Monday, April 29, 2013

Keeping Cool

I have a reputation of never being able to keep my cool whenever I meet musical artists I admire. It almost  always ends up being a somewhat awkward encounter whether I get shy and quiet at the wrong time (Gary Numan) or I end up talking nonstop and saying something dumb (Robert Smith, Corin Tucker, Charli XCX.) But then there's that rare moment when I actually hold it together pretty well. Point being, I met Trent Reznor last night. By some stroke of awesomeness, I ended up being a last-minute opener for How to destroy angels when they played House Of Blues in Boston. And let me just say, I'm not exaggerating when I say "It was AMAZING!" The show itself was pretty mindblowing; the band sounded perfect and the visuals were stunning. But the best part was that Trent was the nicest person ever. He thanked me for being able to DJ last minute. Yet somehow I didn't turn become a total fanboy telling him about how many times I've seen Nine Inch Nails live (that would be 11 times) or how I wrote one of my college entrance essays about "Something I Can Never Have" (it was for NYU and I got accepted.) No, instead I stayed calm, cool, and collected and even got to have a picture taken with him and Atticus Ross.

Oh and my DJ set was pretty great and judging by how many people Tweeted at me, it went over pretty well. The picture above was taken by one of the people that Tweeted at me.

So tonight's late-night mixtape is comprised of artists that I've had the pleasure of meeting regardless of how awkward things got.


1. How to destroy angels, "Strings and attractors"
2. Nine Inch Nails, "Terrible Lie"
3. Gary Numan, "Metal"
4. Front 242, "Don't Crash"
5. Depeche Mode, "Strangelove"
6. ohGr, "Pore"
7. KMFDM, "Godlike (Doglike mix)"
8. The Cure, "From The Edge Of The Deep Green Sea"
9. Pixies, "Here Comes Your Man"
10. Sleater-Kinney, "One More Hour"
11. Charli XCX, "What I Like"

There you have it. A mixtape to cap off what turned into a great weekend. I'm still shocked at how it played out, myself. And don't worry, I'll be talking about it nonstop for at least the next week. As always, listen loud and become immersed.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

March 2013 Backtracks

It's about 10:25 on a Saturday morning and I have to admit that being a bit of a night owl, this hour of the day is early for me. But alas, this particular Saturday is a bit different as it feels like Christmas morning since in a matter of hours (or more accurately, later tonight) I will be seeing How to destroy angels live! I've held strong in my quest not to watch any YouTube clips of their previous live shows so as to make tonight's experience that much better. On a somewhat related note, I'm seeing Peter Murphy in a couple of weeks do a set of all Bauhaus songs and even though I have a rough idea of what to expect at that show, I've been avoiding reading any setlists of previous shows on his tour.

Enough rambling because it's time to get caught up with our belated March 2013 Backtracks. This mixtape is loaded with the kind of stuff that people expect me to like. In a nutshell there's plenty of dark, brooding electropop on here. Oh and then there's Bowie.


March 2013 Backtracks
1. How to destroy angels, "How long?": The most obvious inclusion to any of my mixtapes is anything Trent Reznor-related. It's no secret that I'm a huge Nine Inch Nails fan (I've only seen them live 11 times) and I love anything Trent touches. Yes, even that remix he did of that P. Diddy song. But How to destroy angels is a different animal altogether. It's a definite band atmosphere, as longtime NIN collaborators Atticus Ross and Rob Sheridan are full-fledged members, and Trent's wife, Mariqueen Maandig supplies lead vocals. I've described HTDA as an industrialized Massive Attack as most songs on their debut full-length, Welcome oblivion are set to a simmer. "How long?" is one of the album's highlights as it has a slight R&B backbone underneath the icy synths.

2. Tying Tiffany, "One Second": I was introduced to this Italian act by Boston DJ, writer, label-head, tastemaker, and all-around nice guy, Michael Marotta. He had Tweeted about Tying Tiffany and used the word "darkwave." Naturally, I had to check them out. "One Second" was the first song that I found and  I was floored. It helps that it starts with the instantly catchy chorus. It definitely would fit in nicely on a darkly lit dancefloor. Further research led me to previous Tying Tiffany records which show a more aggressive side mixing electropop, goth, and industrial. Needless to say, it's love.

[Check out Michael Marotta's awesome Vanyaland music blog here.]

3. CHVRCHES, "Now Is Not The Time": It's safe to say that this Swedish electropop trio was quick to become one of my 2013 obsessions. I talk about CHVRCHES all the time. It's definitely because of their knack for making some of the catchiest songs I've heard. It's not all about bright synths and cute female vocals because there's a dark undercurrent swiveling its way through their music. A debut album is due out some time this year, but in the meantime, they released the Recover EP. Its title track is great, but  "Now Is Not The Time" hits me harder and it's definitely because of those pulsing synths at the heart of the song's chorus.

4. André Obin, "Enjoy": I've been a fan of André Obin's music for a few years now. Easily one of my favorite Boston electronic artists. And there are so many reasons why, the biggest of which, is that he takes influence from so many things-- be it techno, Krautrock, shoegaze, or synthpop-- and filters it through his own artistic vision making music that sounds singularly like himself. His full-length debut, The Arsonist, has been getting some good attention and deservedly so. For me, "Enjoy" is the standout as Obin finds a way to bring EBM and dreampop together so seamlessly that I've managed to play this song on my industrial show alongside of Front 242. The Arsonist is proof that there is great electronic music out there that outshines some of the stuff passing off as "EDM."

5. Depeche Mode, "Soothe My Soul": A song that could have easily come out of Depeche Mode's Violator-era, "Soothe My Soul" has that slinky rhythm and slick guitar riff that could make it sound like a not-too-distant cousin of "Personal Jesus." Their latest album, Delta Machine, has its ups and downs but "Soothe My Soul" is a definite highlight sure to become a live staple deserving of repeated listens.

6. Cold Cave, "People Are Poison": Cold Cave has become one of my favorite bands to the point that I pre-order any 7" they've released. So far this year, the man behind Cold Cave, Wesley Eisold, has been releasing music at a breakneck pace already putting out two stellar singles with one more due out soon. It was a tough choice as to which one to include on this mixtape. It came down to the warmer synthpop of  "God Made The World" and this brooding industrial pop gem. Appearing on the Oceans With No End EP, "People Are Poison" is the darker side to that EP's title track as Eisold sneers, "I'll give you one step over the line and then I'm gone" backed by guitars and synths  grinding against each other like grimy, rusted gears before Eisold finally concludes, "You were nothing." It's the type of song I can dedicate to few people.

7. Nightmare Air, "Icy Daggers": LA's Nightmare Air falls into that category of "Bands I Can Easily Become Obsessed With." I remember seeing them live last year only having heard two songs and just falling in love with them. Their debut album, High In The Lasers, is already one of my favorites of the year and one I constantly listen to. It's actually hard to pick a favorite off the record since pretty much every song is killer, but the album's latest single, "Icy Daggers" is a definite highlight with its careening guitars and explosive chorus. I recently saw Nightmare Air for a second time and it just kicked my obsession with them into a higher gear.

8. Suede, "It Starts And Ends With You": I refuse to call them "London Suede." It might just be out of stubbornness. But really it's because to me, there will always be only one Suede. Their comeback album, Bloodsports is a return to peak form for a band that's practically the reason the term "Britpop" even exists. "It Starts And Ends With You" is a downright masterpiece. Hearing Brett Anderson belt out that chorus is honestly one of the greatest things ever. Easily one of my favorite singles of the year. Expect to see it high in that list when it gets compiled in December.

9. David Bowie, "The Next Day": What needs to be said about David Bowie? The fact that The Next Day came out was a surprise to many. And the fact that the album is pretty good is an added bonus. He's an elder statesmen for all the cool music that came out since donning the makeup and becoming Ziggy Stardust. At the risk of sounding like a fanboy, Bowie just rules, ok?

There you have it. I don't mean to play favorites or anything, but this particular Backtracks mixtape is one of my favorites. Depeche Mode, Trent Reznor, Cold Cave, Suede, and Bowie!? That sounds about right. Until next time, definitely listen loud and become immersed.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Mixtape Revisited: Eddie Vedder Must Die!! [1995]

It's been a long time. So long, in fact, that distractions got the better of me. But here we are, ready to get back on track armed with mixtapes galore. A long-overdue March Backtracks mixtape will be up in the next few days (the above photo hints at what is expected to make the cut for that mixtape), and maybe even another one before May begins just to make up for my extended absence. But for now, it's another Mixtape Revisited. Let's go back to 1995 and have a listen to some of my musical obsessions before reaching the legal drinking age.

Eddie Vedder Must Die!! [1995]

Side A:
Grey Cell Green- Ned's Atomic Dustbin
Cape Connection- Pop Will Eat Itself
Friday I'm In Love- The Cure
Sick Of Myself- Matthew Sweet
Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me- U2
I Got It Bad- Prick
Support System- Liz Phair
Hit Song- Peter Murphy
Drownin'- Sponge
Sometimes- The Jesus And Mary Chain
OK OK- Juliana Hatfield
Shallow End- Superchunk

Side B:
Divebomber- Pigface
Stutter- Elastica
Down In The Park- Marilyn Manson
Take Another- Filter
High Speed Changer- Orange 9mm
Wilma's Rainbow- Helmet
Digging The Grave- Faith No More
Cosmic Dick- Gwen Mars
Self Destruction, Part Two- Nine Inch Nails
Juke-Joint Jezebel- KMFDM
No More Love- God Lives Underwater

Thinking back on this period of time, and it's evident that 1) I hate Pearl Jam (to this day I find them painfully ordinary and boorish) and 2) industrial music is slowly but surely taking over my taste with Pigface, KMFDM, and a NIN remix making it onto the tape. But there's also slight sparks of what would become my indie rock leanings on here as well (Liz Phair and Superchunk.) That's not to say that there aren't some embarrassing moments on here. For one, the inclusion of Filter. I really wanted to like them since Richard Patrick was a former touring member of NIN. But aside from "Hey Man, Nice Shot," the track that appears here and the one they did for The Crow 2 are the only songs Filter ever did that was worth anything. Don't believe me? I have 3 words for you: "Take A Picture." Oh and Sponge...I have no excuse for that one. Consider it a lapse of judgment.

However, there are some songs on here that have held up surprisingly well. Matthew Sweet's "Sick Of Myself" is a forgotten gem. A simple three and a half minutes of power pop goodness. And then there's Gwen Mars' "Cosmic Dick." I'm pretty sure I only know one other person who remembers this one but it's just glam/grunge awesomeness with a kickass chorus, to boot ("You don't know dick!") And lastly, there's "High Speed Changer" from the highly underrated, Orange 9mm. I'm probably a little biased because I was at their first ever show together (opening for Sick Of It All at the Academy in NYC) but holy hell, this song was almost too ahead of its time. Had they come out with this song just 5 years later, they would have been huge and quite possibly, they would have saved us from the antichrist known as Fred Durst.


Mixtape Revisited: Selections from Eddie Vedder Must Die!!
1. Grey Cell Green- Ned's Atomic Dustbin
2. Cape Connection- Pop Will Eat Itself
3. Friday I'm In Love- The Cure
4. Sick Of Myself- Matthew Sweet
5. I Got It Bad- Prick **
6. Support System- Liz Phair
7. Hit Song- Peter Murphy
8. Sometimes- The Jesus And Mary Chain **
9. Shallow End- Superchunk **
10. Stutter- Elastica
11. High Speed Changer- Orange 9mm
12. Wilma's Rainbow- Helmet
13. Digging The Grave- Faith No More
14. Cosmic Dick- Gwen Mars
15. Self Destruction, Part Two- Nine Inch Nails
16. Juke-Joint Jezebel- KMFDM

** not included on the Spotify playlist

So there it is- my return to Random Ramblings & Mixtapes with one of my favorite actual mixtapes. I honestly still have this tape and I still listen to it. Coming soon, March 2013 Backtracks and much more. As always, listen loud and become immersed.