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.)