Nick Hornby: “A good compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do. You’ve got to kick off with a corker, to hold the attention… and then you’ve got to up it a notch, and you can’t have white music and black music together, unless the white music sounds like black music, and you can’t have two tracks by the same artist side by side, unless you’ve done the whole thing in pairs, and … oh there are loads of rules.”
Following Nick Hornby’s rules, I’m kicking this off with a corker. First time I saw the Dandys, they were touring for this album, their second, opening for Curve. I talked about Curve on Echo :02. That’s because I love them. See, ’cause back in the day, there was a thing called shoegaze, kids, principal examples of which were, among others, Ride, My Bloody Valentine, Jesus & Mary Chain and Slowdive–just these walls of sound that the bands would create whilst staring at their shoes. The Dandys were kinda lumped into that category, and for good reason. Just a bunch of great, bludgeoning, fuzzy tracks that make you wanna move.
Benjamin Curtis and twin sisters Alejandra and Claudia Deheza were School of Seven Bells (SVIIB to the cool kids.) I say “were” because they are no longer a band. After this album, which came out in 2010, and right before I saw them play live, Claudia left the band. Literally, I think it happened the day before they played in Albuquerque. A shame, because I’ll probably never get to see them actually perform these gorgeous harmonies. But the real kick in the gut? Two years ago, Benjamin Curtis died of lymphoma. Shit gets complicated. And this band will be missed.
A few nights ago, Chris Douridas spun this track on KCRW, and I was lucky enough to catch it. Of course I had to dig the thing up immediately. Turns out these cats are three women from Sydney (Liz Drummond, Hannah Field and Annie Hamilton) who are just now releasing their debut album. I have no idea what the rest of the album sounds like. I just went straight to Track 8. But I have a feeling that they could be pretty big. Bigger than Jesus? Well, they probably weigh more. Collectively, I mean.
Dreamy, danceable, like honey pouring out of the speakers and into your earholes. Listen to this and know that the band almost died in a car crash last year. Thank the universe for small favors. And remember, we hate depression:
Now that all I do is breathe
I can get a little free
It feels good
Brad Oberhofer is one of those young over-achievers. He’s 23 or something. He’s just a kid. When I was his age, I was under the mistaken notion that I wanted to get married. At 23, Oberhofer’s making big music. At 23, I was making mistakes. Yeah, when I was 23, I was embarking on a cross-country trek with my “fiancée.” How’d it go? Disaster. You could chart the decline of the relationship with every postcard I mailed out. Yeah, I got a great story out of it. But you can’t exactly dance to it.
This is one of those songs that make think of saving the world. In fact, I used it in the novel I’m writing, although I generally don’t like to mention songs in my stories. Maybe that’s a holdover from the screenwriting; you just don’t know whether you can get the rights. I’ve been writing this novel now for about ten years. Will I ever finish it? Maybe. But by then people won’t be reading books. They’ll be placing them under their tongues and absorbing them while napping on the Mars shuttle. Anyway, the novel is about a slacker from Pasadena that saves the world from hungry demon things (not autobiographical.) And it’s epic. Just like this song.
I appreciate it when a song is well-used in a movie. Some directors are really good at this, while some directors, like—Cough! Robert Zemeckis Cough!—just aren’t. Anyway, last year I caught a special screening of the film Copenhagen at the Jean Cocteau. It’s a lovely little piece of celluloid (catch it on Netflix, right now) but I was especially seduced by the way Mark Raso used his songs, this one in particular. It’s a love song, and I would have posted some lyrics, but unfortunately the best ones out there read like they’ve been Google-translated from Dutch to English, then to Mandarin, then to Esperanto and then back to English. But do you need words? It’s all there in the voice. In fact, I’d argue that the fact I don’t know Dutch adds something to the “forbidden” theme of the movie’s central story.
The Yacht Rock throwback of the mix! This makes me think of hazy Southern California days, living at the State Hospital in Camarillo. Man, times were simpler way back then. No, no, I wasn’t a resident of the hospital. My dad was. That is, he was in his residency as a psychiatrist. We lived in a small neighborhood just off from the main hospital. On our little block were Iranians, Syrians, Egyptians and a strange family from Texas. And there was a man who used to walk around the block and with each pass, would ask my dad, “How’s your Kenmore?” I never found out why he wanted to know.
We hate depression, remember? Well, according to the Internets, a small dose of ketamine can cure depression. If that’s so—and maybe we’ll probably never know (thanks, Big Pharma!)—then this song is aural ketamine. Simply lovely stuff from the inimitable Alison Goldfrapp, from the album Seventh Tree, which just full of lovely stuff. And if you’re reading this on the website, there’ll be a video embedded below. You want happy? Watch this video. Climb into a K-hole.
Woody Allen is one of my heroes. I’ve learned so much about life from him. You know how he never ends up with the girl at the end of his movies? Yeah, I learned that lesson well. He’s also taught me a lot about humor, too. How to get away with rampant self-deprecation. How to set up a punchline. How to time it just right. This is a good example of how I do it: make an obscure stab at hilarity and hope that the response I get is something like he gets here: a slow chuckle, then an overwhelming swell of admiration for pure genius. Do I ever get that reaction? Nope. But then that’s why he’s a major international filmmaker and I’m pouring beers at the cinema.
These guys. They have a knack for creating big, luscious melodies wrapped around big, satisfying beats. They’re Dutch, and they go by 16 Bit Lolitas because their real names, Ariaan Olieroock and Peter Kriek, are way harder to say. Could’ve been worse, I suppose. “32 Bit Humbert Humberts.”
The centerpiece of the mix. This is deep, dark progressive house just like I love it. Moshic actually has an interesting background. He spent time in the Israeli army, as Israelis are wont to do, and the death and mayhem he encountered informed his style from then on, and his general approach to life, which is a kind of “seize the day” thing. Are you seizing your day? I sure as hell am not.
[The dialogue clip is from the Marx Brothers film, Duck Soup.]
The cross-mix is a bit clumsy here—I should have brought it in a bit later in the track and dropped the bass a little bit longer—but this track is serving two functions in the mix: one, it’s standing in for the film score segment of the mixtape, and two, it’s closing things off in a properly epic style. The original piece of music comes from Inception. Karanda remixed it (presumably on the sly) and here we are, leading into…
Tompkins is the quintessential storyteller-comic. On this particular album (Freak Wharf) he warms up to his act in a free-form, self-deprecating style for a few tracks, but when he launches in the “material,” we’re treated to his excellent brand of comedy, which is carefully-constructed and funny as hell. When I was deciding on which track to include here, it was a three-way toss-up here between this piece, another from the same album about dogs, and his classic fake peanut brittle bit from his first album. But this one wins because, hey, movies.