July 7, 2008

Muxtape No. 13: Make Those Horses Jump Through Hoops Aflame

First things first: with this 13th :: clicky clicky :: Muxtape, we have decided to now create new mixes monthly instead of weekly. This is partly because we feel like we've been reviewing fewer records because of the process of putting the mix together over coffee on weekends. It is also because come this fall we'll be lucky if we can get a monthly mix up let alone a weekly one. We may or may not have mentioned this, but much like it was last fall, :: clicky clicky :: will be largely dormant in September and October because of a very intense work project that will stretch from mid-September until around Thanksgiving. Unless we find someone we trust to steer the blog during that time, there likely won't be much to look at here (although we're hopeful we'll be able to keep our Twitter feed fairly lively).

Anyway, Muxtape No. 13. We're not sure if there is a theme, but there are a few tracks from the excellent Lounge Ax Defense & Relocation Compact Disc compilation from 1996. It includes a number of hot numbers including Guided By Voices' "Under A Festering Moon" and Seam's "The Prizefighters," both of which you can stream along with the rest of the Muxtape at this link. The playlist and more exposition about the various tracks below.
1. The Feelies -- "It's Only Life" -- Only Life
(We were gripped with a mild case of Feelies reunion-a-mania of late, although not so gripped that we made the trip to New York to see a show. But we took the reunion as an opportunity to re-rip our Feelies discs and revisit them in turn. We turned on to the band when Only Life was released in 1988 based on a review in Spin. An odd place to start with the band, but we were 14 at the time and therefore not really musically aware during the band's earlier (non-)heyday. This is the opening track, and it is fair to say it drew us in immediately. The rest of the record took a bit longer to grow on us, but it became a favorite. We remember re-discovering it during a drive through western Carolina sometime in the last decade.)

2. Palace Brothers -- "Horses" -- Lost Blues And Other Songs
(This track has one of the most unabashedly awesome guitar solos in recorded music. Which is strange, because Will Oldham's music typically never stresses guitar pyrotechnics. But after the p'ar-fully mournful verses the solo is especially transforming. Wait for it, and then turn it up loud. And during the solo the sound of the guitar pick strumming the acoustic playing rhythm starts to sound a little like buried hand-claps. Weird.)

3. Seam -- "The Prizefighters" -- The Lounge Ax Defense & Relocation Compact Disc
(Typically exemplary and quiet seething from Soo Young Park and Seam with a verse that alternately waltzes and inevitably builds. Never quite explodes, but it is still very satisfying. The second guitar in the second verse does something unusual and we don't know what the effect is. This track is so good we're going to post the MP3 as well right here: Seam -- "The Prizefighters" -- Lounge Ax Comp. Right click and save as.)

4. The Magnetic Fields -- "Too Drunk To Dream" -- Distortion
(A drinking anthem from the luckiest guy on the Lower East Side. After having this title written in our little spiral notebook of records to buy (yes, we've got one) for months, we finally remembered to pick it up at Newbury Comics last week after popping in for the Liz Phair reissue. We had high hopes, as one reviewer at the time of Distortion's release made the blasphemous assessment that the set was better than The Jesus And Mary Chain's Psychocandy. Well, it most certainly is not. That said, it is an interesting experiment for Stephin Merrit and there are several tracks that are very good, including this one.)

5. Meneguar -- "Freshman Thoughts" -- Strangers In Our House
(At home the press gets hold of freshman thoughts, they give your sad life away. We realized recently that we'd made little comment about the Meneguar vinyl-only release The In Hour which was released this year. That's primarily because we rarely listen to it. The production is a bit frustrating, and of course we don't have it digitized, so we usually just reach for Strangers, which you will recall was our favorite record of 2007. "Freshman Thoughts" is still ace, and will always be ace. Whoa -- we just got a MySpace bulletin from Meneguar and apparently The In Hour is now available as a CD. Guess we'll have to buy it so we can rock out to it properly.)

6. Paul Westerberg -- "Something Is Me" -- 14 Songs
(We love this song exclusively for the lyric "Something went wrong, my name is Paul." Blitzed genius from the former fronter of The Replacements.)

7. Psapp -- "Tricycle (Live)" -- Morning Becomes Electric Radio Session, June 14, 2006
(Kind of a jarring gear change from the Westerberg cut, but there you go. Galia Durant's voice is so pretty it hurts. This one has a great lyric as well: "I drag my feet and drag us down, you don't want me around..." As the title suggests this is from a radio session which is surprisingly solid considering the band has taken tunes composed electronically and rendered them very nicely with acoustic instruments.)

8. Shannon McArdle -- "Poison My Cup" -- Summer Of The Whore
(We mentioned this track within last week's Muxtape. We love the increasingly dense production here: big toms, big guitar reverb, lurking distorted guitar. And then the airy, buried backing vocals. And then the brief teases of bass guitar. McArdle's vocal is one of her most fetching. Very much looking forward to this record.)

9. Preston School Of Industry -- "The Spaces In Between" -- Goodbye To The Edge City EP
(Quirky space pop from Pavement's Spiral Stairs. This is his best track from any of his bands, in our opinion. Just one hook that spills everywhere with vim and vigor. We wish this song was about 30 minutes long, and maybe had a remix by KLF. That'd be hot.)

10. The Raveonettes -- "Blush" -- Lust, Lust, Lust
(Frightened Rabbit's Imeem guest list contained a Raveonettes track and reminded us of how taken we were with the record earlier this year, when it had almost exclusive ownership of our car CD player. Wall of sound. Distortion. Perhaps this should have been sequenced next to the McArdle track. Oh well.)

11. Guided By Voices -- "Under A Festering Moon" -- The Lounge Ax Defense & Relocation CD
(At first we were enamored of this track during our college radio years because of the sound of an amp -- and its reverb chamber -- being dropped on the ground in the chorus. Which is what we presume makes the repeated crash in this excellent track. But the tune is more than its window dressing. It's a solid Pollard composition. It sounds like cold beer in a can, and then it wanders off like a purposeful drunk at the end.)

12. Radiohead -- "Last Flowers To The Hospital" -- In Rainbows Disc 2
(Thom Yorke does sad as well as anybody. Probably should have sequenced this next to the Palace track, but there you go.)

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