Thursday, July 5, 2012

June Mixtape

Highlighting the songs I've discovered, rediscovered, or repeatedly played each month. The order reflects an attempt to create a cohesive mixtape, not to rank the songs in any way.

1. The Replacements - "Bastards of Young."  Besides being immensely catchy, this seems like one of those rare, generational songs that captures the mantra of 80's punk, or, for that matter, any young, disillusioned counter-culture.  "We are the sons of no one / bastards of the young. / The daughters and the sons," Paul Westerburg sings.  His tone on the chorus is difficult to decipher; it's an odd mix of bitterness, anger, hopelessness, and triumph -- I guess an emotional microcosm of the punk movement itself.

2. Japandroids - "Fire's Highway." 


3. Japandroids - "Evil's Sway."  I think Japandroids's Celebration Rock is a fantastic album, definitely in contention for the coveted album of the year slot on my blog (I can just see the Vancouver duo anxiously awaiting my mid-December verdict).  My only complaint about the group's sophomore album is the occasional sophomoric lyric; take these lines from "Evil's Sway," for instance: "A candle’s pulse is no companion / when all you see is sexual red. / You burn away your dreams inside a journal / and leave those primal words unsaid."  The diction is clunky and awkward, and it sounds just so in the song.  But then Japandroids drop a song like "Younger Us," or jam-pack brilliance into a line like "we dreamed it, now we know" on "Fire's Highway." So I am happy to overlook some of the words that fall short on otherwise excellent songs.  And, besides my nitpicking, I really love everything about this band; they're full of energy, sincere, and plain-and-simply just fun.  I will be blasting this album in my car all summer, screaming along with Brian King as he shouts, "OH YEAH! ALL RIGHT! Hearts from hell collide on fire's highway tonight."  The duo said that they anticipated their fans's live reactions to their new songs while recording the fittingly-titled Celebration Rock, and they shouted and screamed to their songs as if they were their own fans.  It's a pretty cool recording philosophy, and it shows.  (Also, as a side note, Japandroids said that The Replacements are a huge influence on them -- can you hear the similarities?)

4. Modest Mouse - "The Whale Song."  Sorry to a certain Modest Mouse hater, but, I absolutely love this band.  This is a newer, more experimental work than songs I've previously posted, from the wailing (hah) guitars and anthropomorphic lyrics, but I find it equally as interesting.  It reminds me of Thom Yorke's Eraser songs; although nowhere near the stripped-down electronica Yorke employs, the instrumentals of "Whale Song" lurk for all six minutes, portending something drastic--a feeling supported by Brock's stream-of-consciousness visions as a Scout, which portray the ocean as a frightening deathtrap: "I know I am a Scout / I should've found a way out / So everyone can find a way out / Instead of seeing, a neighbor out / God, I wish I would've found a way out."

5. Clams Casino - "I'm God." Dubsteppy beats plus drowned out female vox.  It's sad yet swaggery -- a nice middle ground between my early college/depressing/indie phase and my still-perplexing end-of-college love of Lil Wayne songs.  So I guess it makes sense that I have a soft spot for Clams's instrumentals; when I first heard this song I played it nonstop probably 10-12 times.  I rarely ever do that anymore.  I guess it's also that post-rock-esque blank lyrical canvas that I like so much; besides the intriguing lines "how'd you know it's what I always wanted....will you quit kicking me under the table, I'm trying-- will someone make us shut up about it(???)? Can we settle down please?", almost everything else is inaudible.

6.  Fucked Up - "The Other Shoe." Sorry to anyone that doesn't like screams, but I really enjoy these guys.  Even though I seldom listen to hardcore punk, I appreciate the contrast between really catchy (and crunchy) electric guitars, soft female vocals, and guttural male shouts.  I also appreciate that the vocals are comprehensible and that the tempo builds to an awesome (almost poppy) beat midway through the song.  I saw these guys at Orion, and they may have been my favorite performance of the day.

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