Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I Just Wanna Set the World on Fire

Made this mix for my roomie/homie cuz she just moved out. It was one of those things I was thinking about for a while but didn't get around to doing until now. I think it turned out quite well!

Standard 8track disclaimer: Due to weird copyrighty things, you can only listen to the mix in its intended order once. So basically, if you're going to listen to it, you should try to sit down and listen to it all the way through or you won't get the full experience.

Running Time: 1 hour, 19 minutes
Track List:
01. Born Ruffians – Retard Canard
02. Rogue Wave – Lake Michigan
03. Frankmusik – In Step
04. Bibio – Jealous Of Roses
05. Suuns – Up Past The Nursery
06. Au Revoir Simone – Anywhere You Looked (Daytrotter Session)
07. Apostle Of Hustle – Kings And Queens
08. Rogue Wave – 10:1
09. The National – Blood Buzz Ohio
10. Ida Maria – Oh My God (Daytrotter Session)
11. The Dandy Warhols – Smoke It
12. Cold War Kids – I Don’t Wanna Grow Up [Tom Waits]
13. High Places – Jump In (For Gilkey Elementary School)
14. The Rural Alberta Advantage – The Ballad Of The RAA
15. Emma Mcgill – Heartbeats [The Knife]
16. Jonna Lee – The District Sleeps Alone Tonight [The Postal Service]
17. Wisdom Tooth – Low Tide
18. The Weakerthans – Virtue The Cat Explains Her Departure
19. Mark Kozelek – Wop-A-Din Din (Live)
20. Born Ruffians – Nova Leigh*
21. Ani Difranco – Names + Dates + Times (Live)
*Indicates Track Pick

Basically these are songs about Chicago, friendship, relationships, and cat ownership. It was hard for me to pick just one favorite track (of course), but I'm completely digging on Born Ruffians lately so I had to go with "Nova Leigh," the song that reassured me that spring was indeed on its way.

There's not a lot I can say about these tracks without just fawning over every single one, so y'all should really just give them a listen and tell me what you think.

I hope to be posting more mixes soon after I move into a flat with more reliable internet.

Special thanks to Google image search and this deviantart account for the kick-ass image, which looks like this in full:

I don't want to start a flame in your <3.

Monday, May 16, 2011

And I See

This mix was a long time in the making. (And I wrote this entry once before and it got deleted so it's been an extra long time.)

It all started in the asscrack of winter, when you wake up in the cold/dark and spend a total of 15 minutes out side all day, thanks to the miracle that is the Chicago Pedway system. Days and commutes seem to blend into one another, stepping over the same puddles, running down into the same underground station, crowding onto the same train car, emerging at Washington to the smell of freshly fried donuts (never indulge), trek through the basement of a fancy shopping mall, back into the cold underground, then sucked into the belly of Marshal Fields (refuse to call it Macy's) where you see the same three homeless people every day (wonder if they are friends), more hustle and bustle and endless escalators until you reach the elevator that whooshes you up to the 24th floor most unsettlingly where it's time for a day of work. The ride home brings the same, in reverse, plus hunger, plus the shadow you cast on the apartment buildings when you're so close to home--there's three, so you're always one step behind, in front of, and beside yourself. 

And then one day there's this.
And it's spring. And you can cut one stop out of your commute to breathe the not-so-fresh Chicago air as you saunter through the main skyscraper-lined arteries of the city, past Yankee Hotel Foxtrot towers, compare the clock on the Tribune Tower to the clock above the 7-11 (they're both wrong), curiously fantasize about exploring the abandoned Motor Club Building up for foreclosure auction, then back into concrete playground...

I guess my point is, we all do a lot of hustling around the world with our ipods/phones/pads, and not a lot of pure, unadulterated Looking and Seeing. These are all songs about those two concepts.

(Not that I don't do my fair share of ipodding, but I do think it's important to stop and take a look 'round every once in a while. I should do more of this.)

Standard 8track disclaimer: Due to weird copyrighty things, you can only listen to the mix in its intended order once. So basically, if you're going to listen to it, you should try to sit down and listen to it all the way through or you won't get the full experience.

Running Time: Aprox. 42 min.
Track List:
01. Buffalo Springfield - For What It's Worth
02. Iron & Wine - Walking Far From Home*
03. Bright Eyes - A Song to Pass the Time
04. Simon & Garfunkel - The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy) (Live)
05. Animal Collective - Summertime Clothes
06. Atlas Sound - Walkabout (feat. Noah Lennox)
07. High Places - A Field Guide
08. Ani Difranco- Cradle and All (Live)
09. Bob Dylan - A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall (Live at the Gaslight in 1962)*
10. The Books - Free Translator*

*Indicates Track Picks
It's a bit unusual to have three track picks on such a short mix, but I swear those are all crucial songs.  Had to start with some Buffalo Springfield, the ultimate look + see song, before I got into the Iron & Wine track that inspired the entire mix. Sorry to include the Bright Eyes, but before Conor Oberst starts whining about his girl problems, he actually gives a pretty stirring narration. 

My mom used to sing me "The 59th Street Bridge Song" way before I knew what "feeling groovy" meant. Had to have some feel good walkabout songs before I moved into Ani's gritty retelling of NYC. This naturally leads us to Dylan's post-apocalyptic hellscape that is "A Hard Rain" (my favorite version), and finally to the Books tune, with its hauntingly ear-teasing hook that inspired the name of this mix. The lyrics sound pretty random, but apparently it's a much translated folk song.
MLE walking far from home...
The inside of my eyelids look the same... matter where my feet are.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Heart it Races in Love

Here it is, only two months late, my long-awaited "happy/love mix." This playlist draws much of its inspiration from my long, illustrious, seven-year career of making mixes for crushes/smooshes/lovers/guys who barely knew I existed,  but I also must give a shout out to my friend Rachel's own love song compilation. Yes, its inevitable that these songs get recycled over the years, but I think I've finally whittled it down to my favs, and I don't believe I've included any of tracks that were featured on the three-disk clusterfuck that launched my mix career back in the day (I feel like that one was heavy on the Dashboard Confessional). Anyway, here go!

Standard 8track disclaimer: Due to weird copyrighty things, you can only listen to the mix in its intended order once. So basically, if you're going to listen to it, you better sit down and listen to it all the way through or you won't get the full experience (I did work somewhat diligently on the order for this one, so please give it a shot!).

Running Time: Aprox. 1 hour, 14 minutes
Track List:

01. Adam Fitz - Fool Says [M. Ward]
02. Born Ruffians - Little Garcon
03. The Blow - Parentheses
04. Josh Ritter - Come & Find Me (AM/FM Mix)
05. Broken Social Scene Presents Kevin Drew - F--Ked UpKid
06. The Rural Alberta Advantage - Barnes Yard
07. Dr. Dog - Heart it Races [Architecture in Helsinki]
08. Ani Difranco - Bliss Like This
09. Wisdom Tooth - Faith
10. Rogue Wave - You Read My Mind (demo)
11. Dean & Britta - Friday I'm in Love [The Cure]
12. Pomplamoose - Don't Want to Miss a Thing [Aerosmith]
13. Taj Mahal - Queen Bee (Live)
14. The Beatles - In My Life
15. Jeff Tweedy - I Got You (Live)
16. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Hysteric (acoustic)
17. Iron & Wine - Judgement
18. Paleo - December 7th, 2006 ("Ash in My Eyes")
19. The Free Design - I Found Love (Styrofoam & Sarah Shannon Mix)
20. Bloc Party - Tulips (Remix)

Again, I find it hard to pick a favorite track (these are all pretty much my favorites), but I'd like to share my random thoughts on some/most of these love-struck tunes.

There are some definite cases of "the cover is better than the original" syndrome on this mix, specifically with the adorable Aerosmith cover and to a lesser degree with Adam Fitz covering M. Ward (the original is good, this one is just 75% funkier).

We also have a few cases of "the remix kicks ass on the original"disease running through here. The Josh Ritter remix adds a subtle yet all-important beat throughout the song (more dramatically seen in "Tulips"), while The Free Design track (better known as the band who recorded "Can You Tell Me How to Get to Sesame Street?" in 1971)--which got an indie makeover in 2005--rises about 10,000 miles above the cheesy 70's pop version.

I'd be a horrible creeper/fan if I forgot to note the salty-sweet lyrics of Ani's "Bliss Like This" as well as the sweet-sweet croonings of Meagan Day as Wisdom Tooth (whose links seemed to have disappeared from the internets, sadly).

If you ever get the chance to see Taj Mahal live, please do it. He was 66-ish when I saw him at Oberlin, and still rockin' like nobody's business. I still have yet to see a full live set of Jeff Tweedy and/or Wilco, much to my eternal shame. :-(

I'm still diligently working my way through Paleo's 2006-2007 Song Diary project, though I have fallen a bit behind at times. While most of it is, well, pretty meh, there are still plenty of stand-out tracks. Definitely stay tuned for more on this character.

I'd like to offer my most humble apologies, as the Born Ruffians' "Little Garcon" should definitely have gone on my Stomp/Clap mix. Some nice stompy, clappy moments at the end there.

Ain't love grand?

I only used 8track so I could include The Beatles.
(Picture via random tumblr).

Thursday, March 31, 2011


Here's a mix that has been simmering in the back of my mind for a while. The theme is stomp/clap, meaning songs that contain that irresistible beat that causes humans to stomp their feet and clap their hands in close succession, possibly to a fast paced rhythm. I suppose there is a technical name for this beat, but I'll just call it the bluegrass polka. But without furthur ado, the mix:

Of course there is one further ado. I made this mix on 8tracks, a new platform that its ups and downs. It's easy to use, but due to weird copyrighty things, you can only listen to the mix in its intended order once. So basically, if you're going to listen to it, you better sit down and listen to it all the way through or you won't get the full experience. Or something.

Running Time: Aprox. 41 Min
Track List:
01. Simon and Garfunkel - Cecilia
02. Phosphorescent - I Am a Full Grown Man (I Will Lay in the Grass All Day)
03. The Dandy Warhols - The New Country
04. Cache Valley Drifters - Cumberland Blues [Grateful Dead]
05. Keller Williams - Porta Potty
06. Bitch and Animal - Drag King Bar
07. Fruition String Band - You Got This and I Got That
08. The People's Republic of Gefiltestan - Tree
09. The Can Kickers - Dingus Day Polka
10. Andrew Bird - Vidalia
11. Henri Fabergé and the Adorables - The Goddamn Light
12. Grateful Dead - Cold Jordan

There's the track list for future reference. I won't give a track pick for this mix because really these all shine in their own way. "Cecilia" is probably the stand-out song, the quintessential stomp-clapper. The Phosphorescent track is also awesome, though in my head I think it is a lot more stomp-clappy. I included the Keller Williams and Bitch and Animal songs for their sheer hilarity, because who said stomp-clapping had to be a serious matter? You might remember The People's Republic of etc. from my Dylan cover post, and The Fruition String Band also played a hand in my college career, via my friend Liz."The Goddamn Light" is also a rip-roarin' revival tune that always makes my atheist ass wanna testify or sumpthin'. I'm not exactly a Deadhead, but I think that "Cold Jordan" is my favorite Dead song, mainly because of this scene from the mind-blowing film Festival Express (watch it!). 

Anyway, as you can see I took a lot of time to figure out which few songs in my vast iTunes library deserved to be labeled as stomp/clap. If I missed any you can think of, be sure to let me know. And for your information, despite my boyfriend's claims, Queen's "We Will Rock You" is a stomp-stomp-clap, not stomp/clap. Know the difference.

I'm not sure how I feel about 8Track yet. I think it's good for fun mixes like this, but I think I would revert back to Grooveshark for mixes where order is especially important.

G'on and stomp/clap your hearts out, chillins. It's a hoe down where?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

SKINS (series 3+4)

And you thought it wouldn't happen again. But yes, my roomie and I did watch both series 3 and 4 of the UK Skins, which follows a whole new set of wayward youths while also turning a perfectly awesome theme song into a cracked out piece of shit (sample not available). Please, spare yourself the emotional and intellectual pain of watching every gut-wrenching episode, and instead enjoy these two compilations of music featured on the show, which I found to be generally eclectic, surprising, and fun.

 Disclaimer: I say these represent about 86-90% of the music from the series, minus the songs that were  a) not on Grooveshark b) way too fucking annoying to listen to while I'm at work. Special thanks to for the tracklists.

So yeah, I like to listen to these playlists at work to change things up a bit. I did discover at least one band I liked through this show (series 3), called High Places. They remind me a bit of Animal Collective...except with a chick. I think they are probably disbanded by now, but anyway, they have some good stuff, so look out for their appearance on upcoming mixes!

I may or may not have an unhealthy obsession with teenage television.

Effie is one crazy, sexy bitch.

Why, Freddie, WHY?!?!

Best moment of the show. Okay, I'm done!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Talking Union (Which Side Are You On?)

So I'm not sure about you, but I've been following the Wisconsin protests pretty closely for weeks now. I was disgusted at the shameless, spineless, likely illegal maneuvers used to pass the union stripping bill in that state. I am disgusted and fearful over the anti-union measures popping up all over, particularly Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan, where a recent bill made it legal for the state governor to unseat elected local officials. Yes, the governor has the authority to negate democracy and break union contracts whenever he feels there is an "emergency." In America.

This is not to say that unions are unilaterally "good" organizations. They serve to protect the jobs and best interests of their members, even on occasions when it goes against cost efficiency. I am particularly weary of the tenure program for public school teachers, along with the "last hired, first hired" philosophy. I will admit that I am far from an authority on the topic, but it's obvious that our public sector needs some work.

BUT to try and strip their bargaining rights is not only nonsensical, it is probably the most transparent right wing ruse perpetrated in the last several years. Long story short: Citizens United Supreme Court ruling means corporations ("people") can spend unlimited money in elections. The 2010 midterms (the most expensive midterms in the history of midterms) saw 7 of the top 10 donors as right wing "companies". The other three? Unions. So what's the best way to take away liberal "free speech"?

Anyway, judging from the fact that this weekends protests in Madison were the largest to date, it is certain that this is far from over. Teachers aren't to blame for your shitty pension. Sanitation workers didn't take your job. EMTs did not drive our economy into the ground. So let's put a little blame where blame is due.

Here is a collection of songs dealing with unions and the history of workers rights in America. Listen and see how far we've come, and let's keep fighting for what we've got.

Running Time: Aprox. 57 minutes
Track Pick: Ani Difranco - Which Side Are You On?

Note: Mentally replace Green Day's "Working Class Hero" with the Lennon version.

Cast of Characters

This is by no means a comprehensive history of the American labor movement. These are just a few interestingly melodic players.
Joe Hill
Joe Hill was a Swedish American activist and song-writer who was executed in 1915 under dubious pretenses. One of his most famous songs, "The Preacher and the Slave," is featured into the mix under the name "Pie in the Sky" as covered by Utah Philips. It's one of my favorites simply because of it's brave and concise argument against the religious pleads that the poor simply shut up and wait for their reward in the afterlife. At least the mainstream right seems to have moved beyond this argument. Anyway, the song "Union Maid," sung by Pete Seeger and the Almanac Singers is highly reminiscent of another one of Joe's tunes, "Rebel Girl." For the turn of the century, this is really explosive stuff. Joe Hill, singer-songwriter, labor hero, American badass.

Pete Seeger

Pete Seeger was another American Badass born four years after the execution of Joe Hill. As a frontline labor songwriter-activist, Seegar co-founded The Almanac Singers in 1941 and they went on to record several songs on this mix, including "Talking Union" and "Which Side Are You On?". He was blacklisted for his political activities in the 1950's (see above picture of him testifying before Congress during the McCarthy era) and continued to voice his believes about civil rights, the world's war, and the environment through action and song. His words are well-represented on this mix because, well, they're awesome.

While most of his songs deal with fundamental worker's rights such as safety, 8-hour work days, and weekends, his basic message of worker dignity and a living wage still apply today. Yes, this is most certainly a middle class movement, and the differences between that era and his cannot be ignored. However, the struggles of unions past got us the rights we take for granted today, and I believe we must not turn our backs on this sacrifices of those brave men and women. Take special note of Ani Difranco's adaptation of "Which Side Are You On?". She did an excellent job of bringing that song into the 21st century with a brand new message of hope.

A side note about the songs that mention a PAC: PAC definitely stands for political action committee, though it's obvious that that phrase meant something entirely different back then. While PACs today can take in millions of anonymous dollars to spend as they see fit (Thanks, Supreme Court), they seemed to have started as a way for the MANY to stand up to the FEW (all we need is a dollar from you and a dollar from me). I included those songs because they speak to the fundamental purpose of democracy, which is 'one person, one vote.' Click here to watch a quick video about how this ideal is being distorted by so-called "corporate citizenship," and to see what you can do to help.

Utah Phillips

Utah Phillips must also share the title of American Badass. A folk hero, labor sympathizer, and self-declared "anarchist," Phillips filled his 73 years with music, storytelling, and teaching the ways of the world to the likes of Ani Difranco, who recorded two albums with him. I admire his passion and his wisdom, and I hope that his words will never be forgotten.
Solidarity Forever.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Shout That You're All Fake (FAKE)

So here it is y'all. All of my favorite Modest Mouse covers and pseudo-covers, straight to your hungry ear canals. Special thanks to Cover Lay Down for many of these songs.
Running Time: Aprox. 40 Min
Track Pick: Kevin Devine featuring Jessie Lacy - Trailer Trash (live)

Now that track is not a particularly good recording at all, but the reason I picked it is because of it's added verse, which is rumored to originate from live MM performances, but I've never been able to confirm this audibly.

"And you spend your whole life / lookin' for the adult that you are / and you spend the rest of your life / lookin' for lookin' for the child that you were."

It's so frustratingly beautiful that I just have to believe Issac Brock wrote it (that asshole). Yes, despite my eternal love for Modest Mouse (of which I was reminded of last week when I spent the whole work day grooving off old tunes), I harbor resentment towards the front man for his on-stage dickishness the two times I've seen the band live (mostly the 2005 show). But he pretty much gets a Bob Dylan pass in my book (definitely a genius, definitely an asshole).

Some other notable songs on here, if you're in a hurry, are the Joshua James cover of "Custom Concern" and the Lenka cover of "Gravity Rides Everything." Both are so beautifully done, but if I may geek out for a moment here, I'd like to point out that in "Custom Concern," the correct lyrics as understood by the interwebs, appear to be "Message read on the bathroom wall / said 'I don't feel at all like I fall'." HOWEVER, Mr. James sings it "I don't feel at all like I thought," which is how I always heard it, and the sentiment of which I actually prefer. But as some douche on the SongMeanings message board pointed out, "are you isaac? do you KNOW what this is about? fuck you. it's about nothing."

And on that note...
God I love the banjo.
(Pictures circa 2005. Hey, at least I had a good view.)