Friday, November 8, 2013

Mixtape Philosophy : A Bad Sense of Humor


It's been a few months since my last contribution to Mix Club, but I'm happy to report I've got something new to offer. The mix is called A Bad Sense of Humor and started off with "Modern Girl" by Sleater Kinney. I found the song a few months back and decided very quickly that it was going to be the seed for a mix. "Modern Girl"is from Sleater Kinney's 2005 album The Woods. When the all-girl punk trio from the 90s put out the album, it was supposed to be their Led Zeppelin album, a foray into big, loud, pure-blooded rock. It's a great album, but sadly, it seems to have been their last. No matter, "Modern Girl" retains more of a punk sound than some of the other tracks and is my favorite cut. It served as a template for the songs I chose for the mix– punk-inflected 90s rock. Those three identifiers show up in some form on most of this mix, even if the songs only sound that way. Two good examples are the opening and closing tracks, "Baby C'mon" by Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks and "Stay Useless" by Cloud Nothings. The former is from 2005, and obviously Malkmus is from Pavement. "Stay Useless" came out last year. Both have a particular kind of fuzz on the guitar and the kind of vocals that seem to want to prove that it doesn't matter if you can actually sing. "Love Police" by Sleeping in the Aviary is the same way. It would be a mess if it were any looser and louder.

As for the songs that stray from this style somewhat, "Hey Doreen" by Lucius is one of the strongest songs I've heard all year. One of the singers contributes to Brooklyn group San Fermin. I love the power in the vocals. My two mood-balancing songs were "Worlds are Made of Paper" by Ben Taylor and "The Box" by Johnny Flynn. Both are great lyrics songs, but the latter in particular is far more reflective and even a little melancholic than you might notice if you don't pay attention.

Speaking of paying attention, if you heard my last mix, What We Trade Our Hearing For, you might notice that Said the Whale is making a repeat appearance. Why? Because I remain in love with their September album hawaiii. Check out my interview with frontman Tyler Bancroft, if you have a moment. "I Love You" is like a two and a half minute caffeine rush. It was also the last song I added.

Making this mix presented a few challenging moments in that I originally included several songs that I love, but don't fit. A mix should be an experience, not a haphazard collection, so I had to be cold about my decision to cut out the more pop and dance-edged stuff. It was weirdly difficult to trim them, but I think the result is more cohesive. Plus, the upshot is that sound might be the focus of my next mix.

The last song I want to talk about is "She Takes." It's by a band from the 90s that you probably never heard called This Way. They put out one record and I only know about that because the universe put their song "Nice" in my path while in high school. Until recently, their album was unavailable on Spotify. More on them later.

Anyway, that's that. I hope you take it for a spin.

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