Friday, May 24, 2013

Mixtape Philosophy: What We Trade Our Hearing For

When I was 16 I split the cost of a blue iPod mini with my folks. It was right before my (June) birthday, just at the edge of the summer. I bought an iTunes card and downloaded a set of 14 songs that largely shaped the feel of that summer. Those songs sounded the way that summer feels in the late afternoon. I get antsy. For some reason, this season alone feels like just about anything could happen. You've just got to get out there.

That's the basic idea I started working with for this new mix. This past weekend was great, and a lot happened, but most of all, it felt like summer started. With an excess of ideas, I put together "What We Trade Our Hearing For" in about two days instead of my usual month.

The songs came mostly from a playlist I keep called Mix Material. I started with "Stairway" by Yukon Blonde, which has the kind charging bassline that makes multiple appearances on the mix. The other quality it has is this big, fresh sound on the chorus. That's partly how I matched it up with "You Know Me" by Air Traffic Controller and "Shout it Out" by Mikal Cronin. With regard to "Shout it Out," holy smokes does that song live on an awesome album. If you haven't heard MCII, get a hold of it as soon as you can.

I also followed a certain pattern with the sound of the vocals on the mix. It's mostly guys who don't have particularly deep voices, so the feel is airy, especially on a song like "American Dream" by ON AN ON that has some additional hazy-sounding production.

One song I'm excited about is "Shove Off," by Luke LaLonde (current frontman for Born Ruffians). I had this sparse, quirky, little tune filed away because it's only recently become available on Spotify. It worked out well because I also needed a more mid tempo song to balance out the rest of the mix which is pretty damn foot-tappy. One of the worst "offenders" in that respect is the jittery "High School Lover" by Cayucas. My immediate attraction is the California indie pop/surf rock sound. What's more summery than that? I offer this: Nothing.

Also earning a spot on the mix is "Mountains" by She and the Sun. I actually reviewed their debut album a few months back and really fell in love with song's dreamy build.

The real point of pride for me on this mix is "Camilo (The Magician)" by Said the Whale. It was the last song I threw in my Mix Draft 1 playlist, and one that I found because I knew I just needed something else. What can I say about this song other than I can hardly even listen to the rest of the mix because I keep replaying it. I love the exuberance, the halting guitar, the hooky chorus, and I like the idea of this guy asking a magician for help with a girl. It's like a modern "Love Potion Number 9." Most of all, I love that it makes me antsy and ready to get outside. That's how summer should feel: happy and boundless.

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