Friday, December 16

Design Will Save the World


"Architecture in general is frozen music"
-Friedrich von Schelling
A combination of design theory, IDM and sampled piano lead to one crisp, emotive playlist.
I recommend browsing some of the amazing shots at archdaily , ISO50 or Wanken while this plays out.

  1. Swod - Hellerau
    I have been waiting for a track like this for a long time.  Someone who samples a grand piano and rearranges it into something of a hybrid.  I imagine this is what architects listen to when they draw up blueprints.
  2. 3iO - Eple (Royksopp cover)
    3iO is a jazz trio that covers popular electronic tracks. It doesn't always work but the minimal style really plays well on Eple.
  3. Gold Panda - Back Home
    Gold Panda has been a favorite of mine for awhile, but I have been waiting for the right mix to share his style.  Back Home has that driving energy that fits right in on train rides.
  4. The Field - Silent
    I had the opportunity to see the Swede play recently and it was a real treat.  To me, it sounds like he creates drawn out soundtracks to those fleeting moments in life that make you feel like you're truly alive.  They all require patience, but once they sink in you are in love with the guy.
  5. The Foreign Exchange - Happiness
    The Foreign Exchange have a Postal Service-esque story where a producer sends beats online to an MC and occassionally sparks fly.  I'm just happy someone is carrying the torch from Nujabes.
  6. Bibio - Kaini Industries (Boards of Canada cover)



image: ArchDaily

Wednesday, November 23

The Long Journey Home


Saying goodbye to the Doug Firs and hello to the people.

As it turns out, America is beautiful.  We all just need to get outside more.
I just got back from a coast-to-coast trek across this great country with my Dad.  We visited too many microbreweries to count, built campfires under the stars and generally got on each others' nerves. 

These are the songs that make a roadtrip worthwhile
and will always remind me of those 4,632 miles.

  1. John Prine - Flashback Blues
    Thanks to Johnny for turning me on to The Singing Mailman Delivers.
  2. Tom Vek - A Chore
    All packed up...
  3. Waylon Jennings - Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way
    Cruise control
  4. George Harrison - Wah-Wah
  5. Dawes - My Girl To Me
    Dawes albums are the closest I'll get to books on tape.
  6. The Wood Brothers - When I Was Young
  7. Jerry Douglas, Russ Barenberg, Edgar Meyer - Big Bug Shuffle
    I used to drink coffee. Now I listen to Big Bug Shuffle.
  8. The Middle East - Hunger Song
    No action is boring or overlooked when you listen to The Middle East.  Every day has destiny attached to it.  Checking the GPS becomes an epic discussion of charts and routes to the Motherland. 
  9. The Jimi Hendrix Experience - The Wind Cries Mary
    We were fortunate enough to visit Marin County, California where Jimi serenaded The Monterey Pop festival-goers in 1967.  With his aggressive, loud style it was refreshing to return to Mary - an unflinching poem with utterly beautiful guitar-work.  I can't imagine something this intimate, head-strong and powerful being created today.  I couldn't find an mp3 version from Monterey, but I encourage you to listen to a live version instead of the studio.
  10. LCD Soundsystem - Home
    Any long journey that ends in New York needs an LCD track.  Home is the song from This is Happening that stuck around for me.
  11. College - The Energy Story
  12. The War on Drugs - Come To The City
    I must have listened to TWOD's Slave Ambient upwards of 10 times on this trip.  It flows like a good book and begs close listening.  Fall roads and late-night trips really bring out the album's core.  Highly recommended.
  13. The Arcade Fire - Une Annee Sans Lumiere
    End it at a sprint.


    Image: Noel

Friday, November 4

Happy Friday


Here are some slick, jazzy house tunes to get it started this weekend. 
Make sure you have some good speakers or headphones.
Gentleman, this is vodka.
Enjoy.

  1. Robert Dietz - Pandemic
    This is what the getaway driver listens to...
  2. Mendo - Inocencia
    Don't expect anything big to come from a tune like this.  It's not about big build ups of white noise and dubstep bass drops.  It's about the overall vibe.  By the time a song like this comes on, everyone is well beyond the initial awkwardness of dancing and has moved on to being hypnotized.  It's like those moments where you step back and realize that the night is going better than expected.
  3. Tim Green - Lone Time
    It's refreshing to hear analog percussion like these brushes on the snare drum in an overtly electronic track.  Just something to get the blood flowing.




Scroll up to hear Pandemic.

image: Familiale

Saturday, October 22

Happy Weekend

   
Here are some gems that I couldn't wait to share. 
They work well with a giddy weekend vibe.
  1. Tycho - A Walk
    Tycho released his much anticipated new album Dive this month.  With these seven new tracks (and three re-releases) Scott Hansen breathes new life into his sun-drenched, Northern California wonderland.  You can't say this sound comes from the Haight & Ashbury 60's, because it's far too optimistic and perfect to be rooted in reality.  It's more like the soundtrack to your memories of a perfect day on the Mendocino coast.  I love a good album opener and A Walk delivers.  This is the best intro I've heard since the Secret Machines'   Alone, Jealous and Stoned.
  2. Real Estate - It's Real
    The new surf rock of New Jersey's Real Estate returned this month with Days.  RE really gets me, because you can listen to their whole albums straight through and then easily decide to do it again.  I wish they had released Days on tape so it could be that album that never left my car's tape deck player - a perfect go-to that is creative and laid-back but not without it's sing-a-longs (see It's Real).
  3. Os Mutantes - Bat Macumba
    The next time I come back from a particularly fruitful banana picking adventure, I'm going to load up my old wheelbarrow and throw this on.  The bass sounds like a rubber band.
  4. Daphni - Yes, I Know
    I could never really get into Caribou, but Daniel Victor Snaith's side project, Daphni, has my full attention.  Snaith picks his samples wisely: a soulful chorus, native chants and tribal drummings - then he arranges and tweaks them in the true Caribou fashion to make an utterly timeless piece of music that is as much for your body as it is for you head.
 


Friday, October 14

Occupy


1% of Americans own 42% of US financial wealth.
The US ranks 93rd in "Income Inequality" (behind China, India and Iran.)

Occupy protests have spread to over 50 cities.
Over 10,000 people marched in Portland last week.
JP Morgan & Chase donated $4.6 Million to the NYPD on the eve of protests.
(The largest in the foundation's history)

There is a lot of unrest out there.  People that are not normally politically active now find themselves in an emotional throng of protesters.  The apathetic, confronted with the 99% statistic, are provoked to think about the nature of our political system.  Regardless of your perspective on the protests, there is no denying that there is a movement taking place that has challenged the status quo.  It is refreshing to know that common people, when organized, still have a voice and are capable of creating an atmosphere that makes change possible.

I hear people saying that they are frustrated with the lack of structure and demands from the swarming masses, but this is still the early stages of a movement.  I say let them voice their frustrations.  Give them the mic.  We'll get into the specific financial and legal corporate reforms once leaders organically emerge.
 -----

And of course, unsettling times call for unsettling music.  These songs are on the darker side that reflect the greedy, dog-eat-dog nature of capitalism.  If you think about it too long you start to worry where we will be in 50 years...
  1. Radiohead - Up On the Ladder
  2. Do Make Say Think- The Landlord is Dead
    Half of Canada's Godspeed! You Black Emperor make dark, winding multi-instrumentals that scare the hell out of me.
  3. The Constantines - Life or Death
    Wish I could sing like this.
  4. Radiohead - Go To Sleep (Little Man Being Erased)
    "We don't want the monster taking over"
  5. Radiohead - Codex
    Sorry about all the Radiohead, but this was a quick mix and they kind of own this sound.
  6. Bob Dylan - When the Ship Comes In
    Classic. 

Here are some good reads on the movement, it's methods and what can actually be achieved.

Business Insider "What the Protesters Are So Angry About"
Krugman, Panic of the Plutocrats
Video: Kristof, Advice for the Wall Street Protesters
Must see video explaining Citizens United vs. FEC
Foreign Policy: Why the Wall Street Protests Actually Matter
The stats behind "The 53%"
Brooks, reminding us that simply protesting will get us nowhere in The Milquetoast Radicals

And a video from the Brooklyn Filmmakers Collective. 
I like how they let the ambient sound tell the story rather than a narrative.

Thursday, October 6

Drinkin Beers


There's something to be said for drinking beer with a group of friends.  The camaraderie and low key vibe allow conversations to flow and occasionally drift into goofy territory.  On one hand it's an opportunity to have a long, in depth conversation and on the other it is a vacation or an escape of sorts - a reminder not to take things too seriously.  What follows is some crisp rock, sweaty funk and the occasional "Oh what the hell is this? I gotta get up and dance!"  Ideal for pregames and tailgates.

  1. Booker T. Jones - Rent Party
  2. Stretch - Why Did You Do It?
  3. Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra - Che Che Cole
  4. Cyril Ferguson - Gonna Build a Nation
  5. Al Green - I'm a Ram
  6. The Barons - Making It Better
  7. The Black Motion Picture Experience - 2001
  8. Pearly Queen - Quit Jive'n
  9. Dazz - Brick
  10. Stealers Wheel - Stuck in the Middle with You (Todd Terje edit)
  11. James Brown - Give It Up or Turn It Loose

Also how sweet are these vintage beer can photographs?

image: Heidi

Wednesday, September 21

Heathered Pearls Mix


Heres a mix to thrown on the next time you put the Millennium Falcon on autopilot and smoke a jay with your co-pilot.  It's a daytime disco breakdown to help you space out and tune up. 
I've also found it to be great for late night biking.


Tracklist

Boards Of Canada – Ithcus Sound
Ikons – Honey (Coyote rmx)
Woolfy vs. Projections – Isabella
Tornado Wallace – Swimmin’
Worst Friends – Ski Hive
Clashing Egos – Aminjig Nebere (Joakim’s afrobot mix)
Motor City Drum Ensemble – Raw Cuts #6
Studio – Life’s A Beach (Todd Terje beach house mix)
Sourya – Anatomy Domine (Prince Language mix)
Blackjoy – Moustache (Prins Thomas diskomiks)
Tiger & Woods – Deflowered
Spoon – Don’t You Evah (Matthew Dear mix)
Seth Troxler – Aphrika
John Selway – Shake The Snow
18 Carat Affair – I Wanna Love You

 
You can download this mix by clicking the arrow on the right.

image: io9.com

Friday, September 16

MFNW - Day Four

Typhoon in Pioneer Square
Saturday
Explosions in the Sky
The Antlers
Typhoon
Eluvium

Portland's Living Room was the perfect setting to experience the instrumental post-rock of Explosions in the Sky and the big-picture ambient droning of Eluvium.  Pioneer Courthouse Square is a brick covered park in downtown Portland that is surrounded by skyscrapers and constant city life.  

If you bought a wristband to MusicFest NW you were able to go to every club show and one of the big three shows (Iron & Wine, Band of Horses and Explosions).  Having seen Band of Horses before (excellent) and being not so enthused about I&W's newest release I opted to see Explosions in the Sky again given the urban setting.  The fact that you had to put some thought into going to this show meant that everyone there really did want to see one of these bands.  You could tell this type of crowd could get into emotionally charged power chords and maybe even a Friday Night Lights episode or two.
Can you count how many people are wearing feathers in their caps?
I have been a big fan of Matthew Cooper's ambient releases as Eluvium for a long time.  Ambient music requires a certain setting and the listener to be in certain mood in order for it not to sound like overhyped nonsense.  Don't click on these links and expect to immediately "get it".  Don't even try to listen.  Instead I encourage you to listen to something like Indoor Swimming at the Space Station  as you go to sleep tonight.  Eluvium excels at transferring emotion and atmosphere into long pieces that truly transport the listener to a different level of consciousness.  Time seems to slow down and reality is observed rather than experienced.  I believe they call it "an out of body experience."
   Going to an ambient concert is bizarre in that nothing much happens in the way of visuals but yet there is an incredible layering of sound for your brain to process.  Eluvium's Matthew Cooper (Portland via Kentucky) came on stage in a humble manner, picked up his guitar and slowly hypnotized everyone in attendance.  It didn't make sense at first, but once he had looped a few guitar lines without you noticing, the streetcar that could be seen over the venue wall slowed down and the sun on the skyscrapers turned a little more orange as their shadows shifted to the right.  By the time Cooper finished Underwater It Glowed I had to shake my head to remember where I was.  He played a few gentle piano pieces like Radio Ballet that didn't quite hit home for me like they do on the album.  He ended by looping a dark, sustained piano tone to the point where it absorbed every other sound. 
  And then it stopped.
Typhoon huddle up before the show.
Oregon native Typhoon was next up.  Kyle Morton could put on an interesting singer-songwriter show all by himself but he takes it to the next level by inviting 12 or 13 ragtag musicians to bounce through his serious harmonies with him.  I was getting hints of Arcade Fire.  Two synchronized drummers made the live show pretty fun to watch and the band has a clear chemistry on stage as if they're delighted to be together let alone playing to a big audience.
   The Antlers play some version of post-rock that I never care to listen to again.  Too many bad hairdos and I'm sure there's some street performing drummer that could have done a better job in the percussion department.  Although there was a cool moment when a fire truck drove by with its siren blaring and surprisingly, instead of ruining the music it went perfectly with the sparse, distorted guitars and moody keys.  
Explosions in the Sky playing that one song where the running back beats that one tackle only to turn around and see his girlfriend necking with the new kid in the bleachers.
The guys in Explosions have clearly been seeing some success.  They know which songs people have played on repeat late at night while they waited for sunrise or walked by that one swing set.  First Breath After Coma and Your Hand In Mine definitely steal the show.  They also have somewhat of a light show that adds to the "epic" effect.  

Seeing them again reminds me why they were so cool to begin with.  They play conventional rock instruments in a different manner entirely.  Instead of simply picking a rock beat, drummer Chris Hrasky will do a build up on the cymbals to set the scene and then fire off machine gun snares.  Basic song structures are nowhere to be found and stories are told through quiet periods (there were literally a few moments of complete silence) and suspenseful, quick passages.  Long before Friday Night Lights hit the small screen EITS evoked the stark desolation of small Texas towns (its home state).  Yet despite this bleak setting their is a sense that change can occur, that there are bigger players at work here....that there is hope.
  
Musicfest Northwest wraps up under a harvest moon.


Images: Noel

Wednesday, September 14

MFNW - Day Three

Sharon van Etten bears her soul.

 Friday
Weinland
Sharon van Etten
Blitzen Trapper
@ The Crystal Ballroom


Glass Candy @ Branx


The Gaslamp Killer @ Rotture

Friday was all about Blitzen Trapper.  BT comes out of Salem, OR and has seen great success in recent years.  By now everyone is eager to see them blow up and make Oregon proud in the process.  It's not just that they're from Oregon, but they sound like Oregon too - Americana rock with storied vocals. They're kind of like a quirky Creedence Clearwater Revival.
  Anyway I wanted to catch them and especially Sharon van Etten so I headed to the NW part of town.  The Crystal Ballroom is a restored 1914 ballroom with a wooden "floating floor" that provides extra bounce to your two-step.  It is a mid-size venue and attracts some of the bigger names in the Portland area.  Weinland was finishing up when I came in.  They consisted of lots of screaming and a token long haired tambourine player.  (Eh, maybe I just wasn't in the mood.)


   Sharon van Etten was next up and flat out blew me away.  It took me a little bit to get over her full band set up (I had only seen her play solo), but then it became apparent that her companions were matching the musical backdrop to her emotional crooning.  They became an extension of herself and her hurt.  I felt like we were all witnessing something very personal and that, perhaps, we should all leave and let her go through her suffering in private.  I am not the only one when I say I really hope she has a long and successful career (She did just sign to Jagjaguwar).  She has a pretty awesome story too: after a rough breakup in Tennessee she moved back in with her parents in New Jersey, recorded a demo and happened to get a chance to hand it off to TV On the Radio's Kyp Malone.  Surprisingly he listened to it and loved it.  The rest is history.  Highly recommended.
   Blitzen Trapper put on a good show and must have a loyal following, because a few people were singing along and doing some serious dancing.  It's feel-good music.  Definitely scouring through their discography for roadtrip tunes.  My experience was slightly hampered by standing next to quite possibly the drunkest duo in history.  About halfway through the show (and 48 beer spills later) I figured I had gotten the gist and looked around for something else.

This guy is clearly loving it.  Glass Candy at Branx.
  As it turns out "something else" was just across the river in a warehouse where a hundred huge balloons were being tossed around to mediocre disco.  The act was Portland's own Glass Candy.  All I will say is that the pictures make it look better than it actually was.
  The real reason I came to this part of the town was to see Los Angeles' Gaslamp Killer.  A raucous Hip-Hop DJ that samples everything from Dr. Dre to Sonic the Hedgehog, TGK is like an ADHD kid's dream.  I swear he never stayed on one song or groove for more than 30 seconds.  It was exhilarating and fascinating at times to try to figure out what he was sampling and how it all fits together, but if you stick around for too long you start to think that this is what it must feel like to be inside the brain of a meth addict.  Nonetheless it really hit the spot after a lot of acoustic-driven music at the Crystal.  I was in the mood for some heavy bass.

The Gaslamp Killer

On the way out I heard some hyphy music coming from down the alley which turned out to be a girl dancing atop a large mobile speaker with a green spotlight pointing skyward.  She was surrounded by about ten latenighters all dance-walking through the streets.  I think it was the Freegan's version of MFNW and I thought, "Well you don't see this everyday."  So I joined them.

Sharon van Etten - Much More Than That
Sharon van Etten - One Day
Blitzen Trapper - Black River Killer
The Gaslamp Killer myspace

Images: Noel

Tuesday, September 13

MFNW - Day Two

The global sounds of Little Dragon.

Thursday
Sun Angle @ Holocene

Little Dragon
Unkown Mortal Orchestra
@ The Hawthorne Theater

Thursday started out at a relatively empty Holocene with some noisy bursts of energy from Sun Angle.  Noise rock was never my thing, but you get the feeling that this trio is on to something.  With a well known DJ on bass (Copy) and a quirky drummer with enough energy to power a small car you feel compelled to do a little dancing.  That gets lost in the rough distortion and feedback from synths and guitars, but hey, maybe it's an intellectual thing.

After reaching the conclusion that Little Dragon was not to be missed I decide to head to the Hawthorne Theater early.  It doesn't hurt that opener Unknown Mortal Orchestra had been compared to Led Zeppelin and Big Audio Dynamite.  Packing into the back room of the Theater, it was evident that something was in the air.  A noticeably more vibrant crowd had come out to get down.  UMO lived up to the Zeppelin reference with big funk rock drum beats and loaded bass lines.  Ruban Nielson knows how to write a vocal hook.  It sounded like white people's response to hip hop - still playing rock instruments but with a goofball attitude and fun vocals.  It doesn't surprise me that they have opened for Toro y Moi.
  But the real treat of the night was Little Dragon.  Having heard a few mellow remixes I wasn't quite sure what I was in for, but was intrigued by an "electro-soul" tagline that someone had given them. Hearing that they were from Sweden sealed the deal.  If there's one thing I've learned it's that the Swedes know how to make good music. 
   They came out in typical rockstar fashion, one at a time, layering their individual sound on top of one another - it doesn't make sense at first but once they're all moving you realize the submarine has left the dock.  I can really appreciate the hybrid dance bands that are creeping up, because I often get bored with the extremes - authentic rock bands and straight 4/4 DJs.  Bands like Little Dragon take a little bit from both and manage to put on a great show.  They played two 10 minute percussion-driven jams that scared away the straight-edge crowd, but brought everyone else that much closer to ecstasy.  This was the most animated I have ever seen a crowd of people in Portland - we're pretty reserved here.  But people were screaming at almost every change in the music and masses were grooving.  It's been awhile since I've seen good dance music so this might be commonplace, but I doubt it.

The show ended shortly before midnight and while everyone was pulling themselves together in the sweaty exit hallway I had my eyes on Phantogram at the Doug Fir.  Apparently there are a lot of "pysche pulse" fans in Portland because the line was around the block even after they started playing.  I decided that latenight hypnosis was best served on a weekend so I hit the road.

Sun Angle - Vague Light



Unknown Mortal Orchestra - Thought Ballune
Unknown Mortal Orchestra - How Can You Luv Me
Little Dragon -Ritual Union
Phantogram -Mouthful of Diamonds

Unkown Mortal Orchestra brings the New Zealand brand of psychedelic funk


Little Dragon gets weird.



Images: stereogum, Hannah Gregg, Noel

Sunday, September 11

MFNW - Day One


 Besides reading up on Portland's Music Fest Northwest through the publication that hosts the event, I didn't know what to expect.  Every lineup description had a "you have to seen this band" feel to it, but let's face it - do I really want to see a band named CJ and the Dolls?  So in an effort to get to the bottom of what this city has to offer and find the pulse of the Northwest's music scene I picked up a pricy wristband and began my quest.  

   Let's get all the SXSW comparisons out of the way now so we can get on with it.  If SXSW is the bigger older brother with cool clothes and a connection to good parties, MFNW is the young, scrappy brother who is kind of quiet in person but makes damn good music in the basement.  SXSW has been going on longer (since '87) and attracts bigger names.  It is also seen as the proverbial "headphones" of international label heads and music/culture bloggers.  And what I like most about SXSW is the fact that the majority of the action all takes place on 4 or 5 parallel streets. If you don't like a band, no problem, just walk next door where a Japanese punk band is sampling the Sega Genesis theme song.
   MFNW (which used to be co-hosted by SXSW's management) is more spread out which noticeably detracts from a music festival's vibe.  If you happened to be visiting Portland during the event you might notice the big stage in Pioneer Square, but you probably wouldn't make the connection that there is a city-wide festival going on.  The distance means there is a lack of community to the festival that is so apparent in Austin.  That being said, this encourages festivalgoers to take part in the PDX past time of biking.  You feel pretty cool when your waiting at a red light with six other bicyclists all headed to an underground latenight DJ set in a warehouse.  

What MFNW lacks in proximity, it makes up for in style. 

I think the bottom line is: not as many shows, but you're bound to really like one of the bands you see at each venue.  Also whoever was in charge of pairing bands together did an excellent job.  Each show had a general genre or vibe that permeated throughout the night.  (i.e. Explosions in the Sky and Eluvium).  

Kelly Blair Bauman at Bunk Bar
Day One
Crooked Fingers
Sean Flinn & the Royal We
Kelly Blair Bauman
The Heligoats
 @ Bunk Bar

 The Festival got off to a great start at the Bunk Bar with The Heligoats. Bunk Bar is a cool, 200 person spot that makes great grilled cheeses.  Despite the mellow acoustic guitars on most of their albums, The Heligoats new-ish full band lineup really leaned into some imressive punky jams.  The vocals remind me a bit of the brilliantly simple Jon SwiftKelly Blair Bauman cooled it off a bit with distinct basslines and dark, atmospheric folk.  Sean Flinn & The Royal We clearly spend time on each song.  Everything revolves around Flinn's vocal inflections to the point that I thought I was listening to Conor Oberst perform a musical.  It wasn't my cup of tea, but my friends visiting from Corvallis could get into the lyrical orchestration.  That was it for me.  I had listened to Crooked Fingers beforehand and opted for sleep over another acoustic sideproject (Eric Bachmann is from Archers of Loaf fame).

The Heligoats Goodness Gracious
Kelly Blair Bauman - Wedding Day
Sean Flinn & The Royal We - Flightless Bird

Images: Noel

Friday, September 9

MFNW Preview


All my new-playlist-digging time has been devoted to biking around to different shows at Music Fest Northwest this week.  (Think Austin's SXSW, but smaller and with more moustaches.)  Now I don't see this blog as a music journalism site, but when an expertly curated music festival happens to occur in your city and you find yourself blogging about music, then well, I guess you should at least mention the highlights. 

All that and more is still to come, because the Fest is only getting started (it began on Wednesday), but in the meantime here are some well-crafted songs that I have come across while sifting through the largely underground lineup.


 Celilo - Baroque Blues myspace

 Blind Pilot - The Story I Heard

Typhoon - The Sickness Unto Death/The Honest Truth (first video)

The Heligoats
- Goodness Gracious 

and Glass of Water (second video)
 

p.s. If you have time look at the Willamette Week's write-up on each artist.  They manage to capture each act's essence, history and hook in a few sentences.  Excellent reporting. 

Sunday, August 28

Beautiful Oregon - A Roadtrip Mixtape

I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown; for going out, I found, was really going in.
- John Muir

This past year I have been fortunate enough to live in the great state of Oregon.  Portland has an intoxicating vibe of idealism and creativity, but for me the best part of the state has been the unparalleled access to stunning nature areas.  Nowhere else can you get dense old-growth forests, fog-drenched coastal cliffs, clear blue lakes and majestic mountains all within a few hours drive.  The further you get from the city the more it seems like Mother Nature is the one in charge and man is merely permitted to stay on the property.

Of course in order to reach the wilderness you are required to traverse narrow, winding roads where the only sign of civilization is the skeleton of an old barn and a Datsun pickup with weeds growing through it. 

            And on these roads you need music.

Below are many of the tried and tested songs that have made many of these roadtrips special.  Hopefully you can find a way to enjoy them too.  I tried my best to capture the vast and epic quality of Oregon's landscapes.  The first half is all about the open road and the excitement of what is to come.  And the second half is for the night ride home.  Nothing but headlights on the road.  All the windows are down and everyone in the car is trying catch a glimpse of the moon in between the trees. 

  If you want the full experience check out my flickr page for some of the
year's better pictures while you listen.

  1. Paul Simon - Dazzling Blue
    There is a certain spaciousness to this song - like there could be so much more going on, but he keeps it simple to great effect.
  2. Junip - In Every Direction
    Jose Gonzalez's side project is not to be missed.
  3. My Morning Jacket - Circuital
    Great songwriting, americana vibe and raw power make MMJ the obvious go-to on a roadtrip (at least in the States).
  4. The Wood Brothers - Luckiest Man
  5. The Benders - I Can't Wait
  6. The Clean - In the Dreamlife You Need a Rubber Soul
    This is the best song I've heard all year.  I must have been asleep at the wheel, because the Clean have been around since '78.   Very excited for their new release, Mister Pop, on 9/8.  They remind me of The Waterboys
  7. Tapes 'n Tapes - Freak Out
    Great chorus.  Not to mention a clever video.  I gave these guys another shot after Outside called them one of the finest garage rock outfits around.
  8. Phish - Golden Age (TV on the Radio cover, Gorge Ampitheatre 8.6.2011)
    TV on the Radio got the Phish treatment at the Gorge this month.  Personally I think they do it better than the original.  They tease out the subdued funk and know how to make the chorus really hit.
  9. Leo Kottke & Mike Gordon - Middle of the Road
    Suntan lotion. Shades. Snacks - check.
  10. Eric Clapton & Steve Winwood - Can't Find My Way Home
  11. Bon Iver - HoloceneIn part named after a Portland club.
  12. Great Lake Swimmers - River's Edge
    Great Lake Swimmers know how to set an atmosphere.  If the lyrics alone don't get you, the way Tony Dekker sings them will.
  13. Bibio - Saint Christopher
    Bibio knows what I'm talking about.  His video for The Ephemeral Bluebell was filmed along the Oregon Coast Highway.
  14. Geotic - Beaming Husband
    Will Wiesenfeld of Bath's has an ambient side project called Geotic.  Definitely some gems in his catalog so far.  Get them for free here.

 

images: Noel

Thursday, August 11

Washed Out - Rough Trade Mix

Ernest Greene aka Washed Out released this sneak attack mix to be packaged as a bonus disc when you buy his new Within Without from Rough Trade.  It's hitting the spot right now.  I've heard the Todd Terje Horse with No Shame edit before but the DJ Steef edit is what makes this mix special.  It makes sure your foot keeps tapping while you get some work done.

Stream it here.

1. JJ Cale – Wish I Had Not Said That
2. Shuggie Otis – Strawberry Letter 23
3. America – Horse with no Shame (Todd Terje aka Wade Nicholas edit)
4. Black Sabbath – Planet Caravan (DJ Steef Edit)
5. Fleetwood Mac – Everywhere (Psychemagik Edit)
6. Alan Parsons Project – I Wouldn’t Want To Be Like You (The Twelves re-edit)
7. Kate Bush – I’m Not Here (Fred Palakon Edit)
8. Bread – Make it with you (Appo Edit)
9. Ace – How Long (Discolexia Edit)
10. Electric Light Orchestra – Letter from Spain

via Pitchfork

image: Dominique Saks

Tuesday, August 2

Get Weird


Occasionally there is a need to bust out some stupid dance moves. 
When that time comes you need stupid music to dance to.  
This is that music.

So put on your Daniel Boone hat, cape and bowling shoes and lets get to this.
Inspired by
The dancing in Stop Making Sense
The fan dance move that Phil Collins does here at 1:25
Moving Like Bernie
any music video from the tracks below
annnd

  1. Shannon - Let the Music Play (The Best of Shannon, 2004)
    Well, no use beating around the bush. Might as well get this started...
  2. Tensnake - Get It Right (Get It Right, 2010)
    It was a mistake to listen to this on the plane.  I was shaking the seat in front of me and leading conga lines down the aisle.
  3. Nu Shooz - I Can't Wait (Poolside, 1986)
    I always imagine the synth player when I listen to this.  He isn't jamming nearly hard enough.
  4. Toro y Moi - New Beat (Underneath the Pine, 2011)
    The weird is most definitely catching on these days.
  5. Madonna - Holiday (Madonna, 1983)
  6. B.B. & Q. Band - Imagination (Imagination 12", 1982)
  7. Daft Punk - Short Circuit (Discovery, 2001)
  8. Fantasy - Move to the Groove (He's Number One, 1985)
  9. Howard Jones - Things Can Only Get Better (Dream Into Action, 1985)
    Like really?  Sometimes I feel like people were asleep at the wheel in the 80s.  The video is ridiculous too.  The piano jam at 2:40 is money.  Almost as money as his orange suit.
  10. Banarama - Cruel Summer (Banarama, 1984)
  11. Polygon Palace - Tokyo Getaway (Tornado Wallace Remix) (Tokyo Getaway, 2010)
    Can't get enough of this one.  Head to Polygon Palace's bandcamp page to name your price.  Thanks to Headup for this.
  12. The Funkmasters - It's Over (It's Over, 1983)
    Tensnake samples this in In the End

Get Weird Mix by SNDTRKDLFE
Click the arrow on the right to download.


Monday, August 1

If A Tree Falls: The Story of the Earth Liberation Front


Have you heard about The Earth Liberation Front?  They are a international environmental action group that use (in its own words) "economic sabotage and guerrilla warfare to stop the exploitation and destruction of the environment" through non-violent means.  Originally founded in the UK in 1992, ELF opposes activities charged with exploiting the environment like genetically modified farming, urban sprawl, McMansions, SUVs, energy production and deforestation.  To carry out their opposition ELF groups will often burn or destroy companies and housing developments that contribute to natural degradation.  Some attacks have included the arson of a $50 million dollar housing development in San Diego in protest of urban sprawl and the torching of a Hummer dealership costing the owner $450,000 in damages.
   The group claims they are non-violent by saying that no living thing has ever been hurt in one of their attacks.  Regardless in 2005 the FBI said ELF was "the greatest domestic terrorist threat" pointing to the tens of millions of dollars in damages.  I will not get into the particular politics and categorization of such an organization other than to say it would make for a great documentary.
   Which is exactly what filmmakers Marshall Curry and Sam Cullman have done.  I haven't seen it yet but if this trailer (see below) is any indication of the finished product then I'm excited.  It reminds me of another activist documentary about the controversial radical group The Weather Underground of the 1960's.  If A Tree Falls follows the story of Daniel McGowan who was involved with one of the more active groups in Oregon that argued amongst itself about whether or not to cross the line into physical violence and go after captains of industry.
   So before I get on an FBI watch list for this post I will get to the music...
The trailer uses Cherry Tree by The National from the fantastic Cherry Tree EP.  Besides Fake Empire I have not listened to too much of their catalog although I have heard great things about their live shows.  Has anyone seen them? They have a knack for covering real world problems with poetic flair and an anthemic tone.  For example, I can't think of better lyrics for a environmental action documentary:

Dont look at me
I'm only breathing
Dont look at me I'm indiscreet
...
Can we show
A little discipline
Can we

These lyrics confront the uncomfortable truth that it is easy to ignore environmental degradation when it does not interrupt our immediate lifestyles.  The vicious thing about environmental destruction is that it slowly but steadily increases until oftentimes it is too late to reverse the pervasive forces of Mother Earth.  Aggressive timber logging could lead to more dangerous flooding for years to come.  Risky hydraulic fracturing to mine natural gas may yield terrific economic benefits in the short term but seriously pollute the water systems of thousands of towns in the long run.

Can we show a little discipline?


(p.s. For more information on fracking and it's implications for our water visit EPA.gov.)

Tuesday, July 19

Nothing Like the Sun Mix




I'm on vacation this week so I will leave the music selections up to those who are on duty.  I came across this deep disco mix from Headup/Alex Koplin that has some real head nodding potential.  Great for the east coast heat right now.  The Tornado Wallace Remix around 35 minutes makes me want to wear a white visor around town.  Hope your summers are going well.

Recorded live at Coco66 in Brooklyn. February 4, 2011
Tracklist:
Gorillaz - Empire Ants (ft. Little Dragon)
Duff Disco - I Need Ya (Eddie C's Sober Summer Remix)
Basanov & Mario - Caribbean Girl (New Found Land Exclusive Juno Remix)
Tiger & Woods - Gin Nation
Mark E - Special FX
Tornado Wallace - Swimmin'
Opolopo & Amalia - Life's A Dance (Nu Opo Swing Mix)
Polygon Palace - Tokyo Getaway (Tornado Wallace Remix)
Shed - Keep Time
Tornado Wallace - Paddlin'
Hot Natured - Modern Amusement
Tornado Wallace - Whispering Twirl
Tornado Wallace - Always Twirling
Deep Space Orchestra - Last Exit
Daft Punk - Face to Face
Walter Jones - Hot Contact
Tiger & Woods - Deflowered
Walter Jones - I Am Loved
Bassfort - The Street Is My World (Piano Mix)
Hot Natured - Turning Tricks
Tevo Howard - The Age of Compassion


via Wanken

Thursday, July 7

Days of Wine & Roses


Feeling quite Parisian lately.  Here's a little mix for a leisurely sunny afternoon.
Inspired by white wine, gruyere and Portland's many public parks. 
  1. Django Reinhardt - I'll See You in My Dreams (The Best of Django Reinhardt, 1996) 
  2. Monarch Jazz Allstars feat. ‘The King’Lover Come Back to Me (Monarch 10”)
    "Just infuse it with love."
     
  3. Lydia MendozaMal Hombre (Crazy Heart, 2010) 
  4. Billie Holiday - Did I Remember (The Quintessential Billie Holiday Vol. II, 1936)
  5. Devendra BanhartQuedate Luna (Cripple Crow, 2005) 
  6. Wes Montgomery Days of Wine and Roses (Boss Guitar, 1991)
  7. Irma ThomasTake a Look (Take a Look, 1968) 
  8. Paul Desmond Samba Cantina (Boss Antigua, 1964)
    Excellent guitar solo here.

  9. Robert DuvallLive Forever (Crazy Heart, 2010)
  10. Emilio de Benito - Granada (Vicky Cristina Barcelona, 2004)
  11. Dire Straits Romeo and Juliet (Making Moves, 2000)
    On a big Dire Straits kick recently. 
    Although I wish they had looped the lick at 4:53 and went into a sprawling jam.



    Thursday, June 23

    Summer Afternoon Mix



    Here are some tunes to throw on while you tidy up the apartment, wash the car and have a
    summer seasonal.  It's full of acoustic guitars, choir-like harmonies and carefree sentiments.
    Enjoy

    1. Beach HouseZebra (Teen Dream , 2010)
    2. Dolphins Galaxy Train (Galaxy Train EP, 2011)
      Australian surf rock. Nice!
    3. Jacuzzi BoysBricks or Coconuts  (Bricks or Coconuts 7”, 2010)
      I jumped the gun and put this on a mix for friends during the winter, but it didn't really go well with the below 40 temperatures.
    4. M. WardGet to the Table On Time (The Transfiguration of Vincent, 2003)
    5. Vetiver - Everyday (Tight Knight, 2009)
      Tight Knit is one of my favorite albums ever.  It reminds me of driving to different surf spots at the Jersey Shore in our '83 Mercedes wagon.
    6. De La SoulEye Know (Three Feet and Rising, 1989)
      Sampling Steely Dan, Sly & The Family Stone and Otis Redding in one song is ok with me.
    7. Oregon Bike TrailsHigh School Lover (High School Lover, 2011)
      Keeping my eye on this kid.  Buy it for a buck here.
    8. Vetiver - Can't You Tell (Errant Charm, 2011)
      Released last week.
    9. James Yorkston - Someplace Simple (Someplace Simple EP, 2003)
    10. Washed OutEyes Be Closed (Within and Without, 2011)
      I don't hold my breath for follow up efforts from acts like Washed Out because their first albums tend to be their most genuine but his new album is seriously impressive.  Perfect for driving at sunset. Free download (via SubPop)
    11. SubskrptWe’ll Be Fine (Throwing Stones EP, 2010)
    12. The O'Jay's - Use To Be My Girl (The Essential O'Jay's , 2005)
      And now for a completely different type of feel good dance music... If this doesn't get you to move then you might not have a soul.
    13. The Sea & CakeEveryday (Oui, 2000)
      Proper acknowledgement goes to the Lost Art of the Mixtape for some recommendations.



    image: hasisi park

    Tuesday, June 21

    The National Park Project


    "In 1911 Parks Canada was founded, becoming the first National Park Service in the world.  On the eve of it's centennial Canada's finest artists embarked on a historic expedition to capture the majesty of the landscape in music and film."
    The National Parks Project is a collaboration between 39 of Canada's best musicians, 13 of it's finest filmmakers and 13 National Parks.  The artists traveled to their chosen park and recorded the score on location.
       The result is a great EP about the "magic, menace and meaning of the Canadian landscape."  Tony Dekker of Great Lake Swimmers would be my favorite musician in the lineup but there are others: Old Man Luedecke, Daniela Gesundheit (Snowblink), Sebastien Grainger, Jennifer Castle & Dan Werb (Woodhands).  You can "tour" each park and stream the EP on NPP's beautiful website.  Planet Earth fans rejoice.  All of the profits go to the Nature Conservancy of Canada that works to preserve Canada's diverse landscapes.

    Wednesday, June 15

    Brett Dennen


    Brett Dennen seems like a nice guy.  He invites local non-profits to come to his shows to display what they do in the community and how fans can get involved.  Check it out here: Love Speaks.

    He plays an earthy acoustic guitar.  Watch Brett play his new song around one mic and let me know what you think.  Reminds me of a more mainstream Jon Swift.

    Brett's fourth album Loverboy is out now: BretDennen.net
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