Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Dark Side Of Shuffle Play Mode

Belated (or possibly premature -- let's not completely give up hope) condolences for Art Of The Mix, for many years one of the finest interactive sites on the Web, where music lovers of all stripes could post track lists from mixes. For those of us who are truly obsessive about making mixes (we're a few years past calling them "mix tapes," and, alas, "mix discs" or "mix cdr's" just doesn't have that same, John Cusacky vibe to it, so I guess we're stuck with the wholly less satisfying "mixes"), it was a great little community. Alas, some [insert selected profanity here], for reasons unknown, hijacked the site this summer, riddling it with viruses and trojan horses. The site admin (who runs the site as a non-profit, with no advertising or revenue streams) did his best to cleanse the site, but the damage was done, with enough recurring problems that most of us longtime AOTM community members have packed up and hightailed it out of town.

Oddly enough, I'm finding myself making a lot fewer mixes ever since AOTM was stolen out from under us. Now, to be honest, I'm finding mixes of diminishing interest these days; while I used to bring them in the car, nowadays I just plug my iPod into to the car stereo and let 'er rip. While I still burn mix cdr's on a regular basis, I simply take the mix, rip it back onto my PC, and upload it to my iPod (yes, I could accomplish the same thing by creating a playlist, but I still have a residual old-fashioned need to create a real, tangible "mix" -- call me an old-timer). But technology aside, I'm far less inclined to make mixes now without the prospect of sharing them via AOTM. It's a damn shame.

Anyway, here's the most recent mix I burned, just last week. While I typically prefer single-artist compilations or themed mixes, every now and then I just grab whatever happens to be lying around -- recent purchases, cd's in rotation on my stereo, songs that happened to be on my mind -- and contruct a random (yet still painstakingly arranged) mix.

And just a few thoughts on this volume's selections:

Had a few Madness vinyl lp’s back in high school that I haven’t listened to in some 25 years, but only recently bothered picking up a cd compilation…The Sails' self-titled debut is one of my favorite purchases in years, home-produced retro-psychedelic-power pop for lovers of, say, Rain Parade or Apples in Stereo [see full review below] …Picked up an Ambulance Ltd. ep for the wholly inessential note-for-note Floyd cover, but, hey, great song, great band… Big Dipper's a long-forgotten late 80s college radio band, recently treated to a deluxe reissue, and damned if “Ron Klaus” isn’t the greatest Pixies-sounding song in. the. universe!... New Matthew Sweet album, like all his work since the mid-90s, is so-so, nothing great, but some fine pop tunes… Been watching Velvet Goldmine on late night cable recently -- great soundtrack… Red Button’s recent debut is fantastic British Invasion kitsch for lovers of mid-60’s Zombies, Beatles, etc… Green Pajamas with yet another reliable collection of low-key psychedelic pop…Not a huge Vaselines fan, but had the disc out by the computer and, hey, short enough song… Nick Lowe's Jesus of Cool reissue can’t be beat, and “Nutted” is an odd little ditty with a great Jackson 5 rip-off… Been in a Beach Boys-pastische mindset recently, and Linus gets the job done…Read a book on punk history recently which had kind words for Ian Dury, whom I’ve never loved, but his campy work with Kilburn was nifty… Raveonettes just totally rip off the Jesus & Mary Chain, but they do it well… “Breakdown” is a guilty pleasure from a 70s act I otherwise despise… Eddie & The Hot Rods were also written about in that fore-mentioned punk history book… Explorers Club’s recent debut is a wonderful, joyous Beach Boys rip-off [see full review below]… Another week, another great Hitchcock box set full of useless but fun rarities… Saw this Groovies tune name-checked in an article recently and dug the cd out of a drawer… Hard to watch the GOP convention without thinking about “Kill The Poor.”… I'm a sucker for obscure 60s UK psychedelia, and Skip Bifferty is a personal fave… Never paid any attention to the Eels, but recently picked up a greatest hits comp and absolutely love it; I definitely need to start checking out their back-catlogue… Surprisingly great song from Ray Davies. Has Paul McCartney written anything this great in 20 years? Mick Jagger? Pete Townshend? Outrageous… Not sure why, but been listening to some campy comps of French female singers from the mid-60s lately… Just felt like some Oranger… and, really, what more needs to be said about a joyously twisted cover of the Terry Jacks classic?


At 8:13 PM, Blogger Doowad said...

Funny I have also been digging through some Madness lately. I love that Ray Davies as well, thanks for the d/l and welcome to the blogosphere.

At 1:21 PM, Blogger Jackie said...

How could a song from Ray Davies be called "surprisingly great"? He's one of the greatest songwriters ever!

At 4:56 PM, Blogger Pop Kulcher said...

Further to Jackie's point: Agreed: Ray Davies is one of the top 5 rock & roll songwriters ever. No question about it. (Who else? Dylan, Lennon/McCartney, Pete Townshend, maybe Paul Westerberg.) But I find it "surprising" that this song (like, indeed, much of his two recent solo albums) is so good because, let's face it, he's been around an awful long time, and how many songwriters who peaked in 1968 do we really expect to be producing memorable music in 2008? Plus, c'mon, have you listened to the Kinks albums from the 80s/90s? Ugh.


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