Saturday, June 27, 2009

Sigur Ros - Untitled #3 (Samskeyti)

Have you ever had a completely unexpected environmental circumstance that somehow worked perfectly with what you were listening to? That just happened to me. Earlier this afternoon I was driving home from Worcester MA. The weather was very hot and humid before I left, the temperature reading 88. I decided to put on Sigur Ros's ( ) for the ride, as its been almost two years since I last heard it. Soon enough we got to track #3, Samskeyti, one of my favorites from the album. The song is built around a repeating piano line that eventually shifts octaves in the most glorious way possible. Its very repeative yet the way its constructed makes it sound like it is constantly moving forward. Remarkable song.

So about 20 seconds into the song I notice a drop of water hit my windshield. Not a tiny drop, but a large one. Another one happens after a few seconds. It wasn't like the way rain usually starts where its very small drops and a bunch of them - this was single drop large rain. Well this didn't last for too long as no longer than 15 seconds later full rain began to break out. Its like the clouds just broke as it went from droplets to dozens in a second. I'm constantly adjusting my wipers as the the amount of rain is steadily increasing. There's now a huge cloud in the sky that was clear a minute earlier. The amount of rain continues to reach until it reaches its peak only seconds after the octave shift in the song. I now have the wipers at the second highest level. The rain remains relatively constant for the next minute and then completely stops, just as the song is fading out. The timing was insane. Soon enough the sun came back out and was even brighter than it was earlier.

Here's two videos of the song. The first is a fan video for the album version, and the second a live performance from the Heima DVD.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Essential Field Mice

Personally, I feel like the Field Mice remain one of the most overlooked and criminally underrated bands of the last 25 years. Oh they definitely have a devoted cult of fans, and are recognized by most anyone with a more than passive interest in twee pop, but in terms of being regarded as one of the most influential bands of the 80's, they still have a ways to go. It's remarkable how fresh this music still sounds, something that I can't help but attribute to how stale the "indie pop" genre is becoming at this point. For example, one of the internet's most recent blog bands is The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. They're a solid group, but I don't feel they aren't doing anything different than what the Field Mice were doing more than 20 years ago, and the tunes aren't nearly as solid. Still, their most popular song "Young Adult Friction" nears 4,000 plays a week on, yet the Field Mice's "Emma's House", gets less than 400. Life just isn't fair.

But back to the Mice- They only released three albums: Snowball in 1989, Skywriting in 1990, and For Keeps in 1991. Their formation was only a year before Snowball's release and they broke up shortly after the For Keeps tour. Despite this brief 3 year existence, they created a remarkably consistent output of material, with less than a handful of songs that are subpar ("Humblebee" as one.) The best collection of the band's material is the 1998 Where'd You Learn to Kiss That Way? compilation which takes 36 of the band's best songs, both from the original albums and various 7" singles. Though it comes close, there's still 15 recorded tracks by the band that do not make the compilation, so pursuing the actual albums is a necessity. Still, just about everyone's personal favorite Field Mice song is likely to be on Where'd You Learn to Kiss That Way?

However, I decided to take this compilation one step further. What if I cut down the 36 tracks to the essential essentials, enough to make a one disc compilation of the band's material? I did just that, and deciding what to include and what to omit was more difficult than expected. I ended up listening to the band's entire discography, and rated every song on a scale from 1-5. Everything on this mix got at least a 4 and five songs got the 5rating (Sensitive, Below the Stars, Emma's Hose, End of the Affair and Willow. ) This posed problems though, as there were still great songs left over that wouldn't fit. For example, "This Is Not Here" (a 4.5 for me) didn't make the cut. I guess compilations need to be this way in some regard, as if they weren't, there would be no incentive to pursue the artist any further. You just can't have ALL the greats. Also, I tried to organize the mix in a way that varies from the released compilation, yet still works well as a mix. This is how it turned out:

The Essential Field Mice

1. Sensitive
2. Emma's House
3. If You Need Someone
4. Couldn't Feel Safer
5. Everything About You
6. September's Not So Far Away
7. End of the Affair
8. Willow
9. A Wrong Turn and Raindrops
10. Let's Kiss and Make Up
11. This Love Is Not Wrong
12. An Earlier Autumn
13. Canada
14. So Said Kay
15. Between Hello and Goodbye
16. And Before the First Kiss
17. White
18. When Morning Comes to Town
19. Below the Stars

Bonus- This is Not Here (I just had to include this somehow. Let's just say it's track 20 for those listening with ipods or just straight from the folder.)

The Field Mice

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Essential Sebadoh Vol. 4

Here it is! The fourth and final volume of my custom "best-of" Sebadoh mixes. To think this all started with one mix, a mix that I thought at the time was pretty comprehensive. Yet over the last few months I've been obsessively listening to Sebadoh, and soon enough I found enough great songs to fill up three more volumes. Crazy!

More so, I still have yet to give a thorough listen to the Folk Implosion. Maybe in the future there will be a custom essential mix for them! Also, I intend to put together a collection of Sebadoh b-sides from all of the 7"/CD singles. There's already a good custom b-sides complitation floating around, though it concentrates most on their earliest material. Anyways, here's the link to volume 4 and the included tracks. As always, these mixes are just below 80 minutes in length, and appropriate for CD burning.

The Essential Sebadoh Vol. 4

1. Ladybugs (The Freed Man)
2. Cyster (The Freed Man)
3. Dance (The Freed Man)
4. Oak Street Raga (The Freed Man)
5. Jealous Evil (The Freed Man)
6. Narrow Stories (The Freed Man)
7. Bridge Was You (The Freed Man)
8. Feeding Evil (Weed Forestin)
9. Mr. Genius Eyes (Weed Forestin)
10. Wrists (The Freed Man)
11. I Can't See (Weed Forestin)
12. Three Times a Day (Weed Forestin)
13. More Simple (Weed Forestin)
14. Jealous of Jesus (Weed Forestin)
15. Sickles and Hammers [Minutemen] (III)
16. Renaissance Man (III)
17. New King (Gimme Indie Rock)
18. Soulmate II (Sebadoh Vs. Helmet)
19. Really Insane II (Rocking the Forest)
20. Junk Bonds (Smash Your Head on the Punk Rock)
21. Cliche (Bubble and Scrape)
22. Bouquet for a Siren (Bubble and Scrape)
23. No Way Out (Bubble and Scrape)
24. Temptation Tide (Bakesale)
25. Mystery Man (Bakesale)
26. Give Up (Bakesale)
27. S. Soup (Bakesale)
28. Rebound (acoustic) (Rebound EP)
29. Magnet's Coil (acoustic) (Rebound EP)
30. Social Medicine (Rebound EP)
31. Worst Thing (Harmacy)
32. Can't Give Up (Harmacy)
33. The Act of Being Polite [Residents] (Princess 7")
34. Moisture [Residents] (Princess 7")
35. Surburban Bathers [Residents] (Princess 7")
36. I Mean It (early version of "Sorry") (unreleased)
37. It's All You (The Sebadoh)
38. Weird (The Sebadoh)
39. Flame (acoustic) (Weird promo single)

Sebadon @