December 25, 2010

Christmas Mix 2010

If you never noticed how melancholy many Christmas songs are, you'll notice it here...
  1. "Valley Winter Song" Fountains of Wayne, a bittersweet wintertime travelling song.
  2. "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" U2's soundcheck recording, from the first A Very Special Christmas charity album, is my favorite version of this sad Christmas song.
  3. "Baby It's Cold Outside" Ray Charles & Betty Carter, or, as my wife calls it, the almost date-rape song? No means no, Ray!
  4. "Christmas Wrapping" The Waitresses' charming New Wave white-girl rap. Why hasn't there been a romantic comedy movie based on this song?
  5. "Sleigh Ride" Ella Fitzgerald, a terrific Christmas record.
  6. "Have Yourself Christmas Trouble" Mr Fab & The RIAA rearrange all the words of Bing Crosby's "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" to tell a bleaker story: "Hang yourself up upon the highest bough", "Faithful friends who are dear to us, will be far away"...
  7. "Do They Know It's Christmas?" Band Aid was the ideal post New Wave supergroup for me, 12 years old, going on 13, for Christmas 1984.
  8. "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" Judy Garland sings it with the original, super melancholy lyrics.
  9. "I'll Be Home For Christmas" Aimee Mann, another hopeful Christmas song.
  10. "Winter Wonderland" Ray Charles' version, as heard in When Harry Met Sally...
  11. "White Christmas" Clyde McPhatter & The Drifters, maybe my favorite recording of this song.
  12. "Evil Santa" Bill Murray & Gilda Radner, from the National Lampoon Radio Hour.
  13. "Santa Claus is Coming To Town"[live] One of my all-time favorite Bruce Springsteen performances. Electric!
  14. "Christmas Song" [live] Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds
  15. "Let It Snow" Vaughn Monroe, as heard at the end of Die Hard.
  16. "Auld Lang Syne" [live] Guy Lombardo
  17. "Skating" Vince Guaraldi Trio
(I assembled this mix in 2010 but never posted it to the blog until 2011. That's why it's backdated to 12/25/2010.)

December 12, 2010

128 Teenage Dream

  1. "Holiday" Vampire Weekend
  2. "No One's Gonna Love You" Band Of Horses: I bought this song after Cee Lo Green covered it on this new album.
  3. "Sweet Thing" Van Morrison
  4. "Teenage Dream" Glee Cast Version: No one's going to believe me when I say I have no patience for the TV show, but I love The Warblers cover songs. This one gives me chills.
  5. "Satisfied" Cee Lo Green: Anyone who wears their love of Prince so proudly has my support.
  6. "I Would Die 4 U" Prince & The Revolution
  7. "Blue Jean" David Bowie: I used to try to minimize the number of songs which reappeared on mixes over and over again. Over the years this habit became calcified to the point where mixes were loaded with: new songs + old songs which I didn't love. I am trying to loosen up and include some "golden oldies" where appropriate!
  8. "The Suburbs" Arcade Fire: I like this song, even if the rhythm section is super-cliche'd, and it's a little too long.
  9. "You Are The Best Thing" Ray LaMontagne: great fun, even if he's super derivative.
  10. "The Difference" The Wallflowers
  11. "The Word" The Beatles
  12. "Way Down Now" World Party
  13. "Ruthless People" Mick Jagger: The edit of this song which opens the eponymous movie is much shorter and better. This one drags on for 4m30s.
  14. "I Belong To The Band" Mavis Staples
  15. "Crazy About You" Whiskeytown
  16. "No More No More" Aerosmith: Does anyone remember when Aerosmith was an active rock and roll band which didn't record ballads for movies? Me neither.
  17. "It's Only Wednesday" Crash Kings: I think I heard this song in the movie Zombieland?
  18. "Valerie" The Zutons: what the heck is a Zuton?

December 11, 2010

"Recycled" Cover Songs: Yankee Swap 2010

The theme of the Yankee Swap this year was "Recycled Christmas" so I assembled (with editing help from Emily) an all-covers mix:
  1. "I Saw Her Standing There" The Smithereens recorded their own song-by-song remake of Meet The Beatles, called Meet The Smithereens.
  2. "Don’t Bring Me Down" (Live) The New Pornographers covering the ELO classic, Live from Soho.
  3. "Hackensack" (Live) Katy Perry unplugged, covering Fountains of Wayne. Who knew she had such good taste?
  4. "Every Little Thing (He) Does Is Magic" From Shawn Colvin's all-covers album Cover Girl
  5. "Burning Down the House" A terrific remake of The Talking Heads from Bonnie Raitt's live Road Tested album. Perhaps the most radical remake of the mix.
  6. "It's My Life" It's great to hear a remake of a New Wave one-hit wonder, especially so well done by No Doubt.
  7. "Any Major Dude Will Tell You" Wilco covers Steely Dan for the Me, Myself, and Irene movie soundtrack.
  8. "This Charming Man" Death Cab For Cutie increases the tempo on this Smiths classic. From their CD You Can Play These Songs With Chords.
  9. "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing Baby" An Ashford & Simpson oldie from Michael McDonald's Motown album.
  10. "Everyday Is A Winding Road" Who knew Prince was a Sheryl Crow fan?
  11. "Train In Vain (Stand By Me)" Annie Lennox covers The Clash on her all-covers CD Medusa.
  12. "Teenage Dream" This a capella cover of Katy Perry might be the most exciting performance I've ever heard on the TV show Glee
  13. "People Get Ready" In the a capella theme, The Housemartins cover Curtis Mayfield's song on their album London 0 Hull 4 (that might be a soccer reference?)
  14. "High & Dry" British wunderkind jazz pianist Jamie Cullum covers Radiohead on this album Twentysomething.
  15. "Mrs. Robinson" The Lemonheads' cover of Simon & Garfunkel was a late addition to their album It's A Shame About Ray... after it was a surprise hit as a standalone single.
  16. "Whole Lotta Love" Carlos Santana's manager must have noticed there's two types of albums which aging icons sell well-- covers albums and collaborations. Why not put them together for Guitar Heaven: The Greatest Guitar Classics Of All Time? Chris Cornell was born to sing Led Zeppelin.
  17. "...Baby One More Time" I think Fountains Of Wayne covered Britney Spears ironically. From their odd-and-ends collection Out-Of-State Plates.
  18. "I Will Survive" I know for certain that Cake covered this Gloria Gaynor disco classic ironically. From their CD Fashion Nugget.
  19. "In Between Days" Ben Folds covers the awesome Cure song on his EP Speed Graphic.
  20. "Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word" Ray Charles & Elton John duet on Ray's album Genius Loves Company.
  21. "More Than This" The Charlie Hunger Quartet are joined by Norah Jones on the Roxy Music song, on their CD Songs from the Analog Playground.
  22. "Green Onions" Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers cover the Booker T & The MG's instrumental -- best known as the song they play during pitching changes at baseball games -- on their Live Anthology box set.

November 01, 2010

127 The Whiskey River

The first four tracks on this mix all clumped together. I started with "Horchata", from Vampire Weekend's second album Contra. (FYI, a horchata is a traditional beverage, made of ground almonds, sesame seeds, rice, barley, or tigernuts.) With "Horchata" as the germ, I built three other songs with fun and exotic instrumentation around it: the pseudo-reggae of "Last Night", the steel drums of the least-cool Rod Stewart song ever, and the accordion of "Gumboots", from Paul Simon's Graceland (aka "You don't feel you could love me/But I feel you could")
  1. "Last Night" Traveling Wilburys
  2. "Horchata" Vampire Weekend
  3. "Love Touch" Rod Stewart
  4. "Gumboots" Paul Simon
  5. "Peace Train" 10,000 Maniacs; I just saw Yusuf, aka Cat Stevens, at Jon Stewart's Rally to Restore Sanity.
  6. "An Innocent Man" Billy Joel
  7. "Sentimental Heart" She & Him
  8. "Ruby Tuesday" The Rolling Stones
  9. "Summer" Buffalo Tom
  10. "We Are Sex Bob-Omb" from Sex Bob-Omb dovetails nicely into...
  11. "Yer Blues" The Beatles
  12. "Rollin' and Tumblin'" Muddy Waters inspired the title of this mix:
  13. If the river was whiskey, and I was a divin' duck
    I would dive to the bottom, never would I come up
  14. "Damn Good" David Lee Roth: Have you ever completely forgotten a song? Forgotten a song so completely that you don't even remember knowing it in the first place? I recently bought David Lee Roth's solo CD Skyscraper for $1. David Lee Roth's solo career took off when I was a teenage Van Halen fan, so me and my friends had a lot of loyalty to Diamond Dave. I wanted the CD for the hit single "Living In Paradise", but for the heck of it I listened to the whole disc one day. That's when I rediscovered "Damn Good", an acoustic ballad (with nice guitar work from Steve Vai.) It's NOT a "damn good" song, BUT the point is, I had not heard the song in 22 years! It was weird dusting the cobwebs off this teenage memory.
  15. "Put Me On Top" Aimee Mann
  16. "Bang Bang Bang" Tracy Chapman
  17. "Smoke On The Water" Deep Purple
  18. "Hunger Strike" Temple of the Dog
  19. "I Hate Myself For Loving You" Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, the original version, before it was appropriated for Monday Night Football.
  20. "I Love Your Smile" Shanice I think I added this song because I saw someone on TV named Shanice?
  21. "Shadowboxer" Fiona Apple

September 01, 2010

126: Summerbeast

  1. "Run" Vampire Weekend
  2. "Driver 8" The Old '97s. A slightly harder-rocking, slightly less subtle version of one of my favorite R.E.M. songs.
  3. "Whisper to a Scream (Birds Fly)" Icicle Works. Rediscovered on a VH1 1980s video showcase.
  4. "Jealous Again" The Black Crowes. A live, in-studio, acoustic performance, from the new Crowes album.
  5. "Never" Heart. So richly imbued with Eighties-ness, it's hard to mix this track among other less exuberantly artifical songs...
  6. "TiK ToK" ...until Ke$ha came along.
  7. "Wash Your Face In My Sink" The Dream Warriors. Was this Canadian hip-hop duo a one-hit wonder, or was this song popular only among me and my friends at WERS in 1991?
  8. "The Distance" Cake. Before I met my wife, I only new Cake as the 1990s alt rock band which covered "I Will Survive". I mostly hate disco, and this Gloria Gaynor song is one of my least-favorite hits in a genre I hate already. To sum up: Cake's cover is a boring, overlong, overly ironic remake of a song I hated in the first place. It turns out my wife has, like, four Cake CDs, and in the intervening years, I have found a bunch of their songs I actually like, including "The Distance", one of my new ringtones.
  9. "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" I don't listen to Jimi Hendrix enough. I gotta start putting him on more mix CDs. Mostly this song makes me think of a) hippies, and b) that scene it's in in Almost Famous, when the band trades in their bus for the jet plane.
  10. "Free Fallin" [live], from the comprehensive new Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers Live Anthology. Great sing-along from the audience.
  11. "One True Love" Semisonic is another one-hit 1990s alt-rock band, whom I have gotten to know better. Around the turn of the century I really got into their almost-hit "Chemistry", and later, the drummer wrote a memoir which could have been titled "What It's Like To Be A One Hit Wonder."If you want to dig deeper into 1990s nostalgia, check it out. Jen Trynin also wrote a book about her year in the spotlight, which could have been called "I Would Have Been Alanis Morrisette (If It Weren't For Alanis Morrisette.)"
  12. "Via Chicago" Wilco. We went to Wilco's music and arts festival in North Adams this summer. This track is from Wilco's album Summerteeth.
  13. "Stratford-On-Guy" Liz Phair. I have the complete Rolling Stone magazine, cover-to-cover, on DVD (1967-2007.) Around the time I was assembling this mix I re-read Liz' 1994 Rolling Stone cover story.
  14. "Do You Love Me" Ridiculously catchy new Guster song, with pleasant Wall of Sound production.
  15. "Can't Do A Thing (To Stop Me)" Chris Isaak. Apparently there's a cable channel called FUSE, which aired a special Fifty Sexiest Music Videos Ever. My wife and I were not surprised to find the "Wicked Game" video at Number One, which inspired including this Isaak song.
  16. "Hackensack" [live, acoustic] The fact that Katy Perry has heard Fountains of Wayne, and recorded a nice cover song, has raised my opinion of her. It's still unfortunate that she married Russell Brand.
  17. "Ugly Truth Rock" Matthew Sweet
  18. "1901" Phoenix. It's like Duran Duran and Joy Division had a love child in France with Bryan Ferry as the midwife.
  19. "Pictures of Matchstick Men" Camper Van Beethoven
  20. "It Ain't The Cold War Harry" Grant-Lee Phillips