August 2, 2008

Muxtape No. 14: Get Back Devil, Messy Devil

And so here we have the August Muxtape. We pondered a couple days ago doing a blog post called "Where We're From" or something to that effect, and discussing therein some of the bands that really fired our imaginations and relationship with music when we were a high schooler, and even young college student. As you'll see below we name a number of acts from Philadelphia and its suburbs that inspired us to play and generally cultivate a fathomless interest in indie rock as a younger man. Some of these bands were our peers, some friends of friends... of friends. You'll even hear some of our inebriated hollering in the first track. Of course, there are a couple tunes we've thrown in from later years and even contemporary releases just because they are great. Happy August.
1. Kam Fong -- "Get Behind Me (Satan)" -- Unreleased
(Is there anything more satisfying than an open E major chord that just hangs there and sustains? Well, yeah, there's the rest of this song, the first verse of which describes salvaging major appliances from the trash. We can say from firsthand experience that the vocals were tracked on a very hot day around an open mic in a small stuffy living room while pulling off a milk jug of moonshine; hence the last verse. We're always happy to have an excuse to proselytize The Fong, so here's a download of the track above || Kam Fong -- "Get Behind Me (Satan)"; right click and save as || and here is an early, raw and extremely red-lined mixdown of the basic tracks in case you want to, we dunno, cut your own vocal || Kam Fong -- "Satan (Instrumental)"; right click and save as||.)

2. Lost -- "After The War" -- Do You Have A Problem?
(Opening track from a cassette release from the first iteration of this band. This tape and Haywood's first 7" affected us a great deal, not only because each is great, but because prior to their release it didn't seem within the realm of possibility that people like us could write their own material and release it. We recall being shocked to see the cassette on the shelf with the rest of the merchandise at our beloved and much-missed first location of Repo Records in North Wayne, and we purchased it immediately (much to the amusement of the guys, some of whom we later befriended). We love the lo-fi production on the Lost cassette, because it packs each track with the sense that they are under some volatile pressure and could burst at any second.)

3. Latimer -- "Start With Me" -- Live From Sour City
(Another heart-felt tip of the hat to the late Geoff Doring. We thought this song stuck out a little bit from the rest of the tracks on this set because of the acoustic guitars. And we swear there's whistling in there around the three-minute mark. So it took us a long time to come to terms with "Start With Me." But it is easily among the best tracks on this ridiculously under-rated record, released on Dave Allen's World Domination label in 1997 or so. It's near impossible to follow what Doring is singing, but the song is an incredibly affecting strand of hooks. What the hell, how about an MP3? || Latimer -- "Start With Me"; right click and save as.)

4. Halogen -- "Graph" -- This Is Harrisburg, Not Topeka
(Had the pleasure of seeing these guys live, and they were really impressive. "Graph" has a little bit of everything and channels Slint in a very effective manner. We love the little hi-hat fill in the first section. But the most gripping thing is the coda, where the singer repeats "summers brown, winters green" like a protective spell.)

5. The Differences -- "The Door To Your Heart" -- Cassette
(So another track like the Lost cut above that made an impression on us because it was another local -- that is, suburban Philadelphia -- band writing and recording their own material during a time when we equated the ability to write music with the ability to saw women in half and pull rabbits from hats. This is not the band's best cut, but it is the only one that remains in our cassette collection. Our memories are almost always of questionable veracity at this point, but compared to the other Differences tracks we recall ("11th Grade English," "Stay") this track is particularly dark. We seem to recall it came from a later set of recordings that would seem to indicate the band had dug back into The Cure's back catalog.)

6. Barnabys -- "Nunas" -- Augustus Loop
(A nice mid-tempo track from a pretty overblown record released on Spin-Art. Superfluous hockey rink organ. Certainly not the first track we think of when we consider the band, but for some reason the opening line was in our head this morning as we ground coffee beans.)

7. Johnny Foreigner -- "I Heard, He Ties Up Cats" -- Eyes Wide Terrified single
(We like this band so much it is embarrassing. We even told them as much when we met them in New York last fall. Right now they are flying to Japan for a string of dates. When we were scouring Ebay recently we found that some of the band's singles had been issued to radio as CDs, so of course we had to have those. The result of which is we can offer you this b-side. We're very hopeful that the physical release of the band's debut Waited Up Til It Was Light, which will occur on an unspecified Tuesday in October, will contain all the various b-sides and maybe even some radio sessions as bonus tracks. But since we can't bank on that, we continue to fuel the British economy by buying all the imports we can get our hands on.)

8. Haywood -- "You Talk Twice" -- Men Called Him Mister
(Wonderful album opener from defunct band's second CD. Would have made much more sense to post a Garden Party track, as that is this band's precursor and it fits better within the theme of the mix. But we love this one, and it's the one we're feeling this morning. We think this would make an awesome cover for Frightened Rabbit to do (get on that boys). Men Called Him Mister has more than its share of amazing lines, but one of the best may be when Mr. Pauly here confides "so sure that we lost it, while I've got my hands in your pockets.")

9. The Grifters -- "Just Passing Out" -- One Sock Missing
(As an adult we're conflicted now about songs that deal with drug abuse and addiction with any sort of favorable stance. Sorry (at least we didn't complain that music is too loud, right?). But even so this track is a beautiful tangle of bass and guitar melodies. And we're very fond of its linear composition, which we blatantly stole for a song many, many years ago. The final seconds where the mix goes kaleidoscopic is so awesome.)

10. The War On Drugs -- "Show Me The Coast" -- Wagonwheel Blues
(Our recent writing doesn't come close to reflecting just how much we like this new record from Philly's The War On Drugs. There's some magical alchemy that occurs when the atmospheric production of the music is paired with singer Adam Granduciel's mix-slicing Petty-doing-Dylan vocals. This track is particularly dense and droning. If we knew more about music theory we might be able to make some assertion about how drone in particular keys works for us. Layered guitar leads create most of the action here, and the overall effect is dreamy. Mr. Granduciel was recently featured in Stereogum's Quit Your Day Job right here, and we recommend reading it.)

11. Ric Dube -- "The Cavanaugh Tree" -- MySpace track
(Friend and mentor Ric Dube is the kind of guy who is into a lot of things, including parenting and Yo La Tengo, but during the last few years he has found time to lay down some tracks, and we are constantly surprised when this comes up in the shuffle to see that the song that just made us think "damn!" is by our pal. We particularly like the cello at the end, it's very George Martin-ish. This fits very nicely alongside the track above, no?)

12. Christopher O'Riley -- "Motion Picture Soundtrack" -- True Love Waits: O'Riley Plays Radiohead
(This song is so sad we often can't bear to listen to it, and O'Riley's version is somehow even sadder.)

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