This mix, in its original form, started as a mere concept to show the beauty of Pop music that is purposefully arty and outwardly beautiful; the type of stuff that the form has really sought to do on a few remarkable occasions (the 1966-1967 sunshine era, the mid-1980’s jangle period, and the early 90’s post-modern boom). It started when I noticed the remarkable similarity in a melodic motif in Chad & Jeremy’s ‘The Cruel War’ (an outtake from Before and After that is listed as being from Chad and Jill Steuart) and Sagittarius’ ‘Would You Like to Go’ from 1967 (from one of the great Pop lps ever made, Present Tense). From there it was just a very loose playlist, something I’d add to every time I heard something I thought highly artful, but poppy. Then, after a few listens, a bunch of lyrical references pointed me in the direction of day and night and a concept emerged, the most repurposed idea in all of Pop: that there are conflicting natures, and artists often represent them similarity. Hopeful happiness is painted with imagery towards light and darkness sitting in for depressive melancholia. What if the mix was a Pop journey through literal darkness, a night spent tossing and turning in bed listening to a still, quiet city or township outside in complete stillness, only connected, if at all, in the minds of those who have psychosis wandering about in insomnia-induced states. The playlist then becomes where the beauty in Pop music comes from: the deep black nights of the mind and those that have optimism enough to provide the lamplight with which to brighten the shadowy recesses. At a few points you’re even able to see the passage of time in references to the slow moving alarm clock numbers. It’s then, in equal measure, the most depressive and optimistic playlist I’ve ever made. Or, in the words of a song selected here, ‘For I have the warmth of the sun/within me at night’. Continue reading →
A funny joke of a pun started the idea behind this months mix—one that any hard rock fan who counted the Who over Led Zeppelin in their formative years has probably thought at least a hundred times. With dozens of friends over the years, not to mention classic rock radio DJ’s, insisting that Led Zeppelin, and not the Who, where the best English rockin’ band featuring a gonzo drummer, an incredibly gifted and underrated bass player and, and a cocksure front man with golden locks to his shoulders (oddly enough these aren’t the only two that fit that description!) it was nearly enough to drive us Who fanatics insane. I’ve alway remained steadfast that the Who are where it’s at—in many ways Led Zeppelin to me were birthed in an attempt for Jimmy Page to have his own Who to himself. Thus, via the very definition of ‘derivative’, Led Zeppelin were always a slightly more sluggish, prodding, less cerebral Who. In effect, a Who for the bar crowd who were thicker than any Porter on the menu. Continue reading →
There is a rather appropriate scene in Seinfeld where Kramer bets he can use his knowledge of George’s considerable vices to guess what his ATM password is. Kramer surmises that when one picks such a code we always, ‘return to our dark masters’; the things that pray at our weaknesses, and ultimately give us our ultimate guilty pleasures. Kramer correctly identifies that George’s ‘dark master’ is the ‘cocoa bean’ and that something chocolate derived will result in a correct guess of his password (which ends up being ‘Bosco’, the chocolate syrup brand). Thinking that this month was completely open, I decided that I—after three mixes where I used girl group pop, vintage garage, early R&B drinking songs, Prog, hip pop, post-punk etcetera to varying degrees—would return to my ‘dark master’, the thing that gives me perhaps the greatest joy in popular music: the big fat groove riff. Something I largely haven’t touched in my mixes up to this point. Continue reading →
With this month being the triple themed smorgasbord that it was (Valentines Day, Black History Month, and LGBT Awareness Month), I tried to come up with an idea that used all these in some way, and still flow in a coherent, seamless way. Thus, I envisioned a dance mix (what could be as romantic on a Valentine’s Day?) with a more or less continuous heavy bass line running through it using African American artists predominately, but also many overtly political ones of several different nationalities as well (of mixed gender and sexuality throughout). Featuring a wide ranging mélange of genres (from raunchy hip hop to feminist post-punk dub to 70’s English prog rock to suedehead Mod), I wanted to show how all this is cut from the same cloth. In a world like ours currently, dance floor unity Trumps all (and many of the songs feature appropriate lyrical content for anyone interested in reading between the lines). So to all my soul brothers and sisters, I present my February mix: Get Higher Baby and Never Come Down.
Today I’m able to release my next mix titled Letter to Mommy and Daddy, just ahead of another one that is coming at the end of February. It’s a somewhat ambitious idea in concept (mixing two very different pop ideas: noise/shoegaze with deep, classic 60’s Soul) and execution (it’s bookended with kaleidoscopic sound collages and noise blasts), so I hope you all like it. There is some stereo stuff going on, so I’d recommend listening with headphones on.
My playlist imagines itself as a fictitious Horror film within the Italian giallo sub-genre, popular in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. Famous for highly stylized visuals, intricate set pieces involving cat and mouse murders, and highly convoluted thriller plots often bordering on incomprehensible, the genre nevertheless remains a cult favorite to this day (and was the chief inspiration for the more famous Slasher genre of the late 70’s/early 80’s). As such, the selected music has a creepy period correct feel that builds a coherent narrative story about a black-gloved serial killer of young women, titled Give Daddy the Knife, Cindy. My fake movie poster employs several of my favorite titans of the genre, and fans of the English punk band the Damned will get the additional bit of sly reference in my fake films title.
I’ve compiled a sound mix that is one twenty-six minute (and change) track with all my selections mixed seamlessly together with additional sound effects and movie clips to heighten the narrative plot. Enjoy.