In Rainbows.
11) “In This Home On Ice” by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Clap Your Hands is a band that’s either loved or bug the hell out of people. I typically fall somewhere in the middle, but you cannot deny the sheer awesomeness of this song’s melodies and general rockingness.
12) “Leave It All” by Orenda Fink
Don’t know much about this, but the whole album is just full of fantastic songs, her great voice, and moody production.
13) “On Bedford And Grand” by The Besnard Lakes
This is a band I discovered last year from Montreal and put out one of my favourite albums of the year. I was surprised that they never quite clicked with as many people as I thought they should. A great mix of 70s arena rock, shoegaze, and Beach Boys harmonies.
14) “Ballad Of Big Nothing” by Elliott Smith
Elliott Smith songs. Sure they’re depressing, but man is it can be great to listen to him when you feel as low as this sometimes.
15) “Goin’ To Acapulco” by Jim James and Calexico
As great as Todd Haynes’ film I’m Not There was in my opinion (it has grown on me over the year, from good to masterpiece, the more I think about it), one of the most haunting and memorable scenes was of the Richard Gere old, outlaw version of Dylan. As he wanders through a derelict town and comes across a funeral in the town square, this song, as performed by My Morning Jacket’s Jim James and Calexico, sings a lamenting eulogy to a time and place long forgotten. An iconic scene set to a great lesser known Dylan tune.
Stay tuned for Volume Two later this week.