May 18, 2008

Muxtape No. 6: The Plans That Had To Fall Through

Lefty's Deceiver -- Cheats (detail)
The weekend winds down at :: clicky clicky :: headquarters, but not before a new Muxtape has been posted for your listenification. Our thoughts, impressions, false memories and alleged recollections are below, and you can listen to the whole shebang right here.
1. Flaming Lips -- "Hit Me Like You Did The First Time" -- Hit To Death In The Future Head
(If you listen, this song has everything: piano, strings, slide guitar. And a provocative title to be sure, but at this stage in the band's career this was relatively tame, and the lyric makes it all innocent enough. Thrash is largely dialed back on this tune and what you have isn't an ode to masochism, just a whimsical, almost romantic request regarding those early days of a relationship. Or something. Flaming Lips gained acclaim at the end of the '90s, but more and more we believe people paid attention at the wrong end of the decade.)

2. Love As Laughter -- "I Am A Ghost" -- Laughter's Fifth
(We appreciate blunt declarative writing. This is one of the reasons we like legal writing. And of course the Wall Street Journal. Hell, it is the main reason we like Minor Threat's "Filler." This song is a far cry from "The Youth Are Plastic" and "Singing Sores," tracks from the band's debut in the mid-'90s. Here we have a scruffy, no-frills indie rocker with a great introduction -- a great set up for the ensuing bash n' pop. "I float throughout your house at parties." More people should be paying attention to Love As Laughter, whose sixth set is slated for release later this year.)

3. Karl Hendricks Trio -- "The Overweight Lovers" -- The Jerks Win Again
(We really wanted to post "The Summer Of Warm Beer," but the track -- from the same 2003 set -- is 13 minutes long and way over Muxtape's 10MB per track limit. But this song has its own substantial charms and presents a serviceable representation of the meandering electricity and riffage that characterizes this fine record.)

4. Lefty's Deceiver -- "Ex-Patriots" -- Cheats
(The final incarnation of Lefty's produced its most straightforward collection of songs. The lyrics on Cheats are compelling and particularly evocative, although the gut-level attack of early genius tracks like "H to Hg" is not left out either. It is hard to pick a favorite from Cheats, what with the hypnotic nostalgia of "Years And Years Ago," the affecting yearning of "East Coast Traffic." The chorus of this number provides us with the title of this Muxtape. The band reunited around last Thanksgiving for a single show and we missed it because we were out of town, which was disappointing. That said, there have only been a handful of shows that were as exciting as the record release party for the band's debut 45, which we did see, so we've got that going for us.)

5. Wendyfix -- "Over + Upward (Ridge)" -- King Size Demos
(A quick waltzer and a highlight of the esteemed and mostly unreleased discography of this erstwhile Evanston, Ill.-based trio. Particularly as the second verse rolls around the bass and guitar complement each other wonderfully in carrying the melody. Little idea what singer Ted Pauly is on about here, but we always thought it was something along the lines of construction equipment coming and leveling a nice place and replacing it with a newer, less nice place. "Powerless to stop progress..." and all that. Look for the video on YouTube.)

6. Luna -- "Sideshow By The Seashore" -- Live
(Originally on the self-titled EP whose cover took cues from the now largely forgotten soundtrack to the film "Kids." An EP we'd like to acquire in the popular compact disc format. Although the live set from which this track is taken is no slouch and has a whole lot of super tracks. We really like the lyric in here "all the comforting words provide no comfort." A sentiment that has been abstracted in countless other indie songs, here Wareham just comes out and says it.)

7. Lilys -- "Your Guest And Host" -- Eccsame The Photon Band
(A friend familiar with the early Lilys catalogue recently expressed some reservations about Eccsame The Photon Band, and we think this is too bad. The record is really a fully realized work of genius, not the least of which because of some uncompromising, spacey production. Although superlative songs certainly don't hurt, right? Few if any have presented a confidence-inspiring track list for this set, which includes a handful of interstitials. As such, every time we re-rip this CD (we're upgrading tracks to 192Kbps a bit at a time) the suggested track listing comes up slightly different. We ask this on the blog almost weekly, but when will someone figure out how to rescue the rights to the Lilys Spin Art catalogue from whatever bankruptcy-inspired purgatory contains it and offer up expanded reissues?)

8. Yo La Tengo -- "Tiny Birds" -- Summer Sun
(This record is relatively maligned within the Yo La Tengo canon, but there are actually quite a few tracks we come back to, particularly this one. Is McNew singing this one? We can't say his name any longer without thinking of the Danish band Mew and laughing, but that is another story altogether.)

9. Human Television -- "Look At Who You're Talking To" -- Look At Who You're Talking To
(Nice string arrangements here. Members of Human Television were part of one of the more recent iterations of Lilys. This track and the band's "In Front Of The House" share some lyrics, and we've always wondered which song came first. The latter tune is an upbeat indie popper, markedly different in tone from what is going on here. To quote John Bender in "The Breakfast Club," feeling bad feels pretty good.)

10. REM -- The Wrong Child -- Green
(Album track from the popular American alternative rock act Rapid Eye Movement, or something like that. The piano, twelve-string and strings do a good job of keeping the mandolin in check. Stipe's layered vocal is pretty affecting, particularly when he hits the chorus. We're not crazy about the soaring "okayyyyyyyyyy," but we expect that the lyric "I'm not supposed to be like this" resonated strongly with the late teen crowd when this set was released. It certainly did with us.)

11. Karate -- "What Is Sleep?" -- Karate
(Question number one on this Muxtape. We don't have any larger reason for including it here -- we're not suffering from insomnia or anything. We just think people have forgotten that the first few Karate records were filled with great songs. We saw Karate in 1997 before going to Europe back during the time when it was a four-piece act and they really tore it up. This number has arresting dynamics: the jarring breaks and the songwritery verses present a hard contrast; a love song you can rock out to; an indie power ballad. Not the mixtape-for-your-girlfriend slam dunk that "Today Or Tomorrow" is, but still a dynamite track.)

12. Eddyfink -- "Will I Get Through Today Without Being Kicked In The Knickers?"
(Question number two on this Muxtape. A hook-laden, jittery number from a now defunct act written for a compilation that celebrates a British telephonic information service. From what we recall you could either ring or text the service and it would provide an answer, for free or for a nominal fee. No matter. We love the paranoia of the title question -- not too mention the chorus's "I can't take this anymore" -- and we love thinking about what the person working the phones that day would think upon receiving such a question. The world view of the comically victimized makes for a very fertile set of parameters from a narrative standpoint. Surprisingly deft vocal harmonies for a rock band that isn't, you know, The Eagles, too.)

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