October 10, 2002

Press Play and Record

[mix CD cover]

Song order has been finalized, levels have been equalized, and CDs have been burned for a select few friends. Yep, my new music mix is done. Actually, it's been done for a couple of weeks now, as a few of you may have spotted it in the sidebar. You can quickly scan the songs as an iPod playlist or simply read on for my full, annotated version.

I'm one of those people who can't help but come up with liner notes for every mix, even if just in my head, so this time around I decided to write 'em down. I also wanted to note how each of these tracks came to be included here, since I've had people ask me, "How do you find out about these bands?" The short answer: record reviews, file sharing sites, and, most importantly, my friends.

A few general notes first, because of course I have (nerd alert!) my own Rules of the Mix...

  • All the songs here are from releases this year, unlike my last new music mix where I tossed in a few (slightly) older tunes.
  • Everything here also is new to me since the last mix (no overlap), so things I've discovered since mid-July.
  • I only put on two tracks from the same band/album when I feel that just one isn't enough -- Interpol and Spoon make the cut, as I've been playing their new albums constantly. At least so sez my auto-generated "Top 25 Most Played" playlist in iTunes.
  • Excluding songs by friends where there isn't an actual recorded product (yet), almost two-thirds of these songs come from records or CDs (or legal downloads) that I own. Just in case you're curious.

Okay, here we go...

"Obstacle 1"
From: Turn On the Bright Lights LP

I singled out this and "Obstacle 2" in a previous entry reviewing Interpol's debut album, and even after having listened to the album countless times since then, I think I'm sticking with my initial reaction that these are the two best tracks on there. (And as wonderful as I find "PDA," the fact that the album features no less than the fourth version of that song the band has recorded, it's now officially overplayed for me right now.) What do I love? The simultaneously angst-y and dance-y vibe, lots of different song parts and that bass, that bass.

Recommended by: Steve -- He first mentioned Interpol to me back in May, then a few weeks later I grabbed his pre-LP Interpol mp3s from his iPod, turning me into an instant fan.

Hot Snakes
From: Suicide Invoice LP

This song just rocks, full stop. When I first heard this, I flashed back to high school listening to the Pixies' first album and thinking this is noisy as all get out... but the energy and hooks are THERE. I just bought the album a few days ago, and I think if I were to put together this mix now I'd have included another Hot Snakes song ("Unlisted") -- it's that damn good.

Recommended by: instantenemy / actionslacks on FP -- I think I noticed instantenemy's rave about this on his site first, then actionslacks posted the mp3 to FP soon thereafter.

Jason Loewenstein
From: At Sixes and Sevens LP

Out of nowhere comes Jason Loewenstein's solo album, filled with a bunch of great songs that I never would have guessed were in him based on his hit-or-miss musical side projects and contributions to Sebadoh. This is the first single, zinging with guitars, guitars, guitars!

Recommended by: Brian -- I was only vaguely aware of this album before he burned me a copy. Liked it so much I bought it!

From: Italian Platinum LP

Some more old-skool indie guitar rock. Love how the song speeds up then slows down before rolling along once more.

Recommended by: Brian -- See above. (Er, except for the "bought it" part...)

"Something To Look Forward To"
From: Kill the Moonlight LP

Chrouses get all the glory, and bridges get no respect. But this song has the sassiest bridge I've heard in awhile, with Britt Daniel crooning over the hip-shaking beat, then a dive into an unexpectedly delicious bit of Beatlesque guitar before everything snaps to attention once more in beat and stance for the chorus.

Recommended by: No one in particular -- Okay, maybe Pitchfork, since I their glowing review of this album was a big factor in making this an impulse buy. But I'd been hearing good things about this band for a long time, so I figured it was time to check them out anyway.

In A Day

My favorite from a batch of songs by In A Day, a very new band featuring my friends Ed (ex-Autocollants) and Jon (ex- ...er, our old band). Dreamy indie pop overlaid with Laura Watling's breathy vocals.

Recommended by: Jon -- Not only are he and my friend Ed in the band, Jon recorded this as well. I'm waiting for an official release on Shelflife Records, perhaps...?

Mates of State
"Girls Singing"
From: Our Constant Concern LP

Cute, but not-quite cloying indie pop, with twinned girl/boy vocals and keyboards that softly tinkle and bleep. Album available for download on eMusic -- yay.

Recommended by: Jon / nick on FP -- Jon told me this was one of his favorite new bands, so when I saw FP member nick post this mp3, I grabbed it straight away.

"The 15th"
From: #1 LP

A chirpy Wire cover that swaps the original's icicle-cave atmosphere for a more straight-ahead pop interpretation. I'll still take the original over this any day, but it's quite nice all the same.

Recommended by: Brett -- I mentioned to my former co-worker Brett that I liked "Emerge" by FischerSpooner, and he pointed me to this song. He didn't know it was a Wire cover, so I naturally had to give him an mp3 of the original.

LCD Soundsystem
"Losing My Edge"
From: "Losing My Edge" 12" single

Aw shit, what can I say about this song that hasn't already been said (and better) by others? A tongue-in-cheek, aging-hipster lament, as spoken-sung in an slightly adenoidal deadpan, Mark E. Smith-stylee. Starts out electro, building and building with little breakdowns that shift the beat rock-wards before the final burst of soundonsound overlaid with a string of klassic band name-checks.

Recommended by: Douglas -- This was one of those songs that I'd heard or read about in a couple of different places before getting the in-person recommendation, as part of an overview of the DFA label. Found it via Soulseek, then ordered my copy of the 12" not long afterwards.

"Obstacle 2"
From: Turn On the Bright Lights LP

Instead of re-telling you why I love this song (see this entry), I've got a funny little anecdote having to do with this site and the song lyrics. While browsing my referrer logs a few weeks back, I noticed that I was getting hits based on a series of search requests from different users, all looking for the same phrase: Because friends don't waste wine when there's words to sell -- a line from "Obstacle 2," for which I'd posted lyrics. But why so many searches? There were ten or more within a span of a few days, all for that exact phrase. Very weird. So I did a little sleuthing and found that some woman was using this line as the headline to her Nerve.com personal profile, which also said something about how she'd be impressed if any respondents could ID the phrase as it was from a song by one of her favorite bands. Reading that, I felt like saying to this girl, did you even listen to the whole song? Because she's looking for some guy on Nerve.com, quoting lyrics from a song where the narrator is self-professed fuck-up lothario. Um, hello??? Anyway, I was amused.

Recommended by: Steve -- See above, re: "Obstacle 1."

"Blue Jeans"
From: Light & Magic LP

Smooth and shiny... definitely keeping me at arm's length, but still an appealing chime and clatter of synths topped with cooler-than-you female vox.

Recommended by: Martin / Carl -- Martin first recommended Ladytron, so I downloaded their album 604 on eMusic, but it didn't really grab me. But then I caught this song on the radio when in Boston a few weeks back, being played by my old pal Carl, with whom I used to DJ on WHRB. I dunno, it just clicked right then.

From: The Last Broadcast LP

This single is a slice of moody dream-pop that seems to have been custom-engineered for my ears, I swear. Layered sparkly guitars that soar and whoosh over a beat that marches the song along into the swoon-worthy chorus. I just hope the rest of the album is as good.

Recommended by: No one in particular -- I think this was kind of like Spoon, where I'd read some random good things. Oh, and I remember reading some article where Interpol's bassist was raving about this band, too.

"Read and Burn"
From: Read & Burn 02 EP

From the second in a series of EPs, available at gigs and via the band's own mailorder only. Shout along with Colin Newman through the musical change-ups, fast and furious as ever.

Recommended by: No one in particular -- I'd already been enjoying Wire's first Read & Burn EP, so it was a no-brainer to pick this one up at their show in Boston.

Martin Mushrush

Exuberant, amped-up guitar chug. Zooms by in just over a minute, but uses every second to pack in the hooks.

Recommended by: Martin -- Actually, this is Martin, one of a few songs he recently sent me.

The Rapture
"House of Jealous Lovers"
From: "House of Jealous Lovers" 12" single

No Wave attitude set to a dance beat, shot through with jags of guitar and constricted, James Chance-style vocal contortions. If I were still DJ-ing, I would mix this right into Delta 5's "Mind Your Own Business" -- somebody's gotta do it, as it's just the too-perfect funk-punk segue.

Recommended by: Douglas -- See above, re: LCD Soundsystem.

French Kicks
"When You Heard You"
From: One Time Bells LP

This one took a few spins to absorb, but now it's my system but good. Urgently-paced and constantly shifting from beat-heavy minimalism to indie-rocking guitar, I now realize what a great pop tune in disguise this really is.

Recommended by: nick on FP -- Didn't really know anything about this band, other than that they were local (NY-area). Another mp3 courtesy of FP.

Neil Finn
"Hole In The Ice"
From: One All LP

Usually I'm not crazy about Neil Finn's more "rock" songs (see: "Kill Eye" from the generally stellar Temple of Low Men), since his strength is more slightly off-center pop. But the atmosphere and energy on this one make it gel. And that killer chorus, of course.

Recommended by: No one in particular -- I've been following Mr. Finn's music since the mid-80s when he formed Crowded House. Picked up his latest album, from which this is taken, after seeing him live at Irving Plaza a couple of months ago.

"Don't Let It Get You Down"
From: Kill the Moonlight LP

Another track from the latest Spoon album, this one has less guitar, more piano/keys -- something which I actually think I prefer. Though based on their set at Bowery Ballroom a few weeks back, I guess their older material is a bit more guitar-centric, though every bit as pop-tastic.

Recommended by: No one in particular -- See above, re: "Something To Look Forward To."

Laura Watling
"Dreaming Of You"

A musical love note made of pure spun sugar. Pretty, pretty.

Recommended by: Jon -- A solo tune by his In A Day bandmate, which he also mastered.

Roddy Frame
"Mixed Up Love"
From: Surf LP

Another sad lament from the master of the form. While it's no "We Could Send Letters," Mr. Frame has had time to grow into his melodic world weariness nicely.

Recommended by: No one in particular -- As with Neil Finn, I've been a longtime fan of Roddy Frame's music, which up until now he's released under the better-known moniker of Aztec Camera.

Posted by nstop at October 10, 2002 01:30 AM


heheheh... I downloaded both of the hot snakes records on emusic a few days ago and was pleasantly surprised. noisy is good... also have to respect a band who does a song called "gar forgets his unsulin"

Posted by: martin on October 10, 2002 12:51 PM

the hot snakes new album rocks so much harder than the first one, which is hard indeed. but it's rock steered under much more control don't you think?

incidentally, apparently gar wood did forget his insulin!

Posted by: Andy on October 10, 2002 06:16 PM

to be sure... I got both albums at the same time and pretty much let them play through one after the other, and I noticed a distinct change midway through.

the first one is great as well though. almost makes me wish I had heard of them before #2 came out so I could appreciate it more without being overshadowed.

Posted by: martin on October 12, 2002 04:35 AM

Okay, this is so fucking bizarre... I was talking to my friend Steve about the new Hot Snakes album when he said, "You know that one of the guys in that band used to work with us at [name of our former employer]?" This is in addition to John from Enon who we also used to work with at that same company, a place that maybe had only 100 employees tops, at one point. So that makes not one, but two albums that are probably going to be in my year-end top ten that feature old co-workers. Weird.

Posted by: nstop on October 15, 2002 12:13 AM

Anyone can learn from pain.

Posted by: Allocco Kate on May 20, 2004 10:06 AM

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