Friday, April 20, 2012

The Robert Smith Rule

It's been a while since we've done this. To be honest, I feel like I've been on a big comedown since seeing Pulp 11 days ago. Needless to say that show was pretty amazing. Since then I've replayed that night in my head countless times. It was one of those few shows where the entire setlist was damn near perfect. It'll be hard to top, that's for sure.

Coming up with this week's mixtape was a bit tougher than I had anticipated. I still plan on putting together my favorite songs of all ever (in mixtape form) but I want to narrow it down a bit since that very playlist on BriPod is 40 songs long. So rather than diving into one of our recurring mixtape themes, I figured I'd have a little fun. A few weeks back, I included the new single from Orbital in a playlist merely because it featured a guest appearance from Zola Jesus (see this post: My So-Called Life" Marathon And Another Anticipation Mixtape.) I alluded to something I called "The Robert Smith Rule" and it's similar counterpart, "Zola Jesus Rule." It's a simple theory that states that songs that feature either Robert Smith or Nika Roza Danilova (Zola Jesus) on guest vocals are automatically awesome. This mixtape proves both rules in 9 songs.

This mixtape is also available to be heard on Spotify: The Robert Smith Rule / Zola Jesus Rule [Random Ramblings & Mixtapes]

Part 1: The Robert Smith Rule
1. 65daysofstatic, "Come To Me": This English post-rock band, who has previously opened for The Cure, gets a bit of a boost from their one-time tour mate. Guitars swirl off into the ether but Smith's distinctive voice keeps things grounded.

2. Blank & Jones, "A Forest": This German trance duo transform the Cure classic into a throbbing techno pop opus with an assist from the song's original singer. This wouldn't be the first time they'd collaborate with a post-punk/New Wave icon as later they would tap Bernard Sumner to supply vocals to the equally awesome single, "Miracle Cure."

3. The Japanese Popstars, "Take Forever": Robert Smith's voice happens to mix very well with electronic music. It's just a natural fit, I suppose. The Japanese Popstars aren't Japanese at all (they're Irish) which is kind of misleading in the same way that I'm From Barcelona is actually Swedish. Anyway, by the song's end, Robert's giddy yelp carries the song to new heights.

4. Crystal Castles, "Not In Love": Of course, this is the version that isn't on the 2nd self-titled Crystal Castles album but the one that got released as a stand-alone single. It was easily one of my favorite songs from 2010. If memory serves me right, Robyn's "Dancing On My Own" was the only song that topped it in my year-end list. Two years later, this song still holds up very well. It's a match made in heaven...if heaven was a darkly lit dancefloor set at the end of the world, that is.

5. Blink-182, "All Of This": If any song proves The Robert Smith Rule it's this one. I never liked Blink-182 yet Robert's vocals make me like this. A part of me feels dirty for listening to this, but honestly, it's like a lost Cure song. That and the whiny guy in Blink only sings the chorus rightfully keeping the spotlight on Robert Smith where it belongs.

Part 2: Zola Jesus Rule
6. M83, "Intro": The last few years has seen a meteoric rise in Nika Roza Danilova's career thanks largely to her larger-than-life voice. It helps that she has put out some of her best work in that time span (2010's Striduulum and Valusia EPs and last year's stunning Conatus) so hearing her various guest appearances feels like a well-deserved victory lap. This one is easily my favorite of her collaborations as her soaring voice and M83's soaring arrangements are a perfect match to each other.

7. Former Ghosts, "Chin Up": This one dates back to 2010, maybe even before Zola Jesus' breakthrough. Former Ghosts is a project featuring a former member of This Song Is A Mess But So Am I -- a band I know nothing about. I honestly only checked this song out because of Nika Roza Danilova's involvement. It's funny to me to hear her showing a bit of restraint here but the foundation is definitely there.

8. Orbital, "New France": This is definitely proof of the power of Zola Jesus. I don't even like Orbital. Sadly, I have to admit that most times I get Orbital and The Orb mixed up.

9. Pictureplane, "Trancegender": Off of one of last year's most underrated electronic albums, Thee Physical. Here, Travis Egedy, the man behind Pictureplane, convincingly transforms Zola Jesus into a dance pop diva.

Here's to hoping Zola Jesus and Robert Smith do a duet. My mind is blown just at the thought of it.

Friday, April 6, 2012

March Onward

Newton's third law of motion states that "To every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction." And yes, I did just look that up on Wikipedia. To be fair, physics was never my thing; I'm more of a math guy. Yet for some reason, I took AP Physics in high school It was the first time I ever felt dumb in a class. So the reason I bring up all this smart-talk is because after having such a great week of live music there just had to be something to counteract it. Simply put, this week at work has really sucked. My original intent for this week's mixtape was to continue basking in last week's awesomeness by putting together a simple playlist of my favorite songs ever. Then as this week wore on, I thought "how about an angry mixtape?" Alas, I took the easy route and since we're at the very beginnings of April, now would be the perfect time for our March installment of the "Monthly Favorites Mixtape."

Don't fret though, "Brian L.'s Favorite Songs Ever" in mixtape form will happen. Especially since next week, I'll finally get to see my favorite Britpop band of all time. That would be Pulp, by the way - I'm traveling all the way to NY to see them and yes, I am very stoked. Even cooler is that I get back to Boston the next day in time to see The Horrors. Good days are coming back. In the meantime, enjoy the March 2012 Mixtape.


March 2012 Mixtape
A majority of this mixtape is also available to be heard on Spotify: March 2012 Mixtape [Random Ramblings & Mixtapes]

1. The Magnetic Fields, "Your Girlfriend's Face": I've expressed my love for The Magnetic Fields on countless occasions. Their latest album, Love At The Bottom Of The Sea continues the love-affair. This song's opening lines puts a smile on my face right away. I mean, honestly, who doesn't like upbeat tunes that talk about contract killers?

2. Delta Spirit, "Tear It Up": One of a handful of bands that survived BriPod's Great Folk Exorcism. Also, one of the bands I got to see during last week's nonstop show bender. This one is my favorite off their latest, self-titled album. It first appeared in File Under Miscellaneous

3. Oberhofer, "Landline": More upbeat indie pop to prove that I don't only listen to dark gothy stuff. But for real, Oberhofer's latest album, Time Capsules II is a jolt of energy that finds the midpoint between Los Campesinos!'s hyperactivity and Beach Boys prettiness.

4. Bishop Morocco, "Bleeds": Dreampop with a subtle Krautrock pulse. This Toronto band's latest 6-song EP, Old Boys one-ups their promising 2010 debut album as they ditch some of the underwater chillwave influences for something a bit sharper.

5. Autochrome, "We Are The System": I've been accused of being obsessed with this band. In my defense, it's been a while since I've fallen so hard for a band that, to me, is local. Right now, Autochrome might be Boston's best-kept secret but one listen to their debut, Separation Realms - an impressive and surprisingly polished collection of shadowy yet danceable post-punk - and anyone will be converted. At this rate, they won't stay a secret for very long. This one is a staple of their live set and it was first posted on By Request.

6. Blood Red Shoes,"Cold": Speaking of best-kept secrets, this UK duo is on the verge of their big breakout moment. Their just released third album, In Time To Voices is an ambitious collection of 90's-tinged indie rock that's not afraid to soar to stratospheric heights. "Cold" is the album's killer first single and it first appeared here on My So-Called Life Marathon and Another Anticipation Mixtape.

7. Spector, "Chevy Thunder": My love of UK indie rock is well-documented. This difficult-to-Google band gets a lot of comparisons to fellow-countrymen, The Vaccines and The Killers. I honestly don't hear the latter but I can get behind The Vaccines similarities. "Chevy Thunder" is destined for drunken sing-alongs. Not bad for a band who has only released 4 singles to date.

8. Titus Andronicus, "Upon Viewing Oregon's Landscape with the Flood of Detritus": And when it comes to perfecting the art of drunken sing-alongs, New Jersey's Titus Andronicus has made a career of it. Sure, they have a tendency to get a bit long-winded but all is forgiven by the time the chorus turns into rapturous, beer-soaked screams of joy. And that's only this song. Even better is that they've made this one, as well as a slew of live songs and covers (including their charmingly messy take on Weezer's "El Scorcho") available as a free download entitled Titus Andronicus LLC Mixtape Vol. 1. Hmmm, a mixtape...I like the way they think. Download it HERE.

9. Tanlines, "All Of Me": This Brooklyn duo was the only reason I enjoyed the Julian Casablancas concert. They definitely redeemed the fact that Julian just flopped at his attempt at electropop. I walked away from the show thinking, "at least Tanlines was good."

So there it is! Until the next mixtape. Listen loud!