Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Haunted Halloween

I couldn't resist. One last mixtape to close out October. It's Halloween after all which is the one day of the year that listening to goth and other dark sounds is expected. So what better excuse than to put together a mixtape to soundtrack some last-minute trick-or-treating. Also, this gives me a good reason to include My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult, Bauhaus' "Bela Lugosi's Dead" and, of course Ministry's "Everyday Is Halloween" onto a playlist. I guess what I'm trying to say, is "FINE! I'm sort of gothy!"

So dim the lights, turn up the volume, and listen loud!


Ghosts, Graves, and Vampires
1. Black Sabbath, "Black Sabbath"
2. Bauhaus, "Bela Lugosi's Dead"
3. Concrete Blonde, "Bloodletting (The Vampire Song)"
4. Ladytron, "Ghosts"
5. My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult, "The Days Of Swine And Roses"
6. Agent Side Grinder, "Wolf Hour"
7. The Cure, "Lullaby"
8. Ministry, "Everyday Is Halloween"
9. The Presets, "Ghosts"
10. The Ghosts, "Ghosts"
11. David Bowie, "Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)"
12. The Misfits, "Halloween II"
13. Veronica Falls, "Found Love In A Graveyard"

* Bonus track (not included on Spotify) *
14. The Ramones, "Pet Sematary"


Monday, October 29, 2012

Everything Comes To A Halt

First of all, I do hope that everyone stays safe during this storm that's hitting the East Coast today. I'm not one to go into a panic, but even I'm a bit nervous. However, though I'm not the type to buy into this "end of days"-talk, I am the type to use it as a theme to come up with today's mixtape - a soundtrack to this dreary day. Naturally, it's called "Mixtape For The End" and it includes songs about the end of the world, some wind, and some rain. It does not include the following: "Rock You Like A Hurricane" from the Scorpions, Def Leppard's "Armageddon It," or Eurythmics' "Here Comes The Rain Again" although Poison's "Ride The Wind" was a last-minute omission. But this does include that one R.E.M. song (you know which one!) because really, when do I ever get the chance to include that band on any mixtape.


Mixtape For The End
1. Blur, "To The End"
2. The Horrors, "Changing The Rain"
3. The Cure, "End"
4. School Of Seven Bells, "Windstorm"
5. The Raveonettes, "Till The End"
6. The Jesus And Mary Chain, "Happy When It Rains"
7. Weekend, "End Times"
8. Dum Dum Girls, "Season In Hell"
9. Placebo, "The Bitter End"
10. R.E.M., "It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)"
11. U2, "Until The End Of The World"
12. Sleigh Bells, "End Of The Line"
13. Alex Metric, "End Of The World" (feat. Charli XCX)
14. André Obin, "Soft Rain"
15. Light Asylum, "End Of Days"

The First Sound You Hear...

A good first impression goes a long way. Sometimes it's that moment when you first get introduced to a band. That first song you hear leaves a lasting memory and soon becomes one of your favorite songs ever. For me, that's exactly what happened with the Pixies and the Sisters Of Mercy. Even stranger is how those introductions happened in the form of seeing music videos from each band ("Here Comes Your Man" and "Walk Away," respectively.) At the risk of hyperbole, my life was changed in each instance. But then there are also those special occasions where a song's intro sticks with you; those first few seconds where the right guitar effect or the right drum beat grabs as much attention as a catchy chorus. These are the songs that I've started over again (and again, and again, and again) just to hear those opening moments.


The First Sound You Hear...
1. Chapterhouse, "Pearl": I was introduced to this song (and this band) while DJ'ing. I was playing Siouxsie & The Banshees' "Kiss Them For Me" when my co-DJ that evening ran up to the booth and told me I should play "Pearl" because "Kiss Them For Me" samples the drums. But that's not what got to me. Hell, it wasn't even the shimmering guitars that open the song but rather its drum beat that comes in about 25 seconds into "Pearl" before disappearing 3 seconds later only to return. That little tease was enough to make me want to hear it repeatedly.

2. The Smiths, "How Soon Is Now?": What's there to say about the delay effect on that opening guitar? It's so simple that whenever a band turns on the delay pedals, I refer to it as the "'How Soon Is Now?'-trick."

3. The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, "Belong": Just when I think that I can't be surprised by what guitars can do to a song this happens. Again, it's nothing special, just a rush of distorted guitars at just that right moment. It goes a long way.

4. The Posies, "Dream All Day": I was a metalhead during my first two years of high school. But then liking metal started to become passé and everyone started turning towards what was then alternative. It was an easy transition for me to like Ministry or Nine Inch Nails or even Alice In Chains. But The Posies were one of the first bands that I liked that wasn't heavy. Though the guitar intro to this song fooled me. It had one of those intangible qualities that hinted at something dark but then the song blossoms into some catchy power pop. "Dream All Day" has somehow managed to age very well, even though The Posies haven't really aged well themselves.

5. Wilco, "Heavy Metal Drummer": Listening to Wilco makes me feel like an adult. So whenever I get made fun of for liking them, I always namedrop this song. That opening drumbeat is barely 3 seconds long but every time I hear it, I start the song over just to hear it again. It helps that this song is also damn near perfect.

6. The National, "Mistaken For Strangers": Remember that guitar sound in Radiohead's "Creep"? The one that goes "Ch-CHK!" That was one of the greatest sounds I'd ever heard a guitar make. Well, the opening guitar lick on "Mistaken For Strangers" comes awfully close and what makes it such an earworm is that it's not a sound that's easy to describe without actually playing the song for someone.

7. Joy Division, "She's Lost Control": Admittedly, "Love Will Tear Us Apart" was my first taste of Joy Division but when it comes to the being completely owned by the first minute of any song, it doesn't get any better than "She's Lost Control." We get introduced to each instrument one at a time- Stephen Morris' icy beats, Hooky's supple bassline, Ian Curtis' unmistakable baritone, and then, almost right as the first minute comes up, Bernard Sumner's puncturing guitar. Still, it's the opening drums that make me come back for more each time.

8. Curve, "Fait Accompli": Perhaps the best example of perfect drum programming opens this song. Easily my favorite from this criminally underrated band. I recently saw Garbage live and the entire time I wondered if everyone knew what a huge debt they owed to Curve. Needless to say, I introduced a couple of friends (who are Garbage fans) to the awesomeness that is Toni Halliday and Dean Garcia with this very song.

9. Girls Against Boys, "Super-Fire": Oddly enough, my introduction to this New York-via-Washington D.C. band was through their cover of Joy Division's "She's Lost Control" (which, by the way, is excellent!) The other thing that grabbed me about Girls Against Boys was their (mostly) one guitar, two bassist, and drummer setup. Yet in spite of all that, it's that opening guitar lick on "Super-Fire" that serves as a gateway drug to the rest of the song; also a great opener to what was then their farewell to indie label, Touch & Go before an all-too-brief major label stint.

10. A Place To Bury Strangers, "To Fix The Gash In Your Head": This band had everything going for them before I even heard a single note. An awesome band name rivaled only by I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness, a song title that alludes to some downright baddasery, and comparisons to both the Jesus And Mary Chain AND Ministry. So much happens in the song's first 20 seconds that it's a lot to handle, from the acidic drum programming to the blast of feedback-drenched guitars. A Place To Bury Strangers is the reason God created earplugs.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

September Backtracks

September seems like a distant memory these days. Luckily, the songs that make up this Monthly Backtracks Mixtape are worth revisiting. Dreampop and noise pop seem to be the sounds that flood my headphones most of the time but what this playlist shows is that occasionally, unabashed sappy pop songs and anthemic indie rock find their way to me, too...oh and let's never forget, a good cover will always win me over.


September 2012 Mixtape
1. The xx, "Sunset": Often times, I describe The xx as a band that makes "makeout music." But really they're a bit more than that. Their second album, Coexist, is as seductive as its predecessor -- hushed voices, slithering basslines, and beats that invite the listener in as much as it pushes them away. On "Sunset," the UK trio pulls a bit of misdirection with a rhythm that hints at a sweaty dancefloor only to pull back to reveal empty spaces proving that not all silences have to be awkward.

2. Stars, "The Theory Of Relativity": What Stars may lack in subtlety they make up for with charm. They're the types that would want to hold hands and cuddle. "The Theory Of Relativity" is the opening track on their latest album, The North, and on it, they take a convincing turn towards slick dance pop.

3. Melody's Echo Chamber, "Endless Shore": On the French indie group's self-titled debut, Melody's Echo Chamber live up to their name straddling the line between swirling psych pop and dreamy shoegaze. The single, "Endless Shore" serves as a good starting point to the band and to Melody Prochet's siren song-like voice.

4. Buke & Gase, "Blue Monday": Brooklyn-based duo, Arone Dyer and Aron Sanchez have an experimental approach to their music, using hybrid instruments they've made themselves such as a retooled six-string baritone ukelele ("buke") and a combination guitar-bass ("gase") both of which gives them their band name. And as dusty and rough as they're able to sound, Buke & Gase successfully take on this New Order classic scrubbing away the glitz and unafraid to leave their own scuff marks.

5. TOY, "Lose My Way": This English band's debut album was one of my most anticipated releases of the year. As a matter of fact, their first single, "Left Myself Behind" had made it onto our first Monthly Backtracks Mixtapes back before I thought of that cool name. Thankfully, TOY's album didn't disappoint as the young band found the perfect midpoint between the hypnotic Krautrock influence that made The Horrors' Skying my favorite album of last year, and the drugged-out haze of recent Spiritualized. "Lose My Way" is TOY at their most yearning and their most accessible. And how can I possibly resist a lyric like "I never thought I'd lose my way over you"? It's simple and gorgeous and the reason I've listened to this song on repeat for at least four days straight.

6. Ringo Deathstarr, "Do You Wanna?": David Lee Roth once explained that one of the reasons that Van Halen's "Jump" became such a huge song was because it's a verb. Well, for me, I have a soft spot for song titles that ask a question. Ringo Deathstarr's latest album, Mauve looks to set the band apart while bringing together some of the best parts of the past with driving guitars, distortion, and catchy songs being the backbone. Oh and to answer their question, "Do You Wanna?" my answer is a resounding "Yes, I do!"

7. The Raveonettes, "Sinking With The Sun": This Danish duo didn't have to work too hard to win me over. They already had me at their cool, Buddy Holly/Ronettes-referencing band name. I distinctly remember hearing their debut EP, 2002's Whip It On for the first time. From that point on, I've been hooked. Their sixth album, Observator is another notch on their stylish belts and "Sinking With The Sun" is another in a long line of noise-pop gems I've come to expect from The Raveonettes.

8. Dum Dum Girls, "Season In Hell": Putting aside the fact that I have a huge crush on Dee Dee, the Dum Dum Girls are a band that has gotten better with each release. The End Of Daze EP continues their great strides sounding sharper without being too polished. 

9. Corin Tucker Band, "Neskowin": I won't lie - I still long for a Sleater-Kinney reunion. And while Wild Flag is awesome, let's not forget about the powerhouse voice of Corin Tucker. Kill My Blues, the Corin Tucker Band's sophomore release turns up the volume and feels more like the Corin we know and love. But it's when she hits those rising vocal notes on "Neskowin" where things start to feel just right.

So there you have it. Just in time to help wind down October. As always, listen loud and become immersed.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Monday Songs

It should come as no shock to anyone to learn that I'm a big Nine Inch Nails fan. Trent Reznor has been my favorite artist since I was in high school. I viewed him as a songwriter whose lyrics I could relate to. As much as I'd like to believe that hearing Pretty Hate Machine for the first time was an eye-opening moment for me it really wasn't until Broken where my obsession with NIN began. That release came at a time when I was listening to a lot of Megadeth attempting to understand whatever conspiracy theories Dave Mustaine snarled about. But hearing and reading the lyrics to songs like "Last" and "Gave Up" woke me up. Naturally, my tastes in music also became awakened. To this day, Pretty Hate Machine (and The Cure's Disintegration) still stand as my favorite albums of all time. It's only fitting that this blog post celebrates Trent Reznor's current musical endeavors.

How to destroy angels_, "Keep it together"
Since ending NIN as a touring entity (he promises to continue recording music under Nine Inch Nails although the only output under that banner since 2009 has been a pretty excellent cover of U2's "Zoo Station"), he has started a new project called How to destroy angels_ which includes his wife, Mariqueen Maandig, long-time collaborator, Atticus Ross, and Rob Sheffiled. This is the first track released off the band's forthcoming An omen_EP due out on 11/13 on Columbia.

Telepathe, "Destroyer (Trent Reznor, Alessandro Cortini, and Atticus Ross remix)"
And to continue with the Reznor Monday theme, this is a remix that he and Atticus Ross did with former NIN member, Alessandro Cortini for Brooklyn electro-pop duo, Telepathe. It will appear as a B-side to Telepathe's "Destroyer" single due out this week (presumably tomorrow, 10/9) on David Sitek's Federal Prism label. As expected, Reznor and cohorts give this song some added industrial muscle as well as some dark undertones just for good measure.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Late Night Album Stream: Black Marble "A Different Arrangement"

It's hard to believe that we're in the final stretch of 2012 and while it's easy to think that the best albums of the year have already been released, there are still some hidden gems on the horizon. Back in February, Brooklyn's Black Marble put out Weight Against The Door, a quick 5-song EP of minimal post-punk with nods to early Cure and Joy Division. It instantly became one of my favorites of 2012 getting constant rotation on BriPod and in DJ sets alike. Now, the duo are set to release their first full-length, A Different Arrangement (due out on 10/9 on Hardly Art.) With Arrangement, Black Marble explores a coldwave electronic landscape while adding a touch of warmth resulting in something infectious yet decidedly dark and moody. Have a listen and become immersed.