My first real exposure to Thunderbirds Are Now! was at the 05 Pitchfork-curated Intonation Music Festival. Since then I’ve followed them closely, picking up all the live recordings and demos that I could until the release of their next album, Make History.
Ryan was thoughtful enough to contribute a mix last year, and it sparked a lot of demate within the comments. While this year’s is far from inflammatory, it’s still wickedly smart. It’s based around Ryan’s time working at Urban Outfitters, and that leads me to an interesting story. Apparently on his first day working there, someone made a mix CD to play in the store and it included a Thunderbirds Are Now! song.
“Five songs from bands that I heard this year while folding novelty shirts, climbing on ladders to get down overpriced shoes, getting dust in my nose from shag rugs, and being astonished by the “I LOVE MY PENIS” air fresheners at my place of employment – Urban Outfitters – that I otherwise would not have liked, but considering they were pounded relentlessly into my head, I ended up liking a lot, and in turn how they have helped me become a more assiduous worker” by Ryan Allen of Thunderbirds Are Now!
MP3: Junior Boys – In The Morning
Oh man! Pulsating electronic rhythms! Arpeggiated keyboard lines! Whispered, soulful male vocals! A touch of Prince-like sexiness in the bridge! Dudes, if any song was purely created to be played in a trendy clothing store located on the third level of a pseudo-expensive mall in suburban Detroit, this jam is it! You hear this song once, and all you want to do is shop ’til you drop, and often times I find people passed out around the store due to it’s sheer perfection. Also, the song’s refrain of “You’re too young” can work really well when you spy a couple of 12-year-olds ogling one of our low-cut numbers. If you time it right, you can hide behind a corner, only to pop out seconds before the pre-teen customers pick up the merchandise, shake your finger in their face like a disapproving teacher and lip-sync “You’re too young” in time with the music. Works every time.
MP3: Hot Chip – Over and Over
First, let it be known that because of working at Urban Outfitters, I find this band completely annoying. For the last 8 months or so, this album has been played EVERY F***ING DAY without fail. The fey vocals, the bumbling electronic backdrops, the supposedly ironic lyrics about Hot Chip kicking your a**. all of it bothers me. Except for this song. Not only did they get it right within the context of what their band is trying to do – with percussion that sounds like spoons being thrown at building blocks – but it also exemplifies a typical day working at Urban. What do you do all day? Fold! Over and over and over and over. Help people! Over and over and over and over. Pick sh*t up off the floor! Over and over and over and over. Say, “I’m sorry ma’am, we don’t have that in extra large.” Over and over and over and over. Listen to this album. Over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over.
MP3: Snowden – Anti-Anti
This little rhythmic and atmospheric gem caught me a tad off guard the first time I heard it, as the vocalization is much more hypnotic than your usual run of the mill danceable punk song. After asking one of my managers “Yo! Who is this?,” I found out it was Snowden. “Oh great,” I thought. “A Jade Tree band.” But still, I was mesmerized every time this album came on, and the next thing you know, I was walking around the store with a skip in my step, singing “Gettin’ down in the town that makes no sound” paying no mind to amateurishness of the lyric! It was then that I decided dancing around every once in awhile is key to surviving a retail job. So I danced. And I danced some more. And then I went and hid in the bathroom.
MP3: Phoenix – Long Distance Call
Everybody knows Phoenix is a guilty pleasure. No band this good-looking can be taken seriously, but still, these Frenchmen manage to come up with some pretty taut little tunes – perfect to digest whilst shopping for a personal ice luge or a Little Miss Sunshine t-shirt. And it is within the simplicity of these songs that can bring you and your fellow employees together, as everybody seems to agree, according to how many times this song has been played in the store, that Phoenix must be the best band ever. Better than the Beatles perhaps. Because above all other social and political issues that Phoenix tackle in their little three-minute chunks of bliss, it becomes clear that the band stand for only one thing – retail employee unity.
MP3: Animal Collective – The Purple Bottle
I pretty much despise everything about this band, from their cutesy little rhyming names (Avery Tare and Panda Bear! Oh how adorable!) to their weird hippy aesthetic, all bundled up into a turtle costume. But godd*mn if this song doesn’t make you go insane and fold the sh*t out of some clothes! The swirling vocals and rapid-fire production really get your endorphins going, and all of a sudden you look back and go, “Holy sh*t, I just folded 25 ‘Let’s Hug it Out’ t-shirts in like 3 minutes!” It really puts you in a trance. Also, it’s fun to look around the store when this song comes on, as it seems to really confuse many of the rich trophy wives shopping for boleros for their 15-year-old daughters.
Mixmas 05 (MP3 links don’t work)
Day 13: Kevin Barnes of Of Montreal
Day 12: Keith Murray of We Are Scientists
Day 11: Justin Rice of Bishop Allen
Day 10: Becca from The Light Footwork
Day 9: Jay from The Light Footwork
Day 8: Christian Owens from Bishop Allen
Day 7: The Rinse
Day 6: Chris of Gorilla vs Bear
Day 5: Dodge from My Old Kentucky Blog
Day 4: Ryan Allen of Thunderbirds Are Now!
Day 3: John Vanderslice
Day 2: Tapes ‘n Tapes
Day 1: Dean from Secret Unicorns Forum