Category Archives: MIX TAPE

Beth // James Makes MAGNET A Mix Tape

Beth // James is riding high on the coattails of its recently released EP All In Life, which we’ve told you about before. The Austin folk duo put together a mix tape for you all to enjoy. Check it out below and be sure to queue up All In Life after it’s over.

Ari Hest, “Something To Look Forward To”
This song is completely gorgeous and one of our all-time favorites. When we first heard it, it was constantly on repeat on long car rides. Ari’s voice is delicate and desperate, and when the string section comes in, good luck not crying. This vocal performance is honestly one of the best we’ve ever heard. Don’t sleep on Ari Hest. Video

S. Carey, “Alpenglow”
S. Carey is Justin Vernon’s right-hand man. You can hear the Bon Iver influence right away in his music. His sense of harmony and lyrics really is something truly captivating. We were lucky enough to see him at a house concert at home in Austin, and that show was a real source of inspiration during the months we were writing our EP. Video

Alison Krauss & Robert Plant, “Let Your Loss Be Your Lesson”
The album Raising Sand had a huge impact on us starting Beth // James. These two legends bring untouched musicianship and the most swag a duo has ever brought on this record. “Let Your Loss Be Your Lesson” reminds us of going to hear shows at places like the Continental Club in Austin. You can feel the dimly-lit bar and people dancing their ambitions away while listening to this song. We can’t think of an album with a better vibe than Raising Sand, and we hope they’ll grace us with a sequel someday. Video

Blake Mills, “Don’t Tell Our Friends About Me”
Blake Mills is truly a master of guitar. You can see him on YouTube playing duo with Bill Frisell, and if Bill Frisell calls you to play tunes with him, you really have something going on. But not only is Blake a wizard at his instrument, he’s also a fantastic singer and songwriter. “Don’t Tell Our Friends About Me” is by far our favorite track on his newest album, Heigh Ho. This cut could’ve been a radio hit, but he decided to drop the F-bomb in the bridge. Respect to Blake for being true to himself and not giving an F-bomb about anything. Video

Relick, “Another Life”
We had to show some love to some of our best friends from Denton, Texas, in this mix tape. Relick is a new-age Beatles with a ’90s rock influence. Fronted by Amber Nicholson’s sticky sweet vocals and Matt Hibbard’s swoon-worthy guitar, Relick’s arrangements are like an indie-rock symphony. “Another Life” is the perfect song to blast with the windows down, driving around town. If you have a chance, go out and buy Relick’s debut EP Twin House. They are one of these bands that you brag to your hipster friends about discovering when they make it big. Video

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The Cover Letter Makes MAGNET A Mix Tape

The Cover Letter has previously graced the MAGNET website with songs from the recently released Cities Made Of Sand. The band has been nice enough to put together a set of songs they love just so you can get to know them a little better. Listen and read below.

Pink Floyd, “Shine On You Crazy Diamond”
Trevor: I really enjoy David Gilmour’s guitar playing and the finely tuned, artistic approach to the recording composition. Video

Ray LaMontagne, “For The Summer”
Trevor: I love Ray’s voice, and in this song particularly, his note changes sound like butter to me. I love how free it feels. Video

Pinegrove, “Cadmium
Evan: I’ve been obsessed with this band in the past year, since the release of their album Cardinal. This song is a good example of what makes them so fun to listen to. They’re extremely tight and coordinated, so they can play with a really great, loose feel and still keep things together. The way they push and pull at different moments in the song serves to amplify the lyrics and the great vocal performance. Video

Gillian Welch, “Elvis Presley Blues”
Evan: Listening to Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings play together is a master class in blend and group cohesion. There are two guitars playing on this song, but it often feels like just one instrument, subtly shifting and moving under the dry, melancholy lyrics. It’s a meditation on success in America, a beautiful example of finger-style guitar playing and a great lesson in close-harmony singing. Video

Charles Bradley, “Why Is It So Hard”
Jacob: Where do I even start? The pure passion in his voice, the pain in his words … everything about this song (the live performance especially) is amazing. Charles Bradley has a really inspiring story, too, and you can almost feel every step he’s taken in life. Being able to make that emotional connection is just magic to me. Video

Robert Ellis, “California”
Jacob: I really enjoy the composition of this song. I am a sucker for originality, too, so to have a new take on country music, something I think is really needed right now, is really interesting. It just falls together so well. The dynamics in the song are really powerful and just draw me right in. Love this one. Video

Daughter, “Candles”
Angie: I love Candles mainly for the entrancing lyrics and the overall emotion of the song. Elena Tonra has such a haunting, powerful voice, and the lyrics tell such a cryptic, yet seemingly personal story. That combination sort of hypnotizes you, which is heavily inspiring to me. Video

Matt Corby, “Brother”
Angie: Matt Corby’s voice oozes soul, and the buildup of this song commands your attention. There’s so much heart and energy in every part, from the harmonies to the drums. This song just makes you feel. Video

Modest Mouse, “Parting Of The Sensory”
Jarrod: Isaac Brock has a real gift for presenting things in the most unique way. The lyrics in this song break death down to its most basic form. At the end of the day, something’s going to steal our carbon. Video

The Beatles, “A Day In The Life”
Jarrod: Probably my favorite song all day. The composition of this track is just off the charts. I especially love the way Lennon and McCartney switch back and forth between the character’s dream and conscious state. The intense swirl of instruments in the middle and outro give me goosebumps every time. Video

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Scott Fab Makes MAGNET A Mix Tape

We’re approaching the release of Scott Fab‘s new record, Leave My Friends, which comes out April 21. We previously brought you the song “Leave My Friends,” and today we’re excited to share a new mix tape that Fab has composed based on his listening habits during the production of his record. Take a listen and read what he has to say about each track below. “My mix tape consists of songs I found inspiring during the year I made my latest record,” he says. “Some are songs I’ve always turned to while others were just new to my ears and sparked inspiration. I hope you enjoy.”

Ron Sexsmith, “Secret Heart”
When I listen to Ron Sexsmith, I’m always blown away by his gift for melody. I have always liked how Ron sings and delivers a lyric. There are songs by other artists that would go right by me until I heard Ron sing them. This song is beautiful in its simplicity and minimal instrumentation. Video

Harry Nilsson, “Living Without You”
Nilsson Sings Sings Newman was in my constant rotation during the year I recorded Leave My Friends and has been a record I return to often. The combination of the strength of Randy Newman’s songs with the incredible vocal styling of Harry Nilsson is just so good. The pain of starting a day after losing someone is so well expressed by this song. Video

Sufjan Stevens, “The Only Thing”
There is an honesty to this song and record that is powerful and moving. “Should I tear my eyes out now/Everything I see returns to you somehow.“ Strong melodies that keep returning to me. Video

David Bowie, “Life On Mars?”
I have never stopped listening to David Bowie’s Hunky Dory. The production, with so much being driven by acoustic guitar and piano, has always appealed to me. The chorus of “Life On Mars?” is incredible. The build and release, sweeping strings, punching piano and the imagery of the lyrics get me every time. Video

Ray Lamontagne, “Shelter”
The pull before the chorus, live-room sound, Ray’s voice and lyrics about sheltering one another. This was the first song I ever heard Ray sing, and I’ve been listening ever since. Video

Chris Moore, “Watch The Sky”
One of my favorite songwriters. Chris Moore’s melodies and lyrics have been an inspiration since the first time I heard him. A compelling and beautiful work of art. Video

Sun Belt, “Champion The Wonder Horse”
I first heard Sun Belt on a late-night drive and was instantly transported by the lyrics and soundscape. Rick Maddock’s writing is poetic, with plenty of room for your own imagination. From the first line (“Does anybody hear that tapping?”) to the last line (“Everything good in this town, they drove to distraction”), the song explores a deserted, mysterious desert town. Video

Richard Buckner, “Lil’ Wallet Picture”
One of my favorite lyricists. “Underspent, and too young, too/I stumbled onto a picture of you/You wild bitter tale/All cherry oak and tears as the branches looked in.” Wallet picture from 1985, and the story it tells. Video

Andy Shauf, “Wendell Walker”
First time I heard this song I just kept playing it, over and over. Which is saying something when the song is eight minutes long. “Wendell Walker” draws you slowly into a narrative that is haunting and poetic. Video

Gillian Welch, “The Way It Will Be”
There is a literary quality and timelessness to Gillian’s lyrics. This song has great description. “I can’t say your name without a crow flying by.” I love her and Dave’s voices combined with the two acoustic guitars. Video

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Son Of The Velvet Rat Makes MAGNET A Mix Tape

Son Of The Velvet Rat has just released a new LP, Dorado. We previously brought you a piece of the band’s sandy desert record in the form of “Blood Red Shoes,” and today we’re giving you a sample of the group’s favorite songs. Check out the band’s carefully curated mix tape below, and make sure you give Dorado a spin after you’re done. Says Georg Altziebler, “I hope these songs can do for you what they did for me. Let me take you on a little field trip to the remote areas of this strange universe called pop. Off the beaten track, if you will. It’s the very nature of the unexpected and it works for me. When I’m searching for inspiration, I tend to look for the hidden and the obscure. The ditch beside the freeway provides more wondrous wildlife than the main roads of this world. In a way, this applies to music, too.”

Richard McGraw, “Infinite Mind”
Sometimes there is a thin line between tragedy and comedy, in life and in song. Richard McGraw walks that line with style and grace. To quote his fellow New Yorker Elliott Murphy, “You’ll never know what you’re in for.” By the way—that’s one thing most great songs have in common. Listen

Victoria Williams, “Crazy Mary”
The true grande dame of the High Desert—a voice like a pixie’s sister speaking for a beautiful soul. A voice that can go places where most others can’t go. Knowing truths most others will never know. “That what you fear the most could meet you halfway.” Watch

The Adobe Collective, “Desert Shame”
Roll your windows down and listen to this while driving down an endless desert highway. Let the song mingle with the sound of the engine and the sound of the wind. I just did exactly that and I came as close to being one with the world as I possibly can. Listen

Robert Rotifer, “I Just Couldn’t Eat as Much (As I’d Like to Throw Up)”
What a tune, you think before the words start to sink in. Yes, this is a protest song. I assume it protests stupidity. I needed that now, for it seems to be stupidity that rears its ugly head here in the land of the brave and the free and over there across the pond. And thank you Mr. Liebermann for the quote. Watch

Ted Quinn, “If U do”
Ted Quinn is lock and key to the high desert music scene, and because he is a generous man he uses these abilities to open many a door. What’s best, though, is when he opens his heart in his songs. They are amazing and never fail to touch me. Chances are they will touch you, too. Here’s one of his finest. Listen

Ripoff Raskolnikov, “Far Side Of Town”
Some Nobel-Prize-Winner once said: “A poem is a naked person.” This song is stark as stark can be. Ripoff Raskolnikov is a poet is a poet is a poet… Listen

Lisa Mednick Powell, “Stranger”
Sheer elegance, understated majesty and big production…still, this is such a personal song. You may not be the stranger she serenades, but when Lisa sings, “I’m lost in the wilderness,” you want to go out there to her rescue. If you can’t find her out there, you’ll surely find her in this song. Watch

Urban Desert Cabaret, “Go Away”
You want it darker? You got it. Listen to this song and look up at the stars above Vin Rose Avenue. You might not be alone, after all. Listen

Rags And Bones, “Smokey Joe’s”
Smokey Joe’s seems to be a bar, notable for its clientele. Might also be a scene from Rags And Bones’ cinematic little essay on those legendary guys who, to this day, define the songwriter genre. It’s a funny song, deep as the blues and humble as hell. Listen

Reverend Screaming Fingers, “No Destination”
Back to the open road, where your transmission is on recess for miles, no shifting gears till the light turns blue somewhere beyond the horizon. The guitar wizard won’t tell you where you’re headed. It might be the film set for a ‘70s Spaghetti Western or a night trip through Metropolis. Don’t worry, it’s just a dream. Lay back and enjoy the ride. Listen

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Antenna Man Makes MAGNET A Mix Tape

Antenna Man is no stranger to the MAGNET website, considering that we shared the Indianapolis band’s track “Guitarless Man” with you last year. Today, we’re turning the tables and letting the band share some of its favorite songs—check it out below and be sure to pick up Elaine Jr. in February.

Christian Taylor, “Rain Falls Up”
David: Christian Taylor is my favorite Indianapolis songwriter and one of my favorite artists anywhere to watch perform. His stage presence is raw, and his lyrics are simple, thoughtful, playful and truthful. This song reminds me to find and delight in the beauty of every moment, and make the best of every circumstance I find myself in. This is love. Video

John Elliott, “End Of Summer Cigarettes”
David: This song gets me every time. I’ve never grown tired of it. John Elliott has a way of telling stories with sentimentality, nostalgia, beauty, romance and even frank humor that I find masterful. The refrain says it simply yet says it all: “I was fine until I saw her in a dress.” It’s a heartache worth having. The outdoor, late summer setting of this video performance makes the lyric really come to life as the crickets hum along. Video

Cedarwell, “Holy Heart”
Kendall: These guys were playing in Indianapolis a lot when I started playing the city several years back. Eric has an absolute heart of gold, and he’s an amazing songwriter. If you ever have a chance to hear them play live, it’s a really amazing experience.  There is so much sound that can come from what seems like a very minimal setup. “Holy Heart” has been one of my favorites for some time now. It has such passion and is quite representative of their style. Video

Veseria, “She Called Me H**sier”
Kendall: Patrick and Jen have been friends for some time now. They’re as Indianapolis as Indianapolis can be, and they’re two of the sweetest people. They live in our neighborhood and really know how to put on a great show. Jen has an amazing voice, and Patrick really knows how to make the guitar sing. If you haven’t heard of them, you should check this video out! Video

Jomberfox, “John Cage”
Wes: Alex Kercheval, who plays guitar and keyboard in Jomberfox, is co-owner of Postal Recording in Indianapolis. Alex played a variety of instruments on Elaine Jr., Antenna Man’s soon-to-be-released album. Lead singer of Jomberfox, Nick Vote is a complex songwriter with a smooth voice and a big stage presence. The lap steel on this track adds a nostalgic Americana sound. Jomberfox’s album Parade cements them as my favorite Indianapolis songwriters. Video

S.M. Wolf, “King Of The Suits”
Wes: S.M. Wolf always puts on a high-energy, fun show. Adam Gross, singer/songwriter behind S.M. Wolf, is a former member of Amo Joy. The band’s style is reminiscent of ‘60s surf-punk. Gross recorded the album on a four-track reel-to-reel to give it an authentic ‘60s fuzzy punk/pop sound. This track might not be as experimental as some of their other more psych-rock songs, but it always makes me want to move. Video

Bonesetters, “Savages”
Kendall: You might have heard this song playing behind the Super Bowl commercial during last year’s big game. Bonesetters have been rocking hard here in Indianapolis for some time now. They have a fantastic live show, and they’re really wonderful people to have around. Video

Cyrus Youngman, “When I Realized That I Knew”
Kendall: Cyrus’ writing is very captivating, and his stage presence is very raw and fun. He’s been a big part of the journey of our band, and we hope that he continues to play a role. Here’s a great video! Video

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Known To Collapse Makes MAGNET A Mix Tape

Known To Collapse will release Transport Paradise on January 20. The band has graciously lent us these mix-tape-building skills to hold us over until then. Ride out the rest of 2016 on this collection of songs, and be sure to read along below while you’re at it.

Broken Social Scene, “I Slept With Bonhomme At The CBC”
Kabir: Living in Toronto while I went to middle school, You Forgot It In People and (especially) the self-titled Broken Social Scene were extremely formative albums for me, sets of songs that harnessed chaos and seemed untied to genre whatsoever. Then I listened to this one. The dreamy opening sound bubbles up to the surface to reveals a sensual world of wonder I’ve never quite heard repeated in ambient music, and even less in indie rock. Though it’s based around loops and effected guitars and samples, this album is easily the most organic and natural BSS release. Put it on when you need to be soothed. Video

The Cure, “Pictures Of You”
Kabir: The Cure was a band I discovered in high school, which is a sentence probably a lot of bands writing things like this have written in the past. The depth and richness of Robert Smith’s vision is never as clear as it is on this song: The counterpoint guitar, synth and bass melodies around a heavy, syncopated kick pattern come together paint an impressionistic pop symphony. Smith’s lilting melodies, cinematic lyrics and the tortured sound of his voice pull you deeper into his unique and romantic world of loss and isolation. Video

My Bloody Valentine, “Nothing Much To Lose”
Kabir: People will tell you that Loveless is the best thing that My Bloody Valentine—or anyone—has ever put on a recording, and they probably wouldn’t be wrong. But the ethereality of their most famous release is tempered on debut LP Isn’t Anything with intense and dynamic musicianship. On this song, Kevin Shields and Co. use Frank Zappa-esque noise interludes that stand in for traditional pop hooks before launching into their nascent combination of growling bass, hair-raising feedback and sweetly sighing girl/guy vocals. Nothing quite like this jam to mesmerize an angsty teen thinking of lust and adventure. Video

Dinosaur Jr, “Tarpit”
Kabir: It’s just like J Mascis to give you one of the greatest guitar riffs of all time—and then forget it within the first 30 seconds to drop into the gnarliest proto-grunge on either side of the Mississippi. In 1987. J, Murph and Lou Barlow created a monolith out of hardcore punk, noise rock and the kindest, most fragile drawl since Neil Young himself. “Tarpit” just barely gets to its most plaintive vocal hook when a swirling eddy of white noise wraps the track and mummifies it, mirroring the depths of loneliness the narrator feels in the titular tarpit. Video

Yo La Tengo, “Damage”
Kevin: As one of my biggest influences, Yo La Tengo stretches many boundaries in music and you’ll always hear something different from each song with them. However, a few things are consistent throughout their music. Guitar tones, sounds, unique vocal singing/talking that Ira seems to effortlessly do. This one in particular is crafted to where the guitars and vocals can’t even be distinguished from each other—having extremely ethereal, lush reverb/spacy sounds that give it that dark, haunting feeling. This song meant a lot to me growing up. As I aspired to be a better guitar player and producer, I always looked to this song in order to help me craft my own tones. Video

David Bowie, “Aladdin Sane”
Kevin: Perhaps my most beloved artist. David Bowie was an amalgamation of everything that is original to me. He sounded, looked and even had the personality of no one we’ve ever even come close to meeting on this planet. In high school, back in 2003, my cousin gave me a best-of David Bowie CD for me to listen to. On that CD, “Aladdin Sane” was clearly the track that stuck out to me the most. I’ll never forget how mesmerized I was driving back and forth to school listening to this song and thinking of how something like this could be created. Video

Ween, “Tried And True”
Kevin: Frank Zappa, Bowie, Yo La Tengo … these artists all fall under a similar category whose genres can not even be defined. Ween was another artist who had a huge impact on my life. When I was growing up, my friend showed me Ween for the first time. We were at his parents’ house, and he put on the album The Mollusk, a more experimental, raw album. Immediately becoming a fan, I followed them until their 2003 release of Quebec. In my opinion their best album. Their songwriting was less experimental and silly but still had that “Ween flavor” of bizarre lyrics and sounds. “Tried And True” fit that perfect mold I was looking for of cool, spacey, weird, wild and in-your-face for the ripe age of being a rebellious teenager. Video

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Film Jacket 35 Makes MAGNET A Mix Tape

filmjacket35

Film Jacket 35 is a lo-fi rock band from Athens, Ga. In January, the duo will release a new album, Limbo Mind & Infected Cells, but in the meantime John and Jam D have come together to construct a mix tape just for MAGNET. Check it out below, read along, and be sure to put listening to Limbo Mind & Infected Cells on your new year’s resolution list.

The Knickerbockers, “Lies”
Jam D: The best Beatles tune was never composed by the Beatles. Video

Happy Mondays, “Tart Tart”
John: I agree that the most popular and best-selling album from Happy Mondays is Pills n’ Thrills And Bellyaches, but my personal favourite is their debut. There are only a few albums that take you to the time and place that they were recorded, and this song is the best example. P.S: Shaun Ryder was a genius and I love the way he uses words in his lyrics. Video

Bazooka, “Ravening Trip”
John: One interesting thing about the economical and social unrest in Greece over the last 8 years(!), is the fact that many great artists/bands came out in the underground scene. Bazooka is one of them and I’m glad we belong in the same scene with such bands. Killer tune! Video

Black Lips, “Not A Problem”
Jam D: I’m just proud this music comes from my generation! Video

Velvet Underground, “Sister Ray”
John: If we claim that our father was Sister Ray, that automatically makes us brothers with Jon Spencer. That’s a great thought! I love noise. Video

Pink Floyd, “Time”
Jam D: The absolute song musically and lyrically. In seven minutes, your whole life repeats itself through your eyes. Sadness, anxiety, anger, remorse, hope … Video

Half Japanese, “Elevator Boy”
John: Half Japanese was the band that showed me the other side of music and art, generally. A new world showed up in front of me when digging their musical approach. This song is my choice from the LP that Kurt Cobain put on his list of his 50 favourite albums. Video

Opal, “Happy Nightmare Baby”
John: When I’m down for some reason, the only song comes first in my mind is this. The last few weeks I’ve been whispering it almost every day. Guess why. Video

Sleep, “Dragonaut”
Jam D: Watching Gummo was a real experience for me. “Dragonaut” is a major part of this experience. I remember myself repeating the same scene too many times just to hear the song. It’s the song that played the most important role to the evolution of the stoner scene. Video

Nikos Xylouris, “Erotokritos” (1974)
John: I used to listen to this song since I was a small kid because of my grandfather. He was born and raised in the isle of Crete and he was listening to a lot of music from his birthplace. “Erotokritos” is a romance written by Vincent Kornaros in early 17th century in the Cretan dialect. Several Greek musicians have added selected parts of the poem to their music and this specific song is the one I love most. A lot of memories … Video

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Allen Clapp Makes MAGNET A Mix Tape

allenclapp

Allen Clapp recently graced our website when we featured new track “Friend Collector” on our daily MP3 At 3PM column, but we wanted to make sure you didn’t forget about the approaching November 11 release date of Clapp’s new EP, Six Seasons. So Mr. Clapp has been so kind as to carefully collect a group of songs that will wonderfully soundtrack your transition into autumn. Press play, and read along below.

Into Dorkness: Allen Clapp’s Autumn Mix Tape
Watching Stranger Things this summer has reacquainted me with my 15-year-old, uncool early-’80s self. In a big way. Not in a mopey, Smiths-induced, black-and-white dream sequence, but in a tremendous, Middle-Earth kind of celebration of life. It’s been a chance to rejoice in those awkward early teen years when my friends and I were unfettered by the larger social structure of coolness. Like Lester Bangs (Philip Seymour Hoffman) tells 15-year-old Rolling Stone writer William Miller in Almost Famous: “The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you’re uncool.”

If that’s true, we built up quite a stock load of currency. It would be a couple years until we discovered R.E.M., the Three O’Clock and Camper Van Beethoven, and we were on a journey into the heart of dorkness.

Like thousands (OK, tens) of other disillusioned ‘80s kids, I had a revelation the first time I heard Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon in its full analog glory. Beaming out of the console stereo in the green-carpeted living room of Dan Jewett’s house, I sat transfixed as a story unfolded and minds were opened.

Sure, it was the music of the previous decade, but hey, that was the point. We were burned out on drum machines and Fairlights, our eyes fatigued by the bright neon blast of MTV. Maybe we were looking for something deeper, less in-your-face, more organic. So here we were gathered for a listening party in preparation for a visit to the laser light show at the planetarium in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.

It was the beginning of a period of exploration for all of us. Not one of us ended up in exactly the same place but we started there in that living room that afternoon, and none of us would ever be the same. For me, it was the first step on a path that took me to the roots of the music I loved—discovering what came before, and what came before that—until I finally ended up at the very beginning of music history: Gregorian chant, chanson, madrigals and motets.

But that wouldn’t happen until my college years. Connecting the dots between the modern music we loved and the deep sources of its inspirations is a neverending story. All we knew is that there was a new school year, new friends to make, new experiences to discover, and we felt like the world was at our feet. And we were uncool. So, here’s my autumn mix tape. From my 15-year-old self to you. —Allen Clapp

Genesis, “Dusk”
One of the most fascinating things about the ‘80s was that many of the decade’s biggest hits were made by artists who had lived an entirely separate existence in the experimental ‘70s. Anyone who bothered to scrape just a little below the surface could find strange and unlikely connections and intertwined root systems. Genesis was one of the most bizarre and unlikely bands to have risen to such heights in the ‘80s. Both the Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins-led versions of the band had deep roots in evocative progressive, theatrical rock that bore little resemblance to “Sledgehammer” or “Invisible Touch.” Winding back to the very beginnings of the band catches them weaving a kind of pastoral magic that’s equal parts English folk revival and a foreshadowing of mid-‘70s prog rock. It took hold in my teenage brain, and never let go. Misty, autumnal melancholy has a soundtrack, and it’s this song. Video

Anthony Phillips, “God, If I Saw Her Now”
It took a while to sort through all the personnel changes, arrivals and departures of early Genesis. But once I fell in love with “Dusk,” I got really fascinated by why the band kind of stopped sounding like that after its first record. Then I found out that one of the driving forces behind Genesis had been Anthony Phillips. He was there from the start, along with Peter Gabriel, Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks, and he was responsible for the immaculate 12-string acoustic guitars that graced the Trespass album. When I first heard Phillips’ solo work, it was like finding the missing link. It made me so happy to discover a whole world of this kind of music, but it also made me wish for an alternate universe in which he never left the band, and they just continued making dreamy, wistful songs like this one here. In another strange connection, Phillips had become good friends with Phil Collins even though the two had never played together in a version of Genesis. So early Phil does a guest vocal here (and on a handful of other Phillips songs), duetting with the amazing Viv McCaulffe. Listening to this song, I could imagine myself being an adult. With a girlfriend. Oh, the drama. Video

Pink Floyd, “The Scarecrow”
When I first heard the Syd Barrett-led Pink Floyd, my first impression was disbelief. How could this possibly be the same band that made Dark Side Of The Moon? It wasn’t too long before this became my preferred version of the Floyd. Even in the context of swinging ’60s London, the band makes very little sense. Aside from the psychedelic freakouts of “Interstellar Overdrive” and “Astronomy Domine,” their debut album offers up a surprisingly sparse and imaginative take on British folk-song melody and mythology. The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn soon became one of my favorite albums of all time. There’s a raw, fiery will o’ the wisp creativity on display here that is as courageous as it is brilliant. The album also came out the same day I did: Aug. 5, 1967. Video link to archival video footage with no sound.

Yes, “And You And I”
All you really had to do was turn the radio dial a couple times to find another example of this prog-rock-to-top-40 transformation. One of the most surprising was Yes. “Owner Of A Lonely Heart” was such a huge smash in the ‘80s. It was literally everywhere. Ice-skating rinks. Video-game arcades. Mervyn’s. Miller’s Outpost. But this was not the Yes of yesterday, or the Yes of really anybody. It was a flukey, technology driven hit produced and polished to high degree by Trevor Horn who had not only produced mega albums by ABC and his own band the Buggles, but had been a member of Yes on the transitional Drama album a few years earlier. Strange bedfellows. Again, delving back into the past, you find this same band at the height of its creative powers on 1972’s Close To The Edge. If you even give this stuff half a chance, it could sweep you away into fantasy dream realms to accompany the most extended D&D campaign. 12-string magic courtesy of Steve Howe, Moogs and Mellotrons via Rick Wakeman, and angelic Jon Anderson vocals are anchored by the late Chris Squire on bass and the simultaneously tight-and-loose Bill Bruford on drums. Video

The Moody Blues, “Candle Of Life”
So there was a thing that started happening when all these rejuvenated prog-rock bands with huge hits on the ‘80s charts came around on tour. Of course, they’d play their hits, but since this new ‘80s hit thing was such a recent development, their new-wavey electronic catalogs were pretty darn shallow. So it became known that if you wanted to see a band like Genesis or Yes or Peter Gabriel, they were still gonna do a whole lot of stuff you actually wanted to hear. So, the thing that started happening, was that you could go to these concerts and actually see people your own age who you could tell were probably not there to see the band play their big hit. You could tell because they’d be wearing concert T-shirts from all the other bands you liked. This was kind of an early dork internet: communication via T-shirt. This meant you could potentially meet girls who would actually like the music that you had to kind of secretly like. Of course, this never actually occurred. But there was the possibility, and at age 15, that was good enough. There was a girl in a Moody Blues T-shirt that I saw at a Yes concert … Even the Moody Blues were able to lurch into the ‘80s with a substantial top-40 presence. First with “The Voice,” and “Gemini Dream” from Long Distance Voyager, and then with the enormo “I Know You’re Out There Somewhere,” type stuff they did in the middle of the decade. I just wanted to hear them play space rock from To Our Children’s Children’s Children. Thank God for Justin Hayward. In the journey to the roots of my favorite music, the discovery of the early Moodies’ catalog was one of the most surprising things. Many think they created not just the concept album, but progressive rock itself on second album Days Of Future Passed. Half orchestral, half band-driven, the record is a childlike psychedelic romp through a day—dawn to dusk. The song I’m putting on my mix tape is an example of the quintessential orchestral, choral rock sound they pioneered. Melancholia has never sounded so pretty. I discovered this stuff when my friend Mike Winther gave me To Our Children’s Children’s Children and On The Threshold Of A Dream one day after school. He presented the albums with the explanation: “Hey Allen, I got these thinking I might like them, but I think you’d like them more.” Thanks Mike. I’ll never forget that day. Video

King Crimson, “The Court Of The Crimson King”
So, if the Moody Blues didn’t invent prog rock, it was King Crimson. Ominous, stately, brooding, melancholic and too pretentious for words, they embodied for many the transition from the ‘60s to the ‘70s. This album was the end of flower power. It was music about death, treachery and corrosion. And it was beautiful. Even Crimson put together a hit song or two in the ’80s. So you could conceivably see the “Sleepless” video on MTV and then go to the used record store and pick up a copy of Larks Tongues In Aspic in the same afternoon and wonder aloud at what the hell was going on. The more I learned about KC driving force Robert Fripp, the deeper into the whole journey I went. His connections with prog rock, electronic music and ambient music just took me further into the web of music I was discovering. This song has it all. Blasts of acoustic guitars the size of Helm’s Deep, freak-jazz drumming, purple pipers, fire witches and glorious Mellotrons that were most likely recorded in the darkest depths of Mordor. It sounds like it’s sung by subterranean monks who, upon realizing their civilization is doomed, rally the troops for one last party. And oh, how they danced. Video

Peter Gabriel, “The Intruder”
Peter was one of the few prog-rock gods to transition into the 1980s with grace and style. His outsider perspective, continuous musical experimentation and relentless creativity actually can be said to have contributed greatly the ‘80s sound. Having left his Genesis bandmates after the Lamb Lies Down On Broadway tour in 1975, Peter began a five-year push into the future. The third of his solo albums titled Peter Gabriel (the one with the melting face) came out in May 1980 and introduced the world to a dystopian electronic world with an enormous drum sound (courtesy of former bandmate Phil Collins and producer Steve Lillywhite). This was my first clue that music could be new and interesting. Who knew? Video

Genesis, “It”
As much as I was digging the new Peter Gabriel (and, by now, Ultravox, Devo, Flock Of Seagulls, Tears For Fears, Prince and U2), I was still captivated by the eclecticism of the ‘70s. I mean, you could have anything happening on an album. By the ‘80s, everything was being codified, streamlined, digitized and market-researched. The Peter Gabriel of The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway is painting with a broad brush. Nothing is off limits. He’s writing pop songs about Freudian complexes, and he’s just killing it. I have a feeling other people like this song too, but just a vague sense. Teenage Fanclub closes out Bandwagonesque with an instrumental called “Is This Music?” that has a very similar guitar hook, and the same kind of feel, even going so far as to use harmonized guitars that could have been played by Steve Hackett. “It” is the last song on the double album, closing out the Peter Gabriel era of Genesis. It’s full of witty wordplay and this tangible, elusive Maslowian hope. It is hope for the dope. It is only knock and know-all, but I like it. Video

David Bowie, “Moss Garden”
Not long after discovering the Robert Fripp/Brian Eno connection, I started listening to some of their collaborations and found myself increasingly drawn to ambient sounsdscapes. Maybe it was because it was good background music for reading geeky fantasy novels? Whatever the reason, I read about Eno and Bowie and had to find out what that all sounded like. I went to my favorite used record store on 25th Avenue in San Mateo and dug up a copy of Heroes. I went home and skipped all the bombastic art rock and went straight to “Moss Garden.” I was hooked. From that moment on, anything with Eno involved rose to a special level of importance for me. Luckily, just around the corner was one of my favorite collaborations of that decade: Eno and Daniel Lanois producing U2 on The Unforgettable Fire. Around this time, it also occurred that my older brother’s friend Marvin gave me an old analog synthesizer and a tape delay unit in which he’d lost interest or patience. I was never the same. The Yamaha CS-50 and the Roland Space Echo RE 201 have been with me ever since. Video

U2, “Elvis Presley And America”
So, armed with a synthesizer, a Space Echo and a mission, my transition out of dorkdom was beginning to seem possible. I could suddenly see a place for myself in the outside world. I would make music—hopefully—and that would be my lifeline. The next school year started, and I made a bold move. I signed up to be on the high-school newspaper. Over the course of the next academic year, I would write concert and album reviews as well as pen an advice column of dubious value: “Ask Al.” But it was the music writing that really helped me form my ideas about the music I liked, and how I thought it all historically intertwined with current trends. I think the first piece of music writing I ever did was a review of U2’s fourth album, The Unforgettable Fire. It had everything I wanted in a collection of songs: bold exploration, anthemic pop songs and an undeniable ambient feel. To me, it wasn’t all that far removed from the music I’d spent the last couple years getting into. In fact, it seemed like a natural extension of it. All of a sudden, I wasn’t living in the past anymore. I was in the here and now, and music had brought me there. Video

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Miss Geo Makes MAGNET A Mix Tape

missgeo

Miss Geo has just released new album Connection, and the band is celebrating in a way that should be of direct interest to you—by way of a specially curated mix tape. Paz, Abby and Alex have all laid out some great tracks for you to listen to. Check it out below, and make sure to pick up Connection.

Years And Years, “Shine”
Paz: I randomly discovered Years And Years on Spotify. I soon became obsessed by the English pop trio. The songs are pretty and uplifting, the vocals and the production approach perfection. Their songs drive emotions really high to the point where you fear you’re the falling when music ends. Video

Dum Dum Girls, “Coming Down”
Paz: Within the next few seconds of listening to this song, my mind shifts attention and tears appear. The vocals and the delayed guitars are the foundation of the intensity and the beauty of the song. There are obvious similarities to “Fade Into You” (Mazzy Star), but this resemblance doesn’t remove any power from the song. Video

Goldroom, “Embrace”
Paz: Goldroom is an incredible synth/pop producer and collaborates with a great vocalist. “Embrace” is one example of his successful collaborations. The vocals are sexy. The construction of the song is detailed oriented and on point. Video

Joanna Newsom, “Leaving The City”
Paz: I discovered Joanna Newsom in France and was amazed by the quality and the beauty of her songs. I then moved to Boston and forgot about her. A few months ago, a friend made me rediscover her and I will never forget her beautiful music! Angelic vocals, and the accompaniments are beautiful. Every instance in Newsom’s music is beautiful. Video

Ladytron, “Playgirl”
Abby: I remember seeing them perform this live at the Paradise sometime after 604 came out, and I was way in the back of the room and it still hit me like a ton of bricks. They have a big dark presence and were my first exposure to electropop. Video

Club 8, “Stay By My Side”
Abby: This song has a certain ambience, and it reminds me of a period of exploration in my life. It’s dream pop and nostalgic, and I always associate it with smoking cigarettes, four-track tape decks and sitting on carpets. Video

Life Without Buildings, “Juno”
Abby: I revel in the way Sue Tompkins expresses her internal monologue with lyrics. They’re so raw to the point where it feels like an intimate conversation with the listener. And the guitar parts on the album are so clever. They were only around a few years but made an impact on me. Video

Grimes, “Circumambient”
Alex: Obviously, Grimes. I think Grimes influenced many musicians and performers into thinking everything is what you make of it. If you don’t want electronic-based music to be a boy’s club, then participate and do whatever it takes. Through her production, I learned that technology is not a demon, it is my friend, and that it is a friend I have every right to engage in as much as “the next guy.” I also learned that genres and labels are bullshit in the post-internet world. I could go on forever, but I won’t. This is a great track from one of my favorite albums of all time. Video

Elton Motello, “Jet Boy/Jet Girl”
Alex: For most of my life (so far) I have followed punk, hardcore and garage punk. I actually can’t remember the first time I heard this song (it has been covered by countless punk and indie bands), but I always placed this song on playlists populated by primarily “dance” music. This to me is a dance/pop hit. This song is what I want dance music to be, though I don’t think there are any electronic instruments on this recording, and I am pretty sure it has been catalogued as “punk” or “glam” in the past. But it’s really the content and delivery that spoke to me. Video

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Jonas Martin Makes MAGNET A Mix Tape

JonasMartin

We featured Jonas Martin’s new track “Wannabe” on our MP3 At 3PM series a few weeks ago, but we have more Jonas to give you. Today, we’re bringing you a very special and heavy-hearted mix tape, inspired by the events that took place in Dallas earlier this month. Listen to the mix, and read Jonas’s introduction and explanations below.

“It’s soon after the attack that killed five police officers during a demonstration against police brutality here in Dallas. I was there, taking part in the protest, and I witnessed the chaos first-hand as the initial shots were fired. After running blocks away from the gunfire with my wife, we spent hours locked down in the back-kitchen hallway of a hotel with several dozen others, not knowing what was going on or how much danger we were in. It was a traumatic experience but I don’t regret being there for a minute. I want to make clear that we were protesting injustice and police brutality, not the police themselves. They were extremely supportive during the rally and march and did an amazing job of protecting us when the danger began. Something that has resounded in my mind, after learning what the shooter did, is the thought that I can’t let the conversation be hijacked by the violent events of that night. The moving speeches given about racism and injustice and the positive vibes in the air as we marched through downtown in unity chanting “Black Lives Matter” are the moments that I want people to remember. One of the amazing things about music is how it can change your perspective and give you insight. So I thought I’d take this opportunity to share some songs that have helped to open my eyes to certain things. Songs that, in a way, may have had a role in sending me to the rally that evening.”

Outkast, “Gasoline Dreams”
I got a copy of the album Stankonia from my sister for Christmas in 2000. I was 14 years old, and I would never be the same. Music became a much larger landscape, and they definitely affected the way I would write songs later in life. Thank the universe for Outkast. That album helped to inform a young teenage me that it doesn’t matter if you’re black, white or whatever. All that mattered was that I would never be as cool as these ice-cold dudes. Video

Stevie Wonder, “Big Brother”
Stevie Wonder is one of my first and biggest influences. Everything he writes about is interesting, and he was someone who showed me early on in my songwriting career that you can write about anything you want. Talking Book was the first album that I got of his, and this song has always been one of my favorites. Video

Bob Dylan, “The Death Of Emmett Till”
In my quest for truth through music, I inevitably found Dylan. This haunting story is about as real as it gets. Emmett Till was a 14-year-old boy living in Mississippi in the 1940s. After supposedly flirting with a white woman, he was beaten, tortured, shot and thrown into a river. Video

Mos Def, “Mr. Nigga”
Mos Def is the shit, and he tells it like it is. I’m white, so I have no idea what it’s like to be looked at suspiciously because you have nice things, but I doubt it could be described any better than the way he does it on this track. Video

Bob Marley, “War”
I could probably put any Bob Marley song on this list and it would work with the message I’m presenting, but this one in particular seems appropriate after what happened in Dallas. “Until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned, everywhere is war.” Video

Randy Newman, “Rednecks”
No one can use satire the way Randy Newman can, and he has become the songwriter who I idolize the most. In this song, he does such an amazing job of making fun of the ignorant white “good old boys” who I’ve met too often living in the south. But more than that, he really makes you see how full of shit people are when they call America, “The land of the free.” Video

Billie Holiday, “Strange Fruit”
I absolutely adore Billie Holiday. No other voice could haunt you in such a way, and this song is disturbing to say the least. Describing something that continued to be a terribly ordinary sight in the south for a century after the end of slavery, it paints an awful picture of what things must have been like in those days. Video

Sam Cooke, “A Change Is Gonna Come”
I’ll end it with the best, Sam Cooke. A sad but still optimistic song about the future of black America. One day, this will all just be something in the history books. As someone said at the Dallas rally (before all the violence), “This started a long time ago and we have a long road ahead, but we will prevail.” Video

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