Thursday, February 27, 2014

Hypothetical mixtape: March 2013

Done in some haste. Please be gentle.

"Mind Mischief (The Field Remix)", by Tame Impala. Tame Impala take sixties psychedelia and play it through a filter of the blazing Perth summer sun. (I have never been to Perth, so I don't know if that is even true; this past summer the temperatures in Canberra seem to have been much higher. Perhaps Tame Impala should move here for maximum effect.) The Field take "minimal techno" of the Kompakt variety and leave it out in the weather for what sounds like years, until everything that caused the music to be in any way recognisable has been weathered away, leaving just the barest outline. (This may not sound like a compliment, but give him a listen and you'll see that it might be.) This ten-minute remix pitches the two of them against each other. Music is the winner.

"You Are My Destiny", by The Juan Maclean. It's been a while between drinks for our old pals The Juan Maclean. So what if this sounds like the second cousin twice removed of "Happy House"? It's a strong blood line.

"Outside Amore", by Man Tear. This is a strange one. It is naggingly familiar, but I can't for the life of me figure out why. I hate that. It's on DFA, but doesn't really sound like it. From Sweden, but doesn't really sound like that, either.

"King of Hearts (Richard X Remix Edit)", by Cassie. Clearly, Richard X still has whatever he had in the mid-00s that got me fired up about music again after so many years in the wilderness.

"Beautiful Son", by Peaking Lights. This song is equal parts mystery and beauty. That seems to be a perfect ratio. Is it too late to declare this one of the best songs of 2013?

"Entertainment (Dinosaur Jr Remix)", by Phoenix. That might be what the label says, but what it really is is Dinosaur Jr covering a Phoenix song. Which is a pretty funny thing to imagine, but in practice it is a triumph: J Mascis & Co ratchet down the pop intensity of the original, in the way that really only they, the Original Slackers, can; and in doing so they get to the heart of the song in a way that the original actually doesn't. Well, that's what I think.

"Journey From Eden", by The Steve Miller Band. You probably know The Steve Miller Band from mid-seventies radio staples "The Joker" and "Fly Like An Eagle". But sniffing around the internet reveals that they are a band with a rich history (former members included Jim Keltner, Ben Sidran and one Boz Scaggs) and no shortage of drama. This is the last long on their seventh (!) album, and their last before a serious accident, and perhaps a few moments of contemplation, saw Miller move in the direction of more immediate thrills and, at least from this vantage point, significantly more radio play. Good as those hits are, it is possible to argue that they never got better than this.

"Aegean Sea", by Abel. This turns out to be an "edit" (remember what I taught you?) of a track of Smokie's very first album, from 1975. The edit rocks. Which is not something I would usually find myself saying about Smokie. ("Alice! Alice! Who the %$#@ is Alice?")

"Up In a Puff of Smoke", by Polly Brown. Many of you will not remember this song, as it wasn't particularly successful as a single. But it is firmly imprinted on my own memory on account of its having appeared on "Whopper", a 1975 Australian Polydor "original hits original artists" compilation that I played to death. (Not to be confused with "Ripper".) Looking through the track listing today is a bit deflating, although it does have a run of highly listenable songs that cover much of its second side. (It also, I suspect, would have been my first introduction to Kraftwerk, so I owe it an enormous debt on that score.) If you had a hankering to listen to The Supremes you would probably be better off listening to The Supremes, but I have a soft spot for this song, and it brings an ever-so-gentle hint of glam rock into the mix.

"Tell Me What You See In Me", by Sandy Denny and The Strawbs. The Strawbs had so many line-up changes over the years that their Wikipedia entry contains a diagram that is so complicated that it is fathomable only by academics and superior alien life forms. Another of the long, long list of things I didn't know was that amongst the many members of The Strawbs (aside from Rick Wakeman) was Sandy Denny -- evidently for a brief period in early 1968. But not so brief that they didn't have time to record an album (in Denmark!), an album that wasn't released until 1973, by which time The Strawbs had well and truly moved on (and Sandy Denny, of course, had made a name of her own with Fairport Convention and Fotheringay). I have never heard a Sandy Denny song that I didn't immediately love, and this is no exception. They also do "Who Knows Where The Time Goes", but the Fairport version of that song is so ingrained on my consciousness that I can't really entertain any other version, even if Sandy herself is singing it.

"95c", by Valerie Lemercier. By approximately 10 seconds into this song, you will be convinced that the ghost of el records hangs over it. And you will be right: the credits reveal that el mainstay Louis Philippe appears here on the guitar. Meanwhile production duties are by the seemingly ubiquitous (at least in France) Bertrand Burgalat. It's very sweet: ye ye pop in the late 20th century.

"Idle I'm (Colorama Coloured In Remix)", by John Stammers. There's no words I can type that would in any way add to your enjoyment or understanding of this song. The download link may still be up: try it for yourself.

"The Captain of Her Heart", by Double. It may be because I am one quarter Swiss that this song hits me where I live. Ostensibly garden variety mid-80s pop, there is something slightly mysterious lurking behind its surface sheen that I find attractive. (Also, the opening couple of bars put me in mind of the underrated work Chris Abrahams did with Melanie Oxley a few years back.) Curiously, this song was mentioned in this seemingly unrelated article on Pitchfork just the other day.

"Letter of Intent (Mark McGuire Road Chief Remix)", by Ducktails. My take on it is that Mark McGuire dons his Road Chief hat whenever he wants to venture down the highway of seventies/eighties FM radio. Thus he drives what was, in its original form, a perfectly good if rudimentary fragile pop song out into the land of lush arrangements and a particular kind of tone such as you might (hope to) find over the closing credits of a particular type of American independent film. A road movie, maybe.