WHAT: A new mix (or "mixx" as it's spelled in the file) from my friend Victoria, pictured here next to some dude from Third Eye Blind. As she is now 21 years old (I checked - you should see her shoes), I don't know whether this should be held against her or not.
WHY: Special request, baby!!! That's right, I was actually asked to do a pot luck review of her latest mix, first by Indie Maven Sean (whose mix I was about to listen to), and then from the woman herself. Victoria's musical tastes, while very similar in some aspects to Sean's (who always manages to stick at least 3 things in I'll really enjoy), have a tendency to sound, well, young to my curmudgeonly ears. However, yesterday I willfully played a Wilco record on the way home, so maybe I'm in the right frame of mind to do this. Here we go:
1. Drug Drug Kiss Kiss - ABX: Oh my goodness...a veritable hodge podge of styles, complete with electro-vox a la Cher and Daft Punk. It moves, it jumps, it bounces in converse shoes and somewhere there's a rainbow reflected in the spray of fire hydrants while kids jump rope, all filmed in a bright, vibrant MTV ready for Prime Time style that surprises me, as I'm not immediately reaching for the Tylenol or the volume knob.
2. Sun Red Sky Blue - Kenna: Another song opting for electronic overtones. I guess the reggae rhythms coupled with the electronic blips and beeps are popular. I can see why by this track - while this is nothing I would go out and seek out, I'm enjoying it and wouldn't shut it off if it played on the radio. The chorus is sweet. It makes me want to sing a bit.
3. Now. Now - St. Vincent: This sounds like a commercial for Youth Culture. What's funny is I originally mistyped and wrote "Your Culture" which I imagine could possibly pass for a Freudian slip if anyone gave Freud any credence in this day and age. I feel like I should be watching a commercial of young adults interacting in slow motion. About three minutes in I'm starting to really like this - it's going from commercial to soundtrack to an indie movie. Somewhere in the world Zach Braff is trying to get this song in either his next film or the next episode of Scrubs. Damn I love Scrubs - that show is da bomb. I sheepishly admit to liking this song.
4. Sweet Marie - Timo Räisänen: Boy, everything so far on this mix has got some hop to it. This is the most "meh" song so far. Nothing really wrong, just filler. I give the guy some points for all the umlauts in his name, though. METAL!
5. Dear Gabby - The Eames Era: Retro pop/rock that's not by the Detroit Cobras or the Gore Gore Girls immediately get my guard up. I don't like the intro, but now that the actual song is playing, it's okay. The "emo kids don't tip for shit" quip is an easy target when I suspect these guys probably fall into a just as easily identifiable sub-group.
6. I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to dance With You - Black Kids: If these guys are actually black kids, I'll eat my weight in worms. I can't get past the name. Can someone explain why a bunch of white kids decided to call their band "Black Kids?" And while you're at it, also explain why this isn't racist? I'm not normally this touchy about things, but c'mon...really? And for a song that sounds like it was recorded in a tin can?
7. TBTF - Kevin Drew: And now this? Why the heck would this guy call himself Kevin Drew...wait, that's his name? Fair enough, I'll let it slide. My keen ears have discerned that "TBTF" stands for "Too Beautiful to Fuck," which was essentially my life story in high school. Not the women, me. Oh, how many times did I hear that sorry excuse from the girls, that I was just too beautiful...wait, whaddaya mean they weren't talking about me being too beautiful? Damn. The song is okay, I guess.
8. Don't You Evah - Spoon: Best produced song so far. And it's Spoon, so I love it. Spoon are greasy, sexy, and wonderful to play with bass that never manages to get lost in the mix. I know a lot of people think the new record is a step down from previous Gimme Fiction, but I really enjoy it. "Don't You Evah" isn't the strongest track on the new album, but it's a solid song, and works well here.
9. May 14, 1943 The Khaki-Whacky Girls - The Gunshy: Not to be confused with the May 14 1942 Khaki-Whacky Girls...I don't know what to make of this. I'm listening to the lyrics, but they make no sense. I think this derails the mix, it just sits there apart from everything else. I can't imagine waiting for this song to come up and then singing along. That's not to say it's a bad song; it just means it feels like it doesn't belong here.
10. It Started With a Mixx - Los Campesinos!: Ah ha! So that's where the title of this mix comes from! Hooray! Mystery solved. Goofy, plucky...I like this. Wow, short though.
11. School Uniforms - The Wombats: This immediately gets good marks. I'm a sucker for songs that are produced very in-your-face. This reminds me of bands like Maximo Park. There's a crazy little discord in the main riff that makes it dirty and fun. Sarcastic but not bored...I would definitely listen to an entire album by this band. This might be the highlight so far in the mix. Sorry, mixx.
12. Left Foot Stepdown - The Bees: Some simple chugging and then the brass comes in. This is really good. VB - you're making me smile...barring a few songs, I'm really enjoying this mix. Maybe I have a fever or something. Off in the distance Sean is trembling with rage, thinking I'm spending all my goodwill on your mix and leaving nothing but ire and bitterness when I listen to his mix. This has now become my favorite track on the record.
13. Cheer Up You're Not Dead Yet - Blockhead: For five seconds I thought this was going to continue the caliber of the preceding three songs. Sorry. Some nice jazzy guitar line sampled over and over again while a beat plays in the background accompanied by muffled crooning. This sounds like something I once put together using a midi piano and some recording shareware. remind me to dig up my midi version of "Purple Haze" with me soloing over the background. On second thought, don't...
14. Need Your Needs - Georgie James: A perfectly serviceable song that does everything it's supposed to do. I can't say I particularly like it, but recall that I'm also a bitter old man who now sings "Old McDonald" and "If You're Happy And You Know It" every night to stop his son from running away from having his diapers changed. Now get off my lawn!
15. Here Comes the Heartbreak - Emma Pollack: Try to play me with a simple, acoustic pop song sung by a cute girl and you'll generally get me, so long as it's not too cloying. This isn't, and feels fine alongside the other good sings in this mix. I just checked her out - definitely not as cute as her voice, but I'm not the shallow type (he said immediately after checking out her picture to see if she was hot). I should emphasize at this point that nothing (except a few songs) on here would make my own mix disc, but were I to be at a party with some friends and this stuff came on, I'd be happy. Does that make sense?
16. Two French Sisters - Pants Yell!: Probably the best band name I've heard in the past five years, but unfortunately this track doesn't live up to the greatness of the name. If my pants could yell, I'd want them to yell like Scatman Crothers. Either him or the dude who played Stumpy in RIO BRAVO (ed. Walter Brennan). There should be more yelling in this song! All in all not bad, kinda sad, kinda forlorn, kinda like a lot of stuff that goes by with little impact.
17. Don't Lose Yourself - Laura Veirs: Good advice. everyone and their brother's doing the electro acoustic thing. I miss the days of a girl, a guitar, and kissing in the light streaming from a window. Where's my sticker album? This is good - the dual vocals work really nice, and the electronics aren't overbearing. Simple and sincere.
18. Fantasia - Rogue Wave: Wow, I actually know three bands on this mix (#3 comes later). Rogue Wave is one of those bands that I never actually listen to, but when I go through my iPod looking for music to trim, I always wind up leaving them on. Every time I hear a song from them, I say "Hmm, I need to listen to the whole record," and then I never do. Good song. Not "in your face" but it works its way over you like a fuzzy sweater. Man, I have to listen to a whole album one of these days...
19. In the Morning - Club 8: Whew. I was thinking this was going to be a "club" song, but instead I'm pleasantly surprised to hear an ethereal ode to young minds confused by their hearts. Songs like this remind me that while I am now firmly ensconced in my mid-30's my heart's still 21. This song plays when it's raining and you're home looking through old pictures with the person you love most in the world.
20. Impossible (Dan Deacon remix) - Death Set: If you know me by now, you can probably guess my reaction to any song with the words "remix" in the title. This sounds like a closing song to me. There's nothing particularly bad about it, except that it sounds like it;s the end of the mix, when it most decidedly is not, considering there's still two songs to go.
21. Girls & Boys in Love (David E Sugar remix) - The Rumble Strips: Another "remix." It sounds like you would imagine. Lots of dance-inspired beats and a guy singing like he misses his cat when he's on tour. But I'm feeling nostalgic right now, and I'm giving this a pass. This music makes me feel young again, for whatever reason, and I'm not going to begrudge it just because it's not my normal cup of tea (which is green, no sugar or cream, please).
22. Division - Stars: Oh, you wicked girl...I first saw Stars live in the company of my wife, Sean, and Victoria (I think...were you there?), and it was a great show. I think Amy Millan is a great singer whether she's here or doing her solo thing. This is a non-album track that maybe doesn't have the grandeur of their "official" stuff, but when you have this much talent and grave it shows through in even the weaker songs. It doesn't feel like a closer (I would switch this and the "Impossible" remix), but it's a great addition and a welcome surprise considering I hadn;t heard it before.
BOTTOM LINE: A solid B. Take off tracks 6, 7, 9, 13 and 14 and you got a really fun, eclectic mix. I admit to being surprised at the upbeat nature of the tracks - I guess I was expecting a softer mix of tracks. Definitely a few keepers there that will bounce to my iPod, and the crown goes to The Bees and strangely Club 8, which made me feel very wistful and nostalgic to the point where I'll confess I played it three times while I leaned back in my chair and remembered what it was like to be young and in love.