Daniel Romano’s Pandemic Year (A music mix, sorta)

June 18, 2022 at 9:50 am (cool band alert, Music Mixes, rock and roll, Uncategorized)

In the first week of March of 2020 like lots of us, the oncoming pandemic got the better of Daniel Romano and his band The Outfit. The group’s seemingly endless tour was on the east coast of the US when I’m assuming a combination of Covid-cancelled gigs and worries over getting back across the border into their native Canada had them pull up stakes and head back home to Welland, Ontario.

During a mandatory self-quarantine on return, Romano — who apparently needs to be making music the way sharks need to swim — plotted out what an extended time being unable to play live shows might mean for him. And I guess he decided to return to some album demos he’d come up with over previous years. (Note, not song demos — full albums he’d written out and maybe recorded quick demos for.)

And so by mid-March, Visions Of The Higher Dream, an album credited to Romano solo — with some assistance from friends — landed. As the pandemic wore on through the year, from March through November Romano released an absurd 10 albums (I think that’s the number we’ve all settled on now for that). Those include three records with (or as) the Outfit. (Of which, it should be said, is about the tightest, sharpest rock and roll band on the planet right now, and if you get a chance to see them on their current endless tour you should. Thank me later.)

He also put out a couple of collaborations: a 22-minute prog rock song with Danny Carey of Tool, and a sort of post-hardcore power-pop ep called Super Pollen. Interspersed through all of that were four records — all solo, with Romano playing most of the instruments in his home studio — that seem sort of thematically linked to one another. In addition to Vision Of The Higher Dream, there’s Dandelion, White Flag, and in March of 2021, Kissing The Foe. That’s four solo albums in about a calendar year.

And when I first realized how many of these solo records Romano dropped in a year, without having sat to listen to them I figured “Oh, he just put out his demos.” Which…no. Imagine my surprise when these turned out to be fully-realized, fully-arranged tracks, none of which sound incomplete. Quite the opposite, in fact; these are songs that sound complete and lush and meticulously crafted.

But what links them together in my mind at least is the kind of music on them. Those four records seem to be tapping into this circa 1970-1973 era of Neil Young, early McCartney solo, Danny Kirwan era Fleetwood Mac and absolutely Badfinger. With horns. And string sections.

And for whatever reason, only a small number of the records released by Romano and the Outfit and other friends during this absurdly productive lockdown period are available through your traditional streamers. And NONE of these four thematically linked solo albums are. They’re only available from You’ve Changed Records (the label that Romano and Constantines singer/guitarist Steven Lambke founded) on Bandcamp. And the next time we get to a Bandcamp Friday you should definitely grab as many Daniel Romano albums as you can from them: https://danielromano.bandcamp.com/music

In the meantime, it was feeling to me like in these four solo albums I’d discovered some sort of hidden goldmine. I don’t think these records are meant to be secret. I don’t think they’re meant to be tough to track down. But damn. It feels like a whole lot of folks that listen to the a lot of the same music I listen to should be listening to these albums. On repeat. Constantly.

So I created a 1-hour sampler platter from those records. 16 tracks. It honestly feels like you could make three similar playlists from just these albums and they’d all be good, because as individual albums they’re all so great. And if you expand things to include The Outfit records, and other stuff Romano and the band recorded together you could put together more than a half-dozen playlists of similar quality music without having to try too hard.

And so without further ado, here’s my little Daniel Romano One Year solo playlist/mix. As I do with these things, it’s one extended MP3, with the sound volume normalized, tracks in a specific running order, and everything crossfaded with purpose to make for a fire-and-forget 57 minutes covering 16 songs. Since (I’m hoping) you’re going to hear songs here and immediately need to know what they’re called, here’s the track list:

  1. “Where May I Take My Rest”
  2. “I Cannot Be More Lonely”
  3. “maybe today will be curious”
  4. “if you don’t or if you do”
  5. “I’m Only Love”
  6. “Singers In Season”
  7. “Into A Rainbow”
  8. “Mysterious Storm”
  9. “Don’t Turn Around Janet”
  10. “Appaipoure”
  11. “Nobody Sees A Lowered Face”
  12. “New Milk”
  13. “Blue Heron”
  14. “Walking Around Holding Hands”
  15. “Hot Change”
  16. “Lilac About Thy Crown”

Click this to stream/download/listen:
Daniel Romano’s Solo Pandemic Year

(Recommended very strongly for aficionados of circa-1971 post Beatle solo work by Sir Paul and George Harrison, as well as fans of Neil Young of that era, Ian Matthews, Danny Kirwan, Badfinger, The Rolling Stones, Flying Burrito Brothers, etc.)

Permalink Leave a Comment

Dancing in the Snow (Holiday music mix, 2021)

December 20, 2021 at 8:00 am (Uncategorized)

Well Merry Christmas, or happy whatever-holiday-you-like for 2021! It’s been a long year, but we sure have come through quite a journey, right? Sure, we’re dealing with worries about the future, and especially Covid, and….wait.

Is this Christmas or Groundhog Day?

Yeah, yeah. I know it sucks to still be dealing with the same ol’ crap in a brand new year and whatnot. Welcome to living in interesting times, I guess. And I sense that among many households, Christmas is going to once again be a very low-key affair yet again, which stinks.

But it is the holidays. There’s a chill in the air. It’s snowing in places that desperately need snow. Everyone in our neighborhood has lights up outside. While standing in line at the bank last week, people were actually…friendly? December always has worked some wonders on the psyche.

And so that brings me to this year’s holiday music mix. I nearly went for something more somber downcast, given all the pain and sadness in the world right now. But then I realized that there’s always pain and sadness in the world, every December. And every other month in every other year, too. That’s what the world is, I’m afraid.

But if you’re willing to see it, there’s also so many reasons to be happy, thankful, and yeah, even a little joyful this December as well. And so given the choice of going for Sad Christmas songs or Happy, I decided to do a little bit of dancing in the snow, so to speak. Thus, this year’s mix is teeming with happy songs, both new and a few favorites from years gone by — including the return of the capper for Christmas mixes past, because why not.

And so here you’re gonna find David Newton and his newish band kicking things off. If you’re a Britpop fan, you may recognize his voice from The Mighty Lemon Drops, back in the day. Don’t trust the title of that Candypants song about Happiest Time and whatnot…but don’t worry, because the amazing voice of Grant Lee Phillips is there to bring the mood back pretty quickly.

And you all were supposed to make “Christmas With the Snow” a perennial holiday favorite when last I used it on a mix about 10 years ago. Yet somehow it languishes with fewer than 10,000 plays on Spotify. I know that song is A LOT to take the first time you hear it. But it’s never leaving your brain after that, and you’re gonna come back to it, and in no time it’s going to make you feel like Snoopy dancing.

We back it off a little after Lou Rawls’s joyous holiday track (note to self, I need to listen to more Lou Rawls in the new year). I mean, you can’t follow that exuberance, really. But we build it back up later (Otis is back!), continue the mood with that EXCEPTIONAL song by Blackbird, and finally take it home to a familiar finish.

I hope this season finds you well in spirit and mind. As usual, it’s one long connected MP3, sequenced and mixed for normalized volume. Be safe and mindful this winter! Get vaccinated, get boosted when you’re eligible, and be smart out there so we can all come back next December again!

Dancing In The Snow (Holiday Music Mix, 2021)

What’s that? A track list? Coming up:

  1. Vale, Norm
  2. “Winter Tragedy” David Newton & Thee Mighty Angels
  3. “All The Gifts I Need” JD McPherson
  4. “The Happiest Time of the Year” Candypants
  5. “Winterglow” Grant Lee Phillips
  6. “Christmas With The Snow” Marah, feat. Felicia Navidad
  7. “Dancing in the Snow” The Leopards
  8. “Good Time Christmas” Lou Rawls
  9. “Yule Tide Me Over” The Minus 5 feat. Kelly Hogan
  10. “Hear the Bells” Calexico
  11. “Greensleeves” Vince Guaraldi Trio
  12. “Winter Goes Away” I Was A King
  13. “Lady December” The Concretes
  14. “Christmas Party” Dr. Dog
  15. “Merry Christmas, Baby” Otis Redding
  16. “Christmas Getaway” Blackbird
  17. “All I Want For Christmas” Pip Blom
  18. “She Whispers The Winter Snow” The Autumns
  19. “Cocktail for Christmas” India Ramey
  20. “Quartermaster’s Wintertime” Bill Fox
  21. The Boys of the NYPD Choir singin’ Galway Bay…

Permalink 1 Comment

Some notes about a Christmas music Mix.

December 15, 2020 at 7:01 pm (Uncategorized)

At Christmas, some kids write letters to Santa. This (aging quickly) kid writes letters to a music mix. There’s that whole missing year thing, too. To start off with, you didn’t miss any 2019 holiday music mix from me…I didn’t make one. Or should say, I didn’t finish one. I got about 2/3rds of the way done, realized that for various reasons it felt…not right….to do a mix last year. And so I didn’t.

Read the rest of this entry »

Permalink Comments Off on Some notes about a Christmas music Mix.

Headfirst Into Christmas (Holiday Music Mix, 2020)

December 15, 2020 at 10:17 am (Music Mixes)

On the Sunday evening before Thanksgiving this year, I was out taking a long walk through the neighborhood, enjoying the unseasonably warm 60-degree temperatures (and trying not to think too much about the implications of that happening more and more in Novembers of late.) A couple of houses in my neighborhood already had full Christmas lights and yard displays up and running. While most houses on our street will have some sort of decorations up at some point, this was notable for the way it sort of stuck out. Really? Christmas lights? This early?

And the more I thought about it, the more I thought “Yeah. Hell yeah. This early. I’m all in.”

2020 has been one hell of a year, kind of literally. By the time this post goes live, it’s likely 300,000 Americans will have died from the pandemic. 300,000 people many of whom maybe celebrated Christmas a year ago and thought in terms of “Next Christmas” who never got here because of a brutal disease. And that doesn’t count the millions hospitalized, the families affected, or the trauma of healthcare workers who’ve been had to work through exhaustion for months. It also doesn’t include folks who saw their businesses or careers collapse due to the knock on effects of Covid. And then you add to that the current political climate in this country, and there’s an almost palpable sense of fear, anger, grief, and just general anxiety floating in the air.

So yeah. It’s been a brutal year. And yet, there are folks putting up Christmas lights all over. And making music. And figuring out ways to celebrate even so. You could forgive folks for reining it in this year, and I know that many are. We’re going to celebrate the holidays differently in 2020, through Zoom calls and virtual hugs and with facemasks making up the a big part of the gay apparel we don, and a vague antiseptic whiff of hand sanitizer hanging in the air instead of mistletoe.

But lots of us are going to figure out a way to celebrate the season regardless, whether it’s Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa or just the solstice and the winter. And coming in at the tail end of this awful year, any celebration of the holidays almost feels like an act of defiance. Putting up lights, decorating the house, heck, just listening to some Christmas tunes or maybe watching Charlie Brown for the gajillionth time…we’re celebrating, dang it. And if that means putting up the lights too early, and maybe going a little too exuberant on the Christmas tunes in this holiday music mix to extend a big middle finger to the awfulness of the year past…then so be it. Headfirst into Christmas in 2020!

As always, this is a single long MP3 of about 20 or so holiday-themed tunes. You can right-click and “save as”, or it should just stream from here if that’s your thing.

Headfirst Into Christmas (Holiday Music Mix 2020)


Track list:
1. Oh…that girl.
2. “Every Single Christmas” Nicole Atkins
3. “Go Power at Christmas Time” James Brown
4. “It Doesn’t Feel Like Christmas” Sam Phillips
5. “Winter Blows” The Waterboys
6. “Headfirst Into Christmas” The Hannah Barberas
7. “Mission Bells” Glossary
8. “Claus vs Claus” JD McPherson
9. “The Blizzard” Camera Obscura
10.”Winter is Blue” Vashti Bunyan
11.”Ringing Bells on Christmas Day” Lisa Mychols
12.”Everyday is Christmas (When I’m Lovin’ You) Charles Bradley
13.”Valley Winter Song” Fountains of Wayne
14.”Merry Merry” The Bird and the Bee
15.”Hark the Herald” The Fall (this is not a typo, btw.)
16.”All I Want for Christmas is You” The Dollyrots
17.”Christmastime Heist” Mikal Cronin
18.”Christmas Love” The Rotary Connection
19.”Shouldn’t Be Alone For Christmas” The School
20.”Winter” The Rolling Stones
21.”The Light Before We Land” The Delgados

Permalink 1 Comment

Feliz Navidad, Baby! (Holiday music mix, 2018!)

December 19, 2018 at 6:00 am (Music Mixes)

tumblr_mew3vhXnFW1r9qhhio1_1280.jpg

Although this Christmas feels more soggy than snowy this year, it’s absolutely that time  again, and so we’re back with a little bit of holiday musical cheer for you. I have been making these goofy music collections for 20 years now, and in all honesty this year’s mix might be my very, very favorite of all. And I don’t say that lightly either! See, when I’m putting these things together, I sometimes listen to the tracks dozens of times in a short span of time. Even with some good songs, the listener fatigue that sets in is very real.

But this year I just keep hitting repeat and starting over again. And though I’d love to take some piece of credit, I can’t. This mix is good because the artists made great songs and made putting it together a dream. I mean, let’s check some of these songs….

Early on in the mix, we’re hitting you with a snippet of an incredibly rare thing. Back around 1989 or so, Scott Miller of Game Theory recorded this goofy, sprawling thing called “A Child’s Christmas Saving The Whales” and sent the tape out to people on the band’s mailing list. It’s mostly spoken word narrative, and most of the jokes are pretty dated…but then in the middle of this thing the guy reveals some stunning musical geniusness by tossing off this 90-second song that I can’t imagine he didn’t mostly make up on the spot and then recorded to a cheap tapedeck in his bedroom. And the danged thing is just glorious even so.

And then there’s some JD McPherson. He put out a Christmas record this year called “Socks” which is the best album of all original Christmas – themed music since…ever. Really. It’s that good. This track is just a taste, but you should be spinning that record throughout the Christmas season.

Continuing, I know next to nothing about who Fascinations Grand Chorus is, other than I think they do a kind of indie dreampop thing. But their song is just a wallop of gorgeous, Spectorian production. And then there’s The Duke Spirit song. It starts off sounding like it’s a pretty OK song, and then you get to the chorus and there’s a key change and it’s goosebumps time and the track transcends into greatness.

There’s some familiar names all over this — you get a chance to put some Kacey Musgraves on your mix, you should do that, especially with Willie Nelson — including that Dean Martin track. He’s singing one of my favorite holiday-ish songs, and I can’t believe I’ve never used his original. Well, until now, anyway.  And you all know Kimberley Rew, even if you don’t realize you know him. Kim has all the hipster bona fides as Robyn Hitchcock’s songwriting foil in the legendary Soft Boys in the early 1980s, but when that band broke up, Kimberley went and started a new band called the Waves, wrote a certain song about strolling around on Sunshine, and I would imagine sits around collecting royalties for it.  Here he riffs on a goofy but typically memorable seasonal tune.

There’s other stuff here that should be less familiar. Whyte Horses are new, and their ebullient Christmas song would be juuuuust a little better if the verse melody wasn’t a note-for-note copy of The Replacements’ paean to bleak loneliness, “Swingin’ Party”.  And then there’s the Gabrielle Aplin & Hannah Grace song. I gather Ms. Aplin is famous-ish in some quarters for singing covers on Youtube. Which is a thing that people do now.  And so I was expecting “December” to bounce off me pretty hard. But holy crap, what a revelation that song is. It’s an original that suggests she or Hannah Grace or both of them need to be writing a lot more originals. And the arrangement is simply spectacular.  It’s rare that a song I’m expecting to hate leaves me with tears in my eyes by the first chorus, but there you go.

OK, I’ve yammered enough about the songs here. Only one or two repeats from previous years are on this mix as well, and I hope it brings to you and yours as much joy as its brought me to make. Merry Christmas, or Happy whatever holiday you choose to celebrate, even if it’s just some time off work or school!

As per usual, this is all one big MP3 file, with everything sequenced and mixed just so. You can stream it or save it to your own computer/device as you like.

Here’s the tracklist (Click the title to listen or “save as”):

Felix Navidad, Baby!
(Holiday Music Mix, 2018)

1. “Jingle Bells/Welcome” – Esquivel
2. “Santa Teach Me To Dance” – Debbie & The Darnells
3. “A Child’s Christmas Saving the Whales (excerpt)” – Game Theory
4. “Every Single Christmas” – JD McPherson
5. “Merry Merry Christmas” – Fascinations Grand Chorus
6. “Melt By The Morning” – The Duke Spirit
7. “Willie Nice Christmas” – Kacey Musgraves w/ Willie Nelson
8. “Love the Holidays” – Old 97s
9. “Lonely Man of Winter” – Sufjan Stevens
10.”Christmas Is” – Lou Rawls
11.”I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm” – Dean Martin
12.”Whatever You Want (For Christmas)” – Dressy Bessy
13.”Thank God It’s Not Christmas” – Sparks
14.”Dear Mr. Claus” – Paul Revere & The Raiders
15.”All I Want is You For Christmas” – Kimberley Rew
16.”World Of Love” – Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings
17.”Gee Whiz, it’s Christmas” – Carla Thomas
18.”December” – Gabrielle Aplin & Hannah Grace
19.”Next Year Will Be Mine” – Whyte Horses
20.”Winter Wonderland” – Darlene Love
21.”Eight Dates A Week” – The Holiday Scene
22.”Beatnik’s Wish” – Patsy Raye & The Beatniks
23.”Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” – The Beths
24.”Fairytale Of New York” – The Pogues w/ Kirsty Maccoll

Permalink Comments Off on Feliz Navidad, Baby! (Holiday music mix, 2018!)

Well Turn It Up, Man!

July 4, 2018 at 10:33 am (Uncategorized)

13 years ago (!) my buddy Rob Morton and I made this mix. I’d sort of forgotten about it but he reminded me of it today and well…it’s pretty damned good if we do say so ourselves. Enjoy and happy Good Riddance Day!

Popnarcotic


So yeah, that Family Dynamic mix is a corker, right?

I’ve known Rob for a few years now, and he and I have musical tastes that are eerily similar…but with slight variations, too. There’s enough overlap and dovetailing in the musics we both tend to listen to that, well, we had to do a CD mix together.

So yeah. He and I labored over this thing for a few weeks now, and here’s the results. Hope you like it. A holiday weekend gift from Morton and me, for you to listen to and enjoy. Again, it’s all joined together as one long .mp3 file to preserve the continuity and flow and segues. If you want to burn it to CD, be sure you used the “disc-at-once” method, or you’re likely to get weird “hiccups” in the transitions.

Oh! One other thing: Have a terrific weekend, folks!

Get Yerself Some Freedom…

View original post 3 more words

Permalink Comments Off on Well Turn It Up, Man!

We’re All Skating on the Same Thin Ice (Christmas Music Mix, 2017)

December 19, 2017 at 1:21 pm (Uncategorized)

ice-skating-santa-download-videohive-18839308-free-hunterae-com-8Whew, just enough time to get this year’s Christmas music mix down the chimney and into the ears of every (mostly) good little boy and girl on Santa’s list. 2017 has had its share of ups and downs, but for the season I’ll set the bad bits aside and focus on the merry stuff. 2017 has been quite good to me personally, so I hope some of my good fortune rubs off.

This year’s Christmas music mix feels a little bit more “indie” than previous years. As I kept wading through the folder of prospective holiday tunes I keep, I kept noticing that there were so many major, obviously talented artists who utterly mail it in when they try to do a Christmas song. There’s a songwriter’s trick for creating a song within a certain theme that involves the writer simply listing some things associated with the subject, and then using that to get some inspiration to write a song with.

Far too many holiday pop songs sound like that’s as far as the songwriter got. There’s an absolute glut of songs that open with either cheap winter wind sound effects or sleigh bells ringing (always a sign that you’ve got more of a bad Christmas cash-in than real song). That eventually moves to a singer spending a couple of verses singing a grocery list of Christmas-ish non sequiturs with as much fake emotion as can be mustered.

And so I found a lot of stuff like that. But then I also found a lot of stuff like The Spook School’s winsome post-breakup gloriousness,”Someone To Spend Christmas With”. I found a spot for Belle & Sebastian’s “Are You Coming Over For Christmas”, which starts off sounding like a a flirty-but-without-the-rapey-stuff take on the “Baby It’s Cold Outside” formula, but then turns into something utterly beautiful and transcendent. At least for this year, it’s the lesser-known artists who are bringing the feels.

That isn’t to say I didn’t find some old favorites bringing the heat. Whomever in Cheap Trick suggested they cover The Move’s Wizzard’s (we’re all Roy Wood anyway) “I Wish it Could Be Christmas Every Day”, that person is a genius, because this is inspired. And hey, it’s time the Ventures returned to this annual mix, but this time marrying The Zombies to Greensleeves with a surfy twang.

It was also fun to go diving back into my 1990s alt-rock roots a little bit. I can’t believe I’ve never used the Pixies before in a Christmas mix, but I just love Frank and Kim’s call-and-response on the coda of this Neil Young cover. I found a great spot for a Cocteau Twins take on an old familiar kid’s song from back in the day. And then there’s the Throwing Muses track. If Tonya Donnelly’s guitar riff on this doesn’t get you going, you may need to get your ears checked.

It is also both great to find a spot for a terrific new Minus 5 track, “A New Christmas Hymn” while at the same time hearing that Minus 5 main man Scott McCaughey has recovered well enough from his stroke two months ago to be able to play guitar and bass again. That’s the song that provides the title for this year’s mix, too. For all the shouty-ness of 2017, this feels like a good summing up of things:

I’m offering this Christmas hymn
Not for any ghost or Tiny Tim
For both the naughty and the nice
We’re all skating on the same thin ice.

Wherever and however the holiday season finds you in 2017, I hope it’s a happy one for you and your loved ones. I hope you enjoy this mix of rock, soul, funk and a little country, all mixed together as one long MP3, and that it helps provide a little more good cheer. Let’s cue this sucker up and hit play!

We’re All Skating On The Same Thin Ice (Popnarcotic Christmas Music Mix, 2017)  (Right click to download and save.)

  1. Elf practice is not to be trifled with
  2. “Christmas All Over Again”, Tom Petty
  3. “Wake Up Christmas”, Lisa Mychols
  4. “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day”, Cheap Trick
  5. “Santa’s Got a Bag of Soul”, Saints Orchestra
  6. “Purple Snowflakes”, Marvin Gaye
  7. “Blizzard of ’77”, Nada Surf
  8. “Snowflakes”, The Ventures
  9. “Frosty the Snowman”, The Cocteau Twins
  10. “Someone To Spend Christmas With”, The Spook School
  11. “It’s a Marshmallow World”, Dean Martin
  12. “Santa Claus”, The Throwing Muses
  13. “New Christmas Hymn”, The Minus 5
  14. “The Reindeer Boogie”, Hank Snow
  15. “Christmas Time is Here Again”, The Flirtations
  16. “Are You Coming Over for Christmas?”, Belle & Sebastian
  17. “Winterlong”, The Pixies
  18. “White Christmas” Otis Redding
  19. “Cold, Cold Christmas”, Army/Navy
  20. “Remember (Christmas)”, Harry Nilsson
  21. “Song For A Future Love”, The Frank & Walters
  22. “Happy When it Snows”, Seafang
  23. “Winter Beats”, I Break Horses
  24. Sing us out, Shane and Kirsty.

 

 

Permalink 2 Comments

Next page »