Last week I knew I was going to need some music for a thing, and that said music should be fairly obscure, hopefully fairly good, and finally sort of have a certain mass appeal-ishness to it. I also regret having a whole ton of music that I’ve been listening to over the last 8-12 months that I’ve not at least given a mild shout out to, so that was also a motivating factor.
The thing of it is, while I try to have some sort of over-arching theme to the mixes I do, the theme for this mix has changed about five or six times since I started it. Originally I was going to call it “Two Good Songs”, in deference to my ol’ Euclid Records compatriot Steve. (Back in the day you’d ask Steve if he’d heard a new record, and inevitably, regardless of the album, you were 75% likely to get the response “Yeah…two good songs.” It became something of his trademark for a while.) That idea was to collect really terrific songs from albums made up of songs not quite to the standard of the one on the mix. Then the theme was summer. And then it wasn’t, because it’s too bloody hot as it is. Then the theme was “Excuses to put Deanne Iovan’s “Everything” into a mix.” Then it was “People you might know from other stuff doing new stuff”.
I guess for now the theme is just “This is a mix of songs that I think I have done a haphazard job of representing how good they are.” Everything in the mix is of very recent vintage, like 2008 or later. I think these songs are really, really good. I hope you enjoy this mix, and it brings you as much enjoyment as it’s brought me to both make and listen to.
Without further introduction, here we go:
(right click and “save as”…one large mp3 file as usual.)1. “Artificial Fanfare (Music In My Head)” Happy Chichester 2. “Pizza-Eater” The Leeds 3. “Olympic Gardens” The Mystery Numbers 4. “Queen Of Moods” Jeffrey Novak 5. “Saturday” The Music Lovers 6. “Cherry Blossom” Sad Day For Puppets 7. “Everything” Deanne Iovan 8. “Those Were The Days” Elvyn 9. “The Kids” The Bomb 10.”Chemicals” The Comfies 11.”When I’m With You” Best Coast 12.”Begging You” Graham Day & The Gaolers 13.”The Kelly Rose” The Brought Low 14.”Soul School” Cornershop 15.”Alice Marble Gray” Califone 16.”Go Jetsetter” The Postmarks 17.”So Long (Maybe)” Nushu 18.”Golden Hips” Dragoon 19.”These Are the Days” Grand Atlantic
20.”Kaleidoscope Eyes” Painted Hills
First off, don’t read too much into the title I picked here–I just used a lyric from the Music Lovers song because the timeframe for these songs was right; I’ve been fairly in my mind (and certainly not with the cool, sordid tale the dude in Music Lovers has!) over the last two years. I guess this mix is sort of like me compiling some odds and ends short stories from the past two years or so.
So who are these people?
Happy Chichester might be familiar to you. He was the bassist, backing vocalist, and one of the main creative forces behind The Royal Crescent Mob back in the day. Then they broke up and he had his own band, Howlin’ Maggie. This song is from his 2008 solo disc, which is really good (see also the cool video for “A Man Needs An Airplane” on youtube.)
The Leeds are a band that seems to be a collision of Anglo (singer Pandora Burgess) and Franc0 (the rest of the excellent, Rain Parade-y sounding band). This song is just totally aces, but the entire Leeds album is fantastic. This is one expensive-sounding production, so it baffles me that this disc is impossible to find outside of France. Ah well. Here’s a taste.
The Mystery Numbers is the new act for The Weather Machines’ (who are no more) frontman Jason Ward. He’s decamped from Portland back to Rapids City, SD, and making some truly genius music. Check out this site, where he’s got demos posted from the past few months; these are all very good and worth throwing the guy a few bucks to hear.
Jeffrey Novak is the leader of Cheap Time, a band that at one time also had his then-girlfriend, Jemina Pearl of the late and lamented Be Your Own Pet on bass. No word on a new Cheap Time album, or a new solo disc; I have a feeling the death of Jay Reatard earlier this year has hit the folks in this scene pretty hard.
If I ever manage to finish the top 20 list of greatest records of 2009, rest assured that The Music Lovers’ amazing album Masculin Feminine is going to be very high in the top ten. In the meantime, this disc has felt like my little secret, and I can’t contain how great a song “Saturday” is anymore. Best song about rehab and redemption ever? Oh, and you have GOT to see the incredible video for this song!
Sad Day For Puppets wins the award for “Worst Band Name In This Mix”, but boy did they put out a great album a year or so ago. They’re from Sweden, and manage to occasionally out-Pain the Pains Of Being Pure At Heart. Think C86, think Lush, think Flatmates, and bliss out.
Of all the tracks on this mix, I think Deanne Iovan’s “Everything” might be the one that gets me the most. I think it’ll get you too, if you happen to have a heart. Deanne is the former singer of Detroit’s legendary garage-soul genius band The Come Ons, but this is a total departure of the music she made in that group. This will just tear your soul to pieces and put it back together again. Deanne has a really cool blog, too, where right now she’s endeavoring to cover (and upload in mp3 form) every song from The White Album, doing a new song every 9 days (and sort of learning new instruments on the fly). It’s an incredibly neat undertaking, and worth checking out.
I’ve no idea who Elvyn is, but they’ve cooked up the best rewrite of Teenage Fanclub’s “God Knows It’s True” of all time, so good in fact that, along with the lyrical sentiment that “these are actually the good ol’ days”, (and yes, these are; if your life motto isn’t being in love with these times I feel kinda sorry for you.) I can’t hardly resist it.
You might not know who The Bomb are when the song “The Kids” starts up, but as soon as the vocals come in you’re gonna start figuring it out (and if the “whoooaaaah’s” on the chorus don’t do it, you didn’t listen to enough Chicago punk growing up.) Yep, The Bomb is Jeff Pezzati–Naked Raygun, Pegboy–on vocals, and a crew of Chicago punk mainstays filling out the band. If you dig the old school postpunk punk, The Bomb is, well, the bomb.
Dunno who The Comfies are, but they’ve got a couple of EP’s out that scratch that “remember when Spoon was interesting?” itch.
Best Coast is a boy-girl duo featuring a former actress doing songs that sound like odes to 1960′s girl-pop culture. Sound familiar? Yeah, but unlike Miss Deschanel’s project, Best Coast has a great fizzy, shoegazy sound and Bethany Cosentino doesn’t rely so much on autotuning here, preferring to let her earnest vocals sit buried in an echo-chamber mix that totally works. Here’s a story from ABC News (no, not kidding) on the group that recently aired.
Graham Day is to the UK what Greg Cartwright/Oblivian is to the US: an underground icon who shouldn’t be unknown, a guy who writes ingenious songs and who can out-sing damn near anyone you’ll hear on the radio. Graham is an old school member of the Medway Sound (think Billy Childish and all his gajillion bands) that seems newly resurgent with him, The Len Price 3, and The Stabilisers carrying the flag forward. The Gaolers are a bit of a trans-atlantic partnership, with the other members of the band being legendary Georgia garage band The Woggles.
The Brought Low deserve to be household names among all those who hold hard-rocking southern FM radio from the 70′s in high esteem. Sounding like nothing so much as Molly Hatchet with a Van Zant brother on lead vocals, this Florida three-piece just totally brings it. Oh, and just to be clear, their whole album from this year, 3 is utterly excellent.
Speaking of excellent, I’m gonna guess that if you’re reading this, you know who Cornershop is. I’m also gonna guess that a lot of folks reading this know “Brimful Of Asha” and not a whole lot else. The new Cornershop album, Judy Sucks A Lemon For Breakfast is a little uneven, but when it gets it right (like on “Soul School”) it sure sounds aces.
…and probably guessing that if you know me, you’re at least familiar with my Califone obsession. It might seem like the band has been in hibernation for a while, but not true: last year they recorded a bunch of songs for a film project called All My Friends Are Funeral Singers and the album that resulted by the same title is pretty awesome; it definitely is the most “song oriented” record Califone’s done, as you can hear by this song.
I haven’t much info on the band The Postmarks, other than I believe them to be from the UK. What I do know is that their album Memoirs At The End Of The World has one or two songs that just don’t work…and then about 5 or 6 tunes that sound like Ennio Morricone or Henry Mancini wrote them for films in the 1960′s. Totally worth checking out for those songs (especially “No One Said This Would Be Easy”, which sounds like what you’d get if Morricone did a Bond theme).
Nushu is a SoCal two piece consisting of Lisa Mychols and Hillary Burton, who write and perform everything here including handling all the instrumental chores. Their new album, Hula is one of the best discs of 2010, folks, and absolutely worth seeking out. The band veer from ’90′s indie chick pop (there are a lot of songs that sound like something Veruca Salt would’ve killed for), but also a lot of nods to some very classic wall of Spector 1960′s production and songwriting.
Dragoon probably needs little introduction to a lot of my friends: this is Tripp and Stanley from The Grifters, along with Bobby Matthews (DC hardcore legend of Trusty fame) on guitars and vocals. What’s fascinating here is that Dragoon sounds a LOT like The Grifters. In fact, the Dragoon record suggests to me that it came out of some alternate dimension that took that band down a different path after the Eureka IV ep than the one they actually took.
Grand Atlantic hail from Australia, and they’re a favorite of mine; their debut made my top 20 of 2006. This is a tune from their new record, which doesn’t hit quite the highs of the debut, but which still is worth checking out.
The Painted Hills feature folks from Beechwood Sparks and The Tyde. This, one of the first albums to appear on Ric Menck’s new Bird Songs label, sounds less Gram Parsons and more Paisley Underground than the band’s roots.