You send me anonymous mixes. I listen. Think of it as the PostSecret of mixtapes.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Mailbox Mixtape #3

So, this is the first of the mailbox mixtapes not to be anonymous. This is from my buddy, Meg, who has her own cool mixtape thing going at Lost Art of the Mixtape. Thanks Meg!

This is also not in traditional mailbox format, in that it wasn't sent to said mailbox but via mediafire. So, no packaging or some such. This is where I find the digital age disappointing. It also means that the track list is given, so the discovery element is missing. Nevertheless...

Track 1: King Harvest (Has Surely Come) -The Band
Lots of futzing around. This must be some sort of outtake. Take 1 fumbles. Begin again.

Man, I love this song. Love The Band in general, but this is one of their songs that doesn't get mentioned enough. This and "Tears of Rage." People forget how good those two songs are.

Yeah, this is arguably the greatest song that Robbie Robertson ever wrote. I love how the verses are more upbeat and then the chorus more subdued. 

Seriously, if you haven't heard this song you need to. Ask me and I'll burn you a mix by The Band. Great stuff.

Track 2: Trailing -The Sandals
Never heard of this band or this song, but I dig it. Beachcomber music. Not Beach Blanket Bingo, but more "Bustin' Surfboards" by The Tornadoes. In fact, this song would fit in nicely to the Pulp Fiction soundtrack. Chris Isaak would love this song. Lovely little instrumental. Dig it.

Track 3: Nobody's Business -Cedric Im Brooks
Also not familiar. Also digging it. Reminds me of "Iko Iko," but better. Much better.

Love a song that makes good use of the saxophone. Very street corner salsa. Jamaican rhythms.

Yeah, I am very much digging this. Cedric Brooks (if that is your real name), I will be looking you up. Good stuff.

Track 4: Doo Wop (That Thing) -Lauryn Hill
Love. This. Song.

Before we get to that, let me say how well Meg arranges a mix. Previous mixes have depended on theme to bring them together, but have lacked a certain flow. This mix moves from song to song as if they were written to be arranged this way. This is clearly not Meg's first mix. Out of order, this mix would never work. Ordered as it is, this mix works perfectly. Well done.

Back to Lauryn Hill. One of my all time favorites. This album is perfect. I wore this album out when it first came out (and for pretty much the entire year that followed). Lots of people hated the MTV Unplugged show, but I dug that too. This though. Just amazing.

Seriously, this is of its moment and timeless all at once. That is not easy to do. It invokes times passed and yet it will always remind me of the year 1998. Graduation. Marriage. Good times.

Track 5: Ce Matin-La -Air
My buddy, Andrew, raves about Air, but I've never really given them much of a listen. I'm liking this alright so far. Sort of waiting for it to begin.

Ok, so here's the thing about Air. I feel like I'm always waiting for the song to begin. It feels like background music. I don't find myself drawn to it or wanting to give it my full attention. It's...nice.

Yeah, this is nice. But not much else. This feels like the song that gets me from Lauryn to whatever's next. Which is fine. Let's hear what's next.

Track 6: Don't Let Me Down -The Beatles
I was wrong to doubt you, Meg. "Ce Martin-La" was exactly the song to get me from Lauryn Hill to the Beatles. I'm not sure that song would do much for me, otherwise, but it made for a seamless transition. Man, you're good at this.

Ok, so I'm about to be completely unoriginal and say that The Beatles are, without a doubt, my favorite band (if you don't count E Street, which is a different kind of thing). For as little as happens in this song, it is one of my favorite Beatles' songs. John's achy/slightly screamy/genuine plea songs are some of my favorite Beatles' songs.

I love how the assurance of the verses are undermined by the doubting chorus; talk of love that will last forever followed by cries not to let him down. Perfect. The Beatles are just so good. Again, I'm not telling you anything you don't know.

I want to go perform this song right now. Who's with me?!

Track 7: About Face -Grizzly Bear
Speaking of bands I love.

This album (Veckatimest) was my favorite of 2009. Some bands do that fuzzy mellow harmony to a point that I almost can't take it anymore, but Grizzly Bear never crosses that line. It has this gentle edgy melancholy that just makes you ache. 

The perfect follow up, by the way, to John Lennon's ache. Again, Meg, well played. It takes the Beatles' open wound and wraps it in gauze, but it doesn't mean the wounds gone away. Just that it's beginning to heal. We can anticipate something even gentler to follow.

Track 8: Everything's Alright -Yvonne Elliman
What was I saying? What could be gentler than Andrew Lloyd Webber's take on Mary Magdalene?

I tend to hate musical theatre, which means that there's no special place in my heart for Andrew Lloyd Webber. That said, you've taken this song out of its context and improved upon it. I don't care for Jesus Christ Superstar, but I like this. And the male vocalist makes sure we don't lose some of that edge. Just in case we were tempted to think everything's actually alright, the undercurrent of the song remains tense.

Track 9: Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating Through Space -Spiritualized
See, this song is what I want Air to be that they never quite are. This song (this whole album) is incredible. That gentle ache just gets gentler and achier. This is the lullabye that anticipates the bough breaking. This is the song that reminds you that the bough breaking isn't the end of the world. Even the end of the world isn't the end of the world. This makes me the kind of sleepy and happy that makes me want to make out in the rain. Or on a porch, just out of the rain.

Track 10: All Through The Night -Cyndi Lauper
Wow. Meg. You are so good at this! Someone says to me "you know who Spiritualized puts me in the mood for? Cyndi Lauper" and I'm gonna call that person crazy. But it does now.

Cyndi Lauper can sing. She's got real pipes. People forget this. They think of her as one more brainless 80's be-bopper; good only for a walk down memory lane.

Make no mistake; Cyndi Lauper is great. This song is great. No I really want to make out under a porch just out of the rain. I'm putting this on when Rachel gets home. Starting with track 9. I can't make out to Mary Magdalene comforting Jesus.

Slightly off topic; you want proof that Lauper has mad skills? Check out "We Are The World" on YouTube or some such. Crazy good.

Track 11: The Only Living Boy In New York -Simon & Garfunkel
I will say it again; wow. Great song. Great follow up to track 10. 

Can't ever decide if I'm a bigger Paul Simon solo fan or Simon & Garfunkel fan. Listening to this song makes me think it's no contest (I'll feel similarly, but the opposite, the next time I listen to Graceland again). How can a song be this sweet without becoming saccharine? How can it be this melancholy without becoming maudlin? How can it be so lonely and yet I don't feel alone?

Simon & Garfunkel are geniuses. That's how.

Track 12: Sull'Aria... Che Soave Zeffiretto -Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
I love this song. Let me say that first. It is epic. Heartbreaking and heart healing. Sweeping. Grand.

That said, it's the first song to song transition that feels abrupt. I might not have noticed it on a mix less than this great, but I noticed it. You needed a song to get you from 11 to 12. I'm not sure what that song was. Maybe another instrumental.

Anyway, this song is gorgeous. I'm going to listen to it a second time and just enjoy it. Be back...

Track 13: Communist Daughter -Neutral Milk Hotel
This should have been track 12. Perfect follow up to OLBINY. Awkward follow up to Mozart. 

Ok, I'm done talking about track 12. It never happened.

Considering that I would list NMH among my top 5 favorite bands, I do not listen to this song enough. Or, I do, but I don't really listen. Placing it on this mix has helped me pay attention. When it sits between "Holland, 1945" and "Oh Comely" I tend to miss it, especially since it's less than 2 minutes long.

That said, I'm listening now. I dig this song. It has a sad whimsy to it. Like he's nostalgic for a time that he knows wasn't actually that great. Which makes the song great. Good choice.

Track 14: Hey Joe -Daniel Johnston
And speaking of sad whimsy...

Again, excellent follow up. And an excellent and underappreciated song from DJ. Love his stuff. 

"There's a heaven and there's a star for you." Keep punching Joe.

Track 15: Quantegy - Trey Anastasio
Not gonna lie. I find Phish annoying. Which means I find Trey Anastasio annoying. This song is no exception. Trying to be Talking Heads meets Grateful Dead and failing to come close to either. 

I think he thinks he's being clever. I don't think he is.

I may be biased against this, but it also feels like an abrupt follow up. Like I've been discussing the meaning of life with my closest friends and some stoner from down the hall ducked his head in and exclaimed, "Hey guys!? Whatcha doin'?"

Get out Anastasio. The grownups are talking. Even if they sometimes talk like children.

Moving on.

Track 16: Symphonique #6 (Good for Goodie) - Moondog
Not just an excellent song, but an excellent follow up to track 14. I may have to burn my own expurgated version of this mix. Still, I couldn't have done it without you, Meg.

This has this great whimsical childlike playfulness and yet a real darkside as well. You could follow this with a Tom Waits tune. I feel like I'm hanging out with circus freaks in a trailer park. That's not quite right. But it's close.

You're cleansing my palate for an incredible close. I can't wait.

Track 17: Little Green Bag -George Baker
Perfect. Just. Perfect.

I'm just gonna sit back and enjoy this. Thank you.

Track 18: Time Loves A Hero -Little Feat
Can't decide if you went for one too many or not. This is a great song and a great follow up. "Little Green Bag" was just such a perfect way to wrap up this mix. 

That said, I don't get enough Little Feat in my life. Good stuff. Great mix. Thanks.

Whoa...wait a minute. This mix just started over at track 1. And Little Feat was the perfect transition from Baker to Band.

Did you do that on purpose?! Either way, brilliant. I'm gonna listen to this mix again right now. Maybe Rachel will be home by track 9.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Mailbox Mixtape #2

Well, lo and behold, another mixtape. I'm looking back to the last tape received (June 2010) and you see how I figured this blog was done. Can't say as I wasn't disappointed. Can't say as I'm not excited. Here's to hoping this isn't the last we get until summer.

Tape is non-descript. No markings. No track listing. No packaging. All mystery. Dig it.

Track 1/Side 1
Know this song. Like this song. If I was going to use George Harrison, I'd have gone with something else, but this is good. Harrison's tribute to Lennon; "All Those Years Ago." Not sure what album this is off of, but it is crazy 80's. Early 80's.

Harrison is such a good songwriter. I don't listen to him enough. That said, like all the Beatles, his work seems to suffer the further he gets from being a Beatle. All Things Must Pass (1970) is his best work. Ten years later I grow less interested. Although, I really liked the Cloud Nine album in...what...1988?

Actually, I don't like this as much as I thought. Musically, this is as corny as anything Harrison ever mocked McCartney for writing. In fact, I'm gonna say George was writing this around the same time that Paul was in the studio with Stevie singing "Ebony and Ivory." I wouldn't argue for one song over the other in terms of corniest song by a former Beatle. So we're off to a "meh" start. Probably shouldn't say that or I guarantee it'll be another six months between mailbox mixes. Let's unpause and see what's next.

Track 2/Side 1
On the other hand, I absolutely LOVE this song. Paul Simon's "Still Crazy After All These Years." Man, Paul Simon was so amazing for so long and certainly when he was recording this. I guess you could argue that this also has it's cheesy elements, but I'm not complaining. Really love this song. This whole album, really. This song always makes me think of Dan Folgelberg's "Same Old Lang Syne," though this is a better song. I love those "what might have been" reminisces. I love that his "I just smiled" feels like he's doing her a favor. Sad song. Nice choice. By the way, are you doing an "all the/ose years" thing? I don't see how you couldn't be. Although, I also don't see how you found an hour's worth of "all these years" songs. Let's see.

Track 3/Side 1
"Holding Back The Years." So, I was a third right. This is a "years" mix. OK. That's not uber interesting, but not a bad way to begin a new year on an old blog. This song is not as bad as some think, but certainly suffers from overexposure. This song is borderline "Lady In Red" as far as songs that I can't seem to hate (due mostly to nostalgia), but also can't seem to appreciate by virtue of the fact that they feel more like part of the ether than actual songs. It's like appreciating wallpaper as art. All in all, I like this song better than the first one (though not by much) and much less than the second. I can only hope this is a "hit and miss" years mix and that the next song will be more promising.

Track 4/Side 1
Lots of buzzy violins. First song I haven't recognized right away. Buzz stops. Harp starts? Something stringed. Wait...I know this song. Oh. Nice.

OK, this song wasn't a hit as far as any charts go, but it is certainly a hit with me. Elton John's "Sixty Years On." Good stuff. Speaking of great songs off of great albums. Elton John's "I hope I die before I get old."

Everybody raves about Tumbleweed Connection and Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (two of my favorites), but you don't hear this one talked about as much. And yet it has "Your Song" and "Border Song" and lesser known classics like this one and "Take Me To The Pilot." This is his self-titled album, by the way. Check it out.

Hadn't remembered all the breaks for strings on this. Wish this was a little more stripped down. Elton makes this choice of orchestration more often than I'd like. I'd like to hear EJ revisit some of his songs with just him and a piano. And as his younger self. That said, this is still a great song. Nice choice.

Track 5/Side 1
You broke out of the hit/miss/hit pattern. Good for you. OK, this is early Leonard Cohen which means I'm gonna dig it. I vaguely recognize this, but can't recall the title. I like it though.

That's the second time he's sang the words "last year's man" so, given the theme we have going, I'm going with that as the title.

Wikipedia has nothing on "Last Year's Man." Will Google it.

Google confirms "Last Year's Man" as being off of Songs of Love and Hate which means I shouldn't have had to look. You got me mixer. You got me good. It's been too long since I listened to this album.

I really prefer this era of Leonard Cohen. I guess most people do. Wouldn't it have been great to hear him sing "Hallelujah" during this era? I like the low voice casiotone accompanied stuff too. But this is my favorite.

This album makes me think of my friend Andy. I feel like he really loves this album in particular. I'll have to remember to ask him.

Man, this song is great. "And Bethlehem inflamed us both like the shy one at some orgy." Old Testament and sad sex. That's Leonard Cohen.

"Some women wait for Jesus and some women wait for Cain." Elvis Costello should cover this song.

Great song. Thanks mixer. This has given me an album to revisit and a reminder of how great Leonard Cohen is. Next song.

Track 6/Side 1
"One Hundred Years From Now." Gram Parsons and The Byrds. Sweetheart of the Rodeo. Mixer, you know the way to my heart. The year thing isn't even that distracting; this is just an excellent mix of songs. Wish You'd left out the Harrison and Simply Red.

McGuinn does this on the album, so this must be some bootleg or added track or something. The "1-2" count at the beginning says this is a rehearsal take.

I prefer Parsons on this song. I prefer Parsons to McGuinn generally. I like Parsons' version of "The Christian Life" better too. McGuinn sings it snarky and Parsons sincere.

Good call on choosing this version of this song. Well played.

Track 7/Side 1
Not sure what this song is. Sounds weird. Is this Queen? Sounds like Queen Wait. Here's guitar and drums and...that's Mick Jagger and this is "2000 Light Years From Home." Not one of my favorite Stones tunes. Mostly because of the special effects sounds behind the music. They were going for psychedelic, but it just comes off silly. What album is this off of?

Their Satanic Majesties Request. Again, not one of my favorites. The only song I really love off of this album is "She's A Rainbow." Oh well, can't win 'em all. Moving on.

Oh. That's side one. OK, side two, here we come.

Track 1/Side 2
I do not know this song. I do not recognize the singer. I like it though. Reminds me of Darden Smith. Is this Darden Smith?

Man, this is really nice. Kind of Nick Drakey, though this isn't as whispery a vocalist as Nick Drake.

Who is this? No clues from any obvious chorus. AGH! I like this a lot. And you're not making it easy.

Shinsy, Drakey, folky, alty. Seriously, you readers will want to check this out.

OK, that's the second time he's said "holding back the year." I'm going with that. Pause to google.

I get Simply Red's "Holding Back The Years" (they know you so well, mixer) and Lou Barlow's "Holding Back The Year." Click to hear sample...

This is Lou Barlow's "Holding Back The Year." I like this. I may have to check this album out. How recent is this? I assume it's post-Sebadoh. Unpause as search continues.

Album is called Emoh. Came out in 2005. Will check it out. Thanks mixer. Next song.

Track 2/Side 2
Whistling. Ukulele. I recognize this song off a mix my friend Summer made me. Lots of fun. Can't remember who this is. "Fun, fun, fun...when we were, fun, fun...when we were drunk..."

I like the guy/girl back and forth on this. I just like this song. Can't place a title. Lots of "fun, fun, fun" and "love, love, love" no "year, year, year."

Take it back. They are now saying "five years time" on repeat. More whistling. Pause to research.

Noah and the Whale. Yeah. I like this a lot. These guys are fun. Won't change your life, but this would be a nice band to have a first date to.

Have they ever had a song in a Zooey Deschanel film? Because they should. Still paused. Will check.

Can't find anything. But this song makes me think of Zooey Deschanel. If you like Zooey, Belle & Sebastian, or holding hands, you will like this song.

Unpause. Oh. It's done.

Track 3/Side 2
Piano. Drums. Chunky guitar.

Oh! I would not have known this song a week ago and then heard it in Bird's Barbershop and filed away the lyric "I am gonna make it through this year if it kills me" and googled it at home and it's The Mountain Goats and, believe it or not, I bought this album yesterday.

The album is The Sunset Tree and the song is called "This Year" and it's excellent. This is a song of hope hard won, a song of survival (see previous lyric), a song of struggle. Great lyrics. Great tune. Great bridge. Great hook to the chorus. Just. So. Great.

Love this towards the end "there will be feasting and dancing in Jerusalem next year." Way to tie hope to something epic and endless. Nice.

Should have sent this a week ago, mixer. You could have been the one to introduce me to one of my new favorite songs. Happy coincidence, either way.

Track 4/Side 2
This is The Walkmen. I know this from another "friend Summer" mix. Summer, did you send me this mix? The "year" theme doesn't seem like you, but many of the choices do. Summer actually just made me a Walkmen mix, which I look forward to getting. Summer, is this a teaser?

Anyway, this song is fantastic. My request of a Walkmen mix has much to do with wondering if the Walkmen are always this good. Because this is great. This is why U2 fans loved U2 in 1982. This is October.

Man, I cannot wait to get that Walkmen mix. I hope it's all at least half this good.

Track 5/Side 2
Ha! Speaking of U2. I guess on a "years" mix "New Year's Day" was a sort of obvious choice, especially after "The New Year." That said, you'll get no complaints from me. I will always love this song. Bonus points for putting two bands together as if you knew I'd do the same.

I doubt I have to say much about this song except to say that you haters out there are inexplicable to me. Take whatever pretension you attach to Bono out of it. These guys were amazing 20 years ago even if you don't think (like I do) that they still are. This song

Seriously haters, go buy the War album, forget it's Bono and the Edge and just take in how perfect it is.

OK, I'm just gonna sit back and enjoy the rest of this. Thanks mixer.

Track 6/Side 2
Don't recognize this song.

Recognize this voice. This is Eddie Vedder. This is Pearl Jam after I stopped liking Pearl Jam. That said, this isn't bad. This also isn't great. This is certainly no Vs. This is sort of why I stopped buying Pearl Jam albums.

Yeah, this is sort of adult contemporary Pearl Jam. No clue from the lyrics what "year" this is.

This sounds like something off Yield. This sounds like "Given To Fly" rehashed. Still no clue what it is.

"And wherever you've gone and wherever we might go it don't seem fair that they just disappear"

Pause to look up lyric.

This is "Light Years" off of Binaural. Which, Wikipedia tells me, is the album that followed Yield. Not even kind of surprising. Not loving this choice, mixer. Especially given how good this side B is.

The music almost feels like Tenacious D's "Wonderboy."

OK, Eddie, let's wrap it up.

Track 7/Side 2
I like this. Is this Stevie Wonder? No, this is...who is this?

They keep saying "golden years." Am assuming this is the title.

This is Bowie. I don't listen to a lot of post-Ziggy Bowie, so I can't name this. I really like it though. Maybe I should listen to more post-Ziggy Bowie. Good stuff.

Pause to research.

"Golden Years" is off of Station To Station. Not familiar with this album at all. Will have to check it out. This track is great. Like, great great.

I had always heard this album was more Kraftwerky (no thanks), but this sounds like it could have been on Young Americans. Is the entire album like this?

Song is wrapping up. Thanks for the Bowie. Thanks for the mix. Thanks for reminding me to listen to Songs of Love and Hate more often and more closely, and for giving me a reason to try Station To Station. Thanks for keeping the blog going. Thought the "year" thing would be distracting, but this was a good mix.

Seriously. Thanks.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Mailbox Mixtape #1

So, it's been awhile since my last blog post. That's because the intriguing experiment I had hoped this blog would be turned into a box of full-length albums transfered to tape. It's funny for one post, hanging on at two, and not compelling at all by post three. However, my previous post suggested another direction this blog might take. I have waited weeks for takers. Finally, my first mailbox mix arrived. And the 2.0 version of this blog began. So, without further ado...

The mix is a cd and comes in the most basic of packaging, no interesting artwork, etc. Not a problem. Sender's not an artist, neither am I. I like cool packaging, but I certainly don't insist on it. Let the music speak for itself. Good work not sending the track listing. Makes me listen harder and gets us closer to one of the qualities that makes mix tapes superior, the difficulty of skipping ahead. Interestingly, the only clue as to who this sender might be is that is has a title. The title is Heffie's Mix. I know no one named Heffie. This is less than a clue.

Track 1
In less than seconds, I know the song. One of the most recognizable openings I know. This is "Heard It Through The Grapevine". Only takes another note or two to realize that this is not Marvin Gaye. You have kicked off this mix by (unknowingly, I'm sure) using one of my favorite songs by (almost certainly) a lesser artist. This does not bode well. Still, we move forward.

Oy. This cover was recorded in the 80s. This may be the guy who sings the theme to Moonlighting. Or his whiter cousin. The background music sounds like a karaoke track. It's also possible that this is the version sung by the California Raisins.

On second thought, it sounds too white to be the California Raisins.

Well, that was forgettable. On to track 2. Send me your address, sender, and I'll burn you Marvin Gaye and Gladys Knight's versions of this song. It will change your life.

Track 2
OK, I kind of dig this song. I think it's called "California" and may be by that band that Jason Schwartzman was the drummer for. It'll come to me.

The fact that this song is called "California" (99% sure that's what it's called, given the fact that the lead singer repeats the name of said state over and over again throughout said song) makes me wonder again if that first song was the California Raisins. Is that the theme here, sender? Is Heffie from California? Is she just a big fan of the OC?

Wait a minute; wasn't this the theme song for the OC? Anyway, I like the piano lick on this.

Phantom Planet. The name of the band is Phantom Planet. And Jason Schwartzman was the drummer.

Interesting sidenote: I once made book recommendations to Jason Schwartzman when he was in the store. Nice guy. Way short.

OK sender, I like this song. I don't love it and I don't know what it is you're trying to tell me about you or Heffie (are you Heffie?), but you have my attention.

Track 3
Wow. This was unexpected. Track 3 is "Rocky Top Tennessee". Not sure who's performing this version, but I dig it. This is, frankly, a difficult song for me not to like, no matter who's performing it. I just really like this song.

How did you know I liked this song, Heffie? How did you know about those camp counselors I thought were so cool when I was in the 5th grade because they were sort of younger and seemed to get that I was nerdy and lonely and let me sit around while the other kids were back in their cabins and listen to them perform bluegrass tunes? How did you know this was the song that I learned all the words to by time the week was out?

So, California and Tennessee. Still doesn't explain that first song. Unless track four is going to be performed by Tennessee Ernie Ford. That would be pretty funny, actually.

Heffie, I sort of love you for this track. At the very least, I completely forgive you for track one.

Track 4
Ok, I think I know this song. This sounds like a band trying to sound like Queen and Kiss and failing.

Oh. This is that band The Darkness. I believe this is called "I Believe In A Thing Called Love". That or "Touching You, Touching Me".

Not gonna lie, Heffie, this song sort of gets on my nerves. They're so in on the joke, and not in a Spinal Tap way. They are to Spinal Tap what the Broadway cast of Monty Python is to the real Monty Python; the genius of the original is that they never wink, the weakness of the copycat is that they're one big wink.

Not sure how these songs hang together.

Track 5
OK Heffie, you are either a genius or certifiably insane. Billy Ray Cyrus' "Achy Breaky Heart"? Kudos. I am officially thrown. I have to assume that this mix either isn't meant to tell me anything about you or is intended to reveal the secrets of the universe, if only I can decipher its clues.

On the other hand, maybe Heffie was your camp counselor. Maybe that's all this is. And you know what, sender? That would be OK. Those camp counselors deserve their mix, the good ones are so rare.

Track 6
"California Girls". Well, I'm stumped. Just when I was sure this couldn't be about California, you throw this into the mix. I need to pause and regroup.

I have to say, sender, I have been assuming you're Heffie, but it's possible that Heffie's your girl. Here's the scenario as I currently envision it:

You are a male or female from somewhere in Tennessee. You're into lame country music because you were born in the mid to late 80s somewhere near Nashville and don't know any better. Heffie is a female from California. You and Heffie met one summer when you attended the same summer camp. She quickly became either your best friend, your girlfriend or your best friend you wish was your girlfriend. This is your mix, but it is also, as titled, Heffie's mix. Am I close, sender?

Track 7
First song that I don't even kind of recognize. No surprise. This is electronica/dance club music, and not LCD Soundsystem or Daft Punk. This is the sort of song they feature on Time Life's Let's Dance series, alongside Pink's "Get The Party Started". This may, in fact, be Pink.

This is the first song on this mix that I want to skip. "Heard It Through The Grapevine" is a classic, even if you picked the wrong version. "Achy Breaky Heart" scratches at a kind of generic nostalgia that has me singing along before I have the chance to change the channel.

She keeps singing "I'm gonna get through this". This will become my Track 7 mantra. I'm gonna get through this. I'm gonna get through this. I'm gonna-

OK, I'm skipping to track 8.

Track 8
The opening bars scream bad 90s country.

This guy's voice is 90s country. Maybe 80s. This guy listens to a lot of George Strait.

I have never heard this song before. I wish I had never heard it, period. I think he just told some girl to "kiss his glass".

Sounds like this song is titled "Brokenheartsville" (I can only assume that's one word). Did you and Heffie have a falling out? Because this is what a kid from Nashville listens to when his/her California girl from summer camp breaks his/her heart. Actually, I don't think a girl would listen to this song to mourn the loss of another girl. If this song is about Heffie leaving you, then you are a guy. It's also possible that some Nashville guy made you this mix and your sending it to me is your way of reaching out and/or punishing him.

Track 9
OK, I LOVE this song! How do you follow "Brokenheartsville" with Bobby Darin?! Are you messing with me?

That said, "Beyond the Sea" could be another California reference. Does your lover stand on golden sands? Are you the lover?

I'm going to say that two women don't share a Bobby Darin song. If this is a song shared by lovers, then one of them is a guy.

Track 10
"Hotel California"? Couldn't have been a bit more obvious, sender? Somebody is from California. Is it you? Is it Heffie? Are you Heffie? Did you meet at summer camp?

What can I say about this song? Everyone on earth has heard this song and everyone has their mind firmly made up as to its merits. I don't need to make a case for/against it.

That said, I like this song. I like the Eagles. So who the hell am I to judge you, sender? One could certainly argue that Don Henley is just as impossible as whoever sings "Brokenheartsville".

Man, this song is long.

This song really creeped me out as a kid. I could imagine this place with a sort of pseudo-Satanic decadence. This song makes me feel the same way that Three Dog Night's "Eli's Coming" makes me feel. Strange things are afoot at the Circle K, Heffie. And at the Hotel California. Eli is, indeed, coming. And he's making it rain oil out of the sky.

This song never ends. I take it back, Heffie, the reason why people hate this song is because they have to listen to all of it. Only song it's possible to love up front and hate by the end.

Track 11
Back to bad country. This time with a bit of bad Billy Joel piano ballad.

Oh, I see what you just did 90s country guy. You set me up. This is a bad country beer commercial song with a bad breakup beginning. Which is another way of saying that I want to hunt down and kill whoever it is singing this song.

Does he keep singing "kissee kissee smoochee smoochee"? I'm a pacifist, Heffie, but I want to beat this guy to death.

This guy wants to be every country song ever performed by Garth Brooks or Alan Jackson and fails miserably.

Pretty sure this song is titled "I Got A Brand New Girlfriend". Is this a kiss off to Heffie?

Track 12
I know this song, but not this version. This is like an acoustic cut of a Bob Schneider song, except it's not Bob Schneider. Who is this?

Is this John Mayer? AAAAAAaaaaaggggghhhh!!! Who IS this?

"Am I livin' it right? Am I livin' it right? Why Georgia why?"

Don't love this song, though this acoustic version is better than the original.

Wait, someone just laughed in the background. This is live in a club somewhere. Wait! Almost had it. Dangit.


I think this is John Mayer. That is unforgivable, sender. Don't send me mixes with The Beach Boys and John Mayer. They just confuse me and make me angry. Genius smacks up against "meh".

Track 13
Another one of my favorite songs done as a bad cover. Almost assuredly the same guy as track one. If you're going to use "Ain't Too Proud To Beg" why not use The Temptations? Are you trying to hurt me, sender? Did someone put you up to this?

Send me your address, sender. I will burn you a Motown mix that includes the original "Grapevine" as well as the original "Ain't Too Proud". I don't want to be a snob, but this is ridiculous.

To your credit, Track 13 is the last track and you clearly meant to begin and end with the same artist. I like that kind of thoughtfulness. In the future, make sure that artist is either Marvin Gaye or at least one of The Temptations.

You took a big risk being the first one out of the gate there, sender. I didn't promise to love your mix or to go easy on it, and you sent it on ahead anyway. I didn't love it, but I tried not to be too harsh. I hope we can still be friends. I wish I had a better understanding of what you were trying to say, but maybe you just had to be there. Maybe you just had to be Heffie. Maybe you are Heffie. Whether you are or not, I thank you for putting yourself out there and I hope you'll inspire others to do the same.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

We Interrupt This Blog For A Special Announcement

So, if Missy is as consistent as I think she's going to be, I am looking forward to another 32 tapes worth of albums transfered to tape.

Which could be interesting, or boring as hell.

Still, what I wanted this blog to be still feels possible, even probable.

But I'm going to need your help.

While I continue on with Missy's collection, I would like to begin a second project that, should it begin to take hold, will quickly eclipse this current one.

The project is Mail Box Mix Tapes.

The idea is this. My readership, who I am certain are more creative and interesting than Missy, begin to send me mix tapes in the mail.

Be as creative with the packaging as you'd like, but leave a bit of mystery as to track listing and sender of tape.

I will blog about your mix tapes as I will continue to with Missy's.

Think of this as the PostSecret of mixtapes.

Send to:
Kester Smith
1603-A Cinnamon Path
Austin, TX 78704

I look forward to hearing from you.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Tape 2/Side 2

Tape 2/Side 2/Track 1

OK, so this tape has a side 2 and it isn’t the Ramones. I don’t know who this is. Someone grungy, but not in a good way. Punky grungy. Bad Pearl Jam meets bad Nirvana. I don’t know what this is, but I already hate it. Missy, you’re killing me.

This guy is definitely going for a Cobain thing with the voice. Oy.

Track 2

I can already tell this is just one artist/band. COME ON Missy!! You know what, this isn’t Missy. Missy wouldn’t do this to me. This is Bill or Bob or Rod or Ron. Shame on you, Bill. This isn’t creative at all.

OK, so this band is almost certainly from the mid to late 90’s. Filled with unbelievable angst (as in, I don’t believe this guy is actually filled with angst). I think he is saying, “Sharon comes down now.” Or he is demanding that Sharon come down. And he means NOW. Sharon, no kidding, I’d stay in your room.

Track 3

Oh man, it just gets worse. Rod, you have the worst taste ever. I think he’s yelling, “Like my Aunt Tilly’s brain!” This makes no sense to me and yet disturbs me to no end.

I think he just said something about cotton candy.

He may be saying “explain” and not “-ly’s brain.” Ok then, explain. Because I am annoyed and confused.

Track 4

Wait. This song sounds familiar. Is it just because it sounds like the 90’s? What is this song?

“Up up up is down, turn turn turn around” and etc. Surely Google can help me now.

Google is no help. I think he is singing about “Saltines in the bedroom.”

“Saltines” may be “sometimes”

Track 5

Ho. Ly. Crap. This is “Molly’s Lips”. Which means this isn’t bad Nirvana, this is Nirvana. And I love Nirvana. But I was less than digging those first 3 songs. I’m not sure what to make of you, Rod, except that you may still be Missy.

Shinola. The tape just shredded in the player. That’s what I get for badmouthing Nirvana. Sorry Missy. Sorry Kurt. This tape is no more.

I can only assume that this is a sampling of Nirvana songs not featured on LPs. The world may never know.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Tape 2

Tape 2/Track 1

People cheering. Guitar.

“Hey, we’re the Ramones, this one’s called Rockaway Beach. 1-2-3-4!”

Pretty sure this is from NYC 1978. Solid live album. Still, hoping this is the beginning of a mix and not the beginning of NYC 1978. We shall see.

This could also be It’s Alive. Haven’t heard either in years. Think both begin with Rockaway Beach.

Do all Ramones live albums begin with Rockaway Beach? Wikipedia, here I come.

According to Wikipedia, It’s Alive and NYC 1978 both begin with “Rockaway Beach” followed by “Teenage Lobotomy.”

Tape 2/Track 2

Just kicked into “Teenage Lobotomy.” So, this isn’t a mix tape either. Which is disappointing. Only real mystery now is whether this is It’s Alive or NYC 1978. This will be difficult to discern as Wikipedia has this to say about the two live albums:

[NYC 1978] was recorded only seven days after the concert on It’s Alive and, as such, is similar. The tracklisting is the same, with the exception of “Judy Is A Punk” not being on NYC 1978.

Tape 2/Track 3

Joey Ramone just talked about how glad he is to be back in London. I can only surmise that this is not recorded in NYC. Track 3, by the way, is “Blitzkrieg Bop.”

As I said before, this is a solid live album. Reviewers seem to prefer It’s Alive to NYC 1978, despite their similarities. If you like the Ramones, this is worth picking up. I like the Ramones.

I am not, however, going to do a track by track commentary on It’s Alive. You didn’t come here to read album reviews and I didn’t come here to write them.

I would like to talk about my mixtape maker. So far, we have someone who doesn’t so much make mixtapes as someone who transfers albums from tape (CD?) to tape. So…that’s less interesting.

It also makes me less assured as to who this person is. Mix tapes can speak volumes in the selection and ordering of a few songs. These first two tapes only ask one question; what kind of person listens to Fem2Fem and the Ramones?

Not that that isn’t an interesting question. I’m still thinking this is someone who was a teenager in the late 90’s. No longer sure whether that person is female. Imagine that person having an older sibling or hanging out with an older crowd. Seems like a fan of Fem2Fem would need to be told to seek out the Ramones. Or vice versa.

I’m trying to think who first told me to check out the Ramones; I certainly didn’t discover them on my own. I think it was through Anand Razdan, who was my age, but had an older brother. I know it was Anand who introduced me to Queen. Maybe Kevin Labriola introduced me to the Ramones. I need to dig out my old mixtapes. I know there was one from 1991 on which Kevin featured Nirvana and Ned’s Atomic Dustbin. It may also have included the Ramones.

So, who introduced you to the Ramones, Missy? If Missy is your real name. It may also be Bill. Or Rob. Still might be Angie. Or Jenni. But definitely Jenni with an “i”.

This isn’t the Ramones greatest hits though. You were a more engaged fan than that. Or you stumbled upon a tape of It’s Alive in the dollar bin at Hastings. But I’m going with more engaged. You sought out It’s Alive and also listened to Fem2Fem. Who does that make you, Missy? I think it makes you either oversexed or angry or both. Or neither, but struggling to be both. Or both, but struggling to be neither. Were you a punk in high school? Did you wear plaid or all black? Either way, you almost certainly listened to Nine Inch Nails. They seem to be the only possible link between Fem2Fem and the Ramones.

Where do we go from here, Missy? Missy is short for Melissa, right? Does your mom call you Melissa? Do you hate when she does that, or is she just the one person who can?

Let’s hang out some more, Missy. And let’s have a real mix tape, OK? I’m not in the mood to hear all of Ween’s Chocolate and Cheese.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Tape 1

Tape 1/Track 1

Space sounds? Whale noises? Is that Sting? Is this Enya?

This isn’t Sting. Still might be Enya. Or Enigma. Or someone trying to sound like Sarah MacLachlan.

I don’t know what this is, but it is bad. That said, in 1990, I’d have thought this was great. Not off the charts maybe, but good.

The lead singer is female and has this laughably put on sultry voice and keeps saying things like “take me now” and “I hear the beast” and something about being up against a tree.

Wait. It just kicked into another gear. What seconds before sounded like Enigma now sounds like bad Madonna or the Bangles. Maybe Janet Jackson. She keeps saying “we are the wild ones.” Is that the title? Should I google this, or just go with it?

If I had to guess, just from this first track, a teenage girl (maybe a young woman in college) made this mix.

OK, now it’s getting a kind of 90’s dance club feel. The lyrics are raunchier. Now the lead singer is singing “insatiable” on repeat. That’s my new guess for song title.

Whoa, now we’re talking about “a gag in the mouth” and I think someone got licked. If a girl (I still think it’s a girl) gave me this mix in high school, I’d have been extremely nervous about said girl.

“Insatiable” on repeat and fade out. Wow.

Tape 1/Track 2

Same 90’s dance club feel, this time right from the start. I think this might be the same woman. What if this isn’t a mix tape? What if this is just one album by one artist? Oh man, please don’t be one album.

“Have you seen my bustier?” the lead singer asks and asks like she wants to show it to you, not like she misplaced it.

I hate this song.

Tape 1/Track 3

This is definitely one album by one artist. Can I fast forward through this?

Curiosity got the best of me and I started looking up lyrics on Google. No luck. Tried lyrics from 3 tracks. Nothing.

Is it possible that this is a home recording of unreleased stuff? That does heighten my interest. Much as I’m unsure about the girl (woman?) who might have carried around this album in her walkman, I am far more curious about the woman who might have recorded it in a home studio. Hmmm…

This stuff is Madonna on her worst day. This track is definitely inspired by Vogue, except that it is truly awful.

“Let’s you and me bump and grind…” she suggests. Bump and grind? This was recorded in…1996. I’m guessing ’96. I was definitely about to graduate college when this was recorded.

Tape 1/Track 4

It’s official. This is one artist/one album. Possibly songs from various albums by the same artist. This music is so time specific it makes me nostalgic, despite the fact that I’m hearing it for the first time. It makes me think of Sophie B. Hawkins, even though it sounds nothing like her. It makes me think of 4 Non Blondes.

I think this song is called Compulsive Jane. It is certainly about someone called Compulsive Jane.

When I enter “Compulsive Jane” into Wikipedia, I am directed to Fem2Fem. Wikipedia has this to say about Fem2Fem:

Fem2Fem was a 1990s techno group who released two albums. With actress Lezlie Deane of Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare as a member, Fem2Fem were the first and (so-far only) openly lesbian pop group to chart. But only some of the members of Fem2Fem were lesbians, and according to lead singer Michele Crispin their intentions at the beginning were to promote a healthy view of sexuality with their music, regardless of sexual orientation. However, an appearance by the band in the December 1993 issue of Playboy magazine and the non-political nature of their Sapphic lyrics led to criticism by some in the LGBT community that the band was merely playing to the prurient interests of a heterosexual male audience.

Wow. I don’t know about “prurient interests of a heterosexual male audience,” but the rest of this is dead on. It makes perfect sense that Lezlie Deane is a member of this band, and I don’t even know who Lezlie Deane is. Still, I cannot imagine the heterosexual male who would listen to this music.

(From Wikipedia: Fem2Fem went on to star in the erotic cyber-musical Voyeurz…running for six months and drawing an audience of celebrities including Jack Nicholson.)

You know what? I could see Jack Nicholson taking “prurient interest” in this band. Absolutely.

The track just cut off in the middle. End of side A? Too soon. Check tape. Not too soon. End of side A.  I think I might have gotten distracted by Wikipedia and allowed tracks to flow into one another without my noticing.

Tape 1/Track 9?

A song called Scream Queen kicks off side B. Wikipedia informs me that Scream Queen is track 9 on the Fem2Fem album titled Animus. How did I miss 5 tracks?!

Wait. Track 5 is supposed to be Compulsive Jane. Is this a mix of the best stuff off of Animus? Will pay close attention to the next track to see how this plays out.

Tape 1/Track 10?

This track is called Worship, which is track 10 on Animus. Will stick around for another track just to see if we’ve got the entire album on here. Can’t see how I missed 5 tracks.

FYI, Worship is the worst track on this tape, by far. And that is saying something. Fem2Fem are really bad.

Tape 1/Track ??

All she sang was “lay me down…come to me” on repeat for about 90 seconds. No idea what song that was supposed to be. Animus does not feature a song titled Lay Me Down nor one titled Come To Me.

Tape 1/Track 12

OK, Where Did Love Go? is supposed to follow Animus (title track), which follows Worship. So, that last song must have been Animus.

(From Wikipedia: The cover of their first album, including the font, was designed to be a distaff version of Trans-Europe Express by Kraftwerk.)

This track will not end. I think she just keeps saying “yeah” and “no no” over and over again.

I can’t do this anymore. I’m going to assume that this tape doesn’t suddenly segue into Stripped by Depeche Mode. I’m out. On to tape 2.

Oh. One last thing from Wikipedia: Alitzah (that’s right, one of the members has just one name) left the group early on and later became the lead singer for the American pop girl group Nobody’s Angel.

Album just ended as I was typing. Little bit of dead air and...end of side B.

That was awful. If I had to guess, this mixtape was made by an 18 year old straight girl named...Angie.