“The making of a good compilation tape is a very subtle art. Many do’s and don’ts. First of all, you’re using someone else’s poetry to express how you feel. This is a delicate thing.” (High Fidelity)
Over the past few weeks, one of my work projects has me thinking about playlists a lot: about how they can capture a mood perfectly, about how they can change your mood more effectively than almost anything else, and how they indeed are a very subtle art.
As the first of what might become a regular feature of this blog, I’m going to share a playlist. This one seeks to capture the feeling of the song title that wraps it up: one Sunday morning.
Here’s the screen shot of the songs and artists; below is a link that will take you to the music itself (technology willing). Enjoy.
Rather than re-discovering my gym membership or resolving to read something longer than a Tweet in 2013, I’ve decided to come back here. The year ahead is going to have more music in it, so I invite you all back to see where this takes us.
First up is a fitting farewell to the holiday season. There a few out there more adept with atmospherics than The xx, and they prove this out once again with– of all things– a Wham! cover.
New parents might not make it out to the movies that often, but you can’t take away our soundtracks. In traditional Tarantino style, even the out takes from the soundtrack are amazing. Given Frank Ocean’s meteoric rise in 2012 (predicted well in advance on this blog, ahem ahem), this song is a perfect bridge to the year to come.
With a blues-meets-beats vibe reminiscent of Moby’s Play, this track is a killer car commercial in search of a car. Seemed apt for this afternoon.
For those curious about the track, it’s a bit of a multi-layered remix. The producer behind the xx remixed a track by Adele, after which a rapper by the name of Childish Gambino lays over a few verses. Infectiously danceable stuff.
From its early days, the mash-up has been an act of cleverness as much as creation; a knowing nod of juxtaposition between DJ and music fan. But, when the lyrics of Rhianna and The xx are combined live and set to a spare guitar riff, the resultant alchemy is far more emotional than musical.
As they’re reimagined by Taylor Mornsen of The Pretty Reckless, “Love the Way You Lie” and “Islands” become a single cloth of regret now written entirely from the woman’s perspective. Continue reading →
With back-to-back dinner parties this weekend, I of course had to spend a good chunk of time obsessing about the proper soundtrack for said soirees. The answer I came up with is the collection presented here: 19 food and family friendly tracks you probably haven’t heard but will want to.
For loyal readers of this blog, this CD will serve as a nostalgic tour through the mellower tracks that have emerged as my favorites over the last year or so. For the newbies out there, feel free to search the artists’ names on the blog so that you can learn more about them. And do track down their commercial releases: there’s not a band on here that’s not worth the price of admission.
Anyway, without further ado, here’s the track list and the link to the music. Continue reading →
The Mercury Prize provides a few telling insights into British culture.
First, the Brits can and do bet on everything. Moments after the announcement of this year’s nominees, there was a very public betting line on the frontrunners. Can you imagine if the front page of the Times did the same for the Oscars? Get your bets in for the marital duel, ladies and gentlemen! Will you take Avatar at 2 to 1 or The Hurt Locker at 10 to 1?
The second insight we can glean from these awards is that the British also manage to put a corporate logo on everything. For reasons my marketing mind can’t quite fathom, it’s the Barclaycard Mercury Awards. What would we think if it were the General Motors Grammy’s?
The third (and only musically-related) insight is that the UK still cares a lot– almost defiantly so– about music that’s still outside of the mainstream. Even though this year’s nominees are being decried as a conservative step back into the mainstream, even these skew toward Pitchfork and away from The Top 40. Last year’s Mercury Prize Winner, Speech Debelle (who? exactly.) never cracked the top 65 in sales.
This year’s frontrunners are the xx and Dizzee Rascal. Both have graced the pages of this blog (here and here), both are outstanding, and both are running 4-1 odds.
Dizzee Rascal, in the running to be the first two-time winner of the prize, continues his swaggering, tongue-twisting wordplay on his aptly named album Tongue-n-Cheek. And, on tracks like this, he blends in some other musical influences to keep his party trick worthy flow fresh.
As you might imagine from the prominent Siouxsie and the Bashees t-shirt worn by one of the members, the xx takes a decidedly different and more chilled-out tact. Here’s a track off of their debut Continue reading →
As I’m caught amidst an afternoon of procrastination, I thought I’d share three cuts from surprising duos that are going to drop in the coming weeks.
The first is from Broken Bells. At the musical core is Danger Mouse, but Cee-Lo has been replaced with James Mercer from the Shins– so Gnarls Barkley is now Broken Bells. A nice, heartfelt song… that you can read about in the Times today but you can hear it here. So there.
The second song for the day, which I think I like even more than the first, is from The Very Best. In the spirit of their astonishingly good first mixtape, they have remixed an existing song from the xx with their own Malawi-inflected sound.