Saturday, February 23, 2013

Mixtape Revisited: Really Crappy Music [1992]

Something that gets lost these days is the actual act of making a mixtape. Physically sitting in front of a stereo with a stack of cassettes, CDs, or even records, and painstakingly taping each individual song, getting them in the right order, and coming up with the perfect tracklist. It's a lost art form. Whether I was making a mixtape for a crush, or to soundtrack a party, or even if it was just for my own listening pleasure, it was a task I took seriously.

I've been toying with the idea of attempting to recreate one of my old mixtapes and sharing it on here. Today, I finally pull the trigger on this plan. This is one I still listen to since the CD player on my stereo is broken and the tape deck is the only other thing working. Its title may not be too inviting, but one look at the tracklist below and it's revealed that this relic is from an important transitional period in my music taste.

Really Crappy Music [1992]

Side A: Alternative
Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses- U2
A Small Victory- Faith No More
Plush- Stone Temple Pilots
Godsmack- Alice In Chains
We Cry Out- Warrior Soul
Stardog Champion- Mother Love Bone
I Wanna Be Sedated- The Ramones
Tommy The Cat- Primus
Unsung- Helmet
N.W.O.- Ministry
Time For Livin'- Beastie Boys
Wish (Remix version from Fixed)- Nine Inch Nails

Side B: Hardcore / Grind / Thrash
Pound For Pound- Pro-Pain
Punishment- Biohazard
Locomotive- Sick Of It All
Redemption- InsideOut
Martyr- Fear Factory
Like Rats- Godflesh
Desperate Cry- Sepultura
Mouth For War- Pantera
Seemingly Endless Time- Death Angel
Chemical Warfare- Slayer
We're Only Gonna Die- Biohazard
Left Hand Black- Danzig
Only- Anthrax

Looking back at this list of songs puts an interesting timestamp on this tape because it's clear that there is a definite turning point in what I was listening to at the time. I was beginning to branch out into things that weren't considered metal. Side A shows that slow evolution. It also shows, that like so many others that lived through the Lollapalooza Generation, I was fooled into thinking Primus was a good band. However, I will still stand by those first two Stone Temple Pilots album; I don't care what anyone says, they were once good.

Side B is remnants of my metalhead-ness. Hair metal was done and thrash was beginning to lose its luster with me. Fear Factory was the tipping point since I couldn't find any redeeming factor to death metal. Hardcore at the time was a cool alternative; that is until I started delving into alternative which was back when that word still had some kind of meaning in music. I still listen to some Pantera and Sepultura - their music has aged pretty well. The same can't be said for Pro-Pain, however. Also of note on this side of the tape are two things: 1) "Redemption" from InsideOut which happened to feature a pre-Rage Against The Machine, Zack de la Rocha, and 2) including 2 songs by one artist on the same side!? That's a mixtape no-no.


Mixtape Revisited: Selections From Really Crappy Music [Side A]
1. A Small Victory- Faith No More
2. Plush- Stone Temple Pilots
3. Stardog Champion- Mother Love Bone
4. I Wanna Be Sedated- The Ramones
5. Unsung- Helmet
6. N.W.O.- Ministry
7. Time For Livin'- Beastie Boys
8. Wish (JG Thirlwell Remix)- Nine Inch Nails


Mixtape Revisited: Selections From Really Crappy Music [Side B]
1. Punishment- Biohazard
2. Locomotive- Sick Of It All
3. Like Rats- Godflesh
4. Desperate Cry- Sepultura
5. Mouth For War- Pantera
6. Seemingly Endless Time- Death Angel
7. Chemical Warfare- Slayer
8. Left Hand Black- Danzig

Monday, February 18, 2013

20 Questions

Remember that scene in High Fidelity when John Cusack explains how to make the perfect mixtape? Touching on, not only the importance of song selection, but also the importance of the mixtape's flow. Well, I nodded along very knowingly during that scene, as if I completely understood. That being said, this mixtape is a fun one. 20 Questions is comprised solely of songs whose titles ask questions. Now, I have to admit, I reached out to a couple of people when thinking of what songs to include since I'm sure I was overlooking some obvious picks. Thankfully, my friends Laura Marie and Jenny came up with some clutch suggestions that were essential.

Now, here's where my music nerd powers kicked in: coming up with the right order of the songs would have been easy. Instead, I put the songs in order by their titles as if it told a story. A simple, age-old story of boy-meets-girl ("Who's That Girl?"), boy's love is unrequited ("Is She Really Going Out With Him?"), boy starts to lose it ("Why Can't I Be You?"), and, of course, boy is completely mental ("Where Is My Mind?")


20 Questions
1. How Soon Is Now?- The Smiths *
2. Do You Remember The First Time?- Pulp
3. Who's That Girl?- Robyn
4. Do You Wanna Dance?- The Ramones
5. Do You Realize??- The Flaming Lips *
6. Who Do You Love?- The Jesus And Mary Chain
7. Is She Really Going Out With Him?- Joe Jackson
8. What About Us?- Handsome Furs
9. What Do I Get?- Buzzcocks
10. Don't You Want Me?- The Human League
11. What Have I Done To Deserve This?- Pet Shop Boys w/ Dusty Springfield
12. Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?- Moby **
13. How Does It Feel To Feel?- Ride
14. Why Can't I Be You?- The Cure
15. Are 'Friends' Electric?- Gary Numan/Tubeway Army
16. What Did My Lover Say? (It Always Had To Go This Way)- Wolf Parade
17. Who Was In My Room Last Night?- Butthole Surfers
18. Whatever Happened To My Rock 'N' Roll?- Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
19.  Where Have All The Rude Boys Gone?- Ted Leo/Pharmacists
20. Where Is My Mind?- Pixies *

* = Laura Marie pick
** = Jenny pick

So there you have it. As always, listen loud and become immersed.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

January 2013 Backtracks

Since February has already passed its midway point, I figured now would be as good a time as any to take a quick look back at some of last month's aural obsessions. Our first Backtracks mixtape of 2013 is mostly made up of stuff that didn't come out until late January; or at least it seemed that way. The year got off to a slow start and to be honest, the lack of new music sort of drove me a bit crazy. Luckily, things picked up and listening to the January 2013 Backtracks mixtape, myself, I have to say this year is already beginning to sound good.


January 2013 Backtracks
1. Factory Floor, "Fall Back": It didn't take long for me to fall for this UK trio. The first time I heard their 2010 single, "Lying," it felt like my head just about exploded. Factory Floor is one of those bands that connects the dots between all the music I like taking bits of minimal EBM, post-punk, and shards of techno and making something exciting out of those parts. They've yet to put out a full-length album which adds to their already ghostly presence. "Fall Back" is a relentless 8 minutes that's both pummeling yet hypnotic. It's a pulse-quickening ride that wouldn't be out of place soundtracking a big budget chase scene.

2. The Knife, "Full Of Fire": There are plenty of similarities one can point out between Factory Floor and The Knife. Words like "hypnotic" and "ghostly" are almost required when describing either band. But where Factory Floor's attack is more head-on, The Knife's approach is more of a slither. "Full Of Fire" is a mindbending 9 minute opus swirling to dizzying, euphoric heights.

3. Kate Boy, "In Your Eyes": Continuing with the electronic nature of our first two Backtracks entries is Sweden's Kate Boy. "In Your Eyes" perfectly balances the straightforward electropop of Robyn with the slightly dark corners of The Knife. The excellent build to the song's huge chorus helps, too.

4. Pulp, "After You": Originally an unreleased demo from the We Love Life sessions, rerecorded with some production help from James Murphy, given out as a free download to attendees of their Sheffield Arena homecoming, and now finally available for all. From its familiar disco shuffle to Jarvis Cocker's sharp-tongued come-ons, "After You" is vintage Pulp. Just in time for a 90's alt rock revival.

5. The Joy Formidable, "Silent Treatment": It's been a while since I've posted anything by The Joy Formidable. They're easily one of my favorite bands that has come out in recent years. It's mainly because of how unapologetically big they sound. To me, they're arena-sized shoegaze. So it's ironic that "Silent Treatment" makes this edition of our Monthly Backtracks mixtapes. It's the band's most delicate offering stripped down to just an acoustic guitar and Ritzy Bryan's voice. A chilling standout on their recently released sophomore album, Wolf's Law.

6. Bleeding Rainbow,  "Waking Dream": I first heard Bleeding Rainbow when I saw them open for A Place To Bury Strangers back in November of 2012. I've been slightly obsessed with them ever since. On the surface, their songs have a very fuzzed-out 90's alt rock feel to it, but in a live setting, those songs come to life as feedback-drenched guitars add some bite to the sweetened choruses. It's not a new trick but when done right, it can still leave lasting effects as it does with "Waking Dream."

7. Free Energy, "Backscratcher": I have a soft spot for power pop. And Free Energy is most definitely power pop. They're proof that not everything I listen to falls under either "dark and gothy" or "loud and noisy." Their second album, Love Sign doesn't stray too far from 2010's Stuck On Nothing. That's not to say that it's a bad thing, as Love Sign is another fun blast of twin guitar solos and big sing-along choruses. And "Backscratcher" has all the elements of Free Energy song right down to the cowbell.

8. Blood Red Shoes, "Black Distractions": Blood Red Shoes is on a rather long line of British bands I currently adore but have yet to blow up. There's no reason for them not to get huge as they fit in with other guitar-and-drums duos sounding bigger than just duos. "Black Distractions" is a chugging guitar scorcher with a chorus that reaches for the heavens while still referencing the devil.

9. California X, "Lemmy's World": Hailing from Amherst, Massachusetts, California X takes plenty of influence from fellow Amherst-ians (?), Dinosaur Jr. On "Lemmy's World," the band clearly follows the J. Mascis Rules of Guitar-- not afraid of solos and cranked as loud as can be-- while adding the melodic underpinnings of Sugar-era Bob Mould.

So there you go, our first Monthly Backtracks in the books. It's a long weekend, so maybe we'll have another mixtape to share tomorrow. Until then, listen loud and become immersed.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy VD

I don't do Valentine's Day. Ever. So in an effort to counter what's sure to be an annoying day over all forms of social media, I've gone ahead and put together a quick playlist entitled Ugh! - A VD Mixtape. These songs may not be ideal for a romantic slow-dance, but at the same time, it's not a total mope-fest either. It's a definite step up from past V-Days spent listening to nothing but Joy Division. Yeah, I used to do that.


Ugh! - A VD Mixtape
1. The Breeders, "Do You Love Me Now?"
2. The Smiths, "Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want"
3. Twin Shadow, "I Don't Care"
4. Echo & The Bunnymen, "Nothing Lasts Forever"
5. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, "Do You Love Me?"
6. Bryan Ferry, "Heartache By Numbers"
7. Joy Division, "Love Will Tear Us Apart"
8. Frightened Rabbit, "The Twist"
9. LCD Soundsystem, "I Can Change"
10. Nine Inch Nails, "That's What I Get"
11. Robyn, "With Every Heartbeat"
12. The Cure, "End"

As always, listen loud and become immersed.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Snowed-In Saturday

I'll happily accept a snow day as an excuse to stay in, be lazy, and listen to records all day. Naturally, cabin fever has set in which is the sole reason that this mixtape came into existence. Consider it a soundtrack for being snowed-in during the weekend.


Snowed-In Saturday
1. Yaz, "Winter Kills"
2. The Cure, "Cold"
3. How to destroy angels_, "Ice age"
4. The White Stripes, "In The Cold, Cold Night"
5. Bat For Lashes, "Winter Fields"
6. I Break Horses, "Winter Beats"
7. Cocteau Twins, "Iceblink Luck"
8. Twin Shadow, "Castles In The Snow"
9. The Sisters Of Mercy, "Driven Like The Snow"
10. Ladytron, "Melting Ice"
11. The Cr├╝xshadows, "Winter Born (This Sacrifice)"
12. Soft Metals, "The Cold World Melts"
13. Joy Division, "Ice Age"
14. My Bloody Valentine, "Soft As Snow (But Warm Inside)"
15. Blood Red Shoes, "Cold"
16. Ceremony, "Cold Cold Night"
17. Black Sabbath, "Snowblind"
18. Pixies, "Winterlong"
19. Sleater-Kinney, "Dig Me Out"

Stay warm, listen loud, and become immersed.