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Sunday, July 4, 2010

Themed tape: bongos!

Or is that "bongoes"? Actually, not all of these may even be bongo(e)s in the first place, but close enough.

1. Thievery Corporation feat. David Byrne - The Heart's A Lonely Hunter
2. The Seatbelts - Mushroom Hunting
3. Michael Viner's Incredible Bongo Band - Apache
4. Santa Esmeralda - Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood
5. Paul Simon - She Moves On
6. Dizzy Gillespie - Manteca (Funky Lowlives remix)
7. M.I.A. - Bird Flu
8. Ben Harper - Mama's Trippin'
9. Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros - X-Ray Style
10. Vampire Weekend - Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa

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Friday, June 4, 2010

Unthemed tape: in media res

The idea here was basically to shift the frame of the mixtape so that it starts with what would traditionally be a last or second-to-last song and then have it cycle back around. Two instrumental tracks help this along, and for some reason this mix progresses from musical theme to musical theme a little faster than some of the others (or so it seems to me).

1. Pearl Jam - Better Man
2. Yoko Kanno - Criminals Usually Head South
3. Pixie Carnation - When Did The Lights Go Out
4. Kings of Leon - Genius
5. Joan Osborne - Ladder
6. The Weakerthans - Exiles Among You
7. Counting Crows - Speedway
8. Regina Spektor - Eet
9. Yann Tiersen - La Chute
10. Amy Correia - Fallen Out Of Love
11. Patty Griffin - Moses
12. stellastarr* - Sonja Cries

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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Unthemed tape: momentum

The general idea behind this tape was to use instrumentals to generate excitement and energy and then to let the following vocal tracks sort of gradually slow things down until the tape just coasted to a stop. It was also an opportunity to use both "Giving Up The Gun" and "It's Thunder And It's Lightning," which are two songs that recently grabbed me.

Also, watch the transition between tracks 10 and 11 - of all of them, that's the most drastic change. If it works, I'm not totally sure why.

1. Meeting Of Important People - Pretzel Rod Blues
2. The Contrast - Caught In A Trap
3. R.E.M. - Star 69
4. stellastarr* - Tokyo Sky
5. Phoenix - 1901
6. Vampire Weekend - Giving Up The Gun
7. Mosquitos - 27 Degrees
8. The Pillows - Tokyo Zombie (The Knock Came At Dead Of Night)
9. The Weakerthans - Relative Surplus Value
10. We Were Promised Jetpacks - It's Thunder And It's Lightning
11. The Avett Brothers - And It Spread
12. Nickel Creek - Scotch And Chocolate
13. Elliott Smith - Tomorrow Tomorrow
14. Nick Drake - From The Morning

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Unthemed tape: "Signs of life"

This tape was inspired by two things: the first track sounded like a great opening track for a mix and the last track sounded like a great closing track. Unfortunately, both lend themselves to being surrounded by less intense songs and neither is itself too intense. Managing the flow of this tape, then, was largely a matter of finding a way to reach some kind of high point.

Track 2's beginning measures are designed to imitate the opening measures of the song that follows track 1 on its original album - a trick I talked about in part 4 of the how-to series. Since the second track ends by slowing down the tempo and fading out, the next track pretty much had to be slower still; track 3, as a result, starts a series of five very subdued songs. I didn't notice this at first, but 3 through 6 alternate between soft, repetitive vocals and prominent, lyrical vocals - a phenomenon I'll have to think more about later. Track 7 concludes that set by stripping away all of the extra instrumentation and leaving more empty space between musical phrases, bringing the tape to its quietest place.

So as to not make a startling break with the rest of the tape, track 8 also begins with some folk-like acoustic strumming, but from there it moves into a much more complex and less traditional rhythm and chord progression that starts the tape moving towards its climax. Track 9 continues that weirdness, but drops some of the more uncommon instruments so that it can lead into the only halfway normal rock track on the mix, which is also its high point. The last three tracks are also united by their (relatively) prominent bass lines, which in other circumstances might not have been as important: having all of the acoustic tracks earlier in the mix, I suspect, highlights that similarity.

1.  Calexico - Letter To Bowie Knife
2.  The Weakerthans - Night Windows
3.  Caribou - Hello Hammerheads
4.  Blitzen Trapper - Black River Killer
5.  James Yuill - This Sweet Love
6.  Neko Case - Vengeance Is Sleeping
7.  Dan Auerbach - Trouble Weighs A Ton
8.  Ramona Falls - Russia
9.  Soul Coughing - Lazybones
10.  stellastarr* - Warchild
11.  Meeting Of Important People - Mothers Pay More

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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Themed tape: whistle

This was a little more difficult to construct than maybe it should've been - everyone can think of a few canonical whistling songs, right, so how hard could it be? Well, as it turns out, those few canonical songs are either not too terribly similar to the others or else are too unserious to put on a mix ("Whistle While You Work," e.g.). The saving grace was that most of the reasonable songs I did find had a positive, upbeat tone, more or less. As a result, this is a much peppier mix than the stuff I usually put together.

In terms of flow, The Bangles are a workable midpoint between Paul Simon's relatively straightforward production and folk/Americana sound to The Drums and their Pixies-style surf guitars. That same overall sparsity of sound carries through into track 6, but since that track builds to a real musical climax I felt like that was a good place to switch gears (that's as opposed to "Let's Go Surfing," which pretty much stays on one level). "I Like Birds" brings back a less experimental, more traditional sound, which stays more or less the same for the rest of the tape.

1. Brother Bones and His Shadows - Sweet Georgia Brown
2. Andrew Bird - Fitz and the Dizzyspells
3. Paul Simon - Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard
4. The Bangles - Walk Like An Egyptian
5. The Drums - Let's Go Surfing
6. Peter Bjorn and John - Young Folks
7. eels - I Like Birds
8. Bob Sinclair - Love Generation
9. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros - Home
10. The Beatles - Two Of Us
11. Calexico/Iron & Wine - Prison on Route 41
12. Otis Redding - (Sittin' on) The Dock of the Bay

Thanks also to all my friends who helped me find songs for this tape!

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