Echo :06

Damn. It’s been two years since the last Echo Mix. It’s not that I’ve been out of the music loop–in fact, it’s been quite the opposite–there’s just so much to choose from. But even more, the delay is the result of a little demon that’s attached itself to me over the past 18 months. The demon’s name is Perfectionism, and the little fucker’s machinations dragged this process out, from first round of track selection to final export, for four months. Echo :01, by contrast, took only a week.

As it turns out, this latest collection isn’t perfect, but it’s solid, and I think I’m okay with that. It’s a four-parter, and rather than dive deep into the minutiae of each track, I’ll just go part by part and talk about what I was trying to do with each bit. I hope it works for you.

Los Angeles, sweet LA. Beautiful, frustrating, vibrant and teeming with cars and people. When I’m elsewhere, I want to come back; when I’m here, I want to leave. But I’m here now, so I’m kicking things off with a trio of tunes, new and old, that have roots in this hedonistic village. Morcheeba kicks it off with something new from Blaze Away, then to follow, something comparatively ancient from Bran Van 3000. This tune… Man, 20 years ago this, to me, was Los Angeles. Laid back, groovy, chilled down and perfect, this is what it’s like to be drunk and in pain in “Hell-A.”

And then with a perfect sonic build… Beth Ditto. “Ooh LA, LA.” Get it? Get it?

I built this part around the simple combination of The Horrors and Miami Horror (no relation) and the happy accident that my two favorite songs from these artists happened to go together like gin and Campari. But then, because my instinct is to just build and build to a roof-shattering climax, I tried to find a way to pull things back down to earth. And this proved the first big stumbling block of this mix; How to bring the energy down while remaining true to the flow? I tried a bunch of songs, up-tempo, down-tempo, everything in-between… My practice was to put a test mix together, export it to MP3 and then go for a long walk through the hills of South Pasadena. And always it “worked,” more or less, but nothing ever quite clicked. Then finally I hit on exmagician, and damn, it just fell into place. One of the best walks I’ve had yet. The song follows Miami Horror with a similar energy but introduces a laid-back tempo that allows me to then transition to Washed Out (one of two tracks I obsessed about for this mix.) Then find a way to pull things down to where I wanted to wind up– with the gorgeous live performance of “Technicolor Beat” by Oh Wonder.

So I worked like hell to bring the tempo and energy of the mix down to the mid-point, only to say, fuck it, let’s crank this motherfucker right back up again, and now we’re into the proper dance set of the mix. The first three tracks, by Junktion, Tycho and Flight Facilities, are all recent tunes, all of which lead to the classic bit by Adam K & Soha. They worked sonically and musically. But the left a bit of a challenge–how to get the decidedly down-tempo BPM of Junktion and Tycho up to the dance-floor craziness of “Twilight?” I wanted all these tracks to combine because they worked musically–the keys were all the same–but the tempo difference between the first and last track was considerable. That’s where “Claire de Lune” came in handy. The way it’s structured lends itself perfectly to bumping up the BPM. So I tossed all the heavy lifting in that direction and… somehow it works. Have fun. And by the way, “Twilight” is still one of the most potent club anthems of this era, so treat it with caution.

There’s not much that’s more satisfying than finding a way to make the music flow together, getting people to move their feet, hinting to them that there’s so much more out there than what we see before us.

All that melodrama gives way to the last couple tracks, which, to me, represent the most sublime comedown in my music mix history. I love the way the “Only Yesterday” by Pretty Lights shifts gears into a late-night electro-crawl, bringing what ended up being a dance-heavy collection to a couch-lounging finish. Just chill, revel in the drunkenness, the afterglow, and let the final bits wash over you. Concluding with “Zozobra,” a piece by Laura Veirs, that brings me back ’round to my true home of Santa Fe. I will be back. Because, at some point, as Mitch says, I’ll be sick of following my dreams. I’ll just ask them where they’re going and hook up with ’em later.”

Dedicated to Esther. Thanks for listening.

Echo :05

At long last, the latest in the ECHO series. I’ll annotate later. For now, here’s the mix. I think it’s pretty great.

Click the download link to grab the MP3. Full tracklist coming in the next few days.

Deadbeats – Funky For You

Glass Animals – Hazey

Royksopp – Silver Cruiser

HÆLOS – Earth Not Above

Avalanches – Etoh

Avalanches – Summer Crane

PJ Harvey – Angelene

Barry Jamieson – Stars (Ambient Mix)

DJ Koze – XTC (Original Mix)

Mark Romboy – Counting Comets (Ruede Hagelstein Remix)

Poolside – And the Sea (Pixelated Remix)

Radiohead – The Numbers

Nightmares on Wax – Le Nuits

Massive Attack – The Spoils (feat. Hope Sandoval)

Charlotte Gainsbourg – Jamais

The The – Bluer Than Midnight

Bill Hicks – It’s Just a Ride

Echo :04

Cripes, what took you so long?

I found the Camelot Wheel, that’s what took me so long. The Camelot Wheel is a round thingy developed by Mixed in Key that maps out the relationships of musical keys to one another. It’s a brilliant little tool that makes it a lot easier to keep a music mix sounding sweet and fluid without the need for endless experimenting, perfect pitch, or even a brain.

The Camelot Wheel, by Mixed in Key

So here’s how it works, in a teeny, tiny nutshell: You’re spinning a track that’s in G-minor. Find it on the wheel. It’s on the inner track in the six position (6A.) If you want to select something that goes well with it, something that won’t clash like Joby, the one-man-band tumbling down the Odessa Steps, you choose a track with a key that’s either to the left, to the right, or to the next position outer or inner, depending on where you are. So from G-minor, you could stay in G-minor or you could go to 6B, or 5A or 7A. Get it?

Are you all done caring about it?

Well, all right. Hit play. Or download it by hitting the button on the player below.

(By the way, since this mix is all about the smooth transition, I decided to upload the mix as a single mp3 file rather than separate them and zip them up. Without getting too technical, encoding to MP3 often leaves a tiny gap of silence at the beginning and end of each track, which is just milliseconds long, but is still very noticeable. I’d rather get rid of them entirely. Thus the single track.)


Salt – Bluster (Auscultate, 1996)

Kicking it off in E-MINOR, which, according to one random website I visited, elicits complaisance and calm. “Lament without grumbling; sighs accompanied by few tears” There’s nothing complaisant about the gut punch of this song from Swedish band, Salt. Tough, yet melodic and graced by singer/lyricist Nino Ramsby’s soaring, kick ass voice. Back when this album first came out, (in 1996, I’m certain, because I remember reading the CD jacket while I listened to the disc over a cup of coffee at the Earthling Bookshop in Santa Barbara,) I read an interview with Ramsby about how she wrote her lyrics in English because she liked the economy of the language. You can say a lot with a little. She knew the language well for a Swede. “Auscultate” isn’t a Swedish word. It’s English, and it describes that act of listening for a heartbeat through a stethoscope. Rad.

Continue reading “Echo :04”

Echo :03

Nick Hornby: “A good compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do. You’ve got to kick off with a corker, to hold the attention… and then you’ve got to up it a notch, and you can’t have white music and black music together, unless the white music sounds like black music, and you can’t have two tracks by the same artist side by side, unless you’ve done the whole thing in pairs, and … oh there are loads of rules.”

ECHO :03

The Dandy Warhols – Boys Better

01dwFollowing Nick Hornby’s rules, I’m kicking this off with a corker. First time I saw the Dandys, they were touring for this album, their second, opening for Curve. I talked about Curve on Echo :02. That’s because I love them. See, ’cause back in the day, there was a thing called shoegaze, kids, principal examples of which were, among others, Ride, My Bloody Valentine, Jesus & Mary Chain and Slowdive–just these walls of sound that the bands would create whilst staring at their shoes. The Dandys were kinda lumped into that category, and for good reason. Just a bunch of great, bludgeoning, fuzzy tracks that make you wanna move.

School of Seven Bells – Dial

2sviib Benjamin Curtis and twin sisters Alejandra and Claudia Deheza were School of Seven Bells (SVIIB to the cool kids.) I say “were” because they are no longer a band. After this album, which came out in 2010, and right before I saw them play live, Claudia left the band. Literally, I think it happened the day before they played in Albuquerque. A shame, because I’ll probably never get to see them actually perform these gorgeous harmonies. But the real kick in the gut? Two years ago, Benjamin Curtis died of lymphoma. Shit gets complicated. And this band will be missed.

Continue reading “Echo :03”

ECHO :02

Okay, so this is my second mix in the Echo series. I’ve done better this time. I found tracks that work together, most of them new, some of them older, and I hope, sequenced ’em in a way that builds and flows properly. Again, the idea behind the Echo series is to present some great new music, mixed with something older and building to a nice house/prog house climax, then finishing with a bit of comedy. I love music. I love comedy. So I have to combine them when I can. Also on this mix is a snippet of film dialogue. I’ll be doing that more and more as the series goes on.

So scroll down to the bottom and grab the zip file of MP3s if you care to listen. And if you like it, drop me a comment at the bottom. Or send me an e-mail.


ECHO :02

Vetiver – “Stranger Still”

A nice build from nothing into a scintillating shower of music stuff. Also, “Vetiver” is fun to say. “Vetiver.” Try it.

SPC ECO – “Zombie”

The current project of Dean Garcia of the defunct band, Curve. Here’s he’s singing with his daughter. I loved Curve, man. I saw them once at the Troubador in LA. Toni Halliday was pissed because her monitor wasn’t working, but it was still a great show. I had ticket for the next night, but I didn’t go because I had a terrible headache and it was all the way in Los Angeles.

St. Germain – “Forget Me Not”

His first album in fifteen years. Holy crap. That’s a long time. This album has a distinctly Mali flavor. I haven’t been to Mali, so I’m depending here on stuff I read. This is the final cut of the new album. I actually love final cuts. They do so much to tie the album together. But here, it’s track three, so suck it. But such a lovely, rolling bass foundation to those airy guitars–stringed things. Whatever they are.

The The – “Kingdom of Rain”

Throwback to the early ‘90s. The The is another one of those amazing bands whose creativity burned too bright, so they had to fade away. Johnny Marr of the Smiths on guitar. And that’s Sinead O’Connor on a vocal assist. Oh, and Matt Johnson’s voice is one of the deepest and sexiest in music.

Thomas Newman – “Track 07” – Bootleg S/T for Men Don’t Leave

My favorite film composer is maddeningly inconsistent. But the score for this amazing Paul Brickman movie is so gorgeous that it’s a crime the soundtrack was never released. The Internet has secrets, however, and if you know where to look, you can find this shit. As for the movie, ask me about it sometime and I’ll talk the hell out of it.

Hermitude – “Ukiyo”

I don’t know how to describe this, except to say it’s weird and pretty and cold and wonderful.

Boxed In – “Lo Life”

I like bands who play a back and forth thing with vocals. Especially when it’s male/female. For other awesomeness like this, checkout The Brunettes, or Stars, or The Submarines. Or… Smile Smile, maybe?

Smile Smile – “Truth on Tape”

Oh, hey, look at that. Here’s Smile Smile! This is from about five years back. They haven’t put anything out since. That makes me mad.

Exile – “Kiss You All Over”

And for the throwback of the compilation… This is somehow still contemporary, and no, not because it was used in that Dane Cook movie, Employee of the Month. Love the unabashed romanticism of the Yacht Rock era!

Wolf Alice – “The Wonderwhy”

Okay, I said I like final cuts. Here’s another one. A perfect ending to a terrific album. Wolf Alice is one of the best things out there today. And I would know. Because I’ve got my ear to the ground. What’s that sound? Oh, shit, it’s a car.

Raury – “Friends”

And yet another final cut. Raury’s album just came out. I haven’t listened to the whole thing. The reason? I can’t get past this goddamned last track. That’s Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine) on guitar.

Dialogue Clip – The Thin Man

Nobody did it better than William Powell and Myrna Loy. This is a tiny sample of the incredible dialogue from real-life writing team of Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich. Do yourself a favor, watch this movie. And invite me over when you do.

Jose Gonzales – “Let It Carry You” (Dino Soccio Mix)

This guy is from Sweden. He’s sung with Zero 7 and has another band called “Junip” which is also awesome. Dino Soccio remade this as a bootleg, but Jose heard it and was like, “Chill, bro, let’s make this an official remix of the song.” So there you have it, kids. Go out and remix shit.

M83 – “Midnight City” (Alcala Mix)

Not my favorite tune from M83, but the key was a perfect match to the Jose Gonzales tune, so it was an obvious choice. Also, M83 is pretty rad. Alcala is an independent DJ. I bought this track from him on his website. It was “pay what you like” and I paid $5. He was so grateful he wrote me a nice e-mail. I think you should support artists. Because if you don’t and you run into them in a dark alley, you’re fucked.

London Grammar – “Hey Now” (Arty Remix)

A rich, meaty and melodic track. With a vocal track that initially put me off at first. But the more I listen to it, the more I think it’s perfect. And such a nice little breakbeat moment in the middle breakdown there.

Hannibal Buress – “Bomb Water”

I was gonna just do Doug Stanhope every time, since he’s my bestest fave comic, but I ain’t gonna lie, there’s some great stuff out there in stand-up land. Hannibal Buress has nailed the timing and delivery. He’s gonna be a star. For the next CD, I’m gonna give you Paul F. Tomkins, because… also brilliant.

ECHO :01

It occurred to me that in this era of the iTunes playlist, I haven’t made a mix CD–a proper mixed CD, complete with tricks and overlays–since my days at Amoeba (thanks to Nick Pinto and the CD Exchange club.) So I’ve started a series. There’s a lot of music out there. And a lot I want to share. the idea is to spin a relaxed, chilled-out vibe that ebbs and flows, and ultimately ends in a bit of a dance frenzy and then is punctuated at the end by some stand-up comedy. So download it and give it a spin. I’d be curious to hear what you think.

I’m not utterly satisfied with this mix, but it works well, and they’ll only get better from here.

Echo :01

Beach House – “Levitation”

Kicking it all off with the dreamy, atmospheric noodlings of Beach House. I like Beach House. Sometimes they remind me of Julee Cruise, like David Lynch could have used them in Twin Peaks. Maybe he still will. I’m so excited about the new Twin Peaks series. Are you?

Deerhunter – “Snakeskin”

Deerhunter is the epitome of cool for me. So slick and filthy, fronted by one of the most unique dudes in rock, Bradford Cox. This is from their new album, Fading Frontier. Here’s what I love about this one so much: yeah, it’s got that slick, sexy rhythm, and Cox’s keening vocals wrapping around those creepy lyrics, but the way it descends into those ominous chords at the end–that just makes it for me.

Aquilo – “Good Girl”

These guys? God, I don’t know. I like the song. They’re from Australia. I wonder if they go over to AC/DC’s house ever. I also like the sentiment. I’m looking for a good girl, too. Problem is, I act like I expect them to just walk up to my door and knock. They don’t do that. Ever. Except once, in Hollywood, but she had the wrong apartment.

Doe Paoro – “Nostalgia” (RAC Remix)

RAC has a knack for taking a cool song and giving it that extra melodic and beatsy bump. I heard this one early morning (at about 2:00am) on KCRW and had to track it down through tricky Internet means. “Remix Artist Collective” was the outfit. Now it’s just one guy: André Allen Anjos. The first remix of his I ever heard was his treatment of “Rescue Song” by Mr. Little Jeans. Check it out. So good.

Baio – “Sister of Pearl”

I’m not sure why I included this one. It’s upbeat and fun, and I love Vampire Weekend, for whom Baio plays guitar. It’s angular and funky, but I think it works.

The Everly Brothers – “Illinois”

This album came out the year I was born. And this song was my favorite song once I knew how to work headphones. I like to think Sufjan Stevens heard this song and got the idea for his album.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – “Jubilee Street”

Nick Cave is the epitome of cool. He’s dark and sexy and weird. This is the song I think most people had a hard time getting into on this CD. I love the build, though, the increase in tempo and the ascendance of the strings. “I’ve got a fetus… on a leash.” Yeah, that’s gonna go over well with my pro-life friends. Of which I have none. Or maybe I do. I don’t judge.

Broken Spindles – “Induction”

This was a recent Pandora discovery. I put on the Massive Attack station and let it roll. But this caught my ear because it has a nice, trippy, almost drum-bass rhythm, all delicate and stuff, until it bursts into a big, string-heavy crescendo at the end. This is classic chillout stuff.

Hans Zimmer – “Cornfield Chase” (Interstellar)

I used to not like Hans Zimmer at all. His score for Green Card was okay, but his score for Regarding Henry was sticky and gross. But then The Thin Red Line came out and I’ve been checking out his scores ever since. His work on Interstellar was excellent. Reminded me a lot of Philip Glass. And if you know who that is, you get a gold star. Come over and I’ll give it to you.

Maximum Balloon – “Let It Grow”

This has since been released officially. I had to crib it off of a YouTube video, so the quality wasn’t great for the CD I burned for people. That’s Karen O. (Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs) and Tunde Adebimpe (TV on the Radio) doing vocals. In fact, David Sitek comes from TV on the Radio, a self-consciously artsy rock band who have put out some marvelous music. Karen O. has such a nice voice. I wish I had that voice. I’d keep it in a little jar.

TV on the Radio – “Careful You”

“There’s a softness to your touch/There’s a wonder to your ways”

And in keeping with the flow, he’s something from their latest. I saw TV on the Radio open for Massive Attack at the Hollywood Bowl. We went to the after party, my brother and I, because I happened to know somebody. Kyp Malone is so distinctive, once I had a couple of margaritas, I went up and slurred something like, “I like your music’s good.”

ODESZA – “Light” (feat. Little Dragon)

I like ODESZA (all caps or you’re spelling it wrong!) just fine. But I was especially taken by this lovely turn featuring Little Dragon. I like it when artists collaborate. It gives me hope for the world. Yukimi Nagano has distinct, smoky vocals. Like aural incense or something.

Destroyer – “Kaputt”

This is a bit older. It has a marvelous, ethereal Seventies Yacht Rock quality to it. It’s rare that the saxophone, for example, is used well. I hear Dan Bejar is kind of a jerk. If you recognize his voice, it’s because he’s from The New Pornographers. If you recognize his voice and you don’t know New Pornographers, then maybe he sounds like an old neighbor of yours. I don’t know. To be honest, he kind of looks like a jerk, though I don’t judge people by their looks lest I be judged by mine. Actually once I was at Macy’s and the two Korean clerks wouldn’t let me leave until I told them what movie I was in. I’m familiar to many, I guess.

Crazy P – “Echo”

Three AM, September 6th. I’m supposed to DJ a wedding later that Sunday, and I’m lying in bed, wide awake, still rolling from that ecstasy I took earlier when I was spinning the practice sets. I turn on KCRW for company in the dark and Karene Daniel is spinning some luscious house tunes. This one came on and I was, like, “Oh, funky.” And then a little while later, “Wow, this is good.” And then after a moment, “No, seriously, this is good.” And then I realized I was rolling again. I found it online and listened to it about eight more times while the sun rose. And here’s some trivia: Crazy P actually used to call themselves “Crazy Penis.” I still like the tune, though. At 01:50 it pulls a shift in rhythm that is so beautiful that it makes my hair stand up on end. My arm hair. And yeah, when I conceived of this mix series, I was springboarding off this track.

Doug Stanhope – “Funnier Drunk”

I could write pages about why I love Doug Stanhope. He’s a genius, and I don’t use that word lightly. He’d disagree, I’m sure. But in stand-up terms, he’s on par with Bill Hicks, whom I also refer to as a genius. He’s honest and raw and funny and iconoclastic and totally unique. Stand-up is another way I teach myself to be cool, to be chill, to be at ease with this fucked up world.