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Month: December 2007

12 Days of Mixmas: Day 18
Dave Allen of Gang of Four

12 Days of Mixmas: Day 18
Dave Allen of Gang of Four


Image via Cluas

Dave Allen is the original bassist for Gang of Four, a band so influential that nearly every band covered by NME today should have to pay them a royalty check. The Gang are at work on a new release right now, and Allen’s been dropping demos over at his music blog Pampelmoose. Dave Allen was kind enough to share a Mixmas compilation with us, and it’s a huge honor to have him contribute.

MP3: Gang of Four – Damaged Goods

“The Anti-Love Song” by Dave Allen of Gang of Four

Maybe Lennon & McCartney are to blame. “All You Need is Love” spelled out pretty clearly in song what those two Liverpudlian scallywags thought we needed and in return perhaps hundreds of thousands of folks at the time agreed. As the refrain ‘Love is all you need’ echoes off to somewhere in the distance, that mantra to me becomes very disturbing, it’s like an ominous chant that would be performed during a group hug in a therapy session; its promise of hope and happiness, you believe at first, is uplifting. But what happens out there in the reality of your everyday existence? Well a brief and cursory dip into the song writing pool brings us quickly to the other side of the coin – starting with the blues greats tales of loss and woe, through Roy Orbison’s sad laments, Nick Cave’s tormented religion-tainted howls, all the way up to Nirvana’s Polly where that song’s protagonist utters probably the most depressing chorus in rock history –

‘Polly wants a cracker
Maybe she would like some food
She asks me to untie her
A chase would be nice for a few’

-bear in mind that the narrator does ‘love’ Polly. All of those artists’ songs paint a much bleaker picture than the rosy one painted by “All You Need is Love.” Which brings me to a list of songs, only five but there could have been hundreds, filed under Anti-Love songs. What we have here is a handful of songs that I plucked pretty quickly from different genres. Each in their own way delivers the singer’s POV on the messy chemical and hormone mix we call Love ….. Let’s start with Atmosphere and the rapper Slug. He seems to document in every song his inability to have anything but destructive relationships with women. The lyric from Reflections is typical. Here he seems to be taunting a woman backstage –

‘The first time she met the devil was at first avenue
Went back stage with him into the dressing room
Sexy ego trip, Taller than expected about six foot three
Seemed to thrive on his misery
Critical observant big words
Sweaty hair, sunken eyes, and thick curves
She said I’ll make him smile for the simple fact that he needs it
I’ll make him smile just so I can kill it an’ eat it’

And let’s finish with my own band’s song, Anthrax, in which Jon King intones –

‘And I feel like a beetle on it’s back
And there’s no way for me to get up
Love’ll get you like a case of anthrax
And that’s something I don’t want to catch’

While guitarist Andy Gill narrates his point –

“Love crops up quite a lot as something to sing about,
Cos most groups make most of their songs about falling in love
Or how happy they are to be in love,
You occasionally wonder why these groups do sing about it all the time –
It’s because these groups think there’s something very special about it
Either that or else it’s because everybody else sings about it and always has,
You know to burst into song you have to be inspired
And nothing inspires quite like love.”

I’ll leave you with that. And if it is unappealing to you, you can Google the history of that famous Jon Bon Jovi phrase – “Don’t bore us, get to the chorus!”

MP3: Atmosphere – Reflections
MP3: Betty Davis – Anti Love Song
MP3: Waterboys – We Will Not Be Lovers
Sinead o’Connor – This is the Last Day of Our Acquaintance
MP3: Gang of Four – Anthrax

A big thanks to Dave Allen and everyone who contributed to Mixmas! Thanks for making it a great way to end 2007!

Mixmas 07
Day 17: Justin Rice of Bishop Allen
Day 16: MGMT
Day 15: Keith Murray of We Are Scientists
Day 14: Gregg Gillis aka Girl Talk
Day 13: Danny Seim of Menomena
Day 12: Josh Grier of Tapes n Tapes
Day 11: Michael Nau of Page France
Day 10: Tullycraft
Day 9: Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond
Day 8: Holy Fuck
Day 7: Jay Underwood of the Light Footwork
Day 6: Matt Kretzman of Tapes n Tapes
Day 5: Jason Nesmith of Casper and the Cookies
Day 5: Matthew Pelham of the Features
Day 4: Keith Lowen of De Novo Dahl
Day 3: Fishboy
Day 2: David Crane of BOAT
Day 1: Scott Carney of Wax Fang
Day 1: Ivana XL

Mixmases from ’05 and ’06 below…

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DOWNLOAD: Girl Talk @ Bonnaroo

DOWNLOAD: Girl Talk @ Bonnaroo

I mentioned in the introduction to Gregg Gillis’ Mixmas contribution that I listened to the bootleg of his Bonnaroo performance (which I unfortunately had to skip to see the Flaming Lips) more than most studio records that came out this year. The sound quality is fairly good, not as great as the Murders Seattle bootleg, but more than great enough to enjoy through headphones or speaker systems.

Girl Talk @ Bonnaroo 2007
MP3: 00 Intro
MP3: 01 Phase I
MP3: 02 Phase II
MP3: 03 Phase III
MP3: 04 Phase IV

Just try telling me that Phase III from 4:14 to 7:22 isn’t like the best thing ever.

12 Days of Mixmas: Day 17
Justin Rice of Bishop Allen

12 Days of Mixmas: Day 17
Justin Rice of Bishop Allen

2007 must have felt like the honeymoon to an exceptionally long engagement for Bishop Allen. After poking around for a label to call their own, they released 12 EPs in 2006 before signing to the newly formed label Dead Oceans. Now Bishop Allen and the Broken String is in stores and pumping your life full of enjoyment. Similarly, Justin is back on YANP and filling Mixmas with good tunes and insights (especially the bit about Tom Waits as an innner monologue. I had always just used Darth Vader!) As always, it’s a pleasure having Justin back for a feature.

MP3: Bishop Allen – Rain

‘Time’ by Justin Rice of Bishop Allen

This is one of those years I just can’t account for. I’m not sure what happened, but time just passed me by. There are a million more cliches that come to mind to describe the feeling, and they’re all right here on my fingertips. In fact, I think it’s pretty difficult to talk about time, or to write a song about time, that doesn’t sound cliched. Here are five that I think succeed.

MP3: Joe Jackson – Got the Time
When I hear this song, I picture the cover of Look Sharp! Those shoes. I believe that Joe Jackson is a good dancer. And I picture all his amazing moves.

MP3: The Kinks – Days
Somewhere, I saw footage of the Kinks playing this song “live.” They pretended to strum their instruments, though they were really aping a backing track, and Ray Davies grinned along with gap teeth. His glasses were round and rose-tinted.

MP3: The Easybeats – Friday on My Mind
I’ve never seen these guys, but I heard they’re Australian. That means they look kinda British, but they come from far, far away.

MP3: Tom Waits – Time
Sometimes, I like to use Tom Waits as the voice for my inner monologue. Give it a try. He’s got that hat, and that hunch, and that little beard, and he loves to throw sawdust around the stage. It’s helpful.

MP3: The Zombies – This Will Be Our Year
This is the song to start every year. Play it seven times in a row for good measure. I bet the Zombies are really nice guys. To them, I extend this invitation: if you’re ever in New York, you can crash on my floor.

Mixmas 07
Day 16: MGMT
Day 15: Keith Murray of We Are Scientists
Day 14: Gregg Gillis aka Girl Talk
Day 13: Danny Seim of Menomena
Day 12: Josh Grier of Tapes n Tapes
Day 11: Michael Nau of Page France
Day 10: Tullycraft
Day 9: Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond
Day 8: Holy Fuck
Day 7: Jay Underwood of the Light Footwork
Day 6: Matt Kretzman of Tapes n Tapes
Day 5: Jason Nesmith of Casper and the Cookies
Day 5: Matthew Pelham of the Features
Day 4: Keith Lowen of De Novo Dahl
Day 3: Fishboy
Day 2: David Crane of BOAT
Day 1: Scott Carney of Wax Fang
Day 1: Ivana XL

Mixmases from ’05 and ’06 below…

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Mason Proper: “Bike”

Mason Proper: “Bike”


Photo by Kaylan Mitchell

I gave a little bit of thought to my favorite studio covers of the year. I don’t know what I’d pick as my top favorite (Dr. Dog’s “Heart It Races” maybe?), but Mason Proper’s cover of Pink Floyd’s “Bike” would have to be up there.

MP3: Mason Proper – Bike

12 Days of Mixmas: Day 16
MGMT

12 Days of Mixmas: Day 16
MGMT

I enjoyed quite a bit of MGMT’s record Oracular Spectatular during 2007. That is to day that I enjoyed the record quite frequently, not that I only enjoyed bits of it. Now that we’ve got that confusing opening out of the way, here’s the boys of MGMT to set you straight on having a “creepball” holidays.

MP3: MGMT – Time to Pretend

“A Very Creepballs Christmas” by MGMT
Presented here are our current favorite creepballs tracks for the holiday season. Creepballs can’t really be defined, it’s something you have to experience…a lifestyle choice of sorts. We’re pretty sure this is what Jimi Hendrix was talking about on that one album. This is the cream of the crop as far as we’re concerned, the masters, the 7th cycle reconstructuralists of the creepballs universe. We’ve have tried to write descriptions in the style of a snarky 19 year old Pitchfork slave who thinks he knows everything about music and life. Enjoy!

MP3: Alan Vega – On the Run
Some of Ric Ocasek’s finest work as a producer. This is creepballs music for new millennium highway boogie boarding. “My back was hurting really bad yesterday, so I took a codeine and put this album on headphones and it was awesome.” – Ben

MP3: Ennio Morricone – Cavallina a Cavallo
This sultry little number registers pretty high on the creepballs scale. You can’t help but laugh when she giggles so giddy and gay, but, pray tell, what’s so funny? Is it the northern Italian gremlin playfully nibbling your pinkie toe? We don’t know because we haven’t yet seen the film. It’s not entirely sexual, not entirely innocent, but entirely creepballs.

MP3: Legendary Pink Dots – Third Secret
This song makes us cry. The perfect tune for driving to the hotel after a shit-show somewhere in Kansas. It’s a beautiful thing when you’re looking out the window and you realize you’re wistfully singing the lines “for all the years of blessed rape in the name of our sweet lord” like a middle aged woman sings along to the reunion version of “Silver Springs.” Stevie Nicks wishes she was this creepballs.

MP3: Psychic TV – Just Drifting (Midnight)
MP3: Psychic TV – Just Drifting (For Caresse)
Deceptively creepballs. There’s a little too much sugar in this macchiatto. It’s as if George Michael was recording a secret christmas Wham B-side and they got the music done and Genesis P. Orridge snuck into the studio at 3 in the morning, downed a bottle of cough syrup and started improvising whacked out lyrics about his newborn daughter Caress. The vocal delivery and subtle rearrangement of lyric phrases for the second verse are a sign of true genius, and true creepballs. This is what life feels like. What a beautiful man, man.

MP3: Bruce Haack – Incantation
Mmmm…You’re walking through the deep dark forest and you stumble upon a cool-ass elve’s Pioneer turntable and you drop the hummingbird-beak needle and this music comes through the tiny snail-shell speakers like a gift from the Master Therion himself. Jew Harp, sweet synth breaks, crazy reverb claps, robot vocals, and mantra like singing, all in a song called “Incantation” on a children’s album titled Electric Lucifer. Well done Mr. Haack. You have earned your creepballs status in your home in Edmonton, Alberta. The laughing Mescalito approves.

Mixmas 07
Day 15: Keith Murray of We Are Scientists
Day 14: Gregg Gillis aka Girl Talk
Day 13: Danny Seim of Menomena
Day 12: Josh Grier of Tapes n Tapes
Day 11: Michael Nau of Page France
Day 10: Tullycraft
Day 9: Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond
Day 8: Holy Fuck
Day 7: Jay Underwood of the Light Footwork
Day 6: Matt Kretzman of Tapes n Tapes
Day 5: Jason Nesmith of Casper and the Cookies
Day 5: Matthew Pelham of the Features
Day 4: Keith Lowen of De Novo Dahl
Day 3: Fishboy
Day 2: David Crane of BOAT
Day 1: Scott Carney of Wax Fang
Day 1: Ivana XL

Mixmases from ’05 and ’06 below…

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12 Days of Mixmas: Day 15
Keith Murray of We Are Scientists

12 Days of Mixmas: Day 15
Keith Murray of We Are Scientists

Keith Murray’s contribution to Mixmas marks his third time. And, for the third time in a row, Keith has chosen to use this platform to pimp out some of his friends/favorite bands. One day I’m going to trick Keith into doing something self-serving, but that day is not today. So here’s the ever cruel Keith Murray’s mix on six songs that you can’t hear just yet…

“Six songs that make me really excited for 2008, although, due to the fact that the albums that will eventually house these songs are presently unreleased, I can’t disseminate them, I can only taunt you by raving about them and then recommending further, currently-available listening from the same bands, since I’d really like to avoid angering these friends and their legal advisors by leaking this shit, even though I really, really want to (leak it)” by Keith Murray of We Are Scientists

Mystery Jets – “Hand Me Down” (live version on Youtube)
As my band was working on our new record this year, I found myself wanting more and more to delve into the realm of Bowie-style electro-funk. I’m talking “Ashes to Ashes”-type stuff, here: groovy and sexy, but essentially devoid of anything even remotely human. We’ve got one or two new ones that generally fit that bill, but I was pretty nervous about the viability of that kind of thing on a contemporary indie-rock record – until I caught saw Mystery Jets play this song from their forthcoming album, that is. They are blowing the doors open on this crap, but, unlike Bowie, they seem entire incapable of being cold, removed, alien. This song is all heart. An early contender for me for “Song of the Year, ’08.”

Here’s another fantastic song from the forthcoming album that appears to have been officially leaked (I downloaded it from some blog):
MP3: Mystery Jets – Flakes

Mates of State – “Get Better”
Good god, talk about expanding your palette! These two have made a hell of a career for themselves by pushing the limitations set by their idiosyncratic instrumentation, and it was pretty exciting to watch them dip their toes into more ambitious arrangements on their last album, Bring It Back. With their new stuff, though, they’re pretty much marching headlong into totally uncharted territory. This song is so unique to their oeuvre, so lushly conceived, and, ultimately, so totally rewarding, it’s the musical equivalent of machete-hacking through miles of dense jungle undergrowth, only to stumble upon one of those rad, solid-gold Mayan temples, built to look like an enormous human skull with glowing ruby eyes and a river of chocolate sauce flowing from the mouth. I love those things.

From Bring It Back:
MP3: Mates of State – Fraud in the 80s

Snow Patrol – “Cubicles”
The demo of this song got passed on to me fresh from its recording session, and it’s pretty exciting to hear a tune that’s clearly destined to be played in stadiums delivered in so raw a form: this version is all dry acoustic guitars and perfunctorily multi-tracked vocals, and it’s gorgeous. If Panda Bear had recorded this, he’d have slapped a shitload of reverb on everything and added a track of random field recordings, and every blog in the world would have crapped their pants in excitement. That’s not a slight against Panda Bear. I love Panda Bear. It’s just all about context, people.

From Eyes Open: “Open Your Eyes” (YANP Matt: I once got an RIAA letter for posting this track… Once bitten, twice shy.)

Oxford Collapse – “John Blood”
For the better part of ’07, these dudes were threatening to make their next record a double album, and they went ahead and wrote enough songs to do it. In the end, cooler heads prevailed, and so now what we’ve got to look forward to is a potent little distillation of that project – a “greatest hits” kind of thing. “John Blood” has a bunch of the staples of the Oxford Collapse sound: a drum beat that acts as an awesome lead , a funky-ass bassline that acts as an awesome lead, and a melodic guitar lead that, um, acts as an awesome lead. But they’ve stepped it up with this one – there’s a groovy slinkiness to the song that we haven’t really heard from these guys before, and the sexy, saucy female vocals that pop up in the choruses are next-level.

From Remember the Night Parties: “Lady Lawyers”
MP3: Oxford Collapse – Lady Lawyers

Au Revoir Simone – “Oh! You Pretty Things”
This is coming out sometime in the nearish future on some K7 compilation of Bowie covers. Do I even have to go on at length about how excited I am that Au Revior Simone have recorded a Bowie song? To really encapsulate my enthusiasm, this synopsis would ideally just be an animated GIF of the Earth exploding and showering the cosmos with puppies and Skittles-brand candy pieces and slices of pizza bottles of single-malt Scotch and crap. Can somebody please put something like that together?

From The Bird of Music: “The Way To There”
MP3: Au Revoir Simone – The Way to There

The Little Ones – Ordinary Song (Video)
We just got off of a three-week tour in England with these guys, and their songs got way under our skin – so much so, that on a day off in Cardiff, Max (our keyboardist) and I had to impose a ban on the singing of this song. Every three minutes or so, one of us catch the other singing one of the, like, twenty hooks that feature in the 3:30 of this song, and would halfheartedly berate the offender. What were we supposed to do, though? We’re only men, flesh and blood. We love the Little Ones.

From the Sing Song EP: “Lovers Who Uncover”
MP3: The Little Ones – Lovers Who Uncover

Mixmas 07
Day 14: Gregg Gillis aka Girl Talk
Day 13: Danny Seim of Menomena
Day 12: Josh Grier of Tapes n Tapes
Day 11: Michael Nau of Page France
Day 10: Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond
Day 8: Holy Fuck
Day 7: Jay Underwood of the Light Footwork
Day 6: Matt Kretzman of Tapes n Tapes
Day 5: Jason Nesmith of Casper and the Cookies
Day 5: Matthew Pelham of the Features
Day 4: Keith Lowen of De Novo Dahl
Day 3: Fishboy
Day 2: David Crane of BOAT
Day 1: Scott Carney of Wax Fang
Day 1: Ivana XL

Mixmases from ’05 and ’06 below…

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The Jesus and Mary Chain: “My Girl”

The Jesus and Mary Chain: “My Girl”

I’m in a curious musical mood this week. To compliment that, here’s a curious cover: distorted fuzz-pop geniuses the Jesus and Mary Chain covering regular pop mega-geniuses The Temptations.

MP3: Jesus and Mary Chain – My Girl (The Temptations)
This little beauty comes to us from the Jesus and Mary Chain Peel session. My favorite part about this cover is that, though it’s a delightfully upbeat and catchy song, he sounds so unconvinced at his own happiness. The vocals sound like they’re fighting to turn the tune into minor key misery. Curiously, though, the final product is convincing — at least to me. The outro is especially smile-inducing and sure to make you say “So THIS is what it sounds like when the Jesus and Mary Chain are happy.”

MOKB has Michael Showalter as part of his Holiday Interview series. As you might guess, it contains many funny words put together to make funny sentences. Michael Showalter’s answers are also pretty good too.

12 Days of Mixmas: Day 14
Gregg Gillis aka Girl Talk

12 Days of Mixmas: Day 14
Gregg Gillis aka Girl Talk

I think I’ve listened to Girl Talk’s Bonnaroo bootleg more than I’ve listened to most albums that came out this year. Yeah, Night Ripper‘s fun, but live is where Gregg really shines. Here’s to the man who did more this year to get me to shake my rump than anyone else.

“5 Songs That Go Well Next To Christmas Songs Without Having Anything To Do With The Holidays” by Gregg Gillis aka Girl Talk

Cliff Richard – We Don’t Talk Anymore
This reminds me of Wham’s “Last Christmas” a little bit. It’s even more syrup-y. The high-pitch keyboard melodies have some bell-esque qualities, and the secret to any good Christmas tune is excellent bell work. The pulsating bass is like reindeer marching through the snow.

Andrew WK – Never Let Down
This is on a Trans Siberia Orchestra level of epic-ness. The choir backing vocals definitely help with the holiday feel. It sounds like the beginning and end of the world simultaneously.

MP3: The The – This Is The Day
The positive vibes are overwhelming. The intro has that Christmas dream-style aesthetic down perfectly. It keeps building from there. I wouldn’t mind opening presents to this.

MP3: Ludacris – Pussy Poppin
I wouldn’t suggest putting this on at your family holiday gatherings, based on the lyrical content. The synths are the closest thing I’ve ever heard to the ones featured Paul McCartney’s “Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time,” which is my favorite Christmas song.

MP3: ABBA – Take A Chance On Me
To be honest, any ABBA works well. The chorus of this jam definitely has a distinct Christmas caroling style; this is highlighted at the beginning. I can see Old Saint Nick riding through the sky to this one.

Mixmas 07
Day 13: Danny Seim of Menomena
Day 12: Josh Grier of Tapes n Tapes
Day 11: Michael Nau of Page France
Day 10: Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond
Day 8: Holy Fuck
Day 7: Jay Underwood of the Light Footwork
Day 6: Matt Kretzman of Tapes n Tapes
Day 5: Jason Nesmith of Casper and the Cookies
Day 5: Matthew Pelham of the Features
Day 4: Keith Lowen of De Novo Dahl
Day 3: Fishboy
Day 2: David Crane of BOAT
Day 1: Scott Carney of Wax Fang
Day 1: Ivana XL

Mixmases from ’05 and ’06 below…

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